There are some stories circulating to the effect that NATO is going to do this or that if North Korea launches an attack, e.g. ‘NATO to protect US from N. Korea Attack’ here and ‘Senior NATO Official Will Not Rule Out Conflict with N. Korea’ here).
All the hard evidence so far indicates that NATO doesn’t know what it will do until an attack or something like it occurs. The North Atlantic Council would have to first meet to discuss the situation and options for any possible alliance response in the light of what just happened. Remember, Article 5 is about an armed attack on Allies in Europe or North America, not in Asia. An interview the NATO Secretary General gave to the Japanese media on 16 April during his visit to Japan makes it pretty clear:
The key point is around minute 1:
“If a NATO ally is attacked it will probably be raised for consultation among NATO allies. NATO allies will discuss the situation and make decisions based on the specific circumstances“
This is all the SecGen can say, which is no more than an explanation of the NATO process following the NATO Charter – specifically Article 4 (discussion), rather than 5 (collective action). And yet saying ‘we don’t know what we will do’ has more influence than saying nothing at all.
As for my earlier suggestions about employing NATO’s Article 4, Philip Cane at Atlantic Community has some practical suggestions about what NATO could do before an attack by the North (read at ‘South Korea:NATO’s Asian Pivot‘).
A full text of the declaration is available here. Not much of note in the text itself, but there was an intriguing if slightly confusing bit of language about what NATO is not doing in Asia -
On his video blog, the SG makes the point that “my visit does not mean that NATO seeks a presence in the Asia Pacific region, but it does mean that NATO seeks to work with the Asia-Pacific region…” Subtle distinction, but clear enough because the North Atlantic Charter is also pretty clear on allies needing to be from the North Atlantic area.
Then Rasmussen told reporters after the signing ceremony “While NATO has no ambition to take on a permanent role in Asia, we see very clearly the advantage of working with like-minded partners like Japan”.
But why the qualifier ‘permanent’?
(Photo courtesy of NATO) (Yonhap)
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will visit the Republic of Korea from 11 to 13 April 2013.
In Seoul, he will meet with President Park Geun-hye, Speaker of the National Assembly Kang Chang-hee, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se, and Minister of Defence Kim Kwan Jin.
Fogh Rasmussen gave an interview to Yonhap press agency, which offers some context. Here are the highlights:
“We are watching the development in the Korean Peninsula with great concern,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency Monday at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. “North Korea’s rhetoric, attitude and actions are provocative. North Korea’s actions pose a threat to regional and international security. They’re irresponsible; they are in defiance of the international community. ”So I have a very clear message to North Korea. Stop what you are saying. Stop what you are doing.” Continue reading
Carnegie Europe has posted a new discussion piece on its ‘Strategic Europe‘ blog, in which Karl-Heinz Kamp, (research director of the NATO Defense College in Rome) says:
NATO needs to follow the US pivot to Asia
As for how, Karl-Heniz has the following ‘big hand, small map’-type suggestions:
“First, NATO has to Continue reading
Outgoing US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivered a speech in London on 18 January, where he called on Europe to join in the US rebalance to Asia: Continue reading
JLF wonders whether NATO will have to consider extending its zone for collective defence (article 5) to the Pacific (Pacific NATO?).
“There are some reports that US Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton is considering a Pacific-Atlantic Treaty Organisation or PATO. Continue reading
Julian Lindley-French’s blog is always worth reading.
Regarding Europe’s position between the US and Asia, he had this to say recently:
“Within a decade all strategic relationships will have been transformed by the rise of Asia. Be it NATO membership and and its now plethora of partnerships they must all be seen in that context, i.e. part of a world-wide web of security partnerships.
Why? Because NATO’s true utility can only be defined once its place in American grand strategy has been established and that is a-changing. Especially so as the more the Europeans cut defence the more reliant they are on the US. Unfortunately, implicit in the ‘pivot’, the ‘rebalancing’, the ‘global Yank’ (shiver) or whatever one wants to call Washington’s potential zweifrontenskreig, a new strategic contract beckons between NATO and its erstwhile member America. That contract is essentially simple; NATO must take care of security for both members and partners in and around Europe to ease pressure on the US elsewhere. If not the American security guarantee will over time fade.”
“[the]East China Sea dispute could in time be seen as the true beginning of a contest that will come to define the twenty-first century as much as the coming war between Iran and Israel; the struggle for power dominance in East Asia.”
I thought the two extracts make an interesting juxtaposition.
In an earlier post I said I would attempt a wider analysis of the recent UK moves into Asian security. A piece I wrote for the East-West Centre on the recent UK-Japan defense agreement can be downloaded here.
Just recently, a group of Japanese academics and think tankers visited NATO and try to see beyond Afghanistan for ways to sustain Japan’s relationship with NATO. Issues arising included emerging non-traditional threats, Civil emergency planning, ’Smart defence’ and Missile Defence.
But do these routine and low profile contacts belie a carefully calibrated, more substantial relationship?
Contrary to what one might guess, this relationship goes back to the Cold War era, when, as Dr. Nishihara Musashi records:
Japanese defense ministers visited NATO headquarters in 1979, 1981 and 1984, respectively. But, it was not until after the Cold War ended that NATO’s Secretaries General Manfred Worner, Javier Solana and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer returned the visit to Tokyo in 1991, 1997 and 2005, respectively. Continue reading