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PHOTO BY ANTONIO PEREZ/CHICAGO TRIBUNE

By Matt Suppelsa
Evanston Township

Street closures, rerouted transportation and protests: These are just a few of the things you can expect as thousands of world leaders, diplomats and journalists descend on Chicago this weekend for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit being held at McCormick Place Sunday and Monday.

The summit is an extremely important event on a global scale, particularly due to the unrest throughout many parts of the Middle East.

“The Arab revolutions of the last 15 months (are) the most important event, the most transformative event in the Arab world, probably since the collapse of the four empires at the end of the First World War, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire that created the modern Middle East,” said Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard in a lecture for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

There are also many other areas where NATO is of vital importance, according to Burns. “We need NATO to preserve peace and unity and democracy in Europe. … Second, we need Europe to stabilize the Balkans. … Third, we need to work with Russia. … Fourth, NATO is with (the U.S.) in Afghanistan. … And we need NATO to be the world’s most capable first responder. NATO’s the strongest military force, the best-trained in the world,” he said.

But NATO’s actions throughout the world have brought with it much controversy. Large-scale protests are expected to pose a major challenge to Chicago’s law enforcement, who are hoping to avoid unrest and not repeat the failure of a previous major political event, the Democratic National Convention of 1968, when mass demonstrations and riots took place.

Noah Silverman, a freshman at Evanston Township, said he is a member of Anonymous, what he describes as a “hacktivist” group that came to notoriety by its involvement in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. He participated in the Occupy Chicago protests, but is unsure if he will be involved in the demonstrations at this week’s summit.

“I might get involved,” Silverman said. “I have to see what the deal is with the protests. This NATO summit is going to be a bit different—obviously it’s going to be big, very secure, and there will be a ton of people trying to protest.”

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