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Hoover Institution

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Founded in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, the Stanford University-based Hoover Institution is one of the oldest research institutes in the United States. Funded largely by right-wing foundations and corporate donors, Hoover has been a mainstay of the Republican Party for decades, serving as a virtual revolving door for high-level GOP figures and appartchiks, including many who served in the George W. Bush administration. Case in point was the September 2007 announcement that the institution would hire Donald Rumsfeld as a visiting scholar; the former secretary of defense was widely excoriated for his oversight of the Iraq War and left the administration shortly into Bush's second term.[1] Condoleezza Rice, a Hoover fellow who served as National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration, rejoined the institute following Barack Obama’s inauguration as president.[2]

Other figures from the Bush administration who later found a home at Hoover include former U.S. Central Command chief John Abizaid, State Department advisor Stephen Krasner, and John B. Taylor from the Treasury Department. The think tank's ties with the Reagan administration were similarly strong. Reagan advisers associated with Hoover included Secretary of State George Shultz, Attorney General Edwin Meese, and National Security Adviser Richard Allen. Margaret Thatcher and Newt Gingrich have also been Hoover fellows.

Additionally, Hoover serves as a perch for various writers and ideologues whose views veer sharply toward the neoconservative right on foreign affairs. Senior fellows Fouad Ajami and Victor Davis Hanson have been vocal critics of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. Ajami, a fervent Iraq War backer and former adviser to the Bush administration, has accused the Obama administration of giving the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad “a diplomatic lifeline,” and leaving embattled protesters there “waiting for Godot.”[3] Ajami has also partially credited the Iraq war with spurring subsequent democratic revolutions in the Arab world, telling an interviewer, “there is absolutely a direct connection between what happened in Iraq in 2003 and what's happening today throughout the rest of the Arab world.”[4]

Hanson, a controversial classicist and historian, has warned against underestimating the “schizophrenia” of the Iranian regime, paying homage to the right-wing axiom that “irrational” regimes must be dealt with by force. Declaring that “the saber rattling of lunatic regimes should be taken seriously,” Hanson has written that “the Obama administration’s exit from Iraq, its current negotiations with the Taliban, and its failed serial efforts at reset diplomacy with Tehran” could be seen by Tehran as “a sort of weakness that might presage a tepid U.S. response” to Iranian provocation in the Persian Gulf—essentially advocating a more hawkish U.S. foreign policy across the board as an implement of U.S. policy toward Iran.[5]

Hanson has also used the issue of proposed U.S. military spending cuts as an opportunity to launch a generic Republican critique of Obama’s supposedly “non-exceptionalist” foreign policy worldview. “Fairly or not,” he wrote, “the cuts will only cement a now familiar stereotype of Obama's desire to retrench on the world scene. They follow symbolic apologies for purported past American sins, bowing to foreign royals, and outreach to the likes of Iran and Syria. Abroad, such perceptions can matter as much as reality, as our rivals begin hoping that Obama is as dubious about America's historically exceptional world role as are they.”[6]

On foreign policy issues more generally, Hoover includes a mix of traditional realists and neoconservatives, but its fellows tend to be united around the goal of an aggressive U.S. foreign policy and have been a driving force behind military action in Latin America and the Middle East. During the lead up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, eight Hoover fellows (including Becker, Gingrich, Allen, Pete Wilson, and Martin Anderson) sat on the Defense Policy Board, the Defense Department think tank which at the time was chaired by Richard Perle.[7] In addition to policymakers like Shultz, Rice, and Rumsfeld, Hoover fellows have also included generally hawkish intellectuals like historian Niall Ferguson, international relations scholar Charles Hill, and historian Robert Conquest.[8]

Other Conservative Causes

Hoover became an ideas factory for George W. Bush before he was even elected president. In the summer of 1999, Bush, then the governor of Texas and in the early stages of his presidential campaign, paid his first visit to California as a candidate. At the time, Bush's campaign was at pains to portray him as a moderate, "compassionate" conservative who would soften the hard edges of Republican economic and social policy. Observers who looked beyond the rhetoric and assessed the campaigns advisers, however, realized that Bush was not the post-ideological moderate he appeared to be. The Christian Science Monitor noted that one of the biggest tipoffs was Bush's close association with the Hoover Institution, which had already "emerged as the early core of Mr. Bush's brain trust."[9]

The Monitor reported that there were "many interesting aspects of this relationship, not least of which is the juxtaposition of the think tank's staunchly conservative heritage and the candidate's moderate political persona. But whatever the attraction, the relationship has blossomed fully, with no end in sight."[10]

On economic issues, the think tank has served as a home to some of the most important right-wing economists of recent years, including the late Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winner Gary Becker, Nixon and Reagan adviser Martin Anderson, and libertarian writer Thomas Sowell. W. Glenn Campbell, Hoover's influential former director, was a free-market economist, as is its current director, John Raisian.

