A Brief History of AUD

                     Quotes from Atlantic Unionists of the Past

                     AUD and Its Accomplishments, a Sixty-year retrospective by Don Dennis, 1990





In 1939, Clarence Streit, a New York Times correspondent at the League of Nations, published his work Union Now. A proposal for a federal union of the leading democracies, Union Now advocated the gradual growth of a democratic world federation as a means of forestalling the possibility of future wars. In 1940, a year later, Streit founded the Association to Unite the Democracies, then called Federal Union, Inc., a non-profit membership organization committed to the burgeoning federalist movement influenced by his timely book.

Streit offered the federal union idea as a method of defending the free world against these totalitarian regimes with an expectation that they could eventually become integrated members of the union once they were replaced with democratic governments rooted in freedom. Thus, from the very beginning, the mission of the AUD has been to defend, extend and sustain individual liberty and peace.


In early 1949, AUD spawned the Atlantic Union Committee, with former Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts as Chairman, former Under-Secretary of State Will Clayton and former Secretary of War Robert Patterson as Vice Chairman, in an intensive nationwide campaign for Atlantic integration. This was the climate in which NATO was proposed, the stage already being set by the Marshall Plan of which Clayton was the principal author. In the period 1949-53, the Atlantic Union Committee (AUC) became the primary organization in America supporting NATO. In the early 1950's, the AUC took the initiative to form an Atlantic Assembly, as an annual consultative assembly of parliamentarians from the NATO countries, which formally became the North Atlantic Assembly in 1966, and then was transformed into the NATO Parliamentary Assembly under which name it exists today. Other AUD members and supporters involved in the cause, including George Marshall, Robert Schumann, Theodore Achilles, Will Clayton, Lester Pearson, and Paul Henri-Spaak, played key roles in the birth of the Marshall Plan, NATO and the European Community.


Today, AUD continues to promote the ideals of democracy, international peace and a community where people would consider themselves part of the world and not a world apart as described by Clarence Streit in Union Now in 1939. At the same time, we realize that no result can be achieved without adjusting our work to the new challenges in the international arena, such as the need for more freedom, democracy and transparency in the globalizing world and new security threats after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Our major priorities are now to reinforce the Euro-Atlantic link working on the issues of NATO/EU enlargement and Transatlantic relations and to facilitate the spread of democracy and freedom by means of education and intercultural exchange.


Back to top




Ambassador Achilles: "If it hadn't been for Union Now, I don't think there would have been a NATO Treaty."


Hubert Humphrey: "We stand now at the threshold of a new age-an age in which all of us along the Atlantic basin, all of us who share common heritage and common values will be able to work together, freely yet effectively, toward man's final liberation around the world."


Richard Nixon: "It is fitting that the United States, the world's first truly federal government, should be a main force behind the effort to find a basis for a broad federation of free Atlantic Nations."


Nelson Rockefeller: "Our generation is called on for a pioneering act of political creativity and economic construction -on an intercontinental scale. The practical first step would be to form a federal political structure for the North Atlantic Area."


Back to top



AUD AND ITS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: A sixty-year Retrospective by Don Dennis, 1990


Don Dennis joined the Association to Unite the Democracies (AUD, then called Federal Union) in 1945. He was an Executive Director of AUD and the Atlantic Union Committee from 1946 to 1952. After 1953 he was Secretary-Treasurer and then Vice President of the Foreign Policy Association, and also Secretary of AUD.

In 1990 he retired from both positions, but remained a member of the AUD Board of Directors until 2002. He prepared this final message as Secretary to the members of AUD.


Following the death of AUDs charismatic leader, Clarence K. Streit, several years ago, and the observance last year of the fiftieth anniversary of the movement for a federal union of free peoples, some persons have asked, What have you accomplished? What evidence is there that the Association to Unite the Democracies has achieved anything?


Evidence can be presented on two types of achievements:

1) achievements of goals in organization, education, publicity, fund-raising, etc. and

2) achievements of AUDs purpose: international order, federation and peace.

Evidence of achievements in the first category have been many through the years. To list a few from just the last year:

         a dozen op-ed pieces in major newspapers including the Christian Science Monitor and Los Angeles Times.

         numerous letters to the editor in papers such as the New York Times, London Financial Times and The Economist.

         radio interviews, such as three interviews with Ira Straus (on stations in D.C., Colorado and California) on German reunification, three on Russia and the West, and one with Henry Smith III (in New Jersey) on AUD itself.

         meetings with speakers such as the dinner with Senator Eugene McCarthy in Washington, Tom Hudgens talks to church groups and luncheon clubs, or Ira Straus talks in academic institutes in Britain, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

         establishment of a scholarship program via the Mayme and Herbert Frank Educational Trust to enable several post-graduate college students each year to study federalism, with two trial seminar scholarships completed in 1990.

