Alexander Meigs Haig, the son of a lawyer, was born in Bala Cynwyd, a suburb of Philadelphia, on 2nd December, 1924. His father died when he was ten but a prosperous uncle helped to support the family.
Haig was sent to a private school but he struggled academically and was transferred to a local high school. He wanted a military career but his teachers felt he was " definitely not West Point material". Haig's initial application to West Point failed but as a result of the huge loss of officers during the Second World War, entry qualifications were lowered and in 1944 he was admitted to the US military academy.
Haig graduated three years later as 214th in the class of 310. First Lieutenant Haig was sent to Japan and became aide-de-camp to General Alonzo Fox, deputy chief of staff to General Douglas MacArthur, the supreme Allied commander. Haig later married Fox's daughter. According to Harold Jackson: The experience of MacArthur's megalomania left an indelible impression on Haig." Haig admitted later: "I was always interested in politics and started early in Japan, with a rather sophisticated view of how the military ran it."
Haig's next assignment was to accompany his father-in-law to Taiwan, on a liaison mission to Chiang Kai-shek. Haig served as aide-de-camp to General Edward Almond in Korea. During the battle for Seoul, Haig was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery during a crossing of the Han River. Almond later awarded him two further Silver Stars for flying over enemy positions. In 1951 he was promoted to the rank of captain.
In 1953 Haig was appointed to the staff at West Point Military Academy and executive officer at Annapolis. This was followed by a period in the U.S. Naval War College. He was then assigned to a tank battalion with the American forces in Europe. Given the rank of major he was redeployed to the European Command headquarters in Germany.
In 1959 Haig began a master's degree program in international relations at Georgetown University. The topic of his thesis in 1962 was the role of the military officer in the shaping of national security policy. After completing his degree Haig went to the International and Policy Planning Division of the Pentagon. This brought him into contact with Strom Thurmond and Fred Buzhardt.
Haig was considered a hawk during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He later claimed that it disillusioned him with the way the doctrine of flexible response was applied. He complained that John F. Kennedy "never applied one iota of force" and added "I was against this. It provided an incentive to the other side to up the ante." Soon afterwards he appointed as military assistant to Joe Califano, a lawyer in the army secretary's office. In 1963 Califano arranged for Haig to assimilate into the army some of the Cuban exile veterans of the Bay of Pigs operation.
The army secretary was Cyrus Vance and when he was promoted to become deputy to the defence secretary, Robert McNamara, Califano and Haig went with him. In 1965 went to the Army War College. The following year was made operations planning officer for the First Infantry Division, stationed near Saigon. During the Vietnam War he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and won the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism. In 1968 he returned to the United States where he was promoted to full colonel, and went to West Point Military Academy as deputy commander.
In 1968 Haig was appointed to work under Henry Kissinger in the new Richard Nixon administration. Three years later he became Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs. Kissinger noted in his memoirs: "Haig soon became indispensable ... By the end of the year I had made him formally my deputy. Over the course of Nixon's first term he acted as my partner, strong in crises, decisive in judgment, skilful in bureaucratic infighting."
Haig played a leading role in the overthrow the regime of Salvador Allende in Chile. Haig also helped Richard Nixon in selecting the 17 officials and journalists whose telephones were tapped by the FBI. According to Harold Jackson he was also involved in the plot to deal with Daniel Ellsberg: "He was also closely involved in the aftermath of the massive leak in 1971 of the secret history of the Vietnam war, the Pentagon Papers, when the White House moved illegally against the man responsible, Daniel Ellsberg. This loyalty was rewarded by promotion to major-general in 1972 and, six months later, by appointment as vice-chief of staff of the army, raising him to full general and allowing him to leapfrog 240 more senior officers."
After H. R. Haldeman was forced to resign over the Watergate Scandal, Haig became Nixon's Chief of Staff. In the first week of November, 1973, Deep Throat told Bob Woodward that their were "gaps" in Nixon's tapes. He hinted that these gaps were the result of deliberate erasures. On 8th November, Woodward published an article in the Washington Post that said that according to their source the "conservation on some of the tapes appears to have been erased". According to Fred Emery, the author of Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon, only Haig, Richard Nixon, Rose Mary Woods, and Stephen Bull knew about this erased tape before it was made public on 20th November.
Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, the authors of Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, claimed that Haig was Deep Throat. Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) and John Dean (Lost Honor) agreed with this analysis. However, Haig was not in Washington during Woodward's meeting with Deep Throat on 9th October, 1972. The other problem with Haig concerns motivation. Was it really in his interests to bring down Richard Nixon? According to Leon Jaworski Haig did everything he could, including lying about what was on the tapes, in order to protect Nixon from impeachment.
1974 President Gerald Ford appointed Haig as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. He held the post until 1979. After leaving this post he became President and Chief Operating Officer of United Technologies Corporation. In January, 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed him Secretary of State. Haig attempted to develop a strong interventionalist policy. The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O'Neill, said: "Haig hadn't been secretary of state more than three weeks when he told me over breakfast that we ought to be cleaning out Nicaragua." When John Hinckley shot Reagan in an assassination attempt Haig asserted: "I'm in control here". It has been claimed that this error of judgement brought an end to his political career. Haig resigned on 5th July, 1982.
Haig ran for the Republican Party nomination for President in 1988, but he withdrew after obtaining 3% in the opinion polls. As a result he concentrated on a business career. He has been Chairman of Worldwide Associates, a senior advisor to United Technologies Corporation, and served on the Board of Directors of America Online, Interneuron Pharmaceuticals, MGM Grand and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Alexander Haig died on 20th February 2010.
Under Haig, Larry Higby recalls, the day-to-day operation of the White House changed dramatically from what it had been under Higby's former boss, Haldeman. Higby told us that "The changes were fundamentally that Al controlled everything-everybody and everything." Whereas Haldeman had acted as a "general manager and coordinator as well as a personal adviser," Higby contends that Haldeman never blocked people from seeing the president, particularly Kissinger or Ehrlichman, and actually interceded to urge the president to see these men. "Bob [Haldeman] would often just glance at the stuff Henry was putting in or John was putting in or anybody else. Whereas Al tightly controlled each and every thing. I mean Al got much heavier involved in policy... Al was trying to manage the whole thing personally."
Haig's heavy hand meshed with the increasingly difficult times to heighten Nixon's isolation. Often the president would sit alone in his office, with a fire roaring and the air-conditioner running, a yellow tablet and pencil in hand, unwilling to see anyone. Stephen B. Bull, who served as a scheduler and later as a special assistant to Nixon during his entire presidency and also after his resignation, says that "The irony of Richard Nixon is that he had little trust in a lot of people, and he put too much trust in too few people.... When the world started closing in... it was quite convenient for [Nixon] to deal with Haig on a lot of matters and a lot of areas in which Haig really wasn't qualified." Bull remains angry at Haig, not because they were rivals, but because he viewed Haig as looking out for himself over Nixon.
The second Woodward and Bernstein book, The Final Days, paints a picture of a Haig who did not want to be everything to the president, and did not want to get Nixon into trouble. Bull saw precisely the opposite behavior on Haig's part during Bull's tenure as the day-to-day administrator of the president's office from February 197 3 through the August 1974 Nixon resignation. He watched with dismay as Haig "allowed the president to be isolated and indeed perhaps encouraged it." White House logs of the president's last fifteen months in office show Haig and Ziegler as the aides most often let into the inner sanctum with the president. To Bull, in those fifteen months, Haig seemed "duplicitous ... motivated by self-aggrandizement, rather than ideology or principle."
