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February 20, 2010

With the Death of Alexander Haig, America Has Lost a Unique Voice Willing to Snigger About Richard Nixon Being a Fag

What do the Very Serious men in White House spend their time doing? According to The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, it's this:

To Kissinger and his aides, Haig sometimes referred to the President as an inherently weak man who lacked guts. He joked that Nixon and Bebe Robozo had a homosexual relationship, imitating what he called the President's limp-wrist manner.

Ha ha! That IS funny!

But sadly, Alexander Haig has just died, so we shall never again hear his lilting voice calling to us in the gloaming, telling us that Tricky Dick was a fairy.

Also, Haig led a failed attempt to have the U.S. directly invade Central America during the eighties. And after a 1981 trip to the middle east as Secretary of State, he reported back that Carter had given Saddam a "green light" to invade Iran the previous year. And once when Robert Parry asked him about these kind of hijinks, Haig told him: "Come on. Jesus! God! You know, you'd better get out and read Machiavelli or somebody else because I think you're living in a dream world!"

I guess that's about it. RIP.

I FORGOT: Haig also enthusiastically defended the rape and murder of four American nuns in El Salvador.

He will be missed.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at February 20, 2010 12:41 PM

One assumes that Alexander Haig is not, at this time, in control of anything. Anywhere.

Posted by: joel hanes at February 20, 2010 12:52 PM

Hilarious. What a great post, and even a link to NameBase--now that's impressive! (I can't believe that's Larry David on that Dennis Perrin clip.)

It's too bad in a way that the sneaky "perception management" guys (see the link to Consortiumnews)--Poppy Bush and James Baker and Robert Gates and Frank Carlucci and the rest of the Langley gang--beat Haig and ended up running the show. Now our perceptions are so managed that we can't find our collective ass with both hands.

Nixon probably respected Haig for calling him a fairy behind his back. They were kindred spirits that way. Typing "spirits" reminds me of "Spiro" Agnew, who later wrote in his memoirs that he feared that Nixon and Haig were going to have him killed if he didn't resign when they asked him to. Like I say, they were kindred spirits and manly men (though apparently not as manly as Jeanne Kirkpatrick) and consequently didn't need to mask their admiration for Machiavelli and nun-raping "freedom fighters."

Robert Parry was yanked out of his "dream world" long before I was, and he knows most or all of what happened to ensure Carter's loss, and that there was a whole CIA program of "perception management" beginning in the 80s, and vast media infiltration and control, and covert programs breaking laws right and left, all justified because Machiavelli was right about the world, and if you don't do those things other nations run by evil men will just fill the void to replace you.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," wrote Edmund Burke a couple of centuries ago. Then somewhere along the way that came to mean that good men must do even worse things than bad men, in order to thwart them, because otherwise the evil men will be stronger and more determined and will prevail. That's the Machiavellian, Haigian, Nixonian, Rumsfeldian, Cheneyesque, Bushit view. Maybe Clint Eastwood too. Bottom line, we have to be evil to be good. Go figure.

joel hanes

You remind me that the takedown of Al Haig after the Hinkley assassination attempt was beautifully done. The 'vicar' of foreign policy was forever a fool after that. He really didn't even say anything that outrageous in that press conference, at least nothing dumber than all those guys say all the time. But he wasn't the "team player" that Poppy Bush was, so he didn't have the support of enough of the rest of the mob bosses and therefore had to take a tumble from the lofty heights of vicardom. Haig was never a serious problem after that. From then until his resignation, he was just a nuisance.

P.S. Henry Kissinger's classmates in his graduate program after WWII called him "Ass-kissinger." He will likely have something touching and profound to say about Haig's passing.

Posted by: N E at February 20, 2010 02:38 PM

Dante, in 'Inferno,' depicts the warmongers immersed in boiling blood for eternity in (I think) the 7th circle of Hell. As they wallowed in blood in life, so they boil in it in the afterlife. Forever.

Gotta love those 13th century stand-ups!

Posted by: Oarwell at February 20, 2010 05:23 PM


Yeah, Dante was a stich. As I recall from high school world lit (and it's about all I recall), Dane also condemned flatterers to spend eternity wallowing in shit, with it coming out of their mouths whenever they spoke. Priceless.

Haig was pretty good at flattery too, when Nixon was present. (Nixon still liked Haig years later and urged Reagan to make him Secretary of State, apparently unaware that Haig had stabbed him in the back during Watergate, as Colodny and Schachtman make abundantly clear in The Forty Years War.) The fag jokes only happened when Haig was alone with Henry and the other sissies on the NSC who had never commanded troops, or for that matter even carried Macarthur's bags in Korea.

Posted by: N E at February 20, 2010 08:02 PM

Well, NE, not quite what you remember, but interesting the architecture of Hell Dante depicted: sins of incontinence the least bad, followed by sins of violence (against Fellowmen, self, etc) and in the deepest layers those who commit fraud.

