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May 25, 1984 - Image 10

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Michigan Daily, 1984-05-25

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91

Page 10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, May 25, 1984
Haig's White House power play

DOUG McMAHON/Daily
Alexander Haig, President Reagan's first secretary of state, explains his
dislike for presidential politics, California-style, in his new book, 'Caveat.'

By Jackie Young
'Caveat: Realism, Reagan,
and Foreign Policy'
By Alexander Haig
MacMillan, 358 pp., $17.95
A LEXANDER Haig found the Reagan
White House "as mysterious as a
ghost ship" and claims that he never
knew "which of the crew had the
helm."
In Caveat: Realism, Reagan, and
Foreign Policy Haig tells how he felt
haunted during his 18-month reign as
secretary of state by a lack of structure
in the Reagan foreign policy system
which, he contends, caused the ad-
ministration's failures and allowed
ambitions to run amuck.
Yet Haig does not place the brunt of
the criticism on the president whom he
portrays as a benign, cheery fellow who
nods his head so much "it is at times
difficult to know when he is agreeing or
disagreeing, approving or disap-
proving" with what Haig proposes. In-
stead, Haig decides it's politically ex-
pedient to attack the president's
loyalists who, unlike Reagan, often
openly disagreed with Haig's policies
and didn't make any pretenses about
disliking his pompous attitude, and
take-charge style.
Haig is convinced from the very first
cabinet meeting that Edwin Meese,
counselor to the president, James
Baker, chief of staff, and Michael
Deaver, deputy chief of staff, are out to
control the cabinet. However, Haig's
evidence for this often seems petty and
extremely weak. Instead of sitting on
the sidelines, as he claims is the
tradition for presidential aides, Haig
condemns the three for having the
audacity to sit at the cabinet table with
members of the cabinet. Haig, chief of
staff in the Nixon administration con-
cludes, "Robert Haldeman and John
Ehrilchman, at the height of their
pride, would never have dared such an
act of lese majesty." . -
What really angers Haig seems to be
an attempt to weaken "Commander"
Haig's position in the cabinet, and not
the president's. In his first news con-
ference at the State Department Haig
describes this contorted view of his
role: "I was assured by President
Reagan personally that I will be his
chief administrator, if you will, and I
use the term 'vicar'." Haig wisely notes
that "seldom has a man made an un-
wiser display of pedantry."
But though he says "the word caused
the press to chortle and the White
House staff to choke", he continues to
use the word to describe his relation-
ship to Reagan.
Haig's "I am in control" statement
after President Reagan was shot in-
cluded the words "pending the return of
the Vice President (from Texas)," Haig
claims. It seems that Reagan aides had
ample reason to believe that Haig
wished his words were true - Haig
previously had been furious with
Reagan's appointment of the vice
president to head the crisis
management team.
Haig would like the public to believe
that the "triumvirate" (Meese, Baker,
and Deaver) were trying to eliminate
him because they themselves were in-
tending to seize power from the
president. His attack on "the trium-

virate's schoolboy habit of scribbling
and passing notes" during cabinet
meetings is, however, unsatisfactory
evidence.
Haig does seem to voice valid con-
cerns when he complains about his lack
of direct, regular access to the
president. It is also a bit disconcerting
that Reagan had only spoken with Haig
privately for three hours before he
decided to appoint him as head of the
State Department. It is'an unusual in-
side view of Reagan that Haig
describes on his first meeting with him
in 1979. Haig notes that Reagan seemed
so distressed apparently by the loss of
his friend Edgar Bergen that Nancy
Reagan carried the conversation.
What's even more disturbing is
Haig's so called "one voice" theory of
foreign policy. According to him, this
theory means that Haig's voice, not the
president's, is supreme.
June 25, 1982, when Reagan accepted
Haig's forced resignation, seems proof
that the president felt it necessary to let
other voices be heard - as is the usual
style ina democracy.
Haig's view is that ". .. it does not
really matter whether the Secretary of
State or the National Security Advisor,
or some other official carries out the
President's foreign policy and speaks
for the Administration on these
questions. What does matter is that the
person chosen by the President must be
seen to have his total confidence and
that he be his sole spokesman.. ." Haig
then suggests that the president must
"decide who will be his 'vicar'"
Haig is often fond of writing some
ambiguous, idealistic phrases that few
could disagree with - such as the idea
that Reagan needs to convince the
people that he is "a servant of truth."
Haig eventually contradicts those
statements, however, just as his
policies seem to contradict his three
pillars of foreign policy: Balance, con-
sistency, and credibility.
In one chapter he attacks gover-
nment press leaks and writes, "Con-
fidentiality is the basis of diplomacy."
Yet, in another chapter, where he is
trying to show the wickedness of Soviet
policies he writes, "As a general rule,
the trustworthy have little to hide; the
Soviet Union is obsessed by secrecy;
that is, at least, a reason to be
cautious."
Haig shows a tendency in the book to
see the world divided very sim-
plistically between the "rule of law"
and the rule of evil. Haig is - of course
- always portrayed as following "the
rule of law," whereas his enemies (the
president's senior aides, the Soviets)
are always supporting the rule of evil.
Haig's attempt to villify those who
resisted his rule in the Reagan cabinet
and to try and glorify his personal
beliefs will not win him what he un-
doubtedly desires - another chance to
be commander-in-chief of the United
States.
It may be true that Haig's policies do
not radically differ from those of
President Reagan and the Republican
Party, but his continual habit of
sticking his foot in his mouth while
making massive power claims just isn't
acceptable behavior for a Capitol Hill
resident. Haig's personal style cer-
tainly doesn't seem conducive to im-
proving international relations.
Though perhaps a bit too self-serving,
Haig has revealed a somewhat
frightening picture of an ad-
ministration still in office.

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