When Haig learned at a staff meeting of a decision that had been made without consulting him, Bull recalls that Haig "began pounding the table with his fist... and said two or three times, `I am the chief of staff. I make all the decisions in the White House.' We thought he was crazy." Such outbursts would characterize Haig's responses even to decisions made on nonpolicy matters such as the president's daily schedule. According to Bull, Haig at one point said, "If you think that this president can run the country without Al Haig... you are mistaken."
I was back in Washington at the request of J. Fred Buzhardt, the Special Counsel to the President appointed by Nixon after John Dean sold out and jumped ship in May 1973. At the time of his appointment, Buzhardt, a West Point classmate of Alexander Haig, Jr. (they graduated a year apart), was general counsel to the Department of Defense. I met with Buzhardt in John Dean's old office. Buzhardt said he wanted to know my real feelings about Nixon and where I was going to stand when the impeachment hearings began. He said he couldn't find anything in any White House files that was stamped with my initials or any memos I prepared, or any hint that I had incriminating evidence against the President in my pocket. Since I never signed or initialed anything, there was nothing there to find. But lurking in the background was an apparent feeling on the part of General Alexander Haig, who took over as White House Chief of Staff after Haldeman was booted out, that I knew something about Nixon supposedly getting part of a storehouse of cash that was left in Vietnam after the United States scrambled out of there. Although appointed by President Nixon himself, Haig, I began to think, was actually turning against the President in the final days before Nixon resigned.
In June 1974, Haig ordered the US. Army's Criminal Investigation: Command (CIC) to conduct a high-priority, classified investigation to determine whether Nixon had stuffed his pockets with cash contributions from leaders of Southeast Asia and the Far East. Haig even went so far as to ask for confirmation as to whether Nixon had connections with organized crime and had received payoffs from the Mafia. The State Department was contacted to see if I had a passport and, if so, whether I had used it to head for Vietnam. I didn't go, but if I had I certainly wouldn't have left a trace of how I got there and back. The Army CIC spent over a month trying to verify my nonexistent trip to Southeast Asia to pick up booty for the President. The investigation went nowhere, of course, but the timing of Haig's efforts to undercut the President meant that Haig - and perhaps others - wanted the President discredited long before this.
According to Time magazine, only a handful people in the White House were privy at this early date to the existence of the tape gaps. They were Richard Nixon, Rose Mary Woods, Alexander Haig, Charles Colson, Stephen Bull (Alexander Butterfield's assistant) and three of the President's attorneys: Fred Buzhardt, Leonard Garment and Samuel Powers.
If Time is correct, and if Woodward and Bernstein have told the truth, then four of these eight must have been Bernstein's sources. Declaring Nixon and Woods "nonstarters," Time eliminated attorney Samuel Powers from consideration, saying that his tenure at the White House was too brief. Stephen Bull was then ruled out because he did not match Woodward's description of Throat. There, however, the magazine balked, unwilling to go any further. But of the four candidates with whom its readers were left, three could be eliminated at once. Colson, for example. The idea that Colson might be Deep Throat is as comical as it is surreal. Not only had he planned to "shove it to the Post, " but he would hardly have told Woodward-as Throat did-that he, Charles Colson, was the official to whom Howard Hunt was reporting about his undercover operations. Colson, in any case, can be eliminated as a candidate for Throat on the grounds that his government career ended in the midst of the Watergate affair, whereas Woodward tells us that Throat continued in federal service for years afterward. This same reason rules out Leonard Garment, and as for Fred Buzhardt, he cannot have been Deep Throat because, according to Woodward, "If [Throat] were to die, I would feel obliged to reveal his identity." Since Buzhardt is dead and we still do not know who Throat is, we must conclude that he is someone else.
Which is to say Haig, since only he is left among Time's eight candidates. But who is to say that the magazine was correct when it asserted that only eight people knew of the tape gaps during the first week in November i973? The White House was full of tremulous whispers in the fall of that year, and no one can say for certain just who knew what or when they learned it.
Esquire had it wrong; Atlantic Monthly had it right.
Leonard Garment's book missed the mark; Ronald Kessler's was on the money.
William Gaines' college journalism class flunked the test; Chase Culeman-Beckman's high-school history paper, although he didn't get an "A" when he turned it in six years ago, should have put him at the head of the class.
A 30-year national guessing game is over: W. Mark Felt, former associate director of the FBI, has revealed to Vanity Fair magazine that he was Deep Throat, the anonymous source who leaked information to The Washington Post about President Nixon's Watergate cover-up.
The Post confirmed on its Web site yesterday that Felt indeed was Deep Throat.
Thus ends one of the nation's longest-running modern-day mysteries.
Felt, it turns out, is the final answer — and not too many had it right. One can rightfully expect in weeks ahead some apologies from those who guessed wrong, and a few "I-told-you-so's" from those who nailed it, including Culeman-Beckman.
Born well after Watergate, Culeman-Beckman was only 8 years old when, he says, Jacob Bernstein, a son of Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, revealed Deep Throat's identity to him during playtime at summer day camp in 1988.
Except for telling his mom, Culeman-Beckman would keep the secret for nearly 10 years — until spilling the beans in a high-school research paper.
In a 1999 Hartford Courant article about Culeman-Beckman's disclosure (which was printed in The Seattle Times), Felt denied he was Deep Throat. Bernstein said neither he nor reporting partner Bob Woodward had ever told their wives, children or anyone else Deep Throat's identity.
In fact, the two men had agreed not to divulge his identity until after his death. They took pains to exclude any documents identifying him when they sold their Watergate papers two years ago to the University of Texas. And neither, initially, would confirm yesterday that Felt was Deep Throat. By late afternoon, though, Woodward, Bernstein and former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee said in an article posted on the paper's Web site that Felt was the anonymous source.
Since Woodward and Bernstein's best-selling book, "All the President's Men," disclosed the existence of Deep Throat, speculation has been rampant, and entire books have been written about his identity.
Some, including the authors of "Silent Coup: The Removal of a President," suspected Alexander Haig, chief of staff under Nixon. Some suspected Nixon adviser David Gergen, whom Esquire magazine in 1976 picked as the No. 1 candidate for Deep Throat.
"Watergate: the Secret Story," a documentary by CBS News and The Washington Post, concluded it was acting FBI director L. Patrick Gray.
Leonard Garment, Nixon's special counsel and author of "In Search of Deep Throat: The Greatest Political Mystery of Our Time," opted for fellow presidential lawyer John Sears.
Fred Fielding, deputy White House counsel to John Dean, was the choice of both Watergate conspirator H.R. Haldeman in his book, "The Ends of Power," and William Gaines' journalism classes at the University of Illinois, which spent four years investigating Deep Throat's identity.
A relative handful of guessers had it right.
Felt was seen as the most likely suspect in "The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI," a book by Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter; in "Deep Throat: An Institutional Analysis," a 1992 Atlantic Monthly article by James Mann, a former colleague of Woodward's at the Post; and in articles in Washingtonian magazine by its editor, Jack Limpert.
Felt was suspected by the White House, according to the Nixon tapes:
Nixon: "Well, if they've got a leak down at the FBI, why the hell can't Gray tell us what the hell is left? You know what I mean? ... "
Haldeman: "We know what's left, and we know who leaked it."
Nixon: "Somebody in the FBI?"
Haldeman: "Yes, sir. Mark Felt. ... If we move on him, he'll go out and unload everything. He knows everything that's to be known in the FBI. He has access to absolutely everything. "
Nixon: "What would you do with Felt? You know what I'd do with him, the bastard? Well that's all I want to hear about it."
Haldeman: "I think he wants to be in the top spot."
Nixon: "That's a hell of a way for him to get to the top."
Felt, in his own memoir, "The FBI Pyramid: Inside the FBI," denied being Deep Throat and said he met with Woodward only once.
