Invocation in context
Article 5 of the Washington Treaty was envisaged by the Treaty's signatories as a mechanism obligating the United States to come to the aid of its European Allies. But when the the Treaty's defining clause was first invoked, it was the European Allies who offered Washington their support in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The ramifications of this invocation are still emerging in ways that reflect the document's original composition. The Washington Treaty was a compromise: while the obligation to come to the aid of an Ally under attack was automatic, the treaty's wording allowed Allies the freedom to choose the nature of their response. The Alliance's founding fathers could never have predicted the scenario in which Article 5 would be invoked. Despite Washington's initial decision to decline NATO support for the 2001 campaign in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, 14 of the then-19 NATO Allies contributed forces. Article 5's invocation set in train NATO's ongoing transformation as the Alliance developed terrorism-related competencies and created the NATO Response Force. Some believe that Article 5 may come to be understood as having direct relevance to the Allied response to new and evolving challenges.
Invoking Article 5
There was nothing inevitable about NATO's decision to invoke Article 5 in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Initial uncertainty about who had directed the attacks raised questions about whether they had originated from abroad. Moreover, the nature of the attack itself - the archetypical example of "asymmetrical warfare" - did not easily lend itself to an Article 5 invocation as the Washington Treaty's writers had envisaged it. In the absence of guidance provided either by tradition or governments, NATO decision-makers knew that their actions that day would set important precedents that would steer the Alliance on a new course. Once it had been determined that using an aircraft as a weapon constituted an 'armed attack' in the sense intended by Article 5 and that the attacks were qualitatively different from "normal" domestic terrorism, the author worked with other NATO officials to produce a document invoking Article 5, which the North Atlantic Council soon adopted. NATO's current and continuing transformation would not have been possible had the Allies not previously chosen to stand side-by-side in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary had little interest in the bombing campaign against Serbia that began a mere 12 days after their admission into the North Atlantic Alliance. The demands of democratic consolidation, a lingering fear of a resurgent Russia and a desire to rejoin modern Europe had motivated these countries to undertake the often painful reforms necessary for membership. The Kosovo conflict left Polish, Czech and Hungarian political elites in a quandary as they attempted to explain to anxious publics why the defensive alliance they had joined was now engaged in direct military action against a fellow eastern European state. By 2001, as some of the original risks to central and eastern European countries had faded, so too did the new members demand for NATO's collective defence role, narrowing the differences between old and new Alliance members. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks and then the US-led involvement in Iraq, attitudes towards the Alliance have become more fluid and are often shaped by views of the United States. As a result, competition between a Eurocentric and a Euro-Atlantic perspective is a part of Allied discourse today.
Negotiating Article 5
Following the failure of talks between France, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union in December 1947, the need became clear for a transatlantic military alliance that would deter an expansionist Soviet Union. While western European countries were committed to a collective security arrangement, lingering isolationist sentiment in the US Congress made problematic the approval of any treaty that appeared to usurp the powers of the US Constitution. Subsequent negotiations centred on how to synthesize the US Senate's determination to retain its war-declaring power and the desire of European allies for an American pledge to assist militarily in their defence if attacked. The fruit of those negotiations was the Washington Treaty's Article 5, a clause whose wording was flexible enough to allow NATO to survive and even thrive through evolving historical conditions. Although the Alliance's activities are rooted today in Article 4's mandate for Allied consultation in the face of evolving security threats, Article 5 still constitutes the heart and soul of the Alliance.
Combating human trafficking
Recently UN peacekeepers and others have been implicated as clients in the sex trade in the Congo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and elsewhere. In response to these developments, a consensus has emerged that human trafficking is partly a security issue because, if the criminal organisations that run the trade become powerful enough, it can threaten the independence and even the viability of fragile states. Human trafficking, then, has the potential to threaten the integrity of NATO operations. As a means of confronting this threat, NATO Allies announced a Policy on Combating Trafficking in Persons at the 2004 Istanbul Summit. While the Policy addresses all aspects of human trafficking, it specifically recognises the impact that deployed troops can have on the demand for women trafficked for the sex trade. The Policy further requires member states to take a variety of actions to reduce human trafficking. While there is still much to be done, the initial results of this policy have been encouraging, as Allied militaries incorporate anti-trafficking measures into their field manuals and officers receive specific training to combat the trade.
Typical studies of NATO's future either reflect their authors' policy preferences or merely extrapolate from existing trends. Instead, the authors break down the key characteristics of NATO's institutional strength in order to provide five "snapshot" scenarios of how the alliance may evolve by 2025. In the first scenario, assertive US leadership, a commonly defined security threat perception and a relatively weak Europe come together to form a "strong toolbox" NATO. In contrast, in the second scenario, a strong and coherent Europe combined with a firm transatlantic link create, a "shared partnership" NATO with global reach. In subsequent scenarios, the transatlantic link frays and US leadership becomes progressively weaker until, in the fifth scenario, a disinterested United States and a fragmented Europe combine in a declining Alliance that is little more than an "Old Boy's Lounge" of impotent discussion. In conclusion, the authors find that the "main driver" in determining alliance strength will be US interest in the Alliance. Whether the European Union is weak or strong and irrespective of threat assessments, the outlook for the Alliance would be grim in the absence of US leadership.