“History always vindicates those on the side of freedom”
The Honorable Caspar W. Weinberger, U.S. Secretary of Defense 1981-1987
In 1980, President Ronald Reagan appointed Caspar Weinberger his first Secretary of Defense and together with many other patriots they formed the blueprint and then carried out the plan to win the Cold War against the Soviet Union without firing a shot.
“They did it, plain and simple, by outspending the Soviets,” says Weinberger’s son, Caspar W. Weinberger, Jr., executive director of the Foundation. “In the process, the old nuclear tensions that so preoccupied the world since the mid 1940s, for at least a little while, defused.”
Although remembered primarily as one of the finest U.S. Secretaries of Defense, Caspar Weinberger’s career encompassed many important roles, including serving as Finance Director for California Governor Ronald Reagan. In 1970, Weinberger went to Washington D.C. to serve as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under President Richard Nixon. Over the next eighteen years, Weinberger would hold three Cabinet posts while serving three Presidents.
Weinberger’s greatest heartache was the pall cast over his career when an angry and arrogant independent prosecutor indicted him over the Iran-Contra scandal. “Anyone who knows where Caspar Weinberger stood on negotiating with known terrorists and liars—he refused to do it—knows how ludicrous the accusations were,” says Cap Jr., “One of his biggest regrets was that he hadn’t been able to counsel President Reagan that Iran-Contra was a bad idea.” Caspar Weinberger was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush as one of his last acts in office, just weeks before Weinberger was to stand trial, the victim, almost, in our view, of a vindictive and self-serving special prosecutor, irate basically because he had been refused a job in the Reagan White House.
After leaving politics in 1989, Weinberger went on to serve as publisher of Forbes magazine. He remained politically active all his life, providing informal counsel, writing, and speaking about America’s defense challenges with renewed vigor after 9/11. He also wrote or co-wrote five books: Fighting for Peace, memoirs of his Pentagon years; The Next War, an analysis of post Cold War defense strategy, his complete memoir In The Arena…A Memoir of the 20th Century, the best selling fictional thriller, Chain of Command, and Home of the Brave: a Tribute to Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror which was published in 2006 shortly after his death.
Caspar Weinberger was a devoted family man, sharing his life with writer/publisher Jane Weinberger, his wife of 63 years, their two children, three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
According to his son, the late Caspar Weinberger himself may have best articulated his own legacy in a 1984 speech, where he outlined what came to be known as the “Weinberger Doctrine.” The speech declared that the United States must use force only as a “last resort, but if force were to be used, the war had to be fought wholeheartedly, with the clear intention of winning.”
It spelled out what he and President Reagan called “peace through strength,” says Cap Weinberger, Jr. “I shudder to think of how the Cold War could have ended if they had not responded with such wisdom.”