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Hudson Institute Doolittle Dinner Honoring George Shultz
Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, DC, Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Henry [Kissinger, former Secretary of State], thank you for that wonderful introduction, and I especially thank you that you didn't quite come to the point of calling me an intellectual [laughter], only a bridge to intellectuals.

I am reminded frequently by my boss of the famous moment in the first debate between Pat Moynihan and Bill Buckley running for United States Senate from New York in 1976. Shortly into the debate Buckley referred to Moynihan as an intellectual, to which Moynihan's response was, "This debate is only five minutes old and already my opponent is hurling insults." [Laughter] But thank you, that was much appreciated.

I must say, Henry, when I think about you and speeches, I am reminded regularly of this story—and I've never been completely sure whether it's true or not—that when Winston Lord was writing speeches for you, he turned in a draft, and you called him back a few minutes later and said, "Is this the best you can do?" And he said, "Well, I guess I could do better, sir," and went off, came back later with another draft. And this process apparently went on through five or fix drafts, the last of which he supposedly stayed up all night finishing before he turned it in. You called him back again and said, "Is this the best you can do?" He said, "Sir, I've tried everything. I don't think I can do any better." You reportedly said, "Okay, now I'll read it." [Laughter] I tell that story to people who write speeches for me just so they'll be grateful. [Laughter]

On a more serious note, among many things for which I'm grateful to George Shultz was that George was the person who first introduced me to Henry Kissinger in real life. And it was a remarkable moment. It was almost exactly 20 years ago. The Israeli army was surrounding Yasser Arafat under the command of a general named Ariel Sharon, and George Shultz was the newly sworn-in Secretary of State thrown into the middle of handling one of the most difficult possible crises in the Middle East. But in the middle of that he said, "We have to think ahead. We have to think about what we're going to do the moment the PLO leaves Beirut. We have to have an initiative that will allow us to set the agenda and not those who wish us ill or those who simply think they're doing good."

So he assembled some great minds and, most impressively, Henry. I was the head of the Policy Planning Staff, so I was the lucky person who got to be the rapporteur for this group for most of the day. The Secretary of State was working the crisis the whole day long, but dropped in to talk with us for two half-hour sessions, as I remember. I learned two things from that. One was the emphasis George Shultz put on always setting aside some time in a busy, urgent day or a busy, urgent week to think about the way ahead and think about where you're going. And the other thing I learned was that Henry Kissinger was even more brilliant in person than I had heard from his writings or from his public speaking. And, Henry, I didn't know I'd laid any licks on you, but I'm full of admiration, you can rest assured in that. [Applause]

It really is an honor to be asked to speak on this evening to honor George Shultz. And Charlotte [Shultz], it's great to have you with us. There are so many distinguished people in this audience. George, it's an incredible tribute to you to have this kind of a turnout, a tribute that is well earned.

Every time I'm in this building I wonder what Ronald Reagan, that apostle of small government, would think about having a building like this named after him. [Laughter] But on the other hand, he was an apostle of big ideas so maybe it's appropriate. And the Hudson Institute has been known since its creation as a place of big ideas. Maybe that's why they picked this big place. In any case, it's good to be here.

It's good to be here to pay tribute to a man who joined Ronald Reagan as a champion for big ideas, a man who's my former boss. It took awhile for me, George, to stop calling you Mr. Secretary. You finally made me, my friend, my good friend George Shultz.

I think it makes perfect sense that George, who might be called an apostle of diplomacy through strength, is receiving an award named after Jimmy Doolittle who was an apostle for air power. Jimmy Doolittle was in the thick of most of the aerospace achievements of his day. He was always setting speed records. He was the first man to do a blind takeoff and landing…. And, of course, as Herb London pointed out, he was most famous for that remarkable raid on Tokyo in 1942 that helped to restore American morale and tell the Japanese we were still in the war.

