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Melvin Robert Laird

Laird, Melvin Robert, 1922–, American politician, U.S. secretary of defense (1969–73), b. Omaha, Nebr. After serving (1942–46) in the navy during World War II, he entered politics as a Republican and was (1946–52) a state senator in Wisconsin. As a member (1953–69) of the U.S. House of Representatives, he served on the appropriations committee where he actively supported a large military budget and a strong nuclear defense posture as well as increased funds for health and education. Laird became secretary of defense in President Nixon's cabinet and presided over the shift from a conscripted to an all-volunteer army. He supported (1970) the invasion of Cambodia and approved the strategy of bombing North Vietnam to force a peace settlement. After his resignation as secretary, he served (1973) briefly as counselor to the president for domestic affairs. Laird is the author of A House Divided (1962) and editor of Republican Papers (1968).

See M. R. Laird et al., The Nixon Doctrine (1972).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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