Welcome to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

By Patrick Brogan

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is one of many organisations where highly influential members meet to discuss global topics. Given the high number of challenges facing humanity at the moment, nobody can say international cooperation is a bad thing, but organisations like The Chicago Council on Global Affairs are undemocratic and shady and the decisions made here will be felt around the world.

Mission and History

According to its website; “The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices, conduct independent research, and engage the public to explore ideas that will shape our global future.  The Council is committed to bringing clarity and offering solutions to issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.”

It then goes on to state that it works on issues like global cities, global food security, the challenge of a resurgent Russia, the global economy, energy and the role of women in health challenges.

The council was set up in 1922, at a time when the US was “fervent” isolationist. The founders felt that World War I had changed the balance of power and the Americans were now the top dog. The old ideas relating foreign policy and pretty much everything else had to be readdressed. In the 20s and 30s, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ (CCGA) main goal was creating debate and informing people. During this time, the main speakers were John Maynard Keynes, Herbert Hoover and George Clemenceau. Each couple of decades take on their own theme, but the overarching one is globalisation. Some of the other speakers over the years include John F. Kennedy, John Foster Dulles, Milton Friedman, Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Barack Obama and our own Mary McAleese.

Speakers at Forum on Global Cities

The Global Cities event, which concludes today, is one of the key events held by CCGA. There are some big hitters speaking at this year’s edition including former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, former Swedish PM Carl Bildt, Misha Glenny, who worked for the BBC and The Guardian, Claudia Gonzaléz Romo of Unicef, various members of the Financial Times — who are one of the main sponsors –, and Dublin’s Lord Mayor Brendan Carr — who still hasn’t responded to my emails about the event –, who will talk about cultural evolution. Other topics are ecosystems, planning for disruption and combating climate change. They can be viewed on a live stream on the site.

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Brendan Carr in action at the Global Cities event

What are the Global Cities?

On the CCGA website, they ask a series of questions; “How do we balance the tension between progressive urban policies and increasingly insular national agendas? How can global cities decrease the growing divide between cities’ and regional populations? How can collective action among a nation’s cities transform their national policies on issues such as immigration, climate, and trade? Are the urban elite out of touch with today’s realities?” This next video explains it, as well as the CCGA‘s relationship with the Bilderberg Group (Mark Anderson talks about Global Cities around the 5:10 mark);


Anderson claims that the plan is to get cities to become nation-states and secede from their countries and join together to pursue policies together, the zenith of globalisation.

Ivo Daalder

Ivo Daalder is the current President of the CCGA. He served as US Ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013 under Obama. This was during the Libya invasion. Himself and James G. Stavridis once wrote; “By any measure, NATO succeeded in Libya. It saved tens of thousands of lives from almost certain destruction. It conducted an air campaign of unparalleled precision, which, although not perfect, greatly minimized collateral damage. It enabled the Libyan opposition to overthrow one of the world’s longest-ruling dictators. And it accomplished all of this without a single allied casualty and at a cost–$1.1 billion for the U.S. and several billion dollars overall–that was a fraction of that spent on previous interventions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq.”

He served as an advisor to Bill Clinton on Bosnia and was an influential foreign policy strategist during this time. He also wrote many books including  Crescent of Crisis: US-European Strategy for the Greater Middle East and America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy, on which the Brookings website gives a synopsis; “What precisely was the Bush revolution in foreign policy? At its broadest level, it rested on two beliefs. The first was that in a dangerous world the best—if not the only—way to ensure America’s security was to shed the constraints imposed by friends, allies, and international institutions. The second belief was that an America unbound should use its strength to change the status quo in the world. Bush did not argue that the United States keep its powder dry while it waited for dangers to gather.” It then goes on to say; “In a world in which weapons of mass destruction were spreading and terrorists and rogue states were readying to attack in unconventional ways, Bush argued in a report laying out his administration’s national security strategy, “the United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. . . . We cannot let our enemies strike first.””

So, he doesn’t care too much for international institutions and believes America should shed these. He is no respecter of diplomacy and doesn’t respect the sovereignty of other nations. Yet, he then ends up as president of an international organisation. Let’s see does the Chicago Council’s goals match up to NATO‘s;


This might be a year before he became president of the organisation, but clearly, the doctrine of the council is allied to that of NATO‘s. This is the man that thinks the Libya invasion protected civilians and made the world a better place. A man that thought the rejection of international diplomacy and war crimes in the Middle East are a revolution, in a positive sense. This is terrifying. He is meeting with people at the top of their field in business, politics, education and culture amongst other disciplines. This is more open than say the Bilderberg Group, but we don’t know what is being said behind closed doors and who is being influenced and in what way.  It’s undemocratic. I would rather the Lord Mayor of Dublin not associate with such war mongers. When I asked him to answer questions about this, he never responded. I’m aware he is not directly elected by the people, but it is through the democratic process he got that role.


People can get hysterical about such organisations and some of it is unwarranted. However, it is important that these groups are monitored. I watched some of the discussions and they do bring up some worthy points. Many of the issues facing the world today are international and cooperation and an exchange of ideas on a global scale is needed. The problem I would have with the CCGA is this, the people putting the ideas forward. I already mentioned Ivo Daalder. I disagree with everything he believes, which is mainly war for profit. Another major issue is, politicians come back from these events and form policy without telling the people that elected them the origins of these policies. Surely, a big part of the democratic process is transparency. Where is the average person’s input in these events? It could be argued that organisations like the Bilderberg Group and the Council on Foreign Relations are private and are entitled to be so, but what happens behind these closed doors goes on to impact everyone in some way. And these policies follow one path. They are not talking about raising taxes to pay for healthcare, nor limiting the role of the state in an individual’s life. Far from solving the world’s problems, the alphabeth soup of such organisations manage to create new ones.


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