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Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. (born December 2, 1924) is a retired 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. In 1973 Haig served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, the number-two ranking officer in the Army. Haig served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europemarker, commanding all U.S. and NATOmarker forces in Europe. He was born in Philadelphiamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker

Haig, a veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War, is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, and the Purple Heart.

Education

Haig attended Saint Joseph's Preparatory Schoolmarker in Philadelphia and graduated from Lower Merion High Schoolmarker in Ardmore, Pennsylvaniamarker. He was named "Most Likely to Become a Male Model" in his high school yearbook. He then went to the University of Notre Damemarker for one year, before transferring to the United States Military Academymarker, where he graduated in 1947. He studied business administration at Columbia Business School in 1954 and 1955. He also received a master's degree in international relations from Georgetown Universitymarker in 1961, where his thesis focused on the role of the military officer in the making of national policy.

Serves with MacArthur in Korea

As a young officer, Haig served on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur in Japanmarker. 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. Haig later saw combat in the Korean War (1950-51) with the X Corps, led by MacArthur's Chief of Staff, General Edward Almond. During the Korean War, Haig earned two Silver Stars for heroism and a Bronze Star with Valor device." Haig participated in seven Korean War campaigns, including the Battle of Inchonmarker, the Battle of Chosin Reservoirmarker, and the evacuation of Hŭngnammarker.

Pentagon assignments

Haig later served as a staff officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (DCSOPS) at the Pentagonmarker (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 1st Infantry Division in Vietnammarker.

Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam

On May 22, 1967, Lieutenant 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. 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 a three to one margin. 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:

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

1969–1972: Kissinger's military assistant, Army Vice Chief of Staff

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 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.) 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 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 tenure, when he served as White House Chief of Staff.

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, taking over the position from H.R. Haldeman, who resigned on April 30, 1973, while under pressure from Watergate prosecutors.

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. Haig also played an instrumental role in finally persuading Nixon to resign. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Nixon had been assured of a pardon by Ford if he would resign. In this regard, 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 Donald Rumsfeld replaced him in September 1974. By that time, Ford, in a highly controversial move, had pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed as president. Author Roger Morris, a former colleague of Haig's on the National Security Council, early in Nixon's first term, wrote in his book Haig: The General's Progress, that when Ford pardoned Nixon, he in effect pardoned Haig as well. Haig had been a persistent solicitor of clemency for Nixon.

1974–1979: NATO Supreme Commander, assassination attempt

Gen.
Haig as SACEUR, photo taken on June 1, 1977
Haig served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europemarker (SACEUR) and commander-in-chief of United States European Command (CinCUSEUR), the Commander of NATO forces in Europe, from 1974 to 1979. A creature of habit, Haig took the same route to SHAPE every day and this pattern of behavior did not go unnoticed by terrorist groups. On June 25, 1979, Haig was the victim of an assassination attempt in Monsmarker, Belgiummarker. A land mine blew up under the bridge on which Haig's car was traveling, narrowly missing Haig's car but wounding three of his bodyguards in a following car. 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.

Retires from Army, enters private sector

Alexander Haig, as a four-star general, retired from the Army in 1979, and moved on to civilian employment. In 1979, he became President, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Director of United Technologies, Inc., a job he retained until 1981.

1981-82: Secretary of State for President Reagan

In January 1981, Haig was tapped by President Ronald Reagan to be Secretary of State. Confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee focused on Haig's role during Watergate. Haig was confirmed by a Senate vote of 93-6.

"I am in control here"

In 1981, after the March 30 assassination attempt on Reaganmarker, Haig asserted before reporters "I am in control here" as a result of Reagan's hospitalization.

It was assumed by many who heard this that Secretary Haig had an antiquated familiarity with the order of succession to the presidency. Rather than being seen as an attempt to allay the nation's fear, the quotation became seen as a laughable attempt by Haig to exceed his authority.

