The Aspen Institute and Washington National Cathedral presented the program "Values and Diplomacy: A Conversation with Former Secretaries of State", bringing to the table America's former Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright, James A. Baker, III, and Colin L. Powell. Moderated by Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, the discussion focused on the role of cultural values in diplomacy with a regard to protecting American interests at a global level. The panel raised important issues such as: conflict between national interest and values, the duty to protect civilians, the impact of the media and religion. Democracy, freedom, economic freedom, human rights are values reflected in the American Constitution and values inspiring the world, inspiration that call for expectation from the rest of the world in helping them enjoy the benefits of such a value based system. The duty to protect, a developing concept and issue tuned out to give some valuable ideas during the discussion. A complex situation defines the concept, but at the core of it, civilians should be protected and action should be taken by the entire international community if genocide or aggression used by a political leader against the people of their own country. The participants stated that the American foreign policy should be a system value based and leaders should not feel they chose between values and national interest when taking actions. As an overall idea it was stated that principles and values should always be supported and promoted diplomatically, politically and economically and also military in certain circumstances and if there is the case of national interest.
Madeleine K. Albright is chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets. Dr. Albright was the 64th secretary of state of the United States. In 1997, she was named the first female secretary of state and became, at that time, the highest ranking woman in the history of the US government. From 1993 to 1997, Dr. Albright served as the US Permanent Representative to the UN and was a member of the President's Cabinet. From 1989 to 1992, she served as President of the Center for National Policy. Dr. Albright is a Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She chairs both the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the Pew Global Attitudes Project and serves as president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation.
James A. Baker, III has served in senior government positions under three United States presidents. He served as the nation's 61st secretary of state from January 1989 through August 1992 under President George H.W. Bush. Baker also served as the 67th secretary of the treasury from 1985 to 1988 under President Ronald Reagan. Baker's record of public service includes being White House chief of staff to President Bush and President Reagan. Baker received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and has been the recipient of many other awards for distinguished public service, including the Department of the Treasury's Alexander Hamilton Award, the Department of State's Distinguished Service Award and numerous honorary academic degrees. Baker is presently a senior partner in the law firm of Baker Botts. He is the honorary chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
Colin L. Powell served as the 65th US secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. As a professional soldier for 35 years, Gen. Powell held many command and staff positions and rose to the rank of four-star general. From 1989 to 1993, he served as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the US Department of Defense. During this time, he oversaw many crises, including Operation Desert Storm. He served previously as National Security Advisor to President Reagan. Gen. Powell's civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President's Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal.