Peter Berkowitz

Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow
Awards and Honors:

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In 2019-2021, he served as the Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, executive secretary of the department's Commission on Unalienable Rights, and senior adviser to the Secretary of State. He is a 2017 winner of the Bradley Prize. At Hoover, he is a member of the Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group. In addition, he serves as dean of studies for the Public Interest Fellowship, and teaches for the Tikvah Fund in the United States and in Israel.

He studies and writes about, among other things, constitutional government, conservatism and progressivism in the United States, liberal education, national security and law, and Middle East politics.

He is the author of Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation (Hoover Institution Press, 2013); Israel and the Struggle over the International Laws of War (Hoover Institution Press, 2012); Virtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism (Princeton University Press, 1999); and Nietzsche: The Ethics of an Immoralist (Harvard University Press, 1995).

He is the editor of seven collections of essays on political ideas and institutions published by the Hoover Institution: Renewing the American Constitutional Tradition (2014); Future Challenges in National Security and Law (2010); The Future of American Intelligence (2005); Terrorism, the Laws of War, and the Constitution: Debating the Enemy Combatant Cases (2005); Varieties of Conservatism in America (2004); Varieties of Progressivism in America (2004); and Never a Matter of Indifference: Sustaining Virtue in a Free Republic (2003).

He is a contributor at RealClearPolitics, and has written hundreds of articles,essays and reviews on a range of subjects for a variety of publications, including The American InterestAmerican Political Science ReviewThe AtlanticThe Chronicle of Higher EducationClaremont Review of BooksCommentaryFirst ThingsForbes.comHaaretzThe Jerusalem PostLondon Review of BooksNational JournalNational ReviewThe New CriterionThe New RepublicPolicy ReviewPoliticoThe Public InterestThe Times Literary SupplementThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostThe Weekly StandardThe Wilson Quarterly, and the Yale Law Journal.

In addition to teaching regularly in the United States and Israel, Dr. Berkowitz has led seminars on the principles of freedom and the American constitutional tradition for students from Burma at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and for Korean students at Underwood International College at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.

He taught constitutional law and jurisprudence at George Mason University School of Law from 1999 to 2006, and political philosophy in the department of government at Harvard University from 1990 to 1999.

He holds a JD and a PhD in political science from Yale University, an MA in philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a BA in English literature from Swarthmore College.

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Recent Commentary

In the News

For Top Policy Wonk Peter Berkowitz, 18 Months Of Pompeo And Circumstance

featuring Peter Berkowitzvia The Times of Israel
Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The former State Department policy director thinks Trump’s legacy is now trashed, but is sticking behind the ex-secretary of state’s moves he helped craft on Israel, Iran and more.


Hyper-Polarization, Executive Power, And The Constitution

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Sunday, January 31, 2021

Polarization, or a tendency toward the extremes, is a matter of degrees and frequently vexes free and democratic government. The hyper-polarization that disfigures American politics today -- the determination to view fellow citizens who vote differently as mortal enemies -- subverts free and democratic government.


Reclaiming Common Ground: Racism, Kendi & The Capitol Riot

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Sunday, January 24, 2021

On Jan. 20, right on schedule and without interruption, Chief Justice John Roberts swore in Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Yet all is not well. That 25,000 National Guard members had been summoned to Washington to stand watch over the city’s streets and provide security for the inauguration testified to the distrust and anger roiling the nation.

Real Power to the People

by Peter Berkowitzvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Only a liberal democracy can protect individuals and restrain rulers, and liberal democracy demands liberal education.

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The Pacific Century Reads A Long Telegram

interview with Peter Berkowitz, Michael R. Auslin, John Yoovia The Pacific Century
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Parsing the State Department Policy Planning Staff’s New China Report with Peter Berkowitz.

Analysis and Commentary

Commission On Unalienable Rights: Lessons Learned

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear World
Thursday, January 7, 2021

Last month, the head of the world’s largest independent Muslim organization sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a gracious letter thanking him for his recent visit to Indonesia -- home to the world’s largest Muslim population -- to discuss the report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights.


'The Elements Of The China Challenge': A Reply To Critics

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Sunday, December 27, 2020

In mid-November, the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff -- I serve as the director -- published “The Elements of the China Challenge.” The paper argues that the core of the challenge consists of the concerted efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to reconfigure world order to serve the CCP’s authoritarian interests and aims. It explains the errors that nourished the hope on both the right and the left that economic liberalization in China, coupled with Western engagement and incorporation of Beijing into international organizations, would bring about China’s political liberalization.


Peter Berkowitz: What Are The Sources Of Chinese Conduct?

interview with Peter Berkowitzvia National Interest
Saturday, December 19, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Peter Berkowitz discusses China's foreign policy and notes that China seeks to transform the international order.


The Sources Of Chinese Conduct: A Debate

by Peter Berkowitzvia National Interest
Thursday, December 17, 2020

Recently, the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff published an analysis of 21st-century Chinese conduct meant to provide the underpinnings for a new American approach to contending with Beijing’s growing might. Did they get it right? What is the nature of our competition with China? And what should we be aiming for? A recent panel examined these questions.

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Endowed By The Creator: Ayaan Hirsi Ali And Peter Berkowitz On Our Unalienable Rights

interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Peter Berkowitzvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hoover Fellows Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Peter Berkowitz discuss the final report recently issued by the US State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, of which Berkowitz was the commission secretary.