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Touchdown an obituary of Alexander Haig by Steve Payne

Author says: what if Ronald Reagan had died on the operating table? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

In 2010, Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. died in Baltimore on this day aged eight-five; both critics and supports generally agree that he cut the most controversial figure of the Cold War era.

A veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster and the Purple Heart. Promoted to General, he rose to the number two position in the ranks, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.

In 1973, he was appointed White House Chief of Staff where he rescued the Administration from the chaos of Watergate, finally convincing Nixon to resign the Presidency. After serving under his successor Gerald Ford, he returned to the army serving as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Europe.

"There are contingency plans in the Nato doctrine to fire a nuclear weapon for demonstrative purposes, to demonstrate to the other side that they are exceeding the limits of toleration in the conventional area"And in 1981, he was the natural choice for Secretary of State for Ronald Reagan who was keen to appoint a hawkish character of steel; indeed his glittering credentials qualified Haig as the ultimate cold warrier. The trouble was, he was right. Because when Reagan was assassinated just 69 days into his Presidency, Haig's reaction was based on unbending text book Cold War logic.

"There are contingency plans in the Nato doctrine to fire a nuclear weapon for demonstrative purposes, to demonstrate to the other side that they are exceeding the limits of toleration in the conventional area"

With Reagan dieing on an operating table, and Vice President George Bush uncontactable in an aeroplane over Texas, Haig exceeded his constitutional authority by announcing "I'm in charge here" at a hastily organised press conference. And despite the fact that three Cabinet secretaries were ahead of him in the hierarchy, he also took possession of "the football", the briefcase that travels with the president and contains the codes for launching nuclear missiles.

"I think of him as a patriot's patriot. No matter how you sliced him it came out red, white and blue" ~ George SchultzDuring the succession crisis, the Soviet Union had sent a submarine on a closer approach to US interests than normal. And in the confusion surrounding the assassination, the Soviets unwisely chose to test American resolve. Haig ordered an underwater detonation of a nuclear weapon that would not destroy the submarines, but render its command and control systems unusable, thus forcing it to surface and enter US custody. It was an incredibly bold and infinitely dangerous move that Captain James T. Kirk would have hesitated to call.

Author says this alternative biography is based on an article on the BBC Web Site, with significant content also repurposed from Wikipedia.

Other Alternate Obituaries

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Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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