Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers remarks at the unveiling of a bronze bust in honor of former Secretary of State James Baker at the Department of State, April 4, 2022.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Secretary of State accompanied by the 61st Secretary of State James Baker and Miss Susan Cleary Mr. Secretary former Secretary of State Baker, special envoy Kerry, Ambassadors, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends were so delighted to have you here today and we thank you for your support for the National Museum of American diplomacy. I’m Susan Cleary the acting director. We are the first and we are the only museum dedicated to the story of American diplomacy, its history, its practice, its challenges, its lessons and the fascinating people who make it happen. It is a story. We believe it’s not well known and not well enough appreciated. So today we’re here to unveil a specially commissioned bust of former Secretary of State James Baker the third that will be part of our permanent collection. Secretary Baker, you’ve been a steadfast supporter of the museum of major donor. We thank you for being here today and we thank your family and friends for being with us as well. It’s very meaningful. Thank you. Now our ambition is to complete the long planned 40,000 square foot public museum exhibition space here in our nation’s capital. And it’s right here around this wall that our main entry to our exhibitions would be our our exhibit halls and so every visitor to the future museum and visit to the State Department comes through historic entrance will pass this beautiful work of art that commemorates the historic contributions of Secretary Baker. Now we’re delighted to have with us today the talented Swedish artist Johan Falk who created this work, Johan is a renowned portrait painter and sculptor. Secretary Baker has not yet seen the bust but I have and I have to say your hand gets beautiful. Congratulations in such an accomplishment. I’d especially like to acknowledge Secretary Baker’s friends that left Tristan and Christine Olafson. Uh and it’s through your just city that this work was commissioned and donated to our permanent collection. Thank you so much. Danny Burstein and I want to thank of course the Diplomacy Center Foundation, we have the chairman of the President’s here uh and we have so many of the distinguished members who have been with us along the way building this museum. Thank you all for what you do for our joint project and Mr. Secretary we especially appreciate having you here tonight with us at this moment of heightened awareness of the central importance of us diplomacy, to international stability and security. It’s so meaningful that you’re able to take time to participate. Secretary Blinken and former Secretary Baker come from different backgrounds, different generations and yes, different political parties and yet in their 10 years they’ve been asked to confront momentous challenges that demanded the most of American statecraft and diplomatic leadership. And so with that I would like to invite you both to come and too unfair. The bust of Secretary Baker. Thank you Yeah. Okay. Right mm hmm. A Susan thank you so much and everyone here today. This is a special moment. Jim Welcome home to, to the leaders of the diplomacy center foundation, including my longtime colleague and friend tom Pickering ambassador public. Thank you. It’s wonderful to have you back in this building as well and it is simply an honor to have an opportunity. Mr. Secretary to hail you in this morning, call the Baker family were here with us today. Thank you so much for joining us. Um, I know your most trusted diplomatic advisor is your wife Susan, grateful for her three of your Children with us today. Culture Doug and Jamie and their partners as well. So welcome having you back. I know that the secretary’s years of public service, not just here but in other institutions in Washington demanded a lot from other people. Um the sacrifices that you made or major contributions to the success that he had and that our country has has had as a result. So on behalf of the American people, thank you each and every one of you to make your family. So growing up as I read it, uh, Jim grandpa Captain gave him this advice. Work hard, study hard and stay out of politics for four decades. He managed to do that. But Jim by you’re telling it was the tragic loss of your first wife Mary Stuart and the advice of a dear friend George H. W. Bush that led you to break with the family Mexico and putting you on the path as my dear friend Tom Donald once said so aptly to becoming simply put the most important, unelected official in America since World War two. Secretary is the only person to serve as chief of staff to the president’s. He directed five presidential campaigns, the Secretary of the Treasury and that other building down the street. But as I’ve seen written and as I think I know from here in Houston there was no job that he loved more than being secretary of state. And he showed exceptional leadership in guiding the foreign policy of our country with a lasting impact on this country and on the world. James Baker served as Secretary of State for 43 months. I think it’s safe to say that there are a few times in history when the world has changed so profound. What you call Jim a worldwide history Or as you said, late one night in April 1991 to a young staffer by the name of Bill Burns sitting in a rundown hotel in the caucuses. Have you ever seen so many things changing so fast. Thank you. During that period, the soviet union disintegrated without conflict. The Berlin wall filled the U. S. And the USSR undertook the most significant reduction ever in nuclear arms. It’s an app Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was swiftly rather the Madrid conference made visible for the first time horizon of Middle East peace. We were talking about this just a short while ago. It’s easy looking back at hinge moments in history to view these seismic shifts as somehow inevitable, particularly when the world moves from conflict and toward peace away from autocracy and toward democracy. But to study those 43 months is to learn that these outcomes were anything but certain the arc of history meant the way it did because people that And no one more so and secretary neighbors Like on November nine 1989 and Secretary Baker was hosting a luncheon upstairs in the Ben Franklin for President Aquino of the Philippines. He was