Biden to Select Kurt Campbell as Deputy Secretary of State

Biden to Select Kurt Campbell as Deputy Secretary of State – Kurt Campbell is set to be nominated as the next deputy secretary of State by Joe Biden, according to three sources who are knowledgeable about the decision. This move will promote the individual responsible for shaping the president’s strategies in the China and Indo-Pacific region to the second-highest diplomatic position in the nation. 

Campbell’s status as the frontrunner has been public knowledge for some time, as President Biden had previously requested the State Department’s initial choice, Jon Finer, to continue in his current role as the principal deputy national security adviser. Wendy Sherman, the administration’s first deputy secretary, retired during the summer.

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According to two individuals familiar with the matter, Campbell is in the final stages of the vetting process, and he will receive a formal nomination from the president once this review is successfully completed, as anticipated. However, due to a significant backlog in Senate confirmations, the timing of his hearing and potential vote remains uncertain.

Campbell, serving as the National Security Council coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, has played a pivotal role in virtually all of the Biden administration’s actions related to Asia policy. He is credited with originating the AUKUS agreement, which involved a nuclear submarine deal with the United Kingdom and Australia. He worked discreetly to bring this project to fruition, surprising many of his colleagues with the formal announcement of the deal.

The diplomatic tension between France and the United States, caused by the sidelining of France’s own submarine deal with Australia due to AUKUS, created a situation that Campbell’s colleagues focused on Europe had to resolve. That work, and other initiatives, stem from Campbell’s efforts during the Obama administration to “pivot to Asia.” 

This included sending more U.S. troops to the region, strengthening ties with regional allies, growing partnerships with less friendly countries wary of China and taking a harder line on Beijing. Multiple U.S. officials say that the administration’s current approach toward China and the region writ large was devised by Campbell. According to one individual familiar with Campbell’s potential appointment, there is a possibility that he may utilize the position to further centralize the U.S. approach to competition with China within the State Department.

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The Biden administration assumed office with the objective of engaging in various arenas of competition with Beijing while avoiding armed conflict. However, it has been confronted with other pressing challenges that require senior-level attention, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict. A key question regarding Campbell’s appointment is the fate of Victoria Nuland, the acting deputy secretary who was also a candidate for the position. Nuland has not immediately responded to a request for comment.

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