Blood on his hands too: Gerald Ford stumbles again, this time by failing to speak up about Iraq

| December 28, 2006 | 5 Replies

We’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, right?  Our newly deceased former president, Gerald Ford, will now be turned into some kind of hero.  That’s the role of the media–to say happy things to put us in the mood to buy the products they advertise.  Therefore, the media is already busy touting Ford’s alleged role as a “healer” for his post Watergate service.

But now what have we here?   Today we learn that Ford sat on his hands while the current president lied us into war in Iraq.  It’s clear as day, according this article published by the Washington Post.  Here’s an excerpt:

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. “I don’t think I would have gone to war,” he said a little more than a year after President Bush had launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford’s own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford “very strongly” disagreed with the current president’s justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney — Ford’s White House chief of staff — and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford’s chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

“Embargoed,” eh?  Isn’t that a euphemism for lacking the courage of one’s convictions?  A euphemism for cowardice?

The Ford interview — and a subsequent lengthy conversation in 2005 — took place for a future book project, though he said his comments could be published at any time after his death.  

So congratulations, President Ford, for failing to speak up at a time when you could have helped to save hundreds of thousands of lives.  Instead, you sat on your hands so that you didn’t embarrass your fellow republicans.  You and hundreds of other people who could have made a difference.  But didn’t.  For no good reason.

That’s unpardonable.

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Category: American Culture, Good and Evil, Iraq, Politics, The Middle East

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Jason Rayl says:

    I think your condemnation is a bit of stretch. It is long, long tradition that former presidents refrain from commenting on sitting presidents. It's more than courtesy. Clinton said little as well.

    It's not the job of former presidents to influence policy. That's what our elected representatives are supposed to do. If anyone deserves the back of a hand, it's them.

    Back in '03, Hilary Clinton gave an interview in which she pretty much passed on Bush's decisions by saying (about the "evidence" of WMDs) "Well, it certainly looked like he was hiding something. We saw the same intelligence when we were in office and that's what it looked like to us."

    Besides, Ford saying something (which, evidently, he did, just not when some people would have preferred) would have changed nothing. We were frightened, paranoid, and hurt. We need to remember that a majority in this country supported Bush.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Jason: you are right that Ford wouldn't have turned things around in '03. Not by himself. But what if Ford and all of the other conservative people of influence (who are now mostly saying "I was against it" or "I really think he should have pursued diplomacy") had spoken up in the aggregate? What if 500 prominent moderate republicans, politicians, former office-holders, busines leaders and others had all taken out a full page ad in the many newspapers that were drumming up the war? How about this for a headline: "500 prominent Republicans oppose the Iraq invasion."

    I am picking on the Republicans because their party was in power.   All of the Dems who were against the war were being ridiculed.  Not that I admire the Clintons for their failure to speak out clearly and loudly against the war.  They too should have spoken up.   All prominent people against the war should have spoken up.  We might have been much closer to achieving critical mass on this debate than we thought.  See http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=413

    There are a lot of days when I just get furious about the silence and the lack of curiousity that enabled this Iraq bloodbath. The current complacency of the American public is also very difficult to take. Look at the headlines of local TV and local newspapers over the past month–they are so often about shopping and other trite things, while, each week, dozens or hundreds of Iraqis and Americans are being shredded by bombs and bullets.

    Here's what really ticks me off. Yes, back in '03 when we invaded, Ford was not alone in failing to speak up. But fast foward to '04 (when he gave his interviews) '05 and '06. Why wasn't he speaking up THEN?

    Because he wanted to keep this "juicy" part of his book private so he could jack up his sales when it was "safer" to do so? So that he could later claim that his total silence meant that he was against the invasion? There's a lot that could have been done to derail this occupation ever since we invaded. But prominent SCRAG's (Silent Cowardly Republicans Against the War) sat around with their mouths zipped, at least while they were in public.

    If they had spoken up earlier (when it wasn't popular to do so), they might not have been invited to so many Republican cocktail parties. Parties where they congregated in the corner and mumbled how they were actually against the war. "But don't quote me," they probably all said. I'll let someone know how I feel about this important issue only when I'm DEAD so I don't offend my neocon friends.

    According to this quote by Martin Luther King, Ford and all the other SCRAGS have been dying ever since '03:

    "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

  3. Scholar says:

    Hindsight is always better. We were all pissed off about 911, so it was a release of sorts when the invasion of Iraq began. I remember staying up late many nights watching the war through the eyes of television reporters riding on Humvees. It was exciting to see war happening via live satellite feeds. Few of us wanted to be called hippies or anti-American during that time of national mourning. Also, memories of a country divided by Vietnam were brought back to the surface. The quick strike on Baghdad seemed so humane and effective, surely it couldn't be a bad thing compared with a long drawn out struggle like Vietnam. Why didn't it end there when Saddam was removed and Bush landed victoriously on the Aircraft carrier? The truth seems to be trickling down through the government to the media, and eventually reaches the public in a watered down format. Maybe we will learn from our mistakes this time.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    Although I can appreciate Scholar's awakening to the reality of the mess in Iraq, the notion that it was not foreseeable is very, very wrong. Regime change in a dictatorship like Iraq, especially when there was no evidence *AT ALL* that the country was a military threat to America, was a formula for disaster, and NO ONE in the U.S. military or political power system should have thought otherwise. The neo-cons who pushed for the invasion were satisfying their own imbecilic egos, not doing anything that was in tne nation's best interest.

    Furthermore, Iraq HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11, so there simply is no valid basis for feeling any emotional "release" from the Iraq invasion. It was a rape of that country, orchestrated by an incompetent, corrupt — indeed, criminal — American president and his administration; a president who should be impeached, thrown out of office, and maybe even charged with war crimes for starting a war that has caused the slaugher of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

    Of course, there are many reasons why the mess in Iraq was foreseeable, but one stands out as directly contrary to all the propaganda spewed out by the Bush Administration, some of which Scholar, as did many others, fell for: terrorism is not a *military* threat to America (or any other country), so military action is not the type of response that is likely to produce good results. Anyone who thinks even briefly about global terrorism would realize this, yet this basic fact seems to have escaped the attention of every Republican politician in Washington. The nation will be paying for their lies for generations to come.

  5. Scholar says:

    Thank you Grumpy. It is hard for me to personally take the blame for the mess in Iraq, but maybe that is the problem. It was just too easy to sit and watch the war on TV and pretend it was okay. The scary thing is that most Democrats including myself were all too willing to go along with the Lynch Mob and "lynch" Iraq. For some reason the extremists yelling "bring home the troops" seemed like the minority. Would it have been better for me to have gone to the war protest? I guess we kinda dropped the ball on this one. History has shown us that the mob mentality is powerful and blind, a dangerous combination. Now we are part of history.

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