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James Addison Baker, 3d

Baker, James Addison, 3d, 1930–, U.S. political leader, b. Houston, Tex. After graduating from Princeton, he served in the U.S. Marines and earned a law degree from the Univ. of Texas. A successful corporate lawyer, he switched from the Democratic to the Republican party in 1970 and served (1975–76) as undersecretary of commerce during Gerald Ford's administration. Baker was campaign manager for Ford in his unsuccessful bid for a second term in 1976 and for George H. W. Bush in his unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980. Under President Ronald Reagan, Baker served as chief of staff (1981–85) and as secretary of the treasury (1985–88). He helped secure passage of the Kemp-Roth tax cut. In 1988 he managed G. H. W. Bush's successful presidential campaign. As secretary of state (1989–92) in Bush's administration, Baker negotiated arms reduction treaties with the Soviet Union, lent U.S. support to Germany's reunification, marshaled international opposition to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait (1990; see Persian Gulf Wars), and convened (1991) a Middle East peace conference that involved Israel, several Arab countries, and the Palestinians. In 1992, he resigned to become White House chief of staff again, with responsibility for domestic policy and for overseeing the unsuccessful Bush reelection campaign.

Baker later returned to law practice, and served (1997–2004) as UN envoy to the parties in the Western Sahara conflict. He also directed George W. Bush's legal efforts with respect to the contested 2000 presidential vote in Florida, and was appointed President G. W. Bush's personal envoy, charged with restructuring Iraq's national debt, in late 2003. In 2006 he co-chaired the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel established by Congress to review and make recommendations on U.S. policy concerning Iraq. Baker has written The Politics of Diplomacy (1995, with T. M. DeFrank) and "Work Hard, Study … and Keep Out of Politics" (2006, with S. Fiffer), a memoir.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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