Early Political Career
James Baker earned a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree from Princeton University in 1952. After two years of active duty as a Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, he would go on to receive a law degree from the University Of Texas School Of Law in Austin. He went on to become a corporate attorney. Baker had a close friendship with George H.W. Bush. Bush recommended Baker to serve as President Gerald Ford’s Undersecretary of Commerce in August 1975. In 1976, Baker became national chairmen of President Ford’s unsuccessful 1976 reelection campaign. And after unsuccessfully running for Attorney General for the State of Texas in 1978, he continued to campaign for Republican candidates.
James Baker began to serve as White House Chief of Staff under President Ronald Reagan in January 1981. He worked closely with Congress to gain support for the President’s tax reduction proposals. In Reagan’s second term he was appointed Secretary of Treasury. He resigned the position to direct the successful presidential campaign of Vice President George H.W. Bush.
Baker was sworn in as the 61st Secretary of State on January 25, 1989 and served until August 1992. He traveled to over 90 different countries and represented American foreign policy during the end of the Cold War, which included the fall of the Berlin Wall, emergence of democracy’s in European countries and collapse of the Soviet Union.
In August 1990 when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the nation of Kuwait, Baker played a key role in forming an international coalition to support the United States in launching massive air strikes on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait (Operation Desert Storm). In late February 1991, United States’ armed forces and its allies launched a ground attack, a few days later Kuwait was liberated and the United States won the Gulf War.
Post-White House Career
In 1993 Baker became the founding chair of the James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas. In 1995 he authored The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1989-1992.
"I wrote the book about my time as Secretary of State because the world changed during those 43 months. The world, as I had known it for my entire adult life, changed. There were so many historic things that happened with the collapse of Communism, the fall of the Wall, the implosion of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, NATO, a Mideast peace, the Persian Gulf War, a war in Panama." Baker commented.
In 1997, he became the United Nations personal envoy to the Western Sahara. Baker went on to serve as a chief legal adviser for Texas Governor George W. Bush’s 2000 Presidential Campaign. He remains in public life, serving as an envoy to Iraq in late 2003 and serving as chairman of the Iraq Study Group in 2006.