191. Editorial Note

Disputes over policy and procedure led to the disintegration of relations between Secretary of State Alexander Haig and President Ronald Reagan at the beginning of the summer of 1982. On June 25, 1982, Reagan wrote in his diary: “Today was the day—I told Al H. I had decided to accept his resignation. He didn’t seem surprised but he said his differences were on policy and then said we didn’t agree on China or Russia etc. I made a simple announcement to the press and said I was nominating George Shultz for the job. I’d called him & like the patriot he is he said ‛yes.’ This has been a heavy load. Up to Camp David where we were in time to see Al read his letter of resignation on T.V. I’m told it was his 4th re-write. Apparently his 1st was pretty strong—then he thought better of it. I must say it was O.K. He gave only one reason & did say there was a disagreement on foreign policy. Actually the only disagreement was over whether I made policy or the Sec. of State did.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, Volume I, page 139) In his own memoir, Haig recalled: “The President was accepting a letter of resignation that I had not submitted.” (Haig, Caveat, page 314)

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On June 26, the Department sent telegram 177670 to the Embassy in Moscow with a message from Haig to Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko: “Dear Mr. Minister: You have by now received word of my decision to resign as Secretary of State. After intense and prolonged consideration, I concluded that the nation’s interests would best be served by leaving the service of my country at this time. My decision, you can be sure, will in no way affect the state of relations between our two countries. The United States will persevere in its efforts to achieve a more stable and constructive long-term relationship with the Soviet Union. The policies which the United States has pursued over the past year and a half are those of the President, and they shall endure. As I turn over my responsibilities, you should know that I have valued my own relationship with you. We have had frank, but useful exchanges on the many issues that face our two countries. My successor will, I know, continue to attach great importance to this dialogue. I urge you, Mr. Minister, to work closely with him in the months and years ahead; the welfare of both of our countries, and the world at large, will depend in large measure on what the two of you are able to accomplish together.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, N820006–0154)