The Cable

Campbell’s new firm pursues Burma contract

A consulting firm run by the State Department's recently departed top Asia official has just joined a bid for a huge contract to revamp the largest airport in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Kurt Campbell, the recently departed assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, started a new consulting firm called the Asia Group with his former deputy assistant secretary Nirav Patel. On Monday, the ACO Investment Group (ACO), a collection of mostly American firms who have joined forces, announced that the Asia Group will join its consortium to try to secure the contract to upgrade and modernize the Yangon International Airport, which was built in 1947.

"This is a thrilling opportunity to help advance the progress Myanmar has made over the past couple years by enhancing prospects for economic investments, and ensuring connectivity for Myanmar with ASEAN and the world," Campbell saod in the release. "We are pleased to join the ACO Consortium in their strong bid to renovate Yangon International Airport. The other members of the consortium include the most dynamic visionaries in the aviation and infrastructure fields with a demonstrated track record, and we are confident that their expertise and track record will be critical to help rebuild Yangon International Airport as a critical transit hub."

Campbell will lead a trip to Myanmar early next month with other consortium members to pitch the ACO bid. Other American consortium members include Boeing Professional Services, Burns & McDonnell Engineering, Fentress Architects, the MITRE Corporation, and Unison Consulting. The consortium also includes McKinsey and Co. out of Hong Kong, and Myint Mo Oo General Services, a trading company based in Myanmar.

ACO is one of 11 pre-qualified consortia that will bid for the airport project, which is expected to double the airport's capacity to handle an estimated 5.5 million passengers per year.

Campbell was the State Department's point man on engagement with Myanmar and traveled to the country several times as part of the Obama administration's policy of engagement, which eventually led to an easing of U.S. sanctions. The ACO consortium is clearly interested in capitalizing on that work.

"Kurt Campbell is widely regarded as one of the key architects of the United States' efforts to engage and normalize relations with Myanmar," ACO said in the release.


The Cable

AEI picks up Joe-mentum

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will join a project with former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) on American leadership at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.

AEI announced Monday that Lieberman will join Kyl as co-chair of the American Internationalism Project, a new effort to be housed inside AEI's Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. Kyl joined AEI as a fellow earlier this month. Lieberman is not joining AEI in a formal sense, but he will be a leader of this project, which will be coordinated by AEI research fellow Phillip Lohaus.

"The impetus for the project was an overall feeling of creeping isolationism in an era of fiscal austerity," Lohaus told The Cable. "There's a sense that the feeling that America is a force for good in the world is losing traction. This project is an attempt to redefine the conversation as America as a force for good."

The project is meant to present a cogent counter argument to the rise of neo-isolationism in Washington, as evidenced by the increased popularity of figures such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Lohaus said. Over the next few weeks, AEI will announce a steering committee of foreign policy heavyweights that Lohaus promised would represent a broad range of political views from both parties.

After the steering committee is announced and meets, AEI will set up a series of working groups that will be tasked with producing papers, research products, and potentially public events.

"There is an urgent need to rebuild a bipartisan -- indeed non-political -- consensus for American diplomatic, economic, and military leadership in the world," said Lieberman in a press release. "That's why I am grateful to AEI for initiating and sponsoring this project and why I look forward to leading it with my friend Jon Kyl."

"Senator Joseph Lieberman's knowledge, deep commitment and vision for American greatness is all too rare in Washington," said AEI president Arthur C. Brooks in the release. "The American Internationalism Project, under the leadership of Senator Lieberman and Senator Jon Kyl, is critical to opening a discussion about the challenges facing America in the coming decades--and strategizing about how to meet them."