New York, Chicago against war

This video says about itself:

The high numbers of civilians killed in Afghanistan is a grim reminder that the war in Afghanistan continues.

The Pledge of Resistance Could Change the Game Against a War With Iran. Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, in the USA: “If people were convinced that there were a 90% chance of war in the next three months … many people would be in the streets…. By inaction on the threat of war with Iran, people are effectively saying: ‘so we’re on a slow path? Give me a call when we’re on a fast path. I have other demands on my time.’ The problem with this is that by the time we are on a fast path to war, our political leverage to stop the war will be very small – much smaller than it is today”: here.

From the United National Antiwar Coalition in the USA, about their New York City conference:

(Please forward widely)

Register Now! Extremely Reasonable Air Fare & Hotel Rooms Now Available!

United National Antiwar Coalition National Conference

March 23-25, 2012 at the Stamford CT Hilton (one stop from Harlem/125th St. on Metro North commuter line)

Say No to the NATO/G8 Wars & Poverty Agenda

A Conference to Challenge the Wars of the 1% Against the 99% at Home and Abroad

The U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance will meet in Chicago, Sunday May 20 and Monday May 21, to plan their financial and military strategies for the coming period.

These NATO and G8 elites, who serve the 1% at home and abroad, impose austerity–often by the use of drones, armies, and the police–on the 99% to expand their profits.

Originally, both NATO and the G8 planned to have their conferences in Chicago. However, now only NATO will meet there.

The G8 has ran away from Chicago, because:

Amid concerns over thousands of protestors descending on Chicago, Illinois for the G-8 Summit this spring, the event has been moved to the presidential compound at Camp David, Maryland, around an hour outside of Washington.

Leaders from the United States, Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and European Union were expected to arrive in Chicago this May for the annual meeting of the world’s largest economies. Protesters also had plans for the Windy City, however, and demonstration groups including Occupy Wall Street offshoots had begun orchestrating events to coincide with the meeting. Now barely two months before the event is slated to occur, the G-8 Summit is being moved outside of Chicago to Camp David, a suburban city outside of the US capital that serves as a historic retreat locale for America’s commander-in-chief.

“In May, the United States looks forward to hosting the G-8 and NATO Summits. To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the president is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues,” reads a statement released Monday by the White House.

After the G-8 Summit, the NATO meeting is expected to continue as planned in Chicago on May 20 through 21.

In the past, these high-profile meetings of the minds have attracted massive demonstrations, with the 2010 G-20 Summit in Toronto resulting in the largest mass arrest in the history of the entire country of Canada. In recent weeks, the Apartment Building Owners and Managers’ Association of Chicago began a series of presentations in which it explained how building managers could effectively handle riots, protests, tear gas and bomb threats.

Camp David has served as a retreat for every president since Franklin Roosevelt went into office in the 1940s and has hosted foreign dignitaries such as Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Anwar al-Sadat. Come this spring, however, it will serve as a meeting place for more than just a few heads of state. Obama, Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy are just a few of the names that are expected on this year’s guest list — and don’t expect there to be many more. Camp David is normally subjected to heightened security standards, and this spring’s G8 Summit won’t come as any exception. For protesters hoping to picket outside the grounds — a mass demonstration would be unlikely.

Coincidently, a new bill drafted by Congress, HR 347, will make it a federal offense to trespass on the grounds of any place granted Secret Service. If approved, the NATO Summit in Chicago will fall into this jurisdiction, as will the presidential retreat at Camp David. What does that mean for protesters? Even if you’re in the proximity of the premises, you could be considered a criminal for engaging in any activity that disrupts a governmental event.

The United National Antiwar Coalition continues:

Join activists from the antiwar, occupy, environmental, immigrant rights, labor, and other movements at a conference from March 23-25, 2012 to learn more, to plan a major “No to NATO” demonstration in Chicago, and to democratically develop a program of action for the months to follow.

Special guest speakers include:

Xiomara de Zelaya is currently a presidential candidate in Honduras and the partner of Manuel de Zelaya, the former president displaced by a U.S.-backed coup in 2009.

Bill McKibben is the founder of the grassroots global warming group and the architect of the successful campaign to defeat the XL pipeline.

–Glen Ford is the executive editor of Black Agenda Report, a ground breaking site that covers U.S. wars abroad and wars at home from the perspective of the African American community.

