Caspar Weinberger, politician & businessman, Died at 88

Caspar Willard “Cap” Weinberger died on March 28, 2006 at the age of 88, he was an American politician and businessman.

Born in San Francisco, California August 18, 1917, Weinberger served in the 41st Infantry Division in the Pacific theater of World War II.

His entry into politics was as a California State Assemblyman from 1953 to 1959, and he would go on to serve as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

An accomplished private sector businessman, he later became vice president and general counsel of Bechtel Corporation, and still later Chairman of Forbes.

Weinberger was a first cousin of the nationally-broadcast radio personality Don McNeill of Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club.

Caspar Weinberger’s father Herman was the younger brother of Luella Weinberger McNeill, mother of Don McNeill.

The 1910 Census shows Herman and Luella living in the household of Nathan Weinberger, the grandfather of Caspar Weinberger.

When he enrolled at Harvard College, Mrs. Weinberger rented an apartment nearby for the first semester that Weinberger and his older brother, Peter, attended Harvard.

She then returned to her husband in San Francisco. Weinberger received his Bachelor of Arts in history, magna cum laude, in 1938 and a Juris Doctor degree in 1941, both from Harvard.

He edited the Harvard student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, and recalls in his memoirs entitled In the Arena: A Memoir of the 20th Century two specific interviews of which he was most pleased: one with the highly decorated soldier Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and another with Alabama-born actress Tallulah Bankhead.

He served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and then became secretary of defense after Reagan’s election victory in 1980. Briefed to supervise a major military build-up, he developed such high-profile projects as the Strategic Defense Initiative.

A ‘hawk’ on East–West issues, he opposed detente, resigned his office in 1987, and returned to private life.

As Secretary of Defense, Weinberger oversaw a massive rebuilding of US military strength.

Major defense programs he championed included the B-1Bbomber and the “600-ship Navy”.

His efforts created economic and military-industrial pressures that were associated with the beginning of Perestroikaand the beginning of the end of both the Cold War and the Soviet Union.

When Great Britain and Argentina clashed over the Falkland Islands, off the southern coast of Argentina, Weinberger early on involved himself strongly on the British side.

Great Britain had seized the Falklands, or Malvinas Islands as the Argentines knew them, in the 1830s, and the two nations had been at odds over them ever since.

On the 2nd of April 1982 Argentine forces invaded and occupied the Falklands.

The British had no military units there to resist, but Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government decided to retake the islands.

Weinberger supported Thatcher’s decision–he saw Argentina as the aggressor, and Great Britain as a principal U.S. ally.

He privately criticized Secretary of State Haig for his use of shuttle diplomacy between England and Argentina in an effort to settle the controversy peacefully.

Reagan agreed with Weinberger on the need to assist Britain; the United States provided missiles, aircraft fuel, military equipment, and intelligence information to the British government.

In a little over two months, British forces defeated the Argentines, who surrendered on the 14th of June 1982.

A new Argentine government, not hostile to the United States, came to power. Proud of U.S. aid to Great Britain in this crisis, Weinberger felt it brought beneficial results.