On Oct. 26, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy hosted a livestreamed event with former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, James A. Baker, III, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Moderated by Norah O’Donnell, this wide-ranging discussion explored the latest issues in foreign policy, geopolitics, and U.S. interests abroad.
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A transcript of the event is available for download here.
The Honorable Henry Kissinger
56th Secretary of State
The Honorable James A. Baker, III
61st Secretary of State
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
67th Secretary of State
Managing Editor and Anchor, “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell”
Select photos from the event are available for download; if posting publicly, please include the credit line “Courtesy of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy” where possible. Visit this page for more details about the event.
The Honorable Henry Kissinger was sworn in on Sept. 22, 1973, as the 56th Secretary of State, a position he held until January 20, 1977. He also served as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from Jan. 20, 1969, until Nov. 3, 1975. In July 1983 he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to chair the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America until it ceased operation in January 1985, and from 1984-1990 he served as a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. From 1986-1988, he served as a member of the Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy for the National Security Council and Defense Department. He served as a member of the Defense Policy Board from 2001-2020 and again joined the Board in November 2021.
At present, Dr. Kissinger is Chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc. He is also a member of the international Council of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; a Counselor to and Trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; an Honorary Governor of the Foreign Policy Association; and an Honour Member of the International Olympic Committee.
Among the awards Dr. Kissinger has received are a Bronze Star from the U.S. Army in 1945; the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973; the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian award) in 1977; the Medal of Liberty (given one time to 10 foreign-born American leaders) in 1986; and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award (the Department’s highest honorary award for private citizens and foreign nationals) in 2016.
Dr. Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany, came to the United States in 1938 and was naturalized as a United States citizen in 1943. He served in the Army from February 1943 to July 1946. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1950 and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1952 and 1954.
Dr. Kissinger is married to the former Nancy Maginnes and is the father of two children by a previous marriage.
The Honorable James A. Baker, III, has had a career in public service and politics that stands unparalleled. He is the only person to serve as Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and White House Chief of Staff, twice — for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Starting in 1976, he led an unprecedented five presidential campaigns for Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Gerald Ford.
Baker is considered one of America’s most effective Chiefs of Staff for his work under President Reagan. During that time, the President reduced taxes, loosened regulations and helped reignite America’s economic engine. As Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan, Baker played a key role in the Tax Reform Act, which simplified the nation’s tax code, and the Plaza Accord, which stabilized global currencies.
During his tenure as Secretary of State, the Cold War ended peacefully, the Soviet Union dissolved and democracy spread across the globe. Baker laid the diplomatic groundwork for the unification of Germany, forged the unprecedented international coalition that forced Saddam Hussein’s troops from Kuwait, and designed the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference.
Baker’s public service continued after leaving government. He founded Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and served as Personal Envoy of the United Nations to seek a political solution to the conflict over Western Sahara, and was Special Presidential Envoy to restructure Iraq’s sovereign debt. He is a senior partner of the law firm Baker Botts. He and his wife, Susan Garrett Baker, have eight children and 19 grandchildren.
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton has spent five decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, U.S. Senator, U.S. Secretary of State, and presidential candidate.
Clinton was born in Chicago on Oct. 26, 1947. After graduating from Wellesley College and Yale Law School, she joined the Children’s Defense Fund. In 1974, she married Bill Clinton and became a successful attorney while also raising their daughter, Chelsea. During her 12 years as First Lady of Arkansas, she was Chair of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee, co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Children’s Defense Fund.
As First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, Clinton championed health care for all Americans and led successful bipartisan efforts to improve the adoption and foster care systems, reduce teen pregnancy, and create the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
In 2000, Clinton made history as the first First Lady elected to the United States Senate and the first woman elected to statewide office in New York. In 2008, she was nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to be Secretary of State.
In 2016, Clinton made history again by becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. political party. In 2020, Clinton was appointed as the 11th and first woman Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast. In 2023, Clinton joined Columbia University as a Professor of Practice at the School of International and Public Affairs and Presidential Fellow at Columbia World Projects. Clinton serves as an Ex Officio member of the Baker Institute Board of Advisors.
She and President Clinton reside in New York, have one daughter, Chelsea, and are the proud grandparents of Charlotte, Aidan, and Jasper.
Norah O’Donnell is anchor and managing editor of “CBS Evening News,” the oldest and most revered evening news broadcast in America. She also anchors all CBS News Election Specials and is a contributor for “60 Minutes.” O’Donnell is a multiple Emmy Award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience covering the biggest stories in the world and conducting impactful, news-making interviews. She has covered six presidential elections and interviewed every living president of the United States. O’Donnell is the only woman to anchor an evening news broadcast. Before taking over that role, she anchored CBS News’ morning television program in New York for more than seven years. During her distinguished career, she has covered the White House, Congress, and the Pentagon.
Born into a military family, O’Donnell grew up in San Antonio, Texas; Landstuhl, Germany; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Georgetown University’s College of Arts and Sciences and received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy as well as a Master of Arts in liberal studies. She is married to Geoff Tracy, otherwise known as Chef Geoff.