February 8, 2021, 08.34 PM

Former US Secretary of State George Shultz, known for his contribution in helping to end the Cold War and his efforts for peace in the Middle East, passed away on Saturday at age 100.

A former Marine, Shultz was the oldest surviving former Cabinet member of any administration. He also held the distinction of being the second-longest serving secretary of state since World War II.

Shultz passed away at his home on the campus of Stanford University, where he was serving as a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, a think tank. He was also a professor emeritus at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

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Throughout his political career, Shultz held four major Cabinet positions – labor secretary, treasury secretary, director of the office of management and budget, and secretary of state – across the administrations of former presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

"He was a gentleman of honor and ideas, dedicated to public service and respectful debate … that's why multiple presidents, of both political parties, sought his counsel. I regret that, as president, I will not be able to benefit from his wisdom, as have so many of my predecessors," said Joe Biden, the current US president.

Biden added that "few people did as much to shape the trajectory of American diplomacy and American influence in the 20th century" like Shultz.

Major player for US foreign policy

Shultz's tenure as secretary of state was marked by an issue that would become central to US foreign policy for decades – terrorism.

After several bombings and hijackings which killed US citizens, Shultz vowed that the US would go "beyond passive defense to consider means of active prevention, preemption and retaliation."

In 1986, Schultz recommended air strikes on Libya after a US soldier died in an attack on a Berlin nightclub.

He worked tirelessly in the 1980s to end the civil war in Lebanon, working to secure the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the country.

He was unsuccessful in bringing Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to the negotiating table, but he managed to legitimize Palestinians as people with a valid stake in determining their future.

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Shultz's doctrine on terrorism was used by subsequent administrations, especially that of George W. Bush, during the invasion of Iraq. Shultz backed the invasion of Iraq, declaring the country to be a "rogue state."

He said that Saddam Hussein's overthrow was crucial "for the integrity of the international system and for the effort to deal effectively with terrorism."

Shultz played a key role in boosting president Reagan's trust towards Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union. In 1987, Reagan and Gorbachev signed the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

While he largely stayed out of politics after leaving the Reagan administration, he continued taking a keen interest in certain issues such as climate change.

On his 100th birthday in 2020, Shultz wrote an essay in which he called out the need for trust in the US, pointing out his dissatisfaction with ex-president Donald Trump. "Trust is the coin of the realm," he wrote.

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