Article 5 and Paris

Were the recent attacks on France enough to use article 5 of the North Atlantic 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.

Obviously not.
Article 5 enlarges self-defence to collective self-defence.
France striking back at Da'esh is not self defence in response to the attacks in Paris because France bombed them for quite some time already.*

You cannot as a collective defensive alliance member go to a foreign place, attack a foreign armed group or country, wait till they strike back and then claim that all your allies now need to attack them, too. That's not how this works or was ever meant to work.

It's still possible that politicians will agree to use article 5 - but only so as a fig leaf for an escalation of Western participation in the Syrian Civil War (and Libyan strife). That would happen because they want to do it, not because they are obliged to do it.

Many people - including those who fantasized about nuking Mecca in blocked comments already - will not keep their ability to look clearly at facts and pretend that to not strike back with great force will be a show of weakness, not of calmness. Those are irresponsible, irrational people who should under no circumstances ever be voted into high political office.


P.S.: It's the same with the Treaty of the European Union.
Again, no collective defence in this case.



  1. Read Fabius Maximus' reprint of the most recent StratFor article. The stupidity in it makes my head ache.

    1. I have tried to wake up FM after I saw it by pointing him at my text of yesterday. Suffice to say, I made no impression.

      I generally don't read FM much because I cannot stand the perpetual hyperbole there. It's the opposite of my laid-back stance. Ironically, HE calls himself "Fabius Maximus". He should call himself "Cato".

  2. Most of the people that heard about NATO, only knows approximately what article 5 means.
    They don’t know how it can or would apply to any specific situation.
    Article 5 is a very tricky article, that is certainly NOT SYSTEMATIC, as one could think, and INAPPLICABLE at times (Cyprus = NATO-Greece vs NATO-Turkey).

    Before jumping that far into the Treaty, let’s read the Treaty correctly:
    First, starting with Article 1:
    ‘The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any
    international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means…’

    -> ‘to settle any international dispute … by peaceful means…’

    Theoretically and ideally (Mahatma Gandhi would be happy), NATO members should never go further than article 1.
    Again, what do we understand by collective defense?
    In Europe, during the cold war, it was mainly German children.
    Oversees, it is mainly the USA.

    NATO collective defense has never proved itself, as such.
    Non-NATO allies are sometimes enjoying better material and intelligence support than NATO members.

    Laurent Fabius declared that French bombing over Syria were considered as ‘self defense’ measures. (http://basedoc.diplomatie.gouv.fr/vues/Kiosque/FranceDiplomatie/kiosque.php?fichier=bafr2015-10-05.html)

    Article 5 is, de facto, already being applied in Syria, without invoking it, for quite some times.

    1. NATO was never really attacked. To invoke Article 5 in 2001 was quite a re-interpretation scam to add new life to a multinational organisation that the politician liked.

      I can't find any actual attacks of Da'esh on France prior to 19 September 2014 (when France began bombing them), only "plots".
      Even if France was in international law terms defending itself with its bomb strikes over Syria, the article 5-eligible action would need to have happened before they began with those air strikes. Now it's far too late. France has been bombing Da'esh for almost 14 months already, it cannot correctly claim to be the victim of an aggression now.

      Article 5 is not being applied over Syria at all. The IL situation is rather that the sovereign Syria is tolerating foreign great powers' air strikes on enemies of its own government and not calling the UNSC for help, thus no relevant body ever seems to declare those air strikes to be a violation of the Charter of the United Nations (article 2.3) and in extension the North Atlantic Treaty (article 1).

    2. Thank you for your answer (even if it is your blog).
      You are right; there was no legal ground for calling the French operation, self defence, at that time. But the pill was swallowed as such. A pre-emptive pill.

      NATO, especially, Article 5 is about collective defence.
      And, thank you again, you just made my point ‘those air strikes to be a violation of the Charter of the United Nations (article 2.3) and in extension the North Atlantic Treaty (article 1).’ That is Russia’s argument.
      Even if article 5 was never invoked, it seems that the behaviour of NATO members is the same as if article 5 was invoked. A collective action with bombing campaigns, and some would even argue a collective aggression against a sovereign state that ‘is tolerating foreign great powers' air strikes on enemies of its own government’.

    3. Well, as long as Syria doesn't complain about its soil getting bombed it's no violation of the Charter of the United Nations.

      If on the other hand they cease to tolerate and say "stop" and the West keeps bombing someone or something in Syria, then it's a war of aggression and a gross violation of the north Atlantic Treaty (once again).

      The point ehre was that the attacks in Paris were not the beginning of a violent conflict; that one was ongoing with much violence and likely well over 200 dead for more than a year already, and the French may have (I didn't check the exact timeline) started it.

      We should guard againt letting NATO slip into "offensive alliance" mode, that would be a horrible precedent. It should be a defensive alliance or else troubles of much grander scale will just keep coming.

    4. I agree with your point, it is legally correct and your explanations are very accurate about international law. Indeed, very unique blog.
      We do not recall such enthusiastic and interventionist actions from the part of NATO members in Chechnya, Georgia, or Ukraine. Anyways.
      (Well, this is not about article 5. There should be a way to get compensation for our fellow dead citizens? One cannot bring back the dead. But…
      IS is pumping a lot of oil. There should be enough money to compensate the grieving families. I guess some judges will hear that case.)

  3. And your thought process is exactly why you will lose. You may not be at war with them but they are sure as hell at war with you. Risk your own neck with this foolishness and not others. So sad. At least try to die with your boots on.

    1. Nonsense. "They" couln't make us lose if we were but a single city of 500,000 people. Yet we are 80 million nationally and in excess fo 300 million as EU.
      You lost the connection to reality.

  4. Could the Syrian refugees be recruited and trained to invade and occupy Syria? That might sound goofy, but there will hardly be any other permanent solution.

    To fight back where strikes hurt, it would be convenient to strike at the cash connections. That could slow down ISIS.
    Use of non-lethal weapons in order to enable their enemies to capture them alive might also take away their currently built-up allure.

    1. I knew an Afghan refugee who neither wanted to do such a thing nor be a well-paid interpreter for ISAF. My impression was one might be able to recruit them from camps in the region, but almost certainly not once they're in comfortable Europe.

  5. Article 5 and Paris… and Article 42.7 of the EU Treaty
    You anticipated it a few days ago. I retrieved:
    But there might be other publications that I could not retrieve.

    If there are legal grounds for invoking article 42.7, then there are legal grounds for invoking article 5?
    Most EU members are also NATO members. With the support of the US, Canada, Turkey and Russia (and Assad's Syria).
    ‘It's still possible that politicians will agree to use article 5’.
    In that case, I don’t see how Daesh/IS could possibly be around by Christmas?

  6. Germany's Alliances (II)
    Are also France's Alliances
    I retrieved also this publication on article 42.7: