George Schultz, who died last Saturday in Stanford, California, is now a hundred years old.
Despite this blessed age, the United States Secretary of State has remained very clear. At the end of October, he wrote another brutal analysis of the presidency of his fellow party member Donald Trump, who was “sowing chaos in the United States and the world.”
He was the conservative but gentle Republican Secretary of Labor and later Richard Nixon’s Treasury Department. However, he mainly made his mark when he was Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989.
Schultz was soon convinced that in the Cold War with the Soviet Union – which Reagan had christened “The Evil Empire” – great progress could have been made through talk. Schultz persuaded his boss to hold regular consultations, disarmament agreements, and diplomatic pressure to demand greater respect for human rights. He convinced Reagan that Mikhail Gorbachev wasn’t just a Soviet leader with a friendly face, but someone who truly represented a break with the past. The gradually improving relationship between East and West helped make the collapse of the Communist Empire possible. Another victory was convincing Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization to give up terror against Israel.
After his political career, Schultz became a senior executive at the conservative Hoover Institute at Stanford. He remained a powerful voice behind the scenes. He put Condoleezza Rice in contact with George W. Bush, who became his Secretary of State.