Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who served Republican administrations from Eisenhower to Reagan and helped hasten the end of the Cold War, died Saturday at his Stanford campus home at the age of 100.
Though born in New York City in 1920 and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, Shultz forged deep ties to the Bay Area through Stanford University, where he was a fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor emeritus at its Graduate School of Business.
“Our colleague was a great American statesman and a true patriot in every sense of the word,” said Hoover Institution director and another former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, in a statement. “He will be remembered in history as a man who made the world a better place.”
Shultz was one of only two Americans to hold four separate cabinet posts: state, treasury, labor and office of management and budget. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in economics in 1942, served in the Marine Corps during WWII, then resumed his studies, graduating from MIT with a Ph.D. in industrial economics in 1949.
He went on to serve as a senior staff economist on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s council of economic advisors and, later, served as President Richard Nixon’s labor secretary and treasury secretary.
It was as Reagan’s top diplomat from 1982 to 1989 that Shultz became a household name. He helped shape the U.S. foreign policy that helped bring the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
Shultz began his association with Stanford in 1968, doing a yearlong fellowship at the university’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, according to Stanford News Service. He returned to teach at the business school between the Nixon and Reagan administrations before beginning his long relationship with the conservative Hoover Institution during the 1990s.
In a statement to reporters over the weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called Shultz “an extraordinary statesman, public servant and friend.”
“Over decades of public service in the highest levels of government, Secretary Shultz significantly shaped America’s foreign policy and worked for change at home, too,” Newsom said. “He operated with a commitment to tending relationships and building trust across every conceivable divide that we should all strive to emulate.”
“Our state is fortunate that Secretary Shultz headed west later in his career, bringing his wisdom and insight to advising Gov. [Arnold] Schwarzenegger, roles at the Hoover Institution and more.”
S.F. Mayor London Breed said Schultz made a “tremendous impact” on her city.
“He was well-known for his accomplishments on the world stage, but it’s important to remember that he was a fierce advocate for what many of us consider ‘San Francisco values,’ including the value of a high-quality public education, the value of accessible health care for all, and the value of mutual respect and dignity for people from all walks of life,” Breed said, in a statement. “In recent years, we were fortunate that he used his role as a respected statesman to serve as a bridge builder between other countries and our city, and his international work on nuclear deterrence was truly about leaving the world in a better place. He was a giant in our community and my condolences go out to his wife, Charlotte, and all of his family and friends.”
In 2001, Shultz was named the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow of the Hoover Institution. He authored many books and won countless awards over his career, including the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1989.
His most recent initiative at Stanford was “Governance in an Emerging New World,” concerning Shultz’s penchant for open discussion on how government, institutions and society can best respond to rapid changes.
In November 2020—the month before his 100th birthday—he co-authored A Hinge of History: Governance in an Emerging New World, offering key insights from the multiyear series of roundtables and other contributions.
Shultz is survived by his wife, Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, his five children, 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
What kind of ideological blinders does one have to have to ignore the real historical significance of one George P. Shultz? It’s one thing for Republican and Democrat establishment politicians, members of the power elite, to fawn over one of their own (e.g. Condoleezza Rice, Gavin Newsom, London Breed). It’s quite another–or should be quite another–for a journalist (Mr. Hicks) or media organizations (like San Jose Inside), presumably there to serve the public interest to do so.
So for the record, let me, a common reader, provide other readers with a few parts of Shultz’s resume that are missing in this myopically flattering tribute.
1. After five years holding Labor Secretary, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Treasury Secretary positions under Richard Nixon (1969-1974), Shultz went to work for the Bechtel Group, an international construction company based in San Francisco. Bechtel garnered massive government contracts in the U.S. and, significantly, in Saudi Arabia where it was the largest foreign construction contracting firm in the Kingdom. There is little doubt that Shultz’s connections from his work in the Nixon administration helped Bechtel in winning contracts at home and abroad, a pre-existing pattern for Bechtel that Shultz helped to solidfy (https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/the-boys-from-bechtel-88449/; https://corpwatch.org/article/bechtel-profiting-destruction).
2. Shultz was Secretary of State (1982-1989) under Reagan and portrayed as the moderate voice in that administration. That “moderate” provided intellectual rationale and justification for the Reagan/Bush era “war on terrorism.” The “terrorism” that most concerned Shultz was “a cancer, right here in our land mass,” namely, the Nicaraguan revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979.
Shultz referred to that heroic and epic process as the most “alarming” manifestation of state-sponsored terrorism,” a plague spread by “depraved opponents of civilization itself” in “a return to barbarism in the modern age.” He wrote: “Negotiations are a euphemism for capitulation if the shadow of power is not cast across the bargaining table” and criticized those who advocated “utopian, legalistic means like outside mediation, the United Nations, and the World Court, while ignoring the power element of the equation.” (Shultz, “Terrorism: The Challenge to the Democracies,” June 24, 1984 (State Dept. Current Policy No. 589); “Terrorism and the Modern World,” Oct. 25, 1984 (State Department Current Policy No. 629). This provided the doctrinal rationale for the administration’s illegal war against Nicaragua, launched via neighboring Honduras and Costa Rica by CIA-supported “contras” that lasted to the end of the 1980s (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2982996).
3. Shultz as Reagan’s Secretary of State supported and enabled U.S. support for the Iraqi war against Iran begun in 1980. He methodically worked to normalize relations with the regime of Saddam Hussein and approved of the military, intelligence and logistical support the U.S. provided to Iraq during the course of the eight-year war, inspite of the Iraqi regime’s use of banned chemical weapons against Iran and against Iraqi Kurdish villages and towns.(https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/index2.htm). Some 15 years later, that same Shultz supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq under Baby Bush, an occupation that provided large contracting opportunities for Bechtel, on whose board he continued to serve (see above).
In general, Shultz was allied with the hard right Republican agendas of the Cold War, thwarting liberation movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America and in destabilizing governments allied with or friendly to, the Soviet Union. He was also a pro-business insider, serving on the board of numerous construction, financial, pharmaceutical (including Theranos) and other businesses while strategically and deftly using his connections to government to advance private business interests (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Shultz; https://www.cato.org/people/george-schultz; https://www.businessinsider.com/theranos-former-board-members-henry-kissinger-george-shultz-james-mattis-2019-3).
In short, Shultz’s life’s work has been service to, and membership in, the ranks of the country’s power elite. So, there is much more to the story that San Jose Inside could have easily accessed for a more balanced obituary.
I nominate ECONOCLAST as writer/editor for all future SJI obits of local characters with problematic work histories beginning with Board Members of Theranos, as they drop away from natural causes.
It looks like An Opinion has No Opinion about anything important, like commenting on the role and legacy of Shultz, the actual topic of the above article and commentary. Attacking the messenger, rather than the message, is the favorite pastime of the bootlickers and bitches of the wealthy and powerful. This usually means attacking people whose arguments resonate with a lot of people. Shultz was apparently a smooth operator and fooled most of the people most of the time. He certainly seems to have snowed most of the mainstream media and liberal academia. An Opinion, by contrast, comes off as a nincompoop. In that sense, Opinion reminds one of kindred trolls–e.g. Kulak, Bubble, M.T. Gunn, HB, hoapres, Phu Tan Elli, WORK90, John Galt, Vacancy Vaquero, etc.–the debased dolts who regularly infest the comments section of San Jose Inside.
This obit makes no mention of George Shultz’s role as a board member anywhere, which is a miss or a political choice.
Maybe the era of the obit for international figures is just over. Announce the passing and include a link to the deceased’s Wikipedia page: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Shultz
facendo guaio, if George Shultz was a family member of yours, I am sorry for your loss.