The very term NATO must at best be seen as an anachronism and at worst be considered a joke in Moscow and Beijing. Articles 5 and 6 of the 1949 (Washington) Treaty (as amended) are out of date. The Treaty needs updating so that it is clear what an “armed attack” is especially in this cyber-age.

Pursuant to a recent interview with the Times Newspaper, President Ilves (Estonia’s President) seemed to think that NATO should respond militarily to the lights going out courtesy of a cyber-attack on Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania. There are no doubt other politicians in NATO member countries that live in cloud cuckoo land.

Indeed, there are hundreds of millions of deluded citizens who assume that they are protected by NATO. They live in the following countries and surprisingly their dependent territories which include most of the globe’s tax havens: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the USA.

The “current” definition of an “armed attack” includes an attack “on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in … any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force [ie 4 April 1949]”. It might take weeks to work out whether or not an attack fell within that definition let alone whether an attack was an “armed attack” which is unhelpfully otherwise undefined.

No doubt some savvy overpaid bureaucrat in NATO has argued that keeping the definition of an attack nebulous and out of date gave NATO greater flexibility. If so, it was probably he or she who wrote NATO’s plans for dealing with cyber attacks. They are about as clear and user friendly as the Amazon rain forests on a misty night.

What a bunch of banana republics NATO’s members must be? Is there anyone else who believes that NATO should act militarily were there a major cyber attack on any one NATO member country? If so, or even if not, it begs the question why that anachronistic acronym NATO still exists other than to assist the USA and Russia speed up Armageddon once the Second Cold War gets really hot.

Incidentally, if you think the stark reality of your government’s reliance on an out of date agreement is a joke don’t laugh too loud. How many out of date agreements do you rely on? For you or your family it might be a will written a few years ago or that home or health insurance policy you haven’t read in years. For you and your work colleagues it could be an aged business agreement or even your own employment contract. Who knows … but surely NATO can do better?

This article was first published on 3rd April 2015.

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