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Alexander Haig

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Alexander Haig

Alexander Haig
59th United States Secretary of State
In office
January 22, 1981 – July 5, 1982
President Ronald Reagan
Deputy William P. Clark
Walter J. Stoessel Jr.
Preceded by Edmund Muskie
Succeeded by George P. Shultz
7th Supreme Allied Commander Europe
In office
December 16, 1974 – July 1, 1979
Deputy John Mogg
Harry Tuzo
Gerd Schmückle
Secretary-General Joseph Luns
Preceded by Andrew Goodpaster
Succeeded by Bernard W. Rogers
5th White House Chief of Staff
In office
April 30, 1973 – September 21, 1974
President Richard M. Nixon
Gerald R. Ford
Preceded by H. R. Haldeman
Succeeded by Donald H. Rumsfeld
Deputy National Security Advisor
In office
President Richard M. Nixon
Preceded by Richard V. Allen
Succeeded by Brent Scowcroft
Personal details
Born Alexander Meigs Haig Jr.
(1924-12-02)December 2, 1924
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died February 20, 2010(2010-02-20) (aged 85)
Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Patricia Antoinette Fox
(m. 1950–2010, his death)
Children Alexander Patrick Haig Jr.
Brian Haig
Barbara Haig
Alma mater U.S. Military Academy (B.S.)
Columbia Business School (M.B.A.)
Profession Soldier, civil servant
Religion Roman Catholic
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Combat Infantryman Badge
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1947–1979
Rank General
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War

Alexander Meigs Haig Jr. (December 2, 1924 – February 20, 2010) was a United States Army general who served as the United States Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.[1] He also served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, the second-highest ranking officer in the Army,[2] and as Supreme Allied Commander Europe commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Europe.

A veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War, Haig was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, and the Purple Heart.[3]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Early military career 2
    • Korean War 2.1
    • Pentagon assignments 2.2
    • Vietnam War 2.3
    • West Point 2.4
  • Security adviser (1969–72) 3
  • White House Chief of Staff (1973–74) 4
    • Nixon administration 4.1
    • Ford administration 4.2
  • NATO Supreme Commander (1974–79) 5
  • Civilian positions 6
  • Secretary of State (1981–82) 7
    • Initial challenges 7.1
    • Reagan assassination attempt: "I am in control here" 7.2
    • Falklands War 7.3
    • 1982 Lebanon War 7.4
    • Resignation 7.5
  • 1988 Republican presidential nomination 8
  • In popular culture 9
  • Later life, health and death 10
  • Family 11
  • Awards and decorations 12
  • References 13
  • Further reading 14
  • External links 15

Early life and education

Haig was born in Georgetown University in 1961. His thesis examined the role of military officers in making national policy.

Early military career

Korean War

As a young officer, Haig served on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur in Japan. In the early days of the Korean War, Haig was responsible for maintaining General MacArthur's situation map and briefing MacArthur each evening on the day's battlefield events.[6] Haig later served (1950–51) with the X Corps, as aide to MacArthur's Chief of Staff, General Edward Almond,[3] who awarded Haig two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star with Valor device.[7] Haig participated in four Korean War campaigns, including the Battle of Inchon, the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, and the evacuation of Hŭngnam[6] as Almond's aide.

Pentagon assignments

Haig served as a staff officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (DCSOPS) at the Pentagon (1962–64), and then was appointed Military Assistant to Secretary of the Army Stephen Ailes in 1964. He then was appointed Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, continuing in that service until the end of 1965.

Vietnam War

In 1966, Haig took command of a battalion of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam. On May 22, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Haig was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army's second highest medal for valor, by General William Westmoreland as a result of his actions during the Battle of Ap Gu in March 1967.[8] During the battle, Haig's troops (of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (United States)) became pinned down by a Viet Cong force that outnumbered U.S. forces by three to one. In an attempt to survey the battlefield, Haig boarded a helicopter and flew to the point of contact. His helicopter was subsequently shot down. Two days of bloody hand-to-hand combat ensued. An excerpt from Haig's official Army citation follows:

When two of his companies were engaged by a large hostile force, Colonel Haig landed amid a hail of fire, personally took charge of the units, called for artillery and air fire support and succeeded in soundly defeating the insurgent force ... the next day a barrage of 400 rounds was fired by the Viet Cong, but it was ineffective because of the warning and preparations by Colonel Haig. As the barrage subsided, a force three times larger than his began a series of human wave assaults on the camp. Heedless of the danger himself, Colonel Haig repeatedly braved intense hostile fire to survey the battlefield. His personal courage and determination, and his skillful employment of every defense and support tactic possible, inspired his men to fight with previously unimagined power. Although his force was outnumbered three to one, Colonel Haig succeeded in inflicting 592 casualties on the Viet Cong ... HQ US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 2318 (May 22, 1967)[9]

Haig was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart during his tour in Vietnam,[8] and was eventually promoted to Colonel, becoming a brigade commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.

West Point

At the end of his one-year tour, Alexander Haig returned to the United States to become Regimental Commander of the Third Regiment of the Corps of Cadets at West Point, under the also newly arrived Commandant, Brigadier General Bernard W. Rogers. (Both had served together in the 1st Infantry Division, Rogers as Assistant Division Commander and Haig as Brigade Commander.)

Security adviser (1969–72)

In 1969, he was appointed Military Assistant to the Presidential Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, a position he retained until 1970 when President Richard Nixon promoted Haig to Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. During this time he was promoted to Brig. General (Sep. 1969), and Maj. General (Mar. 1972). In this position, Haig helped South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu negotiate the final cease-fire talks in 1972. Haig continued in this position until 1973, when he was appointed to be Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in Oct. 1972 as Vice Chief of Staff, a four-star position, thus skipping the rank of Lt. General.

White House Chief of Staff (1973–74)

Nixon administration

Chief of Staff Haig (far right), Sec. of State Kissinger, Rep. Ford and President Richard Nixon meet on October 13, 1973, regarding Ford's upcoming appointment as Vice President.

Haig served as White House Chief of Staff, while still retaining his Army commission, during the height of the Watergate affair from May 1973 until Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. He took over the position from H.R. Haldeman, who resigned on April 30, 1973, while under pressure from Watergate prosecutors.

Haig has been largely credited with keeping the government running while President Nixon was preoccupied with Watergate,[1] and was essentially seen as the "acting president" during Nixon's last few months in office.[10] During July and early August 1974, Haig also played an instrumental role in finally persuading Nixon to resign. Haig presented several pardon options to Ford a few days before Nixon eventually resigned. In this regard, in his 1999 book Shadow, author Bob Woodward describes Haig's role as the point man between Nixon and Ford during the final days of Nixon's presidency. According to Woodward, Haig played a major behind-the-scenes role in the delicate negotiations of the transfer of power from President Nixon to President Ford.[11] Indeed, about one month after taking office, Ford did pardon Nixon, resulting in much controversy.

However, authors Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin were highly critical of much of Haig's behind-the-scenes work as Nixon's chief of staff in their 1991 book Silent Coup: The Removal of a President. They described several episodes where Haig misled the president and others, particularly those surrounding the court battles over Nixon's White House tape recordings, and Ford's eventual pardon of Nixon in September 1974. The two authors claimed they were able to find many inconsistencies in what Haig claimed he had done.[12]

Ford administration

Haig remained White House Chief of Staff during these early days of the Ford Administration, for just over about one month, and was replaced by Donald Rumsfeld in September 1974. Author Roger Morris, a former colleague of Haig's on the National Security Council early in Nixon's first term, wrote that when Ford pardoned Nixon, he effectively pardoned Haig as well.[13]

NATO Supreme Commander (1974–79)

General Alexander Haig, USA as SACEUR

From 1974 to 1979, Haig served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), the Commander of NATO forces in Europe, and Commander-in-Chief of United States European Command (CinCUSEUR). Haig took the same route to SHAPE every day – a pattern of behavior that did not go unnoticed by terrorist groups. On June 25, 1979, Haig was the target of an assassination attempt in Mons, Belgium. A land mine blew up under the bridge on which Haig's car was traveling, narrowly missing Haig's car and wounding three of his bodyguards in a following car.[14] Authorities later attributed responsibility for the attack to the Red Army Faction (RAF). In 1993 a German Court sentenced Rolf Clemens Wagner, a former RAF member, to life imprisonment for the assassination attempt.[14]

Civilian positions

Haig retired as a four-star general from the Army in 1979, and moved on to civilian employment. In 1979, he worked at the Philadelphia-based

In the 1982 film Airplane II: The Sequel, the bomber, Joe Seluchi (Sonny Bono), is briefly seen reading a magazine titled Psycho of the Month with Haig on the front cover.

In Part 2 of The Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", a mug shot of Homer Simpson is shown, in which he is wearing a T-shirt with the campaign slogan "Haig in '88" on it.

In the 1986 Sledge Hammer! episode "Over My Dead Bodyguard", Captain Trunk is announced dead after several failed assassinations to prevent further attempts. Sledge Hammer then declares in a takeover ceremony in the precinct "But, in the words of the immortal Alexander Haig: 'As of now, I am in control.'".

Haig was played by Powers Boothe in the 1995 film Nixon, by Matt Frewer in the 1995 TV miniseries Kissinger And Nixon, by Richard Dreyfuss in the 2001 cable film The Day Reagan Was Shot, and by Matthew Marsh in the 2011 film The Iron Lady.

Haig was also mentioned in the last level of Interstate '82, where Ronald Reagan claims that Haig was pressured to resign from office by the president himself.

Haig is mentioned in the Dead Kennedys song "We've Got a Bigger Problem Now", which was critical of Reagan's presidency.

In the fourth episode of the first season of The Americans, Haig's remark that he was "in control" after the attempted assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan is treated by the Soviets as indicative of a potential coup in the U.S. government.

Later life, health and death

In 1980, Haig had a double heart bypass operation.[37]

In the 1980s and '90s, being the head of a consulting firm, he served as a director for various struggling businesses, the best-known probably being computer manufacturer Commodore International.[38]

Haig was the host for several years of the television program World Business Review. At the time of his death, he was the host of 21st Century Business, with each program a weekly business education forum that included business solutions, expert interview, commentary and field reports.[39] Haig served as a founding member of the advisory board of Newsmax Media, which publishes the conservative web site,[40] Haig was co-chairman of the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus, along with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stephen J. Solarz. A member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) Board of Advisors, Haig was also a founding Board Member of America Online.[41]

On January 5, 2006, Haig participated in a meeting at the

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Bruce Palmer Jr.
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
January 1973 – May 1973
Succeeded by
Gen. Frederick C. Weyand
Preceded by
Gen. Andrew Goodpaster
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO)
Succeeded by
Gen. Bernard W. Rogers
Political offices
Preceded by
H. R. Haldeman
White House Chief of Staff
Served under: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford

Succeeded by
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Preceded by
Edmund S. Muskie
U.S. Secretary of State
Served under: Ronald Reagan

Succeeded by
George P. Shultz

External links

  • The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, by Seymour Hersh, Summit Books, New York, 1983, ISBN 0-671-50688-9.
  • Caveat: Realism, Reagan and Foreign Affairs, by Alexander Haig, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1984.
  • Inner Circles: How America Changed the World, by Alexander M. Haig, Jr., and Charles McCarry, Grand Central Publishing, 1/02/1994
  • Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1991.

Further reading

  1. ^ a b Alexander Haig, MSN Encarta. Archived from the original on October 31, 2009. 
  2. ^ "ALEXANDER M. HAIG, Assistant to the President: Files, 1973–74". 
  3. ^ a b "Premier Speakers Bureau". Archived from the original on February 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ Hohmann, James (February 21, 2010). "Alexander Haig, 85; soldier-statesman managed Nixon resignation".  
  5. ^ "Haig's Future Uncertain After a Shaky Start". Anchorage Daily News. April 11, 1981. Retrieved December 22, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Alexander M. Haig, Jr. "Lessons of the forgotten war". 
  7. ^ "UT Biography". Archived from the original on May 11, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "West Point Citation". 
  9. ^ "Full Text Citations For Award of The Distinguished Service Cross, US Army Recipients – Vietnam". 
  10. ^ a b  
  11. ^ The Final Days, by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, 1976, New York, Simon & Schuster; Shadow, by Bob Woodward, 1999, New York, Simon & Schuster, pp. 4–38.
  12. ^ Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1991
  13. ^ Haig: The General's Progress, by Roger Morris (American writer), Playboy Press, 1982, pp. 320–25.
  14. ^ a b "German Guilty in '79 Attack At NATO on Alexander Haig".  
  15. ^ Maykuth, Andrew (February 21, 2010). "Philadelphia dominated Haig's formative years". Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  16. ^ "New Atlanticist". Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  17. ^ Fifty years among the new words: a dictionary of neologisms, 1941–1991, John Algeo, p.231
  18. ^ Financial Times, London, March 21, 2009
  19. ^ "Reagan selects half of Cabinet-level staff". Gadsden Times. Associated Press. December 11, 1980. 
  20. ^ Chace, James (April 22, 1984). "The Turbulent Tenure of Alexander Haig". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ LeoGrande, William (1998). Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977–1992. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 70.  
  22. ^ LeoGrande 1998, p. 89.
  23. ^ "Alexander Haig". The Economist. February 25, 2010. 
  24. ^ "Church Women Ran Roadblock, Haig Theorizes". Pittsburgh Press ( 
  25. ^ Michaels, Leonard; Ricks, Christopher (1990). The State of the Language (2nd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 261.  
  26. ^ "Alexander Haig".  
  27. ^ Tweedie, Neil (2012-12-28). "US wanted to warn Argentina about South Georgia". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  28. ^ Ronald Reagan edited by Douglas Brinkley (2007) The Reagan Diaries Harper Collins ISBN 978-0-06-087600-5 p. 66 Saturday, January 30
  29. ^ "Alexander Haig".  
  30. ^ Waller, Douglas C. Congress and the Nuclear Freeze: An Inside Look at the Politics of a Mass Movement, 1987. Page 19.
  31. ^ 1982 Year in Review: Alexander Haig Resigns
  32. ^ Ajemian, Robert; George J. Church; Douglas Brew (July 5, 1982). "The Shakeup at State".  
  33. ^ , United States Department of State, Office of the HistorianShort History of the Department of State. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  34. ^ Dowd, Maureen (21 November 1987). "Haig, the Old Warrior, in New Battles". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  35. ^ "Haig Calls Meeting to Discuss Campaign". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. 12 February 1988. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  36. ^ Clifford, Frank (13 Feb 1988). "Haig Drops Out of GOP Race, Endorses Dole". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  37. ^ Harold Jackson. "obituary". Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  38. ^ "Businessweek June 16, 1991". 1991-06-16. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  39. ^ "World Business Review with Alexander Haig". Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2008. 
  40. ^ General Alexander M. Haig, Jr. joins advisory board, "PR Newswire", June 21, 2001.
  41. ^ "Business Wire AOL-TIme Warner announces its board of directors". Business Wire. January 12, 2001. Retrieved December 17, 2008. 
  42. ^ "President George W. Bush poses for a photo Thursday, January 5, 2006, in the Oval Office with former Secretaries of State and Secretaries of Defense from both Republican and Democratic administrations, following a meeting on the strategy for victory in Iraq". The White House. January 5, 2006. Retrieved December 17, 2008. 
  43. ^ "Bush discusses Iraq with former officials". 
  44. ^ "Haig, top adviser to 3 presidents, hospitalized". Associated Press. February 19, 2010. Archived from the original on February 20, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2010. 
  45. ^ "Alexander M. Haig, Jr". West Point Association of Graduates. Retrieved August 9, 2011. 
  46. ^ "Alexander M. Haig Jr. Dies at 85; Was Forceful Aide to 2 Presidents". The New York Times. February 20, 2010. 
  47. ^ "Alexander Haig, former secretary of state, dies at 85". Washington Times. 2010-02-20. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  48. ^ Krebs, Albin (January 25, 1982). "NOTES ON PEOPLE; A Haig Inaugurated". New York Times. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 


