New York, Feb 7 (EFE).- Former US Secretary of State George Shultz, who held the post from 1982-1989 during the last years of the Cold War under former President Ronald Reagan, died Saturday at his home in California. He was 100.
The Hoover Institution, a think tank, reported Shultz’s death on Sunday, describing him as “a key player, alongside President Ronald Reagan, in changing the direction of history by using the tools of diplomacy to bring the Cold War to an end,” and emphasizing that in his politically active years he worked for three US presidents.
In an op-ed article published in December on the occasion of his 100th birthday, The Wall Street Journal said that Shultz had helped to forge the friendship and working relationship between Reagan and the then-president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.
“His expert diplomacy led to a peaceful end of the Cold War, bringing freedom to some 400 million Soviet subjects-something that seemed an impossible dream when Reagan took office in 1981,” wrote former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in the Journal at that time.
Wolfowitz went on to say that Shultz not only helped end the Cold War but also “righted a U.S.-China relationship that had become unbalanced.”
Shultz was born in New York on Dec. 13, 1920, earning a Bachelor of Arts in economics in 1942 and later a Ph.D., both at Princeton University.
During World War Two, he served in the Marines and later pursued a career as a university professor at several institutions until in 1969 he was appointed secretary of labor by President Richard Nixon, serving also as treasury secretary and director of the Office of Management and Budget during that 1969-1974 administration.
He had flirted with running for elected office when in 1955 he was working on the Council of Economic Advisers under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Shultz served the longest term as secretary of state since World War II and was the oldest surviving former Cabinet member of any US administration.
During his years as the top US diplomat he had to deal with thorny problems such as the Falkland Islands War, the war in Lebanon and the ever-delicate relationship between the US and Europe.
As secretary of state, he negotiated the reduction in nuclear arms with the Soviet Union and also managed the crisis with Panama which ultimately led to a US invasion of that country in December 1989, when Reagan’s mandate was almost over.
The Reagan administration was known for its controversial interventionism in Latin America, which was praised by some and castigated by others. In Nicaragua, for example, US intelligence services supported the so-called “contras” who opposed the Sandinista government, while in El Salvador, the US favored the government in the bloody war against the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.
Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in his memoirs praised the “highly analytic, calm and unselfish Shultz,” and stated in his diary that “If I could choose one American to whom I would entrust the nation’s fate in a crisis, it would be George Shultz.”
“Our colleague was a great American statesman and a true patriot in every sense of the word,” former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said in a statement on Sunday. “He will be remembered in history as a man who made the world a better place.”
Shultz died at his home on the Stanford University campus. He was a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor emeritus at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.