EP84 William Perry & Tom Collina on The Nuclear Button

Former Sec of Defense William Perry & Tom Collina talk about their book, The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race & Presidential Power, and much more…

William J Perry and Tom Z Collina

Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry & Tom Z. Collina of the Ploughshares Fund talk to Jim about their book, The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump. They cover today’s nuclear weapons amnesia, the current nuclear situation, the growing number of nuclear-armed countries, US presidential nuclear powers, first-use policies, the danger of ‘launch on warning’, three ways of blundering into nuclear war, nuclear game theory, the New START Treaty, William & Tom’s proposed nuclear operations improvements, the plausibility of abolishing nuclear weapons, and more.

Episode Transcript

Mentions & Recommendations

William J. Perry served as the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in the Carter administration and then as Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration. He oversaw the development of the strategic nuclear systems that are currently in our arsenal. His new offset strategy ushered in the age of stealth, smart weapons, GPS, and technologies that changed the face of modern warfare. In 2007, Dr. Perry collaborated with George Shultz, Sam Nunn, and Henry Kissinger to publish several ground-breaking editorials in the Wall Street Journal that linked the vision of a world free from nuclear weapons with urgent but practical steps that could be taken to reduce nuclear dangers. Perry’s 2015 memoir, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, is a personal account of his lifelong effort to reduce nuclear dangers. He founded the William J. Perry Project to educate the public on these dangers. In 2020 Perry co-authored THE BUTTON: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump. He is the Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor (emeritus) at Stanford University.

Tom Z. Collina is Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund. He is the co-author with William J. Perry of THE BUTTON. Tom has thirty years of Washington, DC, experience in nuclear weapons, missile defense, and nonproliferation issues, and has held senior positions at the Arms Control Association, the Institute for Science and International Security, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. He has been directly involved with efforts to end U.S. nuclear testing, limit ineffective anti-missile programs, extend the Nonproliferation Treaty, and secure Senate ratification of the New START Treaty. He has published widely in major magazines and journals and has appeared frequently in the national media, including the New York Times, CNN, and NPR. He has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and regularly briefs congressional staff. Tom has a degree in International Relations from Cornell University.