Atlantic Council Awards: Bush, Kohl and Petraeus
I apologize for the dearth of posting the past couple of days. Much of yesterday was spent in preparation for the Atlantic Council’s 2009 Leadership Awards, which were held last night, and this is my first break from the day-after followup on the website, which I’ve been working on since 6 this morning.
As I explain in my roundup post, “Council Awards Gala: A Night to Remember,” it’s been worth it. Last year’s dinner, my first, honored Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Evgeny Kissin. We managed to top that this year, recognizing the contributions of President George H.W. Bush, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, General David Petraeus, Sam Palmisano, and Thomas Hampson to the transatlantic community. Short of resurrecting Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Henry Ford, and Ludwig Beethoven, we’re not going to get a more distinguished group of honorees.
Petraeus argued in his speech that “NATO faces a very urgent moment” with the war in Afghanistan. He’s confident that recent steps will ensure that war does not become Americanized. As I explain at the link, I’m not so sure.
Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, introducing his former boss, said he’d walk through fire for President Bush and delivered a tribute that was alternately funny and touching. As per usual, Bush used his speech to praise others and poke fun at himself.
We finished the night off in the bar where I had the great pleasure of having a cold one with Hampson and a few others, including my boss, Fred Kempe. If you’re under the not unreasonable impression that a world renowned opera singer widely considered to be America’s greatest baritone is not a guy you’d like to have a beer with, you’d be wrong. Even better, Fred was buying.