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

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

featuring William J. Perryvia US Senate Committee on Appropriations
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.

Analysis and Commentary

Mr. President, Kill The New Cruise Missile

by William J. Perry, Andy Webervia Washington Post
Thursday, October 15, 2015

Because they can be launched without warning and come in both nuclear and conventional variants, cruise missiles are a uniquely destabilizing type of weapon. President Obama can lead the world to a stabler and safer future by canceling plans for a new U.S. nuclear-capable cruise missile.

Kiev, Ukraine
Analysis and Commentary

Helping Ukraine Is a U.S. Imperative

by William J. Perry, George P. Shultzvia Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Israel and Palestine exchange bombs and rockets for weeks on end, with yet another cease fire announced on Tuesday. A civil war is under way in Iraq; and a Russian military convoy violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine. These events demand a strategic approach on the part of the United States in which we maintain an ability to defend our interests in many places at once.

Nuclear Weapons
Analysis and Commentary

The Next Generation of Nuclear Awareness

by William J. Perry with George P. Shultzvia Stanford Daily
Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Indeed, during the Cold War, we avoided an “unparalleled catastrophe” by the slimmest of margins. When the Cold War ended, we hoped that the danger of nuclear weapons ended with it. But that was not to be.

Nuclear Arms: No Time for Complacency

by George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, Sam Nunnvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 1, 2013

Shultz, Perry, Kissinger, and Nunn argue that nonproliferation efforts of nuclear weapons must carefully intensify.