Warren Christopher: Wikis


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Warren Minor Christopher

In office
January 20, 1993 – January 17, 1997
President Bill Clinton
Deputy Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. (1993-1994)
Strobe Talbott (1994-1997)
Preceded by Lawrence Eagleburger
Succeeded by Madeleine Albright

In office
February 26, 1977 – January 20, 1981
President Jimmy Carter
Leader Cyrus Roberts Vance
Preceded by Charles W. Robinson
Succeeded by William P. Clark, Jr.

In office
March 10, 1967 – January 20, 1969
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Leader Ramsey Clark
Preceded by Ramsey Clark
Succeeded by Richard G. Kleindienst

Born October 27, 1925 (1925-10-27) (age 84)
Scranton, North Dakota
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marie Wyllis
Residence Carpinteria, California
Alma mater University of Redlands
University of Southern California
Stanford Law School
Profession lawyer, diplomat, public servant
Religion Methodist
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
Battles/wars World War II

Warren Minor Christopher (born October 27, 1925) is an American diplomat, lawyer, and public servant. During Bill Clinton's first term as President, Christopher served as the 63rd Secretary of State. He also served as Deputy Attorney General in the Lyndon Johnson administration, and as Deputy Secretary of State in the Jimmy Carter administration. He is currently a professor in the College Honors Program at the University of California at Los Angeles.


Early life, education

Born in Scranton, North Dakota, Christopher graduated from Hollywood High School, and attended the University of Redlands, before transferring to the University of Southern California. He is a member of the college fraternity Kappa Sigma Sigma. He graduated from the University of Southern California magna cum laude in February 1945. From July 1943 to September 1946, he served in the United States Naval Reserve, with active duty as an ensign in the Pacific Theater. He attended Stanford Law School from 1946–1949, where he was the founder and President of the Stanford Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

Legal career, Deputy Attorney General for Johnson

From October 1949 to September 1950, Christopher served as law clerk to Justice William O. Douglas of the United States Supreme Court. He practiced law with the firm of O'Melveny & Myers from October 1950 to June 1967, becoming a partner in 1958. Christopher served as Deputy Attorney General from June 1967 until January 20, 1969, after which he rejoined O'Melveny & Myers.

Deputy Secretary of State for Carter

Christopher was sworn in on February 26, 1977, as the Deputy Secretary of State and served in that position until January 20, 1981. As Deputy Secretary, he was involved in negotiating the release of 52 American hostages in Iran. He also spearheaded the Sino-American relations with the People's Republic of China, helped to win ratification of the Panama Canal treaties, and headed the first interagency group on human rights. President Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, on January 16, 1981.

Professional work and achievements

Christopher's professional activities have included service as President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, 1974–1975; Chairman of the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary of the American Bar Association, 1975–1976; member of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California 1975–1976; and Special Counsel to California Governor Edmund G. Brown in 1959.

Christopher's civic activities have included the following: member and President of the Board of Trustees of Stanford University; Chairman, Carnegie Corporation of New York Board of Trustees; Director and Vice Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Director, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, Los Angeles World Affairs Council; Vice Chairman of the Governor's Commission on the Watts riots in 1965-1966; President, Coordinating Council for Higher Education in the State of California; Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and Co-Chairman, Pacific Council on International Policy.

In 1991, Christopher served as Chairman of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department, which came to be known as the Christopher Commission. The Commission proposed significant reforms of the Los Angeles Police Department in the aftermath of the Rodney King incident (see 1992 Los Angeles riots), which were approved overwhelmingly by a public referendum. In 1992, Christopher headed the vice presidential search for Governor Bill Clinton and served as the Director of the Presidential Transition.

Secretary of State for Clinton

Serving as Secretary of State from January 20, 1993 until January 17, 1997, Christopher's main goals were expanding NATO, establishing peace between Israel and its neighbors, and using economic pressure to force China's hand on human rights practices. Major events of his tenure include the Oslo Accords, the Dayton Agreement, normalization of United States–Vietnam relations, the Rwandan Genocide, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, and the Khobar Towers bombing.


Assassination Attempt on George H. W. Bush, April 1993

On April 13, 1993, eleven Iraqi intelligence agents smuggled a car bomb into Kuwait with the intent of killing former President George H.W. Bush as he spoke at Kuwait University. The plot was foiled when Kuwaiti officials found the bomb and arrested the suspected assassins.[1] Secretary Christopher, among others, urged President Clinton to make a retaliatory strike against Iraq.[2] On June 26, 1993, the U.S. launched twenty-three Tomahawk missiles against the Baghdad intelligence headquarters.[3]

Oslo Accords, September 1993

In August 1993, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meeting in Norway drew up the Oslo Accords, which created the Palestinian Authority in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel's right to exist. Secretary Christopher accepted Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres's offer to host the signing ceremony. The ceremony took place in Washington D.C. on 13 September 1993, with Yasser Arafat signing for the Palestine Liberation Organization and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signing for the State of Israel. It was witnessed by Secretary Christopher for the United States and Andrei Kozyrev for Russia, in the presence of President Clinton.[4]

Partnership for Peace NATO Expansion, January 1994

In order to initiate further enlargement of NATO with minimal backlash from Russia, Secretary Christopher promoted the Partnership for Peace program as a stepping-stone into full NATO membership. Against protests from the Pentagon, Christopher avidly supported NATO expansion as a means of protecting Eastern Europe against a possible Russian resurgence. President Clinton supported the program and Partnership for Peace was launched January 10, 1994. Despite much debate, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland signed on as Partnership members that year and became full NATO members in 1999.[5][6][7][8]

Rwandan Genocide, April 1994

In what is recognized as Christopher's greatest foreign policy mistake, the US and UN failed to react quickly enough to the unrest in Kigali which eventually exploded into the Rwandan Genocide. Over the course of approximately 100 days, from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April up until mid July, at least 1.2million Tutsis were killed by Hutu militia.[9]

China: Delinking Human Rights and Trade Status, May 1994

During the 1992 presidential campaign, then-candidate Clinton blasted President George H. W. Bush for giving China low-tariff trading privileges despite its human rights abuses. Secretary Christopher agreed with this view and believed that the US should use economic pressure to force China to improve its human rights record. However, on May 26, 1994, President Clinton renewed China's low-tariff trading privileges, effectively delinking the human rights issue from China's trade relations with the US. Relations improved as a result, with President Jiang Zemin visiting the U.S. in November 1997 and President Clinton visiting China in June 1998.[10]

Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, September 1994

On September 19, 1994, a US-led coalition returned Haiti's popularly-elected President Jean-Bertrande Aristide to power after a coup had unseated him. The US military effort, known as Operation Uphold Democracy, was largely the product of Colin Powell's diplomatic efforts, with little role played by Christopher.[11]

Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, October 1994

In the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Secretary Christopher encouraged Jordan's King Hussein to make a peace treaty with Israel. Christopher eventually offered Hussein $200 million in military equipment and $700 million in debt forgiveness to sweeten the deal. On October 27, 1994, Prime Minister Rabin and Prime Minister Abdelsalam al-Majali signed the Israel–Jordan peace treaty. The signing was witnessed by President Clinton and Secretary Christopher. Christopher sought to obtain a similar treaty between Rabin and Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, but to no avail.[12]

Vietnam: Normalizing Relations, July 1995

Working with Senator John McCain, in 1994 Secretary Christopher began actively promoting the normalization of United States–Vietnam relations. At the time, the U.S. had not had an embassy in Vietnam since 1975. The main obstacle to normalization came from veterans and POW/MIA support groups who were convinced that Hanoi was not fully cooperating in the search for the remains of US soldiers in Vietnam. However, after Secretary Christopher convinced President Clinton that the Vietnamese government was fully cooperating in these searches, the President announced the formal normalization of diplomatic relations with Vietnam on July 11, 1995.[13]

Dayton Agreement, November 1995

In Dayton, Ohio, Secretary Christopher—working with Assistant Secretary Richard Holbrooke--negotiated peace talks between President of Serbia Slobodan Milošević, President of Croatia Franjo Tuđman, and President of Bosnia Alija Izetbegović. The result was the November 1995 Dayton Agreement, which put an end to the Bosnian War.[14]

Khobar Towers Bombing, June 1996

In the wake of the Khobar Towers bombing, Secretary Christopher traveled to Saudi Arabia to witness the site of the attack. In Dhahran (the home of the Khobar Towers), Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal allegedly promised Christopher that the FBI would have the full cooperation of the Saudi government. Eventually, however, the Saudi government and the FBI repeatedly conflicted during the course of the investigation.[15]


In addition to several honorary degrees, Christopher has received the following awards: the Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service for the Greatest Public Service Performed by an Elected or Appointed Official; the UCLA Medal; the Harold Weill Medal from New York University; the James A. Garfield Baller Award; the Thomas Jefferson Award in Law from the University of Virginia Law School; and the Louis Stein Award from Fordham Law School.

