Alexander Haig

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Alexander Haig
Alexander Haig Official Portrait.jpg
59th United States Secretary of State
In office
January 22, 1981 July 5, 1982
President Ronald Reagan
Deputy William P. Clark Jr.
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
President Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Deputy John Mogg
Harry Tuzo
Gerd Schmückle
Preceded by Andrew Goodpaster
Succeeded by Bernard W. Rogers
5th White House Chief of Staff
In office
May 4, 1973 September 21, 1974
President Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded by H. R. Haldeman
Succeeded by Donald Rumsfeld
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
In office
January 4, 1973 May 4, 1973
President Richard Nixon
Preceded by Bruce Palmer Jr.
Succeeded by Frederick C. Weyand
Deputy National Security Advisor
In office
June 1970 January 4, 1973
President Richard Nixon
Preceded by Richard V. Allen
Succeeded by Brent Scowcroft
Personal details
Alexander Meigs Haig Jr.

(1924-12-02)December 2, 1924
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedFebruary 20, 2010(2010-02-20) (aged 85)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Political party Republican
Patricia Fox(m. 1950)
Children3 (including Brian)
Education University of Notre Dame
United States Military Academy (BS)
Columbia University (MBA)
Georgetown University (MA)
Signature Alexander Haig Signature 2.svg
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Army (official proportions).svg  United States Army
Years of service1947–1979
Rank US Army O10 shoulderboard rotated.svg General
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit (3)
Distinguished Flying Cross (3)
Bronze Star (3) with "V" device
Purple Heart
Air Medal (27)

Alexander MeigsHaig Jr. ( /hɡ/ ; December 2, 1924 February 20, 2010) was the United States Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and the White House chief of staff under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. [1] Prior to these cabinet-level positions, he retired as a general from the United States Army, having been Supreme Allied Commander Europe after serving as the vice chief of staff of the Army.

United States Secretary of State U.S. cabinet member and head of the U.S. State Department

The Secretary of State is a senior official of the federal government of the United States of America, and as head of the United States Department of State, is principally concerned with foreign policy and is considered to be the U.S. government's equivalent of a Minister for Foreign Affairs.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

President of the United States (POTUS) is the title for the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Ronald Reagan 40th president of the United States

Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975.


Born in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, Haig served in the Korean War after graduating from the United States Military Academy. In the Korean War, he served as an aide to General Alonzo Patrick Fox and General Edward Almond. After the war, he served as an aide to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. During the Vietnam War, Haig commanded a battalion and later a brigade of the 1st Infantry Division. For his service, Haig was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, and the Purple Heart. [2]

Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania Community in Pennsylvania, United States

Bala Cynwyd is a community in Lower Merion Township which is located on the Main Line in southeastern Pennsylvania, bordering the western edge of Philadelphia at US Route 1. It was originally two separate towns, Bala and Cynwyd, but is commonly treated as a single community. This came about when a single US Post Office served both towns using ZIP code 19004. The community was long known as hyphenated Bala-Cynwyd. Bala and Cynwyd are currently served by separate stations on SEPTA's Cynwyd Line of Regional Rail.

Korean War 1950–1953 war between North Korea and South Korea

The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border.

United States Military Academy U.S. Armys federal service academy in West Point, New York

The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on strategic high ground overlooking the Hudson River with a scenic view, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. It is one of the four U.S. military service academies, and one of the five U.S. service academies.

In 1969 Haig became an assistant to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. He became vice chief of staff of the Army, the second-highest-ranking position in the Army, in 1972. After the 1973 resignation of H. R. Haldeman, Haig became President Nixon's chief of staff. Serving in the wake of the Watergate scandal, he became especially influential in the final months of Nixon's tenure, and played a role in persuading Nixon to resign in August 1974. Haig continued to serve as chief of staff for the first month of President Ford's tenure. From 1974 to 1979, Haig served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, commanding all NATO forces in Europe. He retired from the Army in 1979 and pursued a career in business.

National Security Advisor (United States) White House advisory position

The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor (NSA) or at times informally termed the NSC Advisor, is a senior aide in the Executive Office of the President, based at the West Wing of the White House, who serves as the chief in-house advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues. The National Security Advisor is appointed by the President and does not require confirmation by the Senate, but an appointment of a three or four-star general to the role requires Senate reconfirmation of military rank.

Henry Kissinger 56th United States Secretary of State

Henry Alfred Kissinger is an American elder statesman, political scientist, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. A Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1938, he became National Security Advisor in 1969 and U.S. Secretary of State in 1973. For his actions negotiating a ceasefire in Vietnam, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize under controversial circumstances, with two members of the committee resigning in protest. Kissinger later sought, unsuccessfully, to return the prize after the ceasefire failed.

H. R. Haldeman White House Chief of Staff

Harry Robbins "Bob" Haldeman was an American political aide and businessman, best known for his service as White House Chief of Staff to President Richard Nixon and his consequent involvement in the Watergate Affair.

After Reagan won the 1980 presidential election, he nominated Haig to be his secretary of state. After the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, Haig asserted "I am in control here," allegedly suggesting (erroneously since 1947, when the Speaker of the House of Representatives was designated the second in the line of succession after the Vice President) that he served as acting president in Reagan's and Bush's absence, later iterating that he meant that he was functionally in control of the government. During the Falklands War, Haig sought to broker peace between the United Kingdom and Argentina. He resigned from Reagan's cabinet in July 1982. After leaving office, he unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination in the 1988 Republican primaries. He also served as the head of a consulting firm and hosted the television program World Business Review .

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by John Hinckley Jr. in Washington, D.C., as they were leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Hinckley's motivation for the attack was to impress actress Jodie Foster, who had played the role of a child prostitute in the 1976 film Taxi Driver. After seeing the film, Hinckley had developed an obsession with Foster.

An acting president is a person who temporarily fills the role of a country's president when the incumbent president is unavailable or when the post is vacant. The following articles detail the constitutional role of an acting president in various countries:

Falklands War War between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982

The Falklands War, also known as the Falklands Conflict, Falklands Crisis, Malvinas War, South Atlantic Conflict, and the Guerra del Atlántico Sur, was a ten-week war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over two British dependent territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands, and its territorial dependency, the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It began on Friday, 2 April 1982, when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands in an attempt to establish the sovereignty it had claimed over them. On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.

Early life and education

Haig was born in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, the middle of three children of Alexander Meigs Haig Sr., a Republican lawyer of Scottish descent, and his wife, Regina Anne (née Murphy). [3] When Haig was 9, his father, aged 41, died of cancer. His Irish American mother raised her children in the Catholic faith. [4] Haig initially attended Saint Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on scholarship; when it was withdrawn due to poor academic performance, he transferred to Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1942.

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, sometimes known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2017 census-estimated population of 1,580,863. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

Lower Merion High School

Lower Merion High School is a public high school in Ardmore, a community in Philadelphia's Main Line suburbs. It is one of two high schools in the Lower Merion School District; the other one is Harriton High School. Lower Merion serves both Lower Merion Township and the Borough of Narberth. In 2005 it was ranked among the top sixty public or private U.S. high schools by The Wall Street Journal. Its athletics teams are known as the "Aces," but the football team is called the "Bulldogs".

Ardmore, Pennsylvania Census-designated place in Pennsylvania, United States

Ardmore is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Delaware and Montgomery counties in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The population was 12,455 at the 2010 census. Ardmore is a suburb on the west side of Philadelphia, within Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County and Haverford Township in Delaware County. Originally named "Athensville" in 1853, the community and its railroad station were renamed "Ardmore" in 1873 by the Pennsylvania Railroad, on whose Main Line, west out of Philadelphia, Ardmore sits at Milepost 8.5.

Initially unable to secure his desired appointment to the United States Military Academy (with one teacher opining that "Al is definitely not West Point material"), Haig studied at the University of Notre Dame (where he reportedly earned a "string of A's" in an "intellectual awakening") [5] for two years before securing a congressional appointment to the Academy in 1944 at the behest of his uncle, who served as the Philadelphia municipal government's director of public works. [5]

University of Notre Dame Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana, United States

The University of Notre Dame du Lac is a private, non-profit Catholic research university in Notre Dame, Indiana. The main campus covers 1,261 acres (510 ha) in a suburban setting and it contains a number of recognizable landmarks, such as the Golden Dome, the Word of Life mural, the Notre Dame Stadium, and the Basilica. The school was founded on November 26, 1842, by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also its first president.

