Kurt Campbell and Washington’s Primacy Pathology: Part III
The most successful foreign policy people are almost always national security “popularists,” positioning themselves in support of whatever’s in the Washington zeitgeist.
The longer they stick around, the more prominent they become, true. But the flip side is that the longer they stick around, the more evidence accumulates that they exist to rationalize the going concern, no matter how violent, unjust, flagrantly corrupt, or just stupid.
Kurt has been among the most successful of the national security popularists, going from advocating for the Nye Report and NATO expansion, to expanded missile defense, to defining the War on Terror as a new Cold War, to supporting the Iraq War, to securitizing climate change…I could go on.
Small wonder Kurt was also an early booster of the most recent popularist moves inside the Beltway—“Indo-Pacific” and “great-power competition.”
What incentive does someone have to be a voice for the powerful and well-heeled? On some level I suppose that question answers itself.
But grasping why someone might find it beneficial, or at least convenient, to be a policy weathervane—even a really smart one—requires understanding how the policy game works in Washington.