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Caspar Weinberger

Caspar Weinberger


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Caspar Weinberger rose to the position of the Secretary of Defense where he participated in the transfer of TOW missiles to Iran, during the Iran-Contra Affair. Born in San Francisco, California, Weinberger graduated in 1938 from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree. He later received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1941.After his time at school, he served in World War II in the Forty-First Infantry Division. With his experience, he was elected to the Assembly of the California State Legislature in 1952 with a unanimous re-election in 1954 and 1956.In 1958, he went back to practicing law for almost 10 years when, in 1969, he was nominated by President Richard Nixon for the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. In 1973, he was appointed the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare until 1975 when his reputation in Washington as an able administrator earned him the position of Secretary of State from President ^Ronald Reagan in 1981 until his resignation.During that time, he pushed for an increase nuclear weapons, which helped to escalate the Cold War. For the next ten years, Weinberger was publisher and chairman of Forbes Magazine and later wrote a book on his years in the Pentagon and one he co-authored on the adequacy of U.S. military capabilities after the Cold War.


More Comments:

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 3/31/2006

Reagan, Weinberger, North, and Poindexter saved several Central American countries from communism, by ignoring stupid Boland Amendment, and most people down there are mighty glad they did, as are most people up here. Walsh was so "Republican" that he indicted Weinberger four days before a general election to help the Democrats. He was also ossified, and squandered millions in his attempt to make a criminal of Weinberger. All who remember Weinberger's rapid fire performances on Sunday morning shows will remember what an exceptional man he was. In California he was of immense value to Ronald Reagan when the latter was governor. A very astute manager at HEW, I think, and then the Pentagon, he was known as "Cap the Knife" for his surgical budget cuts. I doubt if Reagan could have won the Cold War without him, and he certainly did not deserve the Iran-Contra smear. (He was accused of failing to hand over papers which he had donated to the Library of Congress).

Steve Broce - 3/28/2006

Omar - 12/1/2003

i'm doing a project and my topic is "why is America is viewed as the number one target for terrorist?"

Is there any one that i can send an email to Caspar Weinberger?

Jacob Goldfinger - 6/12/2002

Of course, it would be too much to expect Weinberger to be honest about Iran-Contra, his role in it, and Reagan's awareness of it.

We now know that President Reagan was fully aware of the conspiracy and approved of it. Reagan's own diaries revealed this.

Furthermore, Iran-Contra was hardly an "untrammeled prosecutorial assault" by a "zealot." Lawrence Walsh, the independent counsel in charge of the Iran-Contra investigation, was a Republican. Walsh also said at the outset that Reagan would not be indicted. In my opinion, Walsh should have promised only to follow the evidence and not immunized Reagan, but of course he had to feel political pressure to protect a popular president, regardless of whether Reagan deserved it.

Finally, it should be noted that every single person indicted in Iran-Contra was convicted. Perhaps Weinberger would have been convicted too, if not for George H.W. Bush's unprecedented pre-emptive pardon, handed down Christmas Eve after Bush lost in 1992 and 12 days before Weinberger was to go to trial.

A capsule summary, for Weinberger and other Iran-Contra apologists: the Reagan administration set up a secret army, with a secret budget, with funds funneled through a secret Swiss bank account, to arm terrorists who captured and killed Americans, to fund murderous dictators (who also killed innocents, including some Americans), in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution and acts of Congress.

Merely the most serious breach of presidential authority, ever. And Weinberger, et. al, should never be forgiven.


More Comments:

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 3/31/2006

Reagan, Weinberger, North, and Poindexter saved several Central American countries from communism, by ignoring stupid Boland Amendment, and most people down there are mighty glad they did, as are most people up here. Walsh was so "Republican" that he indicted Weinberger four days before a general election to help the Democrats. He was also ossified, and squandered millions in his attempt to make a criminal of Weinberger. All who remember Weinberger's rapid fire performances on Sunday morning shows will remember what an exceptional man he was. In California he was of immense value to Ronald Reagan when the latter was governor. A very astute manager at HEW, I think, and then the Pentagon, he was known as "Cap the Knife" for his surgical budget cuts. I doubt if Reagan could have won the Cold War without him, and he certainly did not deserve the Iran-Contra smear. (He was accused of failing to hand over papers which he had donated to the Library of Congress).

