James Steinberg, a former Deputy Secretary of State and the current Dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, speaks with local residents and signs copies of his book following Cazenovia Forum presentation on Oct. 4 at Catherine Cummings Theater.
He answered a Sunday morning call from the Attorney General, who was looking for his boss. He wasn’t immediately available, so Steinberg was asked to work on an emergency brief for the President and National Security Advisor, as 52 American hostages were taken prisoner that morning in the American Embassy in Tehran.
The Iranian Hostage crisis had begun.
Steinberg drew laughs from his audience when he jokingly characterized his seven days a week work on the crisis for the next 14 months as that of the 53rd hostage.
Steinberg would ultimately work under Warren Christopher in the Clinton administration and later become director of policy planning at the State Department, and deputy director of national security.
When the Democrats re-entered the White House after the Bush administration, Steinberg was appointed Deputy Secretary of State under Hillary Rodham Clinton until his resignation last year.
In his time outside of government, Steinberg also worked as the dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and as the vice president and director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution.
In a Q&A session after the lecture, Steinberg fielded questions concerning Pakistan, North Korea and Rwanda, giving thoughtful and informative responses to each issue raised. However, the last question of the evening, from Cazenovia Forum Board Member James Bruno, provided the most intriguing — and shortest — answer of the evening.
“Would you care to give us your views on the Wiki-leaks case,” Bruno asked?
“No,” Steinberg answered quickly. “Because I don’t like to use profanities in public.”
National political pollster John Zogby will return for the next Cazenovia Forum lecture, on Nov. 9, to be held at St. James Church in Cazenovia.
Thomas Baker is a senior at Utica College majoring in journalism. He can be reached through the editor at email@example.com.