Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Washington Post: President Ford “Strongly Disagreed” With Iraq War

December 28, 2006

From an article in the Washington Post, sure to please the anti-war left, by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame, we read, “Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified.

President Ford, who passed away just yesterday at the age of 93, was also President when South Viet Nam lost to the Communist North Vietnamese forces in what could be described as one of America’s darkest moments.

Reporter Bob Woodward, who seems to have taken extreme delight in his role in bringing about the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974, is also no friend to the current Bush administration nor is he a supporter of the current battle in Iraq, part of the overall War on Terror being waged after the devastating attacks we suffered on September 11, 2001. Any opposition from any source, whether great or small, should come as no surprise from Bob Woodward.

In a Reuters fed article printed today in The Australian, we see the headline taking this one step further, Ford slammed Iraq policy.

Based on a four hour interview by Woodward with former President Ford that has been embargoed and that I know of, no full transcript has been made publicly available, we find excerpts of this interview in the article.

Early in the article we read, "Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."

However, much further down in the article we find, "I don't think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly," he said, "I don't think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer."

Apparently, Mr. Ford was not privy to much of the information that not only Bush was privy to, but that was passed from the Clinton administration. Additionally, we saw 12 years of United Nations resolutions passed resulting in the scandalous and corrupt “Oil for Food” program which resulted in a large amount of money being diverted away from food purchases and into the hands of Saddam and corrupt U.N. officials.

Bear in mind that several responsible people from both parties as well as several other countries all felt that Saddam was sitting on large numbers of WMDs. Given the horrendous attacks we suffered on 9/11, it would have been irresponsible for any President to not have taken some concrete action to deny terrorists the possibility of gaining access to those same WMDs.

I am one that is of the mind that the supposed WMDs were in fact still in Iraq and that during the six months long “rush to war,” they were relocated elsewhere. In support of my view that they existed, I turn to Senator Hillary Clinton (D. NY) and wife of former President B.J. Clinton when she justified her vote to go to war in Iraq. At that time, April 24, 2004, she said, "No, I don't regret giving the president authority because at the time it was in the context of weapons of mass destruction, grave threats to the United States, and clearly, Saddam Hussein had been a real problem for the international community for more than a decade," and, "The consensus was the same, from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration. It was the same intelligence belief that our allies and friends around the world shared.

Woodward also quoted President Ford as saying, “I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."

Everything President Bush has done since the attacks of 9/11 have been what he felt was in the best interest of our ‘national security’ and to prevent another 9/11.

What I am writing should not be misconstrued to appear as if I am bashing President Ford, I am not. I don’t feel he was the best President ever, but then again, he was only in office a little over two years, so it is hard to judge. I do look upon him as a kind and decent man who was thrust into an office he did not originally seek and may have been unprepared for.

I have had strong feelings about him for not doing more to stop the fall of Saigon in April 1975. Even though he faced a predominately Democrat congress opposed to any support of the fledgling country of South Viet Nam, he could not garner support from his former colleagues in Congress and allowed the country to fall into the hands of the Communist North, resulting in the deaths of untold millions of South Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians. Over 58,000 American gave their lives in the struggle to allow South Viet Nam to remain free and I feel that sacrifice was made a sham by turning our backs and allowing the Communists free reign to conquer the country.

Woodward wrongfully states, “Ford had faced his own military crisis -- not a war he started like Bush, but one he had to figure out how to end. In many ways those decisions framed his short presidency -- in the difficult calculations about how to pull out of Vietnam…

Any student of history, much less those of us who served in Viet Nam and were still in the Active Army at the time of their fall, knows that all American Combat troops were gone from South Viet Nam early in 1973. Ford did not become President until August 9, 1974, over a year after our troops were withdrawn. Our involvement had already ended and even though we had promised to return and support the South, should hostilities resume, once they did the Democrat controlled Congress turned a blind eye.

Woodward, in what appears to me to be his desire for a repeat of that debacle and abandonment of an ally in Iraq, seems to be urging just that by running this article with excerpted quotes. Mr. Woodward, I for one, would appreciate a full transcript of this interview to ascertain for myself President Ford’s complete and unfettered words and thoughts.


UPDATE: Jules Crittenden of the Boston Herald writes Woodward Chants Up A Ford Zombie

UPDATE: NY Daily News's Thomas DeFrank seems to have a different perspective on President Ford's views on the Iraq War. Last Lunch With a Legend


RoseCovered Glasses said...

There are good points in your article your web page and your blog. I enjoyed your recollections of Vietnam. I would like to supplement your views with some information:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the new Sec. Def.Mr. Gates, understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I enjoy coming and reading the compendium of your thoughts as are posted here. Always informative, always current and mostly familiar because they are akin to my own thoughts.

Keep it up.

LewWaters said...

Thank you very much, I appreciate the kind words.

I speak as I feel and hope others find some common sense in what I see.

Feel free to comment any time and if you see something you disagree with, correct me as you see fit.