Hoover fellows have also been influential for their right-wing stances on environmental issues. Fellow Thomas Gale Moore is a leading climate change skeptic, having authored the 1998 book Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn't Worry About Global Warming. Fellow Bruce Berkowitz is the author of the 2001 Hoover Digest article "The Pseudoscience of Global Warming." And Gale Norton, who as George W. Bush's first secretary of the interior took a notably laissez-faire attitude toward environmental issues, is also a Hoover alum. Norton, a lawyer and lobbyist with ties to the energy industry, was a fellow from 1984-1985.[11]

Although Hoover is best known for its right-wing stances on economics and foreign policy, it also hosts a number of well-known social conservatives. One of the most prominent is Dinesh D'Souza, who was been harshly criticized by liberals and conservatives alike for his 2007 book The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, which blames U.S. social liberals for causing Muslim radical anger. Another prominent socially conservative fellow is Mary Eberstadt, author of anti-feminist tracts like Home-Alone America (2004), which blames the rise of working motherhood for all manner of social ills.[12]

In addition to subsidizing the research of its many fellows, Hoover also serves as an idea factory through the publication of two journals: Hoover Digest, a quarterly journal edited by former Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson, and Policy Review, a well-known right-wing journal of ideas edited by Hoover fellow Tod Lindberg that was long associated with the Heritage Foundation but was acquired by Hoover in 2001.

The Hoover Institution's wide-ranging political influence over the last few decades is in contrast to its relatively humble origins. When it was founded in 1919 by future president Herbert Hoover, it served mainly as a collection of scholarly documents related to World War I. By the 1940s, the institution had begun recruiting scholars to use the documents. It only began to assume its present form in the late 1950s. In 1959, Herbert Hoover gave the institution the mission statement that it has kept to this day.

Funding and Stanford Relationship

Although Hoover is hosted and partially funded by Stanford University, its right-wing politics have led to a fair amount of strife with the broader university community. The Nation reported that "during the Reagan presidency, close links between the administration and Hoover prompted Stanford faculty to draft a petition demanding investigation into the relationship between the university and the think tank. … Faculty also battled the planned construction of the Hoover-backed Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Reagan Center for Public Policy on campus. In 1985 Stanford's trustees, led by chairman Warren Christopher, agreed that the library and a small museum could be built in the foothills overlooking campus but that the Hoover-run policy center would have to go elsewhere."[13]

In 2003, a group of students drafted a petition alleging that the Hoover Institution's mission statement was improperly politically motivated and calling on the institution to reform the mission statement or lose its university funding.[14] And in April 2006, a group of more than 1,000 protestors forced a meeting between Bush and Hoover fellows to be moved to the home of fellow and former secretary of defense George Shultz.[15]

Although Stanford donates about $1 million to Hoover's library and archive annually, the bulk of the institution's funding comes from returns on its endowment and from individual, corporate, and foundational donations. Conservative philanthropic foundations have contributed enormous amounts of money to Hoover in recent decades—nearly $24 million from 1985 to 2005, according to MediaTransparency.org. Donors who have given more than $1 million to Hoover include such right-wing stalwarts as the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Lynne and Harry Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.[16] Richard Mellon Scaife of the Scaife Foundations and Shelby M.C. Davis of the Davis Foundation also sit on Hoover's Board of Overseers.

Corporations have also been quite generous in their donations to Hoover. ExxonMobil has been a notable contributor, giving $295,000 to the institution between 1998 and 2005.[17] Hoover-based climate changed skeptics like Moore and Berkowitz have been helpful to ExxonMobil and the rest of the energy industry. And the major conservative foundations, many of which were founded by captains of industry aiming to promote free enterprise and keep their fortunes out of government hands, have funded Hoover fellows such as Friedman who were responsible for increasing the influence of free-market economics. One source calls Hoover "one of four leading policy institutions that pulled the nation's economic policy to the right in the early 1980s."[18]

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[1] "Rumsfeld Headed to Hoover Institution," Associated Press, September 8, 2007, http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hdUHLpk5F2YIxE-4DWF3C3g38MUA.