–Richard Wolff is the author Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It

–Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid is the founder of the Muslim Peace Coalition

–Vijay Prashad is the author of The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World

Andrew Murray is a member of the UK Trades Union Congress General Council and head of UK Stop the War coalition from 2001-2011

Col. Ann Wright was a central Gaza Boat organizer and the editor of Dissent: Voices of Conscience

–Medea Benjamin is the founder of Code Pink

–Jared Ball is the author of I Mix What I Like

–Clarence Thomas is an Oakland ILWU activist with Longview WA Longshore fight

Scott Olsen is an Iraq war veteran and Occupy victim of Oakland police violence

–David Swanson is author and editor of War is a

–Pat Hunt is a founding member of the Coalition Against NATO/G8 Wars & Poverty Agenda

–Fignole St. Cyr is a leader of the Haitian Autonomous Workers Confederation

How to Register?—Where to Stay?—Transportation?—Submitting Resolutions?

Visit and click on UNAC conference.

Email: Phone: 518- 227-6947.

We urge attendees to take advantage of the double rooms (2 double beds) at the convention site that are now only $119 a night. There is nothing less expensive in the tri-state area and we had to guarantee the hotel room reservations in return for the use of space for the convention. By staying at the hotel, you are contributing to the overall success of the conference.

Also, registration covers two Saturday meals, and there will be key plenary panels going on in the dining room during these meals.

Conference Schedule and Workshops

Conference Schedule

Friday Night, March 23, 2012

4:30 p.m. Registration Opens

8:00 pm–Opening Panel: Shifting Strategies of Empire: Analyzing the Military and Economic Plans of the 1%.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

7:00 am Registration Opens

8:30 am—Plenary

10:45 am Workshop Series One

12: 30 pm. Lunch with Panel: The War at Home on the Black Community: Mass Incarceration, Unemployment, Stop and Frisk

1:45 pm Plenary

4:00 pm Workshop Series Two

5:45 pm Workshop Series Three

7: 30 pm Dinner with Panel: Islamophobia, the Attack on Civil Liberties, & the War on Workers

Sunday, March 25, 2012

9:00 am Plenary

Noon Plenary Panel: Global Economic Meltdown, Warming, and War: Why the 1% Will Not Retreat without a Fight and the Kind of Fight It Must Be.

1: 30 pm Workshop Series Four

3:00-4:30 pm NATO/G8 Protest Organizing Session & Closing Remarks


Workshops-in formation

US Geopolitical Strategy and Intervention in the Asia-Pacific Region. Bernadette Ellorin, Juyeon Rhee.

End the Occupation of Haiti! Ray Laforest & Kim Ives.

Haiti: Analysis from Trade Unionists on the Ground. Fignole St. Cyr & others.

Egypt: Will the People Rule? Ayman El Sawa, Ahmed Shawki, others

Law as a weapon of war. Steve Downs, Marlene Jenkins, Shamshad Ahmad, Kathy Manley

Defeating AFRICOM & NATO: Bldg Solidarity with Africa in the Struggle Against Imperialism. Abayomi Azikiwe In formation.

Targeting Iran: The Truth Behind the Hype: Ana Edwards, Sara Flounders, Ken Stone, Mansoureh Tajik & Phil Wilayto.

Iran: Solidarity, Not Intervention. Raha Iranian Feminist Collective.

The West’s Politico-Economic Warfare on Iran. Eleanor & Ardeshir Ommani.

Antiwar Strategies in Black Community Organizations. Ana Edwards, Abayomi Azikiwe, others.

Contradictions of the Imperialists’ Agenda for Full Spectrum Dominance. Glen Ford, Nellie Bailey, Margaret Kimberly, Bruce Dixon, Tony Montiero.

Propaganda and Communications on Permanent War. Peter Hart & David Swanson.

Building Resistance at the Democratic National Convention. Ben Carroll. In formation.

No to NATO/G8: Teaching Resistance—Anti-Imperialist Curriculum and Methods. June C. Terpstra, Cris Toffolo.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe and the Campaign for Withdrawal: John LaForge, Marion Keupker, Alice Dressman

Veterans Peace Teams. Tarak Kauff, Eric Lobo, Mike Tork, Fred Nagel, Ellen Barfield.

