October 8, 2014

Over a luncheon conversation, moderated by Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson, The Hon. Kurt Campbell, founder and CEO of The Asia Group, discussed the United States' strategic foreign policy shift towards Asia. In his speech, Dr. Campbell discussed the challenges and necessary steps in order to make this shift to Asia a successful and beneficial endeavor for US foreign policy.

The two biggest challenges facing the United States in this shift, are how to correct the human rights violations in Asia, and the philosophical differences between the Western democratic form of governance and the Chinese authoritarian form of governance. These two challenges are addressed by two traditional schools of thought as the shift occurs: improve relations between the United States and China, and the rest of Asia will fall into place, or improve the military alliance structures between the United States and its Asian allies to strengthen the opposition against China. Dr. Campbell, however, believes that these two options are no longer adequate enough to address the shift towards Asia and US relations with China. He listed nine key points the US focus on to successfully build a stable relationship with Asian nations:

  1. Military alliances must be strengthened to put added pressure on China;
  2. Relations with China need to be improved and cannot be based on the conditions that were established decades ago during the Nixon administration;
  3. Majority of US focus in Asia to date has been on China and Northern Asia, but a stronger focus on South and Southeastern Asia such as India and Indonesia is necessary;
  4. Larger role for international economic and legal institutions in Asia such as the International Monetary Fund;
  5. Recognition of economic partnerships that can emerge, with a greater emphasis on the Trans-Pacific Partnership;
  6. Diversified US military leadership, with civilian input being more incorporated into military decisions and activity;
  7. Shift in resources from the US Army to the Air Force and Navy, as greater US involvement in the Asia Pacific should become the "Renaissance of the Air Force and Navy";
  8. Enlisting European allies with similar end goals in the Asia Pacific;
  9. Improved American political strength and leadership, and reassurance to the world that the United States is still a major global power.
The shift towards Asia is an important and long term task for the US government, but Dr. Campbell is optimistic about the strategy going forward. He believes that the US and European mindset about the shift is in the right place and there is a lot of emphasis for the shift going forward.