Somewhere the late President Gerald Ford is shaking his head.
It was Gerald Ford, famously President Richard Nixon’s number two, who took over the presidency when Watergate forced Nixon’s resignation. Which in turn put Ford in charge of winding down the Vietnam War, building on a negotiated settlement that Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger had reached with the North Vietnamese. The Paris Peace accords were signed in January of 1973, ending all U.S. combat activities.
But eventually, with U.S. combat troops departed, the war resumed. And Democrats were determined to shoot down all funding for the South Vietnamese — period.
In a highly unusual move, the Democrats who ran the Senate Foreign Relations Committee demanded a meeting with Ford at the White House. The last time a president had a formal meeting with the Committee was in 1919, a full 56 years earlier, when President Woodrow Wilson met with the Committee to push his post-World War One League of Nations proposal.
The April, 1975 meeting with Ford and the Committee was, Ford writes in his memoirs A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford, “extremely tense.” Ford quite specifically mentions the presence of the freshman Senator from Delaware — Joe Biden. The discussion became focused on getting out not only the remaining Americans in the country, but the Vietnamese who had been such loyal help to the Americans. Joe Biden would have none of the latter.
“I will vote for any amount for getting the Americans out,” Ford writes of Biden’s words. But “I don’t want it mixed with getting the Vietnamese out.”
Ford was incredulous. Biden and his fellow Democrats were insisting on cutting off the funding that would help our Vietnamese allies. Said the President:
“Gentlemen, I respect your views, but I have to carry out the plan that in my opinion is in our nation’s best interest. If we try to pull out right now, it’ll lead to panic and the chaos will jeopardize the lives of untold Americans. Believe me, we need to buy time, even a few days.”
Biden and his colleagues would have none of it. Democrats refused to provide any additional funds for the South Vietnamese. And exactly as Ford predicted, chaos descended. He writes: “Four days later, (South Vietnamese) President Thieu resigned and fled the country.”
Communist forces descended on Saigon, the moment famously captured in that photo of an American helicopter attempting to take off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy as frantic Vietnamese tried to grab on to the helicopter skids and be transported out to sea and a waiting American aircraft carrier.
Our Air Force had … been forced to halt evacuation flights from Saigon because Communist rockets and artillery shells were blasting the runways at Tan Son Nhut (the American air base.) A C-130 transport plane had been destroyed and several U.S. Marines killed.… Refugees were streaming out onto the airport’s runways, and our planes couldn’t land. The situation there was clearly out of control.
As President Ford makes clear, Joe Biden voted to, in Ford’s words, “cut and run” from Vietnam. Biden blithely ignored Ford’s warnings of chaos and disaster if funding were cut off — and those warnings proved to be dead-on accurate.
All of which is to say, this is the way Joe Biden thinks. It is actions just like his actions on Vietnam and now on Afghanistan that would years after the Vietnam debacle cause former Bush and Obama Secretary of Defense Bob Gates to say of Biden in his own memoirs that Biden had “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
Now, a full 46 years after selling out the South Vietnamese, Biden is selling out Afghanistan in precisely the same fashion. But this time as president himself. And in classic Biden style he has been wrong yet again on a major foreign policy and national security issue. As theWall Street Journal has observed of Biden’s Afghanistan disaster:
The result a mere four months later is the worst U.S. humiliation since the fall of Saigon in 1975…. The scramble to destroy classified documents. The helicopters evacuating U.S. diplomats. The abandonment into Taliban hands of valuable U.S. military equipment.
Somewhere, Gerald Ford is shaking his head.