Baker ran Bush's unsuccessful campaign for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination
, but made a favorable impression on the Republican nominee, Ronald Reagan. Reagan appointed Baker as his White House Chief of Staff, and Baker remained in that position until 1985, when he became the Secretary of the Treasury. As Treasury Secretary, he arranged the Plaza Accord
and the Baker Plan
. He resigned as Treasury Secretary to manage Bush's successful 1988 campaign
for president. After the election, Bush appointed Baker to the position of Secretary of State. As Secretary of State, he helped oversee U.S. foreign policy
during the end of the Cold War
and dissolution of the Soviet Union
, as well as during the Gulf War
. After the Gulf War, Baker served another stint as White House Chief of Staff from 1992 to 1993.
Early life and education
James Addison Baker III was born in Houston
at 1216 Bissonnet St.,
the son of James A. Baker Jr.
(1892–1973) and Ethel Bonner (née Means) Baker (August 6, 1894 – April 26, 1991). His father was a partner of Houston law firm Baker Botts
. Baker has a sister, Bonner Baker Moffitt.
His grandfather was attorney and banker Captain James A. Baker
, and his great-grandfather was jurist and politician Judge James A. Baker
From 1957 to 1969, and then from 1973 to 1975, he practiced law at Andrews & Kurth
Early political career
Baker's first wife, the former Mary Stuart McHenry, was active in the Republican Party
, working on the Congressional
campaigns of George H. W. Bush
. Originally, Baker had been a Democrat
but too busy trying to succeed in a competitive law firm to worry about politics, and considered himself apolitical
. His wife's influence led Baker to politics and the Republican Party. He was a regular tennis
partner of George H. W. Bush at the Houston Country Club
in the late 1950s. When Bush Sr. decided to vacate his Congressional
seat and run for the U.S. Senate
in 1970, he supported Baker's decision to run for the Congressional seat he was vacating. However, Baker changed his mind about running for Congress when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer
; she died in February 1970.
Bush Sr. then encouraged Baker to become active in politics to help deal with the grief of his wife's death, something that Bush Sr. himself had done when his daughter, Pauline Robinson Bush (1949–1953), died of leukemia
. Baker became chairman of Bush's Senate campaign in Harris County
, Texas. Though Bush lost to Lloyd Bentsen
in the election, Baker continued in politics, becoming the finance chairman of the Texas Republican Party
in 1971. The following year, he was selected as Gulf Coast Regional Chairman for the Richard Nixon presidential campaign
. In 1973 and 1974, in the wake of the Nixon Administration's implosion
, Baker returned to full-time law practice at Andrews & Kurth.
In 1981, Baker was named White House Chief of Staff
by President Ronald Reagan
, in spite of the fact that Baker managed the presidential campaigns of Gerald Ford in 1976
and of George Bush in 1980
He served in that capacity until 1985. Baker is considered to have had a high degree of influence over the first Reagan administration, particularly in domestic policy.
In 1982, conservative activists Howard Phillips
, founder of the Conservative Caucus
, and Clymer Wright
of Houston joined in an unsuccessful effort to convince Reagan to dismiss Baker as chief of staff. They claimed that Baker, a former Democrat and a Bush political intimate, was undermining conservative initiatives in the administration. Reagan rejected the Phillips-Wright request. Around 1983 Baker became heavily dispirited and tired due to the weight of his job; he attempted to become National Security Advisor
, a change to which Reagan initially agreed, but some of Reagan's other advisers dissuaded him from naming Baker to the position. According to his wife, Baker was "so anxious to get out of [his job]" that he gave some consideration to the prospect of becoming Commissioner of Baseball
, but he ultimately did not pursue that.
In 1985, Reagan named Baker as United States Secretary of the Treasury
, in a job-swap with then-Secretary Donald T. Regan
, a former Merrill Lynch
officer who became chief of staff. Reagan rebuked Phillips and Wright for having waged a "campaign of sabotage" against Baker.
