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Graham Allison

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

 

 

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(Belfer Center Photo/Benn Craig)

October 14, 2015

Belfer Center Conversation with Secretary of State John Kerry

News

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

Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs hosted Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, October 13, for a discussion of diplomacy and challenges in key hotspots around the globe.

In a one-on-one discussion with Secretary Kerry, Belfer Center Director Graham Allison asked Kerry about his concerns and plans related to Iran, Syria, Russia, and the Islamic State, among others.The overflow event in the Charles Hotel ballroom included questions from the audience of more than 500 Harvard students and faculty.

Included here is the complete U.S. Department of State transcript from the event. The video is included with the original transcript.

 

 

(AP Photo)

September 28, 2015

"U.S.-Russia Relations: What Would Henry Kissinger Do?"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

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

Over a public career that spans six decades, and now in his 93rd year, Henry Kissinger has been cautious about offering presidents advice in public.  But the outline of what he would say if Obama asked him about Russia is clear in the interview he gave to Jacob Heilbrunn in The National Interest’s latest issue. Drawing on decades of experience with successive Russian leaders during the Cold War, as well as many hours of quality face time with Putin, Kissinger’s views about how the United States should manage its relationship with Russia could hardly differ more from the bipartisan Washington consensus and Obama administration policy.

 

 

(AP Photo)

September 24, 2015

"The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?"

Magazine or Newspaper Article, The Atlantic

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

The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.

 

 

(AP Photo)

August 5, 2015

"Iran Deal Keeps Our Military Options Open"

Op-Ed, The Boston Globe

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

In the debate about whether the Iranian nuclear agreement provides Iran a “path to a bomb” or instead provides us a “window to a target,” Americans should listen carefully to the Israeli who knows best.

In his campaign to persuade Congress to reject this deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has focused like a laser beam on the claim that this agreement “paves Iran’s path to a bomb” because its key constraints expire in a decade. In contrast, one of Israel’s most respected national security barons, Amos Yadlin, formerly chief of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate under Netanyahu, has pointed out that when the agreement expires, an American or Israeli military attack will not be more difficult, and indeed could be easier than it is today.

 

 

Gary Cameron/Reuters

August 4 2015

"9 Reasons to Support the Iran Deal"

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

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

Having carefully reviewed the lengthy and complex agreement negotiated by the United States and its international partners with Iran, I have reached the following conclusion: If I were a member of Congress, I would vote yes on the deal. Here are nine reasons why.

 

 

U.S. Department of State

July 10, 2015

"4 Myths about the Iran Sanctions"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School and Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The latest sticking point in nuclear negotiations with Iran has little to do with the issues that have captivated attention in Washington—centrifuges, uranium stockpile and inspections of military sites. Instead, it has focused on the intricacies of sanctions: the Iranian delegation has demanded that a United Nations embargo on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles be lifted. While the United States rejects such a concession, the Russians have reportedly broken ranks and support Iran’s position.

 

 

F. Hartmann

July 8, 2015

"Nietzsche and the Nuclear Era"

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

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

Diplomats are extending Iran nuclear negotiations into overtime this week, and American lawmakers are preparing for mandatory congressional review. As they decide whether to vote yes or no on a possible deal, they should remember the sage advice of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who observed that the “most common form of human stupidity is forgetting what one is trying to do.” I have a framed version of that quotation in my office and try to think about it every day.

In the case of Iran’s nuclear program, what is the U.S. trying to do? In a sentence: “Stop Iran verifiably and interruptibly short of a nuclear bomb.” No agreement, no airstrike, and no other option anyone has identified can give 100 percent assurance that Iran will not acquire a bomb. The U.S. does not have 100 percent confidence today that Iran has not already built a bomb, or bought a weapon from North Korea (from whom it has certainly purchased missiles). The question members of Congress must answer is whether the deal the U.S. and its P5+1 partners have negotiated is more likely to prevent Iran’s acquiring a bomb for the lifetime of the agreement than any feasible alternative.

 

 

United States Department of State

July 7, 2015

"Assessing an Iran Deal: 5 Big Lessons from History"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

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

As the policy community prepares to assess an agreement between the U.S. and its P5+1 partners and Iran, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker asked me to review the history of analogous agreements for lessons that illuminate the current challenge. In response to his assignment, I reviewed the seven decades of the nuclear era, during which the U.S. negotiated arms-control treaties, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968; strategic arms limitation talks and agreements from SALT to New Start; the North Korean accord of 1994; the agreements that helped eliminate nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus in the early 1990s; and the pact that eliminated the Libyan nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Among many lessons and clues from this instructive history, five stand out

 

 

(AP Photo)

June 24, 2015

"Lessons Learned from Past WMD Negotiations"

Testimony

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

Belfer Center Director Graham Allison testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on "Lessons Learned from Past WMD Negotiations" to inform assessment of a comprehensive nuclear deal that will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

 

 

(AP Photo by: Alex Milan Tracy)

May 22, 2015

"A Nuclear Nightmare Averted"

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

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

"This week, with little fanfare, one of the world’s key restraints on the spread of nuclear weapons came under scrutiny, as a month-long review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) concluded at the United Nations," writes Graham Allison. "Negotiated over the 1960s, the NPT was signed in 1968 and became international law in 1970. As specified by the treaty, members hold a conference every five years to assess the agreement. The exercise offers insight into our nuclear age, and perspective ahead of the coming debate over a treaty to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions."

 

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.