[2] Stanford Daily News, “Rice officially rejoins Hoover today,” March 2 2009,  http://archive.stanforddaily.com/?p=3045.

[3] Fouad Ajami, “Syria: Where Massacre Is a Family Tradition,” Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304259304576375943962621206.html.

[4] Paul Gigot’s “Journal Editorial Report,” February 7, 2011 transcript, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704858404576128284224029592.html.

[5] Victor Davis Hanson, “Will Iran Really Start a War?’ Hoover Institution, January 11, 2012, http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/104566.

[6] Victor Davis Hanson, “Defense spending is a shovel-ready investment,” Chicago Tribune, January 12, 2012, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-201201110730--tms--vdhansonctnvh-a20120112jan12,0,1581735.column.

[7] Emily Biuso, "Stanford U. and the Bush Administration," Nation, March 28, 2003, http://www.thenation.com/doc/20030414/biuso.

[8] Ken Silverstein on Charles Hill, "Meet Giuliani's Advisers: AIPAC's Dream Team," Harpers, August 27, 2007, http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/08/hbc-90001040.

[9] "California Think Tank Acts as Bush 'Brain Trust,'" Christian Science Monitor, July 2, 1999.

[10] "California Think Tank Acts as Bush 'Brain Trust,'" Christian Science Monitor, July 2, 1999.

[11] University of Denver press release on Gale Norton, December 29, 2000, http://law.du.edu/naturalresources/norton.html.

[12] Stanley Kurtz, "A Paradigm Shift in Parenting," National Review Online, November 30, 2004, http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz200411300920.asp.

[13] Emily Biuso, "Stanford U. and the Bush Administration," Nation, March 28, 2003, http://www.thenation.com/doc/20030414/biuso.

[14] The Nation, March 28, 2003.

[15] Stanford Daily, April 21, 2006.

[16] MediaTransparency.org list of grants to Hoover, http://www.mediatransparency.org/recipientgrants.php?recipientID=157.

[17] ExxonSecrets.org profile, http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=43.

[18] MediaTransparency.org profile, Hoover Institution, http://www.mediatransparency.org/recipientprofile.php?recipientID=157.

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Hoover Institution Résumé

Contact Information

Hoover Institution
434 Galvez Mall
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305
Phone: 650-723-1754

Hoover Institution Washington, DC Office
21 Dupont Circle NW
Washington, DC, 20036
Phone: 202-466-3121
Web: www.hoover.org



Mission Statement (2012)

"This Institution supports the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights and its method of representative government. Both our social and economic systems are based on private enterprise from which springs initiative and ingenuity.... Ours is a system where the Federal Government should undertake no governmental, social or economic action, except where local government, or the people, cannot undertake it for themselves.... The overall mission of this Institution is, from its records, to recall the voice of experience against the making of war, and by the study of these records and their publication, to recall man's endeavors to make and preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the American way of life. This Institution is not, and must not be, a mere library. But with these purposes as its goal, the Institution itself must constantly and dynamically point the road to peace, to personal freedom, and to the safeguards of the American system."

Board of Overseers (as of 2012)


