It is customary to look favorably on the life of a demised public figure. Thus, the accolades accompanying President Ford come as no surprise. Documents made public after his death now reveal that it was Fords’ close friendship that was instrumental in his decision to pardon Richard Nixon. It is also been revealed that Ford vigorously opposed the Iraq war. It is a great pity such high profile politicians choose to remain silent and remain disconnected from the public debate allowing the Bush administration to railroad the American public in what can arguably described as the largest foreign policy debacle in US history.
Also, largely unreported, was Gerald Ford’s decision to support the Indonesian invasion of East Timor which resulted in the slaughter of one-third of the Timorese population. Ford and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, offered unconditional military support to the Indonesian government and they appeared largely unconcerned of the appalling human tragedy that resulted from their decision (see www.nsarchive.org.) It is also prescient that Ford selected key advisors in his administration that were instrumental in shaping Bush’s current Iraq war - Donald Rumsfeld served initially as his chief of staff and then subsequently as Secretary of Defense. Dick Cheney also served as Ford’s chief of staff. Paul Wolfowitz served in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. However, Ford deserves credit for ordering the final withdrawal of U.S. troops in Vietnam and offering amnesty to Vietnam era draft resisters.