Hands up everyone who still takes NATO seriously

by Robert Henderson

There is an indecent amount of huffing and puffing by NATO members as they posture and strut futilely in the face of Putin’s Ukrainian adventure. The latest NATO gathering in Wales has produced a new 3,000 rapid response force and a reiteration that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all NATO members and will be met by all NATO members. That is the treaty obligation as laid down in articles 5 and 6 of the NATO Treaty

Article 5

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 recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, 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.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security .

Article 6 (1)

For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:

on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France (2), on the territory of or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;

on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.

Does anyone honestly believe that NATO would engage in armed conflict with a nuclear-armed Russian state? Can anyone imagine the USA risking nuclear war if Russia attacks European territory? Unless the answer to those questions is an unqualified yes then NATO is a dead letter as far as European security is concerned. For myself, even during the Cold War I never believed that the USA would risk nuclear war unless its own territory was attacked and that Russia (then in the guise of the Soviet Union) would, however belligerent their rhetoric , always pull back from provoking nuclear war, as happened over the Cuban missile crisis.

But let us suppose that the threat of nuclear war was ignored. Would NATO members, and most particularly the USA, be prepared to engage in a conventional war to, for example, eject Russia from the Ukraine and Crimea? That would also seem improbable, not least because most European NATO members lack the military capacity to join in such action and US action without meaningful support from European members would be very unlikely in the present political atmosphere in America.

How should the West deal with Russia? It should recognise that Russia has (1) its natural sphere of influence which includes the Ukraine and (2) reasonable fears of the Ukraine becoming a Western vassal state through membership of the EU and NATO. The senior conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh is one of the few MPs to recognise these facts, viz:

“My personal view is that we should balance any moves to the West, either to the EU or Nato, with convincing the Russians that we have no desire to take Ukraine out of Russia’s traditional orbit.

“The fact is that for all of its history, bar a couple of years in the 1920s, and since 1990, Ukraine has been part of Russia. It’s not just power politics, to the average Russian, the source of their country – the Kievan Rus’ – comes from Kiev in the middle of Ukraine.

“They consider that Ukraine is as much a part of the Russian soul as we consider Canterbury or Kent is part of our soul. So this isn’t some power grab by the Russians to take over the rest of Europe. I don’t approve of Putin sending in tanks, but whatever we say, this is the facts on the ground.”

“Putin is not going to give up, and therefore let’s try and accommodate and deal with him, and reassure him that we’re not trying to grab Ukraine.”

In addition to the Russian problem, NATO’s open-ended commitment for members to come to the assistance of any of the twenty eight current members (see below) is a standing danger . For example, suppose Turkey was attacked by Iran. The NATO member states would be obligated to fight Iran. Nor is it clear what would constitute an armed attack. Articles 5 and 6 do not stipulate an attack has to be from a nation state or alliance of states. Would an attack by ISIS on a NATO member qualify? There would seem to be nothing to disallow such an attack as qualifying under the NATO treaty obligations.

Then truth is NATO is worst than useless: it is a standing invitation to war. European nations need to attend to their own security. The simplest way of doing that is to scrap treaty obligations such as NATO’s and, at least in the case of the larger states, to build their defence around nuclear weapons and have conventional armed forces designed to defend national territories not forces to act in the interests of liberal internationalism.

Current NATO members

ALBANIA (2009)

BELGIUM (1949)


CANADA (1949)

CROATIA (2009)


DENMARK (1949)

ESTONIA (2004)

FRANCE (1949)

GERMANY (1955)

GREECE (1952)

HUNGARY (1999)

ICELAND (1949)

ITALY (1949)

LATVIA (2004)




NORWAY (1949)

POLAND (1999)


ROMANIA (2004)



SPAIN (1982)

TURKEY (1952)




4 thoughts on “Hands up everyone who still takes NATO seriously

  1. We had a similar problem to the Ukraine in Ireland, almost a century ago, to which something called “partition” was the chosen solution, the 26 and the 6 counties malarkey that we’re still stuck with. Czechoslovakia later became partitioned, into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and the two new nations seem to be getting on fine. My money is on a partition temporary solution here too. East Ukraine and West Ukraine. That’s the obvious solution, unless there are ulterior motives at work – as I suspect there might be.

  2. Sorry,I didn’t answer your question …

    Ukraine is about (surprise surprise) oil. There’s apparently rather a lot of it under east Ukraine.

    The climate change guilt trip is useful for alienating children from their planet-threatening, fossil fuel-burning parents, to further the “Smash the Family” agenda that social engineers need, because an institution as conservative as the family tends to put the brakes on social engineering somewhat. But everybody in the know knows that all that lovely carbon-rich fossil fuel recently found under east Ukraine means money. Everybody who could wants to harvest it and burn it, without a thought for the “carbon footprint”.

    The Russians want the oil, so now is a good time for them, for the “pro-Russian”, Russian language-speaking, ethnically Russian population of east Ukraine to have an uprising against their west Ukraine cousins. Other people want it too though, making it a bad time from their point of view, for the “pro-Russian” folk in east Ukraine to kick off so, whether or not Ivan just across the border is giving them a little bit of help and encouragement, as I would, if I were him.

    The “other people” who would like the chance to burn all this newly-discovered fossil fuel carbon, have to do some sabre-rattling just to stay in the game. *They* take NATO very seriously, as more-or-less the only sabre they have to rattle, even though sharing the spoils with so many different NATO allies isn’t part of the plan, if they succeed.

    *We* should take NATO seriously, to the extent that we don’t want World War III to start, and NATO has to pretend to be willing to start it, if the subset of NATO that covets the oil is going to get its hands on it, and keep Ivan Ivanovitch’s hands off it (fat chance, in my opinion).

    And yes, I do realise that I still haven’t exactly *answered* your question. But it was a good question, and I’ve said enough.

  3. The position in the Ukraine is not like the position with Ireland – Mr Putin is trying to take land (in order to recreate the Soviet Empire – although on a Fascist rather than Marxist basis). These “rebels” do NOT want an independent country (any more than the “rebels” that Mr Putin organised in Georgia did), their state would, de facto, be under Russia (and that is what they are paid for).

    As for NATO – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are threat by people Mr Putin is organising (via the Organs).

    The European Union will be of no use to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania – it remains to be seen whether or not NATO will be of any use.

    In the past NATO (basically the United States armed forces) was very useful to Western Europe – indeed vital.

    I can remember when Sean Gabb was pro NATO – the present revisionist Sean Gabb (who seems to regard American historical involvement in Europe as a bad thing) is a very different person.

    Or perhaps I was just wrong about the old Sean Gabb. Making assumptions that I should not have made.

  4. As for Mr Henderson. As I have pointed out several times…..

    Russia lost any right it may have had to a “sphere of influence” in the Ukraine (or anywhere else) when the Moscow regime murdered so many millions of people there from 1917 onwards. If Putin denounced the Soviet Union as nightmare of evil (as modern German politicians do of Nazi Germany) then it might be a different matter.

    However, although he is not a Marxist, Mr Putin claims that the end of the Soviet Union was a bad thing – and actively backs (with troops and tanks) people who dance around statures of Lenin and honour memorials to the KGB.

    The idea that the Putin regime (which has actively destroyed the infant civil society which was emerging in Russia) can be dealt with as a civilised power, is false.

    If the Putin regime is overthrown things may change – but whilst it remains, things are what they are.

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