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.@fordschool – Christopher R. Hill: On the frontlines of U.S. Diplomacy

[email protected] – Christopher R. Hill: On the frontlines of U.S. Diplomacy


>>Good afternoon
everybody, and welcome. I’m Susan Collins, the Joan
and Sanford Weill Dean here at the Gerald R. Ford
School of Public Policy and I’m really delighted
to see you here for today’s policy talks. Today this event is
actually a two part event. First we will the policy
talks conversation, and that will begin shortly. But then at 7:00 p.m. the
Ford School is delighted to host a free screening of The
Diplomat the Michigan Theater. This is a really
fascinating documentary about the late Richard
Holbrooke and we hope to see all of you there also this evening. So first I’d like to
acknowledge our cosponsors for today’s event. The Nam Center for
Korean Studies and also the Weiser Center
for Emerging Democracies. And we are very pleased to
have the founder, Ambassador, Ronald Weiser, here
with us this evening. Thanks for joining us. We are very grateful for
their generous support of this program. But of course we would not
be able to have today’s event without our honorable guest,
Ambassador Christopher Hill. Welcome to you, we’re
delighted to have you here. [ Applause ] Ambassador Hill was a Peace
Corp volunteer in Cameroon. He then served for 33 years
in the foreign service and he was a key player in several major American
diplomatic milestones, including the Dayton Peace
Accords, the Kosovo Crisis and the Six Party Talks on
North Korea’s Nuclear Program, certainly a relevant set of
topics for discussion today. And I’m sure that
we will hear more about these critical periods
and their implications. He also served as
ambassador to four countries. He was ambassador to Iraq during
its 2010 national election, and before that ambassador to South Korea, Poland
and Macedonia. And in 2010 he was named dean
of the Josef Korbel School of International Affairs at
the University of Denver. Which like the Ford School is a
member of APSIA, the Association of Professional Schools
of International Affairs, and as a fellow dean I’ve
had the opportunity to get to know him in that context, and
so that’s been a real pleasure. Under his leadership the Korbel
school has constructed a new building and established
several new research centers, including the Center
for Middle East Studies and the Coseley Center for
Public Opinion Research. Ambassador Hill has recently
published his first book,Outpost, Life on the Frontiers
of American Diplomacy
. This candid memoir details the
complex and very human aspects of diplomacy, including
his perspective on key political actors. His fundamental underlying
critique of U.S. Foreign Policy really
challenges us to think, just what makes for a successful
American policy, foreign policy, and that is a very provocative
and important question that helps to frame
the conversation that we will all
participate in here today. I’d also like to introduce my
colleague and the co-director of the Ford School’s
International Policy Center, Assistant Professor
John Ciorciari. And all of us who know John
know his deep expertise on Foreign Policy issues
in a wide range of areas, and won’t be surprised
that we invited him to host the conversation today. So for today’s event we will
follow the conversation format that’s often used in the
Council on Foreign Relations. So John will kick things off
with a series of questions, and then after about 30 minutes of conversation we
will open things up to questions from
the audience. So a little later from now our
staff will start collecting question cards, and all of you
should have received a card, and we invite you to fill those
out and pass them to the sides. Anyone watching online,
please Tweet your questions to us using the hash
tag policy talks. The question and answer
session will be facilitated by Ford School Professor
Susan Waltz, and also — who is also a Korbel
School alum, I might add, together with two Ford School
students, Trevis Harrold and Swathi Shanmugasundaram. So we are delighted to
welcome them as well. So now please join me in welcoming Professor John
Ciorciari and our special guest, Ambassador Christopher Hill. [ Applause ]>>Professor John
Ciorciari: Ambassador Hill, thank you so much for coming. Welcome to the Ford School. As Dean Collins said, I’d like
to start off with a few Council of Foreign Relations type
conversational questions before we open to the audience. And I’d like to start by
looking back at Bosnia. We’ve just passed the
20th anniversary milestone of the Dayton Accords, and I
wonder if you would kick off by sharing with us
some of the lessons that you think are most relevant
today from the process leading up to the Dayton Accords. What factors were the most
important in enabling you and other members of
the negotiating team to craft a deal in 1995?>>Christopher R. Hill: Well,
thank you very much, John. Before I get to that I just want to mention Ambassador
Ron Weiser, whom Susan already
introduced, but Ron and I were in neighboring countries, Ron
in Slovakia and I in Poland. And at the time, Ron, I think
you remember everyone was worried about Slovakia. You had this guy, Michar
[assumed spelling] as the — you know, this very
right wing kind of guy that everyone was afraid of. And you kept telling everyone,
“It’s going to be okay because it’s really
all about the economy and the economy is really
going in the right direction.” And sure enough I think Slovakia
has ended up in the right place. And meanwhile in Poland,
I’m mean I’m always going to be optimistic about Poland, but we got some challenges
right now. And finally, before I
get to your question, I just want to say,
I’m thankful today because I’m a New England fan
and [laughter] our University of Michigan quarterback
is still alive today. It wasn’t — I was at that
game yesterday and I was in one of those boxes with all these
Bronco fans, and for me, you know, growing up in New
England, I don’t have a choice about teams, it’s just, you
know, sort of tattooed on you, Red Sox, Celtics,
Bruins, and Patriots, but I’m just glad
he’s still alive. Anyway, it was a
long day yesterday. All right, so where were we? We were talking about Dayton. You know, it was 20 years ago, and I think 20 years
may be a blink of an eye in historical sense, but
I think it’s really time to start assessing what went
right and what went wrong. I was at a conference, in
fact Ambassador Boucher, Richard Boucher, somewhere
in the back row there, was at the same conference
at Brown University, which was Richard
Holbrooke’s alma mater. And the issue was, you know,
what’s happened in Bosnia. And it was amazing that we had a
number of these Bosnian speaker, and, you know, we used
to joke, you know, and you can find humor even
in horrendous situations. I’ve always found humor as my
sort of best companion in life. But, I mean, to hear all
these Bosnians complaining about Dayton, and it
was like 20 years ago when they all complained about
the Ottoman Turkish Occupation for 400 years, and
then they complained about the Austria Hungarian
Occupation after 1908, and now they’re just
going to complain about American diplomats
in Dayton. So I kind of challenged
