"A True American Hero Has Passed Away" John Cornetta on the passing of Alexander HaigFebruary 20, 2010 12:15 p.m.
* Born: 2 December 1924 Died February 20th 2010
* Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
* Best Known As: Four-star general and U.S. Secretary of State, 1981-82
Name at birth: Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr.
My internet connection was down. I got on the phone with a technician to go through all of the IP and sub mask settings and when done I always hit CNN.com because if CNN is down then everyone is down. Well the first thing I see is “Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig dies at 85" Secretary Haig was one of my favorites. I actually met him along with President Reagan back in 1980. My sister Patty actually flew on Air Force One with him and got him to sign a pack of Presidential Playing Cards to me. When President Reagan passed away the country was respectful enough to give him a full state funeral at the Capital Rotunda. I went to Washington and waited for hours and hours in line miles long to pay my respects to the president as men and women with one leg, or other limitations stood in the rain and waited with me for up to 18 hours to pay our respects.
Alexander Haig, although in my opinion, does not nearly rise to the level of Presidents Reagan, Ford, JFK (All of which I attended in D.C. with JFK in the womb of my pregnant 30 year old mother Patricia Cornetta and her 31 year old husband Joseph Cornetta who both insisted to take a train from N.Y. to DC for President Kennedy) yet although Mr. Haig unquestionable does not rise to that stature it would be a crime against the people of the United States not to honor him with a full State Funeral and a horse drawn carriage down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Just click here to get just a glimpse of this mans service to our country http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Haig
Al Haig graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1947, served in Europe and Asia until 1960, worked in Washington until a combat tour in Vietnam in 1966-67, and then returned to Washington in 1969 to work in the White House for Henry Kissinger. After President Richard Nixon's top aides resigned during the Watergate scandal in 1973, Haig served as White House Chief of Staff until after Nixon's resignation in 1974. Haig also served as NATO commander (1974-79), and in 1981 he became Ronald Reagan's secretary of state. Haig abruptly resigned in 1982, reportedly over policy disagreements. In 1988 he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in the U.S. presidential election.
Haig long was rumored to have been Deep Throat, the inside source for the Washington Post as the paper exposed the Nixon cover-up of the Watergate break-in... Before they started making fun of George W. Bush's speech, wiseacres poked fun at Haig for his inventive syntax and frequent "Haigisms." For example, he once said "That's not a lie. It is a terminological inexactitude"... In 1981 President Reagan was injured during a failed assassination attempt and Haig famously blundered on TV, appearing to claim constitutional authority by saying "As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending the return of the Vice President and in close touch with him." (This is often shortened to simply "I am in control here" when the tale is retold.) In fact, the order of succession places the secretary of state below the vice president, the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate.
The Shakeup at State
An experienced team player replaces a battle-weary vicar
"With great regret, I have accepted the resignation of Secretary of State Al Haig."
—President Reagan at the White House
"We agreed that consistency, clarity and steadiness of purpose were essential, [but] in recent months it has become clear to me that the foreign policy on which we embarked together was shifting from that careful course."
—Haig, reading his letter of resignation at the State Department
The amazement was tinged with apprehension too. Not, to be sure, because of any misgivings about the ability of the man that Reagan chose as Haig's replacement. As Secretary of the Treasury and economic-policy coordinator in the Nixon Administration, George Pratt Shultz, 61, earned a reputation as a team player who could win cooperation from officials with strongly divergent views; he might be able to avoid the bureaucratic battles that gave Haig so much trouble in bringing "consistency, clarity and steadiness of purpose" to American foreign policy. Though Shultz has no formal diplomatic background, his negotiations with foreign leaders on trade and monetary matters during the Nixon Administration and his experience during the past eight years as a key executive of Bechtel, an engineering and construction firm with operations in more than 20 countries, have made him thoroughly familiar with the world outside the U.S. With the very notable exception of Israeli leaders and their more fervent American supporters, who are worried that Bechtel's extensive operations in Saudi Arabia have given Shultz an excessive sympathy for the Arab cause, foreign leaders who know Shultz —and a surprising number know him quite well—regard him as a cool, pragmatic professional.
Policy differences aggravated, and were aggravated by, the personal hassles. Haig, who was chief assistant to Henry Kissinger on Nixon's National Security Council staff, is a devoted believer in the "Atlanticist" school of diplomacy, which insists that the U.S. must always try to act in concert with its European allies and favor a carefully calibrated mixture of carrots and sticks in dealing with the Soviet Union. In contrast, most of the Californians around Reagan—and to some extent the President himself—instinctively tend to follow a hard, unyielding line toward Moscow, backed up by military muscle, whether U.S. allies agree or not. The leading exponent of this view is Weinberger, who in recent months has openly criticized Haig's policies on everything from the repayment of delinquent Polish debts to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, with no attempt by the President to quiet him. The intense, high-strung Haig was worried constantly, and with reason, that the laid-back Californians had far easier and more intimate access to Reagan than he ever would."Haig advocated the toughest policies to counter Soviet interventionism. He urged standing up to the U.S.S.R., perhaps even bringing the Soviet empire "to its knees."
For all that, Haig usually managed to prevail on policy. Indeed, even his relations with the White House staff seemed to be improving early this year. The reason was Reagan's appointment of Clark as National Security Adviser to replace Richard Allen. Haig regarded Allen as a "guerrilla" who was sniping at him from the White House. Clark, a former California judge and longtime intimate of Reagan, had originally been brought into the Administration as No. 2 at the State Department, largely to serve as a trouble-shooter between Haig and the White House. He nonetheless worked amicably and effectively with Haig and managed to smooth out relations somewhat between the Secretary of State and Reagan's Californians. Haig welcomed Clark's appointment as National Security Adviser, and not only because Allen was gone. Haig had encountered great difficulty in penetrating the "troika" arrangement at the White House, under which Meese, Baker and Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver share authority; he could never figure out whom to see. With Clark in the White House, Haig thought, his views would get a quicker and fuller hearing.