In short, he was no stranger to risk, but that includes financial risks. In fact, he invested quite a bit of his limited money in building those fragile airplanes, some of which didn't fly and all of which put his livelihood at risk. In fact, later when asked to name the single greatest obstacle that faced earlier aviators he replied without hesitation, "Starvation." [Laughter]

He took it so far that, on one occasion as a young second lieutenant, he and a friend were watching another pilot practice touch and goes, landings and takeoffs, and Doolittle said, "I'll bet you five bucks I can sit on his landing gear while he lands." And his friend saw that he was serious and took him up on the bet, though it was a crazy idea. Doolittle persuaded the pilot to carry him in the back seat and as soon as they took off he climbed out on the wing and proceeded to sit on the landing gear. The pilot tried frantically to get him off, yelled at him, waved at him. And realizing nothing was going to budge Doolittle, he went ahead and landed the plane. Miraculously and thankfully for the future of American aviation, Doolittle survived. He immediately went over to his friend and said, "Pay me." [Laughter]

George Shultz has some things in common with Jimmy Doolittle. Although I don't think he'd be so crazy as to sit on a landing gear, both are men who mean what they say and say what they mean with very few words—except George for your memoirs, which I have here with me tonight.

They're both men who know something about how to stimulate economic activity. They're men who once they set their minds to something won't let it go. And they're men willing to take great risks for big purposes. It's no accident that George Shultz was a major driver in some of the most remarkable developments of his time, and like Jimmy Doolittle helped to build a better future for all of us.

Ronald Reagan once gave George a tie with a motto that may have helped lure George to his destiny. It said simply, "Democracy is not a spectator sport." Since his early days, George has been a player and not a spectator. It started with his football days as a tackle at Princeton and included his combat experience as a Marine in World War II. But it also included that other full contact sport we call government. As Henry alluded to, he's held more Cabinet posts than probably any other individual, a total of four. He's also had the distinction of being a CEO of a major corporation and the dean of an academic institution, and, George, there's a story which I never wanted to check with you because it's too good not to be true.

When I was dean at Johns Hopkins I would recall that George Shultz was once asked what was the difference between managing in the private sector, government, and academia. Reportedly he said, "Well, it's sort of like this. In the private sector you have to be very careful what you ask people to do because they're going to go out and do it, so be sure you ask them what you want. In government, you don't have to worry about that, you ask people to do something and check back a couple of months later and nothing's happened. [Laughter] In the university, you ask some people to do something and they look at you strangely and say, ‘Who the heck do you think you are giving us orders?’" [Laughter]

George taught me many things. He was the first to tell me that there's no such thing as an ex-Marine. I have to tell you, George, that after one of our Marine generals used the term "eviscerate" a bit prematurely to describe the Taliban in a Pentagon briefing, my Marine colonel who's my military assistant said, "We Marines may not know what eviscerate means, but we sure know how to do it." [Laughter and applause]

George Shultz is a Marine who knows about both, and don't ever forget that behind this seemingly mild-mannered fellow is that Princeton tiger. Of course that's been a subject of much speculation and no real proof. [Laughter] But what we do know for sure is that he's a battle-hardened Marine and, with his intellect and fighting skills, he's one tough negotiator, as tough as they come.

I learned many things from George Shultz including many lessons in diplomacy, lessons he usually describes modestly as "Democracy 101," but taken together are really a graduate course in foreign policy.

One lesson I remember learning from him shortly after I first met him, shortly after he became Secretary of State, was a lesson from his early time as President Nixon's Secretary of Labor in 1969 facing a longshoreman's strike. The Johnson Administration had halted that strike by invoking the emergency provisions of the Taft Hartley Act but the cooling off period was about to expire and the Nixon Administration was under great pressure to invoke those provisions again. But, George told the new President, "Don't intervene." Despite great pressure, for six weeks they held out and didn't intervene, and finally union and management, recognizing that they had to come to a settlement did so.

