Professor Jeffrey Lewis Appointed to International Security Advisory Board
Professor Jeffrey Lewis has been appointed to the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), which advises the Secretary of State on critical issues including arms control, nonproliferation, outer space, emerging technologies, and cybersecurity.
“I often joke that nobody listens to me. Now I joke that I’m being ignored by a better class of policy maker,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a professor on the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies faculty. A leading expert on nuclear arms control, Lewis is often called upon by the national and international media to provide analysis and insights.
When he visits Washington, D.C., he sees plenty of familiar faces—both alumni and former staff from the Institute and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, where he leads a team of open source researchers.
“It’s a very interesting experience to watch so many people who have been friends and colleagues for so many years be in these positions of authority. It’s a small community,” said Lewis.
Growing up in rural Illinois “with no international anything,” he always had an interest in international affairs.
The turning point for him was the invasion of Iraq.
“It really underscored how much the question of whether countries are building nuclear weapons or not really matters. A lot of us doubted the existence of significant WMD programs in Iraq, but no one wanted to hear from us because we didn’t have our own sources of information.”
That inspired his work with others at the Institute to do open source intelligence work.
“We use public information to do what the intelligence community does,” said Lewis, who teaches a popular course on the subject. “Being able to do the same kind of work as an intelligence agency publicly on behalf of civil society allows those of us on the outside to be part of the conversation.”
The members of ISAB, which reports to the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, bring different points of view and backgrounds. As a member, Lewis will participate in studies intended to help State Department officials think about challenges from artificial intelligence, climate change, and nuclear deterrence.
“It’s a really special opportunity,” said Lewis. “It’s been a lifelong career goal and not something that I expected so soon.”