Yesterday Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign announced the selection of Charles Hill, a career Foreign Service officer who retired from government life to teach diplomacy at Yale, as the candidate’s chief foreign policy adviser. Hill is so admired by students that, as Scott Johnson notes at Power Line, one of them wrote a book about him: The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost.
The Plank’s Bradford Plumer nevertheless attacks Hill, writing that he was “George Shultz’s assistant back when the Reagan administration was orchestrating arms shipments to Iran in the 1980’s.” This bit of information—or rather spin—is completely irrelevant. Iran-Contra had its roots in Reagan’s National Security Council, on which Hill never served. Hill was never charged with any crimes: the only charges the overzealous prosecutor could bring against him lay in a few dubious sentences in his equally dubious book.
I’d argue that Hill’s connection to Shultz, the Republican Party’s senior statesman, actually makes this appointment a shrewd move by Giuliani. Shultz was prescient on the subject of terrorism; he was and is a formidable policy intellect; he believed not in surrendering to our enemies, but in defeating them. Plus, the campaign’s move links the candidate with Reagan, whose reputation, on the left and the right, is at a high.
And doesn’t Hill’s resume—posts in Zurich, Saigon, and on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, a prominent position at an Ivy League university—suggest that he’s exactly the kind of experienced, nuance-appreciating diplomat that the left wants running American foreign policy?
The new Seven Wonders of the World, which were announced last week with great fanfare in Lisbon, are a droll affair. Two are from pre-Columbian America (the citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru and the temples of Chichén Itzá, Mexico), two from Asia (the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China), and one from the Middle East (the rock tombs of Petra, Jordan). The modern world comes up rather short (the mountaintop statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro), as does European civilization in general (represented only by the Coliseum in Rome). Is this list something to take seriously? Does its comprehensive global sweep give it an authority that the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—mostly huddled around the Mediterranean—lacked?
Has the surge already failed? That’s the impression you get from the MSM. The reality on the ground is a little different. Although the last surge troops only arrived in June, they have already had a significant impact. How significant? In preparing to testify before a congressional committee tomorrow, I put that question to a friend of mine, an American officer serving in Baghdad. Here is his response, which he agreed to let me share with contentions, provided that I did not use his name (I’ve added explanations of a few acronyms):
Here are some positive results of the surge strategy to date—I’m sure you’ve got the negatives down pat from all the media reports.
- Deaths caused by sectarian violence in Iraq are down 75 percent from January to June
- VBIED’s [vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices]/Suicide attacks cut in half from March to June; VBIED’s at lowest level since August 2006
- Casualties from VBIED’s cut in half from February to June
- Attacks in Al Anbar cut by 80 percent since February
- ISF KIA [Iraqi Security Forces killed-in-action] at 2-3 times the level of Coalition KIA—Iraqis are fighting and dying for their country
- Tribes are rejecting Al Qaeda in Al Anbar, Salah Ad Din, Ninewa, Diyala
- AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] is on the defensive and slowly dying—BUT WE NEED TIME TO FINISH THE JOB or they will recover
- Government of Iraq is rejecting militias and authorizing strikes anywhere in Iraq
- Government of Iraq responded well to second Samarra Mosque bombing
- Government of Iraq has formed a Reconciliation Committee to engage local groups and bring them into the process against Al Qaeda and in support of the GoI
- Government of Iraq improving budget execution
The big negative, of course, is lack of political reconciliation at the national level, but this is a lagging indicator. Progress is being made at the local level, and I believe the national leaders will follow in due course once the trend is clear.
Best from Baghdad,