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Friday, December 29, 2006

Now you tell us

President Ford speaks from the grave

Lost amid the tributes to a mediocre President we find that Ford thought that Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney made a mistake when they launched the war in Iraq. The Washington Post published a transcript of an interview Ford did with Bob Woodward a couple of years ago.

From the article:
"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."

Ford spoke candidly on the condition that his comments not be published until after his death. While alive he felt no obligation to oppose what he thought was a mistake, and one which would (and has) cost tens of thousands of lives? Cheney and Rumsfeld worked for Ford. Rumsfeld served as Secretary of Defense and Cheney remained Ford's chief of staff, as he had been under Richard Nixon after Haldeman's fall in the Watergate scandal. This is not, we learn from the same interview, the only instance of Ford's personal friendship trumping the good of the country. He admitted that his personal friendship with Nixon strongly influenced his decision to pardon the former President who attempted to turn the U.S. into a dictatorship. At the time Ford claimed that personal considerations played no part in his decision.

This draws a sickeningly familiar picture of an increasingly socially isolated ruling class that cares more for itself and its members than the people or nation it pretends to care about. What effect, realistically, would Ford's opposition to the war have had, if he had made his comments public in 2003? We will never know. We do know that he did not care enough about a disastrous mistake to denounce it at the time (nevermind over 100 public officials resigned or otherwise did make public statements in opposition to the war in 2003, some ruining their own careers in an effort to stop the madness.) Ford would have faced no financial hardships were he to have voiced opposition to the reigning Administration. In his silence Ford has not proven any different than any Democrat or Republican who opposes a reprehensible rush to war built on a foundation of lies only when "safe" to do so.

Update Dec. 30, 2006:

I had not realized that Ford played a part in the years long massacre of East Timorese by Indonesia under Suharto. Other bloggers have not only pointed this out but one also provided a scan of primary source document in which Ford gave Suharto the OK to invade. For those who do not already know about this part of history, in 1975 Indonesia East Timor, an Island in the Indonesian archipelago that attempted to declare its independence. The resulting carnage and killing of the civilian population rivaled that of Cambodia under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge going on at the same time. The East Timorese posed no threat to anyone. The Indonesians wiped out about 200,000 people (or one third of the island's population). Dennis Perrin in Red State Son writes about wiping out history in general and sanitizing Ford's presidency in particular:

"Now, a civilized country that dealt with its history honestly would mention the above in any overview of that period. And had Gerald Ford been, say, a Chinese premier who ordered a client army to wipe out a third of a smaller country's population, I'm guessing that would be mentioned in American news outlets upon his death. But being the U.S. president who ended a "national nightmare," Ford's direct hand in mass murder is completely ignored. I have yet to find any mainstream mention of this, ..."

And by the way, liberals and supporters of the democrats stop patting yourselves on the back for how much "better" democrats are than republicans. President Carter subsequently sold arms to Indonesia knowing full well what Suharto was going to do with them.

And I must thank Dennis Perrin for a description of the political power in the United and its relationship with the media as "The owners of the country and their stenographers." So remember, democrats and republicans work for the same bosses.

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