The name meant nothing to Culeman-Beckman when he heard it in 1988. Now a graduate student at Cornell University, he could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"I'm 100 percent sure that Deep Throat was Mark Felt," he quoted Bernstein's son as saying. "He's someone in the FBI." He told The Hartford Courant that the boy attributed the information to his father.
After the article, Bernstein, Jacob and his mother, writer and movie director Nora Ephron, all denied that Bernstein had told anyone the identity of "Deep Throat."
To Culeman-Beckman, turnabout was fair play.
"They've been cute about it long enough," Culeman-Beckman said then. "I just think if it's fair of them to dethrone a president, for all intents and purposes, and not tell anyone their source, I don't see why it's not fair for a person like myself to come forward. Let the cards fall where they may. There's a chance this could be the answer to one of the greatest political mysteries of our time."
Curiously enough, it was.
If Woodward wanted a meeting, says the book, he would signal Deep Throat by moving a flowerpot on his apartment balcony, and if Deep Throat wanted a meeting he would scribble a message inside the morning newspaper at Woodward's front door.
Bernstein had developed material about the dirty tricks activities of Donald Segretti that Woodward wanted to confirm. Barely stopping for drags on his cigarette, Deep Throat told Woodward in the garage more of what he had alluded to in September, the extent of the Nixon campaign's intelligence-gathering activities. Throat said that "fifty people worked for the White House and CRP to play games and spy and sabotage and gather intelligence," that the November Group which had handled campaign advertising was involved in the dirty tricks, and that the targets included Republican contributors as well as Democratic candidates. He also said that Mitchell was behind the Watergate break in and other illegal activities, and that for ten days after the break-in, Howard Hunt had been assigned to help Mitchell conduct an investigation of Watergate.
This information was wildly inaccurate in many particulars, for instance, the number of people in campaign intelligence, and Hunt's role in the cover-up. But Deep Throat's disclosures reflected White House thinking in the fall of 1972, insofar as it related to Mitchell's role in the break-in.
If Deep Throat was Haig, why would he release a flood of information-some of it clearly inaccurate-at this time? In the fall of 1972, Nixon was riding high as a result of major success in his foreign policy and arms control initiatives, including the antiballistic missile and SALT treaties with the Soviet Union and the China opening. These initiatives had been opposed by the military as giving too much away to the Russians and the Chinese. At the time of the October 10 Post article, Haig was scheduled to leave the White House to assume the position of vice chief of staff of the Army and Nixon was on his way to an unprecedented landslide reelection victory that would give him even more power in the foreign policy arena. Revelations of the dirty practices of the Nixon campaign as reported in the Post would have the effect of weakening Nixon's post election influence, a desirable outcome to someone seeking a greater role for the military and a dampening of Nixon's secret diplomacy. Whether or not Deep Throat knew that some of the information given to Woodward was inaccurate, the inaccuracies did serve to cover the trail that could identify him as Woodward's source. Most important to Deep Throat, however, was that his purpose had been served-tarring Nixon before the election.
Woodward had a great need for Deep Throat's information. Deep Throat's revelations were Woodward's way to vault to the forefront of investigative reporters by having a confidential source who divulged information to him and to him alone. For Woodward, Deep Throat was key to the realization of journalistic ambitions. If Deep Throat was Haig, he and Woodward were engaged in a high-stakes game in which confidentiality was essential-to Haig especially, for if Nixon knew that his trusted general was leaking damaging stories to a man who had briefed Haig in the basement of the White House in 1969-1970, even that fourth star would not be enough to protect the general from the president's well-known wrath....
Around 11:00 p.m. on May 16, according to All the President's Men, Woodward had another meeting with Deep Throat, an ultra dramatic one in the underground garage. When Woodward arrived, his source "was pacing around nervously. His lower jaw seemed to quiver. Deep Throat began talking, almost in a monologue. He had only a few minutes, he raced through a series of statements. Woodward listened obediently. It was clear a transformation had come over his friend." Deep Throat would answer no questions about his statements or anything else, but did add that Woodward should "be cautious."
In this rendering, Woodward called Bernstein, who arrived at Woodward's apartment to find his reportorial twin refusing to talk and masking the silence with classical music while he tapped out on his typewriter a warning that electronic surveillance was going on and that they had "better watch it." Who was doing the monitoring? "Woodward mouthed C-I-A." Both men then feared for their lives, and went around for some days looking for spooks behind every tree.
Later in the book, Woodward and Bernstein describe the doings of that night as "rather foolish and melodramatic." Actually, the dramatic elements of the scene draw the reader away from the material that Deep Throat presented to Woodward that night, which concerned the precise matters that Nixon had been discussing with Haig and Buzhard those incoming missiles, and Dean's allegations of a cover-up. Some of the leads that Deep Throat gave to Woodward that night were outlandishly wrong, such as the claim that some of the people involved in Watergate had been in it to make money, that Dean had regular talks with Senator Baker, and that the covert national and international schemes had been supervised by Mitchell. The matters about which Deep Throat spoke that were later proved correct-discussions of executive clemency, Hunt's demands for money, Dean's activities with both the White House and the CRP officials, Dean's talk with Liddy were the ones Nixon had earlier that evening discussed with Buzhardt and Haig.
"The irony of Richard Nixon is that he had little trust in a lot of people, and he put too much trust in too few people... When the world started closing in ... it was quite convenient for (Nixon) to deal "with Haig on a lot of matters and a lot of areas in which Haig really wasn't qualified." Stephen Bull remains angry at Haig, not because they were rivals, but because he viewed Haig as looking out for himself over Nixon.
The second Woodward and Bernstein book, The Final Days, paints a picture of a Haig who did not want to be everything to the president, and did not want to get Nixon into trouble. Bull saw precisely the opposite behavior on Haig's part during Bull's tenure as the day-to-day administrator of the president's office from February 1973 through the August 1974 Nixon resignation. I make all the decisions in the White House.' We thought he was crazy." Such outbursts would characterize Haig's responses even to decisions made on non policy matters such as the president's daily schedule. you are mistaken."
Haig's arrogance masked his insecurity. On one working trip to San Clemente, he complained to Bull about the quarters he had been given, and snapped that Haldeman would not have been so badly treated. Colonel Jack Brennan, another military aide to Nixon who had also been a colleague and a friend of Haig's at the NSC, said, "there wasn't really the respect for him" among the White House staffers that there had been for Haldeman. "Haig did not have the capability or the confidence to run the White House the way Haldeman did, yet he tried to," Brennan says.
Moreover, Haig kept deprecating Nixon to the staff. Brennan recalls that Haig would say to the staff, "`We're in trouble, we're really in trouble,' and would cast some disparaging remarks about the president. It was like he was saying, "I'm the hero around here. And this guy (Nixon) doesn't know what he's doing.' It was that kind of attitude."
Haig's role in the highly successful Inchon landings remained obscure, but the ensuing campaign led to the first of many controversial episodes in his military advance. During the battle for Seoul, Haig was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery during a crossing of the Han River. The official citation referred to his outstanding heroism. However, the later official history of the crossing said there had been "no enemy resistance" and that the North Korean positions were "lightly manned". Almond had recommended the decoration for his assistant and later awarded him two further Silver Stars for flying over enemy positions.
Haig left Korea as a captain in 1951, suffering from hepatitis. In 1953 he was appointed to the staff of West Point as a disciplinary officer, remembered for his obsession with spit and polish, and was then assigned to a tank battalion with the American forces in Europe. He gained a routine promotion to major and, redeployed to the European Command headquarters in Germany, had his first experience of diplomacy.
