David Wright is a co-director of the Global Security Program for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), an ostensibly independent, nonprofit environmental and national security advocacy organization comprised of more than 100,000 members whose stated purpose is to build a “cleaner, healthier environment and a safer world.” The UCS takes public stands, purportedly buttressed by scientific research, regarding a variety of political and health-related issues. For example, it opposes genetically engineered foods, condemns SUV vehicles, and proposes measures aimed at combating what it deems the imminent dangers of global warming. It also opposes the vast majority of American foreign policy decisions, calls for a unilateral reduction in U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles, and derides American efforts to develop a National Missile Defense (NMD) system. The UCS disseminates to lawmakers and news outlets its opinions about each of these matters, with the intent of ultimately influencing public policy.
Wright received his PhD in physics from Cornell University, and was a Social Science Research Council – MacArthur Foundation Fellow at the Center for Science and International Affairs, located at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Along with Global Security Program co-director Lisbeth Gronlund, Wright is in the vanguard of the effort to derail the development of NMD technology. Wright has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in opposition to NMD construction, deployment, and utilization, calling it “an indefensible system.” To help justify this position, he contends that such rogue nuclear powers as North Korea pose little, if any, threat to American security. In an article titled “Cut North Korea Some Slack,” Wright states that the U.S. should “try to engage North Korea politically and economically, to create incentives for it to cooperate with the international community.” In short, he views diplomatic agreements – even with such volatile and barbarous dictators as North Korea’s Kim Jong Il – as more reliable guarantors of American security than a missile defense system. Later in the article, however, Wright admits that “[t]here is, of course, no guarantee that engagement would work.”
Wright and Gronlund are the primary organizers of the UCS’s International Summer Symposiums on Science and World Affairs, which aim to “encourage and support the development of young scientists working on policy-oriented research on international security and arms control issues.” In reality, these Symposiums serve as a recruiting mechanism to enlist international students to condemn U.S. policies around the world.