This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Palo Alto, California to give remarks at a service dedicated to the remembrance of former Secretary of State George P. Shultz. In attendance were Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Senator Sam Nunn, Secretary James Baker, General James Mattis, Secretary Henry Kissinger, as well as Charlotte Shultz and Shultz’s family.
When Shultz was confirmed as Secretary of State for the then Reagan Administration in 1982, he inherited the growing tensions with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, sensitive negotiations with the People’s Republic of China and the Government on Taiwan and the war in Lebanon. While serving as Secretary, Shultz surrounded himself with Foreign Service officers to help guide him, often opting to choose those with professional credentials, rather than political.
With the help of the Foreign Service, he held discussions between the United States and China leading to the creation of the joint communiqué of August 1982 that has continued to provide stability for U.S.-Chinese relations ever since. Shultz also helped broker agreements in Nicaragua in 1988 to reduce tensions during the civil war. However, his most distinct foreign policy achievement was during the Cold War. By drafting and signing landmark arms control treaties and agreements, Shultz’s diplomacy and leadership carved a path toward the end of the Cold War in 1989.
“He made the State Department better – and he has made us better too.”Antony J. BlinkenSecretary of State
At the October 7 memorial service, Secretary Blinken said Shultz shaped the world and the State Department through his work. “Whether it’s taking part in a meeting of the G7, which he helped create; swearing in new diplomats at the Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, which he did more than anyone to build; or simply living in a post-Cold War world, which he helped bring about – the legacy of George Shultz is all around, every day that I serve as Secretary of State,” Blinken said.
One of the most powerful parts of his legacy is what Shultz meant to the nation’s career diplomats, Blinken said. “When he engaged with the women and men of the State Department, he listened to them and trusted them,” Blinken said. “And trust, as many have noted, was the coin of the realm for him.”
Shultz’s strong dedication to the State Department and career diplomats continues to impact the world today. “He understood that the Department was not always the sum of its parts – that his job was to see the full field and make the State function as a team,” Blinken said.
Shultz was gifted at both defining strategy and executing it, Blinken noted. “We got to learn from him – from the example he provided, the bar he set,” Blinken said. “He made the State Department better – and he has made us better too.” Click here for Secretary Blinken’s full remarks.
About the Author: Mathew Willoughby is an intern in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs’ Office of Global Social Media.