Peers Respected the 'Calm and Unselfish' George Shultz

Longtime secretary of state cut landmark nuclear arms treaty with Soviets
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 7, 2021 1:00 PM CST
Peers Respected the 'Calm and Unselfish' George Shultz
Secretary of State-designate George Shultz, right, speaks with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Sen. Joseph Biden, left, in 1982.   (AP Photo/Ira Schwarz, File)

Former Secretary of State George Shultz, a titan of American academia, business and diplomacy who spent most of the 1980s trying to improve Cold War relations with the Soviet Union and forging a course for peace in the Middle East, has died. He was 100. Shultz died Saturday at his home on the campus of Stanford University, where he was a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, a think tank, and professor emeritus at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. A cause of death was not provided, the AP reports. Shultz held three major Cabinet positions in Republican administrations. He was labor secretary, treasury secretary and director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Richard Nixon before spending more than six years as President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state. Shultz was the longest-serving secretary of state since World War II and had been the oldest surviving former Cabinet member of any administration.

Over his lifetime, Shultz succeeded in nearly everything he touched, including academics, teaching, government service, and the corporate world—he was president of the Bechtel Group—and was widely respected by his peers of both political parties. As the nation’s chief diplomat, Shultz negotiated the first-ever treaty to reduce the size of the Soviet Union's ground-based nuclear arsenals. He remained a proponent of reducing nuclear arms after leaving office, as well as combatting climate change. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, reflecting in his memoirs on the "highly analytic, calm and unselfish Shultz," paid Shultz an exceptional compliment in his diary: “If I could choose one American to whom I would entrust the nation’s fate in a crisis, it would be George Shultz." In 1986, Shultz expressed his frustation with life in Washington. "Nothing ever gets settled in this town. It’s not like running a company or even a university," he told a House committee. "It's a seething debating society in which the debate never stops, in which people never give up, including me."

(More obituary stories.)

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