As the United States prepared to inaugurate its 45th president, the U.S. Institute of Peace again held its Passing the Baton conference—a review, during the transition between administrations, of global challenges confronting our nation. USIP convened Cabinet-level and other senior foreign policy and national security figures from the outgoing and incoming administrations as part of two days of meetings January 9 and 10. They were joined by top officials from previous administrations, thought leaders and other foreign policy experts.

Senator Lindsay Graham and USIP president, Nancy Lindborg
Senator Lindsay Graham and USIP president, Nancy Lindborg

This third Passing the Baton sought vital common ground on U.S. foreign policy. In accord with USIP’s congressional mandate, it sought to advance informed, bipartisan problem-solving on threats to U.S. national interests and international peace—from wars and extremist violence to global environmental, nuclear, cyber-security and other threats. In hosting this event, USIP partnered with five prominent think tanks: the American Enterprise Institute, the Atlantic Council, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Center for American Progress and the Heritage Foundation. Media partners for the Passing the Baton were Politico and SiriusXM Radio.

USIP first held Passing the Baton in 2001 as part of the transition between the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In 2009, the conference took place as President Bush transferred power to President Barack Obama.

Passing the Baton 2017 started January 9 with private meetings, including members of the outgoing and incoming foreign policy teams. They were hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns, former national security advisors Stephen Hadley and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Dinner host former Secretary of Defense William Perry was ill and was represented instead by former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman.

conference the following day, open to news media and on the record, featured Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials from the current and former administrations, as well as President-elect Donald Trump’s designated national security advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and his designated deputy, KT McFarland. Speakers also included members of Congress and policy experts. During the event, National Security Advisor Rice addressed the audience before ceremonially “passing the baton” to her designated successor, Lt. Gen. Flynn.

More on Passing the Baton

Passing the Baton, a history
The Passing the Baton conference is a broad and bipartisan review of the global challenges confronting our nation during a transition between U.S. presidential administrations. It gathers senior members of the foreign policy and national security teams from outgoing, incoming and previous administrations, along with outside scholars and experts. 

Foreign Policy Priorities for the Trump Administration
In this series of brief video interviews, four U.S. Institute of Peace experts offer their recommendations. They spoke ahead of USIP’s Passing the Baton conference, which will convene Cabinet-level and other senior foreign policy and national security figures from the outgoing and incoming administrations for meetings on January 9 and 10. 

"Yes, a Bipartisan Foreign Policy Is Possible"
Even Now With dangers growing around the world, it's more urgent than ever
An op-ed from Politico Magazine jointly authored by Madeleine Albright, Stephen Hadley and Nancy Lindborg

Trump & Obama Aides, Experts Weigh America’s Global Role
A Bipartisan Consensus amid Transition: Buttress U.S. Leadership
A readout from private meetings among national security aides from the outgoing, incoming and past administraions, and independent experts.

From the Jan 10 event

Read an overview of the event, U.S. National Security Chiefs Talk Leadership, Partners

Read recaps of the main sessions:

Related Publications

Myanmar’s Rakhine State: Parties Split, Rebels Rise, and the Junta Schemes

Myanmar’s Rakhine State: Parties Split, Rebels Rise, and the Junta Schemes

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

By: Kyaw Hsan Hlaing

Myanmar’s military regime has a plan for trying to establish its governing legitimacy next year: In August of 2023, the dictatorship, which overthrew a democratically elected government in early 2021, intends to hold sham elections. A critical piece of this strategy involves maneuvering Myanmar’s welter of small ethnic parties into taking part in the electoral process. Nowhere are the risks and uncertainties inherent in the generals’ plan more evident than in poor but economically strategic Rakhine State on Myanmar’s western border with Bangladesh and India.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

The Latest @ USIP: Why Central America’s Security Is a U.S. Priority

The Latest @ USIP: Why Central America’s Security Is a U.S. Priority

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

By: Ricardo Zúniga

In this edition of "The Latest @ USIP,” Ricardo Zúniga, the principal deputy assistant secretary and special envoy for the Northern Triangle in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department, discusses why Central America is such a high priority for the Biden administration; the key strategies to prevent, mitigate and resolve violent conflict; and how U.S. engagement, particularly in Guatemala, can help address conflict in the region.

Type: Blog

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal Policy

In Myanmar’s Rakhine State, a Fraying Truce May Hold Key to Anti-Regime Fight

In Myanmar’s Rakhine State, a Fraying Truce May Hold Key to Anti-Regime Fight

Thursday, July 21, 2022

By: Kyaw Hsan Hlaing

Myanmar has been crippled by growing political turmoil and militant resistance since the army overthrew the elected civilian government on February 1, 2021. Today, most of the country is engulfed in a virtual civil war. In Rakhine State, however, home to one of Myanmar's most powerful ethnic armed organizations, a tenuous peace still prevails under a cease-fire reached with the pre-coup military in 2020. At the time, the truce benefited both the military and its adversary, the Arakan Army. Now, under the pressures unleashed by the military’s power grab, that deal is fraying. Should it collapse, the coup regime will face a vastly strengthened insurgency. The people of Rakhine, collaterally, will all but certainly suffer brutal counterstrikes from the air force and artillery of a military untroubled by its record of war crimes.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications