Abraham D. Sofaer

George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy and National Security Affairs, Emeritus
Biography: 

Abraham D. Sofaer was appointed the first George P. Shultz Distinguished Scholar and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution in 1994. Named in honor of former US secretary of state George P. Shultz, the appointment is awarded to a senior scholar whose broad vision, knowledge, and skill will be brought to bear on the problems presented by a radically transformed global environment.

Sofaer's work focuses on the power over war within the US government and on issues related to international law, terrorism, diplomacy, and national security. His most recent books are Taking on Iran: Strength, Diplomacy, and the Iranian Threat (Hoover Institution Press, 2013) and The Best Defense?: Legitimacy and Preventive Force (Hoover Institution Press, 2010).

From 1985 to 1990, he served as a legal adviser to the US Department of State, where he resolved several interstate matters, including the dispute between Egypt and Israel over Taba, the claim against Iraq for its attack on the USS Stark, and the claims against Chile for the assassination of Orlando Letelier. He received the Distinguished Service Award in 1989, the highest state department award given to a non–civil servant.

From 1979 to 1985, Sofaer served as a US district judge in the Southern District of New York. From 1969 to 1979, he was a professor of law at Columbia University School of Law and wrote War, Foreign Affairs, and Constitutional Power: The Origins. From 1967 to 1969, he was an assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York, after clerking for Judge J. Skelly Wright on the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, and the Honorable William J. Brennan Jr. on the US Supreme Court. He practiced law at Hughes, Hubbard and Reed from 1990 to 1994.

A veteran of the US Air Force, Sofaer received an LLB degree from New York University School of Law in 1965, where he was editor in chief of the law review. He holds a BA in history from Yeshiva College (1962). Sofaer is a founding trustee of the National Museum of Jazz in Harlem and a member of the board of the Koret Foundation.

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary

Five Ways to Beat the Thugs

by Abraham D. Sofaervia Hoover Digest
Saturday, January 30, 1999

Hoover fellow Abraham D. Sofaer on steps we must take to counter the terrorist threat.

PEACE BY PEACE: The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

with Abraham D. Sofaer, Linda Gradstein, Sylvia Shihahdehvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, November 24, 1998

What is the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the on-going peace process? Do the agreements in Oslo and in Wye represent breakthroughs, or are the prospects for peace as far away as ever? Linda Gradstein, Israel Correspondent, National Public Radio, John S. Knight Journalism Fellow, Stanford University, Sylvia Shihahdeh, President, Austin Chapter of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Abraham Sofaer, George P. Shultz Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution discuss whether an independent Palestinian state is the inevitable result of the peace process.

NOWHERE TO RUN, NOWHERE TO HIDE: Bioterrorism

with Abraham D. Sofaer, Jonathan B. Tucker, Dean Wilkeningvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, May 28, 1998

Abraham D. Sofaer, the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow of Hoover Institution, Jonathan B. Tucker, Director with the Chemical/Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Project at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies and Dean Wilkening, Director of the Science Program, Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University, discuss whether the United States is prepared for a biological or chemical weapons attack. Is it possible that we are over-hyping the threat, scaring the American public, and allowing the FBI to further extend their already-broad powers into our personal lives?

Israel's War on Terrorism

by Abraham D. Sofaervia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

Israel has declared war on terrorism. Hoover fellow Abraham D. Sofaer tells the new prime minister how to wage it.

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