handed a folded note informing him that the Berlin wall was coming down as he rushed over to the White House, he scribbled notes that ran Something we wanted for 40 years Europe that is whole and free reunification on the basis of Western values. Now, that last part was very uncertain. Secretary Baker not only immediately saw where he wanted to end up the democratic reunited Germany, he cleared the path to get there. He staked out the principles, the Germans, not outside powers should get to determine their own future and that Germany should be reunited within male and then methodically brought our allies and the Soviets around to these positions. President George H. W. Bush, you’re double parked around the Houston tennis courts and professional partner and so much of life summed up your leadership best. The President said, he acted while others were still struggling to comprehend. And he got things done right as I’ve tried to look at those who held this job before me. The thing that struck me so much about you Jim is this ability to have a vision for where he wanted to go and then figuring out a way to get there. It’s an extraordinary and rare combination and one that inspires me every single day. How you get things done is something I try to learn from every day and diplomats will continue to study for generations. Um, and if I can, I just want to take a moment to suggest at least three lessons that I take from reading and morning about you. First of all, diplomacy ultimately comes down to relationships and building the trust. But the four of those relationships takes time. It takes effort. It takes everything as you later wrote to persuade foreign leaders is often helpful, put yourself in their shoes. Now I had some opportunity also to see that in practice when I served as john Kerry’s deputy, I saw the kinds of relationships that he built, the effort that john you put into this day in day out. And it’s a very, very powerful lesson. And I’ve been inspired by both of you and trying to follow in those footsteps, Jim you understood that to advance our interests and values, you have to get to know your counterparts beyond the negotiating table to understand what drove them and what they were up against. Um, and I think there’s no better example, we have a chance to talk about this a little than the friendship that you built with the then soviet Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze In the summer of 1989. You took the unprecedented step then of inviting him to your ranch in Wyoming, you met in Washington that fall, you broke protocol by flying together in Jackson Hole rather than taking separate planes and on board. He shared a meal and and talked for the hours of that flight. Over the coming days. The Secretary took Shevardnadze fishing on the Snake River. I got an accountant who caught what we didn’t catch what uh and as I understand, it gave her a pair of custom black cowboy boots made in Houston Chevy as he took to calling him later, invited you to come fishing with him in Siberia. That relationship was that the foundation for so many of the historic steps that were taken by our two nations. And I suggest that if not for the trust that you were able to build soviet foreign minister may not have been really decide to stand side by side with you at the Moscow airport to jointly denounced Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait the first time the great power spoke together on assemble foreign policy issue and that could be seen as a bookend to call for it. Second Secretary, that you understood that while American leadership is indispensable to tackle global challenges. We need allies. We need partners to get the job done and those relationships have to be built. They have to be nurtured. That was how Secretary Baker assembled the coalition to stand up to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait head of the November 1990 vote at the U. N. Security Council authorized the use of force against Iraq. The secretary recognized the importance of rallying the broadest possible coalition. So he wanted to meet with every head of state of foreign minister from every country on the Security Council, 15 of them uh including us. He had three weeks to do it In that time we traveled to 12 countries on three comments and he didn’t just show he practiced the five fees that his father had taught him prior preparation prevents poor performance. So that’s another one. I’m inscribing um on my own desk that preparation allowed him to meet each country where it was Bringing two very right combination, persuasion Charles, maybe just a little bit of pressure to Ultimately 12 Security Council members voted for the resolution. Third, while the Secretary was a master of getting things done, he never lost sight of the principles guiding his actions he wrote and I quote, American political diplomat should always remember the power divorced from the purpose is valued by our democracy will ultimately prevent Jim I suspect that’s one of the reasons you loved named Secretary. You can use that gift for getting things done to advance the values that you believed in most and the Representative. Everything is good about this country. Yes. We all know, the Secretary could whip votes and run a campaign better than anyone. I can attest to that. I worked for Michael Dukakis in 1988, but the greatest campaign he ever waged was for a more secure in more peaceful world. So once again, we find ourselves in a role in the history more assertive china is challenging the rules based international order that has long been the foundation of security and prosperity for Americans and people around the world. The post Cold War era is in Russia’s invaded a neighbor. It’s reverted to almost totalitarian repression at home. It’s threatening even to use nuclear weapons as we never get this stuff. Few models from we’re fitting to follow in the model set in the office that I don’t have the privilege of occupying Secretary Baker kept a small plaque on his desk and give it to him by President Reagan and it said it can be done with the word can in capital letters. Secretary Baker is has always been a realist. What he never lost faith in a month in our values and in our capacity when we’re at our best to make the world a little bit better. As long as we remember the purpose behind our power Mr. Secretary today, on behalf of this department, on behalf of our country. Thank you. Thank you for showing us how it can be done. Thank you for inspiring us across the