In a move that may reassure Tokyo and other allies, Kurt Campbell, the architect of the US presence in Asia, will take on the role of coordinator of the Indian Ocean and Pacific affairs at the National Security Council, as deputy to Jake Sullivan, who has been chosen as the national security advisor.
A spokesman for Biden’s transition team confirmed the news, he said Reuters. This position will not need confirmation from the Senate. Campbell, a former Navy officer whose first interactions occurred in Asia while serving at Yokosuka Base in Kanagawa Prefecture, held various positions, including Assistant Secretary of State for ‘East Asia and the Pacific’ from 2009 to 2013, reports Japan Times.
He is also an author Axis: the future of American statecraft in Asia, A book outlining the Obama administration’s plan to rebalance US resources and focus on the Asia-Pacific region in the context of China’s rise.
Campbell wrote January 12 in an article published in Foreign affairs. He wrote that the president’s actions paved the way for “China to rewrite the central rules for the content and legitimacy of the system,” adding that “a serious commitment from the United States is needed.”
According to Campbell, the United States should continue to create “ad hoc bodies that focus on individual problems,” while seeking to expand existing alliances such as the Quartet to focus on military deterrence.
But Campbell also left the door open for cooperation with Beijing, noting that Asian countries do not want to be forced to choose between the United States and China: “The best solution is for the United States and its partners to convince China that there are competitive but peaceful regional advantages,” noting that they should be granted Beijing is a key position in the regional order if it sticks to the agreed rules.
His tough but meticulous stance from Beijing will be welcomed in Tokyo, which has praised Trump’s some tough approach to China, particularly his response to the naval insistence of Asian power in the seas of eastern and southern China.
Campbell has long been a proponent of Japan’s more powerful security role. According to Campbell, the new administration will have to deal almost immediately with North Korea’s nuclear approach.
Campbell said Biden would have to “make an early decision about what to do” on North Korea, while praising the “unusually bold strikes” of Trump’s diplomatic demands with Pyongyang, while Biden tries to avoid a repeat of 2009, when by Kim Jong Un aborted Obama administration attempts.
Tommaso Dal Basu
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