His competence and actions during the Watergate scandal proved his executive skills. President Ford made him commander-in-chief of NATO. During his tenure, he survived an assassination attempt by a leftist group. Haig retired as a full general in 1979 before being called back to service by Ronald Reagan.
General Haig became Secretary of State Haig in January, 1981. His tenure was controversial. During the period immediately following the attempt on President Reagan’s life, Haig declared, “I’m in control here.” He wanted to reassure the public the government continued to function. Instead, he came off like a general leading a coup. Haig made other gaffes and was eventually replaced by the capable George Schultz.
Six years later, Alexander Haig reemerged to run for the 1988 Republican nomination for president. Haig enjoyed high name recognition, but his support never topped single digits. He lost the nomination to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Following his defeat, Haig spent the next two decades hosting World Business Review, serving on several Washington policy boards, and making occasional television appearances on public interest shows.
It’s an anachronistic term today, but Alexander Haig was a true patriot. He served in two major wars, commanded NATO, stabilized the government during the Watergate Scandal, kept the government going during the attempt on President Reagan’s life, and ran for president. Despite his occasional foot-in-mouth issues, Haig was a highly intelligent and driven man who put his country first. It is cliché, but they do not make them like Alexander Haig anymore.
Alexander Haig died on Saturday, February 20, 2010. Haig’s long career in public service spanned from the Korean War through the Reagan Administration. General Haig began in the military and ended his career as secretary of state. Few Americans have held as many important assignments as Haig. As a result of Alexander Haig, the world was safer, the Watergate fiasco was less chaotic, and he provided order and stability through the Reagan assassination attempt.
Alexander Haig was born in 1924 and attended the United States Military Academy. After graduating in 1947, he landed on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff during the Korean War. As a result, he was present at Inchon and Chosin Reservoir. Following the war, he returned to college and earned a business degree and then a degree in public relations.
Following his return to school and a stint at the Pentagon, Haig went to Vietnam. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the Battle of Ap Gu. After earning his Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart, Haig returned to America and served as a National Security Advisor to President Nixon. When Watergate began to overtake the administration, Haig was elevated to White House Chief of Staff. General Haig, along with Dr. Kissinger, is credited with keeping the government running during Watergate. Some speculated that he was really the “acting president” while others wondered whether he was the informant, “Deep Throat.”