A Conversation with Prof. Charles Hill, Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for The Middle East

In an interview with THO, the diplomat and strategist discusses Turkey, NATO, the Trump administration’s foreign policy, and the state of the world order
Prof. Charles Hill, a diplomat-in-residence and lecturer in International Studies at Yale University, is a career minister in the U.S. Foreign Service who has enjoyed a storied career in the worlds of both policy and academia. His government posts have included Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East and executive aide to former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz. His fellowships have taken him from Harvard to Cornell to Stanford’s Hoover Institution. 

From 1992 to 1996, he has served as a special consultant on policy to then UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ali, with whom he also collaborated on writing Egypt's Road to Jerusalem: A Diplomat’s Story of the Struggle of Peace in the Middle East (Random House, 1997) and Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga (Random House, 1999). Prof. Hill’s books include Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft and World Order (Yale University Press, 2011) and Trial of a Thousand Years: World Order and Islamism (Stanford University Press, 2011). 

THO Fellow Baha Erbas recently sat down with Prof. Hill to discuss a wide range of subjects, from Turkey’s place in NATO and the ongoing conflict in Syria to President Donald Trump’s foreign policy and the state of the current world order.

(Interview has been edited for clarity.)

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Baha Erbas: Regarding the Middle East and the United States’ approach to the Middle East, especially in Syria: In 2013, you said to me during the beginning of the civil war in Syria that, unfortunately, the U.S. should have listened to Turkey. A lot of things have changed during these five years. How do you see the current position of the U.S. in Syria? Turkey and the U.S. are at the edge of a very, very bitter divorce, and the relations are in their worst period since 1952, when Turkey joined NATO. It has been a long time in history since the relations were as bad as they are now. Do you believe that Syria is the real reason, or how do you see Turkish-U.S. relations? What’s the problem? They don’t want to compromise?

Prof. Charles Hill: The Middle East is on the edge of exploding and coming apart at the same time, and the structure of governance in the Middle East is now on the edge of being shattered, so both the U.S. and Turkey have got a major problem about this reality of the region coming apart. I think Turkey is in the most difficult position. The question is one that requires a higher-level answer other than, “You are doing this, and we are doing that, and therefore, we are going to be angry with each other.” Now, who can do that? Right now, this is an assessment that has to come out of Ankara, out of Washington. It’s not coming out of the Middle East. You can see Saudi Arabia trying to grasp something; they’re confused. Egypt has got internal problems and is terribly weakened. There’s no commonality of understanding. There needs to be this commonality of understanding diplomatically by higher-level contacts and conversations, between Turkish leaders and American leaders and a few others that are still capable of doing things in a responsible way in the Middle East. It’s not going to be easy to do. 

The problem of Syria comes out of the Assad regime – out of the dictatorial regime – and from those of different ethnicities and of different positions who were going to rise up and do something about Assad. That brought in outside power. It’s a typical thing; when troubles arise in the Middle East, outside powers start to come in and try to make it their way with the problem, which has never been a good thing to do. So, there has to be some commonality of understanding. The first one is going to be, “This region is coming apart, and you – Turkey, the U.S., Jordan, and some of the Gulf states – have got to have some common position on this.” 

Now, my view is that the danger here is a nuclear weaponized Iran that has a sphere of influence that goes across the entire upper tier of the region. Unless that is blocked, Iran is doing things in a double game. They’ve been doing this for years and years and years. It goes back to 1979, when the Ayatollah’s revolution took over from the Shah; the republic automatically became a member of the international community. It became a state recognized diplomatically with a seat at the UN, considered to be legitimate. At the same time, the Iranian ideology – the theology – was that this system into which it found itself had to be overthrown. Iran is both a state power and a revolutionary power, and it will play the game one day on one side of the fence and two days later [on] the other side of the fence. They’ve been doing this, and they’ve been getting away with this, for decades now. That’s what the Iranian deal with the U.S. is. It is both inside and outside the established order. Iran can benefit from the inside of the game by using the privileges and immunities of what looks like a treaty which at the same time is not a treaty. At the same time, it’s building up its nuclear power. Its status now is tantamount to a nuclear power. When you’re that far, you’re regarded in your neighborhood as being a nuclear weapons power. So, that’s problem number one.

And Iran is already down the line. That’s something you’d expect from Turkey and the U.S., to agree on all this, but we need to be talking about this. There are different layers; there’s the Kurdish problem. There’s no reason why the U.S. and Turkey cannot agree on some stabilizing way of dealing with the Kurds, particularly because the Kurds can be designated as either terrorists or those who are not terrorists. Some are; some aren’t. You can’t treat them all the same way. There cannot be – there should not be – a Kurdish state.

B.E.: There should not be?

C.H.: There should not be. If I were an advisor to the Kurds, if there were one leadership in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey – they’re all over the place – if there’s one leadership you could talk to, and I were their advisor, I would say not being a state has been very good to you. You have become de facto autonomous, with relations in many directions. You have a thriving society in the heart of what you want to call Iraqi Kurdistan. If you became a state, you’re going to have war on every frontier. Don’t become a state. Now, in my view, that’s the basis of an understanding, not an agreement. I don’t want agreements, no treaties, but an understanding of how to deal with that problem on one level between Turkey and the U.S. 

The key to Iran is to get Iran to stop playing a double game and come to the side of legitimacy. Give up your revolutionary antagonism and the determination to tear down the modern system for the ayatollahs.

B.E.: Do you believe the U.S. has a real strategy to have an independent Kurdish state in the Middle East? Do you believe the U.S. desires that?

C.H.: No. The U.S. may talk that way, but they don’t talk that way very convincingly. It’s a crazy idea. It’s a crazy idea from the point of view of the Kurds. My belief – I’ve only had a little bit to do with the Kurds over the years – my belief has been that that’s the Kurdish basic position. When you ask a Kurdish leader, “Do you want to be a state?” [he says] “Yes, of course!” You get him alone, it’s not a smart thing to do. The rhetoric and the reality are not the same. That’s a problem that has to be dealt with, but that’s a regional problem that really relates to primarily Turkey, but also to Syria, Iraq, Iran, wherever you can find Kurds. 

Sykes-Picot is – you know the term red herring? The Middle East has not been designed by Sykes-Picot. That’s an Islamist [claim] – that’s a claim of the Islamic state and caliphate, of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. There is no Sykes-Picot. There are states in the Middle East, but they don’t come out of Sykes-Picot. Sykes-Picot said the Middle East is only half British and half French. That’s not what the Middle East is. You have to deal with the facts, and the facts are that, coming out of World War I in the 1920s, the international state system brought the Middle East into the system. They did it by making them states, by recognizing them as states, or by giving mandates to the British and the French with the idea that they would be responsible for helping that territory or those people become a state. That’s pretty much what happened. So, by 1940, you get 22 states. And they’ve been misgoverned; some of them are not really, fully designed by ethnicity or geography or language to be a state, but they are, and they can make it. Some are real nation states. Turkey is real. Egypt is real. The real ones have got to find a way to help the others reinstitute, shore up, [and] strengthen the idea of the modern international system. And the key to Iran is to get Iran to stop playing a double game and come to the side of legitimacy. Give up your revolutionary antagonism and the determination to tear down the modern system for the ayatollahs.

B.E.: Do you [think] if Iran continues to go this way, there will be a real and stronger embargo on Iran and some military operations?

C.H.: I don’t think that President Trump understands this. I think maybe two or three people in his government understand it. They simply don’t comprehend it yet. I think what is happening now is that President Trump sees the Iran deal as a bad deal. I think he’s correct. We don’t want to destroy that deal. We don’t want to get out of it. We don’t want to go to war for it, but what we want to do is to turn it by changing some of the provisions of it in a direction so that it will hold back Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons power. Because the way it’s now standing, others are going to do the same thing. That means the nuclear weaponization of the region, which is going to mean Turkey is going to have to become a nuclear weapons state. And then you’re going to get a war with nuclear weapons. 

The underlying – this is true of Northeast Asia as well – institution that we all need to shore up is the non-proliferation treaty, a major, major foundation of modern world order. The non-proliferation treaty is signed by scores and scores and scores of governments. It’s a workable document; it can be the basis for negotiations with North Korea. It is something you can’t deny legitimacy to because it was agreed to by so many. It was at the UN. There the treaty is, and, literally, you and the country can go up and sign it. And countries came up, and they signed it. So, that’s the basis of the international order. That can head off a horrendous, big war coming out of the Middle East.

B.E.: Do you really see, if Iran is going nuclear, [then] Turkey and Saudi Arabia [will try] to [go] nuclear?

C.H.: Yes. That will happen. It will have to. There won’t be a choice. They’ll have to. This is something that even can come – this may sound impossible or crazy, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t think of a nuclear-free region. For example, Latin America – all of Central and Latin America – had a treaty, the Treaty of Tlatelolco in Mexico; all of Latin American became nuclear-weapons-free. Nobody would have nuclear weapons in all of Latin America. And that has held. That can be done for the Middle East, including Israel.

