The University of California San Diego recently hosted a visit from alum Kurt M. Campbell, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and recently founded The Asia Group, a consulting outfit. In a wide-ranging conversation with my colleague Susan Shirk, Campbell reflects on the pivot to Asia. The conversation looks at how the administration conceived its objectives with respect to China, as well as more mundane issues such as what to call the initiative (pivot or rebalance?), the difficulties of calibrating it, and the more mundane bureaucratic problems of formulating and implementing diplomatic work in a region that is many, many time zones away. Campbell doesn’t talk much about North Korea; what is there to say? But his reflections on Burma are intriguing as we look for new models of engagement. The pleasantries end about five minutes in.
See also our discussion of Jeff Bader’s memoir, also a very thoughtful reflection on Obama’s first-term Asia policy.