NATO: Plug The US Indo-Pacific Strategy's Hawaii Gap

(MENAFN- Asia Times) This article was originally published by Pacific Forum , a Honolulu-based foreign policy research institute founded in 1975.

Imagine this: US-China tensions over Taiwan escalate to the boiling point. Hours after a Chinese missile attack on Hawaii, the US president calls upon regional and global allies and partners to discuss next steps. US officials in Brussels request clarity as to whether NATO will trigger Article V . The silence is deafening.

Worse still, apart from quick affirmations from a few traditionally close allies – such as the United Kingdom and Netherlands – it is unclear whether many NATO member states will even cease trade with China, much less commit to a war. Some note that Hawaii is excluded from an automatic trigger of Article V by Article VI.

Almost immediately, the alliance is thrown into one of the deepest crises of its history.

While this scenario is, in many ways, at the extreme end of the possible, it nevertheless illustrates a potential crisis-in-waiting for the alliance. As allies meet in Washington DC for the NATO Summit this week, they should consider scenarios of this kind. They should reflect on the implications of a US-China conflict over Taiwan and what the alliance can and should do now to better deter and, if deterrence fails, better respond to such a conflict.

In a recent speech , NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted that“NATO's core business” is that of deterrence. His second theme was Ukraine, and his third strengthening global partnerships,“especially in the Indo-Pacific” due to the interplay between the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific.

Explicitly noting the invitations to the“IP4” (Indo-Pacific Four: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea), the secretary general raised strategic linkages between the alliance's adversaries, such as Chinese and North Korean support for Russia's war machine.

Given these themes – deterrence and the importance of the Indo-Pacific – it is astonishing that Hawaii's (or Guam's) exclusion from the NATO Treaty is not, at a minimum, an agenda item at the summit. Their exclusion – a historical relic of the Cold War – is remarkable given that both are critical to the United States' deterrence strategy in the Indo-Pacific.


Asia Times

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