them on that. The point being that,
what we did, it was a negotiated document,
that is, if the three sides, the Croats, then we
called them Muslims, now we call them Bosniaks, we’ve sort of awarded the
place identity of Bosnia to what was then considered
the Muslim population. So the Croats, the
Bosniaks, and the Serbs. And we were trying to
negotiate or mediate. So if the three of
them had said, we want to call this place
the Grand Duchies of Bosnia, would have been fine with us. So what we tried to
do was get consensus. So often what we’re trying to do
is, we wanted to create Bosnia as a single state, it was
very important that we not, for example, you know, a
couple of years before Berlin and Germany had been reunited,
we didn’t want to turn Bosnia, and in particular Sarajavo,
into a divided place, so we had certain objectives
to make it one country. At the same time,
because, you know, in democracy majority rule
is understood lesson one, but I wish more people would
take a look at lesson two, which is minority rights. Because you cannot have majority
rule without minority rights. And a lot of what went on in
the [inaudible] was the failure to understand lesson two. And so lesson two, minority
rights, had to be articulated in the form of democratic
institutions within the Serb Republic
and among — and within the so-called
federation between the Bosniaks
and the Croats. I think to this day it is
proving to be a big challenge. And the question is whether the
people’s there have understood that Dayton was a platform on which they could
do a lot of things. And instead they
have many people, I can see 20 years later, have
seen it as a limiting thing that we have to do exactly as
the Bible of Dayton set out. And so, you know, we heard
from Bosnian speakers talking about some school that had a
Croat side and a Muslim side, and, you know, isn’t
this terrible. As if our Constitutional Lawyer,
Robert Zoen [assumed spelling], had sat down to say, how can I
divide Bosnian schools according to ethnicity or ethnic identity. In fact, that was not at all
the point, it was to stop a war. And, you know, in the
retrospect of looking at Iraq and Afghanistan, you think
back to the Balkans, oh, that was just Boy Scout camp
or something [laughter]. It wasn’t Boy Scout camp, I mean
there are 200,000 people killed, there are rape camps, there are
all kinds of hideous things. It had to be stopped. But it was stopped
finally with not as some people say today it
was stopped by American power, it was stopped by arranging — by putting together
political arrangements where people could live together and feel they were
going to be safeguarded. It was not enough to say to
people, hey, we have the sort of Council of Europe guarantees
on Human Rights, and, you know, if you speak to some Bosnian
pheasant about the Council of Europe or OSCE or CSCE at the
time, and they just kind of say, are you kidding me, you
know, that’s supposed to protect my identity. So you had to put together these
institutions in this country, and I think we did that. So I think institutions are key. And we also understood something
that I think has proven to be an elusive concept, or I should say our collective
memories have not been able to keep it in our minds, which is elections
absolutely a part of democracy. Can’t have democracy
without elections. But elections in the absence
of political institutions, of democratic institutions,
elections often in a country become a
kind of census on — you know, in that
case, whose a Croat, whose a Serb and
whose a Bosniak. So elections in and of
themselves become a kind of census in that they do not
tackle the underlying problems of how do you manage
dispute resolution, etcetera. So we went beyond elections,
we went beyond a cease fire. In fact the cease fire was
really the last element we put together, and I know we’re
going to get to Syria. And people are always
saying, well, first thing we need
is a cease fire. You know, I think Beirut
had 477 cease fires. A cease fire in the absence of what the political
arrangements are going to be are not going to last. No one wants to be the last
person to die in a civil war. I mean, I don’t think
there’s any monument to someone who’s the last
person to die in a civil war. So what you have to do is
convince them the war is over, and then they’ll get
out of their trenches. I think we understood some of those things surprisingly
well in Bosnia. We also understood that
there were different levels of this problem, huge human
rights issue, no question. But one shouldn’t be
just a single issue voter on human rights, because
there were other things that were very important. We had had, and we continue
to have, a NATO Alliance, I think essential to our
countries’ future, and essential to our countries’ relationships, and yet in the mid-90s it was
being called into question because we had, you know,
the Cold War is over and wasn’t the purpose of NATO
to, you know, fight the Soviets. And there as no more
Soviet Union, so do we really need NATO? So a lot of questions
about NATO and that fed into a whole question
about the cohesiveness of the Transatlantic
relationship with Europe trying to forge an identity
at the time, you know, as Europe become — because of
German unification they tried to go deeper into German
— into European unity. And so as Europe was coming
together they were often forging this European identity
at the expense of the Transatlantic identity. And so this whole Bosnian issue,
we were really not in sync with the Europeans, it was very
dangerous and yet we understood that that was a problem. We understood the need to be
engaged in it in such a way that at the end, together,
with the Europeans, we’d come out with a solution. And I think a lot of
Americans who sat in, you know, think tanks in Washington and
just talk about what a bunch of, you know, terrible
people the Europeans were, kind of missed the whole point
of the thing, which was to try to forge an understanding. And I think we did that
very well in Dayton. And so I’m mentioning a
lot of lessons of Dayton, and by definition a
lesson should be learned, and yet 20 years later here
we are dealing with things like Syria and it’s as if to,
“tally rand” on the restitution of the [inaudible]
Monarchy, nothing learned and nothing forgotten.>>Professor John Ciorciari: I
wanted to follow-up and ask you about Syria, because lessons
obviously, if they apply, apply to other cases
of complex multiethnic and ethno religious conflict. And one question that
comes to mind right away is to build off the insight that
Dayton wasn’t intended to be as definition of a desired end
state, Dayton is a platform on which the various parties
are able to move forward, on the basis of a durable cease
fire and at least a resolution for some period to the conflict.>>Christopher R. Hill: And,
you know, we had a concept that, if you want to change
Dayton, you’re free to do so, but you need to do
it through consensus. And that was important because
you remember the whole problem with the referendum that
they had had in 1992, the whole problem of
that referendum was, you would essentially — if you
got a majority for independence, as they did, then you simply
would not pay any respect to the minority. And, again, minority
