June 17, 2019 12:11
The U.S. Senate last Thursday confirmed retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David Stilwell as assistant secretary of state for Asian and Pacific affairs.
The appointment finally fills the last remaining vacancy on the Trump administration's Asia roster a full two years and five months after President Donald Trump was inaugurated.
Trump named Stilwell to the post last October. A former military attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, he is hawkish on China.
The appointment of a retired soldier rather than a career diplomat to a top post handling U.S. foreign policy on 31 countries in the Asian and Pacific region confirms the Trump administration's pivot to a hard line on Beijing.
Stilwell learned Korean in a military language school in California and served as a fighter pilot in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, from 1993 to 1995. He also speaks Chinese and some Japanese.
He is also a North Korea hawk, saying during his confirmation hearing at the Senate in March he said, "We've been fooled enough times, so the steady pressure will continue to have an effect" on North Korea. He added the U.S. refuses to "pull back just on their word."
He joins the State Department's team dealing with Nor Korea that includes Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, Deputy Special Representative for North Korea Alex Wong, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Japan and Korea Mark Knapper, and Special Envoy for North Korea Mark Lambert.
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