Chicago Forum on Global Cities

On Friday, May 29, I attended the closing program of The Chicago Forum on Global Cities. “The Foreign Policy of Cities” was a panel discussion moderated by Philip Stephens and featuring Madeleine K. Albright, Benjamin Barber, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jozias van Aartsen.

Each spoke eloquently about how cities worldwide are becoming more international and the challenges that cities and countries must meet. Benjamin Barber noted that although cities may be international, countries are not, so that a country’s national identity may lead to discomfort for its citizens when confronted with the many nationalities in a city.

I particularly enjoyed listening to Madeleine Albright, whom I had met previously when Chicago hosted the NATO Summit in 2012 (photo below). She is a truly amazing thinker and communicator: smart and witty, with a great ability to be intellectual and down to earth at the same time.

Her wry sense of humor infused her remarks: “Frankly, there are a lot of Americans who don’t like the UN because it’s full of foreigners. Which can’t be helped.” “The world is a mess. That’s a diplomatic term.”

Among them, the speakers pointed out many of the challenges of multiculturalism and globalism. People have the most faith in local institutions, and yet urban institutions may not be local to the city or even the country. Infrastructure doesn’t always keep pace with the growth of technology, particularly when it comes to government. Cities have to work together as globalism infuses our everyday lives, not just appoint a few advisers.

I was glad of the opportunity to attend this thought-provoking discussion, and I was pleased to see that the discussion was recorded; click on the image above to view the video.