protection is a key element. So we know that just having
a referendum was not going to solve the issue and that
we needed to kind of make sure that everyone felt they
had something out of this. And so in the fullness of time
we said, look, if you can’t come to an agreement, you
can’t change Dayton, you can’t change Dayton. And the problem has
been, I think, that people who have not
wanted to help the country, and in that I’m sorry to say there’s some Bosnian
Serbs I’ve put in that category, such as Mr. Dodich
[assumed spelling]. People who have not
wanted to streamline, improve the country have
simply hidden behind Dayton. So should we, could we have put
some kind of dispute mechanism such that we could
interpret Dayton in a broader way then we’ve
done rather than just going back to sort of the literal
meaning of the sentences? Probably there’s some room
for improvement there, because right now
Dayton is being held up as an instrument
to oppose change. That said, I know a lot
of Bosniaks who feel that what the Serbs have to do is just put away
their Serbian roots and just call themselves
Bosniak, end of story, and I just don’t feel
we’re at the stage yet where Serbs are
prepared to do that.>>Professor John
Ciorciari: Okay. Tell me, with respect to
Syria, what we can draw forward from the Bosnian experience. Firstly, what does that — I don’t want to say it’s
an interim agreement, but that first important
agreement in order to be able to stabilize the peace, what does that look
like to you in Syria? And then what steps does the
U.S. government, among others, have to take in order to put
the conditions in place to make that kind of a deal possible?>>Christopher R. Hill:
You know, let me first say, I think Syria is a
hideous situation. And I think it’s probably
worse than Bosnia. I mean, it’s — you’ve got
all kinds of people there, many of whom have no concept of what we’ve been
talking about in Bosnia. So the complete lack of
consensus, the sectarianism that has gone rampant
there, it’s not easy. So the first point
I want to make is, it’s easy to be critical of
the people working on, but, you know, you got to understand
the degree of difficulty that they have to contend with. One thing we did in Bosnia, and I should have mentioned this
earlier, is we were prepared to basically work with anybody. Now, this was somewhat
changed by the fact that we were not going to work
with indicted war criminals. And you recalled we pointedly
would not have Ratko Mladic, the head of the Bosnian
Serb Army, in any kind of negotiation
in Dayton. We wouldn’t have
Radovan Karadzic. But I tell you, when we lifted
the siege of Sarajavo — we lifted, I mean, we
got the Bosnian Serbs to pull back their heavy
weapons and lift the siege, we talked directly
to these people. Is it fun to talk
to Radovan Karadzic? No. I sat at a table with
him at this [inaudible] villa up in Voyvadena and he was
eating a big piece of pork with a bone on and just kind of
chewing at it with his fingers. I mean, it was just grotesque to
watch him eat, let alone listen to what he had to say. So it was not fun, but
we did it because we knew that he controlled the heavy
weapons that were, you know, 120 millimeter mortars
and other things that were, you murdering people. I think history will show
in the fullest of time that there have been
two terrible mistakes in the Middle East. One of them, of course, was that Saddam Hussein had
nuclear weapons, and, you know, that’s going to be talked
about for a long time, because it was really — it involved a lot of
mistakes including the abuse of intelligence. The second one, though,
came some years later when our intelligence
agencies concluded that Bashar al-Assad was going
to be gone in a matter of weeks. Now, Assad is not
someone I would, you know, exchange New Year’s
greetings with. I mean, he’s not a nice guy. But when you look at a
miserable dictator of that kind, the first question should not
be, how do we get rid of him? The first question should be, how did he get there
in the first place? And when you start
examining Syria’s polity, it’s complicated. I mean, you have these Alawites,
and he represents Alawites, you know, 15% proposition. But — and you have Sunnis, who
themselves have their divisions, but they’re more like 60%. And many of them have felt
disaffected from Syria. It got a lot worse — and
these are things, you know, people need to take
a few minutes to read about these things. For example, Syria has
had a longstanding drought that has brought many of these
very hard Islamists, you know, nor urbanized, sophisticated
Sunnis, I’m talking about people out in those villages, hard
line Islamists, into the towns because there was no economy
left with this drought. So you had a certain
radicalization of the Sunni community there. It always had it’s Muslim
brotherhood elements in places like Hamaad [assumed spelling],
etcetera, but you can tell that was going to be tough. And then meanwhile you have
Christians, you have Druze, you have Kurds, all of whom have
essentially supported Assad. So you’ve got quite — now,
why are they supporting Assad? Do they like Assad? No, they just worry what happens when Syria becomes
Sunni [inaudible]. So meanwhile people in the
U.S. are sort of anxious to see some sort of follow-up to
the Arab spring, or, you know, Arab thing, whatever we’re
going to call it in history. And they start calling this
opposition to Assad democratic. Well, it is democratic in that
there is probably more opponents to Assad then there were
supporters of Assad, because the Sunnis were
largely in opposition, although not completely, but certainly these Islamist
Sunnis were in opposition. So, yeah, you could
call that majority, and therefore you can call
that democratic opposition. I submit to you, however,
that the sectarianism that we see today in such
stark relief was probably there from the get go. And it’s a bit of a fiction
to say, well, you know, at first they were
very democratic and then we didn’t
give them weapons, and they became Islamists. You know, I see that as kind
of a self-serving narrative for people who want
to send weapons. I really think that how it would
start, to get to your question, is with a pencil and
a piece of paper. And what you would do is write
down on probably one sheet of paper, maybe two, what
Syria should be in the future. You need to define in some
broad strokes what the political arrangements would be in Syria. One, should Syria be within
its international borders? You know, as much as we heap,
scorn, and for good reason on Sykes Picot, you know, those
two diplomats who are French and British, who in
1916 drew this line. As a colleague of mine said, “And you know they
weren’t even ambassadors.” Well, you know [laughter]. And so they draw this
crazy line, you know, and so the first point, I would
not try to change that border. It’s not that I think it
was a great line that Sykes and Picot drew, it was basically between British and
French influence. But, you know, show
me a border change in the Middle East,
I’ll show you a war. So I’m not really sure trying to impose a border change is
necessarily the right way. So I just say, Syria in
its existing borders. Syria should be decentralized,
and then I’d describe some of the decentralization. A kanton system, describe
