Foreign affairs, Middle East, Negotiating skills, Sharm el-Sheikh
Frederic C. Hof was born on July 14, 1947, to Alice and Frederic Hof in Brooklyn, New York. Before he was school-age his family moved to Port Washington, New York, on Long Island. In the summer of 1964, after his junior year of high school, he participated in an exchange program and went to Damascus, Syria. He completed high school in Port Washington and then attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. At Georgetown he participated in ROTC and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. He spent 1970 in Vietnam with the 101st Air Mobile Division (now the 101st Airborne), and returned to teach in the Civil Affairs School. He then entered the Foreign Area Officer Program to specialize in the Middle East, and as part of that program he attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and the Foreign Service Institute in Tunis to learn Arabic. He served as the Army attaché in Beirut, Lebanon, and in 1982 he was wounded while crossing the Green Line and was awarded a Purple Heart. He worked in the office of the secretary of defense in the International Security Affairs office. He retired from the Army and took a position at the State Department. He and Richard Armitage opened Armitage Associates, LLC in 1993. In late 2000, he was asked to join the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee and served on that committee from January 2001 until it completed its report the following May.
Interview includes discussion of: Hof’s education; Hof’s exchange program experience in Damascus, Syria; relations between Americans and Syrians; Hof’s military career in Vietnam, teaching in the Civil Affairs School, the Foreign Area Officer Program, and Lebanon; the role of the Defense Language Institute; working in the office of the secretary of defense; getting wounded in Lebanon and receiving the Purple Heart; working on the commission to investigate the bombing of the barracks in Beirut; working for the State Department under Secretary Baker and Richard Armitage; the effects of transitioning from the first Bush administration to the Clinton administration, and to the second Bush administration in 2001; opening Armitage Associates, LLC; being asked by Laurence Pope to join the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee; Pope’s reasons for leaving the project; the goals of the fact-finding committee; Hof’s role in the fact-finding committee, the relationship among the members and Mitchell’s role; working with the Israeli government and the change in that relationship when Sharon succeeded Barak; the approach that the working group took to meeting with principal people on both sides; setting up the committee’s visit; Hof’s contact with the Office of the Vice President; security in Gaza; the atmosphere of the visit; writing the Mitchell report; Mitchell’s ability to reconcile different views within the report and achieve a consensus within the group; a sense of a lost opportunity when there was little follow-through on the committee’s recommendations; Mitchell’s appointment to be special envoy to the Middle East; the prospects of a two-state solution and America’s role in it; and Mitchell’s political skill and optimism and how that can be brought to bear in international peacemaking.
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