Chris Preble, the Cato Institute’s vice president for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, has been regularly featured on Richardcyoung.com as “The Most Important Person In America You May Never Have Heard Of.”
Chris Preble’s Cato Institute Bio
Christopher A. Preble is the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is the author of three books including The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous and Less Free (Cornell University Press, 2009), which documents the enormous costs of America’s military power, and proposes a new grand strategy to advance U.S. security; and John F. Kennedy and the Missile Gap (Northern Illinois University Press, 2004), which explores the political economy of military spending during the 1950s and early 1960s. Preble is also the lead author of Exiting Iraq: How the U.S. Must End the Occupation and Renew the War against Al Qaeda (Cato Institute, 2004); and he co-edited, with Jim Harper and Benjamin Friedman, Terrorizing Ourselves: Why U.S. Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing and How to Fix It (Cato Institute, 2010). In addition to his books, Preble has published over 150 articles in major publications including USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, theFinancial Times, National Review, The National Interest, the Harvard International Review, and Foreign Policy. He is a frequent guest on television and radio. 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.
In 2012 Chris Preble was named one of the 100 most influential people on defense by DefenseNews.
When some think tanks are arguing for a larger defense budget, Preble brings his classically libertarian message to the debate: Defense cuts, he argues, will actually make America’s defense stronger. Now that thinking is gaining traction with the likes of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla,, arguing in his report, “The Department of Everything,” that the Pentagon budget is so larded with special-interest pork that it easily can be cut by more than $60 billion if all those nondefense add-ons are eliminated. CATO doesn’t have the sway of a CNAS, but Preble, a former Navy surface warfare officer, might be onto something.
Dick Young has called Chris Preble “The Most Important Person In America You May Never Have Heard Of.” Mr. Young has written a three-part series (Part I, Part II, Part III) on Chris and his work at Cato.
Dick discusses Preble’s work on The Power Problem:
(1) The total amount that we spend on our military every year in the United States is roughly the same as the sum total of all defense expenditures by every other country on the planet.
(2) Even aircraft and ships designed in the 1980’s and built in the 1990’s are superior to what other countries can put in the air or out to sea today.
(3) Powell (Colin) was incensed by the implications that U.S. soldiers were geopolitical pawns that policymakers in Washington could move around some “global game board.”
(4) Often times, however, foreign interventions are not intended to advance U.S. interests; the interventions are, as their advocates suggest, ”gifts” intended for others. But because our government’s enumerated powers do not include the right to give such gifts—paid for by U.S. tax payers—Washington often attempts to justify such gifts on the grounds that U.S interests are at stake, even when they are not. The intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo in 1995 and even 1999 respectively, reflect this approach, as did calls for U.S. military intervention in Liberia in 2003, or in Sudan in 2006, or the absurd notion that these were crucial fronts in the “war on terror.”
(5) Even short relatively small-scale operations can prove extremely costly for those involved…. The mission in1992-93 in Somalia collapsed after a firefight in Mogadishu that left eighteen Army Rangers dead.
(6) It is essential that every weapon system, every proposal to increase size of the force, every plan for deploying our military abroad or for expanding operations already under way, be scrutinized anew.
(7) We need a new approach to military intervention grounded in a realization that even well-managed wars unleash a host of unintended consequences.
(8) What do we really need in terms of military capacity? I contend that we need enough to ensure our peace and security. We must be able to deter any state foolish enough to threaten the American homeland.
(9) If our physical security, our homeland, were under assault, if foreign armies set foot on U.S. soil for the first time since 1815, we can rest assured that every American capable of carrying a gun (and we have 200 million of them!) would make the foolish aggressor pay.
(10) As for the threat posed by terrorist groups and other non-state actors, 280 modern warships, 8,000 military aircraft, 30,000 tanks and armored personnel carriers, and more than 1.4 million men and women at arms did not deter nineteen angry young men (none from Iraq) from flying airplanes into buildings on 9/11; twice or three times that number of ships, planes and tanks would have been equally irrelevant.
And on the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine:
Chris discusses fulfilling an essential role while not undermining our security and not imposing unnecessary costs and risks. In this regard, let’s look at the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine, which Chris deals with in his book. I would like you to read the article Weinberger/Powell Doctrine R.I.P., penned by Chris in 2011, in which he writes, “Actually, it isn’t a question. It’s a statement: the doctrine that sought to prevent the United States from engaging in risky and counterproductive missions that had nothing to do with protecting U.S. vital interests (e.g., Lebanon, 1983; Somalia, 1991; and Kosovo, 1999) is dead. Shovel dirt on it”
Chris explains that the doctrine’s essential elements boil down to five key questions. (1) Is there a compelling national interest at stake? (2) Have the costs and consequences of intervention been considered? (3) Have we exhausted all available options for resolving the problem, i.e. is force a last resort? (4) Is there a clear and achievable military mission, and therefore a well-defined end state? (5) Is there strong public support-both domestic and international support-for the operation?
And on the Founders’ intent:
Mr. Preble tells readers, “The Founders of our great nation—men such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—worried that wars would give rise to an overgrown military establishment that would upset the delicate balance between the three branches of government, and between the government and the people…. Madison added another crucial caveat, seeing warfare as a kind of Petri dish for the expansion of power at the expense of the individual.”
Read more Richardcyoung.com about Chris Preble and the Cato Institute by running a search in the grey bar above Chris Preble.