National Security Experts

Contributor

Christopher Preble

Biography provided by participant

Christopher A. Preble is the director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. His book, The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous and Less Free (Cornell, 2009), documents the enormous costs of America's military power, and proposes a new grand strategy to advance U.S. national security. He is also the author of Exiting Iraq: How the U.S. Must End the Occupation and Renew the War against Al Qaeda, and John F. Kennedy and the Missile Gap. In addition to his books, Preble has published over 100 articles in major publications, and appears regularly on radio and television. Before joining Cato in February 2003, he taught history at St. Cloud State University and Temple University. Preble was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, and served onboard USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) from 1990 to 1993. Preble holds a Ph.D. in history from Temple University.

Recent Responses

November 17, 2010 01:01 PM

As usual, I find myself in agreement with Paul Sullivan. If the country is serious about reducing the deficit, and it should be, then all spending must be on the table. The primary driver of our long term fiscal imbalance is entitlements. The demographic trends make it impossible to continue along our current path, which will have a shrinking pool of workers paying increasingly generous retirement and health care benefits for retirees who live longer and longer lives. The deficit reduction commission's end product simply must include some programmatic reforms to deal with the generational imbalances if it is going to be taken seriously. And the early opposition from a handful of special-interest groups suggests that there is a lack of seriousness all around.

Other spending must also be on the table, however, and that includes the roughly 23 percent of the federal budget that goes to the military. This often poses a particular challenge for Republicans given their traditional support for military spending and their professed commitment to fiscal discipline. But it need n

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August 2, 2010 11:49 PM

Dan Goure says that U.S. military preeminence is not unaffordable. That is probably correct. Even though we spend in excess of $800 billion annually on national security (including the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs) we could choose to spend as much, or more, for a while longer. We could choose to shift money out of other government programs; we could raise taxes; or we could continue to finance the whole thing on debt, and stick our children and grandchildren with the bill.

But what is the point? Why do Americans spend so much more on our military than does any other country, or any other combination of countries?

Goure and the Hadley-Perry commissioners who produced the alternate QDR argue that the purpose of American military power is to provide global public goods, to defend other countries so that they don't have to defend themselves, and otherwise shape the internatio

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June 14, 2010 07:42 AM

It is hardly newsworthy when one of America's allies bucks Uncle Sam. It has become an almost daily occurence. The latest snub by Turkey and Brazil at the UNSC wasn't even a surprise. The two countries had signaled their discontent with Washington's approach toward Iran's nuclear program by sponsoring a compromise aimed at thwarting the drive for another round of sanctions. And Turkey's role in the Gaza-blockade-busting flotilla has elicited a chorus of criticism.

But just because the United States has had difficulty keeping its allies in line doesn't mean that it can't assemble a coalition to deal with common challenges. It all depends on whether the parties agree on the nature and severity of the threat, and on the best means for mitigating it. In this context, the multinational naval task force operating off the Horn of Africa has had great success beating back piracy in the region. The countries that choose to participate agree that piracy poses a threat to their commercial interests, and are willing to band together in a loose coalition -- and not as part of a formal,

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June 3, 2010 11:21 AM

Our long-term fiscal imbalance, which increasingly amounts to a massive intergenerational wealth transfer, is clearly a sign of our decline. But it is a decline that has been a long time coming. (I first wrote about the insolvency of the Social Security system as a college sophomore, 23 years ago.) As such, it is tempting for people to assume that we'll figure our way out of this mess before a complete collapse. Let's call them, at the risk of a double negative, the declinist naysayers. And, even if they are willing to admit to the problem in the abstract, the naysayers can point to the more serious, and urgent, imbalances between pensioners and those who pay the pensions in Europe or Japan and say "At least we aren't them."

That is a pretty shoddy argument, but it seems to be ruling the day. We can talk about the obvious unsustainability of using taxes on current workers to pay benefits for retirees until we're blue in the face. And my second grader can do the math on a system that was designed when workers outnumbered beneficiaries by 16.5 to 1, and in which, b

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May 17, 2010 07:41 AM

If President Obama is serious about transitioning security responsibilities to the Afghan people within the next year or so, the Afghan government must make considerable progress toward reconciliation with anti-government forces. Some of these individuals are irreconcilable, and joint U.S. and Afghan military operations are essential to quelling the insurgency. But many, perhaps most, of the people we today call the Taliban have no connection to the movement that harbored al Qaeda at the time of the 9/11 attacks. As such, the U.S. government should support Karzai's decision to reach out to these individuals and groups.

The United States should not assume a leading role in this process, however. We are visitors in Afghanistan, not imperial overlords on the model of the British colonial office in Kipling's time. We should not dictate the terms of any deal between President Karzai and opposition groups within the country. We should not decide for the Afghan people what the character of their government will be. We should not even presuppose that President Karzai will emerge

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April 12, 2010 07:25 AM

It was inevitable that Republicans would knock President Obama for being soft on national security, and it is likely to be an issue in this year’s mid-term elections, and in the 2012 campaign. This has been the standard mantra from the GOP playbook for over a generation, and the party’s leaders show no sign of backing away from it. But the Democrats shouldn’t be too worried. They easily turned aside such criticisms in 2006 and 2008 by pointing out that policies promoted by a Republican president, and supported by a Republican Congress -- especially the ruinous Iraq war -- had significantly undermined U.S. security.

With respect to nuclear weapons, the president and his allies have more than enough ammunition to refute the charges that reductions in the size of the U.S. arsenal make the U.S. more vulnerable to attack. Leaders in Washington and Moscow figured out long ago that a stable, secure and credible deterrent need not include many thousands of nuclear warheads. A Republican president, Richard Nixon, initiated the very first round of reductions in

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March 12, 2010 11:29 AM

Gordon Adams objects to the framing of the question, arguing that Europe is more important than ever because European governments have chosen to invest in civilians, not men and women at arms. In this context, Europe's military weakness is a feature, not a bug.

Dan Serwer agrees, saying that the "Europeans are on to something," that their civilian capabilities are vast, that they've been deployed in 22 different operations, and are involved in a dozen currently.

But even if they have such capabilities, all the soft power in the world isn't worth much without some military power to back it up. In many of the places where nation building might be called for, various thugs, murderers and warlords use weapons to steal food aid, intimidate local officials, and kidnap wealthy foreigners. Such situations cry out for hard power: people who pry the weapons from the cold dead hands of the warlords, and convince the warlord’s followers to get onboard or else meet a similar fate. The aftermath of this dynamic, played out dozens of times in the past

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March 8, 2010 07:41 AM

It would be unwise for Americans to write off Europeans as a lost cause, congenitally dependent upon U.S. military power, and unable to contribute either to their own defense or to policing the global commons. We can’t count on Europe -- right now -- but that doesn’t mean we can never count on Europe in the future. Americans who complain about Europe’s unwillingness to play a larger role in policing the globe, and who would like them to do more, should start by exploring the many reasons why Europe is so weak militarily. Consider, for example, Europe’s half-hearted and inconsistent steps to establish a security capacity independent of NATO -- and therefore independent of the United States -- since the end of the Cold War. Such proposals have failed for many reasons, but we shouldn't ignore the extent to which Uncle Sam has actively discouraged Europe from playing a more active role. Most recently, Hillary Clinton expressed the U.S. government’s position that political and economic integrat

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