Enrolled in an accelerated wartime curriculum that deemphasized the humanities and social sciences, Haig graduated in the bottom third of his class [6] (ranked 214 of 310) in 1947. [7] Although a West Point superintendent characterized Haig as "the last man in his class anyone expected to become the first general," [8] other classmates acknowledged his "strong convictions and even stronger ambitions." [7] Haig later earned an M.B.A. from the Columbia Business School in 1955 and an M.A. in international relations from Georgetown University in 1961. His thesis for the latter degree examined the role of military officers in making national policy.

Early military career

Korean War

As a young officer, Haig served as an aide to Lieutenant General Alonzo Patrick Fox, a deputy chief of staff to General Douglas MacArthur. In 1950 Haig married Fox's daughter, Patricia. [6] 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. [9] Haig later served (1950–51) with the X Corps, as aide to MacArthur's chief of staff, General Edward Almond, [2] who awarded Haig two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star with Valor device. [10] Haig participated in four Korean War campaigns, including the Battle of Inchon, the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, and the evacuation of Hŭngnam, [9] as Almond's aide.

Pentagon assignments

Haig served as a staff officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations 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. [11] In 1966, Haig graduated from the United States Army War College.

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. [12] During the battle, Haig's troops (of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment) 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) [13]

Haig was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart during his tour in Vietnam [12] and was eventually promoted to colonel as commander of 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.

Return to West Point

Following his one-year Vietnam tour, Haig returned to the United States to become regimental commander of the Third Regiment of the Corps of Cadets at West Point under the newly appointed commandant, Brigadier General Bernard W. Rogers. (Both had previously 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 assistant to the president for national security affairs, Henry Kissinger. A year later, he replaced Richard V. Allen as deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs. During this period, he was promoted to brigadier general (September 1969) and major general (March 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 January 1973, when he became vice chief of staff of the Army. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in October 1972, thus skipping the rank of lieutenant general. By appointing him to this billet, Nixon "passed over 240 generals" who were senior to Haig. [14]

White House Chief of Staff (1973–74)

Nixon administration

Official portrait of Haig as White House chief of staff Alexander Haig photo portrait as White House Chief of Staff black and white.jpg
Official portrait of Haig as White House chief of staff
Haig (far right) is seen meeting with (left to right) Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon, and Representative Gerald Ford (R-MI) on October 13, 1973, regarding Ford's upcoming appointment as vice president Kissinger Nixon Ford Haig.jpg
Haig (far right) is seen meeting with (left to right) Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon, and Representative Gerald Ford (R-MI) on October 13, 1973, regarding Ford's upcoming appointment as vice president

After only four months as VCSA, Haig returned to the Nixon administration at the height of the Watergate affair as White House chief of staff in May 1973. Retaining his Army commission, he remained in the position until September 21, 1974, ultimately overseeing the transition to the presidency of Gerald Ford following Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974.

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. [15] During July and early August 1974, Haig 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. [16] Indeed, about one month after taking office, Ford did pardon Nixon, resulting in much controversy.

Ford administration

Following the transition, Haig was replaced by Donald Rumsfeld. Author and Haig biographer 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 in effect pardoned Haig as well. [17]

NATO Supreme Commander (1974–79)

Haig as SACEUR General Alexander M. Haig, Jr.jpg
Haig as SACEUR

From 1974 to 1979 Haig served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the commander of NATO forces in Europe, and commander in chief of United States European Command. 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. [18] 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. [18]

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 Foreign Policy Research Institute briefly and later served on that organization's board. [19] Later that year, he was named president and director of United Technologies Corporation under Chief Executive Officer Harry J. Gray, a job he retained until 1981.