what a province in Syria, the rights that province
in Syria should have. Can they teach kids
in their own dialects, can they have certain religious
aspects attached to the state? I don’t like that,
but, you know, maybe that’s what we have to do. Should Syria have a kind
of collective presidency? That is, instead of just
an [inaudible] president, which is what they have
now, should have they a kind of rotating thing, you
know, like Bosnia has? You could write this
kind of stuff on a page, and then you could chop that. And beware of those who say, no, we don’t need this,
this is patronizing. Well, my view is, when you’ve
killed 300,000 of your fellow, you know, citizens, you’ve
forfeited the right to complain about being patronized too. So I would be a little
scornful of that argument. But I think ultimately
people would need to decide, do they want it within
it’s international borders, do they want it decentralized, do they want a parliamentary
system, maybe an upper chamber that through some combination
of, let’s say, you know, national identities can veto. So if the Sunni majority
pushes something through, if the Christian caucus,
the Alawite caucus and maybe one other, I don’t
know, the Druze caucus, in an upper chamber, could
veto that, something like that. I think you need
some description of politically how
it would work, and right now people
have been talking about you need a cease fire,
and, you know, I’m all in favor of cease fires, and
you need elections. But I submit to you elections
are just going to be a census and a cease fire is
just going to be broken, unless people know why
they’re cease firing. And I just — in Bosnia
we basically had all the accoutrements done that define
what the contact group plan was before we got to Dayton,
and then on the eve of Dayton we said, okay, cease fire while we
implement all this, and somebody called it
Dayton Peace Accords, and that’s where we were.>>Professor John
Ciorciari: Okay. Great. Of course there are
a few other things I wanted to get your thoughts on before
we open up to questioning, and one of them is, to pan
out and say there’s also of course the broader
conflict in the Middle East with a strong secretarian
[assumed spelling] dimension to it involving Iran. And I wondered if you could
share with us your thoughts on the Iran Nuclear Deal. Is this conducive
to the resolution of this complex patchwork
of conflicts?>>Christopher R. Hill: Yeah. I mean, whenever you ask
someone, what do you think of X, the answer should
be, compared to what? And I — you know, I’m not
saying the Nuclear Deal was, you know, the only thing in
the world to deal with it, but I have not heard an
articulate explanation of what the alternative was. People often say, the
sanctions were working. Well, I think the sanctions
certainly were impoverishing the middle class of Iran, if
that’s your objective. But I think, you know,
everything has it’s life cycle and I think sanctions do too. So I think it was — and
given the parties involved, the Russians, the Chinese,
Brits, French, Germans, I think we had kind of gotten
to a point where it was time to sell sanctions
and get a deal. Now, is it a perfect deal? No. Certainly within 10 or 15
years — first of all the — their nuclear capacities
are still there. I mean, but, you know, how are
you going to deal with that? Are you going to shoot all
their nuclear scientists, is that your solution to keeping
nuclear know how out of Iran? I doubt it. How are you going
to manage that? And so I think the idea of
getting some limits on it, getting the [inaudible]
material out of the country, which has gone well, I think it
was probably the right approach. Obviously it will start bringing
to Iran a lot of capacity to — because they’ll get more money
out of their bank accounts, by the way, that
have been frozen, and certainly there
was a danger that some of that money can be — can go to some of the
Iranian mischief making in the Arab Middle East. You can imagine they could
be giving more to Hezbollah, there’s no question
that’s a problem. But I think Americans need to
understand that when we talk about Iranian support to
terrorism, we are talking about Hezbollah, we
are talking about some of these militia groups in Iraq. We are not talking about
Al-Qaieda, we are not talking about ISIS, those are
extremist Sunni groups. Iran is on the opposite
side of that ledger. So, yes, it’s a danger for
them to have more funds for Hezbollah, but at
the same time internally, and our policymakers don’t
talk about this as much, but internally within
Iran I think to have Iran in somewhat better
shape is to empower some of these urban people who
want to see more development. And, you know, if you look
at the history of sort of political unrest, it usually
comes up through a process known as Rising Expectations. People seldom revolt when
they’re flat on their back, they revolt when they see things
changing but not fast enough. So I think to some
extent we’re making a bet on internal dynamics. It’s a long shot. I mean, it’s not easy to
unseat these Ayatollah’s, but given the alternative
to the Nuclear Deal, I think it’s the right approach. I do want to say one
other thing, though, in any deal in life generally
you have something called externalities, negative
externalities. And what this has done
vis a vis our relationship with Saudi Arabia is serious. Saudi Arabia, frankly,
they forgave us for supporting Israel,
they’ve kind of, you know, dealt with that over
the decades. They have not forgiven us for
the fact that we went into Iraq and turned Iraq into
a Shia-led country. So if you’re a Saudi
and you’re looking at that northern
border, you see Shia. You see Shia in Iran, you see
Shia in Iraq, and you see Iran, because of Iraq’s Shia
status as a Shia-led country, you see Iran able to play more
in the Lebanon and Syrian space, and you get very worried. So Saudi Arabia feels that demonstrably their
strategic situation has worsened. At the same time
there’s another thing and it’s a little
more complicated, which is Saudi is saying,
and you have to combine it with the whole idea that
we’re pivoting to Asia. Pivoting to Asia, you know,
dealing more with Indonesia, China, all great stuff. But if you’re in the
Middle East, you’re going, what are we, chopped liver? I mean — and you’re
sort of feeling that America is abandoning
the Middle East. And then you combine it with
a sense that, wait a minute, now they’re talking to their
old buddies the Iranians. We remember that
one in the ’70s. So while for an American
it looks ridiculous that somehow we’re going
to rehab our relationship with a country under these
Ayatollah’s, it’s ridiculous to us, to the Saudi’s
it’s not so ridiculous. And so we need to manage
that Sunni reaction, and the Sunni reaction
has been pretty ferocious. And by managing it,
what have we done? We’ve sold the Saudi’s F15’s,
that’s always the solution to every problem
with the Saudi’s, you sell them airplanes. But we’ve also looked the
other way while they bombed the bejeebers out of
these Shia areas, these [inaudible]
areas in Yemen. We’ve also looked the
other way at the fact that the Saudi’s are not even
in the fight anymore with ISIS. Because, you know,
to many people in the Saudi public opinion they