Congress had been grumbling about the cost of maintaining the US presence in Germany, and Haig took part in the 18-month negotiations to persuade the West Germans to shoulder more of the burden. This brought him another medal for "remarkable foresight, ingenuity, and mature judgment"...
The key moment in Haig's career came in 1963 when he was picked to act as military assistant to Joe Califano, a lawyer in the army secretary's office. The army secretary was Cyrus Vance, and this period established personal and political connections from which Haig benefited for the rest of his public life. He seemed to sense that it was time to make his mark. When Vance was promoted to become deputy to the defence secretary, Robert McNamara, Califano and Haig floated up with him. Though Haig still held a relatively low-level job, he acquired considerable access both to information and to Washington's movers and shakers.
But the growing US involvement in the Vietnam war made it essential that any ambitious officer become directly involved in the fighting. In 1966 Haig was made operations planning officer for the First Infantry Division, stationed near Saigon and, in a war that saw 1,273,987 medals awarded to American troops, gained a Distinguished Flying Cross within a month of his arrival. Lightly wounded in the eye when a prisoner blew himself up, Haig was involved in a number of battles in which he gained two more DFCs and 17 Air Medals. Once again, there was a conflict between some of the citations and later official accounts of the incidents.
American Secretary of State Alexander (Al) Haig, was in charge of the negotiations known as the ‘peace shuttle’ which took place in a bid to prevent the 1982 Falklands War. He was applauded for his efforts, but they proved futile.
Just before the 1982 Falklands War began, American Secretary of State Alexander (Al) Haig was charged with leading the ‘peace shuttle’ negotiations. He travelled across the globe – hence the ‘shuttle’ term his negotiations were given, in a bid to gain peace, attempting to support Margaret Thatcher’s Britain as well as keeping an American influence in South America. As Thatcher was a close friend of American President Ronald Reagan, Haig was concerned that the South Americans may view him as supporting Britain’s ‘deemed imperialistic intentions,’ and was eager not to undermine the American position.
Born in Philadelphia in 1924, Haig was schooled at West Point Military Academy and Georgetown University before entering the US Army in 1947. He was promoted quickly within the Army, being made brigadier-general in 1969 and then major general in 1972. He commanded a brigade in the Vietnam War between 1966 and 1967 and was appointed West Point’s deputy commandant and military advisor to President Richard Nixon between 1969 and 1973. Haig was also commander-in-chief of American forces in Europe between 1974 and 1979, as well as becoming NATO’s Supreme Commander.
He turned to politics and excelled in this area too. In early 1981, he was appointed as Secretary of State by President Ronald Reagan and became deeply involved in the negotiations to try and stave off the Falklands War. However, he was not successful in this bid, though his work was applauded. Haig handed his resignation into the Government in June of 1982, following the realisation that his American foreign affairs beliefs were at odds with those of President Reagan.
Haig was born in Newark, New Jersey and raised in nearby Nutley.  In 1940 he majored in piano at Oberlin College.  He started playing with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in 1945,  and performed and recorded under Gillespie from 1945 to 1946, as a member of Eddie Davis and His Beboppers in 1946 (also featuring Fats Navarro), and the Eddie Davis Quintet in 1947, under Parker from 1948 to 1950, and under Stan Getz from 1949 to 1951. The Gillespie quintet, which included Haig, recorded four 78 r.p.m. sides for Guild Records in May 1945 which are regarded as the first recordings to demonstrate all elements of the mature bebop style.  He was part of the celebrated nonet on the first session of Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool.
For much of the 1950s and 1960s, "Haig was all but a forgotten giant", in Brian Case's words "Jazz pianism, ever more percussive in a crass simplification of [Bud] Powell's methods, had no room for the crystalline touch and swift, logical turnover of ideas. Haig got by with semi-cocktail piano in New York bars."  Although Haig is best remembered for playing bebop, he spent much of his career playing in non-jazz contexts. His work was the subject of a revival in the 1970s.
In 1969 Haig was acquitted of a murder charge. He had been accused of strangling his third wife, Bonnie, at their home in Clifton, New Jersey, on October 9, 1968. He had said in evidence that his wife had been drunk, and had died in a fall down a flight of stairs.  Grange Rutan, Haig's second wife, challenged Haig's account in her 2007 book, Death of a Bebop Wife.  Rutan's book is partly autobiographical, partly based on interviews with friends and family members. She describes Bonnie's story in detail, describing an underside to Haig that included a history of serial domestic abuse. Rutan notes that several family members sounded alarm bells regarding Haig's violent personality that went unheeded. She quotes bassist Hal Gaylor, who was talking with Haig before a performance at the Edison Hotel lounge in the early seventies, when Haig admitted to him he had caused Bonnie's death.
In 1974, Haig was invited to tour Europe by Tony Williams, owner of Spotlite Records in the United Kingdom. At the end of a very successful tour he recorded the Invitation album for Spotlite with Bibi Rovère on bass and Kenny Clarke on drums. This kick-started his re-emergence and, over the next eight years, he built a strong following in Europe and toured several times, recording in the UK and France, and appearing elsewhere. He also recorded for several Japanese labels.
The Secret History of Gen. Alexander Haig
The obituaries in the mainstream media failed to capture the full extent of the controversy and confrontation that marked Gen. Alexander M. Haig’s political career in the White House during the Nixon administration and the State Department during the Reagan administration. In his memoir, Henry A. Kissinger praised Haig’s role in 1973-1974 in “holding the government together” in the final days of the Nixon era. Kissinger was respectful of Haig because the general allowed the national security adviser to do as he pleased in his stewardship of foreign and national security policy.
Haig’s hands-off attitude allowed Kissinger to unnecessarily and dangerously raise the nuclear alert status to Defense Condition III for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in an effort to deter the Soviets from any military intervention in the last days of the October War of 1973. But there was no Soviet intention to intervene, and our European allies – let alone Moscow – were particularly upset with the nuclear alert. Several of our NATO allies, including Germany, Spain and Italy, limited US access to their bases as a result of DefCon-III. Neither Haig nor Kissinger ever explained their rationale for the heightened nuclear alert – although they promised to do so.
Gen. Haig never should have permitted Kissinger to chair a meeting of the National Security Council, let alone raise the nuclear alert status, without the presence of President Richard M. Nixon, who was indisposed at the time. The National Security Act of 1947 makes it clear that only the president or the vice president must run such a meeting or the president must issue a written authorization to make it clear who is going to run the meeting. The United States had no vice president at the time because Spiro Agnew had been forced to resign and Gerald Ford had not been confirmed. The meeting was held shortly before midnight on October 24, and Haig refused to awaken the sleeping president. The decision of Haig and Kissinger was reckless and could have had grave consequences.
Haig was a major player in the US failure to understand the role of international terrorism and to falsely blame the Soviet Union for the orchestration of terrorism. As the new secretary of state, Haig arrived at the State Department with strong anti-Soviet baggage, based in part on his belief that the Soviet Union was a primary source of support for international terrorism. There had been an attempt to assassinate Haig in Europe in June 1979, only four days before he stepped down as Supreme Allied Commander for Europe. The Soviets had nothing to do with the assassination attempt, but in his confirmation hearings on January 14, 1981, Haig charged the Soviets with orchestrating the attempt. On that same day, the Senate confirmed William Casey as director of the CIA by a vote of 95 to 0. From that point forward, Haig and Casey led an effort to portray Moscow as orchestrating terrorism “like a giant Wurlitzer organ.”
