National Security Experts

Contributor

Larry Korb

Biography provided by participant

Dr. Lawrence J. Korb is a Senior Fellow at American Progress and a Senior Advisor to the Center for Defense Information. Prior to joining American Progress, he was Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Korb has also served as Director of the Center for Public Policy Education and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh; Vice President of Corporate Operations at the Raytheon Company; and Director of Defense Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Korb served as Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations, and Logistics) from 1981 through 1985. In that position, he administered about 70 percent of the defense budget. For his service in that position, he was awarded the Department of Defense's medal for Distinguished Public Service. Korb served on active duty for four years as Naval Flight Officer, and retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of captain.

Recent Responses

August 9, 2011 04:05 PM

The GOP’s “strong on defense” brand is mainly a myth. Even before the Vietnam buildup, John Kennedy increased defense spending by 15 percent in real terms over the budget he inherited from Eisenhower. Jimmy Carter increased defense spending by 11 percent over the budget he inherited from the Nixon-Ford administration. Bill Clinton actually spent more on defense than Bush 41 had projected on leaving office. And since the end of the George W. Bush administration, the baseline defense budget has continued to increase in real terms under Obama. For example, in early 2008, the last budget of the Bush administration, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates projected that for FY 2012, the baseline defense budget would be $544 billion. In FY 2012, Gates, who remained in office under Obama, requested $553 billion.

In fact, the major reductions in defense since World War II have all been done by Republicans. Eisenhower reduced defense spending in real terms by 27 percent; Nixon by 29 percent, and Reagan II and Bush I by 25 percent. Clinton actually left office

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July 21, 2011 04:22 PM

Most of those arguing that the US military should leave as many as 10,000 troops in Iraq after the December 31, 2011 deadline were also responsible for getting us involved in this mindless, needless, senseless invasion and occupation in the first place. And just as they refused to do a thoughtful cost-benefit analysis of the invasion and occupation in 2003, they are not doing one now. An unbiased analysis would show that it is not in the best interests of either Iraq or the United States for American troops to remain after the deadline, which was agreed to by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Maliki in the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement.

First, the Iraqis never wanted us to invade their country, and most believe that the deaths of several hundred thousand of their fellow citizens and the widespread destruction of the country in order to remove Saddam Hussein was not worth it. Maliki, who was our choice to become the head of the Iraqi government in 2005 and again in 2009, summed up the Iraqi attitude in June 2009 when, under the terms of the Status of Forces A

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May 11, 2011 05:48 PM

The death of bin Laden means that we can finally put the struggle against terrorist groups with a global reach, like Al Qaeda, into proper perspective.

Since the attacks of 9-11, we have overreacted, both at home an abroad, to the threat posed by Al Qaeda. Compromising our civil liberties and values with the Patriot Ac, Guantanamo, and waterboarding, trying to remake the Arab world by regime change and nation building, declaring war on the “axis of evil,” and doubling the defense budget.

The great irony is that while bin Laden and his organization did significant damage to us on 9-11, our overreaction caused even more damage to this nation. More Americans have been killed in the mindless, needless, senseless war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9-11, than were killed on 9-11 (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died). Moreover, as a result of the Iraqi invasion and diverting forces from Afghanistan before the job was finished, we have added close to $3 trillion to our deficit, which the Chairmain of the Joint Chie

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April 11, 2011 06:03 PM

Whoever succeeds Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense will have a difficult task. But not just for the reason most commonly mentioned, namely that the defense budget will not continue to grow as it has for the past decade. While it is true that if the nation is to deal win a meaningful way the defense budget will have to decline in current and constant dollars, the real problem for Gates’ successor is that Gates’ actions have not matched his rhetoric and that he does not deserve many of the accolades his is receiving.

