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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

 

2015

(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.

 

2014

December 5, 2014

Ashton B. Carter: A Salute

News

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

Following President Barack Obama's December 5th nomination of Ashton B. Carter for Secretary of Defense, Belfer Center Director Graham Allison commented on the nomination:

President Obama's nomination of Ash Carter to be the next Secretary of Defense makes all of us at the Belfer Center proud.  Ash is a model of the Belfer Center's mission to advance policy-relevant knowledge about the central challenges of international security and train future leaders in making policy in this arena.

 

 

AP Photo/Jake Simkin

December 4, 2014

"Viral Threats"

Op-Ed, TIME / time.com

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

As images of brutal beheadings and dying plague victims compete for the world’s shrinking attention span, it is instructive to compare the unexpected terrors of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (known as ISIS or ISIL) and Ebola. In October, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out that “the twin plagues of Ebola and ISIL both fomented quietly, neglected by a world that knew they existed but misread their terrible potential, before exploding into the global consciousness.” Seeking more direct connections, various press stories have cited “experts” discussing the potential for ISIS to weaponize Ebola for bioterrorist attacks on the West.

Sensationalist claims aside, questions about similarities and differences are worth considering. Both burst onto the scene this year, capturing imaginations as they spread with surprising speed and severity. About Ebola, the world knows a lot and is doing relatively little. About ISIS, we know relatively little but are doing a lot.

 

 

Fall 2014

The Crisis with Russia

Book

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School, Jonathon Price, Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School, Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School and Kevin Rudd, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

This edition is a collection of papers commissioned for the 2014 Aspen Strategy Group Summer Workshop. On the occasion of the 30th year anniversary of the Aspen Strategy Group (founded in 1984), the Summer Workshop in Aspen, Colorado convened a nonpartisan group of preeminent U.S.-Russia policy experts, academics, journalists, and business leaders. The group's policy discussions were guided by the papers found in this volume, whose scope ranges from exploring the history of the U.S.-Russia relationship, current developments in the Sino-Russian relationship, the NATO and European responses to Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, energy considerations, areas of potential U.S.-Russia cooperation, and finally, the broader question of U.S. national security and interests in the European region.

 

 

Fall/Winter 2014-15

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

Autumn is springtime at the Belfer Center: Remarkably, each fall brings a fresh crop of students, research fellows, and senior fellows whose passion and ideas enrich our work. At a welcome lunch, 42 new fellows introduced themselves; from scientific creativity in China to international refugee law, they are covering the policy waterfront.

 

 

AP Photo

November 11, 2014

"Vladimir Putin's Dicey Dilemma: Russia Stands at a Fateful Fork in the Road"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

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

"This is the moment for Obama to help Putin understand that he now stands at a fateful fork in the road. If he moves swiftly to end the conflict with Ukraine by offering terms acceptable to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, he can restore economic relations with the West, gain access to advanced technologies required to increase future production of Russian oil and gas and modernize other sectors of the Russian economy, and thus ensure Russia's chance for a stable, prosperous future. The alternative is to persist on a path that presents growing risks of what he fears most."

 

 

(Rex Features via AP Images)

November 11, 2014

Veterans Day: A Belfer Center Tribute

News

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

From Belfer Center Director Graham Allison:

November 11 is a solemn date. It marks the end of mankind’s first world war, which began 100 years ago. It reminds us each year of the extraordinary and mostly unseen sacrifice men and women in uniform make to protect the rest of us.

As George Washington noted, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”

At the Belfer Center, Veterans Day is especially meaningful. That’s because dozens of our faculty, staff, and fellows have either served or are serving in armed forces around the world. It is only fitting that a research center dedicated to “advancing policy-relevant knowledge about the most important challenges of international security” should be composed of so many who commit themselves personally to this security.

 

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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.