Haig and Casey immediately conspired to produce a National Intelligence Estimate on international terrorism, knowing that they had a high-level supporter for their views, the incoming president, Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s campaign oratory against the Soviets regularly referred to “Soviet-trained terrorists who are bringing civil war to Central America,” requiring a “stand against terrorism in the world.” Haig and Casey believed that CIA political analysis was naive and unsophisticated, and wanted an estimate on terrorism for key policy-makers to demonstrate that a new era had begun at the CIA. The new National Intelligence Officer for the Soviet Union, Robert Gates, immediately became an advocate for Casey’s hard-line views, serving as Casey’s special assistant, deputy director for intelligence and deputy for central intelligence.
A senior intelligence official, the late Richard Lehman, who facetiously referred to policy-makers as “our masters,” told a group of us responsible for the estimate that Casey and Haig have to be “let down, and that it is our job to let them down easily.” We were well aware of the difficult bureaucratic task we faced, but we were also aware that there was no good evidence of Soviet support for international terrorism in Western Europe and the Middle East. What we didn’t know was that Haig and Casey had read Claire Sterling’s polemic on terrorism, “The Terror Network,” and that no amount of factual information would disabuse them of their notions about Moscow and terror. Haig immediately appointed Michael Ledeen to his staff Ledeen was Sterling’s collaborator on “The Terror Network.” Haig, Casey and Gates used the accusations of Soviet responsibility for terrorism to block any possibility of improved relations with the Soviet Union. Fortunately, Haig’s successor, George Shultz, ignored these accusations.
The obituaries pointed out that President Ronald Reagan’s acceptance of Haig’s offer to resign his post as secretary of state was a shock to the general, but they failed to note the reason for Reagan’s acceptance. In his memoir, “Caveat: Realism, Reagan, and Foreign Policy,” Haig claims that the United States sent the “strongest possible warnings” to Israel not to launch its war against Lebanon in 1982. There were no US warnings. In fact, Haig was one of a very few members of the Reagan administration to understand that the Israeli offensive was going to reach Beirut, the Lebanese capital, in violation of Israeli intentions not to threaten Arab capitals. As secretary of state, Haig was in a position to warn the Israelis against such a disastrous military adventure and its obvious consequences, but chose not to do so. Instead of issuing a “red light” against such a campaign, Haig merely issued a “yellow light” of caution regarding the clandestine arrangements between the Israelis and the Lebanese Maronite leaders. These arrangements led to the bloody conquest of Beirut, byzantine political alliances between Lebanese factions, the frustration and tragedy of the US Marine occupation, the Palestinian massacres at the Sabra and Shatila camps and the formation of Hezbollah. Lebanon has had no stability for the past three decades, and Israel continues to have a security problem on its northern frontier.
Haig’s role in all of these events – DefCon-III the handling of international terrorism and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon – had unintended consequences that harmed the interests of the United States and delayed the process of diplomacy and negotiation. Like many of the neoconservatives who dominated the administration of President George W. Bush, Haig placed too much reliance on the use and threat of military force and relegated diplomacy to a back burner. This militarization of American national security and foreign policies has harmed US interests and raised the hidden costs of US involvement in the Cold War.
Alexander Haig, the Problem of Character, and the Danger of History by Analogy
Past performance is not indicative of future results, true. Nevertheless, Alexandra Evans and Evan McCormick’s recent comparison of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with his unfortunate predecessor Alexander Haig asks for a closer look. Their intent is to “enrich our understanding of the political and strategic consequences of a chief diplomat being maligned and marginalized.” How such a situation could possibly have an upside leads the authors inevitably to consider their presidents – Donald Trump and his predecessor Ronald Reagan.
Analysis by historical analogy can be compelling. However, fallacies abound, and apparent parallels can camouflage more illuminating distinctions. The reasons why Haig and Tillerson both found themselves “maligned and marginalized” are very different. Likewise, the consequences are known in Haig’s case, but still unfolding for Tillerson. Being at odds with their presidents over matters of foreign policy is part of the explanation, but not the fundamental issue. Perversely, Tillerson is actually in sync with his president, with whom he shares a narrow vision of American greatness, if not entirely his disdainful animus toward diplomacy. Tillerson’s unexplained predations on the State Department and foreign service he putatively leads make him an agent of the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” and thereby of his own alienation. Haig alienated himself, but his problem was his bellicose and possibly irrational behavior. Further, Evans and McCormick accuse Reagan of downplaying diplomacy, but this is not the case. The administration harnessed it as an instrument of power alongside the renewal of American military strength and thus ensured U.S. global leadership at the peaceful end of the Cold War. The deeper issue we are contending with, of course, is character. One question is key: Will the discontent of a flawed leader become a danger to the nation he leads?
It is important to begin by getting the story of Haig’s undoing right. First, his benighted avowal to the press that “I am in control” occurred in the fraught hours after John Hinckley attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan on the afternoon of Mar. 30, 1981. The new president had been in office for only 70 days when he was shot and his leadership team was just beginning what would turn out to be a protracted struggle to get their house in order. When Reagan was shot, they found themselves separated into three groups and in poor communications. Vice President George H.W. Bush was en route from Texas on Air Force Two. Reagan’s closest advisors, the troika of Chief of Staff James Baker, Counselor Ed Meese, and Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, were holding vigil at George Washington Hospital. Much of the cabinet had assembled solemnly in the White House Situation Room where Secretary Haig, the senior member, was the only one who had not known Reagan before the election. At that moment, he was also the only insider at the White House. He was also a former four-star general who had commanded NATO and kept order at the White House as chief of staff during Watergate and Nixon’s ignominious resignation.
For several dreadful hours, as White House lawyers provisionally drafted documents to transfer power under the 25 th Amendment, no one who remembered Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 knew whether the nation had plunged again into darkness. Instead, history repeated itself with elements of farce, and it is not in poor taste to say so, because the president himself was the source of comedic relief. That evening, along with the official announcement that Reagan would survive, came the anecdotes, endlessly recounted, of how in the emergency room he told his beloved Nancy, “Honey, I forgot to duck,” and, as the surgeons were about to remove the bullet they would find lodged a near-fatal inch from the president’s heart, he quipped, “I hope you are all Republicans.” Reagan did not merely survive. He emerged a hero, and, in the opinion of many, his aplomb leavened with slightly corny humor became the signature of his presidency.
Crisis can bring out the best in our leaders when we need them the most, but it can also reveal the worst. The wound to Haig’s reputation was more severe than his president’s physical injury. Tapes of the immediate reaction in the Situation Room reveal Haig arguing with Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger over whether to raise or lower the Defense Readiness Condition (DEFCON) and bickering with his fellow cabinet members when he incorrectly insisted he was next in the line of succession after the vice president. When Haig saw Deputy Press Spokesman Larry Speakes uninformed and floundering on television, he rushed to the White House briefing room. Taking over in front of the press corps and on live television, he attempted to reassure the nation. Hunched over the podium, sweating, eyes bulging, and breathing hard, his effect was the opposite. He usually talked like a blustering general, but trying here to sound soothing like a diplomat, Haig’s timbre instead was shaky. Asked who was running the government, Haig – notoriously obtuse without a script – responded that he was temporarily in charge while waiting for the arrival of the vice president, but again misstated the constitution by placing himself ahead of the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate. In his oddly-named memoir Caveat, Haig averred the discomfiture was due to his sprint to the press podium. Later, White House officials deferentially insisted that he had legitimately taken command at the White House and acted correctly. However, Haig’s performance belied belief that he had demonstrated leadership. His assertion that “I am in control here” immediately became a cynical Washington joke for “no one is in control.” Worse, Haig’s behavior evoked for many an untrustworthy and possibly irrational usurper.
