Kristol, William 1952-

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KRISTOL, William 1952-


Born December 23, 1952, in New York, NY; son of Irving Kristol (a journalist and political analyst) and Gertrude Himmelfarb; married Susan Scheinberg; children: three. Education: Harvard University, A.B., 1973, Ph.D., 1979.


Office—Weekly Standard, 1150 17th St. NW, Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. E-mail—[email protected].


Political analyst, commentator, and editor. Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, assistant professor, 1979-83; Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, assistant professor 1983-85; chief of staff to Secretary of Education William Bennett during the Reagan administration, 1985-89, and to Vice President Dan Quayle, 1988-92; associated with Bradley Project, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Milwaukee, WI, 1993; chair of Project for the Republican Future, 1993-94; Weekly Standard, Washington, DC, editor, 1995—. Cofounder and chair of Project for the New American Century; guest on television political and talk programs; television news analyst for Fox news.


Carey McWilliams Award, American Political Science Association, 2001.


(Editor, with Christopher DeMuth) The Neoconservative Imagination: Essays in Honor of Irving Kristol, AEI Press (Washington, DC), 1995.

(Editor, with Mark Blitz) Educating the Prince: Essays in Honor of Harvey Mansfield, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2000.

(Editor, with Robert Kagan) Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2000.

(Editor, with E. J. Dionne, Jr.) Bush v. Gore: The Court Cases and the Commentary, Brookings Institution Press (Washington, DC), 2001.

(Editor, with Eric Cohen) The Future Is Now: America Confronts the New Genetics, Rowman & Little-field (Lanham, MD), 2002.

(With Lawrence F. Kaplan) The War over Iraq: Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.


William "Bill" Kristol worked as a volunteer for a number of Democrats, including Hubert Humphrey, before switching to the Republican Party in 1976. He was hired to work in William Bennett's Department of Education during the Reagan administration and rose to become chief of staff. An online contributor to noted that "with the election of George Bush in 1988, Kristol was given the unenviable job of handling Vice President Dan Quayle (for which the New Republic dubbed him 'Dan Quayle's Brain')." When the Republicans gained a majority in Congress in 1994, conservative media giant Rupert Murdoch agreed to Kristol's proposal for a new magazine, the Weekly Standard.

Kristol is the son of Irving Kristol, a man sometimes referred to as the "godfather" of the conservative movement. His mother, Gertrude Himmelfarb, is a professor and Victorian scholar. Prior to taking the editorship at the Weekly Standard, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Kristol also founded the Project for the New American Century and, before that, spearheaded the Project for the Republican Future, which helped shape the strategies that enabled the Republicans to dominate Congress in 1994.

Kristol has coedited and cowritten a number of volumes, including his first, with Christopher DeMuth, The Neoconservative Imagination: Essays in Honor of Irving Kristol, which honors his father. Educating the Prince: Essays in Honor of Harvey Mansfield, edited by Kristol and Mark Blitz, consists of nineteen contributions honoring the conservative professor who influenced Harvard undergraduate and graduate students for more than four decades, a number of whom pay tribute to their teacher in this book. National Review contributor Damon Linker wrote that, "as one would expect from students of a leading authority and translator of Machiavelli, the author of The Prince figures prominently in these pages. But so do reflections on the American founding and the place of statesmanship in modern politics. Add to these fascinating chapters on Francis Bacon, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Kant, Churchill, Solzhenitsyn, common law, ethics in foreign policy, and the place of the federal bureaucracy in the constitutional order, and you begin to understand Mansfield's distinctive contribution to conservative ideas."

Kristol also edited, with Robert Kagan, Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy. The editors, who published a well-known article on the subject in Foreign Affairs, collects related articles that address the "squandered decade" of the 1990s, and the resulting risks to the United States. Andrews J. Bacevich noted in First Things, that "the 'present dangers' of the book's title do not reduce to a particular competitor such as China or to specific threats such as rogue states or international terrorism. The immediate danger lies here at home, in America's own 'flagging will' and confusion about its proper role in the world. The chief threat, in short, lies with the nation's own parsimony, indifference, and irresponsibility."