George understood that the pressures of the market would force people to find new solutions, find their own solutions, and if you could break the dependence on government and encourage them to always be taking things to the brink you would have less strikes and that was the result. As George said to President Nixon, "If the President hangs out his shingle, he'll get all the business."

It takes a confident man to sit still and take no action. George knows people and is confident that people and countries could find their solutions based on understanding their common interests, and it was a principle that he applied with remarkable success to international relations. Of course doing so requires that the parties understand their own interests properly, something he found occasionally challenging with his own staff at the State Department, so he set about educating all of us.

Every new ambassador heading out to his post or her post would go to George Shultz's office for a picture with the Secretary of State to hang proudly in their office in their embassy. Each time they came in, George would take them to this enormous globe that sat on the floor of the office—it was some three or four feet tall—and casually say, "Just for this picture, turn the globe to your country." The new diplomat would eagerly spin the globe around to France or Germany or Mali, at which point the Secretary of State would say, "No, let me explain something," as he slowly turned it back to the United States of America. [Applause]

I may be a slow learner, but I'm not a fool. And by the time I went to Indonesia I'd already heard about this story [laughter] so I passed that exam.

George never lost sight of the obvious, but key, fact that the United States was what we were representing. With his focus squarely on our country he helped bring about momentous events that benefited the whole world. How about victory in the Cold War or the demise of global communism, for starters?

When George Shultz became Secretary of State the Cold War could not have been any colder. By the time he left, as he put it, "it was all over but the shouting." Indeed, George Shultz was the perfect Secretary of State to work with President Reagan in bringing about that historic achievement. He understood that diplomacy is about more than just nice conversations or persuasive arguments. Diplomacy and strength go hand in hand reinforcing one another. That's another lesson from that graduate course called Diplomacy 101.

As George wrote in his memoirs, "When our country's military strength was built up to a point where our Soviet rivals recognized they could not match us, when they perceived that we might actually use our strength to repel aggression, and as their own system indisputably failed the Soviet people even as it abused them, then came the turning point."

A second key to George Shultz's success was his exceptional ability to read character. From early on George was a strong advocate of engaging Gorbachev and the Soviets. Despite the skepticism of many of his colleagues—and in the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that initially I shared that skepticism—George argued that Gorbachev's goals could be met if he would change the Soviet system. He said, "We need to keep trying to influence Gorbachev in that direction." Well, George was proven right.

George Shultz's third great strength as a diplomat and a statesman was his understanding that America's greatest strength is what we stand for. He used that strength in many ways including in his dealings with that unusual Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. George was instrumental in bringing Gorbachev down to "the farm," to Reagan's ranch, where he and Reagan began engaging the Soviet leader. Reagan and Gorbachev were opposites in fundamental ways. One had a very clear sense of purpose and direction, while Gorbachev's vision was vague and flawed. But George Shultz recognized the significance of the ambiguity about what the Soviet leader was really trying to achieve. The arms control negotiations in the long run were much less significant than the efforts that George Shultz pursued with Gorbachev and with his counterpart, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnardze, to persuade them that the Soviet Union would never be able to compete in an information age if it kept people literally and figuratively imprisoned.

I'll read briefly from the memoirs if I might. He [George Shultz] writes, "I had given great thought to my meeting with Gorbachev. ‘Just look around,’ I planned to tell him. ‘The successful societies are the open societies.’ But my idea was controversial within my own delegation. ‘It's a classroom in the Kremlin; it's condescending,’ said the State Department Sovietologist. I disagreed. The problem, I felt, was that the ‘experts’ were too often mired in their own positions. ….I was groping for a way to get the Soviets to see that their own society would benefit from better treatment of individuals."

When he did approach Gorbachev with that lesson, "far from being offended, Gorbachev lighted up. ‘You should take over the planning office here in Moscow,’" he volunteered—this must have been a great job offer—[laughter]—"‘becoming the new head of Gosplan because you have more ideas than they have.’ And Gorbachev went on to say, ‘The next time you come to Moscow forget about your government duties and come as a businessman and an economist.’"

