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General James Cartwright

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General James Cartwright

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs



General James Cartwright retired from active duty on 1 September 2011, after 40 years of service in the United States Marine Corps.

Unique among Marines, General Cartwright served as Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, before being nominated and appointed as the 8th Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nationís second highest military officer. General Cartwright served his four year tenure as Vice Chairman across two Presidential administrations and constant military operations against diverse and evolving enemies. He became widely recognized for his technical acumen, vision of future national security concepts, and keen ability to integrate systems, organizations and people in ways that encouraged creativity and sparked innovation in the areas of strategic deterrence, nuclear proliferation, missile defense, cyber security, and adaptive acquisition processes.

Born in Rockford, IL, he attended the University of Iowa and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Marines in 1971. He was both a Naval Flight Officer and Naval Aviator who flew the F-4 Phantom, OA-4 Skyhawk, and F/A-18 Hornet. In 1983 he was named Outstanding Carrier Aviator of the Year by the Association of Naval Aviation. General Cartwright graduated with distinction from the Air Command and Staff College, received a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, completed a fellowship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was honored with a Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award.

General Cartwright currently serves as the inaugural holder of the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies for the Center for Strategic & International Studies. In addition, General Cartwright serves as a member of The Raytheon Company Board of Directors, a Harvard Belfer Center Senior Fellow, and a defense consultant for ABC News.

General Cartwright is also an advisor for several corporate entities involved in global management consulting; technology services and program solutions; predictive and Big Data Analytics; and advanced systems engineering, integration, and decision-support services. He serves as an advisor to the Boards of Directors for Accenture Federal Services, Enlightenment Capital, IxReveal, Logos Technologies, Opera Solutions, and TASC. General Cartwright is also affiliated with a number of professional organizations to include the Aspen Strategy Group, The Atlantic Council, Global Zero, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative.



By Date




June 7, 2016

"How to keep the Internet free and open"

Op-Ed, Politico

By Michael Chertoff, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and Internaional Affairs and General James Cartwright, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

In the upcoming months, the U.S. government faces a critical decision: Should it relinquish its limited oversight role over a critical component of the Internet?

The decision concerns the Internetís Domain Name System ó the system that allows users to reach sites ending in .com, .org., .uk, .bank and many other designations. For nearly two decades, the U.S. has helped oversee this crucial component of the global Internet. And for many years, Washington has been committed ultimately to fully privatizing the system, withdrawing the oversight role of the Commerce Department, and leaving it in the hands of a private California-based organization. But now, there are some who want to abandon that plan and keep the government involved.



Aspen Institute

December 2015

Blind Spot: America's Response to Radicalism in the Middle East


By Nicholas Burns, Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations, Harvard Kennedy School, Farah Pandith, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project, David Ignatius, Senior Fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project, General James Cartwright, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Michèle Flournoy, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Philip D. Zelikow, Former Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Former Faculty Affiliate, International Security Program, Sarah Sewall, Former Project Director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Richard Fontaine, Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, General Brent Scowcroft, Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security and Jonathon Price

In Blindspot: Americaís Response to Radicalism in the Middle East, authors share their insights and analysis on radical extremism in the Middle East, what it means for Americans, and how the United States should respond. The book is the product of the nonpartisan Aspen Strategy Groupís August 2015 meeting on Americaís response to radicalism in the Middle East.† This book helps to decipher extremist ideology, place it in its larger global context, and suggest ways to defend American interests in the Middle East in the years ahead. The book offers a collection of policy proposals for the turbulent future ahead in the Middle East. A video of the book launch featuring Jim Cartwright, Jane Harman, and Richard Fontaine in conversation with Richard Fontaine can be viewed here:



Wikimedia Commons

April 19, 2015

"How to Avert a Nuclear War"

Op-Ed, The New York Times

By General James Cartwright, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

We find ourselves in an increasingly risky strategic environment. The Ukrainian crisis has threatened the stability of relations between Russia and the West, including the nuclear dimension ó as became apparent last month when it was reported that Russian defense officials had advised President Vladimir V. Putin to consider placing Russiaís nuclear arsenal on alert during last yearís crisis in Crimea.

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.