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Possible revisions in the Assembly's Rules of Procedure are detailed in appendix A to reflect a decision by the Assembly to become as democratic a reflection of political opinion in the member states as possible. These revisions would not "dictate" to any national parliament how it should select its delegation to the North Atlantic Assembly. They would simply state the objective of the Assembly of including representatives of the main political parties in each country, still selected "by the procedure best suited to each country."

If such a revision were adopted, the potential would exist for Communists to be included in the delegations of Italy, France, Portugal and Iceland in particular-the only countries in the Alliance where the Communist parties constitute a significant political force. It might also mean the participation of some non-Communist but antiNATO parliamentarians, for example from the main Greek opposition party, PASOK.

It seems highly unlikely that the limited number of Communists who would participate (the French Communist Party might not even be interested in participation) would significantly affect the work of the Assembly. Some actions which now pass the Assembly by large majorities or by acclamation might receive a few negative votesbut the outcome on virtually all issues for the foreseeable future would be the same as if no Communists were participating.

It is not unrealistic to suggest that some positive benefits could flow from Communist participation. Exposure to debate in the Assembly could increase the awareness of the Communist members of the implications of their country's membership in the Western community. They might also learn something about the nature of the military challenge posed by the Soviet Union and its East European allies. It could, in turn, increase the level of awareness of the American delegates of the nature of the challenge posed at allied governments by Communist parties. American delegates would be able to develop a better sense for the relative importance and roles of Communist parties in different European countries. It should also be possible to demonstrate, through the votes of a truly representative body of Atlantic parliamentarians, the very high level of support for the Alliance and the fact that the Alliance is strong enough to confront the arguments of those who start from a very different conception of international and domestic political realities.

Finally, the Assembly would no longer stand alone as the only interparliamentary body of democratic countries that consciously discriminates against participation by parliamentarians from significant political parties. The European Parliament, the Assembly of the Western European Union, and the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe already include a democratically reflective sampling of the political composition of the participating parliaments, apparently without damage to the influence or effectiveness of those bodies.

See appendix A, proposed revisions 1, 6.


Effective, representative, and consistent American participation in the North Atlantic Assembly is critical to the viability of the organization. The fact is the American participation has fallen far short of maximum effectiveness throughout much of the history of the Assembly.

There is general consensus among European parliamentarians and a broad range of experts on the Assembly that unless the U.S. Congress sees sufficient value in the NAA to send strong delegations to Assembly meetings there is very little point in having the Assembly at all. European parliamentarians meet to discuss common problems in a variety of other forums, for example the European Parliament, the Assembly of the Western European Union, and the Consulative Assembly of the Council of Europe. They therefore do not need the NAA to meet each other, but hope that the North Atlantic Assembly can provide the context for contacts with North American, and particularly United States, colleagues. They believe that the U.S. Congress has something to gain from such contacts, but they generally feel that the Congress has not benefited as it might have due to a variety of factors relating to American participation throughout the Assembly's history.

The American delegation to the Assembly is in a period of potential transition. Many observers feel that certain aspects of the manner in which the American delegation operated from the mid-1960's until the recent past were, as more than one European parliamentarian put it, "disastrous for American participation." The situation for the delegation from the House of Representatives, according to most sources, Was very unfortunate. The procedure employed for selection of participants, they said, appeared to deny the opportunity of participation to many members who should have been on the delegation and from whose involvement the Assembly would have benefited. In addition, most sources interviewed expressed considerable disappointment in the absence of continuing senatorial participation in the workings of the Assembly. Many sources regretted the tendency that they thought had grown up over the years in the Senate to leave the continuing business of the Assembly between plenary sessions mainly to the House contingent, and expressed hope that the Senate half of the delegation would in the future be more actively interested in the Assembly.

