Talking to Giuliani Advisor Charles Hill

As part of HUMAN EVENTS’ series examining the advisors surrounding the leading GOP presidential contenders we interviewed Rudy Giuliani’s chief foreign affair’s advisor, Charles Hill. Hill is the former executive aide to President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George P. Shultz, a lecturer in the International Security Studies program at Yale University, a special consultant on policy to the United Nations Secretary-General, and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is acting as Giuliani’s Chief Foreign Policy Advisor.

Why did he choose to join the Giuliani team?

Hill was initially asked to brief Giuliani Mayor on foreign policy issues and then joined the team because Hill believed that Giuliani had the “intellect, temperament and experience” he thought essential to the presidency. In particular Hill thinks many politicians tend to “disaggregate” foreign policy issues, failing for example to see how failure in Iraq will impact the “larger picture.” He contends that Giuliani understands this and knows that we are facing nothing less than a global challenge.

Is Giuliani a “unilateralist” or“multilateralist”?

Hill says that Giuliani understands that “American has to take the lead” and that vital things “won’t get done unless the U.S. does it.” Giuliani contends that many aspects of the international system “haven’t been working” (such as the U.N. which he bluntly describes as “a mess”) and Giuliani intends to see that international organizations, alliances and treaties “be made to work.” He agrees with criticisms of the U.N. but contends that we should “challenge the U.N. to get their act together” and play a positive role in the world. He notes that although certain institutions and allies may be “failures or obstructions” the goal is to “focus” them to address global threats.

What of the current administration’s efforts to democratize the Middle East?

Hill says flatly that democracy is not going to transform the Middle East in “any immediate time frame.” He nevertheless argues that open regimes which are responsive to their people are desirable and it is a “practical thing is to move in that direction.” The challenge is clearly how to achieve that and he labels as “stupid” allowing groups like Hamas or Hezbollah to run for office when they control private militia or armies. In short, democracy is an effort, in his view, undertaken in a “practical way” in which you “measure results as you go.”

How should we deal with the threat of a nuclearized Iran and North Korea?

He contends we need to “get leverage” so that we can “inflict some cost” in they go down this unacceptable path. He contends we have not done this in the past and have “let them get away with wrongful behavior.” While not a cure all he contends that financial sanctions applied to Iran can “sting.” As for North Korea he believes there has been “some movement” but that we must be vigilant in enforcing their obligations and “hold them to commitments.” As for a military option, Hill is emphatic it must be a “live one” and these rouge regimes “can’t believe that their facilities might never be taken out” or a diplomatic solution will be unattainable.

How does Giuliani view Iraq?

According to Hill, Giuliani understand this is a “real war” which has “got to be fought.” He contends that we have a new strategy in place and a new General who Congress overwhelming approved. He urges that we await Gen. Petraeus’ report in September. He contends that the new strategy “looks like it is beginning to work” but that it will be a “long haul.” He urges Congress to remain firm and warns that “political wailing is very detrimental to our changes for success.” He contends that Giuliani would bring to Iraq metrics for measuring successful implementation of our policy just as Giuliani did in New York. He would insist that the current Iraq officials step up to the plate or “get others to fix” ongoing political and economic problems. In short, he says that it is “impossible to accept that we can’t handle this type of threat” and that we “need to make this work” before considering any draw down of troops.

How would Giuliani handle the task of persuading Congress and the American people of our foreign policy objectives?

He is candid that a “big failure” recently has been that “we have not talked openly and directly and not explained ourselves” at home or abroad. He finds it “crazy” that the American people still do not understand why we are in Iraq and the costs of failure. In this area he argues Giuliani is “unparalleled in his ability to make the case” for our foreign policy objectives. He is frank that “much more has to be done” to educate the public, Congress and our allies and that we must overcome what recently has been our “deep hesitation about not wanting to offend others or frighten the American people.”

In an increasingly dangerous world is there hope for improvement?

Hill says that around the world economic, technological and social progress provide “enormous” potential. Our first job, he bluntly says, is to “stop our enemies from destroying us” and shore up the international system (currently “not in good shape”) so that it is an aid not a hindrance to our interests. He says that like Ronald Reagan who took office in a time of great uncertainty Giuliani is an “indefatigable optimist” who is convinced that broken international institutions can be fixed.