Stimson Debate: Nuclear Weapons And International Stability

Seventy years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there remains a sharp divide over the strategic value of nuclear weapons in maintaining international peace and stability. Ward Wilson argued the affirmative debate proposition, “Nuclear weapons pose unacceptable risks to international security”; Elbridge Colby responded. Stimson Co-Founder Barry Blechman moderated.

WHAT: Elbridge Colby and Ward Wilson debated the proposition “Nuclear weapons pose unacceptable risks to international security.” 


Barry Blechman, Co-Founder, Stimson Center
Dr. Barry M. Blechman is co-founder of the Stimson Center, served as chairman of Stimson’s Board from 1989 to 2007, and returned to the Board in 2014.  He also serves as a Trustee of Whittier College in Los Angeles.  Blechman founded DFI International Inc., a research consultancy, in 1984, and served as its CEO until the company’s sale in 2007. Blechman has more than fifty years of distinguished service in national security in both the public and private sectors. He has worked in the Departments of State and Defense, and at the Office of Management and Budget. During the Carter Administration, he was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Congress as assistant director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.  Among other boards and commissions, Blechman served on the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (1998-99), the Defense Policy Board (2002-06), and the Department of State Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy (2005-08).  In the 1980s, he was principal drafter of the report of the Palme Commission, Common Security.

Elbridge Colby, Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
Colby is the Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security where he focuses on issues relating to defense strategy, deterrence, nuclear weapons, conventional forces, U.S. alliances, intelligence, and related issues. In 2012, he served as the deputy head for national security personnel on the Mitt Romney pre-transition effort and also worked on several of the campaign’s security policy teams. From 2010 to 2013 he was a principal analyst and division lead for global strategic affairs at CNA. Before that, he served for over five years in the U.S. Government, including as policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense’s Representative for the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

Laicie Heeley, Stimson Fellow, Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense
Heeley is a Fellow with Stimson’s Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program. Her areas of expertise include U.S. budget process, defense strategy, nuclear weapons proliferation, and Iran. Prior to joining Stimson, Heeley was Policy Director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation where her research focused on nuclear proliferation in emerging states such as Iran and North Korea, as well as budgeting and strategy at the Department of Defense. Heeley previously held positions at Physicians for Social Responsibility, The Counter Terrorist Finance Organization, and Global Green USA where her research focused on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in addition to the financing and structure of terrorist organizations.

Ward Wilson, Senior Fellow & Director of the Rethinking Nuclear Weapons project, British American Security Council
Wilson is a Senior Fellow and director of the Rethinking Nuclear Weapons Project where his principal work is research into the foundations of nuclear weapons thinking and various presentations of new perspectives. His recent book, Five Myths about Nuclear Weapons, is a groundbreaking rethinking of nuclear weapons based on recently uncovered and reanalyzed facts from Cold War archives. Ward has spoken at the State Department, the Pentagon, the U.K. House of Commons, the European Parliament, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Naval War College, and universities including Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Georgetown, and University of Chicago.

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