Secretary of State (1981–82)

Haig was the second of three career military officers to become secretary of state (George C. Marshall and 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," [20] leading Ambassador Nicko Henderson to offer a prize for the best rendering of the Gettysburg address in Haigspeak. [21]

Initial challenges

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 Senator 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." [22] Haig was eventually confirmed after hearings he described as an "ordeal," during which he received no encouragement from Reagan or his staff. [23]

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. Despite this diplomatically awkward atrocity, the Carter administration soon approved $5.9 million in lethal military assistance to El Salvador's oppressive right-wing regime, [24] a figure the incoming Reagan administration expanded to $25 million less than six weeks later. [25] In justifying these arms shipments, the administration claimed that the regime had taken "positive steps" to investigate the murder of four American nuns, but this was disputed by US Ambassador, Robert E. White, who said that he could find no evidence the junta was "conducting a serious investigation." [72] White was dismissed from the foreign service by the Reagan Administration after he had refused to participate in a coverup of the Salvadoran military's responsibility for the murders at the behest of Secretary of State Alexander Haig. [26]

Throughout the 1980 U.S. presidential campaign, Reagan and his foreign policy advisers faulted the Carter administration's perceived over-emphasis on the human rights abuses committed by "authoritarian" regimes allied to the U.S., labeling it a "double standard" when compared with Carter's treatment of communist-bloc regimes. Haig, who described himself as the "vicar" of U.S. foreign policy, [27] 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:

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 [28]

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. [29] 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.

Reagan assassination attempt: 'I am in control here'

Haig speaks to the press after the attempted assassination on President Ronald Reagan Al Haig speaks to press 1981.jpg
Haig speaks to the press after the attempted assassination on President Ronald Reagan

In 1981, following the March 30 assassination attempt on Reagan, Haig asserted before reporters, "I am in control here" [30] 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.

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 [31]

The U.S. Constitution, including both the presidential line of succession and the 25th Amendment, dictates what happens when a president is incapacitated. The Speaker of the House (at the time, Tip O'Neill, Democrat) and the president pro tempore of the Senate (at the time, Strom Thurmond, Republican), precede the secretary of state in the line of succession. Haig later clarified,

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

Falklands War

Haig as Secretary of State with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982 Haig and Thatcher DF-SC-83-06152.jpg
Haig as Secretary of State with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982

In April 1982 Haig conducted shuttle diplomacy between the governments of Argentina in Buenos Aires and the United Kingdom in London after Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Negotiations broke down and Haig returned to Washington on April 19. The British fleet then entered the war zone. In December 2012 documents released under the UK "30 Year Rule" disclosed that Haig planned to reveal British classified military information to Argentina in advance of the recapture of South Georgia. The information, which contained British plans for the retaking of the island, was intended to show the military junta in Buenos Aires that the United States was a neutral player and could be trusted to act impartially during negotiations to end the conflict. [32]

1982 Lebanon War

Haig's report to Reagan on January 30, 1982, shows that Haig feared that the Israelis might start a war against Lebanon. [33] Critics accused Haig of "greenlighting" the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. Haig denied this and said he urged restraint. [34]


Haig caused some alarm with his suggestion that a "nuclear warning shot" in Europe might be effective in deterring the Soviet Union. [35] His tenure as secretary of state was often characterized by his clashes with the defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger. Haig, who repeatedly had difficulty with various members of the Reagan administration during his year-and-a-half in office, decided to resign his post on June 25, 1982. [36] President Reagan accepted his resignation on July 5. [37] Haig was succeeded by George P. Shultz, who was confirmed on July 16. [38]

1988 Republican presidential primaries

Haig ran unsuccessfully for the 1988 Republican Party presidential nomination. Although he enjoyed relatively high name recognition, Haig never broke out of single digits in national public opinion polls. He was a fierce critic of then–vice president George H.W. Bush, often doubting Bush's leadership abilities, questioning his role in the Iran Contra Scandal, and using the word "wimp" in relation to Bush in an October 1987 debate in Texas. [39] 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 percent 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. [40] [41] 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 10 percentage points. With his momentum regained, Bush easily won the nomination.

In the 1982 Police Squad! episode "Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don't Laugh)," Detectives Drebin and Hocken are looking at a small photograph of Alexander Haig on a slab in a morgue where Drebin states: "This is disgusting!" and Hocken states: "Yeah, I can't take looking at that sort of thing."

