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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

March 23, 2014

"The Step We Still Haven't Taken to Create a Nuke-Free World"

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

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

On Monday, President Obama will join Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and 40 other heads of state in the Netherlands for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit. It will be the third in a series of summits initiated by Obama to address what he has called “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security”: nuclear terrorism. These gatherings have become a powerful means of motivating leaders to eliminate or secure the fissile material that terrorists could use to carry out a nuclear 9/11.

 

 

AP Photo/Bart Maat, POOL

March 21, 2014

Getting to No

Op-Ed, Foreign Policy

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

With Ukraine melting down and the confrontation between Russia and the West heating up, both partisan critics and impartial observers can be excused for asking why U.S. President Barack Obama is going to The Hague this Sunday, March 23, for the third Nuclear Security Summit. Given all the other urgent demands, should nuclear security be at the top of the agenda at this time, and even if it should be, can this gathering do anything about it?

 

 

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

March 21, 2014

Good News from Ukraine: It Doesn’t Have Nukes

Op-Ed, National Interest

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

Ukraine is a bad news story that is destined to get worse. In the midst of a tragedy, it will strike some as inappropriate to note that things could be worse. Nonetheless, pausing to recognize why they are not can remind us both of successes for which we should be thankful and of obligations we cannot forget.

 

 

(AP Photo/Bart Maat, POOL)

March 20, 2014

2014 Nuclear Security Summit Q&A

News

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

President Obama will travel to The Netherlands this weekend for the third Nuclear Security Summit to be held on March 24-25, 2014. Belfer Center nuclear experts Graham Allison and Gary Samore review in a short Q&A why the Summit is important and what it hopes to achieve.

 

 

Associated Press

March 15, 2014

"A 'Belgian Solution' for Ukraine?"

Op-Ed, National Interest

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

After Crimeans vote on Sunday to secede, but before Putin annexes Crimea, President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, and other European leaders should take a page from history and propose a "Belgian solution," writes Graham Allison.

 

 

March 13, 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

The recent announcement that the Belfer Center has been ranked the “best university - affiliated research center” in the United States was gratifying.  While efforts to rank institutions of this kind face serious methodological obstacles, the fact that the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tank and Civil Societies program and its director James McGann reviewed 6,825 think tanks around the world and engaged 2,000 scholars, journalists, policymakers, and government officials in the assessment process gives the selection some standing.

 

 

March 4, 2014

"What’s the good news about Ukraine? No nukes."

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

As the Crimea crisis continues, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asked a number of experts about what an appropriate short-term U.S. response to the crisis would entail, as well as how the crisis will affect U.S. policy towards Russia. Belfer Center Director Graham Allison was among those that participated.

Allison: What’s the good news about Ukraine?  No nukes.

 

 

Olga Ipatova

February 12, 2014

"Putin's Olympic Gamble"

Op-Ed, National Interest

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

If you build it, will they come? And be secure from terrorists’ bombs? And will Team Russia capture the gold?

Graham Allison writes: "Vladimir Putin has bet tens of billions that the answers are yes, yes, and yes. (As a guest at the opening extravaganza and first few days of competition, I had skin in only one of those games)."

 

 

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

January 22, 2014

In Iran, Perfect Is The Enemy of the Good

Op-Ed, Foreign Policy

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

Having finalized details of the interim deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited relief from sanctions, Graham Allison notes that attention is turning to the question of "end states" for a comprehensive agreement. In these negotiations, he asks, "what can the United States realistically hope to achieve?"

 

 

AP Images

January 1, 2014

"2014: Good Year for a Great War?"

Op-Ed, National Interest

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

Precisely a hundred years ago today, the richest man in the world sent New Year’s greetings to a thousand of the most influential leaders in the U.S. and Europe announcing: mission accomplished. “International Peace,” he proclaimed, “is to prevail through the Great Powers agreeing to settle their disputes by International Law, the pen thus proving mightier than the sword.”

....

As we enter 2014, war between great powers seems almost inconceivable. But if we start at the other end of the telescope by imagining that a Great War with some similarities to World War I actually happened, what could future historians find in current conditions that permitted events to ride mankind to another catastrophe?

 

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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.