What War? US Turns from War on Iraq to Permanent Occupation. Invitees: Debra Sweet, Siman Antoon, Wafaa Bilal, Larry Everest, Raed Jarrar, and Michael Otterman

Taking Back Our Schools: Counter-Recruiting in upstate NY and Chelsea MA. Jim Murphy, Lyn Meza

“We are Not Your Soldiers”: Stop the Militarization of our High School Campuses. Elaine Brower, Ethan McCord, Matthis Chiroux, James Brower.

Corporate War Against the Planet: The Hydrofracking Front. Mary Finneran, Joan Walker, video of Richard Grossman

Democratizing Money: Banking in the Public Interest: Susan Harman, Mike Krauss, Tom Sgouros

Labor Against Austerity and War: Andrew Murray, Clarence Thomas

Border Militarization/Migrant Workers Rising Globally. Monami Maulik, Rafael Samanez, Amanda Flores, AyeshaMahmooda, Roksana Mun, Mustafa Sullivan, Derechos Humanos, Carol Barton

All Out for the May 1 mobilization! Teresa Gutierrez, Victor Toro, others.

From Egypt to New York City: “Anti-Radicalization” Laws, Surveillance, the War on Terror Industrial Complex, & NDAA. Monami Maulik, Fahd Ahmed, Shasheena Parveen, Shahid Buttar; Osman Chowdhury, Sam Anderson, Suzanne Adely

Confronting Robotic (Drone) Warfare at the Hancock AFNG Base/Hancock 38. Carol Baum, Judy Bello, Ed Kinane.

Rethinking Pakistan: People’s Struggle and the War on Terror. Saadia Toor, Adaner Usmani, Madiha Tahir, Zohra Ahmed.

Negotiating Peace—What the U.S. Might Do for Colombia. John Jairo Lugo & Stephen Kobasa.

Honduras: The Struggle for Land, Democracy, & Sovereignty. Xiomara de Zelaya, Lucy Pagoada, others.

The Economy, Unemployment & the Military: Alternatives to Save Our Country & the Jobless: Marguerite Rosenthal, Gertrude Schaffner, Shelia Collins.

Linking Endless War and Economic Crisis: Bring Our War $ Home. Bruce Gagnon, Lisa Savage, Paki Wieland, Mary Beth Sullivan

Occupying the Military Industrial Complex: David Swanson, Brian Kwoba, others

Occupy, Community, & Labor Collaboration: Notes from the field. In formation.

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions—Join Palestinian Non-violent Resistance to Occupation. Ethan Heitner, Nancy Krikorian, SJP.

No Nukes: Nuclear Power, Weapons, & War. Hattie Nestel, Alice Slater, Henry Rosenberg

How Do You End Student Debt? End the War! Tax the Rich! Daniel Alley, Christopher Hutchinson, others

Search for Human Rights & Justice in South Asia. Muslim Peace Coalition. Kannan Srinivasan, Toby Caman, Junaid Ahmad, Haley Duschinski.

Resource Wars in South Asia. Muslim Peace Coalition. Hares Sayed, Akhtar Assad, Shafat Ahmad.

Influencing Electoral Conversation from a Peace & Justice Perspective. Muslim Peace Coalition. Shaik Ubaid, Seemi Ahmed, Imam Talib Abdurrashid.

Prisons: The New Torture Machine. Steve Downs, Faisel Hashmi, Ayesha Hoda, Kathy Manley.

Faith-Based Organizing. Fellowship of Reconcilation & others.

Activist Lessons from the Past: Changing Our Society & Pressuring Our Gov’t to End War. David Swanson. In formation

Honduras Resistencia. Xiomara de Zelaya, Lucy Pagoada, and others.

Women, Peace & Security. Laura Rosko. In formation.

From Adbusters:

On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month. With a bit of luck, we’ll pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.

Indeed the rumors are true. Chicago will host an “Occupy Festival” in the run-up to the NATO summit this coming May. NBC and Huffington Post have already broken the news, and the buzz in the social media world has just started to percolate: here.

Last Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder enacted guidelines that further expand the US government’s asserted powers to collect and store private information, without a warrant, concerning individuals who are not suspected of any crime: here.

