Letter From The Editor: NATO Chicago 2012


by Claude Julian | ARCHIVES

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit was held (May 20th & 21st) in the City of Chicago. The proud honor marks the first city in the United States outside of Washington D.C. to host a NATO summit. In all, several thousands dignitaries, along with an international press corps of thousands, gathered in the windy city of Chicago. Everywhere you turn you witnessed Heads of State and Government, cabinet ministers, high-ranking government officials, and NATO’s Secretary General. President Barack Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel were gleeful in their deep appreciation and participating of all the citizens of Chicago. NATO presented large volumes of traffic, rerouting of expressways and Lake Shore Drive, and the closure of many popular exit routes near McCormick Place venue of the NATO Summit.

The summit has been designated a National Special Security Event (NSSE) by the Department of Homeland Security. Final authority over law enforcement thus belongs to the Secret Service of the United States. The NSSE steering committee, which also includes representatives from the Chicago Police Department and has 24 subcommittees, began meeting in October 2011. The city signed a $193,461 contract for the procurement of new face shields that fit over gas masks; the shields are intended to protect police officers from liquids. The Chicago Police Department was preparing its mounted unit with riot gear: armor for horses along with “crowd control training.”

The Chicago Police Department had their hands full with massive protests from the Occupy Movement, Anti-Globalization Movement, and protesters from around the world. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says the protests of the NATO Summit resulted in nearly 100 people being arrested and four officers suffering injuries — one from stab wound in the leg. Three men who allegedly planned attacks on President Obama’s Chicago headquarters and the mayor’s residence have been arrested by Chicago police. Reuters reports anti-N.A.T.O. and Occupy Chicago-associated protesters Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly were charged Friday with “conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism, and possession of an explosive incendiary device.” In a report published Saturday afternoon the Associated Press said prosecutors allege the men also planned attacks on police vehicles and substations.

• As for arrests, McCarthy has said 45 protesters were arrested at the Sunday (May 20th) evening scuffle, and a total of 19 people were arrested earlier in the weekend. Many of those arrested were taken to the Area North police station at Belmont and Western avenues, and about 100 of their fellow protesters gathered outside the station to hold vigil for their release. The group cheered for each person as they walked out of the station. Some of those arrested were cited for violating city ordinances; some were released with no charges. One protester told the Tribune the police were actually really nice and “They were just doing their job, trying to get us through here as fast as they could.”

NATO summits are not regular meetings like the more frequent NATO ministerial meetings, but rather are important junctures in the alliance’s decision-making process on the highest level. Summits are often used to introduce new policy, invite new members into the alliance, launch major new initiatives, and build partnerships with non-NATO countries. The summit in Chicago discussed the impact of recent events since then, such as the Arab Spring, Libyan civil war, as well as the global financial crisis, and transition for NATO forces in Afghanistan, and a missile shield system for Europe. NATO is planning to craft specific resolutions concerning the Middle East. Issues to address include the organization’s continuing military support of active insurrections in the region, as well conflict with Iran. NATO discussed missile defense and nuclear deterrence more generally.

NATO’s secretary general Rasmussen has confirmed plans to proceed with ballistic missile defense, a system that would alter the longstanding balance of mutually assured destruction between the United States and Russia, but yet protect NATO-member nations from missile attacks from rogue nations such as Iran or North Korea.  Many years prior, NATO member the United States had informed Russia on several occasions that if Russia didn’t limit its cooperation with the Iranian missile program, the defense shield would be necessary. Rasmussen announced that a successful test had been conducted in April 2012 of the missile defense system, and that further details about existing “interim capability” would be announced at the Chicago summit. This position has been changed since the Lisbon Summit, during which NATO powers ordered the creation of a “Deterrence and Defense Posture Review” (DDPR)—a document expected to express and discuss conflicts some of the wide-ranging conflicts on the topic within NATO.

The United States is also planning to upgrade 180 tactical nuclear weapons currently positioned in Europe. The upgrade would improve guidance systems on the missiles, rendering them able to hit targets more precisely. Russia has requested that the NATO countries declare “adherence to the rules of international law” in the nuclear policy they agree upon at the Chicago summit. Russia has also announced that it may retaliate against the deployment of NATO’s defense system by using Iskander theater ballistic missile weapons or by striking weapons sites in Europe, although experts believe Russia will not risk war with the United States and its NATO allies by attacking such targets. Russia worries that its own nuclear arsenal could be rendered useless with the full activation of a missile shield by the United States. The Afghanistan issue in particular faces a public relations timeline due to a declaration by Barack Obama that NATO activities in Afghanistan would be concluded by 2014, but 28-nation military bloc was clear makes differences as the new French President will pull out all 3,400 troops at the end of 2012 or 2 years ahead of NATO’s timetable.



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• First Lady Michelle Obama has been leading the NATO spouses around Chicago, and she took them on a tour of the South Side and visited the Gary Comer Youth Center to advocate exercise. She said, “It feels good to be home.”

Chicago Police & NATO Protesters Clash in the South Loop

To Learn More About NATO Chicago, Visit


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