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 launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford’s own administration.
Interesting enough and relates to why I don’t think that Ford’s world view would fit in with the kind of ideological zealotry that dominates today’s conservatism, but this stood out
In a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.
“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.” (emphasis mine)
This is where today’s Democrats are more the realists then conservatives. I don’t for a minute believe that the Bush-Cheney wing of the Republican party really cares about spreading democracy. While a few nations have become less authoritarian during Bush’s reign, the neocons themselves have not created one democracy. On the contrary they’ve maintained close ties and a certain reliance on countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia that practice some degree of authoritarian government and have made no attempt at all to get them to become more liberal. The Right has fully embraced a China that remains very much a totalitarian political state while they move toward a free market economy, even as right-wing web sites continue to perpetuate myths about President Clinton and selling them technology ( yes he did sell them some technology as did Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr). The spreading democracy meme plays very well in bed rock America and no doubt many folks down at the diner think that despite all of his disastrous policies and their malicious implementation continue to believe that Bush means well. A realist like Ford, not blinded by the current brand of right-wing kool-aid could see that we could break our military and deplete the national treasury and still not create one new democracy at the point of a gun. It sounds great – spread democracy – but there has to be a balance of national interests, moral justification, diplomacy and other factors before you start shipping out troops to die in far corners of the world. Juan Cole has a good brief history of Ford, his good and not so good moments, Ford and Foreign Policy: Snapshots from the 1970s
And Matthew Yglesias being a better writer then myself explains why the Nixon pardon in the way that President Ford did it was not what was best for the country, The Pardon
But there’s a proper way to handle situations of that type designed to promote precisely those goals. It’s the Truth and Reconciliation Commission model where ancient regime figures confess to their political crimes in exchange for amnesty.
The National Review (no snickering please) is supposed to be the oh so intellectual vanguard publication of the Right. You know the Right that is obsessed with getting the Associated Press to tell the truth or actually the Right’s version of whatever the truth is this week. It looks like NR is manufacturing its own lies and then recycling them, It’s not ‘news from Iraq’ if it’s over a year old
Except, there’s a catch. The nearly identical text from May’s NR post was part of a widely disseminated email from over a year ago. Worse, there were slight deviations in the original text in 2005, which made it difficult to confirm its authenticity.
here’s something from a Guardsman in Iraq that is a little more current, The Freedoms My Brother Is Defending
My brother told me that he takes his oath to defend the Constitution seriously and that he will fight and die if necessary to honor his commitment. When I asked him if he would be offended if I participated in activities opposing the war, he replied that it was not only my right but my obligation, and the obligation of all civilians opposing this war, to try to change bad policy. “Give us good wars to fight,” he said.
While acknowledging that another possible moral option is to refuse to participate in a bad war, my brother chooses to place his oath to the Constitution and his belief in our democratic system at the pinnacle of his moral convictions. That some of us might differ with him is basically irrelevant — we (most of us) are not faced with his decision.
For the record, he believes that the war on terrorism is necessary to deal with real threats facing the United States. He is not convinced of what Iraq has to do with the matter, which puts him fairly well in the mainstream of American opinion.(emphasis mine)