In 1985, Baker received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards
During the Reagan administration, Baker also served on the Economic Policy Council, where he played an instrumental role in achieving the passage of the administration's tax and budget reform package in 1981. He also played a role in the development of the American Silver Eagle
and American Gold Eagle
coins, which both were released in 1986.
Baker also served on Reagan's National Security Council
, and remained Treasury Secretary until 1988, during which time he also served as campaign chairman for George H. W. Bush's successful presidential bid.
Policies on the Israeli-Arab conflict
Baker arriving in Kuwait, 1991
Before the 1988 election, he and a team of some Middle East
ern policies experts created a report detailing the Palestine-Israel interactions. His team included Dennis Ross
and many others who were soon appointed to the new Bush Administration.
Baker warned publicly, "I will recommend to the President that the United States make no further contributions, voluntary or assessed, to any international organization which makes any changes in the PLO's status as an observer organization."
In May 1989, he gave a speech at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
. He called for Israel to "lay aside once and for all, the unrealistic vision of a greater Israel
", cease the construction of Israeli settlements
in West Bank
, forswear annexation of more territory, and to treat Palestinians
"as neighbors who deserve political rights". Israeli officials and public were highly offended due to the tone of his speech, though his address called for little more than his predecessors.
Baker was notable for making little and slow efforts towards improving the state of Israeli-Palestinian relations. When Bush was elected, he only received 29% of Jewish
voters' support, and his reelection was thought to be imminent, so there was little pressure on the administration to make bold moves in diplomatic relations with Israel. Israeli leaders initially thought that Baker had a poor grasp of Middle Eastern issues - a perception exacerbated by him use of the term "Greater Israel" - and viewed Israel as a "problem for the United States" according to Moshe Arens
Baker proved willing to confront Israeli officials on statements they made contrary to American interests. After Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
accused the United States of "building its policy on a foundation of distortion and lies," Baker banned Netanyahu from entering the State Department building
, and refused to meet with him personally for the remainder of his tenure as secretary.
During his first eight months under the Bush administration, there were five meetings with the PLO, which is far less than his predecessors. All serious issues that Palestine sought to discuss, such as elections and representation in the Israeli government, were delegated to Egypt
for decisions to be made.
Baker became the first American statesman to negotiate directly and officially with Palestinians in the Madrid Conference of 1991
, which was the first comprehensive peace conference that involved every party involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict
and the conference was designed to address all outstanding issues.
After this landmark event, he did not work to further improve Arab-Israeli relations. The administration forced Israel to halt the development of the 6,000 planned housing units, but the 11,000 housing units already under construction were permitted to be completed and inhabited with no penalty.
In the meantime, Baker also tried to negotiate with the Syrian President Hafez al-Assad
, in order to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and Syria.
However, Baker has been criticized for spending much of his tenure in a state of inaction regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which arguably led to further infringements on Palestinian rights and the growing radicalism of Arabs and Israelis.
Also in 1993, the Enron Corporation
hired Baker as a consultant within a month of his departure from the White House, and Enron said that Baker would have an opportunity to invest in any projects he developed.
During his time at Enron, Baker tried to warn against the company's involvement with the Dabhol Power Station
. Many of Baker's concerns proved correct, and the project became a key factor in the company's downfall
In 1995, Baker published his memoirs
of service as Secretary of State in a book entitled The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1989–1992
In addition to the numerous recognitions received by Baker, he was presented with the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Award
for public service on September 13, 2000, in Washington, D.C.
2000 presidential election and recount
Roles during the Bush administration and Iraq War
Baker also advised George W. Bush on Iraq
In December 2003, President George W. Bush
appointed Baker as his special envoy to ask various foreign creditor nations to forgive or restructure $100 billion in international debts owed by the Iraq government which had been incurred during the tenure of Saddam Hussein.
On March 15, 2006, Congress
announced the formation of the Iraq Study Group
, a high-level panel of prominent former officials charged by members of Congress with taking a fresh look at America
's policy on Iraq. Baker was the Republican co-chairman along with Democratic Congressman Lee H. Hamilton
, to advise Congress on Iraq
The Iraq Study Group examined a number of ideas, including one that would create a new power-sharing arrangement
in Iraq that would give more autonomy to regional factions.