National Order of Vietnam
Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
United Nations Service Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Foreign Awards
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal with four service stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with two service stars
Service Medals
Distinguished Service Cross
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star with oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star with "V" device and two oak leaf clusters
Purple Heart
Air Medal with award numeral 24
Army Commendation Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge
Presidential Service Badge

Awards and decorations

Alexander Haig was married to Patricia (née Fox) from 1950 until his death. The couple had three children: Alexander Patrick Haig Jr., Managing Director of Worldwide Associates, Inc., Barbara Haig, "Deputy to President for Policy & Strategy" at the National Endowment for Democracy, and Brian Haig, author and military analyst. Haig's younger brother, Rev. Frank Haig, is a Jesuit priest and professor emeritus of physics at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland.[48] Alexander Haig's sister, Mrs. Regina Meredith, was a practicing attorney licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and was a co-founding partner of the firm Meredith, Chase and Taggart, located in Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey. She died in 2008.


President Barack Obama said in a statement that, "General Haig exemplified our finest warrior-diplomat tradition of those who dedicate their lives to public service."[46] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Haig as a man who "served his country in many capacities for many years, earning honor on the battlefield, the confidence of Presidents and Prime Ministers, and the thanks of a grateful nation."[47]

On February 20, Haig died at the age of 85, from complications from a staphylococcal infection that he had prior to admission. According to The New York Times, his brother, Father Haig, said the Army was coordinating a Mass at Fort Myer in Washington and an interment at Arlington National Cemetery, but both would be delayed by about two weeks due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.[10] A Mass of Christian Burial was held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on March 2, 2010. Eulogies were given by Dr. Henry Kissinger and Sherwood "Woody" D. Goldberg.[45]

On February 19, 2010, a hospital spokesman revealed that the 85-year-old Haig had been hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore since January 28 and remained in critical condition.[44]

– were published in 1992. Inner Circles: How America Changed The World Haig's memoirs – [43] In the 1982

In popular culture

Haig ran unsuccessfully for the Iran Contra Scandal, and using the word "wimp" in relation to Bush in an October 1987 debate in Texas.[34] Despite extensive personal campaigning and paid advertising in New Hampshire, Haig remained stuck in last place in the polls. After finishing with less than 1% of the vote in the Iowa caucuses and trailing badly in the New Hampshire primary polls, Haig withdrew his candidacy and endorsed Senator Bob Dole.[35][36] Dole, steadily gaining on Bush after beating him handily a week earlier in the Iowa caucus, ended up losing to Bush in the New Hampshire primary by ten percentage points. With his momentum regained, Bush easily won the nomination.

