Alexander Haig, Former Secretary of State

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, November 25, 2003, that was edited for clarity.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Just how much can we trust Tony Blair? The British prime minister was looking pretty cozy with French President Jacques Chirac yesterday. And already, the media talk is that, well, these frosty relations between the two appear to be thawing. And this just days after our own president met with Blair.

So can Blair have it both ways? Joining us now, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig.

General, good to have you.


CAVUTO: What do you make of their cozy tête-à-tête there?

HAIG: Well, I think that is exactly what we want him to do. I had no doubt that he would discuss this with our president when he was visiting London. I think we have to be very careful about treating the French as though they are some kind of an enemy. They do a lot of business in the Middle East, and that means that they are not as helpful as we'd like them to be on anything that has to do with the Middle East.

But, they have been historic friends. They'll remain historic friends. And Germany...

CAVUTO: So you don't think, general — you don't think that we potentially send mixed signals when we look like we are nice and then we look like we're not nice, or they look like they're nice and then don't look like they're nice?

HAIG: Well, I'll tell you, Neil, big nations — and we're a big nation and a powerful nation — we don't have to stoop when we are dealing with our historic and traditional friends. The French were with us in our first revolution, as you will recall. They have been our ally in war after war. And I think it is very important that we remember French leaders come and go, but the French people are our friends.

CAVUTO: You know, there are a lot of Americans who would argue with that, general, who say that given the French behavior both leading up to the war, during the war, and now even after the war, with Le Monde, the major newspaper there, I don't know what the French word is for "I told you so," but there is a lot of that there. You don't think there is still a lot of ill will?

HAIG: No, I don't. And I think there is an awful lot of incompetence on both sides from time to time over the years. And we certainly had some during the period of Charles de Gaulle, who was a great Western leader and certainly one of the great figures of modern history.

I think it is very important that we Americans keep a historic view and not be whip-sawed by one leader or another like Chirac. I think the president's very pleased to have Tony Blair, who is his special friend, work cordially with Chirac.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you to switch gears halfway around the world to China. The tough talk is heightening up not only on military issues, but more to the point, on economic issues that we might slap tariffs on everything from Chinese bras to coats. This on the heels of our protection, this attitude toward our steel industry.

Are you worried about a global trade war?

HAIG: I'm far more worried about Taiwan and the insensitivity in Washington about the seriousness of what has recently occurred there with the threats of a referendum that could lead to a declaration of independence or separation of the two Chinas.... our Department of State needs to be saying something — not publicly supporting Taiwan, but making it known to everyone that we are in favor of one China, and would oppose independence for Taiwan.

We have said it; our secretary of state has said it. It has to be said now quietly and in no uncertain terms to Taiwan.

CAVUTO: So what does that mean for Taiwan?

HAIG: It means for Taiwan status quo. We have committed ourselves to one China, two systems. We have also said we will never favor a change in the status quo by force. And that means that Taiwan has an obligation not to change the status quo either by suddenly declaring independence.

This is something that we should not be drawn in at this time. We have too much on our plate. And, after all, it is Taiwan that is doing the changing, not Beijing.

CAVUTO: But we can't have it both...

HAIG: They've been helping us with North Korea.

CAVUTO: But, wait, general. We can't have it both ways, right? We can't say, “All right, we support one China policy” and then, say, “But by the way, Taiwan, do this,” right?

HAIG: Well, of course we can. Oh, yes. Listen, one China means that we are supporting Taiwan. We have been for years. We have saved them during the Korean War, perhaps. I don't think so, frankly.

I think that was an unnecessary security arrangement that we got into, and that brought the Chinese into the war in Korea, misreading us, because we weren't communicating with them. I have written about this extensively. And I lived through those times on the ground, so I can tell you, there is a two-way street, and we have an obligation to make it clear to both Taiwan and Beijing that we support only peaceful change.

CAVUTO: All right. General Haig, always a pleasure seeing you. Thank you very much.

HAIG: All right. Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right. Alexander Haig.

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