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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 been awarded the Department of Defense's highest civilian award, the Distinguished Public Service Medal, twice: 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 Director 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

 

2015

AP

April 7, 2015

"The experts on the Iranian framework agreement"

Op-Ed, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School and William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Six world powers—the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, or the P5+1—and Iran announced a framework agreement Thursday on limitations to the Iranian nuclear program. In the wake of the announcement, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asked numerous experts on the situation to offer their assessments of the framework agreement.

 

 

Iranian President's Office

April 4, 2015

The Iran Nuclear Deal, by the Numbers

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

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

To assess the impact of the accord that the United States and its partners reached with Iran on Thursday, it is useful to start with five bottom lines. To what questions are 15,000, 12,000, 10, 5, and 0 the answers?

 

 

March 28, 2015

"Lee Kuan Yew: The Sage of Asia"

Op-Ed, Caixin.com

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

The death of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore, is an occasion for reflection. Lee, who died Monday, was more than just his country's founding father. He did not just raise a poor, notoriously corrupt port city from the bottom rungs of the Third World to a modern First World state (with clean streets and clean government) in a single generation. He was also one of only two true grand masters of international strategy in the last half century (Henry Kissinger being the other), and a wise counselor to the leaders of the world.  (NOTE: This commentary was published by Caixin in Chinese. This is a Belfer Center English translation.)

 

 

March 29, 2015

"Lee’s insights on world stage worth study"

Op-Ed, Global Times

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

Singapore bid farewell to its founding father and prime minister for its first three decades Lee Kuan Yew on Monday, and world leaders gathered in his funeral to pay tribute. This is an occasion for reflection.

 

 

(AP Photo)

March 28, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew: Lessons for Leaders from Asia's 'Grand Master'

Op-Ed, CNN.com

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

(CNN)The death of the founding father of Singapore last Monday is an appropriate occasion to reflect on nation building.

 

 

March 30, 2015

The Lee Kuan Yew Conundrum

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

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

Washington, D.C., is fast becoming an acronym for “Dysfunctional Capital.” Singapore, in contrast, has become the poster child for “the concept of good governance,” to quote the Financial Times’s obituary for the country’s longtime leader, Lee Kuan Yew, who was laid to rest on Sunday. For Americans in particular, this contrast presents a conundrum. On the one hand, Americans hold as a self-evident truth that their democracy is the best form of government. On the other hand, they see mounting evidence daily of Washington’s gridlock, corruption, and theatrical distractions, which makes their system seem incapable of addressing the country’s real challenges.

 

 

(AP Photo)

March 25, 2015

"The Sayings of Lee Kuan Yew, the Sage of Singapore"

Op-Ed, Los Angeles Times

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

Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore who died Monday, was more than his country's founding father. Not only did he raise a poor, notoriously corrupt port from the bottom rungs of the Third World to a modern First World nation in a single generation, but he was also one of two certifiable grand masters of international strategy in the last half century (Henry Kissinger being the other).

 

 

March 23, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew: Graham Allison Reflects on the Man and His Impact

News

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

The death of the founding father of Singapore, and its prime minister for its first three decades, is an occasion for reflection. Not only did Lee Kuan Yew raise a poor, notoriously corrupt port from the bottom rungs of the third world to a modern first world nation in a single generation. He was also one of two certifiable grand masters of international strategy in the last half century (Henry Kissinger being the other), and a wise counselor to the world.

 

 

Spring 2015

"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

Being responsive to news events is natural for a center whose mission includes “advancing policy-relevant knowledge.” From NPR and Al Jazeera to Bloomberg and The New York Times, the interviews our faculty and fellows give and the commentary they write provide crucial insight about fast-moving developments.

We are mindful, however, of the dangers of “short-termism” – trading depth for speed; analysis for punditry; and research for reaction. Indeed, at a gathering of dozens of world-renowned think tanks in Geneva last December, many expressed anxiety about the deleterious impact of 24/7 media pressure on their long-term research agendas.

 

 

(AP Photo)

March 3, 2015

"Iran Already Has Nuclear Weapons Capability"

Op-Ed, Foreign Policy

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

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington this week to try to sell members of Congress a false dichotomy. In nuclear negotiations with Iran, he will argue that the United States faces a choice between a “good deal” and a “bad deal.” He will urge Congress to stop President Barack Obama from accepting the latter which, he will say, “endangers the existence of the state of Israel.”

Buyer beware. Every serious analyst of this issue — including the prime minister — knows that this is a false dichotomy.

 

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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 Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.