Al Haig, American Secretary of State, led the so-called ‘peace shuttle’ negotiations that occurred before the Falklands War broke out in May 1982. Haig travelled thousands of miles in an effort to get peace – from London to Buenos Aires – but all in vain. The effort put into these negotiations by Al Haig was beyond criticism. But he had to juggle the huge difficulty of supporting Britain and Margaret Thatcher, a close friend of President Ronald Reagan, and maintaining an American influence in South America, which could have been undermined if Haig was seen to be supporting Britain and what were deemed imperialistic intentions by many South American countries.
Alexander Haig was born in 1924 in Philadelphia. He was educated at West Point Military Academy and Georgetown University. Haig was commissioned into the US Army in 1947. In 1969, he was promoted to brigadier-general and in 1972, major general. Haig served in the Vietnam War between 1966 and 1967 where he commanded a brigade. He became West Point’s deputy commandant before being appointed President Richard Nixon’s military advisor – a post he held between 1969 and 1973.
From 1974 to 1979, Haig was commander-in-chief of American forces in Europe. He also became NATO’s Supreme Commander.
After many years in the US Army, Haig retired to a life in politics. In January 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Haig Secretary of State. In 1982, Haig was fully involved in the peace negotiations to prevent the Falklands War. The travelling between Washington DC, London and Buenos Aries was such that his work was dubbed ‘peace shuttles’ by the media.
In June 1982, after it was apparent that his philosophy regarding American foreign affairs did not fully match Reagan’s, Haig resigned from the government.