gerald ford: iraq war was a "big mistake"

gerald ford, the 38th president of the united states, and the only one ever to take office without being elected, died at the age of 93, on december 26, 2006. he took over the presidency after nixon resigned in the wake of the watergate scandal. during his presidency, the biggest thing he'll be noted for (over and above surviving two assassination attempts on his life) is when he gave a full and unconditional pardon to nixon for any crimes he may have commited while president. this would turn out to be his biggest political mistake.

ford, apparently, did not agree with the iraq war. in a series of interviews done on the condition that they not be released until after his death, he spoke of many things, from the iraq war to the notion that the united states has a duty to free people around the world.

here are some highlights on what he had to say:

on the unjustified iraq war:

- ford said the iraq war was not justified. "i don't think i would have gone to war," said ford, about a year after u.s. president george w. bush launched the invasion.

- "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... 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."

on what he would have done:

- "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."

on george w. bush's notion that the u.s. has a "duty to free people":

- "well, i can understand the theory of wanting to free people," said ford. but he was unsure if it was possible to "detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest."

- "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."

on saddam and weapons of mass destruction:

- "saddam hussein was an evil person and there was justification to get rid of him," he told daily news' thomas defrank. "but we shouldn't have put the basis on weapons of destruction. that was a bad mistake. where does (bush) get his advice?"

it seems that ford was just as perplexed towards the bush administration's actions as everyone else was at the time.

(source 1) (source 2)

the following is a fitting humorous tribute to gerald ford. here, dana carvey is in an old saturday night live skit that shows him playing news anchor tom brokaw preparing for ford's inevitable death: