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Graham Allison

Mailing address

Littauer 368
Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs
79 John F. Kennedy Street, Mailbox 53
Cambridge, MA, 02138

Graham Allison

Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

Member of the Board

Contact:
Telephone: (617) 496-6099
Fax: (617) 495-8963
Email: graham_allison@harvard.edu

 

Experience

Director of Harvard's major Center for Science and International Affairs, Graham Allison is a leading analyst of U.S. national security and defense policy with a special interest in nuclear weapons, terrorism, and decision-making. As Assistant Secretary of Defense in the first Clinton Administration, Dr. Allison received the Defense Department's highest civilian award, the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, for "reshaping relations with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to reduce the former Soviet nuclear arsenal." This resulted in the safe return of more than 12,000 tactical nuclear weapons from the former Soviet republics and the complete elimination of more than 4,000 strategic nuclear warheads previously targeted at the United States and left in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus when the Soviet Union disappeared.

His latest book (2013), Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States and the World (co-authored with Robert Blackwill), has been a bestseller in the U.S. and abroad. His previous book, Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, now in its third printing, was selected by the New York Times as one of the "100 most notable books of 2004."  It presents a strategy for preventing nuclear terrorism organized under a doctrine of "Three Nos:" no loose nukes; no new nascent nukes; and no new nuclear weapons states.  Dr. Allison's first book, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (1971), was released in an updated and revised second edition (1999) and ranks among the all-time bestsellers with more than 450,000 copies in print.

As "Founding Dean" of the modern Kennedy School, under his leadership, from 1977 to 1989, a small, undefined program grew twenty-fold to become a major professional school of public policy and government.

Dr. Allison has served as Special Advisor to the Secretary of Defense under President Reagan.  He has the sole distinction of having twice been awarded the Department of Defense's highest civilian award, the Distinguished Public Service Medal, first by Secretary Cap Weinberger and second by Secretary Bill Perry. He served as a member of the Defense Policy Board for Secretaries Weinberger, Carlucci, Cheney, Aspin, Perry and Cohen.  He currently serves on the Advisory boards of the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the head of the CIA.

Dr. Allison was the organizer of the Commission on America's National Interests (1996 and 2000), a founding member of the Trilateral Commission, a Director of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has been a member of public committees and commissions, among them the Baker-Cutler DOE Task Force on Nonproliferation Programs with Russia, the IAEA’s Commission of Eminent Persons, and the Commission on Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation, and Terrorism.

Dr. Allison has served as a Director of the Getty Oil Company, Natixis, Loomis Sayles, Hansberger, Taubman Centers, Inc., Joule Unlimited, and Belco Oil and Gas, as well as a member of the Advisory Boards of Chase Bank, Chemical Bank, Hydro-Quebec, and the International Energy Corporation.

Dr. Allison was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was educated at Davidson College; Harvard College (B.A., magna cum laude, in History); Oxford University (B.A. and M.A., First Class Honors in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics); and Harvard University (Ph.D. in Political Science).


Assistant Info:
Simone O'Hanlon
Executive Assistant
Telephone: 617-496-6098
Email: Simone_OHanlon@hks.harvard.edu

 

 

By Date

 

2014

(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

September 29, 2014

"Is America on the ISIS Hit List?"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

"ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and his organization are unusual among terrorists in their explicit articulation of their ambitions, their agenda, their priorities, and their strategy," writes Graham Allison. "Analyzing their actions, one finds a high level of alignment between what they say and what they do."

To whom, Allison asks, does ISIS pose the most imminent and even existential threat?

 

 

(AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

July 30, 2014

"Just How Likely Is Another World War?"

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

"A century ago this month, Europeans stood on the brink of a war so devastating that it forced historians to create a new category: 'World War.' None of the leaders at the time could imagine the wasteland they would inhabit four years later. By 1918, each had lost what he cherished most: the kaiser dismissed, the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved, the tsar overthrown by the Bolsheviks, France bled for a generation, and England shorn of the flower of its youth and treasure. A millennium in which European leaders had been masters of the globe came to a crashing halt."

With lessons learned from WWI, Graham Allison asks, how likely is another world war?

 

 

July 25, 2014

How Nicky and Willy Could Have Prevented World War I

Op-Ed, Washington Post

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

One hundred years ago this week, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany exchanged a series of telegrams to try to stop the rush to a war that neither of them wanted. They signed their notes “Nicky” and “Willy.”

 

 

July 10, 2014

"Overcoming the Great Recession: Lessons from China"

Paper

By Liu He, Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School and Lawrence Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor

In the aftershocks of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, Liu He led a research team that prepared an analysis of earlier financial crises to provide guidance for the Chinese government’s response. Graham Allison and Lawrence Summers arranged for that document to be translated and have published it here as a joint discussion paper of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School.

Summers and Allison, who wrote the foreword for the paper, introduce it with comments on why they think Liu He's perspective is so valuable.

 

 

(AP Photo)

July 1, 2014

"The Nuclear Maginot Line"

Op-Ed, Politico

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School and Oren Setter, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program

French Minister of War Andre Maginot became infamous among military strategists for his fixation on a single route of attack that led to a fatal neglect of alternatives. Seeking to block a German invasion along the primary East-West axis, Maginot constructed an impregnable line of fortifications in the 1930s. He succeeded in preventing the attack he most feared, but when German panzers outflanked that line and rolled through Belgium in 1940, their attack from the rear led to France’s surrender in just six weeks.

 

 

June 2014

"Blocking All Paths to an Iranian Bomb: How the West Can Avoid a Nuclear Maginot Line"

Paper

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School and Oren Setter, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program

"In concentrating so much of their mindshare on imposing constraints on Iran's known nuclear facilities at Natanz, Fordow, and Arak, are the US and its five negotiating partners at risk of creating a nuclear Maginot line?" In this discussion paper, Director of the Belfer Center Graham Allison and MTA/ISP Research Fellow Oren Setter explore what the US might be missing: alternative pathways for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

 

 

AP

June 16, 2014

Shouldn't Europe Pay More for its Own Defense?

Op-Ed, Los Angeles Times

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

"The twin trends of overdependence on U.S. power and underinvestment in military might have left European defenses at risk of becoming dangerously irrelevant."

 

 

U.S. Dept. of State

June 6, 2014

How to Solve the Ukraine Crisis

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

Amid heightened fighting in eastern Ukraine this week, with separatist rebels gaining control of several checkpoints along the Russian border as well as various military bases in Luhansk, few observers are forecasting a peaceful resolution to the conflict anytime soon. Yet even as President Obama and Putin trade warnings alongside D-Day anniversary commemorations, the terms of an eventual agreement are not difficult to imagine.

 

 

May 16, 2014

"Challenges to U.S. Global Leadership"

Event Report

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School, Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School, David Ignatius, Senior Fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project and Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

In a Harvard Kennedy School IDEASpHERE session titled "Challenges to US Global Leadership," Graham Allison, Nicholas Burns, David Gergen, David Ignatius, and Meghan O’Sullivan discussed challenges as well as opportunities facing the United States. Burns moderated the session.

Challenges include the rise of China and the future of the U.S.-China relationship, the crises taking place around the world, and the reputation of the U.S. worldwide. An unexpected opportunity is the increase in available energy sources in the United States.

 

 

Summer 2014

From the Director

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

With attention focused on the mostly bad news coming from Ukraine, the good news is that nuclear weapons are not part of the story. In 1993, Ukraine had 2,000 strategic nuclear warheads aimed at targets in America. Today, Ukraine has zero. Four years ago, there remained at risk in Ukraine enough highly enriched uranium for 15 nuclear weapons. The amount today? None. And there’s another bit of good news. As U.S.-Russian relations chilled significantly in March, a group of high-level retired intelligence and military officials from both countries met and issued a statement that the crisis “should not interrupt the joint efforts of the U.S. and Russian Federation to protect our shared strategic interests.” The Elbe Group, established in 2010 by our own Kevin Ryan, is keeping priorities straight. Read more on page 8 of this newsletter.

 

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Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe

Graham Allison, founding dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a former top official at the Pentagon, and one of America’s leading scholars of nuclear strategy and national security, presents the evidence and argument that led him to two provocative conclusions: a nuclear terrorist attack on an American city is inevitable on our current course and speed, but preventable if we act now. 

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev.