Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Jerry Ford: A Swell Guy

President Ford was sent to his final resting place in Grand Rapids, Michigan today. Every good thing possible to say has been said about the man and his non-elected presidency. We are taught not to speak ill of the dead, but through the entire funeral proceeding, I've had an uneasy feeling. Joseph Farah at WorldNetDaily, stimulated my eggnog clogged noggin as to why. And he pointed out that Ford's criticism of the current President in interviews with Bob Woodward, one of the Watergate reporters, to be released after Ford's death, allows equal criticism of Ford's record.

Farah asks in a commentary today, "Was Ford ever right about anything?" The commentaries of this blogger are in brackets following the thoughts of Farah.

His repeated insistence to a shocked New York Times reporter that Eastern Europe was not under domination by the Soviet Union. It is hard to recall or imagine a presidential statement more out of touch with reality, one that illustrated a willingness to accommodate and appease evil in the world for the sake of "stability."

His pompous attempt to insinuate himself as a vice presidential candidate and, worse, a kind of "co-president," with Ronald Reagan during the 1980 Republican National Convention.

His role on the Warren Commission, which seemed to leave open more questions about President John F. Kennedy's assassination than it answered. [Ford personally changed the autopsy report with his own pen. He moved the location of a bullet wound from Kennedy's back between the shoulder blades to the neck thereby fueling conspiracy theories and reducing the veracity of the Warren Commission Report.]

His decision - probably a quid pro quo for gaining the presidency in the first place - to pardon Richard Nixon for his Watergate crimes. [Only ten days before granting the pardon, Pres. Ford declared that the special prosecutor should proceed against "any and all individuals". A year before, Ford asserted, "I do not think the public would stand for it." By granting the pardon, Ford eliminated the probable prosecution of Nixon and delaying a beneficial check on future Presidential misconduct. I am still puzzled how a pardon can be granted to an individual who has been neither indicted nor convicted of a crime. Since it's apparently possible, can I get a Presidential pardon for a crime to be named, but not committed, later?]

His sloppy exit from Vietnam - a retreat that ultimately resulted in the slaughter of millions in Southeast Asia. [The American phase of the VietNam War officially ended January 27, 1973 with the signing of The Paris Peace Accords. President Ford signed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 on December 30. The Foreign Assistance Act was a compromise bill that provided far too little money to the Republic of South VietNam thereby ensuring the eventual fall of the arguably democratic government there.

Ford, in a television speech April 23, 1975, declared an end to both the Vietnam War and all US aid to the Rep. of S. VietNam. Helicopter evacuations continued without break as North Vietnamese tanks broke through the Saigon outlying city defenses. Very early on the morn of April 30, the remaining US Embassy Marines, diplomats, and VietNamese supporters ignominiously evacuated Saigon aboard an Air America (CIA) helicopter landing repeatedly on an apartment rooftop as civilians poured over the embassy walls, inundating its grounds unsuccessfully attempting to escape the Communist onslaught. Within months, the new Communist regime of a united VietNam began rounding up hundreds of thousands of supporters of the South VietNam government. People suspected of treason and collaboration with America were also arrested and sent to re-education camps where thousands were killed or otherwise perished. The final sell-out of VietNam was complete.]

His signing of the Helsinki Accords, a desperate act of capitulation to Soviet Union aggression.

His appointment of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who has nothing but contempt for the U.S. Constitution.

His presiding over unprecedented inflation and recession at home - an economy so weak, it set the stage for the election of one of the worst presidents in American history, Jimmy Carter.
Most grievous, in my opinion, was Ford's green-lighting of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor and the subsequent killings of Christians by Muslims in 1975. Henry Kissenger, Ford's Secretary of State, for years insisted the subject of East Timor never came up in discussions with Indonesian President Suharto. According to State Dept declassified memos, East Timor and Suharto's intentions to invade did come up.

East Timor had been a colony of Portugal for two centuries and decolonisation in Portuguese Timor began in 1974 following the Carnation Revolution in that Iberian nation. West Timor had been a Dutch colony since 1640. The Dutch eventually lost control of the colony after WWII when they faced guerrilla republican war resulting in the Republic of Indonesia in 1950. With more pressing concerns in Mozambique and Angola, Portugal essentially abandoned East Timor which unilaterally declared independence November 28, 1975. The people of East Timor are predominantly Roman Catholic Christians and Portugese speaking. Indonesia is the fourth largest nation and the largest Muslim nation in the world.

On December 6, 1975, Ford and Kissinger flew to Jakarta to meet with dictator Suharto to discuss the situation in Asia, and US-Indonesia economic relations. They also assured Suharto that invading East Timor was not going to be a problem in America. In one of the State Dept memos, beginning at the bottom of page 8, Suharto tells Ford and Kissinger he wants to speak of the problem of East Timor. Kissinger had already told Suharto arms shipments would continue, that it would be okay to construct an M-16 production plant in Indonesia.

Suharto to Ford and Kissinger: "We want your understanding if we deem it necessary to take rapid or drastic action."

Ford: "We will understand and will not press you on the issue. We understand the problem you have and the intentions you have."

Kissinger: "You understand that the use of US made arms could create problems. We could have technical and legal problems, you are familiar, Mr President, with the problems we had on Cyprus although this situation is different.

It depends on how you construe it: whether it is in self defense or is a foreign operation. It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly. We would be able to influence the reaction in America if whatever happens happens after we return [to Wash. D.C.]. This way there would be less chance of people talking in an unauthorized way. The President will be back on Monday at 2:00 PM Jakarta time. We understand your problem and the need to move quickly, but I am only saying that it would be better if it were done after we returned."
President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger flew back to Washington, D.C. Indonesian President Suharto, emboldened by the highest ranking officials in the US, launched his invasion of East Timor some 16 hours later. The invasion and occupation by Indonesian forces or affiliated proxy forces took the lives of 200,000 East Timorese, roughly a third of the local population, . US arms sales to the Suharto government continued until President Clinton stopped them in September 1999.

The bloodletting continues today under the watchful eyes of the United Nations.

The UN Security Council created UNMIT in August to help restore order after fighting, attributed to differences between eastern and western regions, broke out in April and May and led to the deaths of at least 37 people and forced about 155,000 people – or 15 percent of the population – to flee their homes.
The Secretary General's special representative for East Timor, Atul Khare says the security situation has much improved, particularly since the deadly violence earlier this year, much still remains to be done.

And now, after all these years, one of the events the Indonesian invasion was supposed to prevent according to the State Dept memos may actually happen. Yesterday, January 1, 2007, the government of PM Fraser in Canberra, Australia was been warned that VietNam and China may intervene in East Timor.

Legacies, like coins, have two sides. Such is the reverse side of President Gerald Ford's legacy. But, never mind. We are not supposed to remember such things. We are only to remember that Jerry was such a swell guy.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Mike's America said...

Well we can disagree on most of that analysis. But I would venture to say we might agree that no matter what anyone says about Ford he was hands down better in every way, both in the Presidency and afterwards, than his Democrat successors.

P.S. Why didn't you drop a link to your best of 2006? Didn't you see the invite?

Indigo Red said...

That's fair, Mike. Ford was better than the Democrat alternatives before or after. JF Kennedy and HS Truman being the only possible exceptions. He was even better than FD Roosevelt, an egotistical socialist from whom nearly all maodern American social ailments flow.

I remember seeing the "best of" invite, but I don't know that my best had anything to do with anything. And, I tend not to remember what I've written for long, and I didn't go back to look.

But, in the final analisys, you can't deny Jerry Ford was a swell guy.

mudkitty said...

The swell guy version is the simplistic version. Ford was not as simplistic as the media would like us to think.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

[The American phase of the VietNam War officially ended January 27, 1973 with the signing of The Paris Peace Accords. President Ford signed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 on December 30. The Foreign Assistance Act was a compromise bill that provided far too little money to the Republic of South VietNam thereby ensuring the eventual fall of the arguably democratic government there.

One thing to keep in mind is that there were two secret agreements that Nixon made. One was with the North Vietnamese, promising them billions in reparations (which they never got, because they broke their agreement); the other was a pledge in writing to the South Vietnamese that if the North broke their agreement and invaded the South, America would give them whatever aid they needed, including even air and troop support. Unfortunately Watergate happened; and when North Vietnam invaded the South, unelected President Ford pleaded to Congress to enforce the agreements and honor our pledge to our South Vietnamese allies. Congress did nothing to alleviate the suffering. At least President Ford tried. And as a reminder of what he deemed to be his failure, he kept the US Embassy (Saigon) stairs in his library.

Indigo Red said...

Thanks, Wordsmith. I had forgotten the written agreements. I do remember Ford did plead with and begged the DEMOCRAT Congress not to abandon S. VietNam. I believe he should have vetoed the Foreign Assistant Act forcing the liberal Congress into an override vote, thereby assuming all responsibilty. By signing the act and then announcing the abandonment as US policy was an act of complicity. That Ford kept the stairs as a reminder of his own failure was an appropriate action.

Mudkitty - defending a conservative Republican?!

mudkitty said...

Are you saying that Congress abandoned Vietnam? Are you really saying that? Cuz, Cos, if you are, you need a civics lesson.

I defend conservatives all the time. But what has that to do with Republicans?

Indigo Red said...

Yes, a war weary Democrat Congress abandoned VietNam and managed to blame the entire war on the Republicans, dispite the fact is was predominantly a Democrat led war. Congress refused to fund any military aid to S. VietNam, which is what many in Congress want to do with the military budget vis-a-vis Iraq. The President can send troops anywhere, but if Congress does not provide the cash, well, no cigar.

And stop asking, "Are you really saying that?" It's a stupid question. I'm not only saying whatever, but have also put photons to monitor so that everyone can see it. So, yeah, that's what I'm saying, and the answer will be the same in any future similar question.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

And stop asking, "Are you really saying that?" It's a stupid question. I'm not only saying whatever, but have also put photons to monitor so that everyone can see it. So, yeah, that's what I'm saying, and the answer will be the same in any future similar question.

lol...'kitty, she so silly.

mudkitty said...

Vietnan was a bi-partisan war, that's for sure. The left, if you remember, if your old enough to remember, as I am, unfortunatly, hated Johnson.

No, Vietnam wasn't the republican's fault by any means. But it was the fault of hawks. The "hawks" were wrong.

But you know, you have to know, that congress never declaired war in Vietnam, and it, like Iraq, is entierly administrative.

The president commits troops to war, and doesn't need congress' aproval. And congress has never, in our history, had the balls to deny the executive his funds, because the exectutive will say that in denying him the war funds, you are denying the troops the money they need to survive. When the truth is, it's the executive branch that put the troops in harms way in the first place.

It's a little like someone who tell you, "Go stand under the window" then pushes a piano out the window, and while the piano is falling, the person runs down the stairs, pushes you out of the way of the piano, and claims credit for saving you.

Indigo Red said...

Hey! I did that with a piano and I was a hero, dammit!

Constitutionally, only Congress can declare war. However, by the existential powers of Congress they can also give away the declaritory power to any other branch if they do so in a Constitutionally appropriate manner. Which they did.

The War Powers Act entitles POTUS, as Commander-in-Chief, to send troops anywhere for X number of days subject to review at the end of that time. The reviewing agency is POTUS. Congressmen are so wedded to their jobs and power positions that very, VERY few will risk an election loss for the good of the country.

Last week al-Maliki made it known he didn't want nor like being the head of his country. George Washington never wanted to be POTUS. The unwanted jobs were thrust upon them. Leaders like that are few and are almost guaranteed to act with restraint for the country and not for self-interest and self-agrandizement.

There was a time when the Professions were looked upon as a calling, a worthy occupation for which one had a passion. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, public servants, soldiers all felt a call to serve. Today, more than anything, the call is the siren call of riches and fame. Just as the Sirens of ancient Greece summoned men and ships to a rocky, watery death, our ship of state is headed for a similar demise if people don't stop to think about the good of all, check out the window for folks who may be injured before committing the piano to fee fall.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

But it was the fault of hawks. The "hawks" were wrong.

The hawks were pretty much almost everyone in Congress, as far as I can tell (at least in the entry to war). But what do you mean that they were wrong?

But you know, you have to know, that congress never declaired war in Vietnam, and it, like Iraq, is entierly administrative.