Even though he was brought in to offset Reagan’s lack of international experience, Haig had already raised hackles and sparked unease. By calling himself “the vicar” of foreign policy, before the new president was inaugurated, Haig sparked a jurisdictional feud with presumptive allies in the administration and Congress, leading the president on March 31 to delegate National Security Council crisis management to the vice president instead of the secretary of state, a demotion that prompted rumors of his pending resignation. Haig’s first press conference on Jan. 28 attracted controversy when, without any indication of prior policy review, he declared, among other things, that terrorism would replace human rights as the administration’s first priority. Haig had served with distinction as a politically astute senior military officer, but as Reagan’s first secretary of state, not only was he ill-suited, he turned out to be extremely self-righteous, thin-skinned, egotistical, and belligerent.
The foreign policy issue that far outweighed all others in this drama – and ignored in Evans’ and McCormick’s analysis – was Central America. Poland mattered, Lebanon mattered, but it was in Central America where the Reagan administration chose to draw the geopolitical and ideological line against the Soviet Union. This was largely Haig’s doing, although he would have early support from others, notably U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick and CIA Director Bill Casey, controversial characters in their own right. Reagan’s own infatuation and tribulations would come later. The evidence is abundant. Central America may come to mind as little more than a side show today, but in 1981, the two-year-old Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and the battle between Marxist-Leninist insurgents and the death squads raging in neighboring El Salvador were contentious front-page news in the United States. Reagan had named his National Security Council not long after the election, and it was in their introductory meeting at Blair House before the inauguration that Haig surprised the group by arguing passionately to elevate halting Soviet-backed Cuban aggression in Central America and the Caribbean to their number-one priority. Central America was the main topic of the first four formal National Security Council meetings in February and in fully half of the next 22 meetings between then and Nov. 16, 1981, when the president finally confirmed major policy decisions on the region. Reagan’s first extended television interview took place on March 6. Walter Cronkite’s first question was whether El Salvador would become another Vietnam. Quagmire jitters made the question a press standard, and Reagan consistently tried to calm them by stating that he had no intention of sending U.S. troops to Central America.
The problem was that Haig kept banging the drum. He went further, threatening that the United States would “go to the source” by attacking Cuba. Instead of chief diplomat, he was seen increasingly as warmonger in chief. White House staff feared Haig’s militaristic ranting would distract from their effort to build bipartisan support in Congress for tax reform and increased defense spending. His belligerence repelled Nancy Reagan, ever-protective of Ronnie’s image. Michael Deaver, who was among those closest to the president, told an interviewer that Haig once said about Cuba, “give me the word and I’ll turn that island into a fucking parking lot,” and that the remark “scared the shit out of Ronald Reagan.”
Ultimately, character was Haig’s undoing and he resigned in June 1982. His replacement, George Shultz, quickly restored equilibrium as a pragmatic and prudent secretary of state. This is not to say that Reagan’s team sailed along in harmony. Far from it, and no issue remained more tumultuous than Central America, which left Shultz, as he wrote, “at the end of my rope.”
So, what is the right cautionary tale that we should draw from Haig’s tenure as secretary of state? Institutionally flawed by design, the conduct of foreign policy and national security in the American system is always messy, with divided authorities often poorly managed, mired in dysfunctional bureaucratic politics, and plagued with feuds among ambitious and unruly rivals. Even so, Alexander Haig was exceptional, because he crossed a line of divisive and alienating hostility to the extent that others questioned whether he was rational. Haig’s case suggests an even more consequential issue: What happens when the character in question is the president?
Pursuing the historical analogy, many leaders behave as performers on the world stage. In the subtitle of Lou Cannon’s exemplary biography, Ronald Reagan as president rose to “the role of a lifetime.” Reagan’s connection to reality may at times have been dubious. Getting the White House in order was certainly not his priority. He was reluctant to fire people, even when he was being poorly served. But he never threatened to rain down “fire and fury” on an adversary, and although he harbored an anti-communist dark side, he was far from a trigger-happy cowboy. He never sullied his office, although those who perpetrated the Iran-Contra scandal in his name nearly derailed his second term (Central America again). Reagan was an authentic patriot who held his convictions deeply, whatever you may think of them. Nor did he betray the responsibility and decorum that goes with the office of president.
By contrast, today, evidence that bombast is spawning folly accumulates. Character is obviously the heart of the problem. A leader who corrodes what we value most leaves those who serve and lamenting bystanders equally conflicted. The choices seem limited to hoping for a 180-degree reversal or wishing for catastrophic failure before the flaws of ambition and arrogance deliver enduring misfortune. In either case, the unraveling of America the Great is a matter of vital interest.
Todd Greentree is a former Foreign Service Officer who has served in five conflicts. A Research Associate with the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre, he is currently writing a book titled “Sowing the Dragon’s Teeth,” about the wars at the end of the Cold War in Angola, Central America, and Afghanistan.
Was Alexander Haig ‘In Control’?
On the 37th anniversary of the infamous “I’m in control” line, experts ponder how much leadership has changed.
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It’s as obscure an anniversary as you can find, but many older American will always remember it as one the country’s greatest political faux pas. On this day 37 years ago, following an assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan, Alexander Haig, serving secretary of the state, asserted that he was “in control” of the White House when, in fact, he was not. Haig’s comment caused such an uproar that it factored into his eventual resignation. Debate raged over whether Haig was making a grab for power in the event of the president’s death, and critics argued that he didn’t understand basic succession as outlined in the U.S. Constitution and its 25th Amendment.
Though nearly four decades removed from this peculiar moment in American political history, experts say revisiting Haig’s comment through the lens of the current state of leadership proves some intriguing changes. For instance, the directive, command-and-control tone of Haig’s remark reflected not only his military background, but also the in-vogue leadership style in business and politics at the time. Today, the superhero, “I can do it myself” leader has given way to a more agile, collaborative, empathetic style that works better for a globalized, constantly changing world.
“Organizations are flatter now, more matrixed and less hierarchical,” says Stu Crandell, senior vice president for Board and CEO Services with Korn Ferry. “Leaders need to be able to influence many different stakeholders, both internal and external. Being able to navigate that requires an ability to collaborate and influence without ordering.” Put another way, building an aligned and engaged team means leaders must recognize their limitations and create a support network that is much more inclusive.
They also need more emotional intelligence than ever before, and certainly more than they did in the ’80s. In fact, the term emotional intelligence wasn’t even coined back then, while today it’s considered a necessary skill set. From the threat of automation and artificial intelligence to downsizing and globalization, the pressure on workers is intense, and many are looking for a new brand of support and encouragement from leaders. “Complexity, the pace of work, and the demand for accelerated results have created extreme pressure,” says Alan Guarino, vice chairman of the CEO and Board Services practice at Korn Ferry. “Leaders must de-pressurize rather than add pressure on their staffs.”
None of this is to say that Haig’s approach wasn’t right for the situation. The best leaders are nimble and adjust their approach to match what’s needed for a particular worker or circumstance. To be sure, if ever there is a time for a command-and-control, take-charge leader to step up, it is after an assassination attempt on the president. One interpretation of Haig’s comment contends that he wasn’t trying to assume power at all. Rather, he was signaling to citizens, allies, and enemies that the leadership of the United States was stabile and secure. (For his part, Haig, who died in 2010, said he was only proclaiming functional control.)
Many companies of course have an emergency succession plan in place for the same reason. If something unexpected were to happen to the CEO—a prolonged illness or untimely death, for example—the best boards and governance practitioners have a candidate already designated as CEO, at least on an interim basis. The aim of this contingency plan is to provide leadership stability and continuity for the company and its employees, and also to reassure shareholders, analysts, and other stakeholders. ”When a crisis hits, you want someone who can provide clear direction and a path forward,” says Crandell.
