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

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Indispensable Free Speech

by Peter Berkowitzvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Free speech defends our other freedoms and offends would-be autocrats. It’s time to revive this bedrock American principle.


Criticisms Illustrate Need For State Dept. Human Rights Panel

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Sunday, September 15, 2019

In early July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the Commission on Unalienable Rights. “The commission’s mission,” he explained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “isn’t to discover new principles but to ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” The announcement of the panel’s existence and mandate immediately triggered a barrage of skepticism, indignation, and anger. The misunderstandings that the criticisms embody underscore the urgency of the commission’s work.


Isaiah Berlin's Many-Sided Concept Of Liberty

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Saturday, August 31, 2019

Speaking in praise of freedom has fallen out of fashion in American politics. That throws public discourse out of step with the country’s constitutional system, which puts a premium on protecting individual liberty. 

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Fukuyama's 'The End Of History?' -- 30 Years Later

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Sunday, August 4, 2019

The love of liberty has nourished our nation since before its founding. Yet classical liberalism, which ought to provide common ground for left and right in the United States, is under attack today by prominent elements of both.


George Will's Guide To Conserving The Founders' Liberalism

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Thursday, July 18, 2019

Patrick Deneen’s disdainful review last month in the Washington Post of George Will’s splendid new book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” reasserts fashionable misconceptions about liberalism, conservatism, and America. The review — and, more importantly, the book — provide an occasion to clarify the character of the conservatism that takes its bearings from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and from the ideas about human nature and freedom that undergird them.

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Checked and Unbalanced

by Peter Berkowitzvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Constitution blends political ideas into a harmonious whole. Modern partisan warfare, on the other hand, sharpens differences and dulls the harmony, and democracy suffers.


A Delusive Assurance That All Is Well On Campus

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Thursday, July 4, 2019

For many decades, defenders of liberal education — not only conservatives — have been warning the public about colleges’ and universities’ hostility to free speech. If the warnings are unsound, why has controversy persisted? If they are sound, why hasn’t the problem been corrected?

Analysis and Commentary

Conservatism And The Repair Of The Republic

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Saturday, June 29, 2019

The divisions among American conservatives have generally been more evident -- certainly to conservatives -- than the principles that might unite them. President Reagan’s two terms are the exception. The pronounced divisions of today are the rule.

Analysis and Commentary

A Madisonian Remedy To The Social Media Revolution

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Saturday, June 22, 2019

Factions, argued James Madison in Federalist No. 10, had ever been the bane of governments grounded in the consent of the governed. However, an improved political science informed the new charter of government that he and his fellow delegates drafted a few months before in Philadelphia over the course of the summer of 1787. Well-designed institutions that minimized freedom’s costs offered a more promising approach to preserving freedom. So effective is Madisonian political science that it provides remedies for such up-to-date threats to freedom as social media and the giant companies that monopolize the provision of information about us and about others.


Liberalism In The Progressive -- And In The Larger -- Sense

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Saturday, June 8, 2019

The term “liberalism” ranks among the most contested in our political lexicon. It should also be regarded as among the most vital. In the large sense, liberalism names the modern tradition of freedom. Liberalism so understood was the dominant strand in our nation’s founding. Appreciating the standard accusations against it and why it is worthy of defense is crucial to conserving the best of the American constitutional tradition.