In His Lifetime in Public Service, George Shultz Strove for Freedom and Achieved Victory

George Shultz, who served as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state and played an outsized role in achieving America’s victory in the cold war, died on Saturday at the age of one hundred. His long career of service to his country included storming the island of Palau with U.S. Marines in 1944, holding four cabinet positions, and advising three presidents. A model of statesmanlike integrity and diplomatic skill, Shultz—as Elliott Abrams, who served under him, recounts—put human rights at the center of the State Department’s agenda:

Shultz . . . genuinely cared about human rights and saw it as a central element in the American system and in our foreign policy. In the mid-1980s, during the fierce debates about U.S. policy in Central America, the question arose of why the tiny Nicaraguan Jewish community had fled after the Sandinista victory [in the country’s civil war]—and after harassment that included a 1978 fire-bombing of the Managua synagogue while Friday-night services were underway. The U.S. embassy looked into it all and concluded there was no problem here.

I wrote a memo to Shultz saying that I had never understood how the State Department could in the 1930s have coldly turned away Jews seeking to flee from Hitler—until now. If throwing Molotov cocktails at a synagogue during services was going to be dismissed as a complex phenomenon, not obvious anti-Semitism, anything was possible. His reaction: at our next senior staff meeting, he asked me to read my memo aloud. The department’s top officer’s message was clear: this kind of thing would not happen on his watch.

We saw how deeply Shultz felt about these issues during his April 1987 visit to Moscow for arms talks with the Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze. It was Passover, but Shultz was an Episcopalian. No matter: he invited dozens of refuseniks to a seder at Spaso House, the elegant residence of the U.S. ambassador. He brought kosher wine and food with him on his official plane and greeted the guests wearing a white kippah. In his remarks to the beleaguered dissidents, he said this: “We never stop, we think about you, we pray for you, and we are with you. We never give up; we never stop trying. Never give up, never give up.” Without making unduly invidious distinctions, can one envision such an act of grace and solidarity by Shultz’s predecessors or successors from John Foster Dulles to James Baker?

Shultz was an excellent manager and a skilled negotiator, but these were tools of the trade rather than objectives. The objective was freedom.

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More about: Cold War, Human Rights, Ronald Reagan, Soviet Jewry, U.S. Foreign policy

Using the Power of the Law to Fight Anti-Semitism

Examining carefully the problem of anti-Semitism, and sympathy with jihadists, at American universities, Danielle Pletka addresses the very difficult problem of what can be done about it. Pletka avoids such simplistic answers as calling for more education and turns instead to a more promising tool: law. The complex networks of organizations funding and helping to organize campus protests are often connected to malicious states like Qatar, and to U.S.-designated terrorist groups. Thus, without broaching complex questions of freedom of speech, state and federal governments already have ample justifications to crack down. Pletka also suggests various ways existing legal frameworks can be strengthened.

And that’s not all:

What is Congress’s ultimate leverage? Federal funding. Institutions of higher education in the United States will receive north of $200 billion from the federal government in 2024.

[In addition], it is critical to understand that foreign funders have been allowed, more or less, to turn U.S. institutions of higher education into political fiefdoms, with their leaders and faculty serving as spokesmen for foreign interests. Under U.S. law currently, those who enter into contracts or receive funding to advocate for the interest of a foreign government are required to register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This requirement is embedded in a criminal statute, and a violation risks jail time. There is no reason compliance by American educational institutions with disclosure laws should not be subject to similar criminal penalties.

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More about: American law, Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus