How Clinton administration secretary views dangers throughout the world.
09/02/2017 03:28 pm ET Updated Sep 03, 2017
William Perry has had a long career in government, serving in the Pentagon under Presidents Carter and Reagan before becoming President Clinton’s secretary of defense in 1994.
“We stand today, I believe, in greater danger of nuclear catastrophe than we faced during the Cold War,” Perry tells host Robert Scheer in this week’s episode of KCRW’s “Scheer Intelligence.”
Since his time in the Pentagon, Perry has founded the William J. Perry Project, which aims to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons. He’s also written a book, “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink.”
Perry and Scheer discuss how the expansion of NATO in the 1990s factors in to the rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Perry calls this expansion “the first step” in escalating tensions. The “second step,” he says, was “installing ballistic missile defense systems in Eastern Europe.”
“Our response to Russia on the objections to these various actions we were taking basically was, ‘What can you do about it? You’re an insignificant power today,’ ” Perry says. “The reason Putin is so popular today is that he has taken actions that, in [Russians’] view, allow Russia to stand as a great power and overcome this humiliating position they were in … so we stand today in a position of hostility between the United States and Russia, comparable to where we stood in the Cold War. In the meantime, we still have many thousands of nuclear weapons.”
The conversation concludes with a discussion on the possibility of nuclear war with North Korea.
“This regime is ruthless, and reckless, but they are focused entirely on their own survival,” Perry says of North Korea. “They’re not going to be conducting a preemptive attack on the United States or Tokyo or Seoul. They’re going to use [nuclear weapons] to threaten and bluster.”
Listen to the full interview and to past editions of “Scheer Intelligence” at KCRW.com