Atlantic Council: Securing The 21st Century For NATO
On April 28 the Atlantic Council held its annual awards dinner at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. where the U.S. State Department is also situated.
The honorees were headed by former President Bill Clinton, who was given the Distinguished International Leadership Award for his intervention in the Balkans in the 1990s, expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and launching the North American Free Trade Agreement. Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee of Deutsche Bank AG, was presented with the Distinguished Business Leadership Award.
Distinguished Military Leadership Awards were presented jointly to U.S. Marine General James Mattis, currently chief of U.S. Joint Forces Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation from 2007-2009, and French General Stephane Abrial, who took over the NATO command in Norfolk, Virginia from Mattis last year.
The Atlantic Council of the United States also conferred its first Humanitarian Leadership Award on the Irish pop singer Bono.
NBC plugged the event beforehand with this background blurb:
"The Atlantic Council, which counts current National Security Advisor James L. Jones and UN Ambassador Susan Rice as former employees, is a non-partisan group with a mission of promoting international cooperation, particularly between the U.S. and Europe. Jones will be joined at the black-tie gathering by Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, Sen. John McCain and a host of other Washington socialites and politicians." 
Jones was chairman of the Atlantic Council from 2007 until becoming what was described after the announcement of his selection for National Security Advisor as a new Henry Kissinger . At the Munich Security Conference in February 2009, a few days after assuming his present post, Jones opened his address with these words:
"Thank you for that wonderful tribute to Henry Kissinger yesterday. Congratulations. As the most recent National Security Advisor of the United States, I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger, filtered down through General Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger, who is also here. We have a chain of command in the National Security Council that exists today." 
Prior to taking charge of the Atlantic Council, Jones had been a Marine Corps four-star general, top commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2003 to 2006, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's special envoy for Middle East security, in which function he discussed deploying NATO troops to the West Bank, a recommendation echoed by his Atlantic Council colleague Brent Scowcroft and former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski at the time.
Scowcroft, a retired Air Force general and National Security Advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush (on both sides of Brzezinski in the role), is now the chairman of the Atlantic Council's International Advisory Board.
At this year's award dinner, attended by "more than 900 leaders from over 50 countries," Scowcroft "introduced Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and 2008 Distinguished Military Leadership Award honoree, French Air Force General Stephane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and co-recipient of this year's Distinguished Military Leader Award [and] General James Mattis, his predecessor at ACT and co-awardee." 
Zbigniew Brzezinski's daughter, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, co-emceed the event. Her brother Ian, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for NATO and European Policy, is an Atlantic Council rapporteur.
The Atlantic Council of the United States was established in 1961 by former Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter to bolster support for NATO. Atlantic Councils were set up in other member states for the same purpose, and at the present time they now number more than 40 in NATO and Partnership for Peace countries. The name is derivative of North Atlantic Council, the highest governing body of NATO.
According to the British Atlantic Council's website, the councils are the product of the Atlantic Treaty Association formed in 1954, and the latter still "acts as an umbrella organisation to coordinate the different councils' efforts to promote public support for the institutions that bring together political leaders, academics and diplomats in an effort to further the values laid down in the North Atlantic Treaty...." 
The U.S. Atlantic Council is preeminent, though, as the U.S. is in NATO. Foreign officials - heads of state, defense and foreign ministers - routinely frequent and speak at the Atlantic Council's headquarters in Washington, D.C. when on trips to visit the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department.