Graham T. Allison

Douglas Dillon Professor of Government
Director
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Office Address
Littauer-368
Mailing Address
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Mailbox 53
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Contact
Phone: 617-496-6099
Fax: 617-495-1905
Email: graham_allison@Harvard.Edu
Assistant
Simone O'Hanlon (617-496-6098)
Graham Allison

Profile

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 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, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in May 2017.  His 2013 book, 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. 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, Cohen, and Carter.  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).

Courses

Fall

  • IGA-211 Central Challenges of American National Security, Strategy, and the Press

Media Expertise

Graham Allison welcomes media inquiries on the following subjects:

Additional experts may be found by clicking on each subject listed. You may contact faculty directly or if you need assistance contact the Communications Office at 617-495-1115.

Research

For a complete list of faculty citations from 2001 - present, please visit the HKS Faculty Research Connection.

Selected Publication Citations:

  • Academic Journal/Scholarly Articles
    • Allison, Graham, and Niall Ferguson. "Past Is Prologue." Hoover Digest: Research & Opinion on Public Policy 1 (Winter 2017): 175-179.
  • Books
    • Allison, Graham. Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.
  • Magazine and Newspaper Articles
    • Allison, Graham. "Trump Year One: Place Your Bets." Politico. January 31, 2017.
    • Allison, Graham T., and Simes, Dimitri K. "Trump and Russia." National Interest. January/February 2017, 25-34.
    • Allison, Graham. "A Blueprint for Donald Trump to Fix Relations with Russia." The National Interest. December 18, 2016.
    • Allison, Graham. "Deterring ISIS." The National Interest. Sep/Oct 2016.
    • Allison, Graham. "Why ISIS Fears Israel." The National Interest. August 8, 2016.
    • Allison, Graham, and Niall Ferguson. "Why the President Needs a Council of Historians." The Atlantic. August 4, 2016.
    • Allison, Graham. "Don't Know Much About History." Atlantic. September 2016.
    • Allison, Graham. "Of Course China, Like All Great Powers, Will Ignore an International Legal Verdict." Diplomat. July 11, 2016.
    • Allison, Graham, and William Tobey. "Could There be a Terrorist Fukushima?" New York Times. April 4, 2016.
    • Allison, Graham. "Is Iran Still Israel's Top Threat?" Atlantic. March 8, 2016.
    • Allison, Graham. "Fear Death from Tree Limbs, not Terrorists." Boston Globe. February 19, 2016.

John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-495-1100 Get Directions Visit Contact Page