Fondly Remembered: 60th Secretary of State George P. Shultz (1920-2020)

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Excerpt Via FSJ/by Steven Alan Honley:
In December 1985, news broke that the Reagan administration was planning to require State Department employees to take lie detector tests to keep their security clearances. Expressing “grave reservations” about the validity of polygraphs, Secretary of State George P. Shultz threatened to resign if the policy change went forward, calling it a sign that “I am not trusted.” President Ronald Reagan took that threat so seriously that, after meeting with Secretary Shultz, he declared that he would leave it up to State Department officials to decide whether to administer polygraphs.
Although that incident did not change the status quo, and was soon forgotten by most people, it reveals much about George Shultz’s character. First, while he was a fully committed Cold Warrior, he instinctively understood that not every trade-off of liberty for security is warranted. Second, his background as an economist led him to value data over theory, so he saw no reason to trust polygraphs.
Third, he was intensely loyal to his employees, and they trusted him to have their backs. Although he couched his protest in personal terms (“I am not trusted”), everyone knew there was no chance he would ever be asked to take a lie detector test—let alone forced to do so to keep his job. But George Shultz understood full well that his subordinates at State did not enjoy that luxury, so he spoke out on their behalf—first through internal channels, then publicly.
For those reasons, and more, many Foreign Service members who served during Secretary Shultz’s tenure in Foggy Bottom (1982-1989) remember him fondly. (As far as I know, AFSA has never surveyed its members as to the Secretary of State they believe was the best leader of the department, but I’m willing to bet Shultz would come in at or very near the top of such a list.) A thoughtful institutionalist, he not only understood and valued the work of State and other foreign affairs agencies, but advocated for the resources and respect diplomats need and deserve.
Read in full here.

Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, Former Secretary of State George Schulz, and Former Secretary of Defense William Perry tour the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, on February 8, 2012. [Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory by Jacqueline McBride via State Department/Flickr]

The Foreign Service Journal  has an online memorial. To contribute to this living memorial, please send your brief essay (up to 500 words) to journal@afsa.org.
A few contributions below from the online memorial:

A Gentleman, Even at 3:00 a.m.
Shultz was SecState when I worked in the 24 x 7 Operations Center; he would often call in to see what was going on in the world. Occasionally, I would have to call him in the middle of the night to report on one crisis or another. Even when being awakened at three in the morning, he was a perfect gentleman, often repeating back a summary of what I had briefed him about, and then asking how everyone on the team was doing that night. It is no wonder that State employees thought Shultz was terrific.

Greg Delawie
Ambassador, retired
Alexandria, Virginia

A Beacon of Integrity and Truth (Excerpt)
On July 23, 1987, Secretary Shultz testified for six hours before the Joint House-Senate Committee investigating the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages affair. I left the office that day around lunch time and listened to Shultz’s testimony on the car radio as I drove. I stopped at the supermarket on the way home, but stayed in my car, riveted, as I listened. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) had just asked Shultz about reports that he had tendered his resignation on several occasions during his service as Secretary of State, including at one point during the Iran-Contra fiasco.

As the Secretary recounted his reasons for offering to resign at different times, he said something that has stayed with me ever since: “In jobs like the job I have, where it is a real privilege to serve … you can’t do the job well if you want it too much. You have to be willing to say, ‘goodbye’—and I am.” (See comments at approximately the 4:05 hour mark of testimony, found here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?9641-1/iran-contra-investigation-day-34.)

I only recently looked up his exact words, but I have never forgotten what those words meant. They stayed with me and guided me throughout my Foreign Service career. And I have thought of them over the years as we have seen political leaders fail to make, or not make, politically difficult choices, and then as they have contorted themselves into logical absurdities to justify what is, at heart, simply an unwillingness to say “goodbye” to a position of privilege and power. George Shultz was a beacon of integrity and truth because he didn’t want his position “too much.”

Ed Smith
FSO, retired
Washington D.C.

The Only Secretary Who Understood What We Do

I spent most of my career as a Labor Officer. We had a conference in Washington while George Schultz was the Secretary of State. He came and spent an hour with us. He was the only Secretary of State who understood what we did and why it was important. The fact that he understood and cared made a real impact on us.

Dan E. Turnquist
FE MC, retired
Centennial, Wyoming

Read more in  Online Memorial to Secretary Shultz

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Photo of the Day: Secretary Tillerson Lunches With Former Secretary of State Rice and Shultz

Posted: 3:29 am ET

 

Via state.gov

01/17/18 Remarks on The Way Forward for the United States Regarding Syria;  Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Hoover Institute at Stanford University; Stanford, CA

Secretary Tillerson Meets With Former Secretary of State Rice and Shultz
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participates in a luncheon event with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and George P. Shultz at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Stanford, California on January 17, 2018. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

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Quote: “I’m not talking about guillotining somebody, or hanging, or boil them in oil.”

Posted: 2:30 am ET
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Via ADST/Oral History – Sherman Funk, Former State/OIG:

When I first came Shultz asked me my initial impressions of the Department. I had been here about six weeks. And I told him that I never in my life had encountered such an absolutely superb bunch of people. And he sort of smiled at me, and I said, “But what bothers me is that on the other hand I’d never in my life encountered such a thoroughly screwed up organization, and what I don’t understand is how you can have both. How the people could be so God damned good, and the organization be so thoroughly screwed up.” And I’m still bothered by that, because I don’t know any other place where you find such high caliber persons, where you also find things so badly run. And I still find it. I happened to think the world of many of the people in PER now. Yet they went ahead and they gave an award of $100,000, more than $100,000 U.S. dollars, to somebody to get that person to stop suing the State Department. A clear case of blackmail. And their rationale was, “We have so many class action suits for women, and class action suits for blacks, we don’t want to get involved in other class action suits on a religious basis.” And that was totally ___. There was ample information, they could have fought this one. It was a lack of will, and people sensed that. I’ve seen again and again that we make a recommendation for disciplinary action and unless the thing is so heinous that they’re afraid to say no — afraid the newspapers would find out about it — the chances are they’ll dick around and try to knock it down. We don’t want to be that harsh on the person. I’m not talking about guillotining somebody, or hanging, or boil them in oil. I’m talking about a few weeks suspension for something that is very serious — misuse of a lot of money, millions of dollars. It was like pulling teeth because nobody wants to be responsible for it.

Read in full here.

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NYT’s David Brooks Asks, “Are we in nursery school?” Acting State Dept Spox Marie Harf Reax. Tsk-tsk!

Posted: 11:41 am PDT
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So last week, SecState #56 and SecState #60, both Republican-appointed Secretaries of State wrote an op-ed about The Iran Deal and Its Consequences.

The Acting Spokesperson Marie Harf was asked about this during the April 8 Daily Press Briefing:

QUESTION:  Henry Kissinger and George Shultz published a piece in the Wall Street Journal today that raised a lot of questions about the deal.  These are diplomatic statesman types.  Do you guys have any reaction to that?  Do you think they were fair?
MS HARF:  Well, the Secretary has spoken to a number of his predecessors that were former secretaries of state since we got this agreement – or since the parameters – excuse me – we got the parameters finalized.  And we’re having conversations with other senior officials.  We are happy to have that conversation about what this agreement is, what it isn’t, the work we still have to do, and how we are very confident that this achieves our objectives.  And that conversation will certainly continue.
[…]
QUESTION:  Okay.  So one of the things they say is that “absent a linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for acquiescence to Iranian hegemony” in the region.  Not true?
MS HARF:  I would obviously disagree with that.  I think that an Iran backed up by a nuclear weapon would be more able to project power in the region, and so that’s why we don’t want them to get a nuclear weapon.  That’s what this deal does.
QUESTION:  Back when —
MS HARF:  And I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives.  I heard a lot of sort of big words and big thoughts in that piece, and those are certainly – there’s a place for that, but I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives about what they would do differently.  I know the Secretary values the discussions he has with his predecessors regardless of sort of where they fall on the specifics.
QUESTION:  Well, I guess one of the criticisms is that there aren’t enough big words and big thought – or people argue that there are not enough big words and big thoughts in what the Administration is pursuing, its overall policy, particularly in the Middle East right now, which has been roiled with unrest and uncertainty.  And I think that’s what the point is they’re making.  That you reject, it, I understand that.  One of the —
MS HARF:  Well, in a region already roiled by so much uncertainty and unrest —

On that same day, conservative talk show radio host Hugh Hewitt had NYT’s David Brooks as guest and was asked about the Kissinger-Schultz op-ed, and the State Department’s official response to it. Click here for the transcript: Below is an audio of the exchange.

HH: David Brooks, this is the critique of the critics, is that we don’t have a lot of alternatives. In fact, every critic I’ve heard has alternatives, and I’m sure Kissinger and Schultz do. But a lot of big words? Really?
DB: Are we in nursery school? We’re not, no polysyllabic words? That’s about the lamest rebuttal of a piece by two senior and very well-respected foreign policy people as I’ve heard. Somebody’s got to come up with better talking points, whatever you think. And of course, there are alternatives. It’s not to allow them to get richer, but to force them to get a little poorer so they can fund fewer terrorism armies.

The Daily Caller caught that story and posted this:  Are We In Nursery School?’: David Brooks Slams Marie Harf Over Kissinger, Shultz Op-Ed Criticism.

Ouch!

But that’s not the end of the story.

William M. Todd, apparently a friend of the Harf family reposted the Daily Caller story on his Facebook page with a note that says: “Team Obama bans polysyllabic words !!”

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 11.17.57 AM

Here is the State Department’s Acting Spokesperson on Mr. Todd’s FB page.

Marie Harf Bill – I’m not sure how you could think this article accurately portrays me or how I view complicated foreign policy issues, given how long you’ve personally known me and my family. Does your hatred of this administration matter so much to you that it justifies posting a hurtful comment and a mean-spirited story about the daughter of someone you’ve known for years and used to call a friend? There’s a way to disagree with our policies without making it personal. Growing up in Ohio, that’s how I was taught to disagree with people. I hope your behavior isn’t an indication that’s changed.

She also posted a lengthy follow-up response here from the Daily Press Briefing.

William M. Todd responded on FB with the following:

I certainly can understand why your Team would disagree with Henry Kissinger and George Schultz on policy matters. However, what is amazing to me was your condescending and, almost childish criticism of what I considered to be a well-reasoned and thoughtful op-ed on the current Middle East crisis.

So, this is where we are people.

That’s potentially the next official spokesperson of the United States of America to the world.

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