But the point is, diplomatically, [whether] we have this larger frame of reference about maintaining the modern system of world order and preventing a nuclear war. Suppose the Syrian War were being fought with nuclear weapons? Then we can get together and find a way diplomatically and responsibly. The U.S. has a long way to go because it is so backward. It is so lacking in understanding about this, and it has been going back to the beginning of the twenty-first century. The U.S. has just not been doing things in a very intelligent, determined, or clear-eyed way. We have to get the U.S. back on track. We’ve got to get Turkey involved in this. We’re going to have the major powers of the region understanding and talking to each other about what the real problems are, whether they’re lower-level, or at the regional level, or whether they’re world-level.

B.E.: How do think the Syrian conflict is going to end? Do you see an end?

C.H.: I doubt it, because as long as Assad’s in power, there will be resistance to Assad. The more there’s resistance to Assad, the more Iran is going to feel they have to support him. The more Iran comes into Syria, [then] the more Iran is going to be an occupying power in Syria, which is going to build more resistance. Assad is not the future of Syria, yet right now you’ve got Assad supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps coming out of Tehran. You’ve got Hezbollah. You’ve got the Russians in there. I think the Russians are feeling quite uncomfortable now. They came in; they bolstered Assad; they saved Assad. Now they’re stuck with Assad. And it’s not the easy, dramatically brilliant stroke that it was a little while ago for the Russians to come in there.

The U.S. has got to understand that Turkey or no country can be expected to allow across its border a sanctuary for fighting forces that are going to be using the sanctuary to attack your country.

B.E.: In January, Turkey started operations to clean out its border from the PYD/YPG, which, according to Turkey, is a terrorist organization, and [the YPG] are attacking Turkey from inside Syria and Iraq and killing Turkish people. Turkey has every right to call them terrorists, but the Trump administration sent 4,500 vehicles, weapons, and arms to those groups. What kind of deal could Turkey and the U.S. have to end the Syrian war while the U.S. supports the people that are attacking Turkey?

C.H.: The U.S. has got to understand that Turkey or no country can be expected to allow across its border a sanctuary for fighting forces that are going to be using the sanctuary to attack your country. Turkey is doing what any country has a right to do. That means you cannot use part of country A as a sanctuary to attack country B. Now, that to me is natural, responsible, understandable, legitimate international security.

B.E.: What Turkey does?

C.H.: Yes, and there’s got to be a way to handle that without slaughtering lots [of] people. It can be done if you have an understanding that you simply can’t allow one part of a country to be a sanctuary to attack another part of a country.

B.E.: Why does Washington have a hard time understanding this?

C.H.: Because we have allowed our understanding – generally, in universities, in think tanks – to drift away from a clear understanding of the way the world works. It’s very hard to make people grasp the significance of these matters on a high level because they haven’t had courses in universities; they [are] doing things like having model UN [conferences], which is something that has little or nothing to do with the way the world works. It’s a decline in intellectual understanding. [For example,] when I mention the NPT, the non-proliferation treaty, most people don’t even know what I’m talking about. In other words, the instruments are there to work with, but if you’ve forgotten them, it’s like having a fire extinguisher, but you forgot where you put it, or you open the door and you don’t know what that red thing is in there. It’s an educational matter that can only be brought about to a successful degree by more and more talking about it. That doesn’t mean we have to agree right away. Country A, the U.S., can put its position out there, and country B, maybe that’s Turkey, can say, “We don’t agree with that.” We’ve got to start talking about these things. We now don’t have the people to talk about it because they may be brilliant – they are brilliant – but they don’t have the background or knowledge that you need to be able to discuss these things in a way that can bring about an effective outcome.

Turkey is in NATO, Turkey belongs in NATO, and Turkey is a keystone of NATO. No one should even imagine Turkey coming out of NATO.

B.E.: In recent years, it has been thought for some time by some people in Washington, D.C. that Turkey should be kicked out of NATO.

C.H.: That’s crazy.

B.E.: How do you see this?

C.H.: Turkey is in NATO, Turkey belongs in NATO, and Turkey is a keystone of NATO. No one should even imagine Turkey coming out of NATO.

B.E.: Do you see such a possibility if, in the future, such an administration thinks it’s desirable to do that? Would it be possible to implement?

