George Shultz testifies at the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington. File/Reuters
Former US Secretary of State George Shultz, who helped bring the Cold War to an end, has died at the age of 100.
George Shultz, Ronald Reagan's genial secretary of state who identified a diplomatic opening that helped end the Cold War but contributed to a new brand of conflict by advocating preemptive strikes.
A man of broad experience and talents, Shultz achieved success in statesmanship, business and academia. Lawmakers praised him for opposing as sheer folly the sale of arms to Iran that were the cornerstone of the Iran-Contra scandal that marred Reagan's second term in office, according to Reuters.
George Shultz (centre) walks with President Reagan (left) and Vice President George Bush in Washington. AP
An economics professor who saw himself more as a data-driven expert than an ideologue, Shultz had the rare distinction of serving in four different cabinet positions — including Treasury secretary as Richard Nixon dismantled the post-World War II Bretton Woods monetary system.
President Joe Biden said "few people did as much to shape the trajectory of American diplomacy and American influence in the 20th century" as Shultz.
"I regret that, as president, I will not be able to benefit from his wisdom, as have so many of my predecessors," Biden said in a statement.
US President Joe Biden speaks during an event. File photo
"He focused on the possibilities of what could be, unhindered by the impasses or deadlocks of the past. That was the vision and dedication that helped guide our nation through some of its most dangerous periods and ultimately helped create the opening that led to the end the Cold War," Biden said in a statement.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Shultz as a "legend" and a "visionary."
His record as secretary of state was tempered by his failure to bring peace to the Middle East and Central America, areas in which he personally invested considerable effort.
Shultz remained active into his 90s through a position at Stanford University's Hoover Institution think tank and various boards. He also wrote books and took stands against the Cuban embargo, climate change and Britain's departure from the European Union.
George Shultz (second right) and his wife, Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, arrive for a funeral in Simi Valley, California. AFP
His most recent book, written with James Timbie, a longtime State Department adviser and published in November 2020 ahead of Shultz's 100th birthday, was entitled "A Hinge of History." It suggested the world was at a pivot point not unlike the one it faced at the end of World War Two."We seem to be in an upset state of affairs where it's hard to get things accomplished," he told the New York Times, lamenting the Trump administration’s resistance to international accords. "They seem to be skeptical of these agreements, of any agreement. Agreements aren't usually perfect. You don't get everything you want. You compromise a little bit. But they're way better than nothing."
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