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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, Harvard Kennedy School

Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

Member of the Board

Contact:
Telephone: (617) 496-6099
Fax: (617) 495-1905
Email: graham_allison@harvard.edu

 

Experience

Director of Harvard's Belfer 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 Defensem 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

 

2016

Kremlin/CC

November 28, 2016

"Wishful Thinking and Vital Interests"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

First and foremost, the next U.S. President must do everything possible to prevent an accidental U.S.-Russian war, now the likeliest it’s been since the end of the Cold War.

 

 

Fall/Winter 2016-2017

From the Director

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Building bridges between the worlds of scholarship and government comes naturally to our community of faculty and fellows because they have served at the highest levels in both. They understand that impactful scholarship rests on policy relevance and personal relationships.

 

 

December 1992

"Beyond Cold War to Trilateral Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: Scenarios for New Relationships Between Japan, Russia, and the United States"

Occasional Paper

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, Hiroshi Kimura, Konstantine Sarkisov and Fiona Hill, Former Associate Director, Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project

December 1992: This Report addresses the question of how the dispute between Japan and Russia can be resolved to achieve fully normalized relations between these two great nations. The principal obstacle to normalization is a group of four small islands that stand as relics of World War II and symbols of the Cold War.

 

 

AP Photo

September 2016

"Why the President Needs a Council of Historians"

Magazine or Newspaper Article, The Atlantic

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School and Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

We urge the next president to establish a White House Council of Historical Advisers. Historians made similar recommendations to Presidents Carter and Reagan during their administrations, but nothing ever came of these proposals. Operationally, the Council of Historical Advisers would mirror the Council of Economic Advisers, established after World War II. A chair and two additional members would be appointed by the president to full-time positions, and respond to assignments from him or her. They would be supported by a small professional staff and would be part of the Executive Office of the President.

 

 

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

August 8, 2016

"Why ISIS Fears Israel"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

In the wake of the Orlando and Istanbul attacks, President Obama reiterated his determination to “destroy” ISIS by executing a strategy that combines air strikes, American special-operations units and support for local ground forces. Both of the candidates campaigning to succeed him insist that the United States must do more: Donald Trump advocates that Washington “bomb the hell out of” the group, while Hillary Clinton promises to “smash the would-be caliphate.” All three, however, are in violent agreement on one point: the overriding objective must be to destroy ISIS.

 

 

AP Photo

July 11, 2016

"Of Course China, Like All Great Powers, Will Ignore an International Legal Verdict"

Op-Ed, The Diplomat

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

This week the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) will deliver its award in the Philippines’ case against China over maritime disputes in the South China Sea. In a bid to thwart Beijing’s attempt to turn the South China Sea into its own virtual lake, Manila contends that China’s claim to exclusive sovereignty over all the islands and shoals within the nine-dashed line – which encompasses 86 percent of the Sea – has no basis in international law. There is not much suspense about what the tribunal will decide: it will almost certainly side with the Philippines. The United States and its allies have already started criticizing China for signaling in advance that it will ignore the court’s ruling, which one Chinese official derided last week as  “nothing more than a piece of paper.”

 

 

Summer 2016

From the Director

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

What is the most serious danger facing the world today?

Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Mohamed ElBaradei, and Dick Cheney all give the same answer: nuclear terrorism. If terrorists succeed in exploding a nuclear weapon in New York, Boston, or London, the other issues we care about will not matter much.

In 2009, President Obama proposed an ambitious agenda to address this danger. Among the steps he called for was a Global Summit on Nuclear Security. Seven years and four summits later, including the final one this spring in Washington, we can take stock of progress—and the Belfer Center’s role in helping conceive and sustain it. Policy impact is rarely a simple case of cause and effect.

 

 

Spring 2016

"From the Director"

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Groupthink is a dangerous tendency in any organization. In military and intelligence assignments, it can be fatal—which is why leaders there often employ so-called “red teams” to chal­lenge assumptions. Dissent generates sharper analysis and better choices.

 

 

commons.wikimedia.org

April 4, 2016

"Could There Be a Terrorist Fukushima?"

Op-Ed, The New York Times

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School and William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The attacks in Brussels last month were a stark reminder of the terrorists’ resolve, and of our continued vulnerabilities, including in an area of paramount concern: nuclear security.

The attackers struck an airport and the subway, but some Belgian investigators believe they seemed to have fallen back on those targets because they felt the authorities closing in on them, and that their original plan may have been to strike a nuclear plant. A few months ago, during a raid in the apartment of a suspect linked to the November attacks in Paris, investigators found surveillance footage of a senior Belgian nuclear official. Belgian police are said to have connected two of the Brussels terrorists to that footage.

 

 

March 2016

"US and Iranian interests: Converging or Conflicting?"

Op-Ed, Iran Daily

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The nuclear issue has dominated relations between the US and Iran over the past decade. Now that the two countries have shelved that issue by agreeing to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it is appropriate to ask where and how the national interests of both countries converge and conflict.

 

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.