BTW, off-topic, but I'm calling John Caruso out on his Avatar atavism. I admit I never subjected myself to 3 eyeball bleeding hours watching Kevin Costner in Prances with Wolves, but I just saw Avatar, and am surprised he went out of his way to knock it. The visual effects were simply astonishing, beautiful, as in brings-tears-to-eyes beautiful. Plus the in-your-face evocation of "Na'vistan," and the powerful anti-imperialist message. Where's his sense of wonder? I recommend a day hiking in whatever sylvan or snowy wonderland is available to recover the lost ability to marvel. Or stare into your puppy's eyes and accomplish a man-dog mindmeld. I mean, c'mon! The film was amazing, not to mention the cinematographic equivalent of reading Jerry Mander's 'In the Absence of the Sacred' while taking peyote (not that I would condone such activities).

Posted by: Oarwell at February 20, 2010 09:37 PM

My favourite Haig moment was when he rather over-eagerly took up the reins of government in the immediate aftermath of Hinckley* shooting Reagan, rather than letting the Vice-President do so, as was traditional. Apparently the VP was unavailable, or so Haig claimed. The press amused themselves by acting as if it had been an attempted coup, and that was pretty much it for Al's career.

Hmm, a quick google demonstrates that this moment is what everyone's talking about. Ah, well.

Apparently he also used to mime playing drums when ever the Cabinet discussed Africa.

* Wonder if he was a leftist... Jodie Foster's pretty liberal, isn't she?

Posted by: weaver at February 20, 2010 10:03 PM

Which would also explain joel's joke.

Posted by: weaver at February 20, 2010 10:18 PM

oh weaver, John Hinckley had no particular politics. In October 1980, he went to Memphis with some of his guns and attended a Carter campaign appearance, but for some reason he left his guns in his room. (Now that would have been a real October surprise!)

Then in March of 81 poor John got interested in the idea of shooting a President again--I guess he figured that Jodie wouldn't care which President--so he shot Reagan, though with a ricochet that made the bullet very flat, in the shape of what Vietnam special forces and right-wing hero Colonel Bo Gritz later called a "fletchette," claiming it was not a bullet at all but the projectile from a weapon powered by air pressure. (Hell if I know, I'm no spcecial forces colonel.) That whacky Gritz didn't like Poppy Bush's New World Order and thought he smelled a rat! See Gritz's Called to Serve)

Alas, maybe the New World Order wasn't the problem, but there was in fact something amiss in the "Reagan administration" in March 1981, what with Haig and Bush fighting to see who would control foreign policy even per Time magazine. And, it turns out from the later memoirs and Reagan biographies by Lou Cannon, Breshnev also happened to be trying to head off the budding US arms buildup in private correspondence with Reagan. That might sound crazier had not the same problem surfaced again a few years later with Gorbachev (Mann, The Rebellions of Ronald Reagan; Anderson, Reagan's Secret War: The Untold Story of his Fight to Save the World from Nuclear Disaster). A whole lot of people in his administration tried like hell to keep the Cold War going, but Reagan, being a bit simple, actually seemed willing to give up all our nukes!)

From the get-go, everybody in the "Reagan" administration had to try hard to keep Reagan from being Reagan when he was making decisions, as opposed to talking on TV, and that applied especially when it came to his willingness to get rid of all our nukes as part of a deal with Leonid or later Gorby. Looked at that way, the idea that KAL 007 a couple of years later was a provocation intended to destroy any potential for peace breaking out isn't quite so nonsensical either. At least for crazy cynics willing to consider such possibilities.

And yes, Haig lost his power struggle with Poppy Bush and the Team Langley on TV that day. Not surprising given their media advantage.

So it goes outside our dream world where the descendants of the men Machiavelli knew so well apparently haven't changed at all.

Posted by: N E at February 20, 2010 11:12 PM

Nihil nisi bonum, y'all; he's a "great American", after all.

Wonder what the NPR obit will be like...

Posted by: Nell at February 21, 2010 12:14 AM

Hi Nell,
Ah, NPR's euphemisms for calling somebody an imperialist toady, or an SOB, etc. That could be a contest or drinking game, or both.

"regarded by some as difficult"




Posted by: Jonathan Versen at February 21, 2010 03:04 AM

reading Jerry Mander's 'In the Absence of the Sacred' while taking peyote (not that I would condone such activities).

I read that when I was 19 years old, and frankly, the absurd "noble savage" romanticism and Luddite wishful thinking were enough to make me feel loopy without any chemical enhancement.

Posted by: . at February 21, 2010 08:51 AM

Joke, N.E. Do try to keep up.

