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“So it’s not saying democracy is some kind of ideal up in the sky,” Hill said. “It’s that democracy is a necessity if you’re going to arrive at some point at good governance.”
AT YALE, HILL IS A LONELY conservative voice in a bastion of liberalism. Worthen’s biography describes how in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Hill pushed back against the popular narrative among much of the faculty that American foreign policies were to blame. A similar debate over the “blowback” theory triggered the heated exchange between Giuliani and Ron Paul this May that has remained one of the most memorable moments of the election season.
“Our domestic political complaints are almost always focused on the present, and they’re almost always focused on some assertion that we brought it on ourselves,” Hill told TAS. “That something we did caused this. And if we would just change our ways, that the problem would disappear. And that’s simply, for anybody who has paid any attention to the enemy and the enemy’s statements, and how long it’s been going on, it simply isn’t so.”
Hill points out that while many people now say that Britian is a target of terrorists because former Prime Minister Tony Blair supported U.S. policies in Iraq, statements by bin Laden and Al Qaeda more than ten years ago demonstrated that the terrorists can come up with all sorts of reasons why Britain is a major target, dating back to Britain’s war against the Mahdi in Sudan in the 1890s and the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
“The list of grievances goes back 40, 50, 60, 80 years, and even more than that, so our adversaries have got a lot of good reasons that they’re perfectly ready to tell us, why they’re after us and why they’re after the British,” he said. “So making up these reasons are just concoctions by which they hope to get us to stop defending ourselves.”
Hill, who also worked as an adviser to former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, is under no illusions about the institution.
“The U.N. is all the things that everybody always says it is in terms of being ineffectual, and ailing, and avoiding the worst problems, and bureaucratically mismanaged, and in many ways corrupt, but the U.N. can be used in an effective way if you’ve got the right kind of leadership and determination,” Hill said. “But it has to be done in the sense that if you go to the U.N. and you expect it to take its part in international security, it should respond, and if it doesn’t respond, then we’ll just have to go around it.”
But he also thinks that we shouldn’t devote too much energy to lamenting its impotence. “The U.N. is not that important,” he said. “We should not exhaust ourselves in grousing and carping and complaining about the U.N. because it is a mechanism that’s there for us to use on our side of this war, and we’ve got real enemies out there that we need to give priority and attention to.”
WHEN IT COMES TO HANDLING nuclear crises in North Korea and Iran, Hill believes that the threat of military action has to be on the table to conduct diplomacy. “Strength and diplomacy have got to go hand in hand,” he said. “If you try to do diplomacy without strength, you’ll get nowhere.” He said that with Iran in particular, there has been progress on the sanctions front, but Europe has to put more financial pressure on the Islamic state, which depends on loan guarantees from European countries. He sees this as all part of the process of “moving the walls in on Iran, step by step.”
Critics of Giuliani have questioned his credentials on foreign policy, pointing out that the only elective office he has held is mayor. But having somebody with the stature and seriousness of Hill as the leader of his foreign policy team should go a long way in countering those critics. In addition to Hill and Podhoretz, the list of advisers includes Steve Rosen, Martin Kramer, S. Enders Wimbush, Peter Berkowitz, and Kim R. Holmes.
“I don’t think there’s anybody running for president in either party that has an understanding in a comprehensive way of the world situation that Rudy Giuliani does,” Hill said.
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