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NATO Article 5 is a clause in the 1949 treaty establishing the NATO alliance between the United States, Canada, and the majority of European countries. According to Article 5, an attack on one member of NATO should be interpreted as an attack on all members of NATO. This means that if one NATO country is attacked, even other NATO country is obligated to go to war.
As tensions around the world heated up in 2022, especially after the Russian Invasion of Ukraine many feared that Article 5 might be invoked and lead to a world war. Memes such as the Poland Wojak Pushing Nato Article 5 Button meme responded to this anxiety with jokes and dark humor.
Article 5 was signed as part of the NATO Treaty in 1949. In those years immediately after World War II and at the beginning of the Cold War, capitalist democracies in the Europe and North America felt the need to bind together as a counterweight to the Soviet Union and its allies. The NATO Treaty created an obligation of mutual defense and an umbrella of protection particularly for smaller countries in Eastern Europe.
After the dissolving of the Soviet Union in 1991, new countries like the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia joined NATO. The government of Russia under Vladimir Putin saw this as a threat, saying NATO expansion into Eastern Europe was aggression against Russia, even though the alliance and Article 5 are defensive.
The only time NATO Article 5 has ever been triggered was after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, when the United States asked other NATO countries to help it fight Al Qaeda.
Article 5 was increasingly referenced in memes and discussions following the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Often, memers feared that Article 5 might pull the entire NATO alliance into a war with Russia, and could be the way that WW3 started.
On November 15h, 2022, after a missile landed just over the Polish border with Ukraine and killed two, many feared Poland would view this as an attack and invoke Article 5. The missile was identified as Russian-made, and some argued it might be a Russian missile that had accidentally or intentionally crossed the border. Others argued it might be a Ukrainian air defense missile Thea accidentally crossed the border. The attack happened during a massive Russian bombardment of Ukraine's power grid and civilian infrastructure.
For example, Twitter's @BoxesBoi  tweeted a Robert Downey Jr.'s Comments meme on November 15th (seen below left) about the prospect of Poland triggering Article 5, earning over 32,000 likes in two days. Others on Twitter and Reddit focused on using various faces from the Wojak family to represent different responses to the news, such as @Vasilje_gr, who earned almost 2,000 likes for a tweet of this nature on November 15th (seen below right).
The Wojak most frequently used in Article 5 memes, however, was Psycho Wojak. On Reddit's /r/greentext, a pro-Russia 4chan meme depicting several European NATO countries as Psycho Wojaks earned 13,000 upvotes. Often, these Psycho Wojak memes were used to imply aggression.
After American President Joe Biden and others stated that the stray missiles were Ukrainian and not Russian, some memed about the possibility of Article 5 being triggered against Ukraine, which likely would not happen. For example, a Meme Man meme on Reddit's /r/dankmemes describing this fear earned over 100 likes on November 17th.
 Associated Press – Poland, NATO say missile strike wasn’t a Russian attack
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