Writer, foreign policy expert, lecturer, radio and television host, and educator. Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, senior fellow and director of Donner Atlantic Studies Programme at the Centre of International Studies and senior research fellow at Magdalene College. Served in the White House Office of the Chief of Staff, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Communications, under former U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford; served as U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for politico-military affairs and senior advisor to the secretary of defense under former U.S. president Ronald Reagan. This Week from Washington(radio program), host, 1985-2001;Worldwise(television program), host and executive editor, 1996-2000.
(With Jonathan Clarke)America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Jonathan Clarke)The Silence of the Rational Center: Why American Foreign Policy Is Failing, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Stefan Halper is a writer, foreign policy expert, and lecturer on late-twentieth-century U.S. foreign policy, China and Chinese foreign policy, and contemporary international security. He is a senior fellow at Cambridge University's Centre of International Studies, where he is director of the Atlantic Studies Programme, and a senior research fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge. In addition, he is the director of the Donner Atlantic Studies Program at the Center of International Studies. He was a White House official and a member of the U.S. State Department during the terms of U.S. Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. His academic research covers U.S. politics and foreign policy, the Chinese transition and Chinese foreign and security policy, and selected international security and military issues.
With coauthor Jonathan Clarke, Halper has written two major books on American foreign policy and its connections to domestic politics. The first,America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order, is a critical work in which the authors "document the neo-conservative capture of American (and British) foreign policy, under the guise of a War on Terror, to reorder Middle East politics and initiate a newly proclaimed doctrine of preemptive war," commented Stanley I. Kutler in the Washington Post. Halper and Clarke center their criticisms on the costly and protracted occupation of Iraq and the War on Terror as characterized by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. "What Halper and Clarke have done is to meticulously dissect the neocon world view" and assess how they have applied it to their own political ends, Kutler remarked, even to the extent of ignoring salutary policies and actions of their ideological mentor, Ronald Reagan. The authors trace the history of neoconservatism, and discover deep differences in the older generation of neocons and the younger group that now drives much of America's current foreign policy. They see the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as the signal event that allowed current neoconservatism to rise to prominence in American politics, particularly in national security policy. Throughout, Halper and Clarke "seek to show how neo-conservatives funda-mentally misunderstand the world in which we live and how their influence has hurt the United States, not only at home but also in terms of its image abroad, its effort to fight terrorism, and its strained war in Iraq," remarked Steve A. Yetiv, writing in the Presidential Studies Quarterly.
Halper and Clarke are not kind to the administration of George W. Bush, but their criticisms are based in solid research and facts, and in their own conservative viewpoints on American and British foreign policy. They "write as critics, but sympathetic ones, and as not only former diplomats, but conservative ones," observed Robert Jervis in the Political Science Quarterly. The book "levels a broad indictment against the Bush administration, which in the name of the war on terror has launched the Iraq war, mounted an assault on personal liberties at home, engaged in a purposeful deceit of the media and the public (both of which suspended any critical judgment) and, above all, has inflicted terrible damage on U.S. moral authority and international legitimacy. The chief culprits for the authors are the neocons, who are depicted as conspirators who hijacked American foreign policy," Kutler stated. "This is not exactly news, but the argument never has been put together so persuasively, so conclusively and so effectively," Kutler further observed.
Jervis concluded that "at a time when so much that passes for analysis is one-sided and polemical,America Alone is insightful and welcome. It is a timely contribution that I think will have a longer half-life than most books of this type." The book "performs a useful and provocative service in sketching neo-conservative origins, views, influence, and impact. It raises critical questions and offers numerous points of departure on a clearly important movement," Yetiv noted.
Halper and Clarke are also the authors of The Silence of the Rational Center: Why American Foreign Policy Is Failing. In this work, they express concern and dismay over what they perceive as the failure of otherwise rational and intelligent foreign policy experts to exert a reasoned and calming influence over unique and ever-changing foreign policy problems throughout the world. For Halper and Clarke, the "rational center" "has given way to a coterie of people who, in politics and the media, serve as talking heads on any point," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic. Instead of conducting in-depth analysis and presenting well-reasoned, scholarly arguments, these experts are concerned with uncovering what Halper and Clarke call the Big Idea, the single, easily digested, media-friendly term that will encompass and explain a political concept or set of foreign policy woes. One of these ideas, according to the authors, is the Bush administration assertion that America is now a "nation at war," by pursuing an ambiguous and amorphous War on Terror. Such concepts, once saturated into American consciousness, make it easier for powermongers to subvert basic rights and ram through odious policies and changes in the law. Further, the experts of the rational center, who have long been relied on to offer sound guidance to policymakers and elected officials, have abandoned deep discussion and facilitated the rise of governance by the Big Idea because they have been "seduced by the lure of cable television fame and popular book sales," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer, and are more interested in how they appear on their next appearance on a news program or in how many books their simplified ideas can sell to a misguided public. In other cases, experts on one particular subject, such as economics, have been lured into serving as pundits and commentators on a wide range of topics, many of which are outside their area of professional expertise. In total, this confluence of media needs, seduction of experts, and public misperception creates an atmosphere in which the "uninformed attract more attention than they deserve and rational experts are either seduced into jingoism or drowned out," observed Brendan Driscoll in Booklist.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Spectator, June, 2007, Angelo M. Codevilla, "Presumption of Authority," review of The Silence of the Rational Center: Why American Foreign Policy Is Failing, p. 66.
Booklist, February 1, 2007, Brendan Driscoll, review of The Silence of the Rational Center, p. 9.
Bookseller, May 28, 2004, "Now White House Man Attacks Bush," review of America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order, p. 27.
California Bookwatch, April, 2007, review of The Silence of the Rational Center.
Choice, March, 2005, E.A. Turpen, review of America Alone, p. 1305; July, 2007, M. Amstutz, review of The Silence of the Rational Center, p. 1982.
International Affairs, October, 2004, Victor Bulmer-Thomas, review of America Alone, p. 1023.
Journal of American Studies, April, 2006, David Milne, review of America Alone, p. 175.
Journal of Peace Research, March, 2005, Henrik Syse, review of America Alone, p. 242.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2006, review of The Silence of the Rational Center, p. 1255.
London Review of Books, October 20, 2005, review of America Alone, p. 5.
National Interest, winter, 2004, Gerard Baker, "Neoconspiracy Theories," review of America Alone, p. 130.
Political Quarterly, April-June, 2005, "The Peculiarities of Neo-Cons," p. 302.
Political Science Quarterly, spring, 2005, Robert Jervis, review of America Alone, p. 131.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, December, 2005, Steve A. Yetiv, review of America Alone, p. 801.
Publishers Weekly, December 18, 2006, review of The Silence of the Rational Center, p. 60.
Reference & Research Book News, May, 2005, review of America Alone, p. 179.
Times Higher Education Supplement, May 18, 2007, Brendan Simms, "Mistaking Bad Deeds for Good Intentions," review of The Silence of the Rational Center, p. 22.
Washington Post Book World, August 15, 2004, Stanley I. Kutler, "The Vision Thing," review of America Alone, p. 5; April 8, 2007, "The Big Idea," Josef Joffe, review of The Silence of the Rational Center, p. 05.
History News Network,http://hnn.us/ (August 9, 2004), Jim Sleeper, review of America Alone.
Perseus Books Group Web site,http://www.perseusbooksgroup.com/ (October 28, 2007), biography of Stefan Halper.
University of Cambridge Center of International Studies Web site,http://www.intstudies.cam.ac.uk/ (October 28, 2007), biography of Stefan Halper.