Increasingly isolated in the Administration on this point, Haig has argued vehemently against any open break with Israel for a year, since the Israeli air raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad in June 1981. In part, he believes that public criticism has the same effect on the stub born Begin that waving a red flag has on a bull: it only provokes him to still more outrageous behavior. Also, Haig believes that since the Israeli invasion has smashed the military power of the Palestine Liberation Organization, U.S. diplomacy has a chance not only to re-create an independent and neutral Lebanon but move toward a general Middle East peace based on settlement of the longest-festering problem of all: the aspirations of the Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. In his view, an Israel freed of fears about P.L.O. terrorism would be more willing to grant real autonomy to the Palestinians; the moderate Palestinians, no longer afraid of P.L.O. reprisals, would be more willing to enter the autonomy talks with Israel. Once more last week, Haig argued that public criticism of Israel and Begin, let alone any threat of sanctions, would destroy all these prospects.
Haig, Weinberger, Clark and top White House officials carried their counterarguments—that the President should get tough with Begin—into the Oval Office in a meeting with Reagan that convened at 10 a.m. Monday, only an hour before the Israeli Prime Minister was to arrive. Recalls one participant: "It was a typical foreign policy meeting—ten guys giving eight different positions." Haig apparently won, but only for the moment. Accounts of what Reagan and Begin did eventually say to each other differ somewhat. Haig and other State Department officials privately stressed indications of harmony; White House aides insisted that Reagan had pressed Begin hard to agree to a lasting cease fire in Lebanon and to a speedup in the autonomy negotiations.
"Above everything else," writes Alexander Haig, "a servant of the President owes his chief the truth."
Haig won the attention of a succession of powerful men. As a young staff major at the Pentagon in 1962, he was spotted by Fritz Kraemer, a former political analyst for the Army Chief of Staff and a legendary back-room strategist who gave an early boost to Kissinger's career. Haig also became friendly with Joseph Califano, then counsel to the Army and a rising power in Washington. First as a result of Califano's influence, and then on his own, Haig rose to a variety of important jobs; at one point he prepared briefings that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara presented to the President and the National Security Council. Once the major U.S. involvement in Viet Nam began, Haig decided to heed the old maxim that no Army officer can rise to the top without experience in combat command, which he lacked despite some brief battle experience in Korea. He went to Viet Nam in 1966 and the next year led a battalion to victory in the battle of Ap Gu, one of the major engagements in the biggest American offensive of the time. It was a classic Viet Nam operation; Haig's troops were helicoptered into an area thought to be infested with Viet Cong guerrillas, drew an enemy attack and held their ground in bloody hand-to-hand fighting, while Haig called in heavy artillery and air strikes. Back from Viet Nam, Haig was again at West Point when he was recommended by Kraemer to Kissinger, then President Nixon's National Security Adviser.
Kissinger: "He was at first only a military assistant handling intelligence and Penta gon matters, but he made himself substantially indispensable." Haig worked closely with Nixon during Kis singer's many trips abroad. In May 1973 Nixon asked Haig to replace H.R. Haldeman, who had been forced to resign as White House Chief of Staff because of the Watergate scandal. Haig did not want the job; he feared that getting anywhere near Watergate would end his hopes of ever be coming Army Chief of Staff or even Chairman of the Joint Chiefs — as in fact it did. But he accepted the President's proposal out of a sense of duty. For the next 14 months, Haig in effect held the White House together while Nixon battled to stave off impeachment.
Haig is widely credited with having persuaded Nixon in the end to resign. There are still charges that Haig defended Nixon altogether too zealously, but most of those who dealt with Haig then insist that he preserved his own integrity and balance. Says Leon Jaworski, the Watergate special prosecutor, of the many legal battles between them: "Haig never raised his voice. He was never ugly, and I said some things that could have made him hit the ceiling. He believed in Nixon [but in the end] felt he had been lied to; it hurt him" Nixon recommended that Gerald Ford keep Haig on as White House Chief of Staff. Ford understandably wanted his own man. So in 1974 Ford appointed Haig as NATO commander. Europeans at first feared that a discarded political general was being dumped on them, but Haig won their respect. He increased the combat effectiveness of NATO troops, partly by scheduling more realistic maneuvers involving American soldiers flown in from the U.S., and did much effective diplomatic work. In particular, he is credited with behind-the-scenes negotiations that eventually brought Greece back into the alliance as a full member after it had severed relations because of a rift with Turkey.
By 1978 Haig was getting increasingly disenchanted with Carter Administration policies and in June 1979 he resigned. He came home to make speeches about the Soviet threat— and at least explore the idea of running for President. The self-confident Haig made no secret of his belief that he could handle the job. Concluding that he could not win enough support to the Republican nomination he dropped the idea and accepted Harry Gray's offer of the presidency of United Technologies Corp. His salary and bonus totalled $1 million. Haig had been at United Technologies not quite a year when President-elect Reagan called him to be Secretary of State.
At the department, Haig has set a driving pace. He does not suffer fools gladly: he has been known to annotate papers with comments like "This is a lot of nonsense!" But he has won the respect of subordinates, as he has in all previous jobs, by hearing them out. Says one: "He listens, and the worst thing you can do is not give him a piece of information that he needs, even if it runs contrary to his own views."