12 thoughts on “New York, Chicago against war

  1. NATO-Georgia Commission Meeting Concentrates On Interoperability

    North Atlantic Treaty Organization
    March 7, 2012

    National Security Advisor of Georgia briefs the NATO-Georgia Commission

    The NATO-Georgia Commission met on 7 March, with the participation of National Security Advisor of Georgia Mr. Giorgi Bokeria, and discussed how to enhance Georgia’s partnership and connectivity with the Alliance.

    During the discussion, the NGC reviewed progress on improving interoperability and overall cooperation with the Alliance and other issues related to the Alliance’s special partnership with Georgia.

    The Secretary General and Allied Permanent Representatives thanked Georgia for the substantial contribution to the Alliance’s ISAF operation in Afghanistan.

    “We welcome the remarkable contribution your country is making to the ISAF operation, notably the battalion in Helmand. We also appreciate your decision to almost double your contribution.”, the Secretary General said. “Today we also have an opportunity to reinforce further the cooperation between NATO and Georgia through supporting Georgia’s reforms”.

    As a follow-up to the North Atlantic Council’s visit to Georgia last year, the NGC agreed a set of measures to further support the reform process in Georgia, including strengthening civil service reform, inter-operability with the Alliance, as well the capacity for civil democratic oversight of the defence and security sector in Georgia.


    France, Georgia Expand Military Cooperation

    Trend News Agency
    March 8, 2012

    Georgia, France discuss military cooperation
    N. Kirtskhalia

    -A mountain riflemen base was built and operates with the assistance of France in Sachkhere (western Georgian region of Imereti). NATO troops also get trained at this base…

    Tbilisi: Georgia’s Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia and the new French ambassador to Georgia Renaud Salins met in Tbilisi and discussed issues of cooperation in military area.

    The sides discussed the priority areas of cooperation between the two countries’ defense ministries, as well as plans for the future. The importance of Georgian troops’ participation in operations in Afghanistan and the prospects for development of military education were also discussed, Georgian Defence Ministry said.

    Akhalaia thanked French ambassador for his country’s support to Georgia and expressed hope that cooperation between the two countries will continue in the future. The minister wished Salins success in his work.

    A mountain riflemen base was built and operates with the assistance of France in Sachkhere (western Georgian region of Imereti). NATO troops also get trained at this base which is believed to be one of the best centers for the training of mountain riflemen. Georgian specialists prepared by the French military work there.


    NATO ACT Deputy Commander Meets Macedonian General Staff

    Defence Professionals
    March 8, 2012

    NATO ACT Deputy Commander Makes Visit to the Macedonian General Staff

    A senior delegation of the NATO Allied Command Transformation, led by the Deputy Commander General Mieczyslaw Bieniek, whose host was the Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Macedonia (ARM), Major General Naser Sejdini, made an official visit Mar. 6 of the General Staff of the ARM.

    During the talks in the GS of the ARM, ARM transformation, the long-term development plan and the experiences from the participation in the international missions and the evaluation of the ARM deployed units, were presented to the guests.

    During the visit of the GS of the ARM, General Bieniek also held a meeting with the Minister of Defence, Fatmir Besimi.

    General Bieniek expressed satisfaction in relation to the progress that the ARM has achieved in reforms and transformation, and he mentioned the successful participation in missions led by NATO as evidence of this, as well as the contribution in the process of the transformation in the defence.

    NATO Allied Command Transformation (Allied Command Atlantic, ACLANT) is located in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. This command of the Alliance has a leading role in the process of changes and the continuous improvement of NATO capacities, as well as leading in the process of transformation, with the goal of improving the missions, operations and effectiveness.


    U.S. First THAAD Interceptor Missile Battery Gets All Missiles

    Aviation Week
    March 7, 2012

    First Thaad Battery Finally Gets All Missiles
    By Amy Butler

    WASHINGTON: The U.S. Army’s first Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) battery has taken delivery of its 24th missile, a milestone that closes out Lockheed Martin’s deliverables for this first fire unit.

    …U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, director of the Missile Defense Agency, had in 2010 temporarily halted Thaad interceptor production due to a failure to get [a] part certified.

    Since last fall, however, the program has cleared up the issue and remained on schedule, says Mat Joyce, the incoming vice president overseeing Thaad for Lockheed Martin. The company also has increased production from six every two months to nine.

    Work has begun in building the next batch of missiles for the second battery, Joyce says; that equipment is slated for delivery by July.

