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Secretaries of State Speak Out

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Date and time
Thursday, March 27, 2008

Henry Kissinger, James Baker III, Warren Christopher, Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright discuss current US foreign policy issues with the goal of providing direction and counsel to the incoming 2009 presidential administration. The secretaries, whose influence on foreign policy spans nearly 40 years in republican and democratic administrations, agree that the next president should be open to taking diplomatic steps with both allies and unfriendly countries in order to further the nation's standing in the world and ease global issues in which the US is deeply involved. Newscaster Terence Smith of PBS' *NewsHour with Jim Lehrer* moderates the panel. This unique forum takes place on the campus of the University of Georgia School of Law, in Athens, GA.

Henry Alfred Kissinger was the 56th Secretary of State of the United States from 1973 to 1977, continuing to hold the position of Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs which he first assumed in 1969 until 1975. After leaving government service, he founded Kissinger Associates, an international consulting firm, of which he is chairman.
James A. Baker was appointed Secretary of State on January 22, 1989, and served until August 23, 1992. Baker brought almost two decades of experience in politics, both behind the scenes and in key administration positions with him to the State Department. As Secretary of State, Baker successfully oversaw United States foreign policy during the end of the Cold War, as well as during the First Persian Gulf War. Born in Texas on April 28, 1930, Baker attended prep school in Pennsylvania, and went on to graduate from Princeton University in 1952. Following a two-year active rotation in the United States Marine Corps from 1952 to 1954, Baker received his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1957. He practiced law at the firm of Andrews and Kurth, but it was not until the early 1970s that he became involved in politics. Through the influence of his first wife, Baker became involved in the Republican Party and began a long political relationship with George H.W. Bush. Baker chaired Bush's unsuccessful Senate campaign in 1970. In 1971 Baker became the Finance Chairman of the Republican Party and played a significant regional role in President Nixon's reelection. During the Ford Administration he was appointed Under Secretary of Commerce. During the second Reagan Administration, Baker simultaneously served as Secretary of the Treasury and as Chairman of the President's Economic Council. Baker served as Secretary of State in George H.W. Bush's cabinet from January 22, 1989 until August 23, 1992, when he was appointed Senior Counselor and White House Chief of Staff for President Bush. Baker continues to be active in politics and U.S. foreign policy.
Warren Christopher was born in Scranton, North Dakota, on October 27, 1925. From 1977-81, Mr. Christopher served as the Deputy Secretary of State of the United States. President Carter awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, on January 16, 1981, for his role in negotiating the release of 52 American hostages in Iran. Mr. Christopher again rejoined O'Melveny in 1981, serving as Chairman of the Firm from 1982 to 1992. In 1991, Mr. Christopher was Chairman of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department. In the aftermath of the Rodney King incident, the Commission proposed significant reforms of the Los Angeles Police Department that were approved overwhelmingly by a public referendum. In 1992, Mr. Christopher headed the search for Governor Clinton's running mate (Senator Al Gore), and later served as Director of the Presidential Transition process. On January 20, 1993, Mr. Christopher was sworn in as the 63rd Secretary of State, and served until January 20, 1997. He rejoined O'Melveny as the Firm's Senior Partner on February 1, 1997. His professional activities since his return to the Firm have involved consultations on a wide variety of international matters, as well as negotiation and advice to clients relating to sensitive disputes. Mr. Christopher's civic activities have included service as President of the Board of Trustees of Stanford University; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Corporation of New York; Director and Vice Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations; and Vice Chairman of the Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles riots of 1965-66. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a former chairman of the Federal Judiciary Committee of the American Bar Association, and former President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He has also authored four books: In the Stream of History: Shaping Foreign Policy for a New Era (published in 1998 by Stanford University Press); Chances of a Lifetime (published in 2001 by Scribner, on The Los Angeles Times best seller list for seven weeks, and in the number one spot for two of those weeks); Diplomacy, the Neglected Imperative (published privately in 1981); and Random Harvest (published privately in 2005).
Madeleine Korbel Albright was nominated by President Clinton on December 5, 1996 as Secretary of State. After being unanimously confirmed by the US Senate, she was sworn in as the 64th Secretary of State on January 23, 1997. Secretary Albright is the first female secretary of state and the highest ranking woman in the history of the US government. Prior to her appointment, Secretary Albright served as the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations (presenting her credentials at the UN on February 6, 1993) and as a member of President Clinton's Cabinet and National Security Council. Secretary Albright formerly was the President of the Center for National Policy. The Center is a non-profit research organization formed in 1981 by representatives from government, industry, labor and education. Its mandate is to promote the study and discussion of domestic and international issues. As a Research Professor of International Affairs and Director of Women in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in international affairs, US foreign policy, Russian foreign policy, and Central and Eastern European politics, and was responsible for developing and implementing programs designed to enhance women's professional opportunities in international affairs. From 1981 to 1982, Secretary Albright was awarded a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian following an international competition in which she wrote about the role of the press in political changes in Poland during the early 1980's. She also served as a Senior Fellow in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, conducting research in developments and trends in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. From 1978-1981, Secretary Albright was a staff member on the National Security Council, as well as a White House staff member, where she was responsible for foreign policy legislation. From 1976-1978, she served as Chief Legislative Assistant to Senator Edmund S. Muskie. Awarded a BA from Wellesley College with honors in Political Science, she studied at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, received a Certificate from the Russian Institute at Columbia University, and her Masters and Doctorate from Columbia University's Department of Public Law and Government. Secretary Albright is fluent in French and Czech, with good speaking and reading abilities in Russian and Polish.
Colin Powell became the first African-American Secretary of State in US history when he took office in 2001. He was a career soldier who fought in the US Army during the Vietnam War, and rose through the ranks to become a general, eventually becoming national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan. Powell became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H. W. Bush, directing US forces during the first Gulf War. Powell retired in 1993 and published his autobiography, My American Journey, in 1995. After years on the lecture circuit, he was chosen by George W. Bush to be Secretary of State in 2001.