George Pratt Shultz


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(b. New York, 13 Dec. 1920)

US; Secretary of the Treasury 1972–4, Secretary of State 1982–9 Shultz took a BA at Princeton University and a Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He pursued an academic career in industrial relations, serving as dean of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago 1957–68. In the administration of President Nixon he served as Secretary of Labor 1969–70, Director of the Office of Management and the Budget 1970–2, and Secretary of the Treasury 1972–4. He resumed his academic and business careers, becoming dean of the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and president of the Bechtel Group, Inc.

In 1982 he was appointed Secretary of State by President Reagan, following the resignation of Alexander Haig. He served with great distinction and was one of the most influential and successful secretaries of state in American history. He worked quietly to tone down the virulently anti-Soviet rhetoric in which Reagan had engaged in the early 1980s and to resume talks with the Soviets after their breakdown in 1983. Following the accession to power in the Soviet Union of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 he worked very closely with his Soviet counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, to establish a remarkable thaw in US-Soviet relations. He encouraged regular summit meetings between Reagan and Gorbachev, while he engaged in frequent meetings with Shevardnadze. By the end of his tenure as Secretary of State the Cold War had virtually ended and the Soviet Union had embarked on the course which led to the collapse of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union itself 1989–91. He was the single most important figure in transforming American foreign policy from confrontation to constructive engagement with the Soviet Union during the 1980s. He published his account of the remarkable developments during his tenure as Secretary of State in Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State (1993) and since he left office he has continued to be active in advising the Republican Party on strategy.

Subjects: Warfare and Defence.

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