preemptive defense

“Now that an immediate peril is not plainly visible, there is a natural tendency to relax and to return to business as usual…. But I feel that we are seriously failing in our attitude toward the international problems whose solution will largely determine our future.”

George C. Marshall
Washington’s Birthday Remarks at Princeton University
February 22, 1947

The Preventive Defense Project (PDP) is a research collaboration of Stanford University and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, co-directed by William J. Perry and Ashton B. Carter. The Project focuses on key problems of national and international security with the aim of preventing possible threats from becoming actual threats. The Project promotes the concept of preventive defense as critical to the formulation of American defense strategy in the post-Cold War era, where, in the absence of an imminent, major, traditional military threat to American security, today’s leaders are presented with a unique challenge and opportunity to prevent future Cold War-scale threats to international security from emerging. Inasmuch as a preventive dimension is systematically underrepresented in institutional debates over national security policy, the Project seeks to redress this imbalance by contributing the best outside analysis and policy ideas to those in government – American or foreign – who are in a position to take preventive action.

In pursuit of these objectives, the Project’s current efforts are directed towards engaging an emerging China, responding to nuclear crises in North Korea and Iran, combating the evolving threats posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and catastrophic terrorism, reforming the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) system, developing sustainable cooperative security relationships with U.S. allies and international organizations, and examining the structural and organizational capacity of the U.S. national security establishment to deal with 21st century security challenges Through intense personal interaction with political and military leaders around the world, the Project nourishes a highly informed but non-governmental “track-two” dialogue that explores opportunities for international innovation, agreement, and cooperation. In doing so, PDP seeks to devise creative new policy approaches that reflect a preventive defense posture.

The Project’s Co-Directors are former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Ashton B. Carter. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John M. Shalikashvili and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall serve as Senior Advisors. Additional contributors to the Project include member of President Clinton’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board Robert J. Hermann and former Deputy Secretary of Defense John P. White. Active on the Project’s track-two initiative with China are Dr. Michael H. Armacost, former Undersecretary of State and U.S. Ambassador to Japan and to the Philippines and Admiral Joseph W. Prueher, former Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Command. The Project is pleased that the following experts have agreed to lend their expertise to our North Korea initiative: General John H. Tilelli, Jr., former Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations Command, Republic of Korea/United States Combined Forces Command, and United States Forces Korea; Ambassador Stephen W. Bosworth, Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea; and Dr. Kurt Campbell, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

The Preventive Defense Project is a multi-year effort supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Herbert S. Winokur, Jr. Public Policy Fund, the Richard Lounsbery Foundation and private sources. The Preventive Defense Project would also like to acknowledge the generous contributions of the Packard Foundation, the W. Alton Jones Foundation, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and the Compton Foundation, Inc.