Tom Nichols (academic)

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Tom Nichols
Thomas M. Nichols

(1960-12-07) December 7, 1960 (age 60)
TitleProfessor of National Security Affairs[1]
Academic background
Alma materBoston University (BA)
Columbia University (MA)
Georgetown University (PhD)
Academic work
InstitutionsU.S. Naval War College, Harvard University, La Salle University, Dartmouth College, Georgetown University

Thomas M. Nichols (born December 7, 1960) is an academic specialist on international affairs, currently a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and at the Harvard Extension School. His work deals with issues involving Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security affairs. He was previously a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Thomas M. Nichols grew up in Chicopee, Massachusetts.[3] He has stated in a speech at The Heritage Foundation that he did not come from an educated family, and his parents were "both Depression era kids who dropped out of college."[4] Nichols is an undefeated five-time Jeopardy! champion[5] and was, at one time, one of the game's all-time top players.[6]

Nichols has a BA degree in political science from Boston University; a MA degree in political science from Columbia University;[7] and a Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University.[5][7] He also holds a certificate from the Harriman Institute of Columbia University.[7]


Nichols taught international relations as well as Soviet and Russian Affairs at Dartmouth College and Georgetown University.[4][7] He was also a fellow in the International Security Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.[4] Nichols was the Chairman of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College where he also held the Forrest Sherman Chair of Public Diplomacy.[4][7] Nichols is a former Secretary of the Navy Fellow[4] and also a fellow in the International Security Program and the Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School.[7]

He taught as an associate professor at Dartmouth College in 1996, where he taught comparative politics and Russian affairs in the Department of Government.[8] He began teaching on at the Harvard Extension School in 2005 and has taught courses on nuclear weapons, the Cold War, and national security issues.[8]

In 2011, Nichols was named a Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[8] During this time he began working on a book on nuclear strategy, which was later published in 2014 as No Use: Nuclear Weapons and US National Security.[8] The book is an analysis of American nuclear weapons policies possible reforms to the United States nuclear strategy.[7]

Nichols was awarded the Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award from the Harvard Extension School in 2012.[7]

In 2016, along with former United States Secretary of Defense William Perry, Nichols was one of nine named as the first professors in the USAF School of Strategic Force Studies.[8] He specialized in nuclear deterrence issues.[8]

As of 2019, Nichols is a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College,[7][8] while also teaching courses as an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School.[4][5][7] He is additionally a Senior Associate of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York City.[4]

In 1988, Nichols served in the United States Senate as Personal Staff for Defense and Security Affairs for Senator John Heinz.[4][7][8]



Nichols describes himself as a Never Trump conservative.[9] During the 2016 presidential campaign, Nichols argued that conservatives should vote for Hillary Clinton, whom he detested, because Trump was "too mentally unstable" to serve as commander-in-chief.[10] Nichols continued that argument for the 2018 midterm elections.[11]

After the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, Nichols announced on October 7, 2018, that he would leave the Republican Party and become an independent and claimed that Senator Susan Collins's yes vote on the confirmation convinced him that the Republican Party exists to exercise raw political power.[12] He also criticized the Democratic Party for being "torn between totalitarian instincts on one side and complete political malpractice on the other" and said that the party's behavior during the Kavanaugh hearings, with the exception of Senators Chris Coons, Sheldon Whitehouse and Amy Klobuchar, was execrable but that the Republicans have become a threat to the rule of law and to constitutional norms.[12]

In an opinion column, Nichols cited the Mueller Report to argue that Trump failed in his role as a citizen and then as commander-in-chief by not doing more to prevent and punish the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.[13]



  • The Sacred Cause: Civil-Military Conflict over Soviet National Security, 1917-1992 (1993, Cornell University Press) ISBN 0801427746
  • The Russian Presidency: Society and Politics in the Second Russian Republic (1999, Palgrave Macmillan) ISBN 0312293372
  • Winning the World: Lessons for America's Future from the Cold War (2002, Praeger) ISBN 0275966631
  • Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War (2008, University of Pennsylvania Press) ISBN 0812240669
  • Tactical Nuclear Weapons and NATO, (co-editor) (2012, Military Bookshop) ISBN 1584875259
  • No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security (2013, University of Pennsylvania Press) ISBN 0812245660
  • The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters (2017, Oxford University Press) ISBN 0190469412, a study of why people mistrust established knowledge and how this damages democratic stability.
  • Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy (2020, Oxford University Press) ISBN 0197518877

See also[edit]



External links[edit]