Kurt Campbell and Washington’s Primacy Pathology: Part I
Axios—the publication that caters to people who don’t read—just wrote something profiling Kurt Campbell. It’s rare for anyone in the media to scrutinize him, and I’m not sure Axios’s treatment counts as scrutiny either.
For those who don’t know, Kurt is/has been Biden’s “Indo-Pacific Czar,” working out of the NSC. His name is being floated (not for the first time) for the position of Deputy Secretary of State—a high-powered job that’s also kind of a thankless one.
As DepSecState, you get to exercise a lot of power because you’re a clearinghouse that approves or vetoes A LOT of operations-level decisions in US foreign policy. But the flip side is that you have to spend A LOT of time making that policy sausage grinder turn.
It’s a micro-manager’s dream, but a dreamer’s nightmare. Rather than spending your days representing the US at flashy summits, you’re signing off on action memos while the boss is out of town.
Anyway, I rarely dwell on personnel rumors, but this one is different because Kurt’s situation is different. And not in a good way.
In what follows, I’m gonna drop a little knowledge about Kurt, not to be a gossip, but because his success in the foreign policy machine says a lot about the social reality of how (and who) exercises power in Washington.
If you wonder why Biden has been so different (progressive?) on domestic policy but so same-same primacist on foreign policy, part of the answer is Kurt and people like him. Rigid US policy is downstream of corruption, unaccountability, and social-network status, which are all intertwined.
Let me explain.