Steve Broce - 3/28/2006

Omar - 12/1/2003

i'm doing a project and my topic is "why is America is viewed as the number one target for terrorist?"

Is there any one that i can send an email to Caspar Weinberger?

Jacob Goldfinger - 6/12/2002

Of course, it would be too much to expect Weinberger to be honest about Iran-Contra, his role in it, and Reagan's awareness of it.

We now know that President Reagan was fully aware of the conspiracy and approved of it. Reagan's own diaries revealed this.

Furthermore, Iran-Contra was hardly an "untrammeled prosecutorial assault" by a "zealot." Lawrence Walsh, the independent counsel in charge of the Iran-Contra investigation, was a Republican. Walsh also said at the outset that Reagan would not be indicted. In my opinion, Walsh should have promised only to follow the evidence and not immunized Reagan, but of course he had to feel political pressure to protect a popular president, regardless of whether Reagan deserved it.

Finally, it should be noted that every single person indicted in Iran-Contra was convicted. Perhaps Weinberger would have been convicted too, if not for George H.W. Bush's unprecedented pre-emptive pardon, handed down Christmas Eve after Bush lost in 1992 and 12 days before Weinberger was to go to trial.

A capsule summary, for Weinberger and other Iran-Contra apologists: the Reagan administration set up a secret army, with a secret budget, with funds funneled through a secret Swiss bank account, to arm terrorists who captured and killed Americans, to fund murderous dictators (who also killed innocents, including some Americans), in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution and acts of Congress.

Merely the most serious breach of presidential authority, ever. And Weinberger, et. al, should never be forgiven.


Caspar Weinberger - History

Weinberger, despite his Jew-y last name, was raised Episcopalian. Here's where it gets interesting: his paternal grandparents were Jews, but &mdash according to the ever-reliable Internets &mdash they left the faith after an argument with their local temple.

That's &mdash wow &mdash that's just hard to picture. Certainly we've all had disagreements at our respective temples. Our own childhood shul once split in half over some divisive political maneuvering. But to leave Judaism entirely? That had to be SOME argument.

Look, we can understand if you disagree with how they're cutting the challah or who gets to wear the fancy-looking yarmulkes and you decide you'd like to worship somewhere else. But to be so enraged that you throw off the faith entirely? Where in an argument do you get to, "That's it! I'm done with your temple, and your G-d, AND your entire belief system!"

We've been in some dumb arguments over the years (some of which we even started), so maybe we shouldn't be the ones to judge. But if you ever get so mad you're ready to light your entire culture on fire, do us a favor: leave the argument. Maybe take a few days to sleep on it. Anything that rash really needs to done with a clear head.


Obituary: Caspar Weinberger

Caspar Weinberger was the powerhouse behind the huge expansion of US military strength during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

A confident Cold War warrior, he was defence secretary from the start of Reagan's presidency in January 1981 until he resigned in November 1987.

He got Congress to approve major defence spending increases that financed the modernisation of US forces with new missiles - including the Trident D5 - and aircraft.

He also championed the space defence system nicknamed Star Wars, though funding was gradually decreased as doubts about the system grew.

His record however was marred when, after leaving office, he was indicted in the Iran-Contra affair in which arms were illegally sold to Iran and the money used to help the Contra guerrillas fighting against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

He always said he had opposed the sales but was charged with having lied to Congress about them. President George Bush Sr pardoned him in 1992.

A small, wiry man with a wry smile, Weinberger's manner was one of a steely determination to build up American power and to use it in US interests and in the interest of US allies.

His role was to support with military hardware Ronald Reagan's strategic vision of standing up to the Soviet Union and of possible bringing about its collapse.

The vision was eventually accomplished, though history might argue as to whether the economic failures of communism were not just as responsible.


Caspar Weinberger

Born Caspar Willard Weinberger, August 18, 1917, in San Francisco, CA died of pneumonia, March 28, 2006, in Bangor, ME. U.S. Secretary of Defense. Caspar Weinberger was one of the major figures of the Cold War's final decade. From 1981 to 1987, when he served as U.S. President Ronald Reagan's secretary of defense, he presided over a massive buildup of the United States military, part of the country's worldwide competition with the Soviet Union. He opposed arms control agreements with the Soviets and left his post soon after Reagan began negotiations for arms reduction. Critics said the huge defense budgets of the 1980s were wasteful, caused the United States deficit to balloon, and eventually hurt the national and world economies, but Weinberger defended them as necessary in the struggle against Communism.

