Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alexander Haig, 59th SecState Dies at 85

Alexander Haig who was Secretary of State from January 22, 1981 to July 5, 1982 under Ronald Reagan passed away today at the age of 85. He was White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He was also as the 7th Supreme Allied Commander Europe, commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Europe from December 15, 1974 to July 1, 1979

From the State Department’s Office of the Historian:

Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. was appointed Secretary of State by President Ronald Reagan and assumed the
office on January 22, 1981. He served a relatively short time in office, facing many challenging situations before stepping down on July 5, 1982.

As Secretary of State, Haig had hoped to restore the Department of State to the dominant position in foreign policy-making that it had lost during previous administrations. However, the United States faced many challenges during the time that Haig served as Secretary of State, including the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, the Solidarity movement in Poland, disputes with the People’s Republic of China over trade and Taiwan, escalating tensions between the United Kingdom and Argentina, and a new round of conflict between Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. He also had to deal with the intra-government turmoil that followed in the wake of the attempted assassination of President Reagan.

Haig did have some diplomatic successes, particularly in regards to relations with China, where he forged a balance that both stabilized relations with the PRC and allowed for the continuation of arms sales to the government on Taiwan.

He also strengthened the NATO alliance and helped to re-orient the focus of U.S. foreign policy back toward the Soviet Union, both of which reflected the overall foreign policy priorities of the Reagan Administration.

Nevertheless, his efforts to broker diplomatic resolutions to the disputes over the Falkland Islands and in the Middle East did not succeed. Throughout his tenure as Secretary, Haig was overshadowed in foreign policy matters by other members of the Administration and was thus unable to fully control the Administration’s diplomatic process. He resigned from office after only 18 months.

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