In that post, Hill seemed to enjoy largely unqualified support from both President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The result was that the U.S, in its efforts to please Pyongyang:
- Choreographed the transfer back to North Korea of some $25 million in allegedly illicit funds that had been frozen in Macau
- Took North Korea off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror, and wined and dined their lead nuclear negotiator in New York
- Paid millions to Pyongyang for the Potemkin spectacle of North Korea blowing up a cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuelear complex
- Reopened the aid spigots to the Kim regime
- Sat for months on the information that while Hill in early 2007 was announcing his triumph of a nuclear disarmament deal with the North Koreans at the Six Party Talks, North Korea was secretly collaborating with Syria to build a clandestine nuclear reactor on the Euphrates River — a copy of Yongbyon, which is to say, basically a plutonium factory. (The Israelis destroyed the reactor with an air strike in September, 2007; the Bush administration did not confirm North Korea’s involvement, or the nature of the target, until April, 2008).
- Soft-pedaled the grotesque human rights violations of the North Korean regime
… That may not be a complete list, but perhaps it will suffice to give a sample of Chris Hill’s diplomatic style.
The upshot was that North Korea pocketed the U.S. gifts and concessions, and — with Hill urging over and over yet more talks, yet more patience — North Korea welched on the deal. As the Bush administration drew to an end, the Six-Party talks collapsed. The newly inaugurated President Barack Obama rewarded Hill for his accomplishments by posting him as ambassador to Iraq.
In mid-2009, North Korea’s government, the beneficiary of all that Six-Party “stakeholder” palaver, conducted a ballistic missile test (which they called a satellite launch, though no satellite was apparent), followed by the country’s second nuclear test.
Do we really need more of this brand of “diplomacy”? For an alternative that is robust, actually looks out for U.S. interests, and by extension probes for remedies in Syria that might actually end up saving the Syrians as well, check out John Bolton’s recent piece on “What to Do about Syria?”
Bolton wastes almost no time on Kofi Annan, noting chiefly as concerns Annan and his old fraternity that the UN “has failed, is failing, and will continue to fail to resolve the Syria conflict.” In blessed contravention of the Kofi Annan-Chris Hill model of diplomacy, Bolton notes that “Negotiations require a negotiator with something in his back pocket other than a white flag.” He urges tipping events in the right direction by focusing on “eliminating Tehran’s nuclear program,” and by firing off warning shots to Bashar Assad’s pals in Russia and China, via measures such as resuming full-scale and accelerated efforts to build a missile defense system, and withdrawing from the new START arms-control treaty — a deal that was all too flexible in Russia’s favor.
And if the old boys of the diplomatic establishment are really that desperate to find post-retirement employment for Kofi Annan, here’s an idea. Last I heard, Annan’s old handpicked executive director of Oil-for-Food, Benon Sevan, was still living on Cyprus — where he is immune to extradition to the U.S., despite his federal indictment in 2007, in the Southern District of New York, on Oil-for-Food-related charges of bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As far as I am aware, Annan has never spoken up to urge that Sevan return to New York, to face those charges. Maybe Annan could devote his diplomatic skills to a campaign aimed at persuading Sevan to return to New York, and, under oath, tell his side of the story.