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 has two books published by Hoover Institution Press: The Weaver's Lost Art (2014) and Trial of a Thousand Years: World Order and Islamism (2011).

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary

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Clausewitz Goes East

by Charles Hillvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

In the Mideast, it’s the power centers that matter—not territory, not capitals, but far-flung and complex alliances.

IntroductionAnalysis and Commentary

The Unbalanced

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Balance is one of the innate concepts of the human condition, vital but never entirely attainable. Aristotle concludes his Politics with the imperative in every society of seeking a balance between the male “Dorian” and female “Phrygian” modes – not necessarily gendered but a human necessity all the same. Balance in baseball is a goal; the American League’s long streak of victories over the National League in the All-Star Games is concerning to the keepers of the sport. And, most obviously, the balance-of-power doctrine in matters of war and diplomacy are as old as these arts themselves.

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King of the Hill

by Jay Nordlinger interview with Charles Hillvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Hoover fellow and legendary Yale historian Charles Hill looks back on grand strategy and a grand life.

IntroductionAnalysis and Commentary

Center Of Gravity

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 18, 2019

In Tolstoy’s massive novel War and Peace at the Battle of Borodino with Napoleon’s Grande Armée some eighty miles from Moscow, Carl von Clausewitz, then and now the foremost strategist of the study of war, suddenly canters onto the scene in a cameo appearance and is overheard to pronounce on the fighting: Der krieg muss im Raum verlegt werden. Der Ansicht kann ich nicht genug Preis geben.


On “Forces of History”: Easy as One-Two- Three? Not Exactly

by Charles Hillvia Governance In An Emerging New World
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The tension between the concepts of “civilization” and “the forces of history” can be tracked around the world from deep antiquity until at least the early 20th century. Since then, for many political reasons, neither the idea of civilization or historically transformative forces has been considered worthy of attention or even to possess intellectual legitimacy for serious world leaders. This may now however be changing as, for example, the European Union’s disregard for the continent’s civilization (as in the determination not to refer to Christianity in its draft constitutions) has troubled many.

IntroductionAnalysis and Commentary

The Collapsing Strategic Context

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In designing an optimal American strategy toward the Middle East, two factors stand out.  One is that now, as most always in the past, the climate of opinion is both “this is the last chance for peace” and “this is a time when nothing can be done”.  The second is that whatever happens in the region at this point in the 21st century will affect and be affected by negative and dangerous new trends in the other power centers of the world: China, Russia, the U.S., and even the European Union.


Ep. 211: Charlie’s Wars With Charles Hill

interview with Charles Hillvia Q & A, Hosted by Jay Nordlinger
Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Charles Hill talks about his upbringing in New Jersey, his life in the arena, his career in the academy, and the fate of the world.


Navigating The Realm Of Political Theology In The Greater Middle East

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, November 29, 2018

The modern world—or the era we blithely have been calling “modern”—has defined itself against religion. The Treaty of Westphalia, which inaugurated today’s international state system, pushed religion to diplomacy’s margins to avoid, it was hoped, further wars of religion as had propelled the Thirty Years’ War from 1618-1648.


Are We Witnessing 'Peak China'?

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Is there anything more to be said about China? If the twentieth century was "The American Century," then this twenty-first century, by general acclamation, has been assigned to The People's Republic of China. What more needs to be said?

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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.