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NATO Summit: Chicago’s shot at redemption, but at what cost?

By: Bolaji Oke-Samuel (bokesa3@uic.edu

The NATO Summit was an excellent chance for Chicago to redeem itself as a world class city and for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to prove his worth. The 1968 Democratic Convention has been an unattractive memory that has cast an unspoken shadow over the city and the Summit. In an Interview with Superintendent McCarthy when asked what he did to keep the NATO situation under control he credited the success to lots of training and normal hours for the officials which kept them calm and collected instead of on-edge and overworked. As for the Mayor, he is mostly to thank for the International Publicity, which he stresses as the main benefit of the NATO Summit to the city.

International Publicity will take years to reap and cannot be fully estimated in terms of how much the city spent in order to make the Summit a success. Taking stock of benefits and costs concerning the Summit the public has been kept in the dark up until now as to its immediate cost, which was estimated at about $40 – 65 million.

Nevertheless, it is possible to consider the small effects that the Summit might have had on Chicago especially in relation to small business owners. One news bureau reported the cost versus benefit of the NATO Summit by comparing the window blockage employees to a beauty salon owner. In this comparison the reporter said something along the lines of, while some people were employed due to the Summit others lost profit due to parking restrictions and road blocks.

In the wake of the NATO Summit, small business owners took to different measures to protect their property and others choose to remain open at their own expense. However, since the NATO Summit did not lead to the property wreckage that was expected some businesses chose to venture to lure customers through the employment of NATO sales and discount offers. In spite of said measures, NBC CHICAGO reports that most small businesses lost about 40 percent in estimate. Due to such loss, businesses might see the Summit more for its hindrance to their sales and less for the opportunity the Summit created for Chicago to attract International Publicity. Interestingly, NBC CHICAGO’s report ended on a positive note, which is that the loss to several businesses during the Summit is a small price to pay towards the gain that the Summit will provide such as; new businesses and more tourists in the future.

On an Individual level, there are many minds in Chicago that might be doubtful as to the effectiveness of the Summit in the long run especially since the conference amongst world leaders still left one big question unanswered. The big question left unanswered by the NATO leaders is the question of who will provide the four billion dollars required to retain peace in Afghanistan after the departure of NATO troops.

An individual who had to sit through a longer commute during the Summit days might begin to view the Summit as partially unsuccessful because without the money needed to retain peace in Afghanistan deploying the troops will eventually lead to an act of throwing away years of hard work. Are we so tired of NATO’s involvement in War-ridden zones such as Afghanistan that we are beyond caring about what happens there and will the peace summit eventually lead to more war in Afghanistan through the deployment of NATO troops?

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