A Crucial Alliance

I am honored that Speaker Pelosi has nominated me to serve as chairman of the US delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the civilian arm of the NATO alliance, beginning with the Parliamentary Assembly's meeting next month at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

The NATO alliance, in my view, is more important now than it was during the Cold War. It was started after World War II and was viewed as a land-based, fairly static, defensive military force to allow the U.S. to help protect western Europe.

Article 5 of the NATO constitution provides that when one country comes under attack, all member nations consider themselves so attacked, and each pledges one to the other all their military assets and air space. The first time Article 5 was invoked, interestingly enough, was after 9/11, here in the United States, when we had flyovers of our major cities by Italian, British, French and German pilots assisting us after the attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Since then, NATO has taken control of operations in Afghanistan, with more than 30,000 NATO troops there, which is helping greatly to relieve an enormous burden on the operations tempo of American forces.

In order for us to secure NATO help in Iraq, there will need to be further diplomatic efforts on our part, in my opinion. As long as the Administration defines victory as some kind of democracy in Iraq, we are pursuing what is increasingly an impossible dream. I believe we need to redefine victory as some sort of stability in that region that is not anti-Western instead of continuing to slug it out block by block in the streets of Baghdad hoping the Iraqis will come to some sort of democracy.

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