C.H.: I can’t imagine [it], even with the Trump administration. We have a Secretary of Defense that would never allow that to happen. As long as we have anybody who’s going to be appointed to those positions, or elected to them, it’s not going to happen. It’s totally irrational.

B.E.: So why do people in think tanks in Washington talk about this?

C.H.: They’ve got to satisfy their donors. People write things and they do things because they’ve got to raise money, but that’s an idea that makes no sense whatsoever.

B.E.: Are there a lot of statesmen in the Pentagon, the CIA, the White House, and the State Department who think the same way [as] you think?

C.H.: Unfortunately, no.

B.E.: Why?

C.H.: The lack of education; the lack of understanding; the lack of experience. This is not just the Americans. Why did the Europeans do what they did to Europe? Why are the Chinese now going back to the days of Quin Shi Huangdi in the second century B.C., to have a dictatorship? If you’re not one of those who understands the way that any system is designed to work, you begin to think that there’s no system needed. If you think that that light is unimportant, or that the heat in here is unimportant, or that it just comes on automatically, pretty soon you’re not thinking about it at all. That is what will happen. You can see it in history, time and time again, when the leaders of more than one country begin to think there’s no need to pay attention to the underlying structure. There’s no need to pay attention to “How do you get electricity in this building?”; “How do you get heat in this building?”; “What kind of plumbing [do] you have in this building?” You take that for granted. When you do that, you’re heading for a disaster. 

What I’m arguing for is that there is a world order. It is the same foundation upon which the modern life that we know has been built. When you get rid of this, you’re not going to go forward; you’re going to go backward.

B.E.: If the statesmen in Europe and Washington don’t think the way they are supposed to, that means they are not acting the way they are supposed to. Many crises are facing the UN that we did not have 25 years ago. Can we start [thinking that maybe] we need to replace the system for the future of the world – a new world order? However, for this, we do have lack of leadership. China cannot do that; it has a lot of backwards [viewpoints]. And the U.S. is not willing to show such leadership for various reasons, including economic decline. Do you see the world really [as] very ambivalent, very vague?

C.H.: We have to have people who understand that [the] world order has got to be maintained, has to be understood. How does it come about? What condition is it in now? How [do we] make it more effective or keep it from collapsing? Now, I know that there are people in Germany, in China, in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia, certainly in Israel, who know this. There are not very many of them, and they’re not in positions of leadership. One of the problems is that people have been saying for about 25 years that “the modern world order is out of date; let’s get a new one.” There’s a lot of this, “Let’s form something new.” But they can never tell you what it is. 

What I’m arguing for is that there is a world order. It is the same foundation upon which the modern life that we know has been built. When you get rid of this, you’re not going to go forward; you’re going to go backward. And the people who are calling for it, these are intellectuals in Europe, in North America, in Asia, who are calling for something that’s brand new. What do they come up with? They’re coming up with things in Moscow that sound like tsarism or in China that sound like [the] China of antiquity. That’s not something that’s going to take us into the future. They go back to – essentially – empires, and they come up with ideas that are neoimperialistic. And they give away very sophisticated, very delicate – but [also] very important – matters, such as the doctrine of the equality of states. We have to know that states are not equal. Obviously, they’re not equal. Singapore is not equal to Sweden. But somehow, in order to get an entirety of nations and all peoples with a basic idea in common, you’re going to say that Singapore has some rights, Sweden has some rights, and they can talk to each other – they can sue each other in the World Court. 

This is not easy to those of us who have been involved in this when it was understood largely this way if we don’t realize how hard it is for others to understand us. At a lecture – I don’t lecture anymore; I do seminars –10 or 20 years ago, when lecturing to those who were just coming into the field of international relations as students, I found that those who were coming in from scientific majors found what I was talking about to be almost incomprehensible. I can say, “I don’t understand organic chemistry,” but these students were conveying to me that they thought what I was talking about was as difficult to them as organic chemistry is to me. It is really very simple. The modern world order is extremely simple; it is designed to be as simple as [it] possibly can be in order to get more accessibility [for] all people to join it. You can speak this language or that language, or have this religion or that religion, or this ethnicity or this political form. It doesn’t matter; you can still be part of the system. It’s a very simple one. If you can’t grasp that simplicity, then it’s going to be lost.

B.E.: Do you believe that the Trump administration has a grand strategy at all?

C.H.: [The strategy can be understood] by those around him at the White House, by someone around him in a cabinet position such as the Secretary of Commerce, or perhaps the new Secretary of State, or the Secretary of Defense – [but] it’s not a coherent, wide-ranging policy as far as it appears from the outside. It’s [more like], “Here’s a problem...Here’s a problem...We’re going to deal with these problems one by one in a way that will benefit the U.S.”

