Alexander Haig

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Alexander Haig
Alexander Haig

In office
January 22, 1981 – July 5, 1982
Preceded by Edmund Muskie
Succeeded by George Shultz

In office
1973 – 1974
Preceded by H.R. Haldeman
Succeeded by Donald Rumsfeld

Born December 02, 1924 (age 82)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican

Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. (born December 2, 1924) was the first U.S. Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, and is a former Four-Star General in the U.S. Army. He was appointed Military Assistant to the Presidential Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, in 1969, a position he retained until 1970, when President Richard Nixon promoted him to Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In 1973, Haig was appointed White House Chief of Staff where he remained until President Nixon's resignation in August 1974. From 1974 until 1979, Haig was Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), hence the ex officio commander of the NATO forces.


[edit] Education

Haig attended St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia and graduated from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. He then went to the University of Notre Dame for one year before transferring to and graduating from West Point in 1947. He studied business administration at Columbia Business School in 1954 and 1955. He also received a Masters degree in International Relations from Georgetown University in 1961 where his thesis focused on the role of the military officer in the making of national policy.

[edit] Korea, MacArthur and Vietnam

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.[1]. Haig has stated that he was in the room when MacArthur famously stated to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Gentlemen, we will land at Inchon on September 15 or you will have a new Supreme Commander in East Asia."[2] Haig later saw combat in the Korean War (1950-51) with the X Corps, led by MacArthur's Chief of Staff, General Edward Almond.[3]. During the Korean War, Haig earned 2 Silver Stars for heroism and a Bronze Star with "V."[4] Haig participated in seven Korean War campaigns, including the Battle of Inchon, the Battle of Chosin Reservoir (a.k.a "The Frozen Chosen"), and the evacuation of Hungnam.[5]

Haig later 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. Haig then was appointed Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. He continued in that service until the end of 1965, whereupon he took command of a Battalion of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.

[edit] Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam

On May 22, 1967, Lt. Colonel Haig was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest medal for heroism, by General William Westmoreland as a result of his actions during the battle of Ap Gu in March 1967.[6] During the battle, then Lt. Colonel 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 a three to one margin. In an attempt to survey the battlefield, Haig boarded a helicopter and flew to the point of contact.[6]. 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 admid 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)[7]

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

[edit] 1969 - 1972 Henry Kissinger's military assistant, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army

Alexander Haig returned to the Continental United States at the end of his one-year tour to become Regimental Commander of the Third Regiment of the Corps of Cadets at the USMA under the also newly-arrived Commandant, Brigadier General Bernard Rogers. (Both had served together in the 1st Infantry Division, Rogers as Assistant Division Commander and Haig as Brigade Commander.) In 1969, he was appointed as 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. In this position, Haig helped South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to 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, a post he held until the last few months of President Nixon’s presidency, when he served as White House Chief of Staff.

[edit] 1973 - 1974 White House Chief of Staff for Nixon and Ford

Alexander Haig served as White House Chief of Staff during the height of the Watergate affair from May 1973 until September 1974. During this time, Haig played a large "crisis management" role as the Watergate scandal unfolded. Haig has been largely credited with keeping the government running while President Nixon was preoccupied with Watergate.[9]. Haig also played an instrumental role in finally persuading Nixon to resign. In his 2001 book, "Shadow", author Bob Woodward describes Haig's role as the point man between Nixon and then Vice President Gerald Ford during the final days of Watergate. According to the book, Haig played a major behind the scenes role in the delicate negotiations of the transfer of power from President Nixon to President Ford. Haig remained White House Chief of Staff during the early days of the Ford Administration until he was replaced by Donald Rumsfeld in September 1974.

[edit] Deep Throat

For many years, people speculated that Haig was Deep Throat, the anonymous source for Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Authors Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin speculated in their 1991 book Silent Coup: The Removal of a President that Haig may have been "Deep Throat," noting Woodward and Haig knew each other when Woodward worked in naval intelligence. But, in 2005, it was revealed that W. Mark Felt, the associate director of the FBI, was Woodward and Bernstein's source. Furthermore, Haig was known to have been out of the country during some of the meetings between "Deep Throat" and the reporters.

[edit] 1974 - 1979 Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and assassination attempt

From 1974 to 1979, Haig served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), and Commander in Chief, US European Command (CinCUSEUR), and thus was effectively the Commander of NATO Forces. An assassination attempt on Haig was unsuccessful in Mons, Belgium on June 25, 1979. During the attack, a land mine blew up under the bridge on which Haig's car was travelling, narrowly missing Haig's car but wounding three of his bodyguards in a following car.[10] The attack was later deemed to be carried out by the Baader-Meinhof terrorist organization. In 1993, a German Court sentenced Rolf Klemens Wagner, a former Red Army Terrorist, to a life sentence for the assassination attempt on Haig.[11] While Haig was at NATO, Wesley Clark (then a Major) served as Haig's speechwriter.[12]. Alexander Haig retired from the Army in 1979, and moved on to civilian employment.

[edit] Secretary of State for President Reagan

In 1979, he became President, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Director of United Technologies, Inc., a job he retained until 1981.

In January 1981, Haig was tapped by Reagan to be Secretary of State and he began confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Much of the hearing focused on Haig's role during Watergate. Haig was easily confirmed by a Senate vote of 93-6.[13] Robert White, ambassador in El Salvador from 1980 to 81, has claimed that Alexander Haig pushed for his removal because he did not favor a military solution for the El Salvadoran situation. Michael Ledeen, now an international adviser for Karl Rove, George W. Bush's closest advisor, was his "anti-terrorism" expert during this period; before that, Ledeen had worked as analyst for the Italian military intelligence agencies.

