George Shultz, Secretary of State Under Reagan, Dies

The Wall Street Journal:

Republican-establishment figure guided U.S. diplomacy to bring about end of Cold War

George Shultz, a pillar of the Republican foreign-policy establishment whose diplomacy helped seal the end of the Cold War, has died, according to a family statement. He was 100 years old.

Mr. Shultz held four different cabinet posts in the Nixon and Reagan administrations and served for six years as President Reagan’s secretary of state, one of the longest such tenures since World War II. He remained an active voice on national security, economic and environmental issues after leaving government, sometimes taking positions challenging the Trump administration.

A man of strong convictions who nevertheless rarely lost control of his emotions, Mr. Shultz played a pivotal role in encouraging Mr. Reagan to pursue a dialogue with the Soviet Union’s leaders despite strong opposition from the Pentagon and, at times, the president’s own national-security adviser.

“I always thought of Shultz as a stabilizer,” said John Lewis Gaddis, the Yale University professor and Cold War historian. “If you think of great ships going across the ocean, the captain sets the course, but somebody has to keep it on course.”

Born in New York, Mr. Shultz initially made his mark as an economist. After graduating from Princeton University, he earned a Ph.D. in industrial economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for nearly a decade. He later served as dean of the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business and as a fellow at Stanford University before President Nixon picked him in 1969 to serve as secretary of labor.

A year later, Mr. Shultz became the first director of the newly established Office of Management and Budge, which is part of the president’s executive office. In 1972, he was named Treasury secretary before leaving two years later to become the president and director of the Bechtel Group Inc.

Mr. Shultz strengthened his relationship with Mr. Reagan when the California governor invited him to lunch in 1974 and peppered him with questions on federal budget issues, an encounter that persuaded him Mr. Reagan was determined to run for the presidency.

“I got a grilling on how the federal government works and how to put a budget together. They were all operational questions,” Mr. Shultz said in a 2019 interview with The Wall Street Journal.

When Mr. Reagan asked Mr. Shultz to join his cabinet, however, it was in a different role. Mr. Shultz was in London in 1982 on business when he was asked to go to the U.S. Embassy to take a call from the president on a secure line: Al Haig had just resigned as secretary of state and Mr. Reagan wanted Mr. Shultz to take the post.

The Reagan administration in those years was the scene of fierce struggles over policy toward Moscow between a forward-leaning State Department that was interested in engaging the Russians on arms control and a hard-line Pentagon led by Caspar Weinberger, which was focused first and foremost on building up U.S. military might.

Mr. Shultz got an early taste of the infighting when he learned that bureaucratic rivals were consulting with Mr. Reagan about policy issues behind his back and informed the president he was prepared to quit if his counsel weren’t considered. Mr. Reagan responded by organizing two private meetings with Mr. Shultz a week and making a point of putting them on his public calendar, Mr. Shultz recalled.

“Shultz essentially enabled Reagan to break free of the coterie of conservative national security advisers that surrounded him,” said Philip Taubman, a consulting professor at Stanford University, who has access to Mr. Shultz’s personal papers and is preparing a biography of the former secretary of state.

A moment of opportunity in the interagency struggles came in February 1983. A Washington blizzard prevented Mr. Reagan and his wife Nancy from going to Camp David for the weekend, and they invited Mr. Shultz and his wife for a small dinner at the White House. Mr. Shultz used the evening to encourage the president to hold his first meeting with a Soviet official. Later that month, Mr. Shultz escorted Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin to the White House despite opposition from William Clark, Mr. Reagan’s national security adviser, recalled Thomas Simons, a retired U.S. ambassador who also served as a deputy assistant secretary of state for Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

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