Cooperative Security and the Nunn-Lugar Act: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1989

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



Case Study Sector


Throughout the 1980s, MacArthur and Carnegie were major funders of research and exchange efforts aimed at bridging the Soviet-American divide. Much of this support was aimed at think tanks, particularly the Washington-based Brookings Institution. Meanwhile, the Soviet system was crumbling, despite Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s best efforts to repair and save it. As the Cold War came to a close, work funded by these foundations would play a critical role in shaping the United States’ response to the collapse of its longtime rival.
Researchers at Brookings began to develop the framework for a collaborative approach to de-escalation and nuclear threat reduction. The 1991 Aspen Congressional Seminar, hosted by former Senator Dick Clark and partially underwritten by the two foundations, was attended by Senators Sam Nunn (D-GA), and Richard Lugar (R-IN). The presentation resonated strongly with the two senators, both of whom were concerned about the danger that unsecured Soviet nuclear weapons might fall into the wrong hands or be deployed by accident as command and control mechanisms began to fail.
The two senators set about making the case to their fellow lawmakers that American assistance could, and should, help the Soviet states destroy their stockpiles of poorly secured nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. In mid-December, Congress approved the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of 1991, more commonly known as the Nunn-Lugar Act. . . .



  • Field Building
  • Partnership
  • Strategy


  • Northern America

Blog Posts


Jan 27

JOIN US Wednesday, January 27th at 4:30 PM, on Zoom, for a VIRTUAL discussion on reinventing local journalism with philanthropic and civic capital. Registration is Required