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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Read more at Commentary

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

 

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam