Nuclear Threats in a Chaotic World
Four Anahuacalmecac students attended a talk by William Perry, former Defense Secretary, sponsored by a LAWAC dinner on February 23rd about the escalating dangers of nuclear conflict in today’s chaotic world – dangers that are more urgent than most Americans realize. Vladimir Putin has begun upgrading Russia’s nuclear arsenal and last year stationed nuclear missiles on the borders of Poland and Lithuania. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has conducted two nuclear tests in the past year, and his scientists are working on a long-range ICBM missile that could reach Los Angeles. ISIS made four attempts between 2010 and 2015 to buy radioactive materials from Russian underworld gangs, according to the FBI, and other jihadist groups show continued interest in obtaining a nuclear bomb. Perry says “I believe that the likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe is greater today than it was during the Cold War.” Perry has joined with veteran statesmen Henry Kissinger and George Shultz to highlight a growing threat that most people assumed had disappeared after the collapse of communism, but could in an instant change the face of the planet forever.
Perry’s commitment to reducing the nuclear threat goes back to his days in the US Army when he served in postwar-occupied Japan, where he saw the results of the devastation of nuclear weapons. Later in life when he became Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton in 1994 he would preside over the destruction of more than 8,000 nuclear weapons with the Russians. Perry is a mathematician and engineer by training, and currently is a professor emeritus at Stanford with a joint appointment at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the School of Engineering. He has worked in defense and international relations for seven decades. He was brought in as an analyst during the Cuban missile crisis, was an undersecretary of defense for research and engineering during the Carter administration, and served on President Reagan’s Commission on Strategic Forces. He is the author of My Journey at the Nuclear Brink (2015). He received his BS and MA from Stanford and his PhD in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University.
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