Christopher, Warren (1925–)

views updated


U.S. politician, secretary of state (1993–1996). Warren Christopher was born in October 1925 in North Dakota. In 1959 he became president of the Lawyer's Guild of Los Angeles and also an advisor to the governor of California, Edmund Brown. In 1965, following the Watts riots in California, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to head a commission of inquiry. Between 1967 and 1969 Christopher was assistant attorney general in the federal department of justice. During his tenure he headed, among others, commissions charged with inquiry into the Detroit riots and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

From 1977 to 1981 Christopher was deputy secretary of state, second to Cyrus Vance. During his time in office, he won, in March 1978, the lifting of the embargo on the northern part of Cyprus, occupied by the Turkish Army. The government of Ankara had threatened to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) if the embargo was kept in place. In January 1981 he negotiated successfully the release of the American hostages who had been held more than a year in Tehran. He withdrew from the State Department to become head of the law firm of O'Meleveny & Meyers. On 6 November 1992, with lawyer Vernon Jordan, he was appointed by President-elect Bill Clinton to preside over a governmental transition team.

In January 1993, Christopher became secretary of state in the Clinton administration. He devoted a major portion of his activity to the peace process in the Middle East. In August 1993, he visited Jordan, Israel, and Syria. In December of the same year, after having been to Rome, Brussels, and Geneva in the context of the European Security Conference, he traveled to Israel, along with Edward Djerejian and Dennis Ross. In the course of the following year, he took a number of trips to the Middle East, in an effort to organize direct negotiations between Israelis and Syrians, as well as to meet with local political leaders involved in the peace process. At the end of January 1996, he attempted, in vain, to get the Israeli-Syrian negotiations held at the Wye Plantation in the United States to move forward. In April, when Israel launched its operation "Grapes of Wrath" in Lebanon, Christopher shuttled back and forth between Damascus and Tel Aviv to obtain a cease-fire between Hizbullah and the Israel Defense Force. In December 1996, Christopher resigned his position as secretary of state; he was replaced by Madeleine Albright, the first woman to hold this office, in January 1997. Christopher served as advisor to Vice-President Al Gore, the Democratic candidate for president, in the 2000 campaign. Christopher is the author of In the Stream of History: Shaping Foreign Policy for a New Era (1998) and Chances of a Lifetime (2001).

SEE ALSO Albright, Madeleine;Clinton, William Jefferson;Djerejian, Edward;Ross, Dennis B.

About this article

Christopher, Warren (1925–)

Updated About content Print Article