  • Herbert M. Dwight, Healdsburg, CA

Vice Chairs

  • Robert J. Oster, Atherton, CA
  • Boyd C. Smith, Palo Alto, CA


  • Marc L. Abramowitz, Palo Alto, CA
  • Victoria “Tory” Agnich, Dallas, TX
  • Frederick L. Allen, San Marino, CA
  • Jack R. Anderson, Carefree, AZ
  • Martin Anderson, Palo Alto, CA
  • George L. Argyros, Costa Mesa, CA
  • Barbara Barrett, Paradise Valley, AZ
  • Robert G. Barrett, Vero Beach, FL
  • Frank E. Baxter, Los Angeles, CA
  • Stephen D. Bechtel Jr., San Francisco, CA
  • Peter B. Bedford, Napa, CA
  • Peter S. Bing, Los Angeles, CA
  • Walter Blessey Jr., Mandeville, LA
  • Joanne Whittier Blokker, Palo Alto, CA
  • William K. Blount, Portland, OR
  • James J. Bochnowski, Atherton, CA
  • Wendy H. Borcherdt, Los Angeles, CA
  • William K. Bowes, Menlo Park, CA
  • Richard W. Boyce, Portola Valley, CA
  • C. Preston Butcher, Menlo Park, CA
  • James J. Carroll III, Los Angeles, CA
  • Robert H. Castellini, Cincinnati, OH
  • Joan L. Danforth, San Francisco, CA
  • Paul Lewis “Lew” Davies III, Menlo Park, CA
  • Paul L. Davies Jr., Lafayette, CA
  • John B. De Nault, Boulder Creek, CA
  • Dixon R. Doll, San Francisco, CA
  • Susanne Fitger Donnelly, Los Angeles, CA
  • Joseph W. Donner, New York, NY
  • William C. Edwards, Atherton, CA
  • Gerald E. Egan, Chicago, IL
  • Charles H. “Chuck” Esserman, Orinda, CA
  • Jeffrey A. Farber, San Francisco, CA
  • Clayton W. Frye Jr., New York, NY
  • Stephen B. Gaddis, Atherton, CA
  • Samuel L. Ginn, Hillsborough, CA
  • Michael Gleba, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Cynthia Fry Gunn, Palo Alto, CA
  • Arthur E. Hall, Minden, NV
  • Everett J. Hauck, Lake Forest, IL
  • W. Kurt Hauser, San Francisco, CA
  • John L. Hennessy, Stanford, CA*
  • Warner W. Henry, Pasadena, CA
  • Heather R. Higgins, New York, NY
  • Kenneth H. Hofmann, Concord, CA
  • Margaret Hoover, New York, NY
  • Allan Hoover III, Castle Rock, CO
  • Preston B. Hotchkis, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Philip Hudner, San Francisco, CA
  • Leslie P. Hume, Stanford, CA*
  • William J. Hume, San Francisco, CA
  • Gail A. Jaquish, Lake Tahoe, NV
  • Charles B. Johnson, San Mateo, CA
  • Franklin P. Johnson Jr., Palo Alto, CA
  • Mark Chapin Johnson, Ladera Ranch, CA
  • John Jordan, Healdsburg, CA
  • Steve Kahng, Los Altos Hills, CA
  • Mary Myers Kauppila, Boston, MA
  • David B. Kennedy, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Donald P. Kennedy, Santa Ana, CA
  • Raymond V. Knowles Jr., La Jolla, CA
  • Donald L. Koch, Saint Louis, MO
  • Henry N. Kuechler III, Menlo Park, CA
  • Peyton M. Lake, Tyler, TX
  • Carl V. Larson Jr., Portola Valley, CA
  • Allen J. Lauer, Portola Valley, CA
  • Bill Laughlin, Atherton, CA
  • James G. “Skip” Law, Atherton, CA
  • Howard H. Leach, San Francisco, CA
  • Walter Loewenstern Jr., Beaver Creek, CO
  • Richard A. Magnuson, Woodside, CA
  • Robert H. Malott, Chicago, IL
  • Frank B. Mapel, San Marino, CA
  • Haig G. Mardikian, San Francisco, CA
  • Shirley Cox Matteson, Palo Alto, CA
  • Craig O. McCaw, Montecito, CA
  • Bowen H. McCoy, Los Angeles, CA
  • Burton J. McMurtry, Palo Alto, CA
  • Roger S. Mertz, Hillsborough, CA
  • Jeremiah Milbank III, New York, NY
  • John R. Norton III, Paradise Valley, AZ
  • Jack S. Parker, Carefree, AZ
  • Joel C. Peterson, Salt Lake City, UT
  • James E. Piereson, New York, NY
  • Jay A. Precourt, Vail, CO
  • George J. Records, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Christopher R. Redlich Jr., Hillsborough, CA
  • Kathleen “Cab” Rogers, Oakland, CA
  • James N. Russell, Northfield, IL
  • Richard M. Scaife, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Roderick W. Shepard, Atherton, CA
  • Thomas M. Siebel, Palo Alto, CA
  • George W. Siguler, New York, NY
  • William E. Simon Jr., Los Angeles, CA
  • John R. Stahr, Corona del Mar, CA
  • William C. Steere Jr., Bonita Springs, FL
  • Thomas F. Stephenson, Atherton, CA
  • Robert J. Swain, Tulsa, OK
  • W. Clarke Swanson Jr., Oakville, CA
  • Curtis Sloane Tamkin, Los Angeles, CA
  • Tad Taube, Woodside, CA
  • Robert A. Teitsworth, San Juan Capistrano, CA
  • L. Sherman Telleen, San Marino, CA
  • Peter A. Thiel, Atherton, CA
  • Terence W. Thomas, Paradise Valley, AZ
  • Thomas J. Tierney, Boston, MA
  • David T. Traitel, San Francisco, CA
  • Victor S. Trione, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Don Tykeson, Eugene, OR
  • Gregory L. Waldorf, Santa Monica, CA
  • Dean A. Watkins, Woodside, CA
  • Dody Waugh, Los Angeles, CA
  • Jack R. Wheatley, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Lynne Farwell White, New Orleans, LA
  • Paul H. Wick, Portola Valley, CA
  • Norman “Tad” Williamson, Pasadena, CA
  • Paul M. Wythes, Atherton, CA


