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Definition: Baker from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

James Addison Baker 1930–     U.S. secy. of treasury (1985–88); secy. of state (1989–92)


Summary Article: Baker, James Addison III
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US Republican politician and lawyer. Under President Ronald Reagan, he was White House chief of staff 1981–85 and treasury secretary 1985–88. After managing George H W Bush's presidential campaign, Baker was appointed secretary of state in 1989 and played a prominent role in the 1990–91 Gulf crisis and the subsequent search for a Middle East peace settlement. In 1992 he left the state department again to become White House chief of staff and to oversee Bush's unsuccessful re-election campaign. From 1997 to 2004 he served as a UN special envoy to try and broker a peace settlement for the disputed territory of Western Sahara. In December 2003 he was appointed by President George W Bush to manage the foreign debt burden of Iraq, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, and in 2006 he co-chaired a bipartisan advisory commission reviewing options for US policy towards Iraq.

A lawyer from Houston, Texas, Baker entered politics in 1970 as one of the managers of his friend George H W Bush unsuccessful campaign for the Senate. He served as undersecretary of commerce 1975–76 in the Gerald Ford administration and was deputy manager of the 1976 and 1980 Ford and Bush presidential campaigns. Baker joined the Reagan administration in 1981 and in 1988 masterminded the campaign that won Bush the presidency. The most powerful member of the Bush team, he was described as an effective ‘prime minister’. An adviser to George W Bush in the November 2000 presidential elections, he was influential in helping Bush secure the presidency by manoeuvring the disputed vote count in Florida to a Republican-leaning Supreme Court.

In June 2004 he resigned his post as UN envoy to Western Sahara, apparently frustrated by his failure to break the political stalemate. In 2006 he co-chaired the Iraq Study Group, which reported in December and made controversial recommendations for regional peace and future security.

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