“Rumsfeld and Cheney and 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.”
More to the point, it seems he (like many others) disagreed profoundly with the notion of mixing a preemptive spreading of democracy with the more definable (and defensible) approach of responding directly to national interest threats:
“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.”
But most of the blogospheric storm stems from this:
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.
The criticism of both Woodward and Ford is astounding. Some say that Woodward had an obligation to report this because it was “vital” information that might have affected the elections… or even the war, while others are incensed that Ford’s criticism has been aired while Bush is still in office.
Given that he was relegated to the sidelines over two decades ago, it’s hard to understand why Gerald Ford’s words would have been given much weight in 2004. As Joe Gandelman points out, the interview is primarily an example of the internal GOP fissure on foreign policy. I don’t think it’s “news” for Republicans so much as an embarrassing airing of party laundry.
Ford would probably be surprised by his posthumous importance and assumed influence on current politics.