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Secretaries push diplomacy, dialogue

Five former U.S. secretaries of state met March 27 in Athens to offer foreign policy guidance to the next president at a program co-sponsored by the School of Law.

Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, James Baker III, Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright participated in the talk, which focused on the need for the U.S. to use broad diplomacy in negotiating with overseas allies and enemies.

The secretaries, from both Republican and Democratic administrations, have quarreled on policies and procedures regarding foreign affairs. But the direction the next U.S. president should move toward is one of open talks and alliances ahead of military action, they agreed.

“The new president should close (the U.S. prison facility at) Guantanamo Bay immediately, and by closing that, we are saying to the world that we are going back to the traditional, respected forms of dealing with people who have committed crimes,” Powell said to general agreement.

Added Christopher: “I am one of those who thinks that to be strong abroad we have to be strong at home, not just militarily, but financially as well.”

“I see the weak American dollar as a metaphor for the weakness of America abroad. One of the things a new president should do is get our economic house in order.”

The secretaries also touched on the War in Iraq, the rising importance of China and India, and how to bolster America’s image internationally, among other topics.

The program, “The Report of the Secretaries of State: Bipartisan Advice to the Next Administration” was sponsored by the Southern Center for International Studies and School of Law’s Dean Rusk Center. It was the 16th such event.

(top photo) Former secretaries of state gathered in Athens to give advice to the next president. Seated from left, Henry Kissinger, Warren Christopher, moderator Terence Smith, James Baker III, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell. Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker.

Matt Weeks (ABJ '05)

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