Hoover Institution News Feed

This is what Mattis will be up to post-Trump administration - Military TimesEx Defense Secretary Jim Mattis returning to Hoover Institution - Idaho StatesmanFormer Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to Return to Hoover Institution - U.S. News & World ReportJames Mattis Named Davies Family Distinguished Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution - ExecutiveGovStanford Hoover Institution economist targets socialism, fears ‘we may not make it’ - California GlobeRacial, Socioeconomic Student Achievement Gaps Have Remained Stagnant Over the Past 50 Years: Study - madison365.comHoover must re-evaluate the academic merit of its fellows - The Stanford DailyFormer Mattis aide writes book offering ‘fly on the wall’ view of Trump’s relationship with Chaos - Task & PurposeFPRI Announces 2019 Fellows - Foreign Policy Research InstituteWhat We're Watching: Have We Closed Socioeconomic Achievement Gaps? - Education Next - EducationNextAudio From Renk's Interview With Victor Davis Hanson Author Of The Case For Trump - wbckfm.com10 Exceptional Philanthropic Women - Philanthropy MagazineRenk: Interview Victor Davis Hanson Author Of The Case For Trump - wbckfm.comNiall Ferguson Says British Politics Is 'in Shambles' - Yahoo Finance UKHarvard researcher, colleagues: Student achievement gap unchanged in nearly 50 years - Harvard GazetteWhen Can the President Claim Executive Privilege? - Constitution DailyHoover panel talks military tech innovation in US and China - The Stanford DailyNiall Ferguson: Strong economy is 'real tailwind' for Trump and GOP in 2020 - CNBCNo progress in the achievement gap in 50 years, new study says - The Boston GlobeHoover's NSAF Mentorship Program promotes learning between undergraduates, military professionals - The Stanford Daily

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From the Wires

President Trump’s announcement that he would recognise Israeli sovereignty over the western part of the Golan Heights destroys the negotiating basis for any future peace between Israel and Syria. It also lays the groundwork for a return to a world without territorial integrity for smaller, weaker countries.

The Senate on Wednesday passed a measure mandating the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Saudi/UAE-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The vote marks the first time since the War Powers Act of 1973 became law that both chambers of Congress have directed the president to withdraw American forces from a conflict.

The Trump administration’s failed “maximum pressure” approach to Iran and North Korea begs the question what the US president’s true objectives are and what options he is left with should the policy ultimately fail.

In the United States, it’s possible to debate any and every policy, domestic and foreign, except for unquestioning support for Israel. That, apparently, is Ilhan Omar’s chief sin.

While Michael Cohen mesmerized the House of Representatives and President Trump resumed his love affair with North Korea’s Kim Jong, one of the most dangerous state-to-state confrontations, centering in Kashmir, began to spiral out of control.

The Trump administration’s irresponsible withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement undermined Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and emboldened hardliners who accused him of having been deceived by Washington while negotiating the agreement. However, the Iranian government could use the shock of Zarif’s resignation to push back against hardliners and take charge of both the domestic and foreign affairs of the country while Iran’s foreign opponents should consider the risks of destabilizing the government under the current critical situation.

Europe can play an important role in rebuilding confidence in the non-proliferation regime in the wake of the demise of the INF treaty, including by making it clear to the Trump administration that it wants the United States to refrain from deploying INF-banned missiles in Europe and to consider a NATO-Russian joint declaration on non-first deployment.