Haig resigned abruptly in July 1982. His desire to be the so-called "vicar" of American foreign policy, in emulation of his mentor Henry Kissinger, did not mesh well with Ronald Reagan, who had his own ideas about foreign policy. It was also said that Nancy Reagan did not like him. A military hawk, Haig caused some alarm with his suggestion that a "nuclear warning shot" in Europe might be effective in deterring the Soviet Union. His tenure as Secretary of State was often characterized by his clashes with the more moderate Defense Secretary, Caspar Weinberger.

[edit] "I'm in control here"

In 1981, after the March 30 assassination attempt on Reagan, Haig asserted before reporters that "I'm in control here" as a result of Reagan's hospitalization. The quotation became seen as an attempt by Haig to exceed his authority. The full quotation is:

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. As for now, I'm in control here, in the White House, pending the return of the vice president and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.

Haig was incorrect in his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution concerning both the presidential line of succession and the 25th Amendment, which dictates what happens when a president is incapacitated. But the holders of the two offices between the Vice President and the Secretary of State, the Speaker of the House and the President pro tem of the Senate, are required under U.S. law (3 U.S.C. 19) to resign their positions in order for either of them to become acting President--an unlikely event considering that Vice President Bush was merely not immediately available. Haig's statement therefore reflected political reality, if not necessarily legal reality. Haig later said,

"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?'" [14]

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

[edit] 1982

[edit] 1982 Falklands War

The Falklands War (March-June 1982) occurred during Haig's tenure as Secretary of State and saw Haig attempt to conduct shuttle diplomacy in April 1982 following the Argentine invasion, but prior to the arrival of the British fleet in the war zone. Haig met with both the British government in London and the Argentine government in Buenos Aires, but talks broke down and Haig returned to Washington on April 19.

[edit] 1982 Lebanon Invasion by Israel

Haig critics have accused him of "greenlighting" the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon in June of 1982. Haig denies this and said he urged restraint at the time.[15]

[edit] 1988 Republican presidential nomination - unsuccessful bid

Haig unsuccessfully ran for the Republican Party nomination for President in 1988. He was a fierce critic of the more moderate George H.W. Bush, and speculation was that he sought the Presidency in part because of that. When he withdrew from the race, he threw his support to the presidential campaign of Senator Robert Dole of Kansas. Haig was reported saying to Dole regarding George Bush, "I've done all the damage I can, Bob."[citation needed] Haig allegedly viewed Bush as weak and indecisive leader.[citation needed]

[edit] Military decorations

[edit] Current activities

Haig was the host for several years of the television program World Business Review and now hosts 21st Century Business, each program a weekly business education forum that includes business solutions, expert interview, commentary and field reports.

Haig is co-chairman of the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus, along with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stephen J. Solarz.

Haig was a founding Board Member of America Online.

On January 5, 2006, Haig participated in a meeting at the White House of former Secretaries of Defense and State to discuss United States foreign policy with Bush administration officials.

On May 12, 2006, Haig participated in a second White House meeting with 10 former Secretaries of State and Defense. The meeting including briefings by Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, and was followed by a discussion with President George W. Bush.[16]

Haig published his memoirs, entitled Inner Circles: How America Changed The World, in 1992.

Alexander Haig is the father of author Brian Haig.

He is a Knight of Malta.

[edit] Trivia

  • Haig has appeared on the cover of TIME magazine on 3 occasions.
  • Haig is referenced in the 1983 song "The Fletcher Memorial Home" by the band Pink Floyd.
  • After Maine schoolgirl Samantha Smith wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov in 1983, Johnny Carson played President Ronald Reagan in a sketch on NBC's "The Tonight Show," in which a Russian girl writes the President. The Russian girl's letter asks for the name of the monkey Reagan used to appear with. Carson, as Reagan, replies, "Alexander Haig."
  • Haig is briefly mentioned in the song "We've Got a Bigger Problem Now" by the Dead Kennedys in reference to serving under ex-president Ronald Reagan.
  • Haig is referenced in a 1995 episode of The Simpsons television show. In the "Who Shot Mr. Burns" episode, Homer Simpson appears in a mugshot photo while wearing a HAIG IN '88 t-shirt. [17]
  • In the Police Squad! episode "Testimony of Evil," Drebin and Hocken find the contents of a morgue cadaver drawer repulsive ("disgusting"). The camera then reveals that they are looking at a photograph of Haig.
  • In 1980, Spiro Agnew published a memoir in which he implied that, in 1973, Richard Nixon and Haig had planned to assassinate him if Agnew refused to resign the Vice-Presidency, and that Haig told him "to go quietly … or else.[1]"
  • In Frank Bryan and Bill Mare's book, Out: The Vermont Secession Book, Haig is elected president in 1988, beating Teddy Kennedy. Haig is protrayed as arrogant, idiotic, perpetually willfully and happily misinformed about the country.

[edit] Endnotes

  1. ^ Agnew, Spiro T:: "Go quietly ... or else". Morrow, 1980. ISBN 0-688-03668-6.

Haig is referenced by the band Youth Group in their song "Daisychains:" "I'm more General Haig than Napoleon Bonaparte."

[edit] External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Preceded by
H. R. Haldeman
White House Chief of Staff
Succeeded by
Donald Rumsfeld
Preceded by
Gen. Andrew Goodpaster
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO)
Succeeded by
Gen. Bernard W. Rogers
Preceded by
Edmund S. Muskie
United States Secretary of State
Succeeded by
George P. Shultz