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James Baker — U.S. secretary of state, treasury secretary and presidential advisor — has been called Washington’s “Miracle Man” for his uncanny ability to solve problems that seem insurmountable. Throughout the decades, Baker’s savvy, practical approach to deal-making led to triumphs on both the foreign and domestic stages. Whether negotiating on Capitol Hill or at an international conference, Baker demonstrated the importance of working with his opponents and creating coalitions. He also surrounded himself with a top-notch team of experts to help him achieve his challenging goals. Perhaps his greatest achievement as secretary of state was helping to bring a peaceful conclusion to the Cold War. But Baker was not always a beacon of compromise. As a political tactician, he was devoted to winning at all costs — a strategy that made him instrumental during several presidential campaigns.

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James Baker — Career Highlights


When Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, Secretary of State James Baker knew that the United States should not act alone against Hussein.

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Building a Coalition Student Activity

Baker with three Arab leaders

Following the U.S and Soviet Union’s condemnation of Hussein’s actions, Baker set out to build an international coalition.


James Baker did not aspire to be a political operative. But when he worked on a Senate campaign for his friend George H. W. Bush, it became obvious that Baker had impeccable political instincts.

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Presidential Election Process Student Activity

Baker talking to press

Baker strategically orchestrated protests in Florida during the Bush-Gore election.


James Baker was extremely adept at negotiations. As secretary of the treasury, he negotiated with his political opponents to create a new tax reform package that impacted millions of Americans.

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Cost-Benefit Analysis Student Activity

Baker and Rostenkowski

Baker used his negotiation skills to gain bipartisan support for tax reform.


The Cold War — a period of hostility between the U.S. and the Soviet Union — dominated global politics during the second half of the 20th century. James Baker helped bring the era to a peaceful end.

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Cold War Historical Investigation Student Activity

Crowd of people at the Berlin Wall

As secretary of state, Baker played a pivotal role in helping to bring an end to the Cold War.