A Special Message from Ben Rhodes, White House Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications

Ben Rhodes at his computer

NATO has been America’s most important security alliance for over a half century, and this is only the third time since NATO’s founding that the United States will host a NATO Summit. Following up on the successful 2010 Summit in Lisbon, Chicago is a perfect location for many reasons. As a truly global city, it is a natural host for over fifty nations. As a center of diversity and thriving immigrant communities, it will feel like home for many of the leaders attending. As one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it is a marvelous showcase for the best of our country. And, of course, as his hometown, it is a source of great pride for President Obama.

America’s relationship with NATO is a cornerstone of our engagement with the world. From our shared effort to face down communism in the Cold War, to our recent successful intervention in Libya, NATO has been essential to the security of the American people, the strength of our allies, and the success of democracy abroad. At the Summit, we will continue reforming NATO to make sure that it has the capabilities it needs for the 21st century. And we will join with many non-NATO countries to build new partnerships – so that NATO is truly the hub of a global security network.

No mission is more important to NATO than our ongoing efforts to defeat al Qaeda, and succeed in Afghanistan. On September 12, 2001, for the first time in its history NATO invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which says that an attack on one is an attack on all, and for over a decade our NATO allies have served by our side in Afghanistan. Today, having struck huge blows against al Qaeda and broken the momentum of the Taliban, we have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Last June, when he announced the drawdown of 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, President Obama said “We’ll have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we’ve made, while we draw down our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government.  And [in] May, in Chicago, we will host a summit with our NATO allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition.”

-Ben Rhodes