My own experience with George Shultz centered primarily around Asia, an area that had relatively little to do with the grand diplomacy of U.S.-Soviet relations. It's a tribute to George Shultz and to Ronald Reagan that even as they were dealing with the demands of U.S.-Soviet relations, the complex negotiations in the Middle East, they would always find time to attend to those important relations with our neighbors in the Pacific region.

I've acquired a reputation for knowing something about Asia and particularly about Indonesia, but if the truth be told, it was George Shultz who first educated me on the importance of Indonesia and Southeast Asia as a whole.

Normally it would be more difficult for someone dealing with that part of the world to get the attention of the Secretary of State, but I've often said, more than half seriously, that a great advantage of being Assistant Secretary for East Asia in the Reagan Administration was that there were so many Californians, and especially George Shultz, the Californian accustomed to gazing across that vast ocean and thinking about what lay beyond the horizon.

I got another lesson in diplomacy from George when I accompanied him on his first official trip to Asia in 1983. I had been confirmed in my own job barely two months, and I was eager to impress. At our first dinner in Japan I encountered a challenge that was beyond my powers. Like everyone else in the party I was exhausted by jet lag. George gave his toast, which he has described in his memoirs as "straightforward, if bland," a classic Shultz understatement. Somehow I nodded off quite dramatically with my head on my chest. Ray Seitz, who was the Secretary's special assistant, passed me a note kindly saying, "Rule number one for a new Assistant Secretary, never fall asleep during the Secretary's toast." [Laughter]

Now I'm conscientious and I was determined to take that lesson to heart, so I asked Ray how he managed to stay awake. He replied, "I've been sitting on my fork." [Laughter]

Well, if you think that escaped the boss' notice, think again. In his memoirs, after faithfully recounting everything I've just told you, George concludes, "Diplomacy is a cagey art." [Laughter] And to that cagey art George Shultz applied his formidable skills in engaging Japan and the other democracies of East Asia. That represented a significant departure in policy. These democratic nations were no longer seen as secondary to the big communist powers but, quite rightly, players in their own right.

And his focus on strengthening relations with our friends and particularly with Japan led to a turning point in our relations with another major communist country, China. Indeed, it was a turning point throughout all of Asia.

From his experience as an old labor hand, George Shultz understood the importance of not over-emphasizing the U.S.-China relationship just for the sake of the relationship. As with the Longshoremen 15 years before, he saw that if the Chinese saw us putting too high a value on the relationship, they would tend to demand too much from us. At the same time, he believed deeply in the importance of that vital relationship and always treated the Chinese with great respect. Indeed, he made a particular point of developing a warm personal relationship with the Chinese ambassador in Washington, a very memorable man named Zhang Wenjin. But he also knew the importance of being firm and he was crafty in finding ways to convey that firmness without being confrontational.

I remember one luncheon meeting we attended in Beijing on George's first official visit to China in early 1983. It was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. Everywhere else in Asia the American Chambers of Commerce would lobby us about the evil behavior and practices of their host government and how we needed to open up markets. This one was different. Question after question peppered the American Secretary of State with one complaint after another about American policy. The script could have been written, probably was written, in the Chinese Ministry of External Relations and Trade.

Finally one of them asked, why was it that U.S. firms couldn't sell nuclear reactors to China? George replied frostily, "Because nuclear reactors are not ordinary export material [laughter], and our law requires an agreement on nuclear cooperation before we can sell them to China. And since you said that the Japanese and Europeans can do so," George concluded, "If you prefer to be selling nuclear reactors to China, why don't you move to Japan or Europe?"

With that he turned on his heel, walked out of the room, said in a low voice to me as we left, "You know, it's outrageous. That room must have been full of microphones and every waiter was probably reporting back to the Foreign Ministry and now they're going to say what American businessmen were saying to me." But what he didn't add, but what I think he knew, they're also going to be reporting George Shultz has a temper, don't push him too hard.

