Christopher Hill '74 Speaks Diplomatically — And Carries A Big (Lacrosse) Stick
Story posted October 20, 2009
Christopher Hill '74 arrived in Baghdad on April 24, 2009, as the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq and hadn't even reached the embassy before finding a fellow lacrosse player. So began the Baghdad Lacrosse Club — and the feature on Hill in the October 2009 issue of Lacrosse magazine.
Christopher Hill: The Diplomat's Craft
In an in-depth and wide-ranging interview, Hill spoke at length with Bowdoin magazine about friendly persuasion, Whiffle golf and knowing when to pound the table.
He also speaks of what it's like to negotiate on behalf of a U.S. government that, in the past, has not always been willing to talk with its enemies.
Hill reminisces about his career as a midfielder on the Bowdoin team and how he once crossed paths with a man who would go on to serve a patriotic duty of his own — as head coach of the New England Patriots.
"My claim to fame is that in the ECAC New England Division III championship game in 1974, Bowdoin beat Wesleyan, 15-7," says Hill in the article.
"And there was a hapless attackman named Bill Belichick who did not score that day because I was on him. He's never been heard from again. I guess I drove him into football."
Continuing to exhibit the candor and sense of humor Bowdoin audiences have come to expect following an interview in the Winter 2008 issue of Bowdoin magazine and a February 2007 Common Hour, Hill spoke of the concept of diplomacy as team sport.
I'm a strong believer in the idea that if you played on a team, you can be a diplomat. You need different people to do different things at an embassy. Team sports, more so than sitting through a geography class, is a much better preparation for diplomacy. Also, I've joked that there are times that you just want to pick up a lacrosse stick and reach across the desk and hit the other guy.
On a more serious note, Hill also discusses how, following in his father's footsteps, he entered the Foreign Service.
The opportunity to represent the United States overseas and showing what our country is all about, and to represent our people and their interests is an honor. I think it's a career that's second to none. There's always going to be some people in the world with an opinion of the United States, and to the extent that we can affect them, those opinions can be good opinions. We need American diplomats to go out and explain what we're doing. You can't just go to foreign countries and say, "We're going to do this whether you like it or not." You need allies and partners. You need people to believe in you. A lot of times you're asking countries to do things that they don't want to do. If you can get them to trust you, they'll do them.
Read the Lacrosse magazine article.
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