William J. Perry

Senior Fellow
Research Team: 

William Perry is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies. He is the Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor at Stanford University and serves as codirector of the Nuclear Risk Reduction initiative and the Preventive Defense Project. He is an expert in US foreign policy, national security, and arms control. He was the codirector of CISAC from 1988 to 1993, during which time he was also a half-time professor at Stanford.

Perry was the nineteenth secretary of defense for the United States, serving from February 1994 to January 1997. He previously served as deputy secretary of defense (1993–94) and as undersecretary of defense for research and engineering (1977–81). Perry currently serves on the Defense Policy Board, the International Security Advisory Board, and the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. He is on the board of directors of Covant, Fabrinet, LGS Bell Labs Innovations, and several emerging high-tech companies.

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. He has received awards from the enlisted personnel of the army, navy, and 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.

Perry's most recent book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, is a continuation of his efforts to keep the world safe from a nuclear catastrophe.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

North Korea Called Me A ‘War Maniac.’ I Ignored Them, And Trump Should Too.

by William J. Perryvia Politico
Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Smart diplomacy backed by the threat of force, not Twitter bluster, is the way to deal with Kim Jong Un.

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Diplomacy, Not Doomsday

by William J. Perryvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 24, 2017

When dealing with North Korea, diplomat and Hoover fellow William J. Perry advises, set aside the big stick—and the Kim regime might actually listen.


How To Make A Deal With North Korea

by William J. Perryvia Politico
Saturday, April 15, 2017

Escalating tensions have made a diplomatic solution possible. It might be the last chance we have.

Analysis and Commentary

To Confront North Korea, Talk First And Get Tough Later

by William J. Perryvia The Washington Post
Friday, January 6, 2017

In 1994, when I was secretary of defense, we came perilously close to a second Korean War because of North Korea’s nuclear program. Today we are again approaching a crisis with North Korea, and again the cause is its nuclear program. 

George Shultz & Bill Perry, Energy at Stanford

by George P. Shultz, William J. Perry
Thursday, October 20, 2016

George Shultz and William Perry discuss energy at Stanford on September 14, 2016.

Hearing to Review Budget Requirements & Justification for the Nuclear Cruise Missile

by William J. Perry
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hoover Institution fellow William Perry gives a testimony before the US Senate Committee on Appropriations.

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Still a Dangerous Neighborhood

by William J. Perryvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 11, 2016

The perils of nuclear proliferation didn’t end with the Cold War.


A Call for Russia And The U.S. To Cooperate In Protecting Against Nuclear Terrorism

by William J. Perry, Jerry Brownvia Huffington Post
Thursday, May 12, 2016

We believe that the likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe is greater today than it was during the Cold War. In the Cold War our nation lived with the danger of a nuclear war starting by accident or by miscalculation.

Analysis and Commentary

William J. Perry On Nuclear War And Nuclear Terrorism

by William J. Perryvia The Bulletin
Tuesday, December 8, 2015

On June 26, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, beginning an ugly war that resulted in more than a million casualties, and demonstrated to even the most optimistic that a Cold War was seriously underway. That was just two weeks after I got my master’s degree from Stanford, so it is no exaggeration to say that I am a child of the Cold War.

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink

by William J. Perryvia Books by Hoover Fellows
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink is a continuation of William J. Perry's efforts to keep the world safe from a nuclear catastrophe. It tells the story of his coming of age in the nuclear era, his role in trying to shape and contain it, and how his thinking has changed about the threat these weapons pose.