First Mondays: Confronting the new global reality

Ambassador Christopher Hill came to Armstrong Theater on Monday morning to speak about the last two years of United States foreign policy. Even after a long spring break, the theater was almost completely full with both students and community members.

If listeners had isolated themselves from international news in the past two years, this talk brought them up to speed and gave an inside, expert perspective. Hill touched on every foreign relation that has recently had an impact on the United States, from Iran’s nuclear issues to the economic rise of China.

Hill has served as the U.S. ambassador to Macedonia, Poland, Korea, and most recently Iraq.

He is currently the dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

David Hendrickson, Professor of Political Science at Colorado College, said about the talk, “It is beneficial to the school to hear a former public official give a thoughtful tour of contemporary problems in foreign policy.”

Hill was invited to CC as a Lopat lecturer, chosen by the Political Science department for his previous governmental experience. The Lopat lecture series is part of an endowment given to CC so the college can bring in speakers to address specific matters in public policy.

When dealing with the question of international or national crises, Hill warned that instead of stepping forward into action, people should first step back to analyze the situation.

He gave the example of the United States occupation and action in Iraq. He acknowledged that if the United States had thoroughly analyzed the history and culture of Iraq, the government would have realized that a democracy in Iraq would only create more sectarianism.

“To form a democracy, you need political identities,” said Hill. If those political, or in this case, religious, identities were what was causing issues before the democracy, they will continue to cause problems in the democracy.

“We need to be there politically, not militarily. There is a difference between an occupier and a country that cares,” said Hill on Iraq.

Hill reasserted several United States official government positions, such as those on Russia and China. He highlighted the unacceptable irresponsibility of Russia in regards to Crimea and the U.S.’s cooperative and competitive relationship with China.

On the other hand, he criticized Obama’s handling of the Syrian crisis, arguing that the idea of a “moderate Syrian army” against both President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS is not feasible.

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