Remembering Bruce Blair
Dr. Bruce G. Blair was a dedicated truth-teller, exposing the dangers inherent in nuclear command and control, and a tireless champion of a world without nuclear weapons. In 2008, he brought together an unprecedented international community of leaders and visionaries to build a new kind of movement to persuade governments to come to their senses and realize the elimination of all nuclear weapons — global zero. He passed away on July 19, 2020.
A veteran nuclear launch officer and unrivaled expert in command and control, Bruce understood — perhaps better than any single person alive — the urgency, enormity, and complexity of the nuclear threat. He built the Global Zero movement from the ground up and devoted all of his energy to making the world safer and better for all people.
Bruce was a creative genius: brilliant, passionate, and relentlessly visionary in the face of the status quo. He worked tirelessly to focus the world on the inherent dangers posed by nuclear weapons — and to illuminate the path to a world without them. Bruce spoke with quiet, compelling force. He saw through the fog. He approached every conversation as an opportunity to challenge old assumptions and expand his thinking. He was big-hearted, steadfast, and sincere, and never missed an opening for wry humor.
All of us at Global Zero will miss him terribly, and we will honor his memory in the only way we know how: by continuing his work and seeing his life’s mission through to the end.
“[Bruce] was technically proficient and was very well grounded in the ethics side of the equation, and had a way of connecting the dots between them.”
Gen. (ret.) James E. Cartwright
Fmr. Vice Chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff
“Bruce Blair was a unique personality, in every positive sense. Knowledgeable, practical, and driven to make the world safer from nuclear threat. And a hell of a nice guy.”
Thomas M. Countryman
Fmr. Assistant Secretary of State, United States
“Bruce Blair was a fighter who persisted in trying to find creative solutions to the dangers of a nuclear armed world. He was an inspiration — and ever patient in answering my endless questions.”
Fmr. Member, Editorial Board, The New York Times
“One would be hard pressed to find anyone else in our community who has had a greater impact on reducing the risks from nuclear weapons.”
Co-Director, Science & Global Security Program, Princeton University
“If we are to survive the next 100 years or even the next decade, we need a lot more of what Bruce demonstrated: a bold and unapologetic vision for a safer, more just, more humane world married with his characteristic humility, heart, and grace.”
Fmr. Campaign Director, Global Zero
“When I interviewed Bruce Blair about nuclear weapons, I felt like I was talking to the only sane person in an insane world. What a loss.”
Director of Research, Radiolab
“[Bruce] was an inspiration, a role model, and an American hero. We have lost him far too soon.”
Michael E. O’Hanlon
Fmr. Colleague at Brookings Institution
“Bruce did more than anyone I know to make the practical case for nuclear weapons abolition… The seeds he planted will yet bear fruit — and the world as a consequence will be a safer, more just place.”
Executive Director, Pulitzer Center
“With Blair’s death, the nuclear-disarmament movement has lost one of its most learned, creative and persistent leaders…Those of us who have had the privilege of working with him will continue to be inspired by his quiet but dogged and comprehensive commitment to the mission.”
Jessica Sleight, Frank von Hippel, and Zia Mian
Blair’s Colleagues at Global Zero and Princeton University
“He was one of those rare birds — direct experience with nuclear weapons, a scholar, an entrepreneurial spirit…I hope we can do well by him.”
Share Your Memories
The outpouring of stories, tributes, and well wishes since Bruce’s passing has shown how much he influenced and inspired those in the nuclear arms control and disarmament movement and beyond. We invite you to share your memories.