B.E.: Professor Barry Posen of MIT has written a book: Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy. Do you believe that, in the future, militarily [the] Europeans and NATO should contribute more and that [the] U.S. should be doing less? How do you see the future of NATO and United States leadership given that position?

C.H.: The idea of “America in retreat” is now outdated. That was the strategy of President Obama, and he made this really clear by his statements – and by his decisions – that in his view, America had become too involved in the world, was too active – too many interventions – and that this was not a good thing for the world and not a good thing for America. The Obama approach was [that] the U.S. will stay involved but only as a kind of covering operation for its pulling back. So, that could be taken as America in retreat; that was the Obama doctrine. That’s not what Trump is doing. So, [with Obama] the American military was being reduced in terms of funding, and the intention of the Obama presidency was to stay away from the problems. The military now is getting money and is being overseen very closely, very effectively, [and] very professionally by the Secretary of Defense, who in a way is unique in the Trump administration in that he seems to be doing the running of the American military in the way that he believes is best for the country and for the military, and he seems to have been given a charter to do this by the president, who is not much or at all interfering with what the Secretary of Defense is doing.

B.E.: Do you really see any serious change in American foreign policy? Are you saying America doesn’t have a foreign policy at the moment? If America doesn’t have a foreign policy, that means America doesn’t have a grand strategy. Am I right?

C.H.: You’re right, unless you would say it’s a grand strategy to change the way the U.S. has been operating on “problem[s] one, two, three, four, five” around the world over the last decades. And that can be called a grand strategy, but it means that each problem is looked at individually. You’re not saying that they’re connected one to another. I don’t agree with this. I don’t agree [that] this is the right way to do it. What I’m giving you – I’m not arguing my position; it’s what I see the American administration doing. What it’s doing regarding East Asia and what it’s doing regarding the Middle East are not necessarily connected, but they do have a commonality in that, in each case, the president and the White House inner circle sees that something needs to be changed. Wherever you look – Russia, China, the Middle East –there needs to be a change, but when you ask the question, “How do these all relate?”, you can’t find an answer to that question.

Increasingly it looks as though NATO is the institution that, more than almost any other one, is holding Europe together.

B.E.: How do you see the future of NATO in the United States’ global strategic agenda? Do you think the U.S. will stick to having a strong NATO in the future?

C.H.: I think it will. I think that is not so much a matter of the president’s view toward NATO as it is the Secretary of Defense’s – and the actuality that the world and international security require there to be a stronger NATO. This is coming out of NATO itself. Increasingly – not dramatically, but increasingly – it looks as though NATO is the institution that, more than almost any other one, is holding Europe together. In other words, the other institutions within Europe are facing an array of difficult problems, but the one thing that does seem to be coherent from the point of view of other countries and from the point of view of the Pentagon is that NATO is vital and must be strengthened and seen as a coherent force in the world.

B.E.: How do you see the future of Russia, especially regarding the security of Europe?

C.H.: Russia, I think, is doing two things. Neither of the two things that Russia is doing is compatible with international peace and security. One of them is to simply probe and conduct activities as opportunities arise that will cause problems. This can be in the dispatch of bomber aircraft that fly over England in a way that requires the Royal Air Force to scramble. It can be, as you’ve seen, the attempted murder by a nerve agent of a Russian and his daughter inside England. It’s the Ukraine matter. It’s the taking of Crimea. The talk coming out of the Kremlin that is “nuclear weapons threatening.” These are all matters of challenge that are like sticking your finger in [another’s] eye – to cause trouble where you can find a chance to cause trouble. The other one is larger and appears to be a strategy with Russia, and that is to create as an entity a Russia that is more than a state, a good member state of the international community – to create a kind of sphere of influence in Russia that would go from the far Maritime Province of Siberia all the way into countries of Eastern Europe that had found themselves earlier to be more independent than before from Moscow. The idea of a sphere of influence is one that I think President Putin believes is the way that the future is going to go, and China is doing the same thing. Not the same thing, but it’s a sphere of influence strategy, and Iran is doing the same thing. And the sphere of influence [strategy] means that not just your nation but [also] your region of the world will be dominated by a capital city in a world power. Asia, in this future of China’s point of view, will be dominated from Beijing. Central Asia, from Moscow’s point of view, and much of Eastern Europe and into the Caucasus will be dominated by Moscow. The Middle East, in the ideology of Iran, would be a Shia sphere of influence that they’ve already begun to put in place that goes from inside the western borders of Afghanistan to the Mediterranean Sea of Lebanon and with a kind of arm down to spots in the Gulf all the way to Yemen. 

