The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

Campbell on the hot seat

The State Department unveiled its new approach to Burma yesterday, giving some details of the new U.S. policy of mixing engagement with pressure. Congress will get its chance to weigh in tomorrow, when Burma is the focus of a hearing led by engagement champion and Virginia Senator Jim Webb. Assistant Secretary of State for East ...

580320_090929_campbell2.jpg
580320_090929_campbell2.jpg
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell speaks during the press conference at U.S. Embassy on September 18, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. Kurt is in Japan to discuss key issues with new administration officials.

The State Department unveiled its new approach to Burma yesterday, giving some details of the new U.S. policy of mixing engagement with pressure. Congress will get its chance to weigh in tomorrow, when Burma is the focus of a hearing led by engagement champion and Virginia Senator Jim Webb.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell will be the star witness at tomorrow's Senate hearing, which will also include Burmese historian Thant Myint-U and Georgetown University scholar David Steinberg, both of whom are sympathetic to Webb's position.

The State Department unveiled its new approach to Burma yesterday, giving some details of the new U.S. policy of mixing engagement with pressure. Congress will get its chance to weigh in tomorrow, when Burma is the focus of a hearing led by engagement champion and Virginia Senator Jim Webb.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell will be the star witness at tomorrow’s Senate hearing, which will also include Burmese historian Thant Myint-U and Georgetown University scholar David Steinberg, both of whom are sympathetic to Webb’s position.

Webb is not waiting for anyone to endorse his engagement policy, however. He agreed to meet with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein in New York, only the latest of his many meetings with Burmese officials since his trip there last month. Webb’s shuttle diplomacy between Burma, Washington, and New York has come under fire from some Burmese pro-democracy groups and from the neoconservative foreign-policy crowd.

Campbell previewed his testimony, and the administration’s new Burma policy, in a State Department press conference on Monday.

“For the first time in memory, the Burmese leadership has shown an interest in engaging with the United States, and we intend to explore that interest,” Campbell said, quickly noting that recently renewed ties between Burmese leaders and North Korea spoke to the urgency of engaging Burma.

Using a step-by-step approach, the United States will have a direct dialogue with Burmese military leadership, and lift sanctions only after progress is shown on the Burmese side, Campbell said. Human rights will be part of the discussions, as well as Burmese compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1874 and 1718, which severely restrict North Korea’s ability to import or export weapons.

“In terms of sanctions, we will maintain existing sanctions until we see concrete progress towards reform,” Campbell said, “We recognize that this will likely be a long and difficult process.”

He also promised that the United States would continue to press for the release of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who apparently is open to discussing the lifting of sanctions, according to Thailand’s pro-democracy Irrawaddy newspaper.

Junko Kimura/Getty Images

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.