The NATO Summit's Biggest Losers

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The much-hyped NATO Summit in Chicago this weekend wasn't a complete boondoggle. The alliance forged a formal agreement on withdrawing from Afghanistan, but elsewhere, a number of world leaders left the Windy City without much to say for their stay.

The countries vying for NATO membership. For the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Georgia and Montenegro, all aspiring NATO members, the two-day summit was a disaster. As Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin reports, the summit "is the first in decades to make little or no progress on the enlargement of the organization." The counties each have their own geopolitical reasons for wanting to join the club but they'll all have to wait two more years to get any closer to enlisting in the world's most lethal military alliance. "The 28 NATO foreign ministers did meet with leaders of the four 'aspirant' countries," Rogin writes, "but offered them little more than polite thanks."

The protesters. The Chicago Police Department's response to anti-war protests outside the summit were especially harsh with some critics, perhaps unfairly, alleging that the police brutality amounted to a "police state." CNN reports that "Protesters suffered serious injuries, including broken bones, busted lips and concussions," according to the National Lawyers Guild. The guild says it has almost 60 accounts of police brutality. According to The New York Times, 45 protesters were arrested Sunday and at least four officers were injured. While police swung with batons, some protesters threw red paint and sticks at officers. 

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. In a move the Associated Press called "an unmistakable snub," President Obama omitted Pakistan from its list of countries he thanked and congratulated Monday at the end of the conference. "The omission speaks to the prolonged slump in U.S. relations with Pakistan that clouded a NATO summit where nations were eyeing the exits in Afghanistan," wrote the AP's Anne Gearan. That's an outcome that can only help Zardari's critics in the army and intelligence agencies who believe NATO is destined for failure in Afghanistan, The Daily Beast's Bruce Riedel writes.  "The army and the ISI will privately be very pleased that Zardari crashed in Chicago," he says. "Pakistan can ... veto any effort to start a political process between the Afghan Taliban and the Karzai government; after all the ISI controls the Taliban’s leadership which lives in Karachi." 

President Obama. President Obama's last-minute invitation to Zardari to join the NATO summit was always a gamble but in the end, it was a gamble that failed. The U.S. was not able to secure a deal on a supply route from Pakistan to Afghanistan, a key goal for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.  "Zardari's refusal to reopen the supply routes left a diplomatic blot on a summit that NATO sought to cast as the beginning of the end of the conflict in Afghanistan," writes The Tribune's David Cloud and Kathleen Hennessey. "Later at a news conference that closed the two-day summit, Obama did not try to downplay the strains in a relationship that has spiraled from crisis to crisis since U.S. Navy SEALs secretly flew into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden last May."


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.