Let me give a few examples. First, Gates went to West Point and said that any Secretary of Defense who recommends sending large land armies into the Middle East, Asia, or Africa should have his head examined. This is from a person who recommended sending over 100,000 additional troops into Iraq and Afghanistan (the Middle East and Asia). Moreover, when confronted by a Wall Street reporter about this apparent contradiction, Gates responded by saying he wished he had not said it.

Second, Gates spoke at the annual meeting of the Navy League

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October 18, 2010 05:52 PM

The ending of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) will have a positive impact on military readiness. Not only will it stop the military from having to throw out thousands of highly qualified people, but it will also keep some 4000 men and women from refusing to reenlist because they are in Admiral Mullen’s words “being forced to live a lie.” Moreover, repeal of DADT will make military service more attractive to those who now refuse to consider joining an institution that discriminates against a group of people for no good reason. Finally, many universities and colleges which now refuse to allow ROTC on to their campuses will be willing to take ROTC back once the ban is dropped.

But some critics contend that ending the ban should not be done abruptly. Actually the reverse is true. A 1993 Rand study, which was done at the time President Clinton was trying to end the ban on gays even being allowed into the military, concluded that it should be done quickly and that any delay would be counterproductive. Moreover, British, Canadian, Australian, and Isr

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September 20, 2010 05:28 PM

The impact of a Republican majority on President Obama’s national security and foreign affairs agenda will depend upon whether Republicans return to their Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 41 heritage or reinforce the “party of no” politics of the last two years.

Under Eisenhower, Republicans took the lead on reducing defense spending to balance the budget and refused to become entangled in the Vietnam quagmire. President Eisenhower explained over 50 years ago that a nation’s security is directly tied to the health of its economy. He believed, correctly, that if military spending rose too high it would ultimately undermine U.S. security, which he saw as a product of both military and economic strength. He also consistently resisted calls from the Joint Chiefs and some Democratic members of Congress to outspend the USSR. Consequently, defense spending declined in real terms during his time in office.

Richard Nixon, who served as Eisenhower’s vice president for eight years, applied these lessons well when he became president in 1969. Pr

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August 12, 2010 02:58 PM

Despite the front page stories in all of our major newspapers and the bold headlines in the media, Gates’ announcement this week was, at best, really much ado about nothing. At worst, it gave the false impression that after 13 years of real growth in the regular defense budget, which saw it almost double in real terms, Gates would finally bring defense spending under control.

Essentially Gates claimed that he would save substantial sums by closing the Joint Forces Command, cutting some 50 flag officers, and slicing the number of contractors by 10 percent a year for the next three years. Really?

The Joint Forces Command costs $240 million a year to operate and employs 2,800 people. If Gates closes it and fires all 2,800, the Pentagon could save $240 million. But according to Gates most of these people will be given new jobs, including General Ray Odierno, who will take over the command in September and will close it down.

Cutting 50 flag officers could save at most $13 million a year. But even that small number assumes that the overall size of th

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August 5, 2010 01:25 PM

While there are some suggestions that make sense in the report of the independent panel that was established to evaluate the QDR, the panel failed in what should have been its biggest task, namely, how to bring the escalating baseline defense budget under control, and thus enable the defense budget to contribute its fair share to reducing our nearly $1.5 trillion budget deficit. Rather the panel proposed establishing another outside group to examine the issue of rapidly growing personnel costs and then recommended increasing the size of the overall budget to counter growing Chinese influence.

Where would the U.S. get this extra money? Most probably we’d borrow it from China, to whom we already owe at least $1 trillion. Anyone really concerned about countering Chinese influence knows that the best course of action is to get our fiscal house in order, not build more ships.

Will reducing defense spending by itself relieve our deficit? No. But it can and must play a part. After entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, defense sp

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June 3, 2010 04:31 PM

Post World War II, American presidents going back to Eisenhower have recognized that our national security must stand on a firm economic foundation. They have therefore kept defense under control by holding down defense spending. Even Ronald Reagan recognized this: when his supply side economics did not work as intended in his first term, he reduced defense spending in his second term to help rein in the growing budget deficits. Moreover, when we went to war, as we did in Korea and Vietnam, and defense spending had to increase, Presidents Truman and Johnson raised taxes, cut some social programs, and employed the draft to help keep the budget in balance.