years, across generations. Thank you for being such a great leader for this country and for this department MR section. Okay. Yes, yeah. Thank you. MR Secretary for an extraordinarily generous or large, most extraordinary, generous remarks. They may very well be off the top. Uh, you were kind to say that I could get some things done. I didn’t get much done. I have a really good crew that got things done for me and Whitney and some of them are here today and I’m delighted to see. I appreciate that. Thank you. And all of you are here. This is the signal signal honor for me to have my bus in the lobby of the department and particularly here in the Museum of Diplomacy. I’m really honored if I may say so Tony, that you would take time out of your business schedule to be here. And I want to thank you for those extraordinarily generous words. You know, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think there’s been a moment in recent history when affected diplomacy has not, has been needed anymore than it’s needed right now. Uh, and we were talking about this in the Secretary’s Office. Uh, we all know the winds of war blowing heart of the Ukraine where citizens, there are making some quite heroic efforts to maintain their independence protecting their freedoms while also making sure that the violence doesn’t spread, that we don’t trigger something else is really daunting cashed for the West and the West lead as usual by the United States. And I think this crisis once again proves the critical importance of American leadership and I told the secretary that I really support and agree with the steps that have been taken in facing up to this problem. I think they’ve done a masterful job. I think it’s too soon to declare victory. Uh some people are inclined to declare, declare victory. Now, some commentators, I think, I think it’s too soon for that, but the fact remains that the United States is and still uh will remain for some time, a force for international peace and stability. And so Mr. Secretary, I want you to know that you uh and and our country, I have my full support as you and the dedicated officers of this wonderful department continually are countries with diplomatic efforts during this challenging time and it is a challenging time and you’re doing a splendid job. I also want to express my deep appreciation to dan Goldston for family, bringing this event to fruition after the covid pandemic planning for it on hold for over two years. I first met dan when he invited me to now almost Sweden in 2017 for a public conversation with Carl Bill, the former Prime Minister of that country. Now, I may be a bit biased because dan has commissioned this busted me, but I want you all to know how much I admire you. He is a very successful entrepreneur who is interested in building a better world, not just making money. His philanthropic commitment is best evidence I think by the organization starved for life which he and his wife Christian launched in 2005 to prevent AIDS among young people in Africa. We’re also out of Christian to have you here today. Their foundation works to strengthen young people’s self esteem and belief in the future. So congratulations dan and Kristin and congratulations as well And Johan Falk going to you a sculptor, a talented sculptor. You have a wonderful gift Johan and the ability to bring joy and understanding through your art. So thank you also for honoring me as one of your subjects. Now, this event would not be possible without the National Museum of American policy, the history, the practice and the challenges of American diplomacy tell the real success story I take of the American school. This museum is gonna keep that story alive. Mm hmm. Mhm. Our nation has long been overdue I think for a museum that highlights the important role that the policy plays in our foreign and security policy. I’ve been told that there are 18 large museums dedicated to our armed forces and wars that we have followed And perhaps as many as 400 small ones. And now I am very, very proud to be associated with this one that recognizes the importance and the success of diplomacy. And since we’re talking about the importance of diplomacy, I want to recognize my late friend whom the secretary mentioned and former boss and yes, former tennis doubles partner George H. W. Bush, I told people I had an easy job, You know, Secretary of State can’t find himself separated from his president. And there was never any chance of that with me because I had a president who was a friend, Close friend for 40 years. He was my daughter to come for her and I carried him on the tennis court. So there was never going to be not only that I ran all of his campaign, so he and I were never going to see any day any space between us, but I want to say nobody, in my view, nobody understood foreign policy nor practiced it as well as President Bush. He was a star and that he knew it, he understood it and he knew what to do and when to do it. And were it not for George Bush is supposed to be would not be here today. I’d like to end my remarks today sadly by saying a few words about another friend and great American, one of my successions as secretary of state, the incomparable Madeleine Albright, madeleine was intelligent, She was savage. She was charming and I can tell you because she did some politics to she could be brutally frank when the moment demanded. But above all, she understood the important place that American diplomacy has in global affairs. We’re going to greatly miss Madeline and her whip and Canada most of all I think we will miss her contribution to our nation and to the practice of diplomacy. Thank you all for being here. Thank you for supporting this museum of Diplomacy. Mr. Secretary, thank you again for those extraordinarily generation marks. Don Christian and Johanna, Thank you for being here and making today such a memorable one for me. Thank you. Mhm. Mhm. Mhm. Well that concludes today’s program and we’ll hope we hope they will take some time to visit the temporary exhibit in the pavilion. Um, and to meet the museum staff and to see some of the items that are now 10,000 objects of permanent collection. Um, we also have displayed some objects connected with Secretary Baker. So I hope you’ll stop by and to see the signature fragments of the Berlin wall which Secretary Baker has signed. And with that thank you for attending. And thank you for your support for the National Museum. Mm hmm, mm hmm. Over. And participants to depart. Thank you. Thank you