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.

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