Alexander M. Haig Jr. Dies at 85 Was Forceful Aide to 2 Presidents
Alexander M. Haig Jr., the four-star general who served as a confrontational secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan and a commanding White House chief of staff as the Nixon administration crumbled, died Saturday at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, according to a hospital spokesman. He was 85.
Mr. Haig was a rare American breed: a political general. His bids for the presidency quickly came undone. But his ambition to be president was thinly veiled, and that was his undoing. He knew, Reagan’s aide Lyn Nofziger once said, that “the third paragraph of his obit” would detail his conduct in the hours after President Reagan was shot, on March 30, 1981.
That day, Secretary of State Haig wrongly declared himself the acting president. “The helm is right here,” he told members of the Reagan cabinet in the White House Situation Room, “and that means right in this chair for now, constitutionally, until the vice president gets here.” His words were taped by Richard V. Allen, then the national security adviser.
His colleagues knew better. “There were three others ahead of Mr. Haig in the constitutional succession,” Mr. Allen wrote in 2001. “But Mr. Haig’s demeanor signaled that he might be ready for a quarrel, and there was no point in provoking one.”
Mr. Haig then asked, “How do you get to the press room?” He raced upstairs and went directly to the lectern before a television audience of millions. His knuckles whitening, his arms shaking, Mr. Haig declared to the world, “I am in control here, in the White House.” He did not give that appearance.
Seven years before, Mr. Haig really had been in control. He was widely perceived as the acting president during the final months of the Nixon administration.
He kept the White House running as the distraught and despondent commander in chief was driven from power by the threat of impeachment in 1974. “He was the president toward the end,” William B. Saxbe, the United States attorney general in 1974, was quoted as saying in “Nixon: An Oral History of His Presidency” (HarperCollins, 1994). “He held that office together.”
Henry A. Kissinger, his mentor and master in the Nixon White House, also said the nation owed Mr. Haig its gratitude for steering the ship of state through dangerous waters in the final days of the Nixon era. “By sheer willpower, dedication and self-discipline, he held the government together,” Mr. Kissinger wrote in the memoir “Years of Upheaval.”
Mr. Haig took pride in his cool handling of a constitutional crisis without precedent.
“There were no tanks,” he said during a hearing on his nomination as secretary of state in 1981. “There were not any sandbags outside the White House.”
Serving the Nixon White House from 1969 to 1974, Mr. Haig went from colonel to four-star general without holding a major battlefield command, an extraordinary rise with few if any precedents in American military history.
But the White House was its own battlefield in those years. He won his stars through his tireless service to President Richard M. Nixon and Mr. Nixon’s national security adviser, Mr. Kissinger.
Mr. Haig never lost his will. But he frequently lost his composure as Mr. Reagan’s secretary of state. As a consequence, he lost both his job and his standing in the American government.
Mr. Nixon had privately suggested to the Reagan transition team that Mr. Haig would make a great secretary of state. Upon his appointment, Mr. Haig declared himself “the vicar of foreign policy” — in the Roman Catholic Church, to which he belonged, the pope is the “vicar of Christ” — but he soon became an apostate in the new administration.
He alienated his affable commander in chief and the vice president, George H. W. Bush, whose national security aide, Donald P. Gregg, described Mr. Haig as “a cobra among garter snakes.”
Mr. Haig served for 17 months before Mr. Reagan dismissed him with a one-page letter on June 24, 1982.
Those months were marked by a largely covert paramilitary campaign against Central American leftists, a heightening of nuclear tensions with the Soviet Union, and dismay among American allies about the lurching course of American foreign policy.
Sixteen months after his departure came the deaths of 241 American Marines, sailors and soldiers in a terrorist bombing in Beirut and, two days later, the American invasion of the Caribbean nation of Grenada.
“His tenure as secretary of state was very traumatic,” John M. Poindexter, later Mr. Reagan’s national security adviser, recalled in the oral history “Reagan: The Man and His Presidency” (Houghton Mifflin, 1998). “As a result of this constant tension that existed between the White House and the State Department about who was going to be responsible for national security and foreign policy, we got very little done.”
Mr. Haig said the president had assured him that he “would be the spokesman for the U.S. government.” But he came to believe — with reason — that the White House staff had banded together against him.
He blamed in particular the so-called troika of James A. Baker III, Edwin Meese III and Michael K. Deaver.
“Reagan was a cipher,” Mr. Haig said with evident bitterness. “These men were running the government.”
He reflected: “Having been a White House chief of staff, and having lived in the White House under great tension, you know that the White House attracts extremely ambitious people. Those who get to the top are usually prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to get there.”
Mr. Haig briefly considered running for president in 1980 and became a candidate in 1988, but his campaign attracted virtually no popular support.
A spokesman for Johns Hopkins, Gary Stephenson, said Mr. Haig’s death was caused by staphylococcal infection that he had before his admission to the hospital. Mr. Haig is survived by his wife, the former Patricia Fox, 81 their three children, Alexander Patrick Haig Sr. and Barbara Haig, both of Washington, and Brian Haig of Hopewell, N.J. and eight grandchildren, according to the Rev. Frank Haig, 81, his brother and a professor emeritus of physics at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.
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.
In a statement issued Saturday, President Obama said: “Today we mourn the loss of Alexander Haig, a great American who served our country with distinction. General Haig exemplified our finest warrior-diplomat tradition of those who dedicate their lives to public service.”
Alexander Meigs Haig Jr. was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 2, 1924, the son of a lawyer and a homemaker. At 22, he graduated from West Point, ranking 214th of 310 members of the class of 1947.
As a young lieutenant, he went to Japan to serve as an aide to Gen. Alonzo P. Fox, deputy chief of staff to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the supreme allied commander and American viceroy of the Far East.
In 1950, Mr. Haig married the general’s daughter.
Introduction to War
Mr. Haig’s first taste of war was brutal. In the first months of the Korean War, he served on the staff of Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond, chief of staff of the Far Eastern Command. Official Army histories depict General Almond as a terror to his underlings and as one of General MacArthur’s most uncompromising disciples.
Following orders, General Almond sent thousands of American soldiers north toward the Chinese border in November 1950. They met a ferocious surprise counterattack from a far larger Chinese force.
General Almond and Lieutenant Haig flew to the forward outpost of an American task force on Nov. 28, where the general pinned a medal on a lieutenant colonel’s parka, told him the Chinese were only stragglers, and then flew off. Of that task force, once 2,500 strong, some 1,000 were killed, wounded, captured or left to die. In all, within two weeks, American forces in Korea took 12,975 casualties, in one of the worst routs in American military history.
After the Korean War, the young officer served at the Pentagon and eventually become a deputy special assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. He served in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967 as a battalion and brigade commander of the First Infantry Division, and received the Distinguished Service Cross.
In 1969, Colonel Haig became a military assistant on the staff of Mr. Kissinger’s National Security Council. He distinguished himself as the hardest worker in an ambitious and talented cohort. Soon he was a brigadier general and Mr. Kissinger’s deputy.
Vietnam consumed General Haig. He made 14 trips to Southeast Asia from 1970 to 1973. He later said that Mr. Kissinger “got snookered” in negotiations with the enemy, and that he would have chosen to be more forceful. “That is how Eisenhower settled Korea,” Mr. Haig said. “He told them he was going to nuke them. In Vietnam, we didn’t have to use nuclear weapons all we had to do was to act like a nation.”
Then Watergate consumed the White House. In 1973, after a brief stint as the Army’s vice chief of staff, General Haig was summoned back as chief of staff, replacing H. R. Haldeman, who later went to prison.
