Press release: With NATO Summit Underway, Senator Young, Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Protections for Hawaii Under North Atlantic Treaty

The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian:


July 10, 2024

With NATO Summit Underway, Young, Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Protections for Hawaii Under North Atlantic Treaty

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) in urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to rectify Hawaii’s exclusion from the North Atlantic Treaty as military threats in the Indo-Pacific grow. In a letter to Secretary Blinken, the senators raised concerns about the omission of Hawaii under Article 6 of the Treaty, meaning an armed attack on Hawaii would not be seen as an attack on all NATO countries and therefore not necessitate collective self-defense.

“When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recommended the Senate ratify the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, it was with the understanding that overseas territories would not be covered by Article 6,” the senators wrote. “At the time, Hawaii was a U.S. territory and the drafters of the Treaty were reluctant to include all territories of the Treaty Parties under the NATO security umbrella. However, the world has changed significantly since 1949. Not only did Hawaii become a U.S. state, but the importance of the Indo-Pacific to U.S. security has increased tremendously. Although since 1949, NATO’s footprint has expanded from 12 founding members to 32, the alliance has not accounted for the inclusion of Hawaii as the 50th state of the union. The alliance also has not accounted for the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific – and the need to deter destabilizing regional conflict – or the need to be more responsive and respectful toward Hawaii residents.”

In order to deter potential future conflict in the Indo-Pacific and protect Hawaii’s residents, as well as U.S. and allied interests, the senators called on the State Department to pursue a range of diplomatic measures to address the issue, including ultimately formally amending the North Atlantic Treaty. Potential short-term measures include clarifying statements from the North Atlantic Council regarding the Treaty language, for which there is precedent.

“Allies and adversaries alike must understand now, before potential hostilities erupt, that an attack against Hawaii will be seen as an attack on NATO. Silence on whether NATO allies would come to the defense of Hawaii undermines our strategy of deterring conflict in the Indo-Pacific. Formally amending the North Atlantic Treaty would be the clearest and most just course of action to rectify this shortcoming,” the senators continued.

In addition to Senators Young, Schatz, and Schmitt, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).

Full text of the letter can be found here.

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