William J. Perry

Senior Fellow
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Biography: 

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

The Terrifying Lessons Of Hawaii's Botched Missile Alert

by William J. Perryvia Politico
Monday, January 15, 2018

“This is not a drill,” announced the emergency alert, and for 37 minutes hundreds of thousands of Hawaiians and tourists were left to contemplate the possibility that an incoming missile might soon end their lives.

Analysis and Commentary

North Korea And The Potential For A Nuclear Catastrophe

by William J. Perryvia Stanford Magazine
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

On Wednesday, North Korea launched what was believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile that traveled 1,000 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan. It was the 23rd missile launched in 16 tests since February, according to CNN.

Analysis and Commentary

Spending Less On Nuclear Weapons Could Actually Make Us Safer

by William J. Perryvia The Washington Post
Thursday, November 16, 2017

The United States plans to spend $1.7 trillion over the next three decades to replace its nuclear arsenal. This is a lot of money, more annually than the country spends on the entire State Department. Even so, if we thought this level of spending were required to ensure U.S. national security, we would support it. It is not. The nation can spend much less and still be safe. In fact, safer.

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.

Featured

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.

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