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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Charles Hill

Charles Hill
    • Hoover Institution: Fellow
    • Project for the New American Century: Signatory

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Charles Hill is a retired Foreign Service officer based at the conservative Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

He is the author of Trial of a Thousand Years: World Order and Islamism, a 2011 book which, according to the Hoover Institution Press, "analyzes the long war of Islamism against the international state system."[1] Kirk H. Sowell, a lawyer and writer who contributes to the GlobalSecurity.org blog SITREP, criticized the work for equating al-Qaeda and other militant Islamist groups with Islamism writ large, ignoring both more mainstream Islamist organizations and the fact that al-Qaeda has never been a serious threat to the international system. Sowell also criticized Hill for making what Sowell regarded as errors in "a range of factual premises and historical characterizations on the Middle East."[2]

Hill first attracted significant public attention for his role as the senior foreign policy advisor to Rudy Giuliani during his 2008 presidential campaign. Writing in The American Conservative, Michael Desch described Hill as one of the "allegedly non-neocon members" of Giuliani's hard-right foreign policy team (a team that included such neocon luminaries as Norman Podhoretz, Martin Kramer, and Steve Rosen) whose views were nonetheless "squarely in the neoconservative camp ... upon closer inspection." Desch cites as evidence Hill's apocalyptic warnings that "If we pull out of Iraq now, it's just going to break the dam and there will be flood waters of chaos and murder across the region," and that "if the Islamists can defeat the Middle Eastern states that seek reform and work with the international system, we will be faced with another world war."[3]

Hill lent his credibility as a diplomat to Giuliani's hawkish approach to foreign policy. In a 2007 op-ed for the conservative New York Sun, Hill wrote that, on the one hand, "Mr. Giuliani would give the State Department and Foreign Service the attention and leadership it sorely needs." On the other, Hill cautioned, "we need to understand that diplomacy, to be effective, must be conducted in tandem with, not as an alternative to, our economic, cultural, and military power resources."[4]

Hill's neoconservative track record also includes his support for the advocacy campaigns of the Project for the New American Century, the now-defunct pressure group founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan that helped play a role promoting public support for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Hill signed numerous open letters to the president and Congress in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks pushing for an expansive "war on terror" in the Middle East, including PNAC's September 20, 2001 letter arguing that even if Saddam Hussein was not connected to the attacks, "any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism."

Hill has been an aid to both former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and to former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, as well as a speechwriter for Henry Kissinger. His lengthy Foreign Service resume also includes stints in Israel, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.[5] Hill's Foreign Service career, writes Desch, was ultimately ended "after it became clear that he had concealed evidence of Schultz's extensive knowledge of the Iran-Contra scandal from federal agents."[6]

Hill became a lecturer at Yale following his exit from the Foreign Service, where he founded, with fellow academics John Gaddis and Paul Kennedy, the Grand Strategies network, a national association of academic programs geared toward cultivating hawkish views among students of prestigious universities. "Ostensibly created to train an up-and-coming elite to see a global 'big picture,' writes historian Allen Ruff, "this grand strategy network has brought together numbers of 'liberal hawk' and conservative foreign policy wonks heavily invested, literally and figuratively, in an unending quest to maintain US global supremacy, a campaign which they increasingly refer to as the Long War. The network marks the ascent and influence of the Long War University."[7]

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[1] Hoover Institution Press, Trial of a Thousand Yearsinfo page, http://www.hooverpress.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=1538.

[2] Kirk Sowell, "Good history, bad application," Amazon.com review of Trial of a Thousand Years, August 21, 2011, http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2UG7HU2RVFMIK/ref=cm_pdp_rev_title_2?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview#R2P3UKN4QOEWB2.

[3] Michael Desch, "Declaring Forever War," The American Conservative, January 14, 2008, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/article/2008/jan/14/00006/.

[4] Charles Hill, "Giuliani, My Giuliani," New York Sun, December 12, 2007, http://www.nysun.com/opinion/giuliani-my-giuliani/67910/.

[5] Hoover Institution, Charles Hill bio, http://www.hoover.org/fellows/10191.

[6] Michael Desch, "Declaring Forever War," The American Conservative, January 14, 2008, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/article/2008/jan/14/00006/.

[7] Allen Ruff and Steve Horn, "Serving Empire: Grand Strategy at the Long War University," Ruff Talk, http://allenruff.blogspot.com/2011/10/serving-empire-grand-strategy-at-long.html.

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Charles Hill Résumé


    • Hoover Institution: Fellow
    • Giuliani 2008 Campaign: Lead foreign policy adviser
    • Yale University: Founder of Yale Grand Strategy Programs, Professor
    • Project for the New American Century: Signatory


    • U.S. State Department: Former executive aid to George Schultz (1985-1989), vice consul to Zurich (1963), Chinese-language officer in Taiwan (1964), political officer in Hong Kong (1966), Panama Canal negotiator (1974), speechwriter for Henry Kissinger (1975), deputy director of Israel desk (1978), political counselor for U.S. embassy in Israel (1979), director of Israel and Arab-Israeli affairs (1981), deputy assistant secretary for Middle East (1982)
    • United Nations:Former aid to secretary-general (1992-1996)


    • University of Pennsylvania, JD, MA
    • Brown University, BA


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