    The first battery was activated in May 2008 and has been training while awaiting delivery of a full complement of missiles.

    The 13th Thaad flight test is slated for this year, though details on the objectives have not been released.

    The United Arab Emirates, which is the first foreign customer to sign up for the system, is slated to receive its missiles in 2015, Joyce says.


    Raytheon Receives $138.7 Million Interceptor Missile Contract—quick-facts-20120307-00463

    RTT News
    March 8, 2012

    Raytheon Receives $138.7 Mln Defense Contract

    Raytheon Co. Wednesday announced a $138.7 million contract to provide engineering services for the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System. This is the third of four annual options to the base contract awarded in 2009, which brings the total amount so far to $803 million.

    Issued by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, the contract calls for Raytheon to continue to deliver systems analysis, software and hardware engineering, testing and logistics support.

    Work under this contract will be performed by Raytheon at the Integrated Air Defense Center, Andover, IDS Headquarters, Tewksbury, the Warfighter Protection Center, Huntsville and the Mission Capability Verification Center, White Sands.

    Patriot is an air and missile defense system that protects against advanced threats, including aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.


  2. March 10, 2012

    US: Turning war-fear into warfare


    “The US army flag has 183 campaign ribbons on it. Those 183 ribbons each represent wars,” Iraq war veteran Matthis Chiroux from New York shared with RT.

    “When you compare that to the 236 years that we’ve actually been around as a country, you’re talking about a war on average of once every year and three months,” he calculated.

    Fox News cannot but reiterate that Iran is the biggest threat, Syria is a minor threat, Russia is a traditional threat and China is an emerging threat.


    Ever since its creation, the US has had a role to play in combat operations worldwide. Today the country’s public opinion is dominated by warfare, making American society all-too-easily manipulated and turned against practically any country.

    The US has a strong record of persuading the public that war is the only way.

    A military industrial complex worth billions of dollars is largely America’s driving force. Deeply rooted in the system, it would serve no purpose if there was no one to fight.

    “If there were no more enemies left, there would be a loss of a sense of mission,” anti-war activist and journalist Don Bebar told RT.

    Serving Americans are on permanent stand-by to deploy to battle zones on command.

    “The US army flag has 183 campaign ribbons on it. Those 183 ribbons each represent wars,” Iraq war veteran Matthis Chiroux from New York shared with RT.

    “When you compare that to the 236 years that we’ve actually been around as a country, you’re talking about a war on average of once every year and three months,” he calculated.

    As a consequence of the American bellicosity in general, Matthis Chiroux is now soothing his nerves in company with 170,000 American soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

    The US always has a bone to pick with one enemy after another. For nearly half a century it was the Soviet Union.

    “The communist threat was the most useful enemy. Where legitimate, and where completely fantastical, it was always available as a global conspiracy against which to justify anything,” Roots Action campaigner David Swanson told RT.

    With the Cold War declared over, the list keeps expanding to smaller antagonists.

    So it was with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991, when then President George H. W. Bush Sr. announced that “Allied forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait.”

    Or with the former Yugoslavia, to which former President Bill Clinton signed a sentence in 1999 by announcing that the American Air Force was conducting “Air strikes against Serbian forces.”

    Then it was ex-President George W. Bush, who was let off the leash after 9/11 terror attacks and announced a global War on Terror symbolized by Al-Qaeda. He started by invading Afghanistan in 2001 and continued with the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    In 2003, the US Air Force was “Striking selective targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war,” announced George W. Bush, meaning that waging wars is an exclusive privilege of the chosen mighty ones.

    Ultimately, it has been current President Barack Obama, who was elected on promises to end wars, but now looks forward to military conflict with Iran after lending a hand in toppling the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. As in previous cases, last spring he made a characteristic “We hit Gaddafi’s air defenses” statement on the American TV.

    With a defense budget that surpasses the military expenditure of all other countries combined, no other nation drums up war as consistently as America.

    “While people are still responding and recovering from the violence that’s been committed in one place, or even in the same place, we’re launching new operations and more atrocities in different parts of the world,” acknowledged war correspondent Keith Harmon Snow.

    So Fox News cannot but reiterate that Iran is the biggest threat, Syria is a minor threat, Russia is a traditional threat and China is an emerging threat.

    That makes America’s top brass state that a strike on Tehran is in the planning stages.