This is a major challenge to the modern world order. Whether you like it or not, it’s legitimate; there’s a modern world order that is truly worldwide, and it’s representative primarily at the United Nations. That is, it’s a world of states – there are 196 states – and they are states in that they operate on one level juridically under the doctrine of the equality of states. That is, if you are Vietnam, you are a state, and in a certain juridical way, you are equal to Poland. Now, we know that Vietnam and Poland are not the same, but juridically, there is an understanding that, on one level, a state is a state is a state, and a state can deal in diplomacy and international treaties, and that holds the whole thing together. If you’re going to change that to spheres of influence, you’re going to break that structure, because it means that your state will be taking orders from another state. In other words, in the Middle East, if you’re going to be in Yemen or in Lebanon, you’re going to be in Syria, you’re going to be in Iraq, and your orders are going to come from Tehran. It’s a different structure of order.

B.E.: Don’t you believe that the UN is not working that efficiently, that coherently, and the world order is not responding to the reality of the developments going on in the world?

C.H.: I agree. But that’s asking too much of the UN. The UN was very carefully designed by the charter in 1945 so that it can be the instrument of the member states of an international community. But the UN cannot do anything unless the leading countries – the big powers – want it to do something and can basically agree on what it should do. And when you have China, Russia, Iran, the Europeans themselves, [and] two or three others who do not agree with that, then the UN can’t do anything. If there’s no leadership of the major powers – that is, the five permanent members of the United Nations plus maybe five or six other countries, major powers around the world – if they don’t take the modern system seriously, and work to make it work, [then] it’s not going to work. And right now, they are not taking it seriously, and it’s not working.

B.E.: Do you believe that the United States doesn’t want to change, or couldn’t change, the Security Council’s structure to be more effective? Who doesn’t want it to change? We see the system is not working. It’s slow; it’s not responding to emergencies that pop up around the world. Look at the calamity going on in Syria for so long – six, seven years, a million people died, and nobody does anything.

C.H.: That’s exactly right. Someone, at least one or two major countries, has got to recognize that this structure of order is coming apart, and here’s the most important factor: When this structure comes apart, the modern age is going to come apart, because what we think of as modernity is built on top of this structure. For the last 10 or more years, the United States has not been taking its lead role – deliberately not taking it.

B.E.: Deliberately, or it doesn’t have enough hard and soft power to take it?

C.H.: Well, both. It’s deliberately done because of the idea coming out of [the] American leftist side represented by President Obama that “we have done too much; therefore, we should pull back.” It’s being done by President Trump because he doesn’t have a sense of this structure; he just wants to get a better deal here and there, so he’s not doing any leadership either. China’s going in the other – the wrong – direction, that’s against modernity, and so is Iran, and so is Russia, and the Europeans. With the ramping up of the European Union coming out of the end of the Cold War, the Europeans themselves began to dismantle the system by doing away with state borders, by doing away with the powers of states, but they didn’t put anything in its place that has proved to be effective, so the Europeans have been, in a way, on the leading edge of going in the wrong direction. That’s why I say NATO is holding that together, and primarily out of fear – fear of Russia and what will happen. If –that’s an if – the structure begins to deteriorate, we’re heading for some big wars, and now we have a nuclear dimension to these wars because of the talk of tactical nuclear weapons. Because of the Iranian nuclear program, because of North Korea’s nuclear program, this is heading toward a very, very dangerous situation for the world.

B.E.: Do you see Britain leaving the EU and Germany changing the way it has been acting [as] changing the future of the EU? Do you think Germany can handle that? Does it have such a strategy to [do so], especially against Russia?

C.H.: Germany can handle it, but with co-leadership, which it had in the early years of Angela Merkel. But she has become so soft and so leaning toward Russia that – excepting the professional international security layers of leaders in Germany – they are not ready for this. There are plenty of people in Germany who understand this and want Germany to take this role of responsible leadership again, but they are not there yet. Britain can do this. but Britain is in a political morass from the departure from the EU. It’s not ready to be doing what it could do in terms of its resources and its capabilities, just as Germany could, but it’s not there. France as well is having difficulties regarding this. The problem there is [that] the EU took away the powers of European states [and] put them in the hands of Brussels but did not put enough power in the hands of Brussels [in order] to make the EU an entity that could be effective internationally. We’re still there.