Reporting Jay Levine
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BRUSSELS, Belgium (CBS) – A Chicago delegation was in Brussels on Wednesday, trying to sell the city to the world as they plan for the NATO summit in Chicago in May.
It’s still unclear what Chicago can expect when leaders of 50 nations travel to Chicago for the summit. Depending on who you listen to, the city will either be taken over by protestors, or the summit will be a great chance for us to shine.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports a Chicago delegation is at NATO headquarters in Belgium on Wednesday to give people there a look at what they’ll see and taste when they come to Chicago.
Brussels is known for its cathedrals, and sculpture, and food; particularly chocolate, French fries, and mussels.
It’s also where NATO flexes its muscles, so to speak, as headquarters of the 28-nation alliance dedicated to mutual defense. In other words, anything but “the war machine for the 1%” as the Occupy protesters in Chicago have taken to calling it.
Ivo H. Daalder, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said, “NATO isn’t about war. NATO is about peace and freedom and security. In fact, NATO exists, in many ways, so that the values that the 28 countries that are now members of NATO, that those can be protected.
Daalder spoke while touring the new exhibit on the history of Chicago, which Chicagoans – including summit host committee chief Lori Healey – brought to Brussels for a NATO summit kickoff.
“Everybody knows New York, everybody knows L.A., everybody knows Washington; still not that many people really know about Chicago,” Healey said. “It’s a great opportunity to come here to talk about the city, to showcase the city’s attractions.”
But, just as Chicagoans are hoping the NATO summit will help boost the city’s image worldwide, NATO views it as a stage to showcase its achievements. Among them, the expectation the summit will include a decision on the timing of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
As for protests, Daalder said, “The protestors are there because they care. They care about the issues that they raise, and that’s a good thing. As long as we can do this peacefully, as long as we can do it within the law, we should value and welcome the fact that there is a debate.”
NATO wasn’t the original draw for demonstrators. Its summits are almost never picketed. G8 summits always are targeted by protesters, but when the president moved G8 to Camp David, NATO became the only game in a town already targeted for a number of protest rallies and marches.