Deep breaths: Article 5 will never be a flip switch for war,

Rajan Menon, Director of the Grand Strategy program at Defense Priorities and Daniel R. DePetris, columnist for the National Interest

[…] Moreover, no treaty, however sacrosanct in Washington policy circles, supplants the U.S. Constitution. Even had Poland requested the invocation of Article 5 and NATO determined that military force was called for, President Biden could not have short-circuited American constitutional procedures. He would still need to approach the U.S. Congress, the branch with the sole authority to declare war or authorize the use of force, and make the case that war serves the U.S. interest. Bypassing these critical procedures, even to protect an ally, would be unconstitutional.

What happened in Poland should remind us that war is inherently unpredictable and far more difficult to control than those who initiate and wage it assume. It can escalate, spread to places that were not in the fight when the guns began to fire, and produce unimaginable economic repercussions. The longer a war drags on, the more likely the law of unintended consequences will kick in.

The war in Ukraine illustrates this perfectly. It has lasted longer than anyone — certainly Vladimir Putin — anticipated and increased food and energy prices for countries, especially poor ones, thousands of miles away from Ukraine. There’s no reason to believe a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine is on the horizon; but there are several reasons to believe that more surprises await us—some that may harm people with no immediate connection to the conflict. This is reason enough to have provisions and procedures, such as Article 5, in place to put a brake on impulsive reactions. To their credit, President Biden and America’s NATO partners displayed this prudence by not jumping to a premature conclusion and, instead, urging patience until the facts became clear.

The larger lesson to be learned from what happened in Poland is that dialogue is an essential requirement during moments of tension. Washington and Moscow need to keep communications channels open even, or especially, during the worst of times. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has taken US-Russian relations to their lowest point in the post-Cold War era. As tempting as it may be to ostracize Russia, self-interest, even self-preservation, dictates clear and frequent communication in order to minimize misunderstandings and prevent isolated incidents from blooming into full-blown crises. It’s the kind of common sense which, fortunately, infuses Article 5. Läs artikel