Walter Clemens

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Walter C. Clemens, Jr. (born April 6, 1933 in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States) is an American political scientist best known for advancing complexity science as an approach to the study of international relations and comparative politics. He has been active in the analysis of complexity science, arms control and disarmament, and U.S. relations with communist and post-communist countries. Since 2008, he has been a regular contributor to Global Asia, the quarterly journal of the East Asia Foundation.[1] He has authored numerous books, articles, and editorials, and is currently a Professor Emeritus at Boston University and an Associate at Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.[2]


Clemens studied at the University of Vienna, 1952–53, before graduating from Notre Dame University Magna Cum Laude in 1955. Under a Ford Foundation fellowship Clemens studied at Columbia University, 1955–1961. He did research for his dissertation on Soviet disarmament policy under Lenin at Moscow State University (1958–59), and at the Hoover Institution (1959). At Columbia, he received a master's degree and Certificate of the Russian Institute in 1957 and a Ph.D. in International Relations in 1961. Clemens grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, graduating first in his class in 1951 from Purcell High School, where he also played tackle on the state champion football team.

Professional career

Since the 1960s, Clemens has taught at a number of academic institutions, including Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii, the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Boston University, where, since 2012, he is Professor Emeritus of Political Science.[3] Since 1963, Clemens has been an Associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.[4] He was also an Associate at the Harvard University Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 1986–2003. Clemens’s papers are housed at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. His work has been supported by four major grants from the Ford Foundation and two from the Rockefeller Foundation. His research was supported also by the University of California, MIT, Columbia, Harvard, Boston University, and the East-West Center in Honolulu, and by several government agencies including NASA, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the U.S. State Department, the Fulbright-Hayes program, and NATO.

Arms control and security studies

Clemens has also made contributions to the study of arms control in U.S. relations with the USSR, China, and North Korea. As Executive Officer of the White House Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament for International Cooperation Year 1965, Clemens drafted the Committee’s proposal, “3-Year Moratorium urged on Antimissile Missiles.”[5][6] In the 1980s, Clemens conducted surveys showing that most Americans erroneously believed that their country was protected by an effective missile defense shield.[7] Clemens treated this as a dangerous illusion.

Soviet and post-Soviet studies

Having participated in the first exchange of U.S. and Soviet graduate students in 1958-59, Clemens became one of the first specialists to study Soviet arms control policies and, later, one of the few scholars to anticipate the demise of the Soviet system.[8] As the Soviet system entered its final years, he wrote Can Russia Change? The USSR Confronts Global Interdependence (1990) and Baltic Independence and Russian Empire (1991). In reviewing Can Russia Change? for Foreign Affairs, John C. Campbell wrote "the main argument for relations of 'complex interdependence' is clear and convincing."[9] In Baltic Independence, Clemens argued that the Singing Revolution of the three Baltic nations gave a coup de grâce to the Soviet system.[10] The Foreign Affairs review of Baltic Interdependence expressed: "[t]his book, better than any other, tells how the local communist parties tried and failed to adapt to the growing popular demands for national self-determination."[11] A review in Lituanus described Baltic Interdependence as "the only current scholarly work which succinctly summarizes the troubled histories of the Baltic nations, including the complicated negotiations for independence during the years 1917–1920" [12] Later analyzing a decade of post-Soviet development, Clemens wrote The Baltic Transformed: Complexity Theory and European Security (2001).