Weinberger was born on August 18, 1917, in San Francisco, California, to Herman Weinberger, a lawyer, and his wife, Cerise. He graduated from Harvard University in 1938 and Harvard Law School in 1941, then enlisted in the Army. He went through the officers' training school at Fort Benning, Georgia, served in the infantry in the Pacific theater of World War II, and became a member of General Douglas MacArthur's intelligence staff. After the war, he clerked for a federal judge, then practiced law.

In 1952, Weinberger was elected as a California assemblyman. He was named the state's most able lawmaker in 1955 in a poll of state government reporters. However, when he ran for state attorney general in 1958, he lost. In the early 1960s, he served as vice-chairman, then chairman, of California's Republican State Central Committee, then chaired a commission that suggested ways to reorganize the state government. He also worked as a newspaper columnist and host of a television show about politics.

Ronald Reagan, then the governor of California, brought Weinberger into his cabinet in early 1968, making him the state finance director. Before Weinberger, the finance office had been considered weak. But he did an impressive job controlling the state's budget, earning the nickname "Cap the Knife." That work impressed President Richard Nixon, another California Republican, and Nixon brought Weinberger to Washington, D.C. in 1970. Weinberger served as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, deputy director and then director of the Office of Management and Budget, then secretary of health, education, and welfare. Nixon had declared that the health budget was bloated, and he expected Weinberger to impose discipline on it. Some Democrats feared Weinberger would cut programs they considered important. Instead, Weinberger compiled a mixed, moderate record as the health secretary. He did try to end some programs and trim several others, such as federal aid to schools and hospital construction. On the other hand, he supported a government role in encouraging Americans to eat a healthy diet, fought against the once-common practice of sterilizing the mentally disabled, and lobbied Congress to regulate the amount of tar and nicotine in cigarettes.

After Nixon resigned, Weinberger stayed in the cabinet under new president Gerald Ford for a short while, then returned to California in 1975. He worked as a special counsel for the Bechtel engineering companies. When Reagan was elected president in 1980, he asked Weinberger for economic advice, then decided to make him secretary of defense.

One of Reagan's campaign pledges had been to increase defense spending, which he claimed had fallen to dangerously low levels during the administration of Jimmy Carter. Weinberger asserted that his job was "to rearm America" and that past efforts at detente with the Soviet Union had reinforced "the Soviet prison wall" across Eastern Europe, according to David Stout of the New York Times. The failure of the U.S. military's 1980 attempt to rescue the American hostages held in Iran added to the belief that the armed forces needed more resources and attention.

So, year after year in the 1980s, while Reagan enforced tough budget cuts on social programs, Weinberger argued for, and usually got, huge increases in the defense budget. He increased the pay of troops and commissioned elaborate new weapons systems and equipment, including the MX missile and the Strategic Defense Initiative, a space-based missile defense program that critics nicknamed the "Star Wars" system. He also brought back the B-1 bomber, a program set aside under Carter. However, Weinberger was cautious about deploying troops abroad, mindful of the lessons of the Vietnam War. The major military offensives he oversaw, in Grenada in 1983 and against Libya in 1986, were limited in size. Reagan sent peacekeeping troops to Lebanon despite Weinberger's cautionary advice when a bombing killed 241 U.S. soldiers, the defense secretary successfully pushed for withdrawal. "I did not arm to attack," he wrote in his memoir, In the Arena, as quoted by Adam Bernstein of the Washington Post. "We armed so that we could negotiate from strength, defend freedom, and make war less likely."

The wisdom of the defense buildup is still debated. Purchasing scandals revealed that the Pentagon had paid outrageous prices for everyday items such as screws and hammers, embarrassing Weinberger. During his tenure, the defense department spent $2 trillion, and the effects were felt worldwide. "His strategy helped to force the Soviet Union to the bargaining table," the Times of London declared, but also "led to the astronomical U.S. budget deficit which was a major factor in the stock market collapse of 1987 and a cause of high interest rates which, internationally, slowed down industrial growth." Weinberger did not accept such criticism. In 1993, after Congress' General Accounting Office declared that Weinberger's department of defense had exaggerated the Soviet threat and the effectiveness of some American weapons systems, Weinberger said the study's authors did not understand the Cold War. "You should always use a worst-case analysis in this business," he declared, as quoted by Stout of the New York Times. "In the end, we won the Cold War, and if we won by too much, if it was overkill, so be it."

When Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union in 1985 and began the policy of glasnost, or openness, Weinberger did not trust him. He advised Reagan not to negotiate arms control agreements with the Soviets. But by 1987, Reagan, influenced instead by his secretary of state, George Shultz, decided to make deals with Gorbachev. Late that year, Weinberger resigned. Some thought he left after losing the argument over arms control, but he said he wanted to spend time with his wife, who had been treated for cancer. "I don't think just because [Gorbachev] wears Gucci shoes and smiles occasionally that the Soviet Union has changed its basic doctrines," Weinberger declared as he left office, as quoted by Stout of the New York Times. That judgment was proven wrong four years later, when Gorbachev's reforms led to the end of Soviet Communism.

After his resignation, Weinberger became caught up in the Iran-Contra scandal. Members of the Reagan Administration had made a secret deal to sell arms to Iran in order to get Iranian leaders to pressure terrorist groups to free several American hostages they held. Some proceeds from the sale were passed on to the Contras, a rebel group in Nicaragua, in violation of an act of Congress. Weinberger told a congressional committee in 1987 that he had advised against reaching out to Iran, and had mistakenly thought he had killed the idea by sending out a memo opposing it. A commission investigating the affair claimed that Weinberger had not advised Reagan aggressively enough on the matter, a criticism Weinberger rejected. Next, the special prosecutor investigating the scandal accused Weinberger of concealing his diaries, which the prosecutor thought could reveal more information on the affair. Weinberger was indicted in 1992 on charges of lying to the prosecutor. He claimed the charges were an attempt to coerce him into testifying against Reagan. Weinberger was to face trial in 1993, but outgoing president George H. W. Bush pardoned him on Christmas Eve in 1992.

After retiring, Weinberger wrote several books, include Fighting For Peace, about his time as secretary, and a book on defense strategy, The Next War. He became chairman of Forbes, Inc., and wrote a column for Forbes magazine. In his last years, he co-wrote a novel, Chain of Command, published in 2005, and the non-fiction book Home of the Brave: A Tribute to Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror, published posthumously in 2006.

Weinberger died of pneumonia on March 28, 2006, at age 88, in Bangor, Maine, not far from his home in Mount Desert, Maine. He is survived by his wife, Jane his son, Caspar Jr. his daughter, Arlin three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.


Caspar Weinberger - History

INTERVIEWER: From a sort of global regional sense I mean why was Afghanistan important to US interests during the 80s and late 70s?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well I think that first of all we didn't want another country anywhere to fall under communist domination we also thought Afghanistan was an extremely strategic position our historic route to the oil fields lay down that way and to the Gulf and we were anxious that it retains its independence and not be dominated and generally we have an interest in trying to support people who were fighting for their own freedom so that for all of these reasons it was important for us not to let it fall under Soviet domination.

INTERVIEWER: With regard to the military imbalance how did the two superpowers square up at the beginning of the 80s.

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well at the beginning of the 80s the Soviets had a very major advantage in almost every category of military weaponry, in planes, artillery pieces, tanks, aircraft and we were close in submarines, but basically they had military superiority in all these different categories and they were increasing it. Whereas we had through the through 1979 and 1980 we were either static or falling further behind and we viewed that with very considerable worry. President Reagan during his campaign in 1980 had made a considerable point of the fact that our defenses needed strengthening and pointed to a number of failures and a number of situations in which things that we didn't want to happen were happening because we were no longer perceived as a strong or reliable ally in countries that we would need, as allies were not joining us, and in every way the situation was it called for major changes but after we got in office we were horrified to discover at the classified briefings that we then received how big this gap was and the fact that it was widening and all of these things led to the determination by the president to carry out the major campaign policy that he had emphasized during the election that we needed to strengthen our defenses and quickly.

