Caspar Weinberger Dies at Age 88

Caspar Weinberger has died, just hours after his Reagan and Nixon Administration colleague Lyn Nofziger.

AP’s George Gedda summarizes the paradox of Weinberger’s career thusly:

Photo: Former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger takes questions in this file photo during an afternoon interview, Tuesday, June 24, 2003, in Sarasota, Fla. (AP Photo/Sarasota Herald Tribune, Thomas Bender) (Thomas Bender - AP) As Richard Nixon’s budget director, Weinberger was such a zealous economizer he earned the nickname “Cap the Knife” for his efforts to slash government spending, largely by cutting or curtailing many of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society social programs.

Later, he became the consummate Cold Warrior as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of defense and presided over $2 trillion in military spending — the biggest peacetime increase in U.S. history.

Despite his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, he managed to win the admiration of people ranging from Colin Powell, who considered him “a great American and a dear friend” as well as “an indefatigable fighter for peace through strength” who “served his nation in war and peace in so many ways” to Pat Buchanan, who termed him “one of the best Cabinet officers that I’ve known in a lifetime.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.