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Put The Pacific Into NATO: NAPTO

Austin Bay on

That's a question with nuclear and NATO-less implications.

The U.S. is a founding NATO member. However, Guam and Hawaii are not covered by the NATO treaty and Article 5. The original 1949 treaty covered Europe and North America north of the Tropic of Cancer. Puerto Rico, Guam and Hawaii were outside the geographic zone.

When Turkey joined NATO in 1951 the treaty was amended and Article 5's reach extended. About 97% of Turkey is in Asia -- Anatolian Turkey.

2022's serendipity: Article 5 already covers a slice of Asia.

Expanding NATO and extending Article 5's geographic reach in order to deter war isn't a new idea. Though discussed for years, likely Asian members -- think Japan -- have favored strengthening deterrence using existing security arrangements, such as the bilateral and trilateral relationships that connect the U.S., Japan, Australia and Singapore.

Lawlessness and invasion, however, alter the calculus. In early June Japan's Nikkei.com featured a story with this quote from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.: "Let's build a NATO for the Pacific. We need allies to get back on the offensive against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) ... as Chairman Xi (Jinping) looks to expand his sphere of influence, we need a new military alliance centered far out into the Pacific."

 

At the end of June leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand attended NATO's Madrid summit.

On July 3 Turkish journalist and foreign policy analyst Mehmet Kanci wrote (at aa.com.tr) that the Asia-Pacific four's attendance "confirmed that the alliance will go beyond its Transatlantic identity and wave a flag in the Trans-Pacific geography by 2023." Kanci noted NATO's new strategic concept document calls China a common threat. China's "malicious" hybrid operations and rhetoric (e.g., "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy) "harm the security of the alliance..." Kanci concludes NATO's "paradigm shift" has begun.

Let's speed up the shift and put the Pacific's P in NATO. North Atlantic and Trans-Pacific Treaty Organization. If NAPTO seems awkward, APTO is apt.

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