As a result of his overall approach, George Shultz’s leadership of U.S. foreign policy in Asia has been called by Jim Mann, one of our leading diplomatic correspondents for the Los Angeles Times, one of the most productive periods in U.S.-China relations. Indeed Mann calls that period the golden age of U.S.-China relations.

But I think most important about George's contribution to American policy in Asia and to Asia itself was, once again, his recognition of the power of what America stands for. The Philippines offers an impressive example. Under his leadership and that of President Reagan the United States employed a policy of increasing private and public pressure on Ferdinand Marcos, pressure to reform which contributed in no small measure to emboldening the Philippine people to take their fate into their own hands. This they did and produced what was one of the first great democratic transformations in Asia in the 1980s, something for which George Shultz deserves enormous credit.

In another striking example of what can happen with George on your team, he and President Reagan helped to bring about a democratic transition in Korea. In the early years the Administration was attacked rather harshly for the warm relationship they maintained with then President and dictator of South Korea Chun Doo-hwan, but without that relationship George knew and the President knew the United States would have lacked the influence it exercised later to encourage Chun in a difficult, but historical, transition of power.

On a very different issue from our vantage point today we can look back and see how prescient George Shultz was in addressing the scourge of international terrorism. George advocated 15 years ago that the use of force must always be a last resort, but again he understood with whom he was dealing and said that force, even preemptive strikes, cannot be ruled out, as he put it, "when other means of influence have proven inadequate."

What shifted thinking in all these matters was something I came to admire most about George Shultz, that remarkable ability to think beyond the present even while dealing with the urgent matters of the present. I think his legacy in foreign policy proves that point.

But there are another couple of examples of his wisdom and his judgment with regard to the future and his ability to read character that I would like to mention in concluding. But before doing so, one observation. First, in George's life there have been a considerable number of big things that happen at dinner, and I don't include my falling asleep among them. I'm going to tell you about two dinners, though, in particular that changed the course of history.

Back in 1979 before Ronald Reagan announced he was running for President George invited him to have dinner with him and a few others at his home in Stanford. Ed Meese, Michael Boskin, Bill Simon, Marty Anderson, Annelise Anderson, Alan Greenspan and a number of others were there. As George has told it, everyone came away feeling that Reagan had a clear sense of what he wanted to do -- George so much so that he told Reagan on the spot that he ought to run for President.

Marty Anderson has even concluded, in his words, that if George had decided not to have Reagan for dinner there's a real question of whether he would have been elected. George is on record saying that Marty's assessment is an exaggeration, but he adds, "I try to be helpful."

Fast forward 20 years. Once again George is cooking up another dinner, another recipe for success. This time he invites the Governor of Texas to dinner at Sanford, assembling the usual suspects including Marty Anderson, Michael Boskin, Bill Simon, Alan Greenspan and this time Condoleezza Rice. As they talked about policies once again, everyone came away feeling that this man too had a clear sense of what he wanted to accomplish and had, as George put it, a real ability "to ask the right questions."

In what Marty Anderson has said was not only the same spot, but most likely the very same chairs, George Shultz told George W. Bush that he ought to run, just like Ronald Reagan before him.

Now it's certainly no exaggeration to say that George Shultz's "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" means a lot to a lot of people, and the rest, as they say, is history.

George Shultz has made more than his share of history, guided by wisdom, unshakable integrity, vision, and a great ability to read people and judge character. His legacy to our nation will be measured in lives saved, prosperity achieved, alliances forged and peace secured. When we talk about his remarkable career I think we can use the same words that George once used in describing Paul Nitze, the fourth recipient, by the way, of the Doolittle Award, someone who obviously had George Shultz's seal of approval.

Of Paul Nitze he said, "Wise men come and wise men go, but one wise man goes on and on." George Shultz, you too are one of those very wise men. May you go on and on and on. [Applause]