Christopher's picture hangs in the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, near pictures of John Kerry, Robert McNamara, Elmo Zumwalt, and other American dignitaries, in commemoration of his visit to Vietnam, after normalization of relations between the two countries. (see[16])

At the 1999 unveiling of his portrait at the Department of State, attended by President Clinton, Christopher remarked: "To anyone who has served in Washington, there is something oddly familiar about [having your portrait painted]. First, you're painted into a corner, then you're hung out to dry and, finally, you're framed."

He was sent to supervise the contested Florida recount for Al Gore in the U.S. presidential election, 2000.

Christopher is a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) Board of Advisors.

He is an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy.

Since 2003, Christopher has taught a small seminar course on international affairs as part of the Honors Program at UCLA.[17]

Christopher is married to the former Marie Wyllis. They have four children: Lynn, Scott, Thomas, and Kristen. He has written In the Stream of History: Shaping Foreign Policy for a New Era (1998), and Chances of a Lifetime (2001). Warren Christopher is a recipient of the state of North Dakota's Roughrider Award.

Christopher is currently a senior partner at O'Melveny & Myers' Century City office.

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ "The Bush assassination attempt". Department of Justice/FBI Laboratory report. http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/oig/fbilab1/05bush2.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-06.  
  2. ^ Christopher, Warren. Chances of a Lifetime. New York: Scribner Press, 2001. Page 234.
  3. ^ "Cruise Missile Strike - June 26, 1993. Operation Southern Watch". GlobalSecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/strike_930626.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-06.  
  4. ^ Christopher, Warren. Chances of a Lifetime. New York: Scribner Press, 2001. Page 200.
  5. ^ Christopher, Warren. Chances of a Lifetime. New York: Scribner Press, 2001. Page 276.
  6. ^ Johanna Granville, "The Many Paradoxes of NATO Enlargement” Current History (April 1999), vol. 98, no. 627, pp. 165-170.
  7. ^ Johanna Granville, “After Kosovo: The Impact of NATO Enlargement on Russian Political Parties,” Demokratizatsiya vol. 8, no. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 24-45.
  8. ^ Johanna Granville, “9-11: A Wakeup Call for NATO and the EU?” Global Society (October 2002), vol. 16, no. 4
  9. ^ Des Forges, Alison (1999). Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda. Human Rights Watch. ISBN ISBN 1-56432-171-1. http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda. Retrieved 2007-01-12.  
  10. ^ Christopher, Warren. Chances of a Lifetime. New York: Scribner Press, 2001. Page 242.
  11. ^ Christopher, Warren. Chances of a Lifetime. New York: Scribner Press, 2001. Page 192.
  12. ^ Christopher, Warren. Chances of a Lifetime. New York: Scribner Press, 2001. Page 214.
  13. ^ Christopher, Warren. Chances of a Lifetime. New York: Scribner Press, 2001. Page 293.
  14. ^ Christopher, Warren. Chances of a Lifetime. New York: Scribner Press, 2001. Page 251.
  15. ^ Christopher, Warren. Chances of a Lifetime. New York: Scribner Press, 2001. Page 225.
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ "Warren Christopher, International Hot Spots/UCLA Spotlight - March 1, 2003.". http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/strike_930626.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-18.  
Legal offices
Preceded by
Ramsey Clark
United States Deputy Attorney General
Succeeded by
Richard G. Kleindienst
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles W. Robinson
United States Deputy Secretary of State
1977 – 1981
Succeeded by
William P. Clark
Preceded by
Lawrence Eagleburger
United States Secretary of State
Served under: Bill Clinton
Succeeded by
Madeleine Albright


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