Abraham D. Sofaer

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

Featured AnalysisAnalysis and Commentary

A Potential Indo-Med Collaboration

by Abraham D. Sofaervia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Hoover Institution's Working Group on the Middle East has initiated an important discussion that is particularly significant to me, a Hoover scholar of Middle Eastern Jewish origin, born and raised in India, who has had the privilege of representing the U.S. in negotiations with Egypt, Iran, and Israel.


Ukraine Must Take Control Of Its Destiny

by Abraham D. Sofaervia The Hill
Saturday, January 22, 2022

The United States and NATO are attempting to convince Russia not to use force in Ukraine. They will fail. Putin’s claimed insecurity is pure pretense. If his purpose is to take control of Ukraine, a war is unavoidable, but if his purpose is to curb NATO expansion and simultaneously to end a costly conflict in Ukraine’s eastern provinces. Ukraine should consider its options separately from those of NATO or the EU since the price of diplomatic failure will be paid by Ukraine alone.

Divided We Fall, Together We Heal

by Abraham D. Sofaervia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 18, 2021
Every country fell short in the battle against COVID-19. The future demands we improve international cooperation, not abandon it.

Preparing For Future Pandemics Means Improving And Reforming — Not Abandoning — The WHO

by Abraham D. Sofaervia Just Security
Thursday, May 6, 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic establishes (once again) that the United States and the rest of the world need to do far better at protecting their populations from infectious disease. Virtually every government missed opportunities to limit the damage at every stage.
Analysis and Commentary

A Better Response To Political Violence In America

by Abraham D. Sofaervia The Hill
Monday, January 25, 2021

Jan. 6, 2021 was a dark day in American history. Americans invaded a cherished public building, created havoc and caused five deaths. They tried to prevent Congress from accepting the results of an election after legal challenges had been uniformly rejected by state and federal courts.

Analysis and Commentary

Annexation And Normalizing UAE/Israel Relations

by Abraham D. Sofaervia The Jerusalem Post
Monday, June 29, 2020

Israel undoubtedly appreciates the UAE’s increasing willingness to engage. But the UAE’s statements reflect assumptions that Israel does not share.

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Getting Iran to the Table

by Jonathan Movroydis interview with Abraham D. Sofaervia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 20, 2020

Hoover fellow Abraham D. Sofaer lays out a way to make progress even with an intractable, violent nation like the Islamic Republic.


Americans Cannot Be Expected To Support Economic Suicide

by Abraham D. Sofaervia The Hill
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci is a national treasure. He has once again, as head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, provided invaluable leadership, this time in the current coronavirus pandemic. His plan, now established as national policy, is to slow the infection rate to provide our health care system the time and resources to care for (and save) as many people as possible.


To Deter Iran’s Aggressive And Dangerous Actions, US Must Show Strength

by Abraham D. Sofaervia Fox News
Thursday, September 19, 2019

The weekend attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed on Iran Wednesday and called an “act of war,” shows that the Obama administration was delusional to think the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran would curb that nation’s radical and violent policies.


The Best Peace Plan Never

by Abraham D. Sofaervia The Washington Times
Monday, August 6, 2018

President Trump has promised “the greatest” peace plan ever to settle what he concedes is the toughest negotiation of all: Peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The “Trump Peace Plan,” drafted by a team led by Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, is the most widely discussed peace proposal not yet made. It should stay that way.