On October 9, 2006, the Washington Post
quoted co-chairman Baker as saying "our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate, of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run'".
Other advisory positions
James Baker serves as an Honorary Co-Chair for the World Justice Project
. The World Justice Project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law
for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.
This section needs expansion
. You can help by adding to it
. (April 2021)
In 1973, Baker and Susan Garrett Winston, a divorcee and a close friend of Mary Stuart, were married.
Winston had two sons and a daughter with her former husband. She and Baker welcomed their daughter Mary Bonner Baker, born in 1977.
On June 15, 2002, Virginia Graeme Baker, the seven-year-old granddaughter of Baker, daughter of Nancy and James Baker IV, was the victim of lethal suction-pump entrapment in an in-ground spa.
To promote greater safety in pools and spas, Nancy Baker gave testimony to the Consumer Product Safety Commission
and James Baker helped form an advocacy group,
which led to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool And Spa Safety Act
(15 USC 8001).
Another granddaughter is Rosebud Baker, a stand-up comedian.
Awards and Honors
He is actually the fourth-generation successive James Addison Baker in his family, despite using the "III" generational suffix
- ^ "Biographies of the Secretaries of State: James Addison Baker III". U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
- ^ "About the Baker Institute". James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- ^ City of Houston: Procedures for Historic District Designation Archived June 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. City of Houston. (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document). Retrieved: July 11, 2008.
- ^ "Mother of Secretary of State Baker dies here at 96". Houston Chronicle. April 26, 1991. Retrieved: July 11, 2008.
- ^ Baker, James Addison, III (1952). Two Sides of the Conflict: Bevin vs. Bevan (Senior thesis). Princeton University.
- ^ Communications, Emmis (October 24, 1991). "The Alcalde". Emmis Communications – via Google Books.
- ^ Newhouse, John. "Profiles: The Tactician". The New Yorker. May 7, 1990. pp. 50–82. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
- ^ a b "James A. Baker III Papers, 1957-2011, bulk 1972/1992". Princeton University Library. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
- ^ "Pittsburgh Businessman Ford Treasury Nominee". The Leader-Times. Kittanning, PA. United Press International. July 23, 1975. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
- ^ "President Ford Wednesday Nominated Edward O. Vetter of Dallas, Tex., to be undersecretary of commerce". Santa Ana Register. Santa Ana, CA. June 24, 1976. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.
- ^ James A. Baker III, Work Hard, Study... and Keep Out of Politics! (New York, 2006), 122.
- ^ "James Baker: President Maker [documentary]". YouTube.
- ^ "Phil Gailey and Warren Weaver, Jr., "Briefing"". The New York Times. June 5, 1982. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
- ^ 1984 National Results U.S. Election Atlas.
- ^ "National Winners | public service awards | Jefferson Awards.org". jeffersonawards.org. Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- ^ Lawrence Freedman and Efraim Karsh, The Gulf conflict: diplomacy and war in the new world order (New Jersey, 1993), p. 257.
- ^ Plague war: Interviews: James Baker. Frontline. PBS. 1995.
- ^ 2000. "Sadam's Toxic Arsenal". Planning the Unthinkable. ISBN 0801437768
- ^ James Baker: The Man Who Made Washington Work. PBS. 2015.
- ^ Id., at pp. 430-454.
- ^ Baker, Peter, and Glasser, Susan, The Man Who Ran Washington Doubeday, 2020, at pp. 492, 505.
- ^ Id., at p. 493,
- ^ Id., at p. 494
- ^ Id., at p. 505
- ^ Bolton, John (June 3, 2011). "How to Block the Palestine Statehood Ploy". The Wall Street Journal.
- ^ a b c d e f g Christison, Kathleen (Autumn 1994). "Splitting the Difference: The Palestinian-Israeli Policy of James Baker" (PDF). Journal of Palestine Studies. 24 (1): 39–50. doi:10.2307/2537981. JSTOR 2537981.
