Shadow Government

On Kurt Campbell, I vote yes

By Peter Feaver

Dov's thread about sub-cabinet appointments is one useful role for this blog, I think. We all have extensive experience working with the folks who are getting named to sub-cabinet positions, or at least mentioned, and perhaps we could help handicap the field. 

In this vein, one I would rate positively is Kurt Campbell for the Assistant Secretary at State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. Dr. Campbell is from the hawkish wing of the Democratic party, and while he has been stinging in his critique of Bush policy on some grounds, he has also been at the forefront of warning the incoming Administration from being reflexively anti-Bush. More so than most, he understands just how much was achieved in Asia over the past decade, and he is likely to build on that with modest course corrections rather than bringing the strategy grinding to a halt through abrupt reversals.

Indeed, he had a hand in creating some of the policy lines that have produced positive results, including the deepening of the U.S.-Japanese alliance.  Campbell is also quite the entrepreneur.  In 2007, he launched, with Michelle Flournoy (the incoming UnderSecretary of Defense for Policy, another solid pick) the Center for a New American Security, and it has had a remarkable run in terms of shaping the beltway debate. (Full disclosure: I am on the board of advisors, though in the interests of even fuller disclosure, when Campbell first told me about the idea for a new center I was quite bearish on the prospects and told him so. I did not think there was room in DC for yet another think tank, but I was very, very wrong.) 

One further point worth mentioning: paired with Tony Blinken, Biden's national security advisor and another responsible voice in an influential position, the Obama Administration may be fielding the Dream Team for the ASEAN skit night should that venerable tradition return.


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