Posted by: weaver at February 21, 2010 09:17 AM

oh weaver, i'm always running in a cirlce, so i'm really never really even sure whether i'm ahead of behind. When i lap myself I'll know the peyote is working!

Posted by: N E at February 21, 2010 11:39 AM

Oarwell, I'll pass on Avitar and anything that smells of 'sacred', but I'm completely down with human/canine mind-melding and *totally* keen on friendly botanical hallucinogens.

Posted by: RedPhillip at February 21, 2010 02:45 PM

via The Jerusalem Post:

Later in his life, Haig evolved into a firm believer in Israel as a powerful deterrent to terrorism. In 2001, he told the Post that it might not be a bad thing for Israel to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
“If the Israelis do launch a preemptive strike [on Iran], it may be saving the world a lot of trouble,” he said.

Yes, Haig's sane, reasoned look at geopolitics will be missed.

Enjoy your dirtnap, Al.

Posted by: bayville at February 21, 2010 03:47 PM

That's an interesting article by Parry, Jon, but I have to quibble on one point. He downplays lying by Democrats, and you'd hardly guess from his story that the four nuns were murdered in El Salvador at the end of the Carter administration, which had covered up for the death squads all along. And of course Kennedy and Johnson both lied professionally about atrocities in Vietnam, Cuba, Latin America generally.

Posted by: Duncan at February 21, 2010 09:51 PM

Duncan that has often been my quibble with Parry as well...

Posted by: Coldtype at February 22, 2010 07:03 AM

1) "Governments lie." --I.F. Stone

Find me one that doesn't lie, I'll show you one that isn't a government. Give the Greens or Naderites or anyone else a government, they'll lie. (P.S. Business is worse.) Of course JFK lied, and that's probably about all LBJ could do. Hell, LBJ probably lied just for the fun of it. If you want to grapple with why lying is so pervasive, read some Sisela Bok in her book Lying. The parts about why elites lie because they think the rest of us just won't understand is pretty interesting.

2) The "Carter administration" effectively ended long before November 4 1980, and certainly before the nuns were killed on December 2, 1980, which followed the election of Ronald Reagan by a month. Ok, Reagan hadn't been inaugurated yet, but so what. Seriously, is that why it's Carter's fault? Besides, if anybody thinks Jimmy Carter had full control of the military and intelligence community, which hated him and segments of which actively worked to prevent his reelection, including perhaps by some treason in Operation Eagle Claw among other instances, well, by golly, those people need to go somewhere and read some Machiavelli or somebody else and get out of their dream world.

Finally, if anybody--including Chomsky--thinks there wasn't much of a difference in policy between the Carter and Reagan administrations with regard to Central America, they are mistaken. I don't think Chomsky makes that claim, but if he does, he doesn't do it because of superior understanding, or because he has met more people who could describe what a difference in Central American policy could do. The ship of state doesn't turn or stop fast, and U.S. policy toward Central America wasn't great under Carter, notwithstanding his laudable effort to make concern about human rights something to at least consider, but what came after Carter's defeat was much worse than anything he ever did. The enthusiastic return to the old evils applauded by Haig and Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Elliot Abrams was an invitation to the murder of nuns and priests and labor leaders and human rights workers and everybody else who was a problem. That little election of Ronald Reagan got a whole lot of people in Central America killed, typically in disgusting ways.

Posted by: N E at February 22, 2010 01:08 PM

Come you masters of war You that build all the guns You that build the death planes You that build all the bombs You that hide behind walls You that hide behind desks I just want you to know I can see through your masks. You that never done nothin' But build to destroy You play with my world Like it's your little toy You put a gun in my hand And you hide from my eyes And you turn and run farther When the fast bullets fly. Like Judas of old You lie and deceive A world war can be won You want me to believe But I see through your eyes And I see through your brain Like I see through the water That runs down my drain. You fasten all the triggers For the others to fire Then you set back and watch When the death count gets higher You hide in your mansion' As young people's blood Flows out of their bodies And is buried in the mud. You've thrown the worst fear That can ever be hurled Fear to bring children Into the world For threatening my baby Unborn and unnamed You ain't worth the blood That runs in your veins. How much do I know To talk out of turn You might say that I'm young You might say I'm unlearned But there's one thing I know Though I'm younger than you That even Jesus would never Forgive what you do. Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul. And I hope that you die And your death'll come soon I will follow your casket In the pale afternoon And I'll watch while you're lowered Down to your deathbed And I'll stand over your grave 'Til I'm sure that you're dead.
- Bob Dylan 1963

Posted by: Oarwell at February 23, 2010 09:36 AM


How can you do that when you could listen to such a sweet, melodic voice?

Posted by: N E at February 23, 2010 03:22 PM

I'm textocentric. But then there's this:

Posted by: Oarwell at February 24, 2010 02:23 PM