Paul Nitze’s legacy: for a new world
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz – Transcript
Remarks as delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, to the Aspen Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC, Thursday, April 15, 2004.
Wolfowitz: Thank you, Walter [Isaacson, President and CEO, The Aspen Institute], I guess, for that warm introduction. I think you’ve set me up, though, for possibly disappointing the audience. But I couldn’t resist the invitation to come and speak on this occasion because Paul Nitze has had a huge mark on my career over many, many years, starting with 1969, when I was still a very much wet-behind-the-ears graduate student who came to Washington to work with three great men: Paul Nitze, Dean Acheson and Albert Wohlstetter who had formed a small, but extraordinarily effective lobby to support what was then known as the Safeguard ABM System. History has moved on a long way from that time, in part, because of what those three men did. But of course, by the time I met Paul, he was already well into his sixties. But as we know, he’s always got the energy and the vitality of someone 20 years his junior. And I must say, in some ways, I think he bested me, 30 years his junior, 30-plus.
But it is a pleasure and an honor to be able to share this day with you. I noticed Walter mentioned that I was one of Paul’s many less illustrious successors as head of the Policy Planning Staff. And I have to confess that when George Shultz took over as Secretary of State and I was head of Policy Planning, he asked me to give him a memo on how we could restore policy planning to the position of influence that it enjoyed under George Kennan and Paul Nitze, which I didn’t take as a terribly complimentary description of my year and half in that job. But, anyway, I moved on to something else fairly soon.
But then I went to the Pentagon in the late ’80s, early ’90s, as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, which, in many ways, was a transformation of a job Paul held, called the Assistant Secretary of Defense for ISA [International Security Affairs]. And of course, as everyone knows, Paul was one of our most distinguished Deputy Secretaries of Defense, even though it was for a relatively short period, but a very decisive one. A good friend of mine, who was one of the best of our military attaches, retired as a colonel who worked for Paul at ISA, described him once to me as the best Secretary of Defense we never had. And I think we all know that probably one reason we never had him as a cabinet officer was he was a little bit too outspoken about his views when he was less than a cabinet officer, but that is part of why we love him, and it’s part of why he was so influential.
Paul and I once did enumerate the various jobs we have in common and we ended up by talking about our mutual love for the school that Paul co-founded the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. I pointed out at the time that I had one thing on him–he may have founded SAIS [the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies], but he had never been dean of the Paul Nitze School. Of course, in many ways, he was the spiritual dean of SAIS for many decades, so I don’t really have that one on him.
On Saturday, as I think some of you know and I’m told, by the way, that Paul–and we know Paul isn’t here for lunch and part of it is they hope to save his energy and vitality to go up to Maine for the christening of the U.S.S. Paul Nitze destroyer named in his honor. To name a destroyer after a living American is an honor bestowed on very, very few people and, I confess, I don’t expect to follow in Paul’s footsteps on that one.
But I do have one more item to add to your list, Walter. When you hear what it is, you might think I would have done better to leave it off, but in the warm spirit of this occasion, I want to confess something else that Paul and I have in common. When the Eisenhower administration began–we learned this when we asked Paul to do a sort of oral history on videotape–Paul described how when the Eisenhower administration began and he found himself out of government and went to academia to his own beloved SAIS, he’d spent almost a decade, in his words, “being supported by the facilities of the government,” which in this case I think translates into “Paul no longer had a driver.” So he went out to buy himself a car.
It turns out that closing the deal was the easy part. It was the next step in the process that required some truly delicate negotiation. Paul got behind the wheel of the car, put it into reverse and ran into the car behind him. He tried again, this time going forward and hit the car in front of him. In Paul’s telling of the story, he refers vaguely to some further trouble getting out of the parking lot, but I’m happy to report that things quickly improved, once he was on the road because, by the time he got to SAIS, as he put it, “there were only those three grievous errors.”
And here’s where I have to tell a story on myself. At SAIS, we also had a very tight parking lot. I had a reserved parking space, which I’m told new employees were instructed firmly to avoid. I only recently learned that it was worse than that. They weren’t just warned to avoid parking in the space reserved for my car, they were told it would be wise to avoid parking anywhere near my car [laughter] which, apparently was referred to as “the red Blazer, with all the dents.” So I guess I managed to emulate Paul in some other things as well.
On a more serious note, I’d like to commend the Aspen Institute for its continuing emphasis on elevating the national debate. It’s no surprise that among the other things, Paul Nitze found time to establish in his remarkable career is the Aspen Institute which he did along with his sister Elizabeth Paepcke and her husband Walter. It seems that Elizabeth could be quite a persuasive character. She once put Paul in charge of raising several hundred thousand dollars to build what would become the world’s longest ski lift, this one up Aspen Mountain. That was another one of Paul’s farsighted investments and another example of his ability to do very concrete and practical things as well.
In fact, when I went to SAIS, Paul said to me, “Don’t take this job just because you look forward to presiding over distinguished events like when George Shultz is speaking or Strobe Talbott is speaking”–although, in fact, we did have both of them come and speak on the occasion of Paul’s 90th birthday. “No,” he said to me, “don’t take this job unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of time on mundane tasks like fundraising and making sure that the roof doesn’t leak.”
Once again, Paul proved that he was prescient in small things, as well as large ones. Within one month of my arrival at SAIS, the roof was leaking. [Laughter.] And you’ll never guess whose office it was leaking into. [Laughter.] Well, I guess you have: it was Paul’s. Needless to say, we got it fixed fast. I don’t know if Ted Baker is here, but my marvelous associate dean was the key to getting that done.
Not only, though, has Paul Nitze so often been right through his remarkable career, as a statesman, he’s projected the very best of American values along the way. In Paul’s wonderful book, “The Tension Between Opposites,” he reflected on those values through the eyes of his own 20th century American heroes. “A modern hero,” he wrote, “should be more than the paradigm of the ideals of his time. He should both think and act. He should inspire Americans with a forward-looking set of values.”
Today I’d like to take a look at Paul’s life in the context of that standard. In a career of uncommon depth and breadth, we see numerous examples of Paul as both thinker and doer, Paul Nitze, as a man always looking ahead to a stronger and safer America. Walter Isaacson wrote a wonderful book about some of the wise men who helped shaped the new world order, following the Second World War. These were men who, as he wrote, “committed a once reticent nation to defending freedom where it sought to flourish.” Paul Nitze was a major part of that great effort to prod this nation to that noble role. And as Walter writes, he “went flat out” to do it.
Paul Nitze’s desire to apply every fiber of his intellect, his energy and his integrity to achieve great things for his country was stirred as a young man, when he discovered he didn’t want to just sit back and watch others work out solutions to the great problems that faced America in the early years of the 20th century. He wanted to play his own role in solving those problems.
In 1940, when Paul was a young and very successful executive of a Wall Street firm, the opportunity came to play that role. Paul’s boss at the time was the president of the firm. His name was James Forrestal. As Paul tells the story, Forrestal was asked to consider a job as a confidential advisor to President Roosevelt. Forrestal asked his young associate what he should do. Paul Nitze told him, “If you don’t accept this challenge, you’ll regret that you didn’t give yourself a chance to do great things other than just our business of making money.” Paul remembers Forrestal’s response going something like this: “Damn you, Paul.” [Laughter.]
Well, if Forrestal couldn’t escape Paul’s logical appeal to patriotic duty, maybe it was fitting that not longer afterwards, Paul received a terse telegram, it said, “Be in Washington Monday morning. Forrestal.”
The rest, as they say, is history. On that Monday morning, Paul Nitze would embark on a remarkable career of longevity and depth, foresight and influence matched by few others. Few individuals have been so close for so long at the center of American foreign and security policy and few have had so great an influence on its shape and direction during periods of immense historic significance. Paul Nitze was one of those men, in Dean Acheson’s words, who was “present at the creation” of America’s postwar commitment to building a freer and safer world.
It was America’s great good fortune to have a patriot so willing to think and act at that critical moment when a new world called for a whole new type of diplomacy. We know of Paul’s important work on the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey near the end of World War II. We know of him as a crucial planner in the nuclear age confronting the second great totalitarian movement of the 20th century. We remember him as a leader in “the long twilight struggle” to contain the expansion of the Soviet empire. I believe that the example of Paul Nitze’s conceptual power, combined with his character, can provide a useful guide to us today in facing the struggle against a new kind of tyranny–the tyranny of terrorist fanaticism.
In his ability to apply strategic foresight in that regard, Paul Nitze was, indeed, as Strobe Talbott called him, “the master of the game.” His strategic foresight produced a plan for the postwar world characterized by creativity and boldness. It is a document that has come to be known as NSC-68, one of Paul’s landmark contributions to national security completed at a time when he was a mere youngster of 43 years old. I passed my 60th birthday not so long ago, so I can look at that one wistfully.
When Don Rumsfeld and I had lunch with members of the 9/11 commission recently, one member asked what could they do to ensure that their report would make a real difference, that it would be read five or 10 years from now, instead of just filed away on a dusty shelf. I realize now that I gave them a pretty tall order. What I told them, basically, was to write something similar to George Kennan’s long telegram or Paul Nitze’s NSC-68. I told them that, rarely to my knowledge, has anyone other than historians with a specific interest in the subject, gone back to read the report of the Pearl Harbor Commission. NSC-68, on the other hand, is still studied in colleges and universities, including colleges for strategists like the war colleges of our military services or our National Defense University.
As every student of security policy must know, NSC-68 which was signed by President Truman in 1950, was Nitze’s strategic blueprint for the Cold War. Although written before North Korea rolled south, it was a document that people quickly took up in the wake of the Korean invasion. It is a document that has been read and reread over the course of 50 years. It is a model of long-term strategic planning. NSC-68 addressed not only importance of a nuclear armed Soviet Union, but also the importance of the ideological orientation of the Soviet Union. Paul recognized the Soviet ideology as an inherent evil. And when combined with a formidable military capability, that ideology became an existential threat.
In its opening analysis, NSC-68 says this, quote: “The Soviet Union, unlike previous aspirants to hegemony, is animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world.” As we reflect on these words, it is striking how similar they are to what we face today. Although it is called religious, the fanaticism that we are dealing with has roots that stem much more from the ideological zealotry of the 20th century than from the religious origins on which it claims to draw.
Secular or religious, the adversaries we face today are ultimately animated by their own will to power, not by any altruism. While there are important differences between the challenge of our time and the one that Nitze and these other wise men faced 50 years ago, there are striking similarities in the character of the enemy a similarity summarized, perhaps, with a single word: evil.
When George Shultz appeared on CNN back in 2002, his interviewer asked him about the State of the Union address that year in which the president spoke about a, quote, “axis of evil.” The interviewer went on to compare that statement with President Reagan’s earlier reference to the “evil empire.” And in reply, George recalled a time when his good friend and admired colleague Paul Nitze had testified before a Senate committee. As George put it, “Paul was being worked over. ‘How,’ the senators asked Paul, ‘could you possibly work for a president who would use a phrase like evil empire?'” And when the senators had gotten through, as George put it, “piling on, Paul said, ‘Senator, have you ever considered the possibility that that statement might be accurate?'” George added, “That sort of ended the discussion.”
Of course, there were people who didn’t want to hear Paul’s conclusions. But Paul saw it as his duty to argue forcefully and effectively for a strong American military response to the Soviet Union despite opponents, despite criticism, and for as long as it took. Over and over again, in NSC-68, in the ABM debate of the late 1960s, in the defense debate of the mid-1970s, Paul Nitze argued forcefully for the need to match the Soviets with increased strength.
Paul had a profound understanding that diplomacy is about more than just nice conversation and persuasive arguments. Diplomacy and strength go hand in hand, one reinforcing the other. I think Paul would agree heartily with the old saying–in fact, he might have written it–diplomacy without military capability is nothing more than prayer. At the same time, Paul was equally aware that military capability without diplomacy cannot achieve its real purpose–to prevent wars so that you don’t have to fight them.
And it’s not an irony at all that a defining achievement of Paul Nitze’s career was to help bring about the end of the Cold War. Paul Nitze understood paradoxes, and he understood the seeming paradox to some that you simply can’t separate force from diplomacy. People who haven’t read NSC-68 or go to it, thinking that it was a blueprint for a military buildup are usually astonished by how much it resembles a philosophical treatise. Paul argued for military strength but he argued, most of all, that the strength of this country comes from the character of our society and the values on which we are built.
To quote from Section IV of that famous document: “From the idea of freedom with responsibility derives the marvelous diversity, the deep tolerance, the lawfulness of the free society. This is the explanation of the strength of free men. It constitutes the integrity and the vitality of a free and democratic system. It also explains why the free society tolerates those within it who would use their freedom to destroy it. By the same token, in relations between nations, the prime reliance of the free society is on the strength and appeal of its idea, and it feels no compulsion to bring all societies into conformity with it. For the free society does not fear, it welcomes, diversity. It derives its strength from its hospitality even to antipathetic ideas.”
Those words written 54 years ago are just as applicable, I believe, to the situation we’re in today. And it’s also true that NSC-68 approached a challenge that some people had yet to even acknowledge existed with an ambition that was truly breathtaking, at least at the time. He didn’t merely talk about preventing a war or stabilizing a dangerous status quo with the Soviet Union, he saw far beyond that. He said, “Our values, our policy and actions must be such as to foster a fundamental change in the nature of the Soviet system, a change toward which the frustration of the design is the first and perhaps the most important step. Clearly, it will not only be less costly but more effective if this change occurs to a maximum extent as a result of internal forces in Soviet society.” It was indeed, I think, a breathtaking vision, but a vision that barely just 40 years later was achieved, and achieved without war. It was an incredible achievement.
One of the keys to Paul Nitze’s ability to think and act so effectively, I think, was that by nature Paul is a very patient man. In fact, one historian has written, that since the 1940s, Paul has believed that “bureaucratic warfare is an endurance contest.” And Paul has certainly outlasted most of his opponents, but he has also bested most of them intellectually and with force of character. And I think another reason Paul was so effective in government was he had a profound understanding about the relationship between those two opposites that are the subject of the title of his book, “The Opposites of Thought and Action.”
The tension is very real. It is much harder, I think, than people often realize to balance thought and action. If too much thought can paralyze action, too much focus on action and practical things can lead to thoughtless actions with predictable bad results.
There are very few people, I think, who have so successfully combined theory and practice as Paul Nitze did. But one man who did do so is George Shultz for whom Paul Nitze and I share one more thing–and that is immeasurable admiration for our former Secretary of State. George had an approach like Paul’s when it came to decision making. For six years, I had the rare privilege of working for George Schultz. One of my earliest experiences with his decision-making style came in July of 1982, right after his confirmation. It was in the middle of the Israeli siege of Beirut and an enormous international crisis. Shultz was consumed almost 24 hours a day in efforts to resolve that crisis peacefully. Yet even with that preoccupation and during that tense time, he asked me, as head of the Policy Planning Staff, to assemble a group of luminaries–who included, I remember, Henry Kissinger, among others–to think through for him what to do when the siege of Beirut was lifted. The group spent an entire afternoon brainstorming the problem. And then George carved an hour or two our of his incredibly busy schedule to sit down and think about what to do a few weeks ahead. It’s rarer than you think.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve come to realize how rare it is for people, especially those people who are good at the practical matter of getting things done and managing their time ruthlessly, to stop and take some of that time to think. Just as it is rare in government to find people who take time out of their hectic days to think beyond details, we also know how rare it is in academia to find people who can divert from their abstract reflections long enough to come up with useful recommendations.
Paul Nitze in his life and in his outlook on life, has not only combined both of those qualities, but he found time to establish an institution called SAIS that has successfully trained an astonishing number of young men and women over some six decades to aspire to that same balance between theory and practice, between thinking and doing. And I understand from Walter Isaacson that you’ve had a number of them speaking at this conference and I hope they’ve been a credit to this school that I’m proud to have been the dean of.
Six presidents–from Roosevelt to Reagan–benefited from Paul’s balanced approach to thinking and doing. Even out of government, he persistently added his balanced, reasoned judgments to the public debate. He was not afraid to take on controversial views, but he was always a gentleman, as he fearlessly argued for his positions. And he always did so in a bipartisan spirit that sets an example for us today.
I saw that spirit at work when I met Paul Nitze in 1969, as I mentioned earlier. I was a pretty young graduate student. He was a man who’d already had a career matched by very few others. Yet when I showed him some calculations about how missile defense might work, he insisted on working through them and understanding them himself. I was struck by his clarity of mind, the incisiveness of his questions, and by his willingness to listen to a graduate student who was still wet behind the ears.
Jim Wade has been a close associate of Paul’s through many years. He said that when Paul was faced with a particularly tough challenge, like arms control, he would chew on the bone and chew on the bone, while most people around him–most people much younger than he–would get tired of the problem and drift away. “Then,” said Jim, “Paul would win.”
It’s an approached that he applied as Principal Arms Control Advisor for George Shultz. By then he was close to 80 years old and in the thick of negotiating what would eventually be known as the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It was, if I might borrow a phrase from my current boss, “a long, hard slog.” [Laughter.]
To give you an idea of what our negotiators faced, here’s how President Reagan described the process in 1982. “As a nation,” the president said, “we are committed to take every step to reduce substantially the possibility of nuclear war, while providing an unshakeable deterrent to such a war for ourselves and our allies. “We have proposed an intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe,” the president said, “be reduced to zero on both sides and at the same time that we cut conventional forces in Europe to balance levels. And I may say,” the president reported, “the news is encouraging. The Soviet Union has met us halfway on the zero option. They’ve agreed to zero for us.” [Laughter.]
That’s a pretty accurate assessment of how those negotiations started. Five years later, as Richard Perle who’s here could relate in more detail, in 1987, persistence paid off. Both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R agreed to completely remove intermediate range missiles. It’s safe to say that by the end of that process, Paul Nitze had outlasted many others less than half his age, although not Richard Perle.
Maybe Paul’s staying power was connected to his understanding of the enormity of the threat. NSC-68 summed it up this way: “The whole success hangs ultimately on the recognition by this government, the American people and all the peoples of the world that the Cold War is, in fact, a real war in which the survival of the world is at stake.”
America is once again at a crossroads. It is no less dangerous than the one this country faced when those words were written in 1950. Similar toughness, patience and persistence will be key to besting our new adversary–one who is in certain ways, even more dangerous.
With the Soviet Union, we knew who controlled their military forces, we knew their names and we knew where to find them. As NSC-68 explained so well, the Soviet threat was not just military, but ideological. In some ways, the ideology of terrorist fanaticism is even more dangerous. With them, we face an enemy who hides among the shadows, shifting positions and methods with the wind. As they go about their ugly business, they exploit the freedom of open societies. We may not always know who they are or where they operate, but in understanding our freedoms, they know a lot about us.
There is one constant, however, across half a century. Theirs, too, is an ideology of evil. But today we face an enemy that not only hates freedom; it hates life itself and worships death. By contrast, the Soviets at least were not generally suicidal.
We recently intercepted a letter being sent by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an al Qaeda associate in Iraq and a major terrorist mastermind in that country, to his colleagues in Afghanistan. And that literally gives us an idea about how these people think about the benefits of a free and open society emerging in the heart of the Middle East. “Democracy” in Iraq, Zarqawi writes, “is coming” and that will mean, he says, “suffocation” for the terrorists. He talks disparagingly about Iraqis who, and I quote again, “look ahead to a sunny tomorrow, a prosperous future, a carefree life, comfort and favor.” How dare they.
I quote again, “They look ahead to that day and, thus, they are easy prey for Zarqawi’s enemies, the brave Iraqis who are working with us to build a new Iraq.” For Zarqawi, prosperity and happiness are inconsistent with the terrorists’ mission. “We have told these people,” Zarqawi writes, “that safety and victory are incompatible, that the tree of triumph and empowerment cannot grow tall and lofty, without blood and defiance of death, that the nation cannot live without the aroma of martyrdom and the perfume of fragrant blood spilled on behalf of God and that people cannot awaken from their stupor unless talk of martyrdom and martyrs fills their days and nights.”
Our struggle against these people will be a struggle perhaps even longer than the Cold War. It will test our resolve perhaps even more than the conflicts of World War II. Although describing the mind of the Soviets, NSC-68 was prescient, I think, in helping to understand the threat we face today. The document Paul wrote more than 50 years ago says this: A peace the Soviet Union seeks is the peace of total conformity to their policy. The antipathy of slavery to freedom explains the iron curtain, the isolation, the autarchy of a society whose end is absolute power. The existence and persistence of the idea of freedom is a permanent and continuous threat to the foundation of a slave society; and it therefore rejects as intolerable the long continued existence of freedom in the world. The assault on free institutions,” he said 50 years ago, “is world-wide now.” And then, as now, nothing is more important than countering the assault we see today by encouraging freedom where it may grow. Nothing is more important right now than sustaining progress and the budding democratic movements in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There is enormous room for debate and argument about the best course of action. But I hope that we might agree that the phenomenon of terrorist fanaticism has presented itself to us with such a horrible and menacing face that we need to confront it with the same openness of mind and breadth of vision that a young Paul Nitze confronted the menace of Soviet communism with more than 50 years ago.
There is no question that the course of action we are embarked on now presents many challenges. But there is no way to confront that menace without accepting challenges. And I hope we could agree that the status quo of the Middle East of the last decades has been a proven failure–even worse, a tragedy.
Like 50 years ago, there is an urgency and a need to act. We need to deal with the Arab-Israeli problem, but we also need to deal with the desperate conditions under which most people in the Middle East had been living. Pundits can debate endlessly about whether Iraq was the right place to begin, although I firmly believe that it was. But we are there and it is crucial that we succeed. I would hope that, as we debate how best to succeed, we leave no doubt in the minds of our enemies, even more important that we leave no doubt in the minds of tens of millions of Iraqis and Afghans who are dreaming of a new Iraq and a new Afghanistan, that America is committed to nothing less than victory and success. Doing so will take the same bipartisan spirit that sustained us through four decades of the Cold War, but we must do so.
And there is progress, significant progress.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban has been overthrown and replaced by a new constitution and a government that is more representative of all the people than at any time in that country’s history. And it paves the way for another historic step: free elections later this year.
On March 8th, the Iraqi people also took an important step forward when they signed the Iraqi Interim Constitution. In a society held in the most abusive form of slavery and torture under a murderous tyrant for 35 years, assurances of equal rights and substantial representation for women are a transformation. The interim constitution also provides for other fundamental pillars of true democracy, including separation of powers and an independent judiciary, rule of law and civilian control of the military. All this was the product of a heated and healthy political debate–a debate that would have been inconceivable a year ago. In the end, Sunnis and Shias, Kurds and Turkmen, Muslims and Christians agreed to sign, reflecting a willingness of Iraqis to compromise in the interest of achieving a new Iraq.
And when sovereignty is handed over on to Iraqis on July 1st, our engagement will change, but our commitment will not. We will stay in Iraq until our job is done and not a day longer.
Winning in both Iraq and Afghanistan is imperative, but it is only part of the larger war on terrorism. It is a war we must fight with a tireless dedicated persistence of a Paul Nitze, even if it means we continue the battle when others tire of the fight, lose interest or drift away. Paul is a living reminder that we must continue to look forward in our thinking and our action. He shows us that unwavering persistence brings victory. And like Paul, we must be relentlessly persistent in fighting terrorist fanaticism. We must win and we will win.
We will win because we’re on the side of freedom and democracy. And that’s what most people in the world want. It’s what most Muslims want. This is not about America imposing its values on other people. It’s about America enabling other people to enjoy the values from which we benefit so enormously, so that, instead of envying us and hating us, they will see that they have an opportunity to join with us in building a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
Winning will require all those qualities that Paul Nitze embodies–boldness, vision, balance and persistence. As President Bush has said, victory “will take time and require sacrifice, yet we will do what is necessary. We will spend what is necessary to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror to promote freedom and to make our own nation more secure.”
And our greatest strength is what we stand for. Our own experience teaches us that when we support those who advocate the values of human dignity, equal justice, respect for women and religious tolerance–all the things that this country stands for–things can change and they do change.
And I will quote one last time from NSC-68. With remarkable prescience it said, 54 years ago: “The idea of freedom is the most contagious idea in history.” We will win this war, like the previous great challenges this country has faced, as long as we remain committed, like Paul Nitze, to “defending freedom where it seeks to flourish.”
In 1985 when Paul was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, this is how the citation read: “Peace and equilibrium are terms we associate with international affairs and yet they also describe Paul Nitze, the man who seeks them. He is consistently shrewd, but never cynical; impressively erudite, but never pedantic; immensely dignified, but never stuffy; always hopeful, and yet ever realistic. We’re happy, then, to honor him for what he has done and, even more,” it said, “for what he is.”
What Paul Nitze is. Paul Nitze is a wise man who helped guide us through some of our most difficult and dangerous challenges.
As another generation takes up his torch, let them keep in mind that appeal to balance, including the balance between the opposites of pride and humility. As Paul put it, “both are essential”–I think this was to his son’s prep school commencement class–“both are essential, humility before God, before nature, before mankind; pride in one’s faith, in one’s country and in one’s association with one’s fellow man. Only with humility,” he said, “can men gain wisdom and a true sense of relationship with God and with mankind, but only with a due sense of pride in oneself, in one’s background and in one’s country can one act with courage and effectiveness.”
When Paul was still a mere youngster of about 80, George Shultz reflected on his courage and his effectiveness and said, “Wise men come and wise men go, but one wise man goes on and on.”
So let me conclude with a personal message for my friend, Paul. Through your own work, and in the many graduates of SAIS who’ve assumed leadership roles in international affairs for some six decades now, Paul, we may certainly say that America and the world have been and will be safer, thanks to you. For any American hero, there is no higher praise, no greater legacy and no better way in which your inspiration can continue to go on and on and on. Thank you. [Applause.]