Scholarship on North and South Korea

Clemens is also an authority on North Korea. He has written many articles on North Korea and on China for the Journal of East Asian Studies', Global Asia and The Diplomat (on-line). His book North Korea and the World: Human Rights, Arms Control, and Strategies for Negotiation was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2016. Clemens is on the editorial board of Asian Perspective where he writes a book review essay for each issue. Analyzing events at the eastern edge of the former Soviet sphere, Clemens asked what lessons, if any, from the U.S.-Soviet experience might apply to arms control negotiations with North Korea. He published Getting to Yes in Korea (with a foreword by Gov. Bill Richardson) in 2010, followed by several articles in Global Asia, The New York Times, and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Getting to Yes in Korea was the first book to systematically apply international relations, complexity and negotiation theories to the tensions on stemming from North Korea's nuclear program, and the book has been received praise from Graham Allison and Terence Roehrig.[13][14][15] Asking whether and how the West should negotiate with a brutal dictatorship, Clemens on February 3, 2011 gave the Glasmacher Lecture in Ottawa, Canada, at the Symposium on Conflict Resolution. The lecture title was “Can–Should–Must We Negotiate with Evil?"[16]

Complexity science

In 2004, Clemens published the second edition of Dynamics of International Relations (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). The book presents a new approach to the study of international relations and has become an increasingly popular alternative to more traditional international relations course texts. Dynamics of International Relations has received professional praise from a wide spectrum of scholars and practitioners, including Governor Bill Richardson, Zbigniew Brzezinski, J. Ann Tickner, Michael W. Doyle and David Singer.[17]

His most recent work is Complexity Science and World Affairs (State University of New York Press, 2013). This book, according to S. Fredrick Starr at the School for Advanced International Studies, “offers a fresh, even startling, paradigm and process for analyzing the seemingly unpredictable relations within and among human societies. With impressive clarity he proposes that ‘the capacity to cope with complexity’ has become a key determinant of success in our intricately interrelated world.” In a similar vein, Jacek Kugler (professor at Claremont Graduate University and former president of the International Studies Association) wrote that “this breakthrough book provides a new, promising general paradigm exploring and explaining the complexity of world politics. For scholars and analysts pushing the boundaries of our field, this is a must-read volume.”[18]

Honors, awards and professional leadership

  • Research Fellow, East-West Center, University of Hawaii, 2006
  • Fulbright-Hayes Research-Lecturing Award, University of Ljubljana, 2005;
  • Usage Panel, American Heritage Dictionary, 1982–present
  • International Advisory Board, Sakharov Archives, Brandeis University, 2001–2004
  • Fellow, Södertörns University College, Stockholm, 1999
  • Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer on Arms Control, China, 1999–2000
  • International Advisory Board, Russian Science Foundation, 1992–95
  • Committee on Comparative and Interdisciplinary Studies, International Studies Association, 1993–95
  • Grantee, Russian Littoral Project, University of Maryland and SAIS, 1993
  • Fellow, Council on Economic Priorities, 1990
  • Lecturer, U.S. Information Service Specialist Programs, Europe (1976, 1992), Asia (1970, 1982-83), Latin America (1976)
  • Fulbright Lecturer, University of the West Indies, Trinidad, 1977–1978
  • Lecturer at the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, Austrian Diplomatic Academy, Academy of Science in Hungary (also in Estonia and Georgia), and three universities in Argentina

