Education and military service
After majoring in economics at Princeton University. Shultz joined the United States Marine Corps during World War II and served mostly in the Pacific arena. He would later raise to the rank of captain. After the war in 1945 he returned to his education and enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Shultz was appointed senior staff economist to President Dwight Eisenhower's Council of Economic Advisers. In 1962, he became Dean of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. In 1968 Richard Nixon appointed Shultz to serve as United States Secretary of Labor. After 18 months on the job, he accepted the position of the first director of the Office of Management and Budget. He faced problems of wage control and price freezes, as well as major private industry strikes. In 1972 Shultz again changed positions and became Secretary of Treasury. He became caught up in foreign policy, negotiating a multi-national currency system with other countries and trade agreements with the Soviet Union. In 1974 he resigned from government politics and worked in the private sector as executive vice president of the Bechtel Corporation, which was an international construction and engineering firm based in San Francisco.
On July 16, 1982 Shultz was sworn in as the 60th Secretary of State of the United States in the Reagan administration. He worked to resolve conflicts in the Middle East and route out international terrorism. In terms of dealing with the Cold War, he supported Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). At the Reykjavík Summit, Mikhail Gorbachev proposed on October 11, 1986 a plan toward multilateral nuclear disarmament that included a halt to SDI but Reagan rejected this condition and thus the proposal in its entirety. Shultz gave Reagan his full support on this decision.
After Reagan's presidency, Shultz became a professor at Stanford University's Hoover Institute and Graduate School of Business. In a 2001 interview about the summit, he was asked: "Peter Robinson: Da. George, was an historic opportunity squandered, we'll put in the passive to include both Gorbachev and Reagan? George Shultz: He didn't say nyet, he said no. Peter Robinson: … and you backed him up. George Shultz: Absolutely." Shultz would later talk and write about the paradox of nuclear deterrence, obviously rejecting unilateral disarmament, but lamenting the short period of time that a President has to make decisions about nuclear war. On January 15, 2008, an article entitled "Toward a Nuclear-Free World" by Shultz and William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn was published in the Wall Street Journal. On May 11, 2009, he spoke at the Stanford Memorial Church at the center of the campus quadrangle, where he emphasized the importance of "living in the future" in relation to ridding the world of all nuclear weapons. In that talk, Shultz mention the November 9, 1979 NORAD computer error where national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski awoken and notified that 250 ballistic missiles were incoming for the United States. Brzezinski demanded verification before waking President Carter and the error was soon diagnosed in a faulty $1 computer chip. Shultz also mentioned the September 26, 1983 Soviet nuclear false alarm incident that was delayed by Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov until resolved. He also mentioned the January 25, 1995 Norwegian rocket incident where Russian President Boris Yeltsin became the first world leader to activate a nuclear briefcase after Russian radar systems detected the launch of a Norwegian Black Brant XII research rocket before the matter was resolved.
- Shultz, George. Turmoil and Triumph My Years as Secretary of State (1993), ISBN 0736630031
- Shultz, George, and Kenneth W. Dam. Economic Policy Beyond the Headlines (1998) ISBN 0226755991
- Shultz, George, and John B. Shoven, Putting Our House in Order: A Citizen’s Guide to Social Security and Health Care Reform (2008)
- Shultz, George, Issues on My Mind: Strategies for the Future, (2013) ISBN 0817916245
- Shultz, George P. and Goodby, James E. The War that Must Never be Fought: Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence, (2015), ISBN 978-0-8179-1845-3