INTERVIEWER: What were your own views about the Soviet Union's global ambitions?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well I had very little doubt about it was quite clear to me from their speeches from the doctrine from the things that I had studied about them that they had world domination as a global goal and they were quite frank about it. Later on they dissembled quite a bit and denied that they had ever said it but the quotations were all over the history books and also their very aggressive policy with respect to moving into countries and areas that were beyond any security needs of their own, and this enormous military capability that they were developing and already had, all led me to conclude that they did indeed have in mind an idea of global domination and tried to dominate the world and obviously they would prefer to do it without fighting and they had made some considerable success that way by intimidation and threat and repeated blackmail and all the rest.

INTERVIEWER: Could you sort of describe the factors which led to Reagan's victory and the downfall of Carter in '81. Well I think the public which really is much concerned about the strength of the military and democracy is people, people don't like that, spend money on the military I guess I'm a leading authority on how much they dislike spending money on military and the security, but I think they had become aware through President Reagan's campaign speeches and through the things that were happening all over, we were very unhappy when Russia went to move into Afghanistan or when they went to take steps at that time and when they went into Afghanistan the only weapon we really had was to tell them we weren't going to play in their Olympic games and this didn't deter them very much and I think the public certainly under President Reagan's leadership, and his campaign efforts were becoming more and more aware of this and military leaders were saying that we had a hollow force that we had an air force that wouldn't fly and a navy ships that wouldn't sail we didn't have the money to train the people. All of these things were being hammered home by the president and his campaign, by people who campaigned with him, and by some independent groups and so I think that it was evident when the president came in that he was going to seek increases and the big question was how much of an increase would he ask and the Carter budget which had been submitted just before Carter had left office.

INTERVIEWER: I mean in your opinion, what, I mean do you think that events in Iran with the fall of the Shah really altered the strategic importance of Afghanistan.

CASPAR WEINBERGER : Well I think so I think the fact was that the Shah was very friendly with us. The shah had supported our policies at some cost to himself. He had been much more helpful than almost any other nation in the region and in working with Americans, allowing Americans to have a visible presence there. And when he fell and a large, largely as a result of the fact that first of all he was not only very ill, but he also didn't have any support. There were a great many Americans who were of very liberal persuasion who said that this is a very repressive government, it is wrong for us to support it. He is, his human rights record is not good and so forth and so on. What they over looked of course was the alternative. And the alternative is the most repressive government since the Middle Ages, when the Ayatollahs and the Mullahs came in. What they also overlooked was the efforts that the shah had been making to improve things. Status of women, education, health in his country all of these things he was addressing and we were trying to help. But when he fell and when he was allowed to fall I think it sent quite a strong signal around that the United States was not going to be all that reliable or an ally or anybody on whom people could trust or would join and that it was better for them either to be neutral or to decide that the Soviets were going to be the ones who won in the future and that they had better at least not offend them. So that I think the fall of the Shah and our allowing that would send quite an unfortunate signal around the world and particularly in the mid-East.

INTERVIEWER: How do you think the loss of intelligence listening bases in Iran affected the US?

CASPAR WEINBERGER : Well we had those and they certainly contributed to an additional weakening of our capabilities. Intelligence is a vital part of any kind of ability to defend yourself or to deter attack and they were very important and there weren't many substitutes readily available.

INTERVIEWER: I think you've talked about this a bit, but I'll ask it again if you don't mind. I mean in your opinion what were the real motives behind the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well I think that they were first of all, were still in pursuit of traditional warm water ports down in the Gulf that's been their goal for hundreds of years. I think that they also were very anxious to make sure that a very highly developed set of oil fields was available to them and I think they also wanted to remove what they always perceived as some possible problems on their border. The Afghans were considered basically an unpredictable people, they were not dominated by the Soviets they were not reliable from Moscow's point of view, and I think they wanted to leave all of that. I think that they did not have very good understanding of what kind of people the Afghans were. Afghans fight very well. The Afghans like to fight. And they were doing extremely well and they had made things very much more difficult for the Soviets, than the Soviets believed they would have. It is not at all unlike the problems that the current Russian government ran into in Czekia.