         publication of THE FEDERATOR, an important quarterly periodical, with substantive articles on such topics as integrating the Soviets into the World Order and The Revolution in the European Community.

         a 31-person seminar tour of the USSR in transition, led by Merv Strickler and Henry Smith.

         a co-sponsored series of lecture-seminars on federalism at Temple University with the Center for the Study of Federalism there. The first two featured the Center Director, Prof. Daniel J. Elazar, on Exploring Federalism, and Prof. C. Lloyd Brown of the University of Windsor, Canada, on Federal Patterns in the Contemporary World.

         policy suggestions. Many of AUDs ideas and recommendations over the past several years have been sent to every member of Congress, including a plea for ratification of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and suggestions for alleviating the problem of burden sharing among the NATO allies.


How Does One Measure Achievement?


Evidence of achievements in the second category is more difficult to ascertain. AUD cannot by itself establish a federal union of free peoples; it must seek to persuade people and their leaders. AUD seeks to educate in the basic principles of federal union with a view to attaining world peace through a union of free people. Many educational efforts have been pursued, but how does one measure how many people have been educated or what effect that education has had in changing the world in which we leave?

We are engaged here with an idea, a concept of international federation which AUD has sought to keep before the policy makers of the world to guide them toward international federation in their undertakings. So, in seeking to find evidence of achievement one needs to know who knew, when they knew, what they did, and to what extent what they did was motivated by their knowledge of the concept.


Finding evidence is also complicated by the fact that familiarity with the concept of international federation could result in immediate action but is more likely to result in action years or decades later. And when action does take place, it is unlikely a world leader will say I read about it in Union Now (or saw it in an AUD brochure) and decided to pursue this course of action. Thus, we are largely dependent on circumstantial evidence.


A Reasonable Faith


What is the concept of free-world federation? Thomas Jefferson and the delegates to our Constitutional Convention in 1787 devised a new form of government. The concept is that of the people of a number of countries creating an umbrella federal government to regulate relations among them and to deal with problems which none of them can handle separately. It is of a federal government of specified limited powers, all other powers being reserved to the states. It is a government of executive, legislature and judiciary with powers balanced among them. It is a federal government, a republic, elected by the people and passing laws in its area of jurisdiction which apply directly to the people. It is a government which prospers the people by providing a common market and a common currency.


By requiring the executives and legislators to submit themselves to the people for approval at regular intervals, our Constitution-makers gave the people the opportunity to change the government and install new officials without the violence which usually accompanies the overthrow of a king, emperor or despot. By having the officers of our federal government elected by the people, our Constitution-makers provided that government with authority to act in its area of jurisdiction without having to seek the consent of a number of jealous, contending national governments or states. What Clarence Streit and the AUD movement have done is to apply these principles to international federation.


From Isolation to Internationalism


Let us examine the situation in 1939 when Clarence Streit proposed free-world federation. The U.S. was isolationist and had no strong international commitments. Fifty years later the U.S. is involved in the United Nations, NATO, GATT, IMF, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and many other international organizations.


Did the movement for free world federation (AUD) have a part in bringing about this change? It is my strong conviction that AUD made a major contribution to the creation and success of NATO, and also, through the Marshall Plan, to the European Community, and modest contributions to the UN, OECD and other international projects.

First, let us consider the creation in 1946 of the United Nations, a universal forum of sovereign nations, a weak instrument but U.S. participation was a stunning reversal of the decision not to join the League of Nations at the close of World War I or of the isolationism of the 1930s (when the Neutrality Acts of 1936-39 went as far as the law could go in keeping the U.S. out of involvement abroad).


Of course, the major influence in leading the U.S. into the United Nations was U.S. involvement in World War II, but AUD (then called Federal Union) helped a bit. A newspaper at the time spoke of the Federal Union movement as being the most significant movement (in the early 40s) in getting people to think of U.S. relationships with other countries and of the nature of the world order which would emerge from World War II. Federal Union moved peoples thinking toward U.S. participation in an international organization and, by advocating greater international commitments than the United Nations required, made it look reasonable and moderate.


Next we come to the Marshall Plan, that most successful and imaginative program to aid Western Europe, which was largely designed by Will Clayton, Secretary Marshalls Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs, an advocate of federal union and later Vice Chairman of the Atlantic Union Committee. The Marshall Plan laid the foundation for the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, the European Community and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


A Significant Contribution to the Creation and Success of NATO


Finally we come to the creation in 1949 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO. Here there is solid evidence of AUD achievement, both in adoption of the Treaty which created NATO and in administration of what has been called the most successful alliance in history, which maintained the peace for more than forty years and led to the break-up of the greatest threat to world peace, Soviet Communism.


