Dr Kurt Campbell

Former US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs


As the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2009 to early 2013, Kurt Campbell was a central figure in advancing the US-China relationship and was a key player in the historic normalisation of bilateral ties between the United States and Burma/Myanmar. He is currently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Asia Group and is writing a book about his experiences in the Obama administration with the title The Pivot.

Previously, Campbell was the CEO and Co-Founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and concurrently served as the director of the Aspen Strategy Group and chairman of the Editorial Board of the Washington Quarterly. He was the founder of StratAsia, a strategic advisory firm, and was the senior vice president, director of the International Security Program, and Henry A. Kissinger Chair in National Security Policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He was also associate professor of public policy and international relations at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and assistant director of the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.

Campbell has served in several capacities in government, including as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific, a director on the National Security Council Staff, deputy special counselor to the president for NAFTA in the White House, and White House fellow at the Department of the Treasury. For his service, he received the Department of Defense Medals for Distinguished Public Service and for Outstanding Public Service. He served as an officer in the US Navy on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in the Chief of Naval Operations Special Intelligence Unit.

He is the co-author with Jim Steinberg of Difficult Transitions: Why Presidents Fail in Foreign Policy at the Outset of Power, with Michele Flournoy of To Prevail: An American Strategy for the Campaign against Terrorism, with Michael O’Hanlon of Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security, and he co-authored with Nirav Patel The Power of Balance: America in iAsia. He is the editor of Climatic Cataclysm: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Climate Change, and The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider Their Nuclear Choices with Robert Einhorn and Mitchell Reiss.

He received his BA from the University of California, San Diego, a Certificate in music and political philosophy from the University of Erevan in Soviet Armenia, and his Doctorate in International Relations from Brasenose College at Oxford University where he was a Distinguished Marshall Scholar.