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Sunday March 11, 2001
New Realities
New Ways of Thinking

By George P. Shultz

George P. Schultz STANFORD -- Albert Einstein observed that the advent of nuclear weapons had changed everything except our modes of thinking.
    If even so dramatic a development as the nuclear revolution has taken a long time time to be fully understood, how much longer has it usually taken to understand he implications of the more subtle, intangible historical changes taking place around us?
    The international order at the end of this century is certain to be far different from the pattern of world politics when the century began. The distribution of power and the dynamics of international relations have undergone continuous transformation, driven by many factors - technology, economic and social changes and the often underestimated force of ideas.
     This process goes on; history never stops. As we head toward the 21st Century, Einstein's observation takes on new relevance: our ways of thinking must adapt to new realities; it is imperative that we grasp the new trends and understand their implications.
     The United States of America is not just an onlooker, however. We are participants and we are engaged. America is again in a position to have a major influence over the direction of events -- and the traditional goals and values of the American people have not changed. We have a duty to help shape the trends as they evolve, in accordance with our ideals and interests, to help construct a new pattern of international stability that will ensure peace, prosperity and freedom for coming generations.
    The implication of all this is profound: it is that the Western values of liberty and democracy, which some have been quick to write off as culture-bound or irrelevant, or passť, are not to be so easily dismissed. These values are the source o our strength, economic as well as moral, and they turn out to be more central to the world's future than many may have realized.
    After more than a century of fashionable Marxist mythology about economic determinism and the "crisis of capitalism" the key to human progress turns out to be those very Western concepts of political and economic freedom that Marxists claimed were obsolete. They were wrong. Today -- in a supreme irony -- it is the communist system that looks bankrupt, morally as well and economically. The West is resilient and resurgent.
    And so in the end, the most important new way of thinking that is called for in this decade is our way of thinking about ourselves. Civilizations thrive when they believe in themselves; they decline when they lose this faith. All civilizations confront massive problems, but a society is more likely to master its challenges, rather than be overwhelmed by them if it retains this bedrock self-confidence that its values are worth defending. This is the essence of the Reagan revolution and of the leadership the President has sought to provide in America.

[Editor's Note: Former Secretary of State, George P. Shultz complete comments first appeared in Foreign Affairs[Vol. 63 No. 4, Spring 1985] published by The Council on Foreign Affairs. Shultz is a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution. He was sworn in on July 16, 1982 as the sixtieth U.S. Secretary of state and served until January 20, 1989. In January 1989, he rejoined Stanford University as the Jack Steele Parker Professor of International Economics at the Graduate School of Business and a distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nationís highest civilian honor, on January 19, 1989. He is also a recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize (1992) and the Koret Prize for Contributions to Economic Reform and Development in Israel (1996). His publications include Economic Policy, Beyond the Headlines, 2nd edition, co-written with Kenneth Dam (University of Chicago Press, 1998) and his best-selling memoir, "Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State" (Charles Scribnerís Sons, 1993). Shultz graduated from Princeton University in 1942, receiving a B.A. degree in economics. That year he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served through 1945. In 1949, Shultz earned a Ph.D. degree in industrial economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.]

2001 Copyright, The Daily Republican Newspaper. All rights reserved.

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