On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed China hawk Kurt Campbell as the deputy secretary of state, the second highest ranking position in the State Department.
Campbell is taking the position after serving as President Biden’s top Asia official on the National Security Council. He worked in the Obama administration’s State Department from 2009-2013 and oversaw a policy known as the Asia “pivot,” which began the US military buildup in the region to prepare for a future war with China.
Back in 2021, Campbell said that when it came to China, the “period that was broadly described as engagement has come to an end” and that the “dominant paradigm” in the US-China relationship would be competition. Since then, tensions between the two nations have escalated as the US imposed new harsh economic sanctions, increased support for Taiwan, and continued to build up its military presence in the Asia Pacific.
Campbell is replacing Wendy Sherman, who retired in July 2023. His appointment signals the administration is still focused on increasing its military and diplomatic footprint in Asia despite the war in Ukraine and the escalating situation in the Middle East. Victoria Nuland, a notorious Russia hawk credited with orchestrating the 2014 coup in Ukraine, has been serving as the acting deputy secretary of state.
While Campbell has been known to focus on China most of his career, he is also a Russia hawk. During his Senate hearing, he said he favored more military aid to Ukraine. In 2022, Campbell said he believed the US could sustain two theaters of war as it did during World War II.
“It’s difficult. It’s expensive. But it is also essential, and I believe that we’re entering a period where that is what will be demanded of the United States and this generation of Americans,” he said.