The only president to let defense spending rise significantly during wartime without raising taxes was President George W. Bush. In fact, he did the opposite: he cut taxes. As a result, the almost $5 trillion surplus that he inherited from President Clinton turned into a $5 trillion deficit and made it difficult for the Obama administration to provide sufficient economic stimulus to get us out of the economic catastrophe h

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April 28, 2010 05:09 PM

The successful attacks against the leadership of Al Qaeda and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past several months are not related. Rather they are a result of several unrelated policies that have been pursued independently. Moreover, these captures and killings will have little impact on what the Bush administration mistakenly called the Global War on Terror and on what the Obama administration currently labels the struggle against violent extremism.

The killing of the two top leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq last week is the result of information provided to the Iraqi Security Forces by Iraqis, who only entered into a marriage of convenience with Al Qaeda as a way to drive out the Americans, whom they viewed as the second coming of the British and/or the supporters of a Shiite government that was hostile to their interests.

Once it became clear that the U.S. was in fact leaving, Al Qaeda in Iraq lost much of that support and the influx of foreigners coming into Iraq to join Al Qaeda slowed to a trickle. Moreover, killing their leaders, as with the killi

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April 13, 2010 05:00 PM

Unfortunately, many of today’s Republican leaders have very short memories. In criticizing Obama’s strategic arms agreement with Russia or his Nuclear Posture Review, they seem unaware that Republican presidents including Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush all signed arms control agreements with the Soviet Union (or Russia) that eliminated or limited U.S. nuclear weapons. Or that in 1957 Republican Dwight Eisenhower ruled out waging nuclear war against non-nuclear states, and in 1986 Ronald Reagan agreed to eliminate the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal even though the Soviets had a massive advantage in conventional arms.

The real weakness of Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review is that it does not go far enough to fulfill his campaign promise or his speech in Prague. In fact his NPR is not significantly different from that of President Bush. Under pressure from the Pentagon, Obama refused to endorse the idea that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is deterrence, instead saying only that the fundamental

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March 26, 2010 03:46 PM

No one should be surprised that General David Petraeus has once again overstepped the traditional boundaries to which American military professionals should adhere. After all this is a general who waded into the 2004 presidential election by writing an op-ed in the Washington Post in late September of that year, in which he echoed the false claims of the Bush administration about the progress we were making in Iraq in general, and in his training command in particular. Petraeus also undermined his predecessor as CENTCOM Commander, Admiral William Fallon, by using his mentor, retired Army General Jack Keane, to bypass Fallon and go directly to the White House with his requests. General Petraeus’ arguments about the impact of the stalled Middle East peace process on American interests in the region are correct, not new, and have been amply reported by all diplomats in the region and in the State Department. His sending a team of several briefers to the Pentagon was not only unnecessary but inappropriate for a military commander. What would General Petraeus sa

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March 1, 2010 05:25 PM

If the United States had never invaded Iraq, we could have finished the job in Afghanistan at a relatively small cost in blood and treasure. Therefore, we would not now be in a position where we are seen as occupiers by many in that country and where it will cost us hundreds of billions of dollars more and thousands of additional lives to ensure that Afghanistan does not once again become a haven for Al Qaeda or a threat to the region. In addition, had we finished the job in Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistan would not be teetering on the brink of becoming a failed state while trying to hedge its bets between supporting the Taliban and us. Had we not invaded, Saddam Hussein might still be in power, but as General Zinni pointed out in 2002, before we undertook this mindless, needless, senseless war, Saddam was contained and growing weaker. Thus, he would be less of a threat to his neighbors and the region. No doubt some Iraqis would have suffered under a continuation of Saddam’s regime had he lasted these past seven years, but far fewer would have suffered and died o

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