INTERVIEWER: What sort of different views were there in the Reagan administration about US policy in Afghanistan and the possible drawbacks about backing fundamentalist groups like the Mujaheddin?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: there wasn't as much worry about backing fundamentaligroups perhaps as there should have been. But these people it was very much the old adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And these people were obviously enemies of the Soviets didn't want to be invaded, didn't wanna be dominated, didn't wanna have their sovereignty taken away from them, and they were fighting. And that basically our feeling, President Reagan's feeling, I believe was that they should be, these people who were fighting for their own freedom and sovereignty should be supported. We certainly couldn't guarantee that they were all going to be nice people or that they would do everything we wanted them to or anything of the kind, but I think the, I think there wasn't perhaps a nearly as much consideration given to supporting a group that included some Moslem fundamentalists as perhaps there might have been. But on the other hand, even if there had been I don't think it would have overridden the desire to make sure that the Soviets were not allowed to dominate or succeed in Afghanistan and so we would fight with the groups that were available. We would help them as much as we could. But I think that there was much more of a consideration of the alternatives now by us because that was one of our basic policies that the Carter and other administrations in the pursuit of human rights and trying to find only people that we could agree with to help had overlooked the alternatives. And as I said the alternative in Iran was the most repressive government since the middle ages and we thought the alternative in Afghanistan was another Soviet colony.

INTERVIEWER: I mean how important was Pakistan during the 80s to US interests in the region?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well Pakistan again was a country that we knew had some problems internally and elsewhere but Pakistan on the other hand was a bulwark against the Indian and Soviet linkage and Indian government was not, not particularly friendly to us, much more friendly to the Soviets, made a great show of being neutral but basically was much more aligned with the Soviets and as a result the Paks were people who were basically in the same position as the Afghans. They were people who we felt needed support, we also were particularly concerned with the enormous number of refugees who poured into Pakistan from Afghanistan and the Pak government had a great difficulty as any government would in trying to sort and deal with a million, million and a half people coming in very unexpectedly across their borders.

INTERVIEWER: What sort of talks did you have with Pakistan over the distribution of military aid.

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well we talked with them frequently about it and we supported giving them military aid. We supported giving them the capability of defending themselves. We supported them in their desire to have an ability to protect their own borders and to not allow incursions into them. To give them a lot of aid to help them deal with refugees, who needed everything. I went out two or three times and talked to refugees in these tent cities and it was very moving dramatic thing, but there were millions of people who had simply poured into a country that was not expecting them, or really ready to receive them. And they needed a lot of help with that, we did foods and medicines and clothing and medical assistance all kinds of things of that sort. We tried to help them with.

INTERVIEWER: Did you feel that US military aid was distributed fairly by Pakistan. I mean didn't Pakistan's wider goals lead them to favor more fundamentalist groups.

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well I, we I don't think we felt that they were under President Zia, no, we felt that they didn't favor fundamentalist groups. We knew they had internal problems, but we wanted basically to keep their foreign policy friendly to us and not ready to yield or to be overrun by Soviets pouring in through Afghanistan and not being willing to join any pact or group against the West, they were friends with the West and we wanted to help them. And I don't think that we felt that they were aligned in any permanent way with any kind of fundamentalist groups. There were certainly many of those in Afghanistan but I think in Pakistan under President Zia they were there was not that risk.

INTERVIEWER: I mean do you know how much military aid destined for the Mujaheddin, how much do you think was creamed off by Pakistan, because I know the CIA were worried that some of .

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well Pakistan got military aid they didn't really have to as you said "Cream it off", they we were giving it to them directly. The aid that we gave to Afghanistan was mostly on behalf of the freedom fighters and consisted of anti-air, anti-helicopter things that were effective in trying to stop from that kind. I'm not aware that the Pakistanis diverted a great deal that was going to Afghanistan I think that a principle aid to Pakistan was to help them to help the refugees. And we did have a military assistance program which was constantly under attack because we were not supposed to give military assistance to countries that were developing nuclear capabilities, and there were always rumors that Pakistan was doing that.

INTERVIEWER: I mean before the invasion of Afghanistan the US had consistently criticized Pakistan over its development of nuclear deterrent, yet it was willing to give them an almost an easy ride when it came as a .

