Gerald Ford speaks – too late.

According to Bob Woodward’s article in today’s Washington Post, former president of the United States Gerald Ford said that he would not have gone to war in Iraq. In an interview given to Woodward in July 2004, on the strict understanding it would not be published until after his death, the former president said he did not think he would have gone to war, saying that he would have made greater efforts to find alternative ways of dealing with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

“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.” 

Rumsfeld, and Cheney and the 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.”………………………………………………………………………

…………………“Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people,” Ford said, referring to Bush’s assertion that the United States has a “duty to free people.” But the former president said he was skeptical “whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what’s in our national interest.” He added: “And 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.”

As all three men criticised played important roles in the Ford own administration, and as they all considered themselves to be close friends of his, it is very unlikely that this criticism will go down well anybody. He says of Cheney:

“He was an excellent chief of staff. First class,” Ford said. “But I think Cheney has become much more pugnacious” as vice president. He said he agreed with former secretary of state Colin L. Powell‘s assertion that Cheney developed a “fever” about the threat of terrorism and Iraq. “I think that’s probably true.”

It may be that Ford can say, like Othello, that he has “done the state some service”. My own belief is that he has done it a very great disservice by not speaking more openly and frankly when there was a chance that his opinions might have made some difference.

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