Partial list of publications

Books, chapters and edited volumes

  • Complexity Science and World Affairs, Foreword by Stuart A. Kauffman (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013)[19]
  • Getting to Yes in Korea, Foreword by Gov. Bill Richardson (Boulder, Co.: Paradigm Publishers, 2010); Korean language edition (Seoul: Hanul, 2010)[20]
  • Ambushed! A Cartoon History of the George W. Bush Administration, with Jim Morin (Boulder, Co.: Paradigm Publishers, 2008)[21]
  • Dynamics of International Relations: Conflict and Mutual Gain in An Era of Global Interdependence. 2d ed. (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004).[22]
  • Bushed! What Passionate Conservatives Have Done to America and the World, with Jim Morin. (Skaneateles, N.Y.: Outland Books, 2004)
  • The Baltic Transformed: Complexity Theory and European Security, Foreword by Jack F. Matlock, Jr. (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).[23]
  • America and the World, 1898–2025: Achievements, Failures, Alternative Futures (New York: St. Martin's, 2000)
  • Baltic Independence and Russian Empire (New York: St. Martin's, 1991)
  • Can Russia Change? The USSR Confronts Global Interdependence (New York: Routledge, 1990 and Routledge Classics edition, 2011)
  • The U.S.S.R. and Global Interdependence: Alternative Futures (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1978)
  • The Superpowers and Arms Control: From Cold War to Interdependence (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1973)
  • The Prospects for Peace, 1973–1977, computer data file and codebook at International Relations Archive, Inter-University Consortium for Political Research, University of Michigan (1973), ICPSR 5803[24]
  • "Die Tschechoslowakei unter Husak," Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, Supplement, Das Parlament (Bonn) B24/70 (June 13, 1970)
  • The Arms Race and Sino-Soviet Relations (Stanford: The Hoover Institution, 1968)
  • Outer Space and Arms Control (Cambridge: The M.I.T. Center for Space Research, 1966)
  • Principal investigator, with Lincoln P. Bloomfield and Franklyn Griffiths, Khrushchev and the Arms Race: Soviet Interests in Arms Control and Disarmament, 1954–1964 (Cambridge: The M.I.T. Press, 1966)
  • Ed. and Introduction, Toward a Strategy of Peace, Foreword by Robert F. Kennedy (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1965)
  • Ed. and Introduction, World Perspectives on International Politics (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1965)
  • "Soviet Disarmament Policy, 1917–1963: An Annotated Bibliography of Soviet and Western Sources" (Stanford: The Hoover Institution, 1965)


  1. ^ "Global Asia". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  2. ^ "walter clemens - Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  3. ^ "Walter Clemens » Department of Political Science | Boston University". Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  4. ^ Archived from the original on September 22, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Kleiman, Robert (1965-11-24). "3-Year Moratorium Urged On Antimissile Missiles - A DELAY IS URGED ON ANTIMISSILES - Front Page -". Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  6. ^ "OUR DEFENSE AGAINST MISSILES". The Sciences. 5: 1–4. 2013-07-31. doi:10.1002/j.2326-1951.1966.tb00233.x. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  7. ^ "A Quiz for a Peaceful Sunday," Los Angeles Times, March 22, 1981; cited also in Fortune, October 19, 1981, p. 142.
  8. ^ "Will the Soviet Empire Survive 1984?" Christian Science Monitor, July 10, 1981
  9. ^ "Can Russia Change? The USSR Confronts Global Interdependence | Foreign Affairs". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  10. ^ "Baltic studies newsletter : Advancing Baltic Studies in the AABS: Interdisciplinary, Regional, Useful, and Fun" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  11. ^ "Baltic Independence And Russian Empire | Foreign Affairs". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  12. ^ "Clemens, Walter C., Jr. "Baltic Independence and Russian Empire" - Reviewed by Peter Rabane". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  13. ^ "New Book by Walter Clemens: Getting to Yes in Korea » Department of Political Science | Blog Archive | Boston University". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  14. ^ "Books: “Getting to Yes in Korea” by Walter C. Clemens, Jr. | CanKor". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  15. ^ "Review – Getting to Yes in Korea". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  16. ^ "Prof Walter Clemens Gives The Glasmacher Lecture » Department of Political Science | Blog Archive | Boston University". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  17. ^ " Dynamics of International Relations: Conflict and Mutual Gain in an Era of Global Interdependence (9780742530119): Walter C., Jr. Clemens: Books". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  18. ^ "Complexity Science and World Affairs". Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  19. ^ "Complexity Science and World Affairs". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  20. ^ "Paradigm - Getting to Yes in Korea". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  21. ^ "Paradigm - Walter C. Clemens, Jr". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  22. ^ [1] Archived June 3, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ "The Baltic Transformed: Complexity Theory and European Security - Walter C. Clemens - Google Books". Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  24. ^ [2][dead link]
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