8. Editorial Note

On September 23, 1974, President Ford gave a speech at the Ninth World Energy Conference in Detroit, Michigan, on the energy challenges facing the international community. Ford used the occasion to highlight Project Independence, the U.S. domestic energy program that would “seek in many, many different ways to reduce American consumption and to increase production of energy.” To the extent that the United States succeeded in doing so, he said, “the world will benefit,” because “there will be much more energy available for others.” But he cautioned that “no single country can solve the energy problem by itself,” and that “just as Americans are challenged by Project Independence, the world faces a related challenge that requires a ‘Project Interdependence.’” Ford warned that a lack of cooperation among nations risked escalating a local conflict into a “global catastrophe,” particularly because “vital resources” were “distributed unevenly,” which [Page 28] forced countries to consider conflict as an option in the struggle for those resources. And “when nations use their resources as political weapons against others,” he declared, “the result is human suffering.” For text of the speech, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Gerald R. Ford, 1974, pages 175–183.

The same day, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger addressed the United Nations General Assembly, delivering a speech that, in part, concerned oil. Kissinger agreed that “both [oil] producers and consumers have legitimate claims” that had to be reconciled “for the common good.” He also declared that the world could not “sustain even the present level of prices, much less continuing increases” because of the inflationary spiral that such prices would produce, benefiting no one, including oil-producers who would be “forced to spend more for their own imports.” Furthermore, Kissinger argued that high oil prices were “not the result of economic factors—of an actual shortage of capacity or of the free play of supply and demand.” Rather, he said, they were “caused by deliberate decisions to restrict production and maintain an artificial price level.” As a result, he believed that any long-range solution would require “a new understanding between consumers and producers.” For text of the speech, see Department of State Bulletin, October 14, 1974, pages 498–504.