Born in Vienna in 1928, Stanley Hoffman was a Harvard University political science professor starting in 1955. His areas of expertise encompassed international relations, the sociology of war, the culture and politics of France, European history and politics, and American foreign policy. He authored, co-authored, and edited dozens of books in both French and English, and wrote regularly for such publications as Daedalus, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, The New York Review of Books, and The New York Times.
Hoffman was a passionate critic of the United States, deeming anti-American hatred a rational response to the monstrous evils the United States has purportedly committed throughout its history. “The anti-Americanism on the rise throughout the world,” said Hoffman, “is not just hostility toward the most powerful nation, or based on the old clichés of the left and the right; nor is it only envy or hatred of our values. It is more often than not, a resentment of double standards and double talk, of crass ignorance and arrogance, of wrong assumptions and dubious policies.”
In March 2002, Hoffman condemned the Bush administration’s war on terror for having created an “intensification of some of the unilateralist tendencies in American foreign policy and a heightening of the American sense that ‘we are the best, we are the only one with enough power to do the job, that there is more we should do, [and] we should do what we think, not what the other countries think.’” When Hoffman made these remarks, the only military action America had yet taken was against Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, which for years had harbored Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist camps while preparations were being made for the 9/11 attacks. Yet Hoffman saw even this American response as proof of a go-it-alone brand of arrogance.
Hoffman further criticized George W. Bush’s inclusion of Iran (along with Iraq and North Korea) in the so-called “axis of evil,” asserting that the President’s words “have given a big boost to all the forces of aggression and reaction in Iran.” Moreover, he counseled against invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein. “Everyone would be relieved if he [Saddam] disappeared from the scene,” said Hoffman, “[but] . . . I think what we need is patience.”
Hoffman claimed that U.S. arrogance severely damaged American-European relations. He said, “The sense in Europe, I think, is [that] immediately after September 11th, NATO . . . offer[ed] troops and basically, except for the British, they hear[d]: ‘We don’t really need you. We are so much more powerful than you that there is nothing you can really contribute. We have the helicopters and planes for this type of war. Thank you very much. If we need you, we’ll let you know.’ None of the speeches of the President mentioned them [the Europeans]. There was a sense of anger at being treated like that.”
Hoffman died on September 13, 2015 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.