Contributors to Present Dangers include Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Bennett, Donald Kagan, and Aaron Friedberg. These writers comment on America's role as a superpower and on the threat of potential or actual adversaries, including Iraq, Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea. Articles discuss declining United States military might and the fragmented unity of the United States with its allies. Finally, opinions on what it will take to revitalize American policy are offered, with an emphasis on strong leadership. Bacevich noted several recurring themes, including that "U.S. interests are inseparable from American values, and so a central focus of U.S. foreign policy must be the active and energetic promotion of those values"; the critic added that, "although the United Sates presently spends far more on defense than any other nation, it needs to spend still more." Bacevich praised the book's examination of the failure of the Clinton era, but said that "as a blueprint for an alternative approach to foreign policy … the project leaves much to be desired." This, he said, is due to what is left out of the book. "Based on the evidence here, theirs is an international order stripped of the ambiguities and complexities that inhabit the real world."

Bush v. Gore: The Court Cases and the Commentary, edited by Kristol and E. J. Dionne, Jr., includes court cases and writings about the Florida vote-counting fiasco resulting from the 2000 presidential election. The Future Is Now: America Confronts the New Genetics is a collection edited by Kristol and Eric Cohen that includes essays by contributors who write from either a scientific or political perspective. Most of the contributors, such as George W. Bush and Orrin Hatch, are conservatives, while a few are left-leaning and include Laurence Tribe and Tom Harkin. Some articles included here reflect the debate over stem cell research. "But," wrote William A. Galston in Public Interest, "what distinguishes this volume is the inclusion of classic articles by Gilbert Meilaender, Paul Ramsey, and Leon Kass, among others, that raise deeper questions often presupposedly but rarely discussed."

Kristol collaborated with Lawrence F. Kaplan to write The War over Iraq: Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission, in which the authors argue that the United States must act against potential dangers, hopefully with allies, but alone if necessary. They write that "the maintenance of a decent and hospitable international order requires continued American leadership in resisting, and where possible undermining, aggressive dictators and hostile ideologies." "Actually, even that sweeping declaration understates their aims," wrote Ronald Brownstein in the American Prospect. "Kristol and Kaplan envision a world organized not around 'American leadership' but 'American preeminence' and 'American dominance' enforced by a bigger military deployed aggressively against emerging threats." Brownstein also noted that the authors do not consider the idea that the United States can advance its foreign policy goals and increase security without alienating other countries of the world.

Tom Switzer provided an Australian's point of view in Quadrant, saying that Kristol and Kaplan claim that Iraq is "ripe for democracy," but also noted that as Ronald Reagan's secretary of the navy, James Webb, once observed, "The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam." Switzer found a problem in the authors' thesis to be their "assumption that the U.S.A. can impose its will and leadership all over the world without eliciting a global backlash. 'Well,' they snap, 'what is wrong with dominance in the service of sound principles and high ideals?' Well, what is wrong is that other global hegemons that sought dominations—Napoleonic France, Nazi Germany—always generated a hostile coalition of states that ganged up and challenged the big kid on the block. Why should America escape their fate?"

Kristol and Kaplan contend that other countries would follow an enlightened America that would be a model for the world. Switzer pointed out that U.S. foreign policy, especially under the administration of George W. Bush, has alienated much of the world. Expressing an opposing opinion, National Review writer Michael Potemra called The War over Iraq "a realistic strategy for the promotion of world peace, human rights, and our national interest."



Advocate, April 27, 1999, Norah Vincent, review of Homosexuality and American Public Life, p. 87.

American Prospect, May, 2003, Ronald Brownstein, review of The War over Iraq: Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission, p. 42.

Booklist, April 15, 2002, Bryce Christensen, review of The Future Is Now: America Confronts the New Genetics, p. 1364.

First Things, August, 1999, J. Budziszewski, review of Homosexuality and American Public Life, p. 72; March, 2001, Andrew J. Bacevich, review of Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy, p. 51.

Library Journal, April 1, 2001, Robert F. Nardini, review of Bush v. Gore: The Court Cases and the Commentary, p. 117.

National Interest, spring, 2001, Jonathan Clarke, review of Present Dangers, p. 103.

National Review, November 20, 2000, Damon Linker, review of Educating the Prince: Essays in Honor of Harvey Mansfield; April 16, 2001, Richard Lowry, review of Bush v. Gore; March 24, 2003, Michael Potemra, review of The War over Iraq.

Public Interest, summer, 2001, Jerry Z. Muller, review of Educating the Prince, p. 109; fall, 2002, William A. Galston, review of The Future Is Now, p. 103.

Quadrant, May, 2003, Tom Switzer, review of War over Iraq, p. 82.

Reason, June, 2001, William Ruger, review of Present Dangers, p. 65.

Time, May 15, 1995, Margaret Carlson, "The Standard, "p.66.

ONLINE, (August 1, 2004), "William Kristol."