All this, in the course of a few weeks in the fall of 1973, fell on Mr. Haig’s head:
Vice President Spiro T. Agnew pleaded no contest to taking bribes. The next man in line under the Constitution, House Speaker Carl Albert, was being treated for alcoholism. The president himself, by some accounts, was drinking heavily. War broke out in the Middle East. When the president tried to fire the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, rather than surrender his secret White House tapes, the attorney general, Elliot L. Richardson, and his deputy, William D. Ruckelshaus, resigned. Impeachment loomed.
What began with the arrest of several men breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington in June 1972 had poisoned the presidency. Days after the break-in, the president and his closest aides had discussed how to cover up their role and how to obtain hush money for the burglars. The discussions, secretly taped by the president, were evidence of obstruction of justice.
General Haig was one of the first people, if not the very first person, to read transcripts of the tapes the president had withheld from the special prosecutor. “When I finished reading it,” he says in “Nixon: An Oral History,” “I knew that Nixon would never survive — no way.”
On Aug. 1, 1974, the general went to Vice President Gerald R. Ford and discussed the possibility of a pardon for the president. Mr. Nixon left office a week later the pardon came the next month. Public outrage was deep. Mr. Haig soon departed.
After leaving the White House in October 1974, he became supreme allied commander in Europe, the overseer of NATO. In 1979, he resigned and retired from the Army. He served for a year as president of United Technologies.
A “Haig for President” committee was formed but dissolved in 1980. Mr. Haig made a full-fledged run for the Republican nomination in 1988. But he placed last among the six Republican candidates in Iowa, where he barely campaigned, and he withdrew before the New Hampshire primary. He had been, he said, “the darkest of the dark horses.”
In his 80s, Mr. Haig ran Worldwide Associates, a firm offering “strategic advice” on global commerce. He also appeared on Fox News as a military and political analyst.
His Way With Words
He had a unique way with words. In a 1981 “On Language” column, William Safire of The New York Times, a veteran of the Nixon White House, called it “haigravation.”
Nouns became verbs or adverbs: “I’ll have to caveat my response, Senator.” (Caveat is Latin for “let him beware.” In English, it means “warning.” In Mr. Haig’s lexicon, it meant to say something with a warning that it might or might not be so.)
Haigspeak could be subtle: “There are nuance-al differences between Henry Kissinger and me on that.” It could be dramatic: “Some sinister force” had erased one of Mr. Nixon’s subpoenaed Watergate tapes, creating an 18 1/2- minute gap. Sometimes it was an emblem of the never-ending battle between politics and the English language: “careful caution,” “epistemologically-wise,” “saddle myself with a statistical fence.”
But he could also speak with clarity and conviction about the presidents he served, and about his own role in government. Mr. Nixon would always be remembered for Watergate, he said, “because the event had such major historic consequences for the country: a fundamental discrediting of respect for the office a new skepticism about politics in general, which every American feels.”
Mr. Reagan, he said, would be remembered for having had “the good fortune of having been president when the Evil Empire began to unravel.” But, he went on, “to consider that standing tall in Grenada, or building Star Wars, brought the Russians to their knees is a distortion of historic reality. The internal contradictions of Marxism brought it to its knees.”
He was brutally candid about his own run for office and his subsequent distaste for political life. “Not being a politician, I think I can say this: The life of a politician in America is sleaze,” he told the authors of “Nixon: An Oral History.”
“I didn’t realize it until I started to run for office,” he said. “But there is hardly a straight guy in the business. As Nixon always said to me — and he took great pride in it — ‘Al, I never took a dollar. I had somebody else do it.’ ”
Alexander Haig, only son of George Andrew Haig of Brechin, was born at Rumbling Bridge, Perthshire. For his education he went to Glenalmond, Harrow and Exeter College, Oxford. After taking a degree in natural science in 1876, he studied at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, qualifying in 1879. His first appointment was as surgeon to the Torbay Hospital, but he returned to London to become, in 1883, assistant physician to the Metropolitan Hospital, which in 1890 elected him full physician and in 1912 consulting physician. He was also casualty physician at St. Bartholomew’s from 1885 to 1887. In the latter year he joined the staff of the Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women as physician to outpatients he became full physician in 1896 and consulting physician in 1913. A sufferer from migraine himself, he investigated the effects of diet on this complaint and soon became convinced that excessive uric acid was responsible for many functional disorders. His book on Uric Acid as a Factor in the Causation of Disease (1892) attained a seventh edition and one on Diet and Food (1898) a sixth edition. Haig married in 1878 his cousin, Gertrude Mary, daughter of James Haig, barrister, of Lincoln’s Inn, and had one son and two daughters. He was a cousin of the first Earl Haig. He died in London, some ten years after retiring from practice.
Haig, Alexander Meigs
Haig, Alexander Meigs (1924– ), U.S. Army officer, secretary of state, business executive.Born near Philadelphia, Haig attended Notre Dame University and then graduated from West Point in 1947. He soon joined the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Japan and served under him in the Korean War. Subsequently, Haig taught at West Point, held a succession of line, staff, and school assignments in the United States and Europe, and earned an M.A. in international relations from Georgetown University. In 1966, he served as a battalion and then brigade commander during the Vietnam War, returning to West Point as deputy commandant.
Between 1969 and 1974, already known as an able officer knowledgeable about the political𠄍iplomatic aspects of military affairs, Haig served in the Nixon White House as an assistant to national security adviser Henry Kissinger. He had an important role in the 1972 negotiations culminating in the Paris Peace Agreements. Appointed a four‐star general, Haig served as Richard M. Nixon's chief of staff, 1973. After Nixon's resignation, Haig was appointed commander of NATO forces. Retiring from the army in 1979, he became president and CEO (1979) of United Technologies, a major defense contractor.
Under President Ronald Reagan, Haig served as secretary of state, 1981, taking a hard line toward the Soviet Union and insurgencies in Central America. In 1982, he supported Britain during the Falklands/Malvinas War and Israel in its invasion of Lebanon. Disputes with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and national security adviser William Clark led to Haig's resignation. Afterward, he served on a number of corporate boards and was briefly a Republican candidate for president in 1988.
Roger Morris , HAIG! The General's Progress , 1984.
Alexander M. Haig , Caveat: Realism, Reagan and Foreign Policy , 1984.
Alexander M. Haig , Inner Circle: How America Changed the World: A Memoir , 1992.
John Whiteclay Chambers II
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Alexander Haig Tafralian
Tafralian was last seen at a the now-defunct Sacca bar in Manchester, New Hampshire on July 10, 1963. He was carrying a large amount of cash at the time, the payroll for his work crew.
The next day, Tafralian's green Rambler station wagon was found abandoned on a street in North End, New Hampshire. An unidentified man, not Tafralian, was seen wiping the car's steering wheel with a handkerchief before the vehicle was discovered.
Tafralian's wife was in California at the time of his disappearance, celebrating the adoption of their first grandchild. He was employed as an aluminum windows and siding salesman and may also have been a bookie, a man who takes bets from gamblers.
His loved ones describe Tafralian as a loving family man who would not disappear without warning. Resulting searches over the years turned up no sign of him. Police believe he may have met with foul play.
In 2004, police acting on a tip searched again for evidence in Tafralian's case, using a metal detector. The detector indicated the presence of a metal object about thirteen feet long and seven feet wide, buried over a dozen feet under a diverted stream near the Manchester Country Club.
A civil engineer who studied the area believes the stream could not have developed the diversion naturally and authorities theorized someone buried Tafralian's car with his body inside it. It wasn't until 2013 that they were able to conduct a dig in the area. The search turned up nothing.
Tafralian was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He studied piano at the New England Conservatory of Music before his marriage. His wife died in 1972 and one of his daughters is also deceased. Tafralian's case is unsolved.