look at ISIS and they go, well, we don’t really like
their tactics, but at least somebody’s doing
something about these Shia. And, you know, as Americans
we always have this kind of solipsistic notion that’s
always about us, you know, ISIS is about to get us. They are, but they’re
really out to get the Shia. And, so, you know, this
whole approach to Iran, I think it’s the right thing, but we should not
minimize the problems, the tectonic shifts we’re
having in the whole Sunni areas.>>Professor John
Ciorciari: Okay. For the last lead-off question
I have for you, I want to pivot to Asia and ask you to
compare the situation in Iran with another Embolia
[assumed spelling] that you know all too well which is the nuclear
issue with North Korea. Having served as the head of Six
Party Talks team for the U.S. as Assistant Secretary of
State for a number of years, when you look at this
latest nuclear test by the North Koreans, they claim
they’ve detonated a H-bomb, China calls for Six Party Talks. The South Korean president
and the U.S. have said, maybe Five Party Talks are in
order, excluding [inaudible]. What do you think the right next
is there, and is there any hope for a deal in North Korea?>>Christopher R. Hill: Yeah. First of all, you
know, I negotiated with the North Koreans in the
context of the Six Party Talks. You know, we made some
progress, to be sure, [inaudible] discuss that. But I guess what’s annoying
about it is people always assume that you have some kind
of Stockholm syndrome and that sooner or later you
develop some appreciation for the North Koreas position. I never did [laughter]. I mean, these –>>Professor John Ciorciari: The Pun Yung [assumed
spelling] syndrome.>>Christopher R. Hill: These are people only a mother
can love, believe me [laughter]. I mean, I’ve never had such
an unpleasant experience. You know, give me
Karadzic and Mladic any day over these people,
it’s pretty awful. I think we were right to engage and I think President
Bush was not only right but he was courageous to engage. And the reason he was courageous
is half the Republican Party, and it may be three quarters
today, opposed any kind of negotiation with
people like that. And I submit to you that
they kind of missed the point that he understood
very well, which was, first of all we had
a double-header going in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secondly, if you looked at
polling data in South Korea and that is the relationship that we absolutely must
preserve for many reasons. If you looked at polling
data in South Korea some 50% of South Koreans in 2004 were
blaming the United States and blaming our truculent
behavior and blaming our lack of interest in negotiation as being the reason why
North Korea was pursuing nuclear weapons. That’s all changed now,
that’s all changed. I mean, South Korean are
not doubting our will to find a solution,
especially they know that we’re not afraid
to negotiate. But the problem is,
as you suggest, is that North Korea is not
interested in a negotiation, so know what do we do. I think China is a major
part of the solution, but I think a dialogue along the
lines that somehow China needs to solve this is not
going to get us there. And I’ll tell you, I was
frankly a little disappointed when our Secretary of
State spoke to Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign
Minister, that was a good idea to touch base with him. And then our Secretary of
State says to the press, “I spoke to him and I told him
their policy has been a failure. We put up with it and
they’ve got nothing done and they need to step it up.” Well, guess what Wang
Yi’s response was as soon as they could get
their, you know, Chinese [inaudible]
put into English? It was that you Americans
haven’t done anything either. And he’s right. Actually both of them are right,
but both of them are wrong to be going through the press. We need to have a deep
dive with the Chinese on what we can get done. I think to some extent we
need to have that deep dive in the context that the U.S.
contrary to what many Chinese in their communist and security
service apparatus believe, contrary to that, we
are not interested in taking strategic
advantage of China. We are not interested
in a unified Korea such that U.S. troops would
be on the Yellow River. We are interested
in a unified Korea, if that’s what Koreans want, and
we support our friend and ally, the Republic of Korea,
but we are not interested in supporting our friend and
ally, the Republic of Korea in order to put pressure on
China by putting listening posts or other things that many of these Chinese security people
believe that we are doing. We need to have a kind of
deep dive with the Chinese to explain what our
real interests are. I think there are too
many Chinese who have — too many Chinese, especially in
this security world who think that this would be a victory for
America and a defeat for China. And, you know, have to
understand North Korea and China not as a
foreign affairs problem, but rather as a near abroad —
remember, China doesn’t come out of the, you know,
1648 in Europe, China comes out of a very
different view of neighbors. And so for many Chinese,
if North Korea is to fail, and that’s what Chinese believe,
if they really put pressure on them they’ll go under,
they see this as something that would resonate
and have a sort of echo effect within
China itself. Where people would start
saying, well, you know, our communist neighbors
are down, why are we still pretending
we have a communist system? It would have an echo on
their internal issues. These are serious matters
that any serious country, and I put China in the
category of a serious country, they need to think about. And so we have had a lot of
disagreements with China. You can see their misbehavior in
the South China Sea and trying to sort of turn that into
a southern Chinese lake. You know, we need to really
have a proper dialogue with the Chinese. And most importantly, I
think, we need to kind of set out some priorities. You know, priorities
are a good thing, it helps sharpen the mind. Individuals do it every day. But we have a foreign policy, and this is a whole
other subject, that is increasingly
sort of up for sale. And the consequences, everyone’s
priority, gets put on the list.>>Professor John
Ciorciari: Okay. Thank you for that. And my priority right now
is to turn over to Trevis and to Swathi to ask
some of the questions that you all have
provided from the audience. So, please.>>Swathi Shanmugasundaram:
Okay. Thank you so much for your time
and thoughtful answers thus far. My name is Swathi
Shanmugasundaram, I’m an undergraduate student
here at Ford with a focus on immigration reform and minors
and Southeast Asian studies.>>Christopher R. Hill: Could
you try your name once again?>>Swathi Shanmugasundaram:
Sure. [Laughter] You know, it
sounds like a sentence, because it’s very long. Swathi Shanmugasundaram.>>Christopher R. Hill: Okay.>>Swathi Shanmugasundaram:
[Laughter] Great. Anyway, our first question from the audience is
about Syria and Iraq. You suggested keeping
Syrian borders the same. Why not divide Syria and Iraq
along ethnic lines instead, such as [inaudible], a
Shia state, a Sunni state, and a Christian state?>>Christopher R.
