INTERVIEWER: What about the question of, in general terms did Détente apply to the 3rd world?
GERALD FORD: Indirectly it did, but it was not a major factor, the superpower confrontation issue was the fundamental problem that détente was trying to solve.
INTERVIEWER: Now in January of 1976 you denounced the Senate decision to cut off funds for Angola, what was your reaction at the time to that and maybe you could speculate on how much the legacy of Vietnam had influenced that Senate decision.
GERALD FORD: There is no question that the Congress of the United States and the Senate particularly, was unhappy with Watergate, the war in Vietnam dragging on and dragging on and so it did affect the decision making process in the Senate on what our role should be in a country like that, or a continent like Africa. So indirectly, Watergate, the Vietnam War impacted on what the Senate did, about money for our help and assistance, covertly in Angola. As I said earlier, we the United States did not openly give aid and assistance to the rebel forces in Angola, but we worked covertly with some of our western European allies. While the Senate arbitrarily cut off the funds for even that operation and the net result was the rebel forces were badly handicapped in their efforts to overthrow the government itself.
INTERVIEWER: You made a very strong speech at the time, following that Senate decision, can you reflect on your motivation at the time for making that speech?
GERALD FORD: Well I strongly felt that it was an action by the legislative branch of our government in the United States to impose its will in Foreign policy, under our system of checks and balances, the President is Commander in Chief and he should have the opportunity and the obligation to make military decisions and certainly our participation, covertly in Angola was a judgement I believe that the President as Commander in Chief should make, not 100 United States Senators.
INTERVIEWER: Had aid been able to flow unimpeded to Angola do you think it would have made a great deal of difference in the long run?
GERALD FORD: In Angola? Probably not, because they're still fighting there. And the net result is, I think Angola is destined to have continued turbulence between the government on the one hand and rebel forces on the other. They've negotiated settlements, but the settlements were not really maintained and the net result is I think Angola until they get a strong unified leadership, will continue to have the kind of problems that existed in the 1970s.
[lots of background noise]
INTERVIEWER: In the light of the noise problem, can I just ask you again, that in 1976 you denounced the Senate decision to cut off additional funds for Angola, why did you make that speech?
GERALD FORD: Under our system here in the United States the President as Commander in Chief has the obligation to make military decisions and our covert action in Angola in my opinion was the responsibility of the executive, not the legislative branch. So I thought the Senate was encroaching on the prerogatives and the responsibilities of the president. So I felt very strongly that I had to make a public statement condemning the Senate Action.
INTERVIEWER: Did you regard the Cuban involvement in Angola as war by proxy by the Soviets?
GERALD FORD: Well the Soviets were delighted that the Cubans sent I think it was 5,000 military personnel to Angola. In my judgement the Cubans had two reasons for going. One they were being paid to go, so they were military mercenaries, but on the other hand, the Cuban government probably was sympathetic ideologically with the Angola government, so it was an action that Cuba wanted to take, and the Soviet Union under the circumstances because they supported the Angolan government was delighted to see happen.
INTERVIEWER: Did you see this as a patron in the 1970s that there was war by proxy in Africa?
GERALD FORD: Well certainly in this case, the Angolan case, you could say that the Soviet Union was taking advantage, and letting proxy forces carry out its military desires and objectives in the African continent.
INTERVIEWER: I will just move on to the overview questions, do you want to have a pause or shall we just go straight on? Well the first big question is was the cold war necessary, and inevitable?
GERALD FORD: With the leadership that existed following world war 2, in the Soviet Union, in my judgement it, the cold war was inevitable, excuse me a minute....
INTERVIEWER: Was the cold war necessary and inevitable after World War 2?
GERALD FORD: I believe that after world war 2 the cold war was inevitable between the Soviet Union on the one hand and the United States and our allies on the other. The leadership in the Soviet Union was carrying out the traditional Soviet expansionist philosophy, going back to the days of the Tsar. The Soviet Union was encouraged by the fact that they took over Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and they were anxious to move their borders further west in Europe. So with that attitude in the Kremlin, it was inevitable that the United States and our allies had to take Counter Action. And when you had our counter action and with the Soviet expansive action, the cold war was inevitable. Now the United States and our allies fortunately recognized that threat. And President Truman inaugurated the Marshall Plan, that saved the economies of Western Europe. And President Eisenhower initiated NATO which stopped any military threat by the Soviet Union to Western Europe. So with those two actions, by President Truman and President Eisenhower in the 19, late 40s and early 50s. The Soviet Union had to be adjust to a cold war situation and it existed for 45 years.
INTERVIEWER: What do you remember as being the worst, the most threatening moment?
GERALD FORD: Well probably the Cuban Missile Crisis, brought about the closest nuclear threat to a cold war situation. I am sure that Mr. Khrushchev and President Kennedy were both apprehensive about that situation getting out of hand, and fortunately they did resolve it in a peaceful way. That was probably in the 45-year history of the cold war, the most crucial conflict ideologically and otherwise.
INTERVIEWER: Could I ask you what you assess as the effects of the cold war. What effects for good or for ill?
GERALD FORD: Well the Cold war avoided a military conflict between the Soviet Union on one hand and the United States and its allieon the other. If you went from a cold war to a hot war certainly the cold war is a far preferable situation. And evthough the Cold war cost millions and millions of dollars in military expenditures it was a better investment to avoid war, than to spend money to have an exchange of military weapons.
INTERVIEWER: And who if anybody won?
GERALD FORD: I think the world as a whole won because we had a cold war rather than a hot war.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you very much Mr. President, is there anything that you would like to add from the various points that I have gone through.
GERALD FORD: No I think you're a better judge because you know what you wanted.
INTERVIEWER: Well I would like to ask you just one thing because when we were talking about you didn't actually mention Cuba in your final strong statement about the worst moment, so could I ask you just again.... if you could just sum up for you what was the most dangerous moment of the Cold War.
GERALD FORD: The most dangerous moment of the 45 year history of the cold war took place in the early 1960s when we had the Cuban missile crisis. Where the Soviet Union threatened to move nuclear weapons into Cuba and President Kennedy recognized that that was totally unacceptable to the United States and he communicated that very forcefully to the Head of the Soviet Union, and the net result was any Soviet actions that put nuclear weapons into Cuba was stopped. But if there hadn't been a negotiation on ending that action, by the Soviet Union, you could have had a serious military exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. Because under no circumstances could the United States have permitted the installation of long range nuclear weapons in Cuba, 90 miles from the shores of the United States and when President Kennedy forcefully challenged Mr. Khrushchev on that issue, the Soviet Union withdrew I should say the action that they contemplated at one time.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you very much. That's all that I have to ask you .