Wall Street Journal
April 24, 2022
Expand NATO to Hawaii
By Arshan Barzani*
Americans understand that an attack on one ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an attack on all. If Russia bombed Warsaw, Washington would be obligated to come to its aid. But if Pearl Harbor were attacked again, this rule wouldn’t compel U.S. allies to help.
Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty covers only Europe and parts of North America north of the Tropic of Cancer. Swathes of member countries’ land, such as Puerto Rico and French Polynesia, fall outside the pact. At NATO’s birth in 1949, this limit served to exempt far-flung colonies….NATO’s self-imposed geographic limits absent the alliance from the Indo-Pacific and weaken it in the Atlantic.
NATO can no longer take such risks. [That is, not supporting Britian in the Falklands War of 1982] [I]t must protect all members’ lands. Expanding Article 5 would let allies shift troops from places like the Falklands in the South Atlantic to the Russian naval threat in the north. It also would extend NATO’s deterrence in the Indo-Pacific, sending a message to China.
Start with the Atlantic, where Article 5’s southern limit excludes places like the British, Dutch and French Caribbean, America’s naval base at Guantanamo Bay, and Europe’s satellite-launching facility in French Guiana. Another omission is Britain’s South Atlantic territories. London has a sizable defense presence in the Falklands, with a frigate, a patrol ship, and an air base with 1,200 personnel. Covering the islands under NATO’s promise of collective strength would offer a stronger deterrent.
The case for expanding Article 5 to the Indo-Pacific is even more pressing. Shockingly, the treaty excludes Guam and Hawaii….America’s naval base at Diego Garcia, an Indian Ocean hub, is also unshielded.
NATO expansion from within – by extending Article 5’s reach – is the most promising way to turn Europe into a U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific….France might be tempted to sign on because New Caledonia and French Polynesia would be protected….
The only amendment to the North Atlantic Treaty so far, in 1951, included Turkey in the alliance, even though it is 97% in Asia. Such precedent leaves no grounds to continue excluding and endangering American, British, Dutch and French territory around the world – lands whose people elect lawmakers and volunteer to fight NATO’s wars. They deserve the alliance’s shield as much as any compatriot.
*Mr. Barzani is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, a student at Yale Law School, and translator of the first English-language edition of Napoleon’s “Chronicles of Caesar’s Wars.”