Here again, World War II and the cold war with the Soviet Union were the prime factors in the creation of NATO, but Federal Union played a key role in the form and the fact. For ten years prior to the Treaty, the newspapers, magazines, radio waves and lecture platforms had been filled with discussion of Streits proposal for a federal union of the democracies of the North Atlantic as the best defense for the free world. The concept had been discussed with the Secretary of State and with the President over dinner in the White House. All the leaders of the Western world were familiar with the Streit proposal. Streits book Union Now had been a Book of the Month dividend and had been published in many languages in many countries. He had been featured on radio and television, spoken at Madison Square Garden and been on the cover of Time magazine.


Early in 1949 Federal Union spawned the Atlantic Union Committee with former Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts as Chairman, former Secretary of War Robert Patterson and former Under-Secretary of State Will Clayton as Vice Chairmen, and Elmo Roper as Treasurer. AUD launched an intensive nationwide campaign for Atlantic Federal Union. This was the climate in which NATO was proposed. The stage had already been set by the Marshal Plan of which Clayton was principal author; the countries participating in the Marshall Plan becoming the basis for participation in NATO.


In the proposed North Atlantic Treaty the U.S., Canada and the nations of Western Europe pledged that an armed attack against one was an attack against all. For the first time the U.S. placed its trust in mutual security and promised to fight overseas under certain conditions. Roberts, Clayton and Patterson testified before Congress in support of the NATO Treaty on behalf of the Atlantic Union Committee. The Treaty was ratified. The late Ambassador Theodore C. Achilles, Director of the Division of Western European Affairs at the State Department at the time, said, If it hadnt been for Union Now (Streits proposal), I dont think there would have been a NATO Treaty.


Supporting, Democratizing and Strengthening NATO


The movement for a union of democracies continued to assist NATO, even while freely criticizing its flaws. The Atlantic Union Committee was, in the period 1949-53, the primary organization in the U.S. supporting NATO, but AUDs chief mission was to press for federation. The American Council on NATO (organized by AUD staff members in my office when I was Executive Director of AUC) then became the principal advocate of NATO. It was absorbed by the Atlantic Council in the late 50s when AUC leaders decided to disband AUC and establish the Atlantic Council of the U.S. to work to reform NATO. The Council attracted many new people and new money to the effort, but within a few years the push for basic reform toward federation was lost, and the Council became essentially an agency for support of NATO with minor reforms. The Council continues its useful role today, functioning with a professional staff of perhaps eight and a budget of nearly a million dollars.


In the early 1950s the Atlantic Union Committee took the initiative to form an Atlantic Assembly, as an annual consultative assembly of parliamentarians from the NATO countries with the goal of providing more democratic legislative supervision of NATO and making recommendations for NATOs future. Legislation for the Atlantic Assembly was written in AUCs office by Livingston Hartley, a volunteer, who had first proposed the idea. Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa, a strong AUC supporter, introduced the legislation in the Senate and it was adopted. A NATO Parliamentarians Conference first convened in 1955 and was formally established as the North Atlantic Assembly in 1966. Although useful as a consultative group, the Assembly, which continues to meet twice annually, has no power, and the federal union movement has not yet succeeded in developing it into a directly-elected NATO legislature.

In 1959, on the tenth anniversary of NATO, AUC precipitated the holding of an Atlantic Congress in London, getting the U.S. Congress to authorize and fund the U.S. Delegation. Six hundred leaders of NATO nations, including prime ministers, foreign ministers, ambassadors, legislators, editors, businessmen, etc. met to discuss NATOs past and future. The opening session was held in the British Parliament building in the presence of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. The Congress made a number of recommendations which were carried out such as creation of the Atlantic Institute, which functioned for more than twenty years as a first-class research body on problems in the Atlantic Community but other recommendations looking toward federation were never implemented.


A daring try was made in 1962 when, on the initiative of the leaders of the Atlantic Union Committee and Federal Union, ninety leading citizens of NATO nations met in Paris in the Atlantic Convention. They made recommendations including greater integration of NATO defense forces, establishment of an Atlantic High Court of Justice, further development of the Atlantic Assembly, and establishment of a governmental commission to draw up a Charter for a true Atlantic Community. Several of the less daring recommendations were implemented but action toward federation did not develop.


Leaders of AUC had also established in 1954 the Declaration of Atlantic Unity, which backed various measures for greater Atlantic unity in signed declarations which drew much publicity. The project worked with about 300 top leaders in the NATO countries as signatories. Those from the United States, for example, included Senators Benton, Bowles, Church, Humphrey (Hubert) and Nixon, and Lewis W. Douglas, W. Averill Harriman, Henry Kissinger, John J. McCloy and Arthur K. Watson.

There is no doubt that NATO was strengthened and aided by the free-world federation movement directly, and through agencies and events created by it and NATOs success represents in part an important achievement of the movement.


An Inspiration to Many


The concept of moving toward peace by applying the federal union principle internationally to create a federal union of free people is an inspiring one.

