Saturday, September 14, 2019

Full Archive of Video Presentations at 2017 Harvard Conference: "Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons"

Below are links to resources from the November 4, 2017, conference at Harvard, "Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons: Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional? Is it Just?"

Six-minute summary video of "Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons: Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional? Is it Just?"

Full text of "Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons: Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional? Is it Just?" presentations on Public Books website.

Event summary: Nuclear weapons strategy in the United States is designed around “presidential first use,” an arrangement that enables one man, the president, to kill and maim many millions of people in a single afternoon. What legal or philosophical principle differentiates the moral harm or moral wrong that would be attributed to a terrorist, non-state actor or hacker who delivered a nuclear weapon from a presidential launch of a nuclear weapon? The conference will bring together international and constitutional scholars and statesmen to examine the nature of presidential first use in the United States, as well as parallel arrangements in the other eight nuclear states.

Videos of full proceedings

(Links to video of full panels and individual presentations.)

Elaine Scarry, “Introduction: Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons”

Panel One: Presidential First Use: An Overview

Chair: Jonathan King
Bruce Blair, “The Nuclear Doomsday Machines”
William Perry, “Can the President’s Cabinet Act as a Constraint on Presidential First Use?
Sissela Bok, “The Use and Misuse of the Language of Self-Defense”
Audience questions and comments

Panel Two: Presidential First Use vs. the U.S. Constitution

Chair: Richard Fallon
Bruce Ackerman, “Presidential Lawlessness: The Case for Fundamental Reform”
Rosa Brooks, “Nuclear Weapons and the Deep State: Can Bureaucracy Constrain Nuclear Weapons?”
John Burroughs, “International Law and First Use of Nuclear Weapons”
Audience comments and questions

Senator Ed Markey: Comments 

Panel Three: Presidential First Use vs. Congress and the Citizenry

Chair: Elaine Scarry
Congressman Jim McGovern, “Presidential First Use vs. Congress”
Kennette Benedict, “Congress and the Citizenry”
Hugh Gusterson, “Democracy, Hypocrisy, First Use”
Audience comments and questions

Panel Four: Parallel Executive Arrangements in the Other Nuclear States

Chair: Joseph Gerson
Zia Mian, “Nuclear Weapons Use in South Asia”
William Perry, “Nuclear North Korea: 1999 and 2017”
Bruce Blair, “The Protocol for Nuclear First Use by the United States, Russia, and China”
Audience comments and questions

Speaker profiles:

Bruce Ackerman, named one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy in 2010, is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale and author of We the People.

Kennette Benedict is former executive director of Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, senior advisor to Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and lecturer at University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.

Bruce Blair is a former missile launch officer, the co-founder of Global Zero, and a professor at Princeton.

Sissela Bok is senior visiting fellow at Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and author of A Strategy for Peace (1989) and Lying: Moral Choice in Private and Public Life (1978).

Rosa Brooks is Georgetown University Law Center professor and author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything.

John Burroughs is executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and director of the UN office of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. He is the author of the Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to the Historic Opinion of the International Court of Justice (1998).

Richard Fallon is Rhodes Scholar and Story Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of The Federal Courts and the Federal System, as well as The Dynamic Constitution.

Joseph Gerson is disarmament coordinator of American Friends Service Committee, director of Peace and Economic Security Program, author of Empire and the Bomb, and founder of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament, and Common Security.

Hugh Gusterson is professor of international affairs and anthropologist at George Washington University, president of American Ethnological Society, and author of works on executive weapons, Nuclear Rites and Drone: Remote Control Warfare.

Jonathan King is emeritus professor of molecular biology at MIT, past president of the national Biophysical Society, chair of the Nuclear Disarmament Working Group at Mass Peace Action, and co-chair of this conference on Presidential First Use.

Ed Markey has served in Congress for four decades, first as US Representative of Massachusetts 7th District (1976-2013), then as Senator from Massachusetts (2013-present). Throughout that time, he has been a leading voice on the nuclear peril and is currently co-author of the Markey-Lieu bill (S200, HR669), the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act.”

Jim McGovern is US Representative of Massachusetts 2nd District, first co-sponsor of the Markey-Lieu bill restricting presidential launch of a nuclear weapon, and a leading advocate in Congress for peace.

Zia Mian is physicist and co-director of Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, co-chair of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, and co-author of Unmaking the Bomb: A Fissile Material Approach to Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation.

William Perry, senior fellow at Stanford University, is Former US Secretary of Defense, author of My Journey at the Nuclear Brink (2015), and co-founder of the Nuclear Security Project.

Elaine Scarry is Cabot Professor of Aesthetics at Harvard and the author of Thermonuclear Monarchy. She is co-organizer of the “Presidential First Use” conference

Jonathan King
Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This event was cosponsored by Harvard Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard’s Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities, Mass Peace Action, Mass Peace Action Education Fund, American Friends Service Committee, Council for A Livable World, Future of Life Institute, World beyond War, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Boston Review.

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