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 the 1982 episode "The Moral Dimension" of Yes Minister , a plan is concocted to sneak alcohol into a strict Muslim country, necessitating the use of coded terminology. At one point, Bernard Woolley approaches Jim Hacker with a phone call from "Mr Haig," to which Jim queries "General Haig?," at which Bernard replies, "No, Mr. Haig. You know, with the dimples."

In Part 2 of The Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?," a mug shot of a battered and bruised 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 David Ogden Stiers in the 1989 TV film The Final Days , 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 , by Bill Smitrovich in the 2003 TV movie The Reagans , by Colin Stinton in the 2002 The Falklands Play , by Matthew Marsh in the 2011 film The Iron Lady , and by Patrick St. Esprit in the 2016 television film Killing Reagan .

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. [42] 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. [43] He also served as a founding corporate director at AOL. [44]

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. [45] Haig served as a founding member of the advisory board of Newsmax Media, which publishes the conservative web site, [46] 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 advisers, Haig was also a founding board member of America Online. [47]

On January 5, 2006, Haig participated in a meeting at the White House of former secretaries of defense and state to discuss U.S. foreign policy with Bush administration officials. [48] On May 12, 2006, Haig participated in a second White House meeting with 10 former secretaries of state and defense. The meeting included briefings by Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice and was followed by a discussion with President George W. Bush. [49] Haig's memoirs—Inner Circles: How America Changed The World—were published in 1992.

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. [50] 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, Frank Haig, said the Army was coordinating a mass at Fort Myer in Washington and an interment at Arlington National Cemetery, but both had to be delayed by about two weeks owing to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. [15] 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 Henry Kissinger and Sherwood D. Goldberg. [51]

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." [52] 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." [53]


Alexander Haig was married to Patricia (née Fox), with whom he had three children: Alexander Patrick Haig, Barbara Haig, and Brian Haig. [54] Haig's younger brother, Frank Haig, is a Jesuit priest and professor emeritus of physics at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland. [55] Alexander Haig's sister, 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.

Awards and decorations

Haig's awards and decorations include:

Combat Infantry Badge.svg
Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Defense Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg
U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg
Navy Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Air Force Distinguished Service ribbon.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Silver Star ribbon.svg
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze Star ribbon.svg "V" device, brass.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Air Medal ribbon.svg Award numeral 2.png Award numeral 7.png Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg Army of Occupation ribbon.svg
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
Korean Service Medal - Ribbon.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Vietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
VPD National Order of Vietnam - Commander BAR.svg VPD National Order of Vietnam - Knight BAR.svg Vietnam Gallantry Cross, with palm.svg
PRT Order of Christ - Grand Cross BAR.png Officer Ordre de Leopold.png GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 7 Grosskreuz 218px.svg
United Nations Korea Medal ribbon.svg Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg Republic of Korea War Service Medal ribbon.svg
Combat Infantryman Badge
Distinguished Service Cross Defense Distinguished Service Medal
w/ 1 bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal Air Force Distinguished Service Medal Silver Star
w/ 1 bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit
w/ 2 bronze oak leaf clusters
Distinguished Flying Cross
w/ 2 bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze Star
w/ Valor device and 2 bronze oak leaf clusters
Purple Heart Air Medal
w/ bronze award numerals 27
Army Commendation Medal
American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
w/ 1 bronze service star
Korean Service Medal
w/ 4 bronze campaign stars
Vietnam Service Medal
w/ 2 bronze campaign stars
National Order of Vietnam
National Order of Vietnam
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry
w/ Palm
Grand-Cross of the Portuguese Order of Christ [56] Order of Leopold (Officer) Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Grand Cross 1st Class)
United Nations Korea Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal Republic of Korea War Service Medal
Valorous Unit Award ribbon.svg
Korean Presidential Unit Citation.png Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Civil Action Unit Citation.png
Valorous Unit Award
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation
Coat of arms SHAPE.png

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Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard V. Allen
Deputy National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Brent Scowcroft
Preceded by
H. R. Haldeman
White House Chief of Staff
Succeeded by
Donald Rumsfeld
Preceded by
Edmund Muskie
United States Secretary of State
Succeeded by
George P. Shultz
Military offices
Preceded by
Bruce Palmer Jr.
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
Succeeded by
Frederick C. Weyand
Preceded by
Andrew Goodpaster
Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Succeeded by
Bernard W. Rogers