All of this is not to downgrade the work of those Senators and Representatives who have remained active and involved in the Assembly. But as a result of the historical development of American participation there are in 1979 but a few Senators and Representatives who have given serious attention to the work of the Assembly. And,

See appendix D for backgound information concerning U.S. participation in the North Atlantic


recent American delegations have lacked the participation of the Chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs or Armed Services Committees or the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committeesthe very committees that should have the greatest interest in European security and the Atlantic Alliance. Table 1 is illustrative of the fact that most of the leaders of the committees with responsibilities for the affairs which concern the NAA are not involved in the Assembly work. In addition, it is unfortunate that foreign travel is a political liability for most Members of Congress. This situation has been created by press attention to travel by Members of Congress that was regarded either as frivolous or as not relevant to the responsibilities of the particular Member. Most European parliamentarians with whom I discussed this question were quite understanding of the problem faced by Members of Congress in this regard; some of them identified the problem as having its roots not only in the questionable behavior of a few Members of Congress but also in a continuing sense of insularity among the American people. Their general conclusion was that an increase in the number of Assembly meetings held in North America might help their American colleagues and that if the substantive work of the Assembly were sufficiently valuable and productive it would tend to outweigh any potential lack of seriousness on the part of a few American or European participants.


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1 A similar pattern of non-participation of House and Senate committee leaders was repeated at the 1978 annual session

From my discussions with European parliamentarians and various experts on the Assembly, I have derived some general guidelines which, if pursued, could result in more effective American participation in the NAA.

Under ideal circumstances for the Assembly, the American delegation to the NAA would include at least a few of the chairmen (and/or the ranking minority members) of the committees or subcommittees that have the most direct responsibilities for United States-European relations. This would include the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and on Armed Services and the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Armed Services. The House Foreign Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committees both have subcommittees specifically tasked with following European affairs and the House Armed Services Committee has established a subcommittee on NATO affairs; some of the leading members of these subcommittees, at least, should serve on the U.S. delegation.

Also, the U.S. delegation could beneficially include a number of members who serve for a period of years to provide continuity with new members regularly included to broaden the experience of individual members in United States-European relations.

Finally, there should be close cooperation between the Senate and House delegations, particularly between the secretaries of delegation. In fact, some observers believe that U.S. participation in interparlia mentary groups such as the NAA should be handled by a small joint staff that would coordinate House and Senate participation, avoiding some of the organizational overlap and procedural difficulties that have been experienced in the past.


Just as it seems clear that the NAA has a place in United StatesEuropean relations and a potentially important role, some major changes need to be considered to enhance the effectiveness of the way the Assembly goes about its business. In addition, if the Assembly decides to dispense fully with the notion that it can become a formal part of NATO, a number of current procedures of the Assembly need to be reassessed.

The potential influence of the Assembly is not to be found in the recommendations that it now drafts and sends to the North Atlantic council for response by the Secretary General. The Secretary General, for all the prestige of the position, is but a servant of the member countries of NATO. He exercises considerable influence but does not have the power to implement most proposals originating in the Assembly. The North Atlantic Council, for its part, is simply a mechanism employed by the Alliance members for consultation and consensus-formation. Even though the Alliance countries are usually represented in the Council by well-respected and influential ambassadors, the Council has no power other than that created by the initiative and consensus of the member states.

If the Assembly wishes to have an impact on the affairs of the Alliance, its most effective option would be to improve its channels to national policymaking-through the links between the national delegations and the parent parliaments-and its channels to public opinion through the press services in the member countries.

To implement such an approach, the Assembly could: (1) take specific steps to increase the effectiveness of feedback to and from the national parliaments; (2) improve the substance and the procedures of the committee and plenary meetings; and (3) enhance the substantive analytical work currently done by the Assembly by expanding the secretariat's capability for independent research.

In the paragraphs that follow, a number of "problems" with the current work and procedures of the Assembly are raised. They are derived from the comments of parliamentarians, secretariat employees, secretaries of delegation, government and NATO officials, and academic experts. The listing does not include all the problems that were suggested to me, nor was there necessarily a consensus on each problem. The solutions offered are not intended to be exclusive other steps may be necessary-but are intended to suggest general directions. When it is relevant, references are made to proposed amendments to the Assembly's constitution-its "Rules of Procedure"which are detailed in appendix A.


A. Problem: The current procedure of orienting the Assembly's deliberations toward recommendations to the North Atlantic Council (NAC) is virtually without productive result. The influence of the Assembly's recommendations on Alliance issues has been limited.

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