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alexander haig obit (from the guardian, with some interesting views)

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niyad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 07:37 PM
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alexander haig obit (from the guardian, with some interesting views)

Alexander Haig obituaryChief of staff who sustained President Nixon in office, and secretary of state who failed to avert the Falklands war

The Guardian, Saturday 20 February 2010

The record books say that America has only ever had one unelected president in its history: Congressman Gerald Ford. But General Alexander Haig, who has died aged 85, might well rate as a second. He never faced an electorate in his life, but he ran the White House almost in secret during the 15 months up to President Richard Nixon's resignation in August 1974 - taking over the impetus of a paralysed presidency in a manner that, however necessary under the circumstances, was barely constitutional.

His second period at the highest levels of government came as secretary of state for the first year and a half of Ronald Reagan's presidency, from January 1981. Two main themes preoccupied his brief tenure of the post - the ferocious bureaucratic battles that marked the Reagan administration and Haig's obdurate belief that communism was baying at the gates of the US. 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."

Though he clearly did not understand it at the time, Haig's poorly hidden presidential ambitions were scuppered in those early days with his lamentable performance after the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in March 1981. Amid the inevitable confusion, the secretary of state burst into the White House press room to declare, when a reporter asked who was making the decisions, "As of now, I'm in control here in the White House."
. . . .
Though Haig's preoccupation with Central America had a greater long-term impact on America's internal and foreign politics, the greatest crisis he faced at the state department was the 1982 Falklands war, in which he tried unsuccessfully to act as mediator. There was probably little chance of success, but his efforts were seriously undermined by undisguised support for the Argentinians from the US ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick.

In his memoirs, Haig commented: "The war was caused by the original miscalculation on the part of the Argentinian military junta that a western democracy was too soft, too decadent to defend itself. This delusion on the part of undemocratic governments has been, and remains, the greatest danger to peace in this century." But his failure to avert the conflict, as he also conceded, "ultimately cost me my job as secretary of state".
. . . . . .
Then his uncle, who had been largely supporting Haig's mother and siblings, intervened with his considerable local influence and Haig scraped into the military academy, situated to the north of New York, in 1944 as an acknowledged political appointee. Under the stress of war, the normal four-year course for officers had been cut to three. The topics removed from the curriculum included English, social sciences and history, in all of which Haig later proved notably deficient.

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