Haig would have been incorrect if this were an 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. The holders of the two offices between the Vice President and the Secretary of State, the Speaker of the House (at the time, Tip O'Neill) and the President pro tempore of the Senate (at the time, J. Strom Thurmond), would be required under U.S. law ( ) to resign their positions in order for either of them to become acting President. This was an unlikely event considering that Vice-President Bush was merely not immediately available. Haig's statement reflected political reality, if not necessarily legal reality. Haig later said,

1982 Falklands War

In April 1982 Haig conducted shuttle diplomacy between the governments of Argentinamarker in Buenos Airesmarker and the United Kingdommarker in Londonmarker after Argentina invaded the Falkland Islandsmarker. Negotiations broke down and Haig returned to Washington on April 19. The Britishmarker fleet then entered the war zone.

1982 Lebanon War

Haig's report to Reagan on January 30, 1982, shows that Haig feared that the Israelis might, at the slightest provocation, start a war against Lebanon.

Haig critics have accused him of "greenlighting" the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. Haig denies this and says he urged restraint.

A military hawk, Haig caused some alarm with his suggestion that a "nuclear warning shot" in Europe might be effective in deterring the Soviet Unionmarker. His tenure as Secretary of State was often characterized by his clashes with the more moderate Defense Secretary, Caspar Weinberger.

1988 Republican presidential nomination

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 gave his support to the presidential campaign of Senator Robert Dole of Kansasmarker.

Military Awards

Qualification Badges

Decorations

Service Medals

Current

Haig was the host for several years of the television program World Business Review. He now hosts 21st Century Business, with 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 is a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) Board of Advisors. Haig was a founding Board Member of America Online. On January 5, 2006, Haig participated in a meeting at the White Housemarker 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 Housemarker 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. Haig published his memoirs, entitled Inner Circles: How America Changed The World, in 1992.

Family

Alexander Haig is the father of author Brian Haig. Haig's brother, Frank, is a Jesuit priest. He served as seventh president of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New Yorkmarker, and is now teaching physics at Loyola University in Maryland. Haig's older sister; Regina Haig Meredith is a practicing attorney licensed in Pennsylvania and is New Jersey co-founding Partner of the firm Meredith, Meredith, Chase and Taggart, located in Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey.He also has a grandson, Patrick.

In popular culture

Haig has been portrayed by the following actors in film and television productions:

Further reading

  • Dress Grey, by Lucian K. Truscott IV, 1978, ISBN 0385134754. Truscott, scion of a longtime military family (his grandfather Lucian Truscott Jr. was an important World War II general), was a cadet at West Pointmarker during Haig's late 1960s stint there; this book is a novel, in which a thinly-disguised Haig is portrayed as a central character in a murder and cover-up mystery at West Point. Truscott had earlier (1974) spoken out in The Village Voice, about problems at West Point.
  • Haig: The General's Progress, by Roger Morris , Playboy Press, 1982, ISBN 0872237532. Morris, a respected author, was a colleague of Haig's on the National Security Council, early in President Richard Nixon's first term. Morris presents important material on Haig's early life and Army career, as well as deeper and darker material than the official line, on the often seamy dealings of the Nixon White Housemarker, including Watergate.
  • The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, by Seymour Hersh, Summit Books, New Yorkmarker, 1983, ISBN 0671506889. The book focuses on U.S. foreign policy, directed mainly from the White House by Nixon and Henry Kissinger during Nixon's first term; since Haig eventually became Kissinger's deputy during that era, there is also plenty of material on Haig here, often at variance with the official, sanitized versions.
  • "Caveat: Realism, Reagan and Foreign Affairs", by Alexander Haig, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1984. The book is Haig's account of what happened while he was Secretary of State.


See also

References

  1. Haig: The General's Progress, by Roger Morris , Playboy Press, 1982, p. 320-325.
  2. Ronald Reagan edited by Douglas Brinkley (2007) The Reagan Diaries Harper Collins ISBN 978-0-06-0876005 p 66 Saturday, January 30
  3. Waller, Douglas C. Congress and the Nuclear Freeze: An Inside Look at the Politics of a Mass Movement, 1987. Page 19.
Alexander Haig, "Realism, Reagan, and Foreign Affairs"

External links




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