- ^ a b Baker, Peter (2020). The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III. Susan Glasser (First ed.). New York: Doubleday. pp. Chapter 24. ISBN 978-0-385-54055-1. OCLC 1112904067.
- ^ "AFTER THE WAR: DIPLOMACY; Baker and Syrian Chief Call Time Ripe for Peace Effort". The New York Times. March 15, 1991.
- ^ "Baker and Mosbacher Are Hired by Enron". The New York Times. Bloomberg Business News. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
- ^ Eichenwald, Kurt (2005). Conspiracy of fools: a true story (1st ed.). New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-1178-4. OCLC 57192973.
- ^ "U.N. ENVOY: Asking Baker to resolve dispute is good choice". Houston Chronicle. March 20, 1997. p. 38. (subscription required)
- ^ Theofilopoulou, Anna (July 1, 2006). The United Nations and Western Sahara: A Never-ending Affair. Special Report 166. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
- ^ "Baker resigns as UN mediator after seven years". IRIN. June 14, 2004. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- ^ "Baker surfaces as key adviser to Bush on Iraq". Insight Magazine. September 12, 2006.
- ^ King, John. "Bush appoints Baker envoy on Iraqi debt", "CNN.com", December 3, 2003, retrieved August 11, 2009.
- ^ Bush, George W. (2010). Decision Points. p. 92.
- ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B"(PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
- ^ Paley, Amit R. "U.S. and Iraqi Forces Clash With Sadr Militia in South". Washington Post. October 9, 2006.
- ^ Sanger, David E. "G.O.P.'s Baker Hints Iraq Plan Needs Change". New York Times. October 9, 2006.
- ^ Glasser, Susan B. "The Private Trump Angst of a Republican Icon". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
- ^ "Honorary Council of Advisers". Archived from the original on December 15, 2007.
- ^ "USACC". www.usacc.org.
- ^ "Board of Directors". Atlantic Council. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
- ^ John Schwartz (February 7, 2017). "'A Conservative Climate Solution': Republican Group Calls for Carbon Tax". The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2017. The group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, with former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former secretary of the Treasury, says that taxing carbon pollution produced by burning fossil fuels is "a conservative climate solution" based on free-market principles.
- ^ "The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends" (PDF). Climate Leadership Council. February 2017.
- ^ "Guide to the Baker Family papers, 1853-1971 MS 040". Texas Archival Resources Online. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- ^ "James A. Baker, IV," Baker Botts website.
- ^ Dumas, Bob. "Troubled Waters" Pool & Spa News. October 2003.
- ^ Chow, Shern-Min. "Former Secretary of state pushes for hot tub safety standards". Vac-Alert. June 29, 2007.
- ^ Press Releases: "Former Secretary of State James Baker speaks in support of legislation intended to prevent accidental drowning". Safe Kids Worldwide. May 2, 2006.
- ^ "Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act" Archived May 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Consumer Product Safety Commission. at Vac-Alert Archived September 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document)
- ^ Sadie Dingfelder: During lockdown, comics Rosebud Baker and Andy Haynes have gotten sick and engaged, plus hosted a surreal podcast. Washington Post, May 18, 2020.
- ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- ^ "Gen. Colin L. Powell Biography and Interview". Awards Council member and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA presents the Golden Plate Award to former Secretary of State James A. Baker III at the 1998 Summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
- 1995: The Politics of Diplomacy. with Thomas M. DeFrank. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 9780399140877.
- 2006: "Work Hard, Study... And Keep Out of Politics!": Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life. with Steve Fiffer. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 9780399153778.
- Baker, James III(Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA)
- James Addison Baker Papers at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University
- James A. Baker III Oral History Collection at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University
- Profile in the Daily Princetonian
- Biography on Baker Botts LLP website
- Baker Institute for Public Policy
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- James Baker Oral History at Houston Oral History Project, November 20, 2007.
Last edited on 2 June 2021, at 10:26
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