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NATO Article 5 Activation Not an Automatic Trigger for U.S. To Join War

In his discussion at the Committee for the Republic’s April 26 Ukraine War Powers Salon, Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie attacked the widespread idea that activation of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty obligates the United States to go automatically to war.

Article 5 is the agreement that an attack on one member is to be considered an attack against all. However, Article 11 of the NATO Treaty states that the provisions of the treaty shall be “carried out by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.” And under the U.S. Constitution, as Rep. Massie stressed, once again, Congress alone has the power to declare war.

Rep. Massie noted that those who drafted the treaty were well aware of this Constitutional fact, and therefore included Article 11, because otherwise the Treaty never could have been approved by the U.S. Senate. He credited constitutional law expert Bruce Fein for calling his attention to this reality, which he has been pointing out to fellow members of Congress, making clear to them that the NATO Treaty is not a loophole they can claim to avoid their Constitutional obligation to declare war.