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Campbell and Flournoy to join CNAS board

Kurt Campbell, one of the key architects of the Obama administration’s Asia "pivot," has left the State Department and is set to be the next chairman of the board at the Center for a New American Security, the think tank he helped found in 2008, multiple sources told The Cable. Campbell will be joined on ...

KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images
KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

Kurt Campbell, one of the key architects of the Obama administration's Asia "pivot," has left the State Department and is set to be the next chairman of the board at the Center for a New American Security, the think tank he helped found in 2008, multiple sources told The Cable.

Campbell will be joined on the CNAS board by Michèle Flournoy, the former undersecretary of defense for policy, who was the founding president of CNAS when Campbell was the founding CEO. Campbell's last day at State was last Friday. Flournoy attended his goodbye party in the State Department's diplomatic reception room, where a hot topic of discussion was who will replace Campbell as the State Department's top Asia official.

Kurt Campbell, one of the key architects of the Obama administration’s Asia "pivot," has left the State Department and is set to be the next chairman of the board at the Center for a New American Security, the think tank he helped found in 2008, multiple sources told The Cable.

Campbell will be joined on the CNAS board by Michèle Flournoy, the former undersecretary of defense for policy, who was the founding president of CNAS when Campbell was the founding CEO. Campbell’s last day at State was last Friday. Flournoy attended his goodbye party in the State Department’s diplomatic reception room, where a hot topic of discussion was who will replace Campbell as the State Department’s top Asia official.

The smart money is on National Security Staff Senior Director for Asia Danny Russel, whom the White House is said to favor, according to administration sources. Kerry is said to prefer someone with more name recognition in the region, such as Harvard Professor Joe Nye, these sources said (Nye told FP, "I haven’t heard anything from him."). Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific Affairs Mark Lippert, a longtime friend of President Barack Obama, is also a real possibility for the job and is said to want to move over to State.

The issue is now a matter of negotiation between the White House and Secretary of State John Kerry‘s team, and it is wrapped up in the negotiations over several other top State Department positions that are currently in flux. Interviews for the job have not yet been completed, we’re told, and therefore it could be some time before a decision is made.

Several other names are being discussed for Campbell’s job. Here are some identified by Chris Nelson in the Friday edition of the Nelson Report, an insider’s newsletter on Asia policy:

"We were told authoritatively yesterday that Kerry is looking at former Amb. to S. Korea Kathy Stephens, and UCSD prof. Susan Shirk, a China DAS under then-Sec. Albright during Clinton 2. And/but…similarly placed sources feel that Kerry’s list includes Brookings’ Richard Bush, former AIT president and NIO for Asia at the CIA, former DOD DAS, now Senate Foreign Relations staffer Michael Schiffer, and the staffer Michael replaced, Frank Januzzi, now running Amnesty International’s DC office."

We’ve also heard that U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim is under consideration. Kim served as the State Department’s special envoy to the six party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program before he became America’s envoy to Seoul.

In the meantime, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joe Yun will take over as acting assistant secretary until a replacement for Campbell is named. 

In addition to chairing the board at CNAS, Campbell is embarking on several additional projects. He is negotiating the details of a new book, tentatively entitled, The Pivot, which is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Asia "rebalancing" policy he helped shape and implement over the last four years. The administration doesn’t like the term "pivot" because it implies a turn away from the Middle East and Europe.

Campbell has also started a new consulting firm called The Asia Group, and has brought along his former deputy assistant secretary Nirav Patel to be the firm’s chief operating officer. The firm will have offices in Washington and Singapore and will focus both on bringing U.S. businesses into Asian markets and bringing Asian businesses to the United States. 

"A key focus area of the first four years of this administration has been the rebalance towards Asia and a key piece of all of that has been helping American businesses enter new markets and we want to be part of that," Patel told The Cable. "Also, Asian businesses are seeking to invest in the U.S. and that’s the part of the story that hasn’t been effectively told."

Patel has been replaced in his DAS position by Michael Fuchs, who formerly worked for Jake Sullivan in the Policy Planning shop at State. 

Meanwhile, David Wade has been selected as Kerry’s chief of staff and Bill Danvers is now deputy chief of staff, according to Mike Allen’s Playbook. Wade was Kerry’s chief of staff in his personal office and Danvers was Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff director. Heather Higginbottom, deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, will be State Department counselor, Allen reported.

"John Kerry’s trek from failed 2004 presidential contender to secretary of state wasn’t made alone. He was accompanied, supported, and guided every step of the way by his past and current chief of staff, David Wade. Wade was originally hired by Kerry as a speechwriter. Now he is overseeing all policy development, speechmaking, travel, and personnel for the nation’s chief diplomat, with the singular State Department acronym of ‘COS,’" Allen reported. "Wade also brings foreign policy chops to his new role by dint of Kerry’s tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose work Wade also supervised. Quite simply, he is the secretary’s closest confidante."

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

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