Hill: You know, in a sort of de facto sense, if
you go up from the Arab lands to Kurdistan you’ll
find a checkpoint and it’s like a border. You won’t see Arabs north of
that border, except as tourists, by the way, up in the Kurdish
Mountains you see a lot of people from Baghdad having
picnics up there and whatnot. But it already kind of
looks like another country. Today if you go west
from Baghdad into Ambar you’re also seeing
a little of that happen. It may end up in a different
circumstance, but I submit to you that if we try to divide
it, and unless it is done in a way that everyone
participates in a kind of political process to do it, I can pretty much guarantee
you there will be people who reject this and there
will be lasting war. So I think we need
to be very careful with solutions like that. Look, if the Shia
and Sunni come — have a meeting and they say
international community, we’re done. We really want to create
two states, you know, the way the Czechs
and the Slovaks did. Cool. You know, we should help
them kind of figure that out. But I don’t think that’s there. And I think in particular
the Sunni Arabs, you know, if you look at the Arab Middle
East it’s been 90% Sunni Arab, and Iraq is quite the
anomaly at 60% Shia Arab. And so I’m not sure the Sunnis
would just say, okay, Iraqis, you’ve got — Iraqi Shia,
you’ve got all that, you know, you can have 60%. I think there are a lot
of problems in doing that. And I understand why people
say this is a simple solution, I suggest to you it
gets very complicated. And by the way, Baghdad in
particular is very complicated in that regard and that
you’d end up with more war.>>Trevis Harrold: All righty. So just to echo. Thank you, again,
Ambassador Hill, for your time, much appreciated. I’m excited to hear
your insight. Hello everyone, I’m
Trevis Harrold, I’m a first year master’s
Public Policy student here at the Ford School. Actually, I’ve done a couple
internships with the Department of State, in Kosovo
in particular. I know we didn’t discuss
that today, but –>>Christopher R. Hill:
[Inaudible] Pristina?>>Trevis Harrold: Pristina,
yeah, right in the crux of it. Took visits to [inaudible]
as well, so very interesting. But neither here nor there, but
thank you again for the time. The first question is, do you think the current
right-wing [inaudible] of Europe is similar to the
Balkan issues of the ’90s?>>Christopher R. Hill: No. I think the Balkan issues
of the ’90s, you know, one thing about education that’s
kind of interesting is the — college education, is
the political science that I studied became history. I mean, who the heck cares about the Soviet
Poland Bureau anymore? It’s history. But interestingly the history that I studied became
political science. And so it seemed a little
ridiculous to sit there reading about the Ottoman Empire, but
guess what, that whole break-up of Yugoslavia was about the
break-up of the Ottoman Empire. It really was 1912 and 1913,
that’s what it was all about. So what is going on in
Europe is not the break-up of the Ottoman Empire or the
break-up of the Habsburg’s or any of these other empires. What’s going on in Europe
is the, I think, complex — the difficulty of deepening
political structures creating a new identity that’s never
existed, that is an identity as a European, and at the
same time trying to hold on to what previous
identities were. And I think many of this what
you call right-wing politics is a kind of concern that identity,
whether you’re an Austrian or whatever, has been
put into this sort of homogenized thing
known as European. And I think a lot of these
right-wing politicians, you know, strike a real resonant
chord with people when they say, wait, do we just want
to be put into this, you know, mosh pit of Europe? I mean, don’t we have history,
don’t we have traditions, you know, what’s happened to us? So I think that’s part of it. I think when the sort of — you
know, the whole idea was, okay, Germany, you can be united,
but it has to be in the context of a deeper European structure. Very nice, beautiful. The only trouble was, the result of all this is Germany now
dominates the European Union. So ironically Germany is exactly
what we feared it would be in 1991, ’92. So a lot of smaller
countries kind of resent that. Meanwhile, Germans resent some
of those smaller countries. And, you know, to
see this whole thing, I always thought it would come out with the European
enlargement into Eastern Europe and I always thought it would
be the Western Europeans saying, you know, why are we building
roads in Slovakia, etcetera, you know, why can’t
these people, you know, pull themselves up from
their bootstraps, etcetera. And what it really has been is
the Southern Europeans that — that’s been the real
fault line in Europe. So I think among Germans
there’s a real concern that the Southern Europeans they
are not pulling their weight, and I think that has
given rise to nationalism. And meanwhile you have this
incredible flow of refugees from North Africa and
from the war areas. And so I think for many
Europeans they say, well, wait a minute, they seem to be
more interested in those people than they are in us, and so
that’s been hard to manage. And when you kind of lecture
them and tell them, hey, you know, this is your moral
responsibility to take care of Syrians, they say, well,
that’s easy for you to say, but I’ve lived in this village
of 200 people, my parents, my grandparents, my generations
have lived in this village of 200 people and
now this village of 200 people has a refugee camp
of 800 people right next to it. What are you doing to us? So there’s a sense
of powerlessness as these big European
structures make decisions. And by the way, some of these
decisions are not so pretty when you look closely
because you see some of the political parties,
some of this is, you know, you put a refugee camp
in the opposition party, not in your own territory. And by the way, party
affiliation in Europe is a lot deeper
than it is in this country. So there are a lot
of problems there. And then I’ll add that,
you know, I’m not sure — you know, this is maybe a little
whimsical, but I’m just not sure that Europe is producing the
kind of politicians it needs, statesman, I should
use the term statesman, to deal with these problems. You know, I think there’s been
a kind of crisis of confidence, and we see it in this country
as well, a crisis of confidence in institutions and the leaders that these institutions
are producing. And so, you know,
everyone’s got this — these issues, it’s
kind of global. But on the case of Europe, they have come a long
way very quickly, and I think it’s just been very
tough on a lot of people there.>>Swathi Shanmugasundaram:
At least one historian of the origins of
World War I has argued that the infamous
Austria-Hungary Ultimatum to Serbia would have
been less an infringement of Serbia’s sovereignty than
