On January 8, 2009, the United States Institute of Peace convened Passing the Baton 2009, a remarkable full-day public conference that convened high-level, bipartisan US foreign policy leaders to speak on crucial foreign policy and security issues facing the Obama administration as it transitions into power.

Highlights from Passing the Baton 2009

Event Archive

Passing the Baton convened almost 50 high-level speakers, and nearly 1900 people attended the event. Topics ranged from the future of U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan to nuclear nonproliferation to genocide prevention to online media’s role in conflict prevention. The event helped the Institute fulfill its educational mandate from Congress to explore with the public the most pressing issues of war and peace.

Some of the most notable of the day’s speakers were General David Petraeus, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, General Tony Zinni, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General Lakhdar Brahimi, Chairman of the Institute for State Effectiveness Ashraf Ghani, Special European Union Representative for Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell and Congressman Tom Perriello (D-VA).

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) were among those who spoke in support of the Institute's work at the conference's closing reception.

Passing the Baton 2009 was a follow up to an event by the same name that USIP sponsored eight years ago as the country made the transition from the Clinton to the Bush administration. Today, our country is in another leadership transition, but in evermore challenging international and domestic circumstances.

By all accounts, Passing the Baton was a remarkable success.  In terms of attendance alone, it was nearly three times larger than its 2001 predecessor.  Yet the Institute would be remiss if it didn’t make the conference proceedings available to a larger audience. 

The Institute has created these web pages for that reason.  These pages provide a truly comprehensive archive of Passing the Baton’s offerings.  Here you will find video and audio archives of each of the conference’s 16 sessions in their entirety, as well as supplementary documents, session reports, a photo library and other helpful items.

It is the Institute’s hope that by providing these analyses to the public as the Obama administration begins its tenure, we will help policymakers and citizens alike understand the depth and complexity of the foreign policy challenges the country faces.  The Institute does so not in an effort to overwhelm its audience with the scale of the effort needed, but rather to demonstrate that conflict is both natural and manageable. 

It is the Institute’s purpose to find nonviolent solutions to managing or resolving international conflicts. Hopefully, conflicts can be prevented from reaching a violent stage, but if not, there are techniques of managing crises and promoting post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction. That is the fundamental purpose of the work of the United States Institute of Peace and the focus of Passing the Baton 2009

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