1988 Republican presidential nomination

[33] Haig caused some alarm with his suggestion that a "nuclear warning shot" in Europe might be effective in deterring the


Haig's report to Reagan on January 30, 1982, shows that Haig feared that the Israelis might start a war against Lebanon.[28] Critics accused Haig of "greenlighting" the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. Haig denied this and said he urged restraint.[29]

1982 Lebanon War

[27] In April 1982 Haig conducted

Haig as Secretary of State with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982

Falklands War

I wasn't talking about transition. I was talking about the executive branch, who is running the government. That was the question asked. It was not, "Who is in line should the President die?"
— Alexander Haig, Alexander Haig interview with 60 Minutes II April 23, 2001

The Vice President Bush was not immediately available, Haig's statement reflected political reality, if not necessarily legal reality. Haig later said,

Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State in that order, and should the President decide he wants to transfer the helm to the Vice President, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the Vice President and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.
— Alexander Haig, Alexander Haig, autobiographical profile in TIME Magazine, April 2, 1984[26]

In 1981, following the March 30 assassination attempt on Reagan, Haig asserted before reporters "I am in control here" as a result of Reagan's hospitalization, indicating that, while President Reagan had not "transfer[red] the helm", Haig was in fact directing White House Crisis Management until Vice President Bush arrived in Washington to assume that role.

Secretary of State Haig speaks to the press after the attempted assassination on President Ronald Reagan

Reagan assassination attempt: "I am in control here"

The outcry that immediately followed Haig's insinuation prompted him to emphatically withdraw his speculative suggestions the very next day before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.[25] Similar public relations miscalculations, by Haig and others, continued to plague the Reagan administration's attempts to build popular American approval for its Central American policies.

I'd like to suggest to you that some of the investigations would lead one to believe that perhaps the vehicle the nuns were riding in may have tried to run through a roadblock, or may have accidentally been perceived to have been doing so, and there may have been an exchange of fire, and then perhaps those who inflicted the casualties sought to cover it up.
— Alexander Haig, Alexander Haig, House Foreign Affairs committee testimony, quoted by UPI, March 19, 1981 [24]

Throughout the 1980 US presidential campaign, Reagan and his foreign policy advisers faulted the Carter administration's over-emphasis on the human rights abuses committed by "authoritarian" regimes allied to the US, labeling it a "double standard" when compared to Carter's treatment of communist-bloc regimes. Haig, who described himself as the "vicar" of US foreign policy,[23] believed the human rights violations of an American ally such as El Salvador should be given less attention than the ally's successes against American enemies, and thus found himself downplaying the nun killings before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in March 1981:

Several days earlier, on December 2 1980, as Haig faced these initial challenges to the next step in his political career, four American Catholic missionary women in El Salvador, two of whom were Maryknoll sisters, were beaten, raped and murdered by five Salvadoran national guardsmen ordered to surveil them. Their bodies were exhumed from a remote shallow grave two days later in the presence of then U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White. In spite of this diplomatically awkward atrocity, the Carter administration soon approved $5.9 million in lethal military assistance to El Salvador's oppressive right-wing regime,[21] a figure the incoming Reagan administration would expand to $25 million in less than six weeks.[22]

On December 11, 1980, president-elect Reagan was prepared to publicly announce nearly all of his candidates for the most important cabinet-level posts. Singularly absent from the list of top nominees was his choice for Secretary of State, presumed by many at the time to be Al Haig. Haig's prospects for Senate confirmation were clouded when Senate Democrats questioned his role in the Watergate scandal. In Haig's defense, North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms claimed to have phoned former President Nixon personally to inquire whether any material on Nixon's unreleased White House tapes could embarrass Haig. According to Helms, Nixon replied, "Not a thing."[19] Haig was eventually confirmed after hearings he described as an "ordeal", during which he received no encouragement from Reagan or his staff.[20]

Initial challenges

He was the second of three career military officers to become Colin Powell were the others). His speeches in this role in particular led to the coining of the neologism "Haigspeak", described in a dictionary of neologisms as "Language characterized by pompous obscurity resulting from redundancy, the semantically strained use of words, and verbosity",[17] leading ambassador Nicko Henderson to offer a prize for the best rendering of the Gettysburg address in Haigspeak.[18]

Secretary of State (1981–82)

[16]. AOL, a job he retained until 1981. He served as a founding corporate director at Harry J. Gray Corporation (UTC) under Chief Executive Officer (CEO) United Technologies Later that year, he was named President and Director of [15]

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