Wilson Center Experts
Stephen M. Younger
Dr. Younger's work at Los Alamos involves doing, (through computer modeling) social simulations of simple societies with the aim of understanding the onset of mass violence. Until recently, he was Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, located at Fort Belvoir. Prior to that time, he was Senior Associate Director for for National Security at Los Alamos--responsible for assuring the safety and reliability of most of the nation's nuclear arsenal.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction represents a turning point in global affairs. For the first time in history, small nations can exert the same type of threat as large nations, greeatly increasing the potential for destructive warfare. Futhermore, the events of September 11, 2011 imply that military capability alone will not rid the world of the specter of violence. Rather, we must seek to better understand the fundamental causes of violence and how those causes can be reduced. In particular, we must better understand the nexus between the human propensity to be violent and the leadership systems that lead to warfare. This project will examine the fundamental nature of human violence by a combuination of computer simulation and the analysis of anthropological observations on small societies, especially those of the Pacific Islands. Such cultures lack many of the complexities of modern nation states, yet they are comprised of the same types of humans found in all societies. It is hoped that a study of small cultures will better inform our approach to the more complex world in which we live.
- The Bomb: A New History (Ecco/HarperCollins, January 2009)
- Conditions and Mechanisms for Peace in Pre-Contact Polynesia, Current Anthropology (2008)
- Endangered Species: How We Can Avoid Mass Destruction and Build a Lasting Peace(Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007)