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Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher dies
Question of the Day
Always crisp, modest and polite, he drove home an agreement in his last year on the job to halt fighting in Lebanon between Israel and extremist Shiite guerrillas.
“We have achieved the goal of our mission, which was to achieve an agreement that will save lives and end the suffering of people on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border,” Christopher said in Jerusalem, his weeklong mission a success.
Madeleine Albright stepped in for Clinton’s second term and Christopher returned to his law firm of O'Melveny & Myers with Clinton’s “deep gratitude” for his service and with president’s playful description of Christopher as “the only man ever to eat M&Ms on Air Force One with a fork.”
Unlike some who held the job, Christopher worked smoothly with the president’s other senior advisers.
Although critics complained that the Clinton administration’s foreign policy lacked dramatic initiatives, the poised and cautious Christopher indicated he was pleased with the results, especially with what he called the “triple play” of a NAFTA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, the APEC expansion of U.S. economic ties to Pacific Rim nations, and the GATT accord on international tariffs and trade.
“Taking it overall, we’ve done very well on the major issues,” he said at a news conference in 1993, during which he also cited U.S. support for economic and political reform in Russia and the “partnership for peace” proposal to expand the involvement of former Communist adversaries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Christopher also looked back with gratitude on how far he had come from a childhood in Scranton, N.D., marked by bitter winters and modest circumstances. His father was a bank cashier who fell ill, and the family moved to Southern California during the Depression. After his father’s death his mother supported the family of five children as a sales clerk.
An ensign in the U.S. Navy reserves, he was called up to active duty during World War II and served in the Pacific.
He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California in 1945 and, after attending Stanford Law School, served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in 1949 and 1950.
In the late 1960s, he was a deputy attorney general in the administration of Lyndon Johnson.
In 2008, Christopher was co-chairman of a bipartisan panel that studied the recurring question of who under U.S. law should decide when the country goes to war. It proposed that the president be required to inform Congress of any plans to engage in “significant armed conflict” lasting longer than a week.
As a successful Los Angeles lawyer, Christopher had a seven-figure income, and a beach house in fashionable Santa Barbara.
He is survived by his wife Marie, and had four children in two marriages: Lynn, Scott, Thomas, and Kristen. Plans were pending for a private memorial service.
AP writer Andrew Dalton contributed to this report from Los Angeles. Barry Schweid reported from Washington.
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