Charles Hill

Research Fellow

Charles Hill, a career minister in the US Foreign Service, is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Hill was executive aide to former US secretary of state George P. Shultz (1985–89) and served as special consultant on policy to the secretary-general of the United Nations (1992–96). He is also the Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellow in Grand Strategy and a senior lecturer in humanities at Yale.

Among Hill's awards are the Superior Honor Award from the Department of State in 1973 and 1981; the Presidential Distinguished Service Award in 1987 and 1989; and the Secretary of State's Medal in 1989. He was granted an honorary doctor of laws degree by Rowan University.

In 1978, Hill was deputy director of the Israel desk and became political counselor for the US Embassy in Tel Aviv in 1979. He was named director of Israel and Arab-Israeli affairs in 1981, and he served as deputy assistant secretary for the Middle East in 1982.

Hill began his career in 1963 as a vice consul in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1964, he became a Chinese-language officer in Taichung, Taiwan, and in 1966 was appointed as a political officer in Hong Kong. He was involved in the 1974 Panama Canal negotiations, becoming a member of the policy planning staff as a speechwriter for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1975.

During 1970, he was a fellow at the Harvard University East Asia Research Center. He was a Clark Fellow at Cornell University in 1989.

He received an AB degree from Brown University in 1957, a JD degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1960, and an MA degree in American studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961.

Hill has collaborated with former UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali on Egypt's Road to Jerusalem, a memoir of the Middle East peace negotiations, and Unvanquished, about US relations with the United Nations in the post–cold war period. His book Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order was published by Yale University Press in 2010. Hill’s most recent book is Trial of a Thousand Years: World Order and Islamism (Hoover Institution Press, 2011).

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary

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Where the Great Powers Collide

by Charles Hillvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 9, 2018

Syria is a historical “roundabout” around which religions, civilizations, and nations flow—and clash.

IntroductionAnalysis and Commentary

Those Exceptional Saudis

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“Exceptionalism” was long claimed for America, at least until a president informed us that every nation considers itself exceptional. However that may be, one place now merits that description: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where past, present, and future are entangled as nowhere else; a family, a state, a religion, and an empire variously maneuver for prominence depending on the lens through which the outside world views them. Which is it? What is Saudi Arabia? And how much can it move the political markets of world affairs?

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Weaponized Words

by Charles Hillvia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 20, 2018

The revolution will be televised—and tweeted, and posted, and Instagrammed. Language is today’s truly disruptive technology.

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The Syria Quagmire

by Charles Hillvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The country is a roundabout where the world's great powers collide with regional players like ISIS.

IntroductionAnalysis and Commentary

Syria: Dante's Earthly Circle Of Hell

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

On Time magazine’s cover in 1947 was Arnold Toynbee, the then world’s most renowned scholar, author of the monumental ten-volume, A Study of History, praised for “Taking all the knowable human past as his province, he has found rhythms and patterns which any less panoramic view could scarcely have detected.”

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Edward Lansdale: An American Folk Hero?

by Charles Hillvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Vietnam-era agent’s example should not be followed in the fight against today’s terrorists.

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A Tale of Sound and Fury—and Amnesia

by Charles Hillvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 26, 2018

In war, it’s said, the first casualty is the truth. In the Burns-Novick film about the Vietnam War, that truth was the Cold War.


Rolling Back Iran

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The matter of the Middle East is now critical to the fate of modern world order. The end of the Cold War, now a quarter-century in the past, increasingly looks like the turning-point from which began a downward spiral toward the global disarray and dangers which swirl through this still-new twenty-first century. For a short time the international relations sector buzzed with the possibility of “A New World Order” which President George H. W. Bush tried to describe without success. 

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On "The Vietnam War"

by Charles Hillvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, November 2, 2017

Ken Burns’s carefully curated history of the conflict is deceptive and leaves out critical information. 

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The Religious Animal

by Charles Hillvia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 23, 2017

Faith informs war, peace, and civil society. That’s why believers must learn to listen to each other.