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well you have to distinguish between some voices of the United States and other voices in the United States. Carter and people I think did, were not really friends with the Pakistanis and did worry a great deal about their having nuclear capability and again were not considering the alternatives. Again were not considering what an overrun Pakistan or a Pakistan that was denied all military or other assistance might turn into. And we were trying to cultivate them. Trying to encourage them and be influential in encouraging them not to develop nuclear capabilities and at the same time recognizing they did need military assistance in a rather precarious position geographically, strategically that they found themselves in.

INTERVIEWER: Do you not think that the US stance ultimately helped Pakistan achieve their goal of getting a deterrent?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Oh I think so, yes. No I think we helped a great deal and I think basically we established and kept a basically close working relationship with them and they did not move over to the other side, they were not overrun, they were not, they maintained their own independence and I don't think they took any actions that overtly helped the Moslem fundamentalists or any of those groups at the time we were in office.

INTERVIEWER: I mean some people have described the relationship as almost a roller coaster ride over the nuclear deterrent.

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well again, I think you have to ask who the people were who felt as we, we tried our best to deter them from going ahead with the nuclear program. We didn't think the best way to do that was to hold a press conference to denounce them, and we didn't think that the best way to do that was deny them all military or humanitarian assistance. I don't know to this day what sort of a nuclear program they have. But I do know that they were in a strategically important position. It was very necessary and very vital to keep them friendly and supportive of the things we were trying to do, which was to prevent Soviet ambitions from being realized and to prevent Soviets from prevailing in Afghanistan. And their mere reception of the refugees totally aside from any military action was enormously helpful to the morale in Afghanistan of the people who were fighting for their freedom.

INTERVIEWER: So given a priority it was aid to the Mujaheddin rather than questions about nuclear deterrent.

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Yes, if there were considered a priority the first priority was to help survive and certainly in order to do that from every point of view it was very desirable that they not be expanding or developing a nuclear program. But we did not want to turn our back on them because we felt they were basically morally inferior or somethiof that kind which had been what I felt was the rather hallmark of the Carter administration.

INTERVIEWER:: I mean who was behind the decision to supply Stingers to the Mujaheddin I mean how effective were they?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well there was a dispute about that and the Mujaheddin needed to deter Soviet helicopters. Low-flying Soviet helicopters were doing a tremendous amount of damage. They didn't have any basic air force of the Mujaheddin stopping them. They'd shoot at them with rifles and pistols, and this was not very effective and they needed some way to drive them up or drive them off and the stinger was exactly the weapon that would do that. There was always the risk that they would fall into Soviet hands we didn't know to what extent the Soviets already knew about their capabilities, but then the Soviets soon found out what their capabilities were because they were a very major factor in keeping the Soviet helicopters so high they couldn't be effective. And the Soviet helicopter pilots we found out later were extremely worried about and basically didn't like the Stinger under them, under their helicopters. And I can understand why, it was a very accurate weapon and at fairly high ranges and Soviet helicopters that got within range of it were destroyed in great numbers and this was an enormous help to the Mujaheddin.

INTERVIEWER: I mean in the end how important a role do you think the Stinger played in the Soviet withdrawal?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well I think it was one of the major factors. It took away from the Soviets one of their principle abilities which had been not only to harass but to destroy Mujaheddin encampments, fixed positions that they couldn't reach otherwise. That their own ground troops couldn't reach, it enabled the Mujaheddin to keep some supply routes open and I think it was a major factor, I think I would say that the real factor was this enormous fighting spirit of the Mujaheddin, they were people who definitely wanted to keep their own freedom and they fought furiously and with a certain amount of enjoyment and they were good at it, very good at it.

INTERVIEWER: I mean how difficult was it to get back the Stingers, how successful.

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well we did lose some of the Stinger technology and some of those . I don't know if it was lost in the sense that it gave the Soviets something they hadn't had before. But I, I think probably a fairly close run decision as to whether we should do it or not, but there seemed to be no other way of enabling the Mujaheddin to keep going. Unless they could get rid of this threat from the sky, which they couldn't do. A low flying helicopter can do an enormous amount of damage, a heavily armed helicopters the Soviets had those, they were doing damage, they were breaking up supply routes they were forcing the Mujaheddin into basically very untenable positions. They were able to flush them out of any kind of strong points and when you don't have any defense against that it's discouraging to morale but it also means that you are going to be very difficult for you to fight the kinds of guerrilla war that they did fight. The Soviets couldn't beat them on the ground, but they could do so much damage from these low flying attack helicopters that they could achieve their objectives.


