Secretary William Cohen

Secretary of Defense (1997-2001)
Senator (1979-1997)
Congressman (1973-1979)

From his very first days in Washington, Secretary Cohen was singled out as a future American leader. In 1974, during his very first term in Congress, TIME magazine named him as one of “America’s 200 Future Leaders,” and the following year the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce named him one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Men in America.”

This reflected, in part, the national prominence Secretary Cohen attained as a freshman Republican Congressman who was tasked by the House Judiciary Committee to build, on national television, the evidentiary base for impeachment of President Nixon — and who then cast the deciding vote to impeach. But it also reflected the recognition that the intellectual clout, integrity, independence, and public persuasiveness he demonstrated during the Watergate hearings portended a future without bounds on the national scene. Internationally, Secretary Cohen’s reputation also took root as, despite the political risk it could entail for a freshman Congressman, he traveled to Thailand in 1974 to reassure a stalwart ally following the U.S. military withdrawal from Vietnam. In the process, Secretary Cohen established relationships that have flourished there and elsewhere around the globe over the quarter century since.

In 1978, he was propelled into the Senate, defeating a highly respected incumbent. During his first weeks in the Senate, he was singled out to be chairman of two powerful subcommittees, the Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Force Projection Subcommittee and the Governmental Affairs Committee’s Government Oversight Subcommittee. The former was responsible for tens of billions of acquisition dollars for naval vessels and long-range transport aircraft, as well as U.S. security policy in East Asia, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. The latter was responsible for reforming the procurement process for the entire Federal Government. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging, Secretary Cohen led efforts to improve the efficiency of Medicare and other health care programs and was a central player in the health care reform debates of the 1990s. Secretary Cohen also was a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence for a decade, serving half that time as Vice Chairman, overseeing a large budget involving some of the Nation’s most advanced technology.

His experience and expertise led to his selection to serve on the “Iran-Contra Committee.” His sustained leadership on environmental issues gave him the distinction of being the only Republican Senator endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters re-election after re-election, while his efforts on behalf of small business and early leadership in reversing federal deficits won him awards from the National Federation of Independent Businessmen and the National Taxpayers Union.

Secretary Cohen’s international expertise was recognized by his selection to the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1989 to 1997, whose Middle East Study Group he chaired. He has chaired and served on numerous other study groups and committees at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the School for Advanced International Studies, and the Brookings Institute. He established and led U.S. delegations to the annual Pacific Dialogue in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the American-Arab Dialogue in Cairo, both regional conferences on economic and security issues. Beginning in 1985, he led the U.S. delegation of senior Executive Branch officials and Members of Congress to the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, which brings together senior government and industrial officials from throughout Europe and Asia.

In 1996, widely expected to easily defeat whomever would be nominated to challenge him, Secretary Cohen stunned Maine and Washington by announcing he would not seek re-election. Frustrated with partisan gridlock, Secretary Cohen announced he would return to private life to promote international business and, through his writings and the media, a more thoughtful public discourse on national political issues. He also launched the William S. Cohen Institute for International Business at the University of Maine.

President Clinton interrupted these plans, however, when he asked Secretary Cohen to lead the Department of Defense, the first time in modern U.S. history when a President has chosen an elected official from the other party to be a member of his cabinet. At his January 1997 confirmation hearing, Secretary Cohen set forth his prioritized objectives as Secretary and completed his tenure having accomplished them all. Reversing a steady decline in defense budgets that began in the 1980s, Secretary Cohen succeeded in modernizing the military and maintaining its readiness to fight; reversing recruitment and retention problems by enhancing pay and other benefits; and strengthening security relationships with countries around the world in order to reorient them from the Cold War to the challenges of a new era. Under his leadership, the U.S. military conducted the largest air warfare campaign since World War II, in Bosnia and Kosovo, and conducted other military operations on every continent. During his tenure, Secretary Cohen held substantive meetings with foreign leaders in over 60 countries.

A published author of nine works of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry; a futurist with degrees in classical Latin and Greek; the son of a working-class immigrant who rose to the highest levels in government, it was natural for the Christian Science Monitor to call him “a true Renaissance Man.”

After 31 years of public service, Secretary Cohen leaves behind a record of unparalleled accomplishment, integrity, and respect, and takes with him unrivaled knowledge, reputation, and relationships, across America and around the globe.

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Lord Powell of Bayswater

Lord Powell of BayswaterLord Powell was for many years Private Secretary and adviser on foreign affairs and defence to Lady Thatcher when she was Prime Minister, and held the same position in the early part of John Major’s time as Prime Minister. Since 1992 he has been an international businessman, serving as a Board member of several major international companies. He is currently Chairman of Sagitta Asset Management Limited, and Chairman of LVMH, Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy in the UK. He is a board member of, among others, the Textron Corporation, Caterpillar Inc., LVMH, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Schindler Corporation, Northern Trust Global Services, Yell Group, Matheson & Co, and British Mediterranean Airways. He also holds a number of other positions, in particular President of the China-Britain Business Council, Chairman of the Trustees of the Oxford Business School and a Trustee of the British Museum.

Background:

Charles Powell was born in Sussex, UK in 1941. He was educated at King’s School, Canterbury and New College, Oxford, where he obtained a first class honours degree in History.

He joined the Diplomatic Service in 1963 and served successively in Helsinki, Washington, Bonn and at the European Community in Brussels, as well as in the Foreign Office in London. In 1984 he became Private Secretary and adviser on foreign affairs and defence to the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. He continued to serve in the same capacity with John Major until 1991.

Lord Powell subsequently embarked on a career in international business in 1992. He is currently Chairman of two companies: Sagitta Asset Management Limited and LVMH Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy in the United Kingdom.

He serves as a Director of the Textron Corporation and of Caterpillar Inc. in the United States, of LVMH in France, of Schindler Corporation in Switzerland and of Yell Group in the UK. He is also a Director of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, of Matheson & Co, of British Mediterranean Airways, and Northern Trust Global Services .

Previous directorships include Jardine Matheson Holdings and associated companies (1992-2000), National Westminster Bank and Arjo Wiggins Appleton.

Lord Powell is a member of a number of international advisory boards including Textron Corporation, Barrick Gold, Magna Corporation, HCL Technologies, Diligence LLC and GEMS Oriental & General Fund, as well as the European Advisory Board of Rolls-Royce and the European Strategy Board of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst.

Lord Powell also serves as President of the China-Britain Business Council: as Chairman of the Trustees of the Said Business School at Oxford University: as a Trustee of the Aspen Institute in the United States: and as a Trustee of the British Museum.

Lord Powell was created a Life Peer in the 2000 New Year Honours List. He is married and has two sons.