For Secretary Shultz -- a rugged first-year odyssey
When he stepped off his blue and white Air Force jet at 2:10 a.m. last Friday , a weary George Shultz did not have much time to reflect on the morning's headlines: Shultz Leaves Midwest Without Progress on Pullout Shultz Ends Trip to Mideast With No Pullout AccordSkip to next paragraph
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The secretary of state had just completed a 15-day, 25,000-mile trip through 10 countries. He had spent a total of 52 hours in the air.
Before arriving at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, Mr. Shultz had in one day alone met in Jerusalem with Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin, in Amman with Jordan's King Hussein, and in Cairo with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak.
Shultz reached his brick home in suburban Maryland at about 2:45 a.m. (customs officials had delayed all the passengers, including the secretary of state), got to bed at 3:30, rose at 6, and was back at the State Department at exactly 7:50 a.m. for a day which included:
Briefings for Shultz on developments around the world, a progress report to the secretary on the East-West conference in Madrid, decisions on personnel matters and appointments, staff meetings on Central America and the Middle East, a National Security Council meeting on Central America, lunch with CIA director William J. Casey, and a Shultz briefing on the Middle East for President Reagan.
Unlike his predecessor, Alexander M. Haig Jr., Shultz doesn't worry too much about the daily headlines. If he did, he might not enjoy the few hours of sleep he has been getting these days.
Unfortunately for Secretary Shultz, what he has achieved after one year in office cannot be easily summed up in headlines. If one tried to describe his accomplishments so succinctly, it would make dull reading indeed: Shultz Defuses Pipeline Crisis Shultz Helps to Restore NATO Alliance Unity Shultz Brings Balance to East Asia Policy Shultz Returns Mideast Policy to Traditional Mainstream
''He's not a specialist in the spectacular,'' says Shultz's executive assistant, Raymond G.H. Seitz. ''But the Asia part of his last trip was a very good example of solid, traditional diplomacy. . . . What Shultz has brought to the scene - this almost stolid person - is a sense of weight and stability.''
When Shultz took office a year ago, in July of 1982, Reagan administration foreign policy looked anything but stable. The United States was fighting with its NATO allies over their assistance to the Soviet Union for the building of a gas pipeline to Western Europe. General Haig's battles with the White House staff over this and other issues had received wide publicity. Middle East policy was adrift.
In his first months as secretary of state, Shultz played a key role in shaping a new Middle East policy, which restored negotiating momentum and gathered wide support both here and abroad. While not alienating the Israelis - some feared that he would prove to be anti-Israel - Shultz showed sensitivity toward the plight of the Palestinians. The policy which he and his advisers devised brought the Reagan administration back into line with basic principles embraced by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican.
By gaining agreement from the West European allies to study restrictions on subsidized credits and technology transfers to the East-bloc countries, Shultz got President Reagan to drop his sanctions against European companies. He thus defused a crisis which was threatening the unity of the Western alliance. Shultz next managed to prevent what could have turned into a trade war with the Europeans.
The secretary played a lead role in preparing for the Williamsburg summit meeting of the industrialized democracies at the end of May. The summit was widely regarded as successful, partly because of Shultz's efforts to lower expectations and make the meeting informal.
Following in the footsteps of predecessor Haig, Shultz has helped to edge President Reagan away from his initial hostility toward international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund. By the time the problem of third-world debt became apparent in all its magnitude, the Reagan administration had been sensitized to the need to prevent panic among the banks, to work with the IMF, and to react, when it was needed, both swiftly and surely. It did just that when it put together major bailout loans for Mexico last year.
Shultz has given persistent and effective attention to the many economic problems which the US has with its neighbor to the north, Canada.
As an economist, Shultz has recognized the great potential for further economic growth in East Asia, already the world's fastest-growing region. While working to maintain a constructive relationship with Peking, he has eschewed the romanticism which has so often befogged American views of China. It has made no headlines, but Shultz has done a great deal to help correct what many regard as an imbalance in US policy. There has been a tendency in recent years to overemphasize China to the neglect of Japan, the world's second-largest industrial power. Through his old business firm, Bechtel, Shultz already knew a great deal about Japan. While encouraging the Japanese to do more to build the world economy and their own defenses, he has strengthened US ties with Japan.