NATO Isn’t What You Think It Is,

Stephen M. Walt

Article 5 isn’t a tripwire for war and four other misunderstood facts about the Western defense alliance. […]

If one actually reads Article 5, it says: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence … will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area” (my emphasis).

Translation: While an attack on a NATO member is to be viewed as an attack on all of them, this would not apply if a NATO member starts the conflict. More importantly, Article 5 does not commit any of the parties to use military force, although the use of force is clearly an option. Rather, it calls upon all the parties to “assist” the members that were attacked, but it does not specify the precise form such assistance would take.

To be sure, in many scenarios the use of force would be appropriate, as it was when the United States invoked Article 5 after the 9/11 attacks and its NATO allies sent their own troops to Afghanistan and adopted other measures to counter al Qaeda. But NATO has declined to use force to help member states in the past, and whether it does so in the future would depend on the specific scenario involved, the options available, and the interests of the members at that time. That is why Article 5 was written as it was. Läs artikel