Subject: President Ford in the CAVR report

Many tributes have been paid to the late US President Gerald Ford for his role in healing US society post-Vietnam and other contributions. Little or nothing, however, has been said about his less than glorious role on East Timor, in violation of US and international law, something that must also be taken into account in any proper evaluation of his presidency.

For the record, some information on the Ford legacy to Timor can be found in the CAVR Report 'Chega!', particularly in the section on self-determination, Chap 7.

A summary of the relevant information is attached.


Note on references to President Gerald Ford in the CAVR report Chega!

The principal references can be found in Chega! Chapter 7 on self-determination, page 51 on (English edition).

The Report includes the following information:

1. President Ford was US President when Indonesia was preparing its takeover of East Timor and at the time of its invasion on 7 December 1975 and initial occupation.

2. He met with President Soeharto twice in 1975: in July when Soeharto visited the US and again in December when Ford visited Indonesia.

3. The US Government was aware of Indonesia's plans to incorporate Timor. From at least February 1975 it also knew that force might be employed and that this would involve the use of US supplied military equipment.

4. In March 1975, the US Government through Secretary of State Kissinger, decided that the US would remain silent if Indonesia used force in East Timor. Accordingly, though supportive of self-determination in principle, President Ford did not raise the issue of Timor or warn against the use of US equipment when he met with President Soeharto at Camp David in July.

5. On 5 December, the President of Fretilin and DRET, Xavier do Amaral, telegrammed President Ford asking him to stop the invasion. The telegram was ignored.

6. On 6 December, President Soeharto raised East Timor at his meeting in Jakarta with President Ford and Henry Kissinger. In response to Soeharto's request for understanding, Ford said "we will understand and will not press you on the issues". No explicit reference was made to military intervention during this meeting, but it is clear from the discussion and references to the use of US arms and guerrilla war that the US President knew what he was agreeing to. Kissinger asked Soeharto to delay intervention until President Ford had returned to Washington and could manage the US response. The request was ignored.

7. President Ford made no reference to Timor in his post-visit briefing in Washington on 10 December. On 13 December he dispatched a personal gift of golf balls to President Soeharto.

8. US supplied equipment used by Indonesia in the invasion included 9 ex-US navy ships, 13 planes used in the assault on Dili and Baucau, weapons used by the invading paratroopers, radio and other equipment.

9. The US voted for only one UN Security Council resolution on East Timor. It initially abstained on other GA and SC resolutions then voted against all subsequent GA resolutions until 1999.

10. The CAVR report says that Jose Ramos-Horta, who was East Timor's principal representative in New York throughout the conflict, told CAVR that 'the US was the worst' and had the most to answer for because it failed to use its position and influence to stop Indonesian aggression.

2 January 2007

see also

Ford, Kissinger & 1975 page

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