Later career [ edit | edit source ]

Weinberger had been Secretary of Defense for six years and ten months, longer than any man except for Robert McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld. After Weinberger left the Pentagon, he joined Forbes, Inc., in 1989 as publisher of Forbes magazine. He was named chairman in 1993. Over the next decade, he wrote frequently on defense and national security issues. In 1990, he wrote Fighting for Peace, an account of his Pentagon years. In 1996, Weinberger co-authored a book entitled The Next War, which raised questions about the adequacy of US military capabilities following the end of the Cold War. He was a member of the Founding Council of the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford.


Weinberger’s Six Tests

Caspar W. Weinberger, Secretary of Defense under President Reagan, made headlines around the world with his views concerning when the US should—and should not—use military power. He spoke in the aftermath of the Oct. 23, 1983, suicide truck bombing that killed 241 American servicemen, most of them Marines, who were in Beirut, Lebanon, on an ill-defined peacekeeping mission. Weinberger urged caution in use of force and, in this notable speech, listed six tests that should govern sending troops into combat.

The Washington Post immediately labeled this statement “the Weinberger Doctrine” (later misidentified by many as “the Powell Doctrine” and attributed to Secretary of State Colin Powell). Weinberger’s view is considered the intellectual counterweight to the so-called “Limited Objectives” doctrine, which holds that the United States can and should conduct limited military operations for limited political goals. The issue flared in a different form in the debate over the size of the force deployed to Iraq.

Once it is clear our troops are required because our vital interests are at stake, then we must have the firm national resolve to commit every ounce of strength necessary to win the fight to achieve our objectives. … Just as clearly, there are other situations where United States combat forces should not be used.

I believe the postwar period has taught us several lessons, and from them I have developed six major tests to be applied when we are weighing the use of US combat forces abroad. Let me now share them with you.

First, the United States should not commit forces to combat overseas unless the particular engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies. That emphatically does not mean that we should declare beforehand, as we did with Korea in 1950, that a particular area is outside our strategic perimeter.

Second, if we decide it is necessary to put combat troops into a given situation, we should do so wholeheartedly, and with the clear intention of winning. If we are unwilling to commit the forces or resources necessary to achieve our objectives, we should not commit them at all. Of course if the particular situation requires only limited force to win our objectives, then we should not hesitate to commit forces sized accordingly. When Hitler broke treaties and remilitarized the Rhineland, small combat forces then could perhaps have prevented the holocaust of World War II.

Third, if we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political and military objectives. And we should know precisely how our forces can accomplish those clearly defined objectives. And we should have and send the forces needed to do just that. As Clausewitz wrote, “No one starts a war—or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.” War may be different today than in Clausewitz’s time, but the need for well-defined objectives and a consistent strategy is still essential. If we determine that a combat mission has become necessary for our vital national interests, then we must send forces capable to do the job—and not assign a combat mission to a force configured for peacekeeping.

Fourth, the relationship between our objectives and the forces we have committed—their size, composition, and disposition—must be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary. Conditions and objectives invariably change during the course of a conflict. When they do change, then so must our combat requirements. We must continuously keep as a beacon light before us the basic questions: “Is this conflict in our national interest?” “Does our national interest require us to fight, to use force of arms?” If the answers are “yes,” then we must win. If the answers are “no,” then we should not be in combat.

Fifth, before the US commits combat forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress. This support cannot be achieved unless we are candid in making clear the threats we face the support cannot be sustained without continuing and close consultation. We cannot fight a battle with the Congress at home while asking our troops to win a war overseas or, as in the case of Vietnam, in effect asking our troops not to win but just to be there.

Finally, the commitment of US forces to combat should be a last resort. …

These tests I have just mentioned have been phrased negatively for a purpose they are intended to sound a note of caution—caution that we must observe prior to committing forces to combat overseas. When we ask our military forces to risk their very lives in such situations, a note of caution is not only prudent, it is morally required.


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