    It also makes the US President Obama latest quest for diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program look derisive in the face of a pending military confrontation.

    Year in, year out, Americans are convinced that the US has to remain on the defensive.

    “We’re petrified to death by terrorism. Shoot, I think a lot of Americans wish we’d spend more money on war,” veteran Matthis Chiroux confessed.

    Finding the next target is never difficult.

    Campaigner David Swanson says “We are inventing the nation of Iran as an enemy, as a threat to the United States, as a possessor of nuclear weapons it does not possess, a nation that has not attacked another in literally centuries, and has no capability or desire to attack ours.”

    RT’s Anastasia Churkina asked people on the streets of New York “Which country is the US going to be in a war with next?”

    The most common answer she got was “Iran.”

    The US has been picking and choosing which countries to intervene in for centuries. As the list of nations the US loves to hate expands, the concept that no war at all is also an option seems to have been forgotten.


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  5. The Hindu

    March 14, 2012

    Iran strike imminent: Russian diplomat

    Vladimir Radyuhin

    Israel will attack Iran this year if a new round of talks scheduled for April fail, a leading Russian newspaper reported quoting a senior Russian diplomat.

    Russian diplomats at the United Nations believe the strike against Iran is “a matter of when, not if,” the Kommersant daily said on Wednesday.

    “The attack will be mounted before the end of this year. Israel is blackmailing [U.S. President Barack] Obama by confronting him with a dilemma: either he supports the war option or will lose the support [of the U.S. Jews],” a high-ranking official of the Russian Foreign Ministry told the newspaper ahead of the U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria on Monday.

    After the meeting, the Russian diplomat said the attack could come earlier, any time after April when the six-nation group holds new talks with Iran.

    The Kommersant quoted the diplomat as saying that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to warn Iran that the talks were a “last chance for Tehran” to avoid the attack.

    The newspaper said that a precise date and location for the talks was still being discussed. Iran on Tuesday confirmed that the talks would take place soon and said Turkey had been suggested as the venue.

    The coming strike against Iran will save Syria from foreign military intervention, the unnamed Russian diplomat told the Kommersant.

    “Americans realise that Israel will attack Iran and it would be too much to have two wars in the region,” the diplomat said explaining Washington’s consent to let U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan pursue his peace efforts in Syria.


  6. 800 NATO Staffers, Personnel To Inspect Chicago Ahead Of Summit,0,3446788.story

    Chicago Tribune
    March 25, 2012

    NATO staffers to check out Chicago
    Hundreds to visit the city this week to figure out logistics of May summit
    By Kathy Bergen

    Hundreds of NATO staffers are visiting Chicago this week to scope out the city in advance of the May 20-21 meetings for the security alliance, according to the city’s host committee.

    Word of the visit came as a Chicago delegation, including members of the host committee, returned from NATO headquarters in Brussels.

    As many as 800 personnel from NATO and its 28 member countries will arrive in Chicago to become more familiar with the layout of the city and the McCormick Place convention center as they plan the logistics of the summit. Some were to arrive as early as Sunday, with others coming midweek, summit planners said.

    In May, delegations from as many as 50 countries totaling about 7,000 people, as well as about 2,500 journalists, will descend on the city to hold two days of meetings of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. With the U.S. Secret Service overseeing security for the event and the large number of world leaders requiring top-quality hotel suites, preparations for motorcade transportation and organizing lodging have been complex, summit planners said.

    Last week, the White House highlighted a couple of events during the summit: a “working dinner” at Soldier Field on the evening of May 20 and earlier that day a tour of the Gary Comer Youth Center on the South Side led by first lady Michelle Obama for spouses of NATO dignitaries.

    NATO’s 28 members are from Europe and North America, but leaders from other countries affected by the policies of the alliance typically attend the meetings as well. This year’s summit, hosted by President Barack Obama, will focus heavily on the future of western military intervention in Afghanistan.

    A Chicago delegation, led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s wife, Amy Rule, spent last week at NATO headquarters promoting the virtues of Chicago as a business and tourist destination. The NATO weekend was to be a double summit until Obama decided last month to relocate the G-8 economic summit to Camp David. City officials continue to bill the NATO meetings as an opportunity to shine a global spotlight on Chicago.

    Tribune reporter David Heinzmann contributed.


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