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About the Event: Throughout America’s atomic history, the president has solely held the power to end the world in minutes. This won’t stop . . . unless we do something. Now. America is one “push of a button” away from nuclear war—a decision that rests solely in the hands of the president. Without waiting for approval from Congress or even the secretary of defense, the president can unleash America’s nuclear arsenal, ending civilization as we know it. For decades, glitches and slipups have threat-ened to trigger nuclear winter: misinformation, false alarms, unstable presidents, and now cyber- attacks. And a new nuclear arms race has begun, threatening us all. From authors William J. Perry, who served as secretary of defense in the Clinton administration and undersecretary of defense for research and engineering in the Carter administration, and Tom Z. Collina, the director of policy at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation in Washington, DC, The Button recounts the terrifying history of nuclear launch authority, from the faulty 46-cent microchip that nearly caused World War III to President Trump’s tweet about his “much bigger & more powerful” button. Perry and Collina share their firsthand experience on the front lines of the nation’s nuclear history and provide illuminating interviews with former president Bill Clinton, for-mer secretary of defense Jim Mattis, congressman Adam Smith, Nobel Peace Prize winner Beatrice Fihn, senior Obama administration officials, and many others.Written in an accessible and authoritative voice, The Button delivers a powerful condemnation against leaving explosive power this devastating under any one person’s thumb and outlines a prescription for a safer and saner future.
Video preview: https://ploughshares.org/thebutton
Book purchase: https://www.benbellabooks.com/shop/the-button/
Discount code: BUTTON30
About the Authors:
William J. Perry is the Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor (emeritus) at Stanford University. He is a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute and the Hoover Institution, and serves as director of the Preventive Defense Project. He is an expert in U.S. foreign policy, national security and arms control. He was the co-director of CISAC from 1988 to 1993, during which time he was also a part-time professor at Stanford. He was a part-time lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at Santa Clara University from 1971 to 1977.
Perry was the 19th secretary of defense for the United States, serving from February 1994 to January 1997. He previously served as deputy secretary of defense (1993-1994) and as under secretary of defense for research and engineering (1977-1981). Dr. Perry currently serves on the Defense Policy Board (DPB). He is on the board of directors of Covant and several emerging high-tech companies. His previous business experience includes serving as a laboratory director for General Telephone and Electronics (1954-1964); founder and president of ESL Inc. (1964-1977); executive vice-president of Hambrecht & Quist Inc. (1981-1985); and founder and chairman of Technology Strategies & Alliances (1985-1993). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
From 1946 to 1947, Perry was an enlisted man in the Army Corps of Engineers, and served in the Army of Occupation in Japan. He joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1948 and was a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves from 1950 to 1955. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1997 and the Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1998. Perry has received a number of other awards including the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1980 and 1981), and Outstanding Civilian Service Medals from the Army (1962 and 1997), the Air Force (1997), the Navy (1997), the Defense Intelligence Agency (1977 and 1997), NASA (1981) and the Coast Guard (1997). He received the American Electronic Association's Medal of Achievement (1980), the Eisenhower Award (1996), the Marshall Award (1997), the Forrestal Medal (1994), and the Henry Stimson Medal (1994). The National Academy of Engineering selected him for the Arthur Bueche Medal in 1996. He has received awards from the enlisted personnel of the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. He has received decorations from the governments of Albania, Bahrain, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Poland, Slovenia, and Ukraine. He received a BS and MS from Stanford University and a PhD from Pennsylvania State University, all in mathematics.
Tom Z. Collina is Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund. He is the co-author with William J. Perry of THE BUTTON: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump, published in June 2020. Tom has thirty years of Washington, DC, experience in nuclear weapons, missile defense, and nonproliferation issues, and has held senior positions at the Arms Control Association, the Institute for Science and International Security, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. He has been directly involved with efforts to end U.S. nuclear testing, limit ineffective anti-missile programs, extend the Nonproliferation Treaty, and secure Senate ratification of the New START Treaty. He has published widely in major magazines and journals and has appeared frequently in the national media, including the New York Times, CNN, and NPR. He has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and regularly briefs congressional staff. Tom has a degree in International Relations from Cornell University and lives in Takoma Park, MD with his wife, three children and dog. When away from the office he does not think about nuclear war.
About the Moderators:
Rose Gottemoeller is the Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Center for Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.
Before joining Stanford Gottemoeller was the Deputy Secretary General of NATO from 2016 to 2019, where she helped to drive forward NATO’s adaptation to new security challenges in Europe and in the fight against terrorism. Prior to NATO, she served for nearly five years as the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. Department of State, advising the Secretary of State on arms control, nonproliferation and political-military affairs. While Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance in 2009 and 2010, she was the chief U.S. negotiator of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with the Russian Federation.
Prior to her government service, she was a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, with joint appointments to the Nonproliferation and Russia programs. She served as the Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center from 2006 to 2008, and is currently a nonresident fellow in Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Program. She is also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
At Stanford, Gottemoeller will teach and mentor students in the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy program and the CISAC Honors program; contribute to policy research and outreach activities; and convene workshops, seminars and other events relating to her areas of expertise, including nuclear security, Russian relations, the NATO alliance, EU cooperation and non-proliferation.
Colin H. Kahl is co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, the inaugural Steven C. Házy Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and a Professor, by courtesy, in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University. He is also a Strategic Consultant to the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
From October 2014 to January 2017, he was Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President. In that position, he served as a senior advisor to President Obama and Vice President Biden on all matters related to U.S. foreign policy and national security affairs, and represented the Office of the Vice President as a standing member of the National Security Council Deputies’ Committee. From February 2009 to December 2011, Dr. Kahl was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East at the Pentagon. In this capacity, he served as the senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, and six other countries in the Levant and Persian Gulf region. In June 2011, he was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service by Secretary Robert Gates.
From 2007 to 2017 (when not serving in the U.S. government), Dr. Kahl was an assistant and associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. From 2007 to 2009 and 2012 to 2014, he was also a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a nonpartisan Washington, DC-based think tank. From 2000 to 2007, he was an assistant professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. In 2005-2006, Dr. Kahl took leave from the University of Minnesota to serve as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he worked on issues related to counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and responses to failed states. In 1997-1998, he was a National Security Fellow at the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University.
Current projects include: research on the geopolitical consequences of COVID-19 and intersecting global trends; an examination of the implications of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning on strategic stability; and a theoretical and historical analysis of American grand strategy since 9/11.
He has published numerous articles on international security and U.S. foreign and defense policy in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Security, the Los Angeles Times, Middle East Policy, the National Interest, the New Republic, the New York Times, Politico, the Washington Post, and the Washington Quarterly, as well as several reports for CNAS.
His previous research analyzed the causes and consequences of violent civil and ethnic conflict in developing countries, focusing particular attention on the demographic and natural resource dimensions of these conflicts. His book on the subject, States, Scarcity, and Civil Strife in the Developing World, was published by Princeton University Press in 2006, and related articles and chapters have appeared in International Security, the Journal of International Affairs, and various edited volumes.
Dr. Kahl received his B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan (1993) and his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University (2000).