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So-Long NATO?

By Amanda Leonard

In an August 2016 speech on terrorism, President-elect Donald Trump stated that the “era of nation-building will be ended.” It has been a tenuous week in the United States. The Nation stands divided on a plethora of domestic and international issues as the country transitions to a Republican-controlled legislature and executive branch. Many have questions and many wonder what the future holds for the United States. One of the questions facing the international community is how will the new Administration affect the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is an intergovernmental alliance of countries based on the North Atlantic Treaty, which came into effect in the aftermath of World War II on April 4, 1949. The member states comprise an agreement based on collective defense whereby, in Article 5 of the treaty, each state agrees to individual and collective defense should one of the Member States be attacked. The preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty states that:

The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments. They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defense and for the preservation of peace and security. They, therefore, agree to this North Atlantic Treaty.

During his campaign, President-elect Trump spoke about the United States’ commitment to foreign allies and hinted that as president, he would review whether nations “fulfilled their obligations to [the United States]” when deciding whether or not to come to member states’ defense should they be attacked. Does the executive branch unilaterally have the power to cut ties with NATO? If not unilaterally, will a Republican controlled congress want to distance the United State from its foreign allies and if so, what are the legal ramifications of this?


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