Bruce Blair 16 Replies Bruce Blair, research policy analyst at the Program on Science and Global Security, died on July 19, 2020
I met Bruce in 1986 or 87, when a couple of us in the Physics Dept at Penn invited him to come talk to us about his work. Over the years, we continued to talk about these issues and he was always generous with his information. There are very few people with first-hand information about nuclear command and control who go on to be recognized experts in the security field, and Bruce played a huge role in helping to advance the public debate about these issues and educate those of us in the field who wanted to dig into the details. The long list of high-level scholars and military experts from around the world who agreed to take part in his studies at Global Zero is a testament to the high regard people had for his knowledge and care in working on and talking about these issues. His passing is a huge loss, in many ways.
Bruce was such a good soul. He was patient when explaining what he knew, and generous with wisdom and practical advice. He cared deeply about many causes larger than himself, and his work on behalf of these causes was done carefully, and reasonably, and well. He was always thoughtful. It was a privilege to have known him and to have had long and interesting conversations with him, and so of course I regret not doing it more often. His passing is very sad.
I met Bruce many years ago but didn’t really get to know him until after the establishment of Global Zero and the international conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons. He was always very thoughtful and considerate. And smart. As everyone knows, he was a great communicator. He could quickly get to the heart of an issue and communicate the main points before anyone got bored. His main concern was to get people to understand what he was saying understand what the risks were and to get them to think and judge for themselves. He didn’t just address US nuclear policy – he understood the international aspects of this debate and he spent quite a bit of his time in countries where he knew people needed to hear what he understood. And he came across as very modest.
Above all though, he was kind and generous with his knowledge, energy and time. He has left us far too soon. I feel cheated of the further conversations we could have had. He will be missed greatly by us all.
Bruce Blair was a hero to the nuclear disarmament community around the world. He was a unique campaigner for Global Zero because he he experienced what it was like to be missileer. He used that experience for the benefit of all humanity. I respected him greatly and looked up to him for guidance in my own work for nuclear disarmament. I send my deepest condolences to the members of his family and working colleagues. Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., Canada
Bruce inducted me into Global Zero and I learnt a lot from him. He was understanding tolerant and very balanced in his viewa. We have lost an indefatigable fighter. His passing is a very great loss. On a parsonal note I will miss him and his wise counsel.
As a member of the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board, Bruce showed me that he understood a lot more about foreign policy and national security than nuclear weapons alone. On that topic alone, he was brilliant, and has been central to laying out a saner and less risky policy for the US and the world. He provided the inspiration that I – and my colleagues at the Arms Control Association – will continue to convey to this generation and the next.
It is with deep sadness that we learn of the passing of Bruce Blair. He was a strong presence in the global nuclear disarmament community. A soft-spoken, persuasive advocate for responsible nuclear risk reduction measures en route to elimination, Bruce brought the “lived experience” of a former ballistic missile officer to his work. His interactions with the Canadian disarmament community were always memorable and his many insightful and constructive writings will remain a precious legacy to all concerned with nuclear danger.
Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Canadian Pugwash Group
Bruce worked for the global common good of the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons. He ignored fame, vanity, and the pursuit of wealth and status, and focused his extraordinary talents on making the world a better place. Such a spirit should inspire us all. May God grant him the abode of infinite love and peace. Jonathan granoff
My deepest sympathy to Mrs. Blair, Kathy, Jill and Jann. I never knew Bruce was so renown in his field of nuclear war. Such a loss to mankind but especially to you all. May Bruce Rest In Peace.
From Islamabad: In 2000 I was desperately looking for film footage for use in my movie, “Pakistan and India Under the Nuclear Shadow” and so, thanks to Zia Mian, chanced upon meeting Bruce Blair who was then heading the Center for Defense Information in Washington, DC. I had knocked at other doors and got little but Bruce did not hesitate even for a moment in offering me all that he had and so I spent days previewing the materials in his organization’s basement. In my occasional interactions with him over the next two decades, I found this ex-Minuteman operator had admirably balanced professionalism with idealism as he strove for a nuclear-free world. A fine man who will be missed by many.
Bruce taught us all a lot about nuclear weapons policy. He had a sound vision of how best to climb our way down to Global Zero, while decreasing risk at each step down the long ladder to sanity. Equally importantly, he taught us how to teach: patiently, respectfully, and persistently. I will miss his friendship.
We at Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy are saddened by the passing of Bruce Blair. We got to know Bruce at a number of events over the years, notably a 2011 conference hosted by The Simons Foundation in Vancouver, Canada. Personally, he was unfailingly considerate and thoughtful. And we of course greatly appreciated Bruce’s deep commitment to preventing nuclear war and to achieving the global elimination of nuclear weapons, as shown by his co-founding of Global Zero. He also made major contributions to understanding the unacceptable risks arising from states’ ongoing, daily reliance on the capacity to use nuclear weapons. He will be missed. – John Burroughs for LCNP
In my more than 40 years of covering the Pentagon, I thought of Bruce as a kind of nuclear tuning fork. His answers always rang true. Yes, he had a position when it came to nuclear weapons, but his responses to my questions, and his resulting explanations of why he thought the way he did, were straight-forward without the cant so many others in the field shotgunned at reporters. He has left us far too soon, with far too much left undone. We can only hope that he did enough that his fears remain unrealized forever.
Bruce Blair combined being a great scholar and a great activist and policy entrepreneur. He focused the world’s attention on the vulnerabilities of nuclear command and control systems and the dangerous instabilities those vulnerabilities create. He uncovered new information about Soviet (and then Russian) command and control. He worked to build bridges between experts in countries across the world. And with Global Zero, he helped build a wide coalition for disarmament and for near-term steps to reduce nuclear dangers along the way. He will be sorely missed, but his work will surely go on.
Here at the Arms Control Association, we are deeply shocked and dispirited by Bruce’s death. He was a one-of-a-kind catalyst for nuclear sanity, a leader, a partner, a friend, and a very gently and kind human being. I will miss him very much. Our condolences go out to Bruce’s family, his colleagues at Princeton University, and our good friends at Global Zero.
I had the good fortune to serve with Bruce on the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board. Bruce was a voice of sanity, not just about issues related to nuclear weapons’, but across the board. To say he will be missed is an understatement; likewise with his insights and commitment to a world that needs to move decisively beyond modes of thinking and acting that, not so long ago, threatened to end life on earth. Bravo, Bruce!