James Goodby

Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow

James E. Goodby has served in the US Foreign Service, achieving the rank of Career Minister, and was appointed to five ambassadorial-rank positions by Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Clinton, including ambassador to Finland. He taught at Georgetown, Syracuse, and Carnegie Mellon Universities and is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at Carnegie Mellon. Ambassador Goodby has worked with former Secretary of State George Shultz at Hoover since 2007. He is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

He was a Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University from 1989 to 1999 and is now a professor emeritus. Selected for the US Foreign Service through competitive examinations in 1952, Goodby rose to the rank of career minister in the Senior Foreign Service and was given five presidential appointments to ambassadorial rank, including ambassador to Finland (1980–81). During his Foreign Service career he was involved as a negotiator or as a policy adviser in the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the negotiation of the limited nuclear test ban treaty, START, the Conference on Disarmament in Europe, and cooperative threat reduction (the Nunn-Lugar program).

Goodby is the author and editor of several books. His most recent publication is Deterrence: Its Past and Future—Papers Presented at Hoover Institution, November 2010 (Hoover Institution Press, 2011) edited with George P. Shultz and Sidney D. Drell. He also wrote At the Borderline of Armageddon: How American Presidents Managed the Atom Bomb (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). With Sidney Drell he wrote The Gravest Danger: Nuclear Weapons (Hoover Institution Press, 2003) and the essay A World without Nuclear Weapons: End-State Issues (Hoover Institution Press, 2009). Goodby coedited Reykjavik Revisited: Steps toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons (Hoover Institution Press, 2008) and contributed essays to Reykjavik Revisited and Implications of the Reykjavik Summit on Its Twentieth Anniversary (Hoover Institution Press, 2007).

Goodby’s awards include the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the State Department’s Superior and Distinguished Honor Awards, and the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Germany. He was named a Distinguished Fellow of the US Institute of Peace in 1992. He was the recipient of the inaugural Heinz Award in Public Policy in 1995. In 1996, he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the Stetson University College of Law.

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Recent Commentary

Practical Lessons from US Foreign Policy: The Itinerant Years

by James Goodby, Kenneth Weisbrodevia Books by Hoover Fellows
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

In foreign policy, the Trump administration has appeared to depart from long-standing norms of international behavior that have underwritten American primacy for decades in a more interdependent and prosperous world. In this book, a diplomat and a historian revisit that perception by examining and reproducing several of their own essays during the past twenty years.


A New Nuclear Strategy For 21st Century Realities

by James Goodbyvia PolicyEd
Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Failing to move on from the Cold War mindset about nuclear weapons encourages their development and increases the risk that they will be used.

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Diplomacy In A Time Of Transition

by James Goodbyvia PolicyEd
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The long-standing state system for bringing order to the world is under pressure. The American-led security and economic commons built up over several decades in the twentieth century is at risk everywhere and in many places no longer exists. In order to prepare for the new global arrangement, America needs to return diplomatic responsibility and accountability to the Department of State. It also needs to raise the stature of the Foreign Service Institute, which trains diplomats and foreign affairs professionals. Now more than ever, America needs to maintain its strong diplomatic presence to preserve and ensure stability and peace.

Analysis and Commentary

Let’s Talk About Nuclear Security — Informally

by James Goodby, Kenneth Weisbrode quoting George P. Shultzvia San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, January 20, 2019

With the high-profile conclusion of Robert Mueller’s investigation, a U.S. threat to withdraw from a nuclear missile treaty, a worsening political situation in Ukraine, an ongoing conflict in Syria, not to mention recent reports that the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation of President Trump, the citizens of Russia and the United States should worry that their countries are soon reaching a point of no return.

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The Path Forward On Arms Control

by James Goodbyvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, August 31, 2017

We need a new ‘engine room’ with direct access to the president.

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The US Arms Control And Disarmament Agency In 1961–63

by James Goodbyvia Hoover Institution Press
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Public policy issues involving a complex mix of problems, exemplified today by climate change and the threat of nuclear war, require governance by institutions whose mandates and cultures embrace technological expertise as well as diplomatic and military skills. This paper is a case study of how such an institution operated during the Kennedy Administration to deal with the growing threat of radioactive debris in the environment and the threat of nuclear proliferation, and also put US-Soviet relations on a new trajectory. The 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty might not have been concluded during the Kennedy Administration had the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency not been established in 1961.


Should We Trust Tillerson?

by Frederic B. Hill, James Goodbyvia Baltimore Sun
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Donald Trump's nomination of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the nation's next secretary of state — after a protracted consideration of candidates — suggests the president-elect understands the position must be filled by a person of character, depth and vision.

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Groundbreaking Diplomacy: An Interview With George Shultz

by James Goodby interview with George P. Shultzvia American Foreign Service Association
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hoover Institution fellow George Shultz reflects on his tenure as Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration and the process of making foreign policy and conducting diplomacy during the decade leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union.


Imagining ‘A World Without Nuclear Weapons’

by George P. Shultz, James Goodby, Sidney D. Drell, Raymond Jeanlozvia The New York Times
Friday, April 15, 2016

“From Hiroshima to a Nuke-Free World” (editorial, April 13) underscored the need for “bolder action” than the Obama administration has been able to take in recent years to move toward its long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, a vision that we share.

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A Nonproliferation Regime For The 21st Century

by James Goodby, Steven Pifervia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
We need new strategies to contain the spread of nuclear weapons.