George Shultz, who most notably attempted to improve Cold War relations with the Soviet Union and bring peace to the Middle East, died Saturday at his home in Northern California. He was 100.
The New York City native graduated with honors from Princeton University in 1942, later earned a Ph.D. from MIT, and in between served as a U.S. Marine Corps artillery officer during World War II.
A lifelong Republican, Shultz held three Cabinet positions — labor, state and treasury — during his public service career. He served Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan before semi-retiring in 1989.
Working with Reagan, he implemented the famous “peace through strength” strategy. Within that realm, Shultz negotiated the first treaty to reduce the size of the USSR’s ground-based nuclear arsenals, as part of Reagan’s “Strategic Defense Initiative.”
He also articulated a far-reaching agenda for diplomacy with the Soviets that featured U.S. support for human rights, arms control, interpersonal contacts and more. His efforts proved overwhelmingly successful.
Upon his death, an AP report claimed, “Shultz succeeded in just about everything he touched, including academics, teaching, government service and the corporate world and was widely respected by his peers from both political parties.”
Shultz also was a strong supporter of the U.S.-Israeli relationship and a continuous critic of Iran’s support for terrorism. In recent years, he and Henry Kissinger criticized the 2015 JCPOA deal with Iran, noting it did not curtail Tehran’s path to nuclear weapons.
Kissinger also wrote in his memoirs, “If I could choose one American to whom I would entrust the nation’s fate in a crisis, it would be George Shultz.”
“Shultz was also a skilled manager whose successful administration of the Department of State has set a bar that none of his successors have matched. He had no doubt about the fact that it was President Reagan who would set policy but was not shy about giving Reagan direct diplomatic advice,” Former U.S. Ambassador and Shultz’s special assistant Eric Edelman wrote in part Monday morning. “Deeply conscious of his role as an institutional steward, he succeeded in leaving the State Department healthier and stronger than he found it. Future occupants of the office he once graced should strive to do as well.”
Until last weekend, Shultz had been the oldest surviving former Cabinet member of any presidential administration.
A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.