If two NATO nations went to war...

This thread was partially inspired by the Falklands War thread and partly by the current trend of expanding the definition of ‘Western’ nations (expanse of the UN, spread of capitalism, etc.).

If two NATO nations went to war, what would happen? Seeing that NATO is a mutual defense alliance, it would seem that it would split the union into factions around the combatants.

Or not.

Would NATO simply ‘excise’ the combatants and go on? Would NATO oust one and back the other? This is sounding like a weird variation on Hindenberg’s alliance system that started WW I.

Any ideas?

Who started it?

The way I heard it was “If Russia attacked Turkey from behind would Greece help?” :wink:

Maybe, and I’d give a Qatar to find out.

IANAL, but it seems obvious to me that it’s simply not possible for two NATO nations to go to war. Surely the treaty stipulates that the signatories will not attack each other. The aggressor nation would no longer be a NATO member the moment it attacked, which would relieve the obligation of other NATO nations to come to its aid.

The treaty says no such thing, and don’t call me Shirley. The treaty makes vague commitments, such as

NATO members are committed to assisting another member that comes under armed attack. But if the situation is sufficiently murky that each side may claim they have been attacked by the other, then each has a legitimate right of self-defense, and NATO is in a pickle. Finally, there is no provision that members who violate the treaty are automatically excommunicated.

Here are the members of NATO.

If we had had NATO back in the 1930s, how would that have affected World War II? Poland, 1938–Articles 3 and 5 would have come in handy, I suppose.

But I would wonder who would have come to their aid.

‘Diplomacy’ is an anagram for ‘Mad Policy’.

I thought y’all knew that… :smiley:

As for specific countries, would it matter? Would a UK-France war be conceptually different from a US-UK war, for example, in the context of my question? I just meant two unidentified NATO countries going at it and the possible response of the rest of the Organization.

I imagine the NATO treaty would prevent warring within the group. But then, the Kellogg Pact outlawed war completely, and look how well that has been followed. I think the odds of a war between two NATO members will increase with time, due to the general perversity of the universe.

So, to restate, if two NATO nations got down and dirty, what would be the most likely outcome for the group as a whole?

The most likely outcome is that Uncle Sam would sigh and get out the Big Stick, to the great annoyance of the rest of the group, and then they would all get so involved in criticizing Unc’s stick technique that they’d forget what they had been arguing about in the first place. :smiley:

Well, how about Article 8?

It seems pretty clear that attacking other NATO members is “in conflict with the provisions of this Treaty”. Yes, there is no clause explicitly providing for the expulsion of violators, but it’s common sense that by failing to live up to the terms of an agreement, you sacrifice any benefits you may be entitled to under it. Mind you, the law does not always operate in the interests of common sense, but I’m simply pointing out that my claim is not groundless.

Ever hear of Crete? Thouh it’s not as hot as it used to be, control is disputed by Greece anf Turkey, long-time rivals. They’re on the periphery, but still NATO members. Taking this conflict as an example, I’d guess that as long as it doesn’t particularly affect other members, they’d hold their breath and hope any warfare would end quickly. If it were two nations trying to conquer one another, that might be different, but if it came to that, I’d have to guess that anything NATO stood for would have already become obsolete. NATO protects an economic system as much as it ever protected the West from the perceived threat of communism’s spread. Derleth, you’re probably implying a conflict between key members. It is because the key nations are so economically interdependent that this situation is presently inconceivable.

Still, what if…

Two NATO countries going to war with each other?

Its just not going to happen.

You might as well ask: what if one US state attacked another?

Nicky :

Perhaps it’s not going to happen now, but who knows what will be the stituation 20 or 30 years down from now?

Also, the Greece/Turkey war example given above isn’t totally ridiculous.

Anyway, I don’t think the original question makes much sense. The consequences would be highly dependant on the actual situation, the countries involved, the causes of the war, etc… I can’t see how someone could make a guess about such an hypothetical and undetermined situation.

Crete is part of Greece.

Methinks you mean Cyprus:cool:

I guess I’ve gotten as much of an answer as there is here: There isn’t any set strategy or procedure, and we’d have to play it by ear if it does come up.

I wasn’t necessarily postulating a war between core members, but I can see how that would be pretty damn unlikely. The Turkey-Greece angle is one I didn’t think of (mainly because I doubted both nations were in NATO).

Thanks, everyone. :slight_smile:

Damn they are on to us… cancel the attack on Nevada

Certainly Turkey’s involvement in the Turkish Cypriot revolt, which had the effect of partitioning Cyprus, counts as a war between NATO members. The belligerent rhetoric between Athens and Ankara has never really stopped. The behind-the-scenes diplomacy by the rest of Europe and the US was certainly intense.

NATO is (was) an anti-Soviet alliance. Other wars just haven’t been relevant to it, despite its more recent use as a command structure in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Oh, and Britain’s disagreements with Iceland over cod fishing rights have involved some actual gunfire, IIRC.

At times in the 70/80’s the Cypriot conflict definitely was the closest NATO members came to a hot war since ’45.

I’d add another possible scenario with the disclaimer: while not a full out “war” between nations, it looked REMOTELY possible, but HIGHLY unlikely. And was very recent:

That Greece could involve herself militarily in Macedonia (which was at times since ‘97 has not had that low a likelihood of happening) … Almost certainly Greece would be fighting elements of the KLA in Macedonia … which in turn was NATO’s militarily backed ally in Kosovo … Meaning Greece might be fighting soldiers who one province over, their forces were fighting side by side with … Meaning Greece was its own enemy and ally… or more likely that it would pull out of NATO & fight the KLA, who was NATO’s Ally & NATO would … do nothing? Probably …


Yes, Cyprus. Glad you guys are paying attention.

how embarrassing…