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This US state is not covered by the NATO treaty. Some experts say that needs to change

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Bocaítos | 0 comments

File this under fun facts about the territories: CNN publishes a piece about how, because of its geographic location and the history of the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the state of Hawaii, and also all United States unincorporated territories, are not covered by the defense pact.

If a foreign power attacked Hawaii – say the US Navy’s base at Pearl Harbor or the headquarters of the Indo-Pacific Command northwest of Honolulu – the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would not be obligated to rise to the Aloha State’s defense.

“An armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America,” Article 6 says. It also says any island territories must be in the North Atlantic, north of the Tropic of Cancer.

A US State Department spokesperson confirmed that Hawaii is not covered by Article 5, but said Article 4, which says members will consult when “the territorial integrity, political independence or security” of any member is threatened, should cover any situation that could affect the 50th state.

The spokesperson also said any treaty amendment to include Hawaii would be unlikely to gain consensus because other members have territories outside of the boundaries set in Article 5.

For instance, NATO did not join founding member the United Kingdom’s 1982 war with Argentina after Argentine troops invaded the Falkland Islands, a disputed British territory in the South Atlantic.

Hemmings also makes an argument for Guam, the US Pacific island territory some 3,000 miles farther west than Hawaii, to be included in NATO’s umbrella.

The island, which has long been a focal point of North Korean saber rattling, is home to Andersen Air Force Base, from which the US can launch its B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers across the Indo-Pacific.

Hemmings likens Guam’s exclusion from NATO to how the US left the Korean Peninsula outside of a line it drew across the Pacific to deter the Soviet Union and China from spreading communism in January 1950. Five months after the so-called Acheson Line was drawn, the Korean War began.

“The adversary feels emboldened to carry out military conflict and you end up having a war anyway,” Hemmings says.

The Pacific Forum’s Santoro also mentions Guam should be included under the NATO umbrella. “Strategically, Guam absolutely matters a lot more than Hawaii,” he says.

In practical terms, an attack on any US soil is unlikely to be met without a strong response from the allies of the US, yet, this quirk presents an interesting risk.



William-Jose Velez Gonzalez

William-Jose Velez Gonzalez

William-José Vélez González is a native from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and a graduate from Florida International University in biomedical engineering, engineering management, and international relations. A designer with a strong interest in science, policy, and innovation, he previously served as the national executive vice president of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association. William-José lives in Washington, DC, where he works at the Children's National Research Institute and runs Opsin, a nonprofit design studio dedicated to making design more accessible. You can see him on Love is Blind as Lydia's brother. He is the founder and Editor in Chief of Pasquines.


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