Lawrence Korb

Lawrence J. Korb a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Senior Adviser to the Center for Defense Information, was the assistant secretary of defense from 1981 to 1985.

Recent Articles

Surging to Disaster

In 1964, when Lyndon Johnson began escalating America's involvement in Vietnam, Undersecretary of State George Ball warned that "the party which seems to be losing will be tempted to keep raising the ante." In the summer of 1965, when the United States had less than 100,000 troops in Vietnam, Ball concluded that "humiliation would be more likely than the achievement of our objectives -- even after we have paid terrible costs." As Ball predicted, the United States eventually increased its troop levels to nearly 600,000 and suffered almost 60,000 deaths to no avail. And so today we hear the latest call from the architects of the war in Iraq to raise the ante by surging our troop presence. With The Weekly Standard incessantly arguing for more troops, John McCain staking his presidential hopes on the idea, and the president now entertaining the possibility, it looks increasingly likely that the U.S. may double down by increasing its troop levels. The new plan, discussed last week in these...

Rumsfeld's Folly

Since coming into office, the Bush administration has radically altered national-security and military doctrines that had successfully safeguarded American interests for more than 50 years. The changes, as the current crisis in Iraq demonstrates, have actually undermined U.S. security. George W. Bush's new national-security doctrine, officially promulgated on Sept. 17, 2001, discards the long-standing American policy of using American military and economic power, in conjunction with international support, to create a stable international order by deterring and containing those who would challenge this order. The Bush strategy, by contrast, is to make the United States the world's dominant military power and to use that power -- unbound by the need for allies or United Nations approval -- to take unilateral, preemptive military action against tyrants who support terrorists or who seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, the president contends that in order to deal with...

Overpaying the Pentagon

When George Bush Senior's administration decided that the end of the Cold War made it safe to reduce the defense budget and the size of our armed forces, many neoconservatives and defense hawks, some of whom were serving in that administration, argued against the move. They wanted the United States to maintain military dominance in order to prevent the emergence of a rival power to challenge American hegemony. Since the attacks of September 11, and the promulgation of the George W. Bush doctrine of unilateral military preemption a year later, many of these same individuals are now calling for an increase of as much as $100 billion a year in defense spending and restoring the size of the active duty military force to its 1990 level. They base their case on four arguments. First, the U.S. military is engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Second, the Clinton administration reduced the defense budget so much more than the first Bush administration had anticipated that the readiness of our...