the demands NATO made concerning Kosovo that were enforced
by extensive bombing. What’s your reaction?>>Christopher R. Hill: Yeah. I understand why
they’re saying that. The Austrian Ultimatum
was a something that there was no way
the Serbs could accept. And it did involve,
if I recall correctly, it did involve some
territorial give back. The problem is, we
live in a different era and you can’t really compare an
ultimatum of 1914 with a problem that was, you know, beyond just
national in scope but rather had to do with sort of
state formation in a neighboring country. 1914, it was tough because
the Austrians had grabbed — Sarajavo had grabbed
Bosnia in 1908, Serbs just didn’t accept it. And, you know, got [inaudible]
and his ilk never accepted it. In some ways you can make it — you can make the case
that it was similar, except I would say the Serbs
in 1914 handled it better by looking for allies, obviously
the whole thing had disastrous consequence, but at least
they looked for allies, while the Serbs in 1992
just did not understand that they were not
going to be able to play the game by themselves. And for Serbs to talk about that
somehow Russia is their friend, I think most Serbs know better.>>Trevis Harrold: What lessons
can we learn from the lead up to the Balkan wars for
ethnically fragile regions such as Brandi, Lebanon,
etcetera?>>Christopher R. Hill: Yeah. Well, I tried to suggest
earlier that I think we need to design political structures that will be post-war
structures. And for people who say that
our solution to these issues is to intervene militarily,
I think, and that’s — by the way, that’s what
the whole American debate on Syria has been, how do we
send more guns into that country and to whom do we send them. And to me that is
very, very discouraging because I don’t think
Syrians need more guns. And nor do they need
more military training. What they need are structures
for peace, and I really think that this obsession that we have
with — that this is all about, “leveling the playing field.” That’s a nice expression,
it’s often used in trade negotiations,
but when you talk about leveling the
playing field in a war, you’re into something a lot
more than just, you know, a textile negotiation. And I would hope that
we would have developed as a country a certain aversion
to war and a certain skepticism that war is the solution
to these problems. And yet when you look
at any politician in this country all they
talk about is should we or should we not give weapons. I would like some affirmative
solutions such as should we, you know, pull the parties
together and offer a peace plan. And there’s some
evidence that’s happening, maybe happening this
week, in fact. But even then it seems to be on
the issue of having a cease fire and putting together elections,
and I don’t think that’s going to — elections I don’t
think will solve anything, there will just be a
census of how many Druze, how many Christian, how many
Alawites you have there.>>Swathi Shanmugasundaram: What do you think
the biggest challenge for U.S. diplomacy is today?>>Christopher R. Hill:
Well, I’m an old-fashion guy so I always worry
about nuclear weapons. You know, it was funny
when they were talking about had North Korea
exploded a hydrogen weapon, it turns out probably not. But I’m not even sure
that’s the issue. I mean, if you have a
nuclear weapon, I mean, look at Hiroshima, can we
really handle another Hiroshima in this world? I don’t think so, and that
was not a hydrogen weapon. So I think the real issue is how
to stop these nuclear wannabes. And that’s why I want to see
much more concerted joint effort with the Chinese
to address this, and I think trading accusations in the press is not
[inaudible] foreign policy, so I would go after that. Obviously what is happening in
the Middle East is dangerous, it’s dangerous for the world. To some extent America is
a little more protected from the needs for oil in the
Middle East because we have, you know, all this
nontraditional oil development in this country. I think if this issue of Sunni and Shia goes unabated it
will be very dangerous.>>Swathi Shanmugasundaram:
What are your views on the new government in Myanmar
and the ethnic issues it faces?>>Christopher R.
Hill: You know, I mean, I think that is a country
that has come a long way. And, you know, in so doing,
I mean, there was this idea that Tunisian and these
people were, you know, beyond redemption, you
couldn’t deal with them, and yet they’ve come a long way. There was also this view that
Aung San Suu Kyi was a saint. I think people have
discovered, you know, like most of us, she’s not. But she has done a
lot, she’s done a lot. I feel Myanmar is a place to
encourage what they’ve done. And it’s not to say that
they have solved the sort of centrifugal forces
in that country that are really dangerous
for it. I mean, the various —
these tribal structures, these are not easy and
don’t always assume that the government is at fault. I mean, some of these
separatists are themselves at fault. So I think it’s one of these
things that bears attention and is worth paying attention. You know, when I was —
on my watch it was — we turned it into a sort
of human rights melodrama. You had Aung San Suu
Kyi under house arrest by this evil [inaudible]. And there’s an element
of that, definitely. But when you talk to people
from the region, when you talk to Indonesians, Singaporeans,
Thai, they saw it, yes, as a human rights
melodrama to be sure, but it was also a huge
chunk of real estate. And the question was,
do you want to see this in a more Indian orbit,
do you want to see it in a Chinese orbit, or do you
want to see it in [inaudible] as one of these small countries
that — not small, I mean, Indonesia is not small, but one of these southeast Asian
countries that kind of tries to work with their neighbors and
comes up with these consensus, you know, rules of the road. And to me that’s pretty
obvious that’s what we would like to see happen to Burma. But to encourage that is not
always to be wagging our finger at them, and I think we
need to kind of stay engaged and help them and
try to support them.>>Trevis Harrold: All right. So this question actually
comes from a student, a hopeful student in
the audience, Go Blue! The question is, how does
once ace a Foreign Service Test [laughter]? Yes.>>Christopher R. Hill:
Well, all right, well, two great things about
the Foreign Service Test. One, it’s free. The second is — you know,
you don’t have to pay anything to take the Foreign
Service exam. The second thing that’s nice
is you can take it again. You know how if you
take a GRE once and then you’ll take it again
they’ll kind of average it with the previous one,
which is kind of annoying. The Foreign Service Test,
you pass it, they don’t care if you didn’t pass it before. The record is eight times. The record for someone actually
