Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, May 27, 2010 8:57 pm

Missed opportunity

I got to hear Lawrence Korb speak last night at the O. Henry. Korb was the Defense Department official during the first Reagan term who was responsible for manpower and other key issues — basically, 70% of the defense budget. To hear him tell it, Republican politicians have kind of left him standing on the Curb of Responsibility as they dashed out to play in the Six-Lane Boulevard of Madness. As a result, he advised the Obama campaign in ’08 and is now with the Center for American Progress, the moderate-to-slightly-liberal think tank run by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta.

He was an affable, entertaining speaker. He talks kind of fast, and his extemporaneous presentation involves a lot of self-interruptions and sidelong dashes down various interesting rabbit holes, so that you need to bring a fair bit of context with you to be able to follow him completely. As it happens, during his time at the Pentagon, the PR agency I worked with in New York did some work on defense issues (albeit from a different policy direction: our client was the Union of Concerned Scientists, which — aided by such luminaries as George Kennan, the pseudonymous “X” who created the policy of containment after World War II — was pushing the government to adopt a No First Use policy), so I had enough context to follow him OK.

He was talking primarily about America’s nuclear policy and why he thinks the recently signed START treaty and nonproliferation efforts are a Good Thing. But he invited questions on a wider range of defense-related issues than that. Because I am an idiot and/or my children have eaten my brain, I totally forgot to ask him what he thought about the Obama administration’s use of drones, particularly the potential targeting of U.S. citizens without due legal process.

What can I say? I suck. I admit it.

So I e-mailed him. If he responds, and if he permits his response to be published, I’ll publish it here.


Monday, May 24, 2010 6:26 am

Lawrence Korb speaks in Greensboro

Greensboro College (full disclosure: my employer) and the Triad World Affairs Council will host a presentation by Dr. Lawrence Korb, “After the Nuclear Security Summit: Is America Safe?”, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at the O. Henry Hotel, 624 Green Valley Road in Greensboro (map).

The cost is $15 for council members and $25 for the general public. There’ll be food and beverages. Reservations are required; to make them, please call Claudia Davis at 336.272.7102, ext. 221, or e-mail

Korb is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. He is also a senior advisor to the Center for Defense Information and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Prior to joining the Center for American Progress he was a senior fellow and director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has previously worked at the Brookings Institution, Raytheon and the American Enterprise Institute and has taught at the University of Pittsburgh.

If you recognize his name but don’t watch Sunday-morning talk shows, it may be because he was assistant secretary of defense (manpower, reserve affairs, installations and logistics) during the big military buildup of Ronald Reagan’s first term.

Some recent writing from Korb:

This guy is as much of an expert on nuclear policy as anyone around, and Greensboro is fortunate to get him. I hope you can come hear him.

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