Vietnam wasn't an undeclared war because the Southeast Asia Resolution (Tonkin Gulf resolution) was a legitimate conditional declaration of war; nor was any senator or representative tricked into voting for it, because everyone knew that the purpose of the Resolution was to enable the President to increase military efforts in preventing Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam to fall under communist tyranny.

The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was voted for unanimously in the House, and only 2 dissenting votes in the Senate.

Congress basically voted to authorize virtually unlimited war, if you look at the language of the Resolution.

Just because there is no formal declaration of war by Congress doesn't make a war illegitimate or illegal. How many formal declarations of war has Congress actually made in our nation's history?

Indigo Red said...

Wordsmith, you are absolutely correct. In hindsight we now know that no attack happened in the Gulf of Tonkin. But, that's the glory of hindsight, at the time the info they had was all that was available. And that is the case every minute of every day.

Not many formal war declarations have been made. Usually, war was declared, or more correctly, impossed upon us. The Revolution was not a declared as there was no Congress or President to do so.

The Civil War was not declared, the Armies of the North and South just started shooting at each other.

War of 1812 - we were attacked.

WWI was declared because we really didn't have a dog in that fight.

WWII didn't need to be declared, but was anyway. FDR said in his Dec 8 speech that, since December 7, 1941, "a state of war has existed between the United States and the Empire of Japan." A few days later Germany delared war on us.

Korea was a UN police action.

VietNam was something like Korea, but slowly escalated over several years after Ike sent the first advisors. Congress gave the President greater war fighting powers.

Gulf War I was a UN approved action not requiring a formal declaration.

Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror are part and parcel of the same attack on America on 9/11.

Congress has long since abandonned it's role as Declarer of Wars, and ceded the responsibilty to the President which is exactly what the Founders did not want. That much authority over our war-making ability in the hands of the wrong president could only end in disaster.

All the Acts and Bills that have transpired throughout the years should be rescinded and the Declaritory Powers retuned to Congress. The only perview of the President should be defense. All offensive wars should be the result of sober debate and agreement amongst the elected representatives in Congress assembled. As the Founders envisioned, no unpopular or unsupported war should be lightly entered into, while the country is protected with defensive measures.

Then we can debate what all the foregoing means in real life.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I believe he should have vetoed the Foreign Assistant Act forcing the liberal Congress into an override vote, thereby assuming all responsibilty.

While looking up something else, I found this at wikipedia (for however much that's worth):

In December 1974, the Democratic majority in Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which cut off all military funding to the South Vietnamese government and made unenforceable the peace terms negotiated by Nixon. Nixon, threatened with impeachment because of Watergate, had resigned his office. Gerald R. Ford, Nixon's vice-president stepped in to finish his term. The new president vetoed the Foreign Assistance Act, but his veto was overridden by Congress.

I hadn't heard about this before. Is this true?

Indigo Red said...

I did not know that either, Wordsmith. After awhile researching, I found there were 2 acts that involved VietNam, one signed, one vetoed.

The Foreign Assitance Act of 1974 S. 3394, was signed Dec 30, 1974.

"I HAVE signed S. 3394, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, with some reservations, but with appreciation for the spirit of constructive compromise which motivated the Congress.
... In South Vietnam, we have consistently sought to assure the right of the Vietnamese people to determine their own futures free from enemy interference. It would be tragic indeed if we endangered, or even lost, the progress we have achieved by failing to provide the relatively modest but crucial aid which is so badly needed there. Our objective is to help South Vietnam to develop a viable, self-sufficient economy and the climate of security which will make that development possible."

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1976, S. 2662, was vetoed May 7, 1976.

"The bill would suspend for 180 days the President's authority to control certain trade with North and South Vietnam, thereby removing a vital bargaining instrument for the settlement of a number of differences between the United States and these countries. I have the deepest sympathy for the intent of this provision, which is to obtain an accounting for Americans missing in action in Vietnam. However, the enactment of this legislation would not provide any real assurances that the Vietnamese would now fulfill their long-standing obligation to provide such an accounting. Indeed, the establishment of a direct linkage between trade and accounting for those missing in action might well only perpetuate Vietnamese demands for greater and greater concessions."