by Dr. Kurt Campbell, Assistant Sec. of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Reviewed by Francis P. Sempa, Contributing Editor
In a recent keynote address at the Center for a New American Security, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell spoke about the need to re-focus U.S. security policy to the Asia-Pacific region. "The lion's share of 21st century history," he stated, "will . . . be written in the Asia-Pacific region."
Campbell emphasized that our commitment to the region must be bi-partisan and sustained in order to be effective. This means, he explained, having regular high-level meetings with many countries in the region, including non-allies, and the continuing institutionalization of or relationships with important countries in the region.
He cited Robert Kaplan's book, Monsoon, as an excellent geopolitical guide to the importance of the region to U.S. security. The two most important oceans, he stated, are now the Indian and Pacific. Our most important allies in the 21st century are Japan, South Korea, and Australia, and we need to improve our relations with the Philippines, Thailand, and our former adversary Vietnam.
Campbell also called for the development of a cohort of people in the State Department, intelligence communities, and the military who have a clear and profound knowledge of Asia. In truth, we have and have had such people before, but their influence was not as great as the Europe specialists.
Finally, Campbell noted that the two most geopolitically significant countries in the region are China and India. Our relationships with those countries will likely define the geopolitics of the 21st century. He appeared to be too sanguine, however, about our ability to work with China as a partner instead of a competitor in the region.