getting in the Foreign Service and having taken it multiple
times is eight times. So people should really
understand that one of the tricks is not
to think that you have to pass it the first time. Now, if you’re way off the first
time, if you don’t come close, you might want to
consider something else. But if you’re close you
should try it again. So I’m speaking as someone who didn’t pass it the
first time [laughter]. I was in college, I was
a senior, I took it, and I came close, but I had
— my English, actually, was below the minimum. So I joined the Peace Corp. and
all I did was read, you know, just I had stacks of
books, I just read, read, read, and then I passed it. So you just kind of
address your deficit there. So if you really want to
enter the Foreign Service, you shouldn’t consider
the exam your problem. You’ll eventually pass it. The issue is, you need to
consider, do you want to move around the world
every two years? Do you want to — are
you comfortable with some of the issues you’ll
have to take? You know, you don’t
pick and choose. If you don’t like the Iraq war and you’re a Foreign Service
officer, if you really don’t like it and you can’t defend
it, maybe you should get out. So, you know, it’s — you have
to have a lot of considerations. I think it’s a fabulous
career, there’s no country in the world that’s more fun to
defend than the United States, and we are it, no one
is indifferent to us, no one falls asleep when
you start talking [laughter] about our policies. And, you know, explaining
Donald Trump to the rest of the world [laughter], I mean.>>Swathi Shanmugasundaram:
In your opinion who have the most
effective diplomats and Secretary’s of State been?>>Christopher R. Hill: Well,
you know, he drove me crazy, he — I would say he was
my mentor and my tormentor, but I’m a big Dick
Holbrooke fan. So I’m pleased to be at this
film that — done by his son, which is really quite
a touching film because it’s his son’s effort to
get to know his dad posthumously and through his dad’s work. So I’m a big Holbrooke fan. And, look, there have been
a lot of great diplomats. One of them people
don’t ever talk about but there’s a guy named
Warren Christopher, very kind of quiet guy,
not big on the media, but he understood things, he understood the
balance of things. And I guess what I really liked
about him, and I’ll Condi Rice to this, is when they
sent you out on, you know, mission impossible,
they’d back you up. And what you don’t like is
for someone to send you out and then you, you know, things
don’t go well and then lo and behold you’re getting
criticized back home and, you know, you don’t have
someone sticking up for you. Collin Powell was very good
at sticking up for his people. Condi Rice was, Warren Christopher was
very good at that, as well. So, look, you know, we’ve had
a lot of great Secretary’s of State and I think it’s
— we need to, you know, understand that this is such
an important role for us in the world, and we
need to understand that American diplomacy
should not be an oxymoron, it should be something that
we do and do very well.>>Professor John Ciorciari:
I think we’ve got time for one more question.>>Trevis Harrold: Yes,
yep, so last question here, and it’s kind of a
two-prong question.>>Christopher R. Hill: [Inaudible] questions,
you know [laughter].>>Trevis Harrold: Yeah,
sneaking them in there. But the number of American
students studying international relations, area studies, and foreign languages
continues to drop. Do you believe this
will have an impact on the U.S. government’s ability to implement foreign
policy in the future? And secondly, as a
dean, what can be done to increase interest
participation in studies associated
with diplomacy?>>Christopher R. Hill: Yeah,
you know, we notice this. As Susan mentioned, we’re
members of this association of international schools
and we’re noticing this kind of enrollment headwinds where we’re not seeing
enrollments grow like they did after 911. I think, you know,
it’s something we have to track and be aware of. I think to some extent
there is a feeling that somehow we cannot
make a difference — you cannot make a difference
in the State Department, and yet I think you can. And I think the State Department
needs to do a better job of making sure that people know
that this a very, you know, a career that can really, you
know, it can be very important and very satisfying to people. I think, too, and I
don’t want to make — you know, here I am in
my 60s and I don’t want to be lecturing younger
generations, but, no, you cannot be Henry
Kissinger at the age of 24. I mean, [laughter] you
have to understand. I mean, I spent the
first 10 years of my career schlepping people’s
bags in from the airport, and the second 10 years,
you know, writing telegrams that no one ever cared about. And the third 10
years I had a ball. I mean, I really — I knew the
whole business and, you know, I would help younger people. And by the way, mentoring
people, I mean, people helped me and my duty is to help others. And I think most
Foreign Service get that, most Foreign Service
officers get that. And so — and I think
people need to understand that it’s not a sprint, it’s
a marathon, and so you need to understand that
you’re not going to be changing the
world at the age of 24. Besides, I did that in the
Peace Corp., so that kind of gets it out of your system. So I think we should be
encouraging more interest in international studies. And I don’t know
what the solution is, but all I can tell people is — I mean, there’s a lot of concern
now about business school or whether that’s
[inaudible] about law school, so I think a lot of these
professional schools are experiencing some headwinds. But I just want to make sure
that as a country we understand that there is a body of
knowledge in all these fields, and international
studies is one of them, and you need to know stuff. And you need to, you know, understand that if you
don’t know stuff you’ll end up with a prospect of, you know, some Burmese diplomat
being smarter than you are. So I think we need to
kind of be respectful of what education can do and understand the absolute
need for more of it, so. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Well, thank you so
much Ambassador Hill and Professor Ciorciari. I hope to see all of you
later at our free screening that will be at the
Michigan Theater. You’ve already heard just
a bit about The Diplomat, but I very much hope that all
of you will consider joining us at 7:00 p.m. I’d also
like to thank you for joining us this afternoon,
and I hope that you’ll stay and enjoy the reception
that’s right outside of our doors, in our Great Hall. There’s also a book
signing there, and I, again, hope that you will
stay for that. Please join me in
a final thank you to our special guest,
Ambassador Hill. [ Applause ]

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