NATO, Does it “Trump” our Constitution?

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President Trump and Tucker Carlson have been lambasted by the liberal and Neocon media for even questioning the relevance of NATO today and whether the NATO Article 5 “Collective Defense” is in America’s best interest!  NATO’s Article 5 make it MANDATORY, by treaty, for the US to defend any NATO member(s) if that member(s) invoke Article 5 if attacked by another nation.  NATO was originally founded as a counter-balance against the former Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact.  With 29 member nations now in NATO, and the Soviet Union no longer in existence, and many of the Warsaw Pact nations not NATO members, is NATO still relevant and does the sheer number of its member make peace LESS likely?

The President and Carlson discussed whether the US has a National interest in defending the tiny and recently added to NATO country of Montenegro!  This country was used as an example and the list of countries could include other NATO nations such as Turkey, Albania, Croatia, and others.  Expanding the NATO membership exponentially raises the risk of the US being involved in a military conflict that is not in our interest.

Take, for example, if Turkey, a NATO member, who is buying sophisticated anti-missile systems and other offensive weapons from RUSSIA, claims that the Iraqi Kurds, attacked Turkey and then invoked the NATO Article 5 Common Defense clause AGAINST IRAQ since the Kurds are part of Northern Iraq!  The Kurds were and still are ally and have been instrumental in our eradication of ISIS in North Eastern Syria!.  

What happens if two NATO nation attack each other?  Which one do we defend if both invoke Article 5?  

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The media set their hair on fire again citing that all of the NATO nations responded to our invoking Article 5 following the 9-11 attack!  Seriously?  Many sent NON-COMBAT support to Afghanistan rather than send in combat troops as indicated by Article 5.  Article 5 inherently calls for military support, not clerical or policing support.   Further, the whole existence of NATO was to act as a counter-balance to the old Soviet Union.  It is curious that the only time Article 5 has been invoked was after an attack on the US by radical Islamists, not Russia!

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was created on April 4th, 1949, some 70 years ago!  NATO began with only 12 member nations including, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  Today it consists of 29 countries including Turkey which is rapidly becoming a belligerent Islamic Dictatorship under President Erdogan with increasingly anti-west views. 

With each new member, NATO increases the potential for one of its members to be attacked in some manner by a non-member and thus drawing NATO and by extension, the US into an armed conflict.  For example, if Ukraine had been a member when it was attacked by Russia under Obama, the US and NATO may have had to directly engage Russia in an open conflict.  Rather than the US having the option of negotiating with Russia, the military option may have been the only option.

Can the US Ignore an Article 5 Invocation by a Member Country?

Constitutionally the President could decline or ignore NATO’s invoking of Article 5 if the President did not believe that joining an armed conflict would be in the US best Interest.  Why is this Constitutionally possible?

  1. Supremacy Clause:  You have probably heard of the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.  This clause is spelled out in Article VI, Clause 2 of our Constitution.  It reads, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. “  This means that all Provisions of the US Constitution, and Laws enacted by Congress, take precedent over all treaties made.  In short, Treaties such as NATO can be overwritten by a provision or power specified in the Constitution or a power granted under a law enacted by Congress.
  2. President as the Commander-in-Chief:  Article II, Section 2, designates the President only as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and as such can withhold the deployment of its troops even if provided for in any specific treaty, such as NATO.  Article II, Section 2 reads: The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;…

So, the President can withhold our troop deployment even if a NATO member invokes the NATO Article 5 call to arms.  There is no doubt that the left-wing media and the members of Congress on both sides would beat their collective chests and decry such an executive decision by the President.  They would all be joined by an outcry of the other NATO nations.  But, the founders intentionally placed the Constitution and the duly enacted laws of the Federal Government above Treaties and placed the ultimate decision to wage war in the office of the President, period.  Even if Congress enacted a law requiring the President to unconditionally engage troops if a NATO member invokes Article 5 this law would be deemed unconstitutional by any originalist  Supreme Court.

Why are These Safeguards Important?

Well, if Turkey moves even further towards a radical Islamic State in the mold of Iran, and then attacks Israel, Jordan, or Kurdish Iraq, and then invokes the NATO Article 5 clause when one of these nations or groups counterattack Turkey, the President could deem our national interest to be more aligned with Israel Jordan or Kurdish Iraq.  Presidential Commander In Chief Constitutional powers TRUMP the NATO treaty!  These Presidential powers also extend to our membership in the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and other international agreements.  WE THE PEOPLE STOPS AT OUR SHORES!

Ultimate Sovereignty:  The founders never intended to cede to any foreign power, or groups of foreign powers, sovereignty over the people of the United States.  Their experience with the heavy-handed King George IV of England was enough to convince them to never cede sovereignty over to anyone! 

God Bless the Founders of this Country and the forethought they put into writing our Constitution.

RD Pierini

@RDPierini

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