Alexander Meigs Haig Jr. (; December 2, 1924 – February 20, 2010) was the United States Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and the White House chief of staff under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Prior to these cabinet-level positions, he retired as a general from the United States Army, having been Supreme Allied Commander Europe after serving as the vice chief of staff of the Army.
Born in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, Haig served in the Korean War after graduating from the United States Military Academy. In the Korean War, he served as an aide to General Alonzo Patrick Fox and General Edward Almond. After the war, he served as an aide to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. During the Vietnam War, Haig commanded a battalion and later a brigade of the 1st Infantry Division. For his service, Haig was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, and the Purple Heart.In 1969 Haig became an assistant to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. He became vice chief of staff of the Army, the second-highest-ranking position in the Army, in 1972. After the 1973 resignation of H. R. Haldeman, Haig became President Nixon’s chief of staff. Serving in the wake of the Watergate scandal, he became especially influential in the final months of Nixon’s tenure, and played a role in persuading Nixon to resign in August 1974. Haig continued to serve as chief of staff for the first month of President Ford’s tenure. From 1974 to 1979, Haig served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, commanding all NATO forces in Europe. He retired from the Army in 1979 and pursued a career in business.
After Reagan won the 1980 presidential election, he nominated Haig to be his secretary of state. After the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, Haig asserted “I am in control here,” allegedly suggesting (erroneously since 1947, when the Speaker of the House of Representatives was designated the second in the line of succession after the Vice President) that he served as acting president in Reagan’s and Bush’s absence, later iterating that he meant that he was functionally in control of the government. During the Falklands War, Haig sought to broker peace between the United Kingdom and Argentina. He resigned from Reagan’s cabinet in July 1982. After leaving office, he unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination in the 1988 Republican primaries. He also served as the head of a consulting firm and hosted the television program World Business Review.