The U.S. Atlantic Council - leading NATO support association - presented its annual awards at a prestigious gala dinner in Washington on 28 April 2010.

The guests included Mikheil Saakashvili (President of Georgia), Aleksander Kwaśniewski (former President of Poland), José-Maria Aznar (former Spanish Prime Minister), more than fifty ambassadors and some one hundred Generals, including Brent Scowcroft (former National Securita Adviser) and Mike Muller (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). Former President George H. Bush could not make the trip and addressed the gathering via video.

Awards were presented jointly to Generals Stéphane Abrial (France) and James Mattis (USA) for their role in paving the way for France’s full re-entry into NATO and in securing France’s engagement in Afghanistan. On receiving the distinction, General Abrial (former Military Chief of Staff under Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin) scoffed at General de Gaulle’s pride, while General Mattis saluted President Sarkozy’s decision to turn away from Gaullist policies.

Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Deutsche Bank, was presented the Business Leadership Award for having stabilized the financial markets after the September 11 attacks and for his role in the recovery of the capitalist system during the world financial crisis. The Swiss banker, who married a Finnish woman, had called for controlled globalization before leaving his country to become the CEO of a German bank and support the United States.

This year, the U.S. Atlantic Council introduced a novel award for humanitarian leadership to boost the new smart power policy, i.e. using humanitarian aid to kindle pro-American sentiments. The award was given to rock singer Bono for having mobilized international public opinion behind poverty eradication in Africa. He was introduced to the audience by his friends Senator John McCain and General James Jones (current National Security Adviser). Everyone congratulated him on his excellent outreach achievements in conjunction with the Pentagon.

Last but not least, former President Bill Clinton was honoured for his international leadership that led in particular to NATO enlargement, the Dayton Accords dismantling Yugoslavia, and the negotiations to maintain Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.