It inspired people like Paul Findley, Gilbert Lamb, John Whitehead and Adolph Schmidt in the 1940s and continues to do so.

Winston Churchill was aware if the idea when he offered federal union with England to France in 1940 as France was being invaded by Germany.

Jean Monnet, Robert Shuman and Konrad Adenauer were aware of the idea when in 1950 they created the European Coal and Steel Community which later developed into the European Economic Community.


George Lehleitner, known as the father of Hawaiian and Alaskan statehood, has written that he was inspired to do his years of successful work to extend the U.S. federal union by reading Union Now. He was a member of the Federal Union Board.


John F. Kennedy was aware of the idea when in 1962 he proposed a partnership between the United States of America and a United States of Europe. Earlier, after watching the machinations of national leaders, he had written, What ever became of Union Now?


Altiero Spinelli was aware of it when he founded the European Federalist Movement in the early 1940s, and had not forgotten anything when he ran for the first directly-elected European Parliament in 1979. In 1981 he persuaded the Parliament to establish a Committee on International Affairs and to draft a Treaty of European Union. The Draft Treaty was presented in 1984. Resistance from Britain, Greece and Denmark caused it to be diluted, but what was left was adopted as the European Single Act in 1986 not political union, but complete economic union by 1992, with monetary union and political union seen as the next steps. The negotiations for monetary and political union have just begun in December 1990.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl was well aware of the federal union concept as he sped the union of the two Germanies. Kohl was a dues-paying member of the International Associaton for a Union of Democracies (another of the offshoots of AUD) in the 1970s.


President Bush is surely aware of the concept of federal union, having responded personally in 1987 to correspondence from Henry Smith III on the subject. As a congressman, on the suggestion of Federal Union supporters, George Bush introduced a resolution for an Atlantic Federal Union HR 460 on December 2, 1969. In 1990, President Bush indicates that as the world grows smaller, our aim must be to ensure democracys advance, to take the lead in forging peace and freedoms best hope, a great and growing commonwealth of free nations.


Secretary Baker is also surely aware of the concept. He said last December, We propose that the United States and the European Community work together to achieve a significantly strengthened set of institutional and consultative links... We will create a new Europe on the basis of a New Atlanticism. The proposed new consultative links between the U.S. and the EC were agreed upon and announced in November 1990.


Others continue to be inspired even now by the vision of a federal union of the free. Mihajlo Mihajlov, world-famous Yugoslav philosopher and dissident, endorsed AUD and its goals earlier this year, calling for an international federal government, starting with a common market and common congress of the U.S. and Europe, so the revolutions in Eastern Europe can stabilize on a basis of democracy and avoid the excesses of nationalism.


What does the Evidence add up to?


Most of this evidence is circumstantial, but I contend that it is quite persuasive evidence of AUD achievement. It does not add up to world government or the creation of a federal union of the free, but it shows a United States that has moved from isolationist to internationalist, from fortress America to mutual security, from high tariff to free trade, a country that concedes the necessity of multilateral action to deal with global problems. Political union has been achieved in Germany and has moved close to the top of the agenda in Europe. We are moving toward international federation, may well be over half way there already.


A New Period of Change


I was recently struck by the fact several policies those of advocating a permanent secretariat and parliamentary assembly for a beefed-up CSCE (Helsinki group) and of inviting the former Soviet bloc countries to have observers at NATO sent by Ira Straus to the President and State Department in April, and to all the NATO countries in May turned up as recommendations that President Bush made to his allies at the NATO summit in London in July. They were adopted by NATO on July 6. AUD was the first and strongest proponent of a phased opening of NATO to the East, and while some of the proposals on CSCE were conceived independently in other places as well, AUD took the lead among American and Atlanticist organizations on this and may well have been a source of the Presidents proposals.


AUD was on target. Now CSCE is establishing its first actual institutions, and the East Europeans and Soviets are establishing liaisons at NATO. This makes it all the more important that AUD continue to put forward proposals for further reform of NATO, development of CSCE, and CSCE-NATO convergence and eventual merger which alone can make full sense of what NATO started in July.


Now, more than at any time since the period 1945-1950, the people and leaders of this country and Europe, both East and West, are open to new ideas and the creation or reform of institutions. A new order for security and cooperation between Europe and America, and East and West, will inevitably emerge in the next several years; the only question is whether it will be a strong, coherent and democratic order, or a weak and haphazard one. AUD and its predecessors through the years, through books, speakers, magazine articles, radio and television, brought to millions of people the message that it is the people who are sovereign, not the governments, and the people can selectively place powers in those levels of government, including supranational government, which they feel can best deal with the problems and issues which they face.

AUD must continue to put before the people and their leaders steps which will lead in a desirable direction, and the option and example of that most desirable of choices, a federal union of free peoples.


Back to top