Kurt Campbell and Washington’s Primacy Pathology: Part II
This is Part II in our mini-series on Kurt Campbell’s Washington. You can read Part I here.
Not a lot has been written about Kurt’s history or how he operates. Even his Wikipedia bio is curiously sparse…
But people who know know. Like everyone in middle-senior levels of the foreign-policy game, I’ve been privy to a lot of word-on-the-street gossip about Kurt over the years. I’ve come across the occasional news story that mentions his connections to companies and politicians. We overlapped at various points in my career in weird ways that I’ll get to soon enough. For a book I published in 2018, I did 20 or so interviews with former government officials who worked on Asia, most of whom had something to say about Kurt for non-attribution. And there’s of course a record of publications with his name on it, including his quasi-memoir, The Pivot, which I’ll have more to say about in a forthcoming post.
But the most detailed things I’ve come across about Kurt were in James Mann’s writings about DC foreign policy back in the day—especially The Vulcans (about the neocons) and The Obamians (about Obama’s first term in office). Mann is no leftist—possibly the opposite—but he had few kind words for either the neocons or the Democratic Party establishment. And he knew and said quite a bit about Kurt.
From these various sources, it becomes possible to assemble what Kurt was up to during that first decade of the War on Terror after leaving public service, and that is basically the source code for everything that came during the Obama years and since.