Former Secretary of State James Baker Returns to Washington to Provide Insights
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, convened a hearing today to examine America’s role in the world in 2016 and beyond. The committee heard testimony from former Secretary of State James Baker and former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.
“I don’t think this hearing could come at a better time when the nation’s beginning more fully to focus on our place in the world,” said Corker. “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee…should be a place where we…are able to have some distance and look at some long-range issues that we need to deal with and just where we’re going to be in the world.”
Acknowledging concerns of Americans who believe the U.S. is doing too much abroad, Corker sought the perspective of the witnesses on how the U.S. should address current crises overseas, the most effective use of American power internationally, and the threat posed by the nation’s indebtedness.
Former Secretary of State James Baker recommended an approach to U.S. foreign policy that would preserve America’s role as the “world’s preeminent leader for the foreseeable future” while rejecting the notion of a “choice between sending in the 101st Airborne or doing nothing”.
“Using ‘selective engagement’ as a blueprint, we can identify America’s vital interests in the world and then advance them using all of the tools available to our foreign policy--including our many strategic alliances, our economic clout, our diplomatic assets and, as our last resort, our military,” said Baker. “While firmly grounded in values, ‘selective engagement’ would understand and appreciate the complexity of the real world – a world of hard choices and painful trade-offs…But such an approach does, I am convinced, offer our surest guide and best hope for navigating our great country safely though this precarious period of unparalleled opportunity in world affairs.”
During questioning, Baker warned about the risks of toppling regimes that do not necessarily share American values, citing U.S. intervention in Libya that led to the fall of Moammar Gadhafi and the Obama administration ending support for the regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, who was later overthrown. He also advocated for restoring U.S. economic strength as the number one priority and the belief that American allies should carry more of the burden in supporting alliances that promote peace and prosperity.
Regarding the role of Congress, Baker pointed to the importance of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the conduct of U.S. foreign affairs.
“Chairman Corker has moved this committee back to the role that it played when J. William Fulbright and others chaired it, and I think that’s good,” said Baker. “And I think Chairman Corker and Ranking Member [Ben] Cardin are taking it back to what it used to be, and I’m delighted to see that.”
For archived footage and full witness testimony, click here.