John Kerry is in Nigeria. The United States Secretary of State was in Lagos today the 25th of January 2015. He had closed door meetings with President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari – the two top most contenders for the country’s top job, come February 14, 2015. He said the U.S. was very much interested in Nigeria as it is Africa’s largest economy and is deeply concerned with the growing security threats. He urged the General Buhari and President Jonathan to strive for peace before and after the February 14 elections.
A Brief History of Kerry
Kerry was given the top job within diplomatic circles around the world by President Barak Obama. Before then he was the Chairman of the senate foreign relations committee from 2009 to 2013 and was the Chairman of the Senate Small Business committee before then Before going into the senate he was the 66th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. He had also carried the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket for the 2004 elections, which he lost to the Republican Party’s candidate George Bush. Indeed an illustrious career.
What does it mean to be the United States’ Secretary of State?
The US Secretary of State is the Head of the State Department and is primarily responsible for the foreign policy of the United States of America. It is basically the equivalent of the Minister of Foreign affairs in other countries. Since the creation of the office in 1789 there have been 68 Secretaries, from Thomas Jefferson through John Kerry.
According to the State Department’s websites, the primary duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of State include:
- Serves as the President’s principal adviser on U.S. foreign policy;
- Conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs;
- Grants and issues passports to American citizens and exequaturs to foreign consuls in the United States;
- Advises the President on the appointment of U.S. ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and other diplomatic representatives;
- Advises the President regarding the acceptance, recall, and dismissal of the representatives of foreign governments;
- Personally participates in or directs U.S. representatives to international conferences, organizations, and agencies;
- Negotiates, interprets, and terminates treaties and agreements;
- Ensures the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property, and interests in foreign countries;
- Supervises the administration of U.S. immigration laws abroad;
- Provides information to American citizens regarding the political, economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian conditions in foreign countries;
- Informs the Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. foreign relations;
- Promotes beneficial economic intercourse between the United States and other countries;
- Administers the Department of State;
- Supervises the Foreign Service of the United States.
In addition, the Secretary of State retains domestic responsibilities that Congress entrusted to the State Department in 1789. These include the custody of the Great Seal of the United States, the preparation of certain presidential proclamations, the publication of treaties and international acts as well as the official record of the foreign relations of the United States, and the custody of certain original treaties and international agreements. The Secretary also serves as the channel of communication between the Federal Government and the States on the extradition of fugitives to or from foreign countries.
In the presidential line of succession the Secretary of State is 4th after the Vice president, Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the senate.
Past living Secretary of States
In the order of their terms in office.
Henry Kissinger born May 27, 1923 (91 years); served the Nixon and Ford administration from 1973 – 1977. He was also Nixon’s National Security Advisor (a senior official in the executive Office of the President who serves as the chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues) from 1969 -1975. The only person to hold the Positions of National Security Adviser and Secretary of State at the same time. He is by far the most popular American Statesman of the modern era.
George Shultz born December 20, 1920 (94 years); served the Reagan Administration as secretary of state from 1982 -1989. He also served the Nixon administration a secretary of treasury from 1972 -1974, as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget between 1970 – 1972 and as secretary of labour from 1969 – 1970. Shultz is one of only two individuals to serve in four United States Cabinet positions within the United States government. The other is Elliot Richardson.
James Baker born April 28, 1930 (84 years); served the Bush Snr. Administration from 1989 -1992. He also served as the Reagan administration as secretary of treasury from 1985 – 1988. He served the Reagan and Bush Snr. Administration as the White House chief of staff from 1981 -1985 and 1992 – 1993 respectively.
Madeleine Albright born May 15, 1937 (77 years); served the Clinton Administration form 1997 – 2001 and as the United States Ambassador to the United nations from 1993 – 1997. She and Henry Kissinger are the only secretary of states to be born outside the United States. When Henry made a joke about this to her, after her inauguration she jokingly said (paraphrasing) “among the both of us, you still have an accents”. She was also the first female secretary of state.
Collin Powell born April 5, 1937 (77 years); served the Bush Jnr. administration from 2001 -2005. He served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff between 1989 -1993 during the Clinton and the Bush Snr. Administration. He served as the National Security Advisor in the Reagan administration. He is the first black man to have occupied all these positions.
Condoleezza Rice born November 14, 1954 (60 years); served the Bush Jnr. Administration between 2005 – 2009 and as the National Security Advisor from 2001 -2005. She was also a consultant to the Bush Snr. Administration on Soviet affairs. She is the first black woman to have held these positions.
Hilary Clinton born October 26, 1947 (67 years) served the Obama administration from 2009 -2013. Before then she was a major contender for the Democratic Party presidential ticket for the 2008 elections, which she lost to Barak Obama. She was also a United States Senator from New York between 2001 -2009, and the First Lady of the United States and the State of Arkansas from 1993 – 2001 and 1983 – 1992 respectively
- U.S. Department of State Website. http://www.state.gov/secretary/115194.htm