Michael Pillsbury is a defense policy adviser, former government official and author of books and reports on China.
During the Reagan administration, Pillsbury was the Assistant Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning and responsible for implementation of the program of covert aid known as the Reagan Doctrine. In 1975-76, while an analyst at the RAND Corporation, Pillsbury published articles in Foreign Policy and International Security recommending that the United States establish intelligence and military ties with China. The proposal, publicly commended by Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, and James Schlesinger, later became US policy during the Carter and Reagan administrations.
Pillsbury served on the staff of four US Senate Committees from 1978–1984 and 1986-1991. As a staff member, Pillsbury drafted the Senate Labor Committee version of the legislation that enacted the US Institute of Peace in 1984. He also assisted in drafting the legislation to create the National Endowment for Democracy and the annual requirement for a DOD report on Chinese military power.
In 1992, under President George H. W. Bush, Pillsbury was Special Assistant for Asian Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, reporting to Andrew W. Marshall, Director of Net Assessment. Pillsbury is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
In 2015, a former CIA Director revealed that a book called The Hundred-Year Marathon "is based on work Michael Pillsbury did that landed him the CIA Director's Exceptional Performance Award."
Pillsbury played a role in three Presidential actions:
US-China military and intelligence ties
Pillsbury participated in President Jimmy Carter's decision in 1979-80, as modified by President Reagan in 1981, to initiate military and intelligence ties with China.
According to Raymond L. Garthoff, "Michael Pillsbury first floated the idea of arms sales and broad range of American military security relationships with China in a much-discussed article in Foreign Policy in the fall of 1975. Not known then was that Pillsbury had been conducting secret talks with Chinese officials… his reports were circulated to a dozen or so top officials of the NSC, Department of Defense and Department of State as secret documents.". According to the book US-China Cold War Collaboration, 1971-1989, "The man spearheading the effort was not a public official, and enjoyed deniability. Michael Pillsbury, a China analyst at the RAND Corporation… spent the summer of 1973 secretly meeting PLA officers stationed under diplomatic cover at China's UN mission… The DoD managed Pillsbury. Pillsbury filed a report, L-32, in March 1974… L-32 was a seminal paper on which subsequent US-PRC military cooperation blossomed." James Mann wrote, "Outward appearances indicate that Pillsbury may have been working with American intelligence agencies from the very start of his relationship with General Zhang… In the fall of 1973, Pillsbury submitted a classified memo suggesting the novel idea that the United States might establish a military relationship with China… This was the genesis of the ideas of a 'China card,' the notion that the United States might use China to gain Cold War advantage over the Soviet Union. The idea would eventually come to dominate American thinking about the new relationship with China."
Claim this profile by contacting us.