What Happens If Two NATO Nations Go To War?

Turkey continues to push the military envelope with Greece and Syria

Grant Piper
5 min readJun 23, 2022


Greece, Green — Turkey, Orange (Wikipedia)

Greece and Turkey have a rivalry dating back thousands of years. Greeks and Turks have been antagonistic neighbors ever since the Persians crossed the Agean Sea to threaten the Peloponnese. That fraught relationship has gone through various wars, eras, and figures. The Ottoman Turks ruled Greece for hundreds of years, and Greece and Turkey have contended for great islands such as Crete and Cyprus. Turkey looked on as Nazi Germany invaded Greece during World War II and did nothing. However, after thousands of years of bitter rivalry, the two nations found themselves under the same military umbrella in the form of NATO. The Soviet Union was seen as a greater threat to the world than ancient disputes.

Today, Greece and Turkey remain neighbors on unfriendly terms but the two are tied together via NATO and are technically allies. But that alliance has not stopped the two countries from continuing to wage a war of words in 2022. The status of various islands in the Aegean Sea continues to be up for debate and both Turkey and Greece are claiming that the other is acting in bad faith in regards to old treaties governing the region.

The peace between these two historic neighbors has always been fragile and even today the saber rattling continues. The potential for conflict between Greece and Turkey begs an interesting question. What happens if two NATO nations find themselves at war?

An Attack On One Is An Attack On All

At the core of the NATO alliance is a strict defensive pact. An attack on one NATO nation, by anyone, is to be regarded as an attack on all. That means that if Greece or Turkey were to take an obvious aggressive bent towards the other, the country on the receiving end would be the defending state.

For example, if Turkey invaded islands belonging to Greece and sparked a war, they would be considered the aggressor. NATO is not an offensive alliance. In this case, hypothetically, the rest of NATO would come to the defense of Greece against Turkey.

It is unclear if Turkey would subsequentially be removed from the alliance in a case like this. There is no clear…



Grant Piper

Thought provoking articles, when time and payouts permit it.