43. Editorial Note

President Gerald Ford addressed the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Chicago on August 19, 1974. The President focused his introductory remarks upon his offer of earned reentry to Americans who had evaded the draft during the Vietnam war. He then stressed: “The United States, our allies, and our friends around the world must maintain strength and resolve. Potential adversaries obviously watch the state of our readiness and the strength of our will. I will offer them no temptations. America is not the policeman of the world, but we will continue to be the backbone of a free world collective security setup. Just as America will maintain its nuclear deterrent strength, we will never fall behind in negotiations to control—and hopefully reduce—this threat to mankind. A great nation is not only strong but wise, not only principled but purposeful. A fundamental purpose of our Nation must be to achieve peace through strength and meaningful negotiations.” (Public Papers: Ford, 1974, page 27)

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger echoed the President’s comments while addressing the American Legion National Convention in Miami on August 20. Kissinger commented:

“So our search for peace begins with America’s strength. For other nations to have confidence in our purposes and faith in our word, America must remain a military power second to none. As I can attest from experience, in time of crisis and at the conference table, America’s [Page 224] military might is the foundation of our diplomatic strength. We have made progress toward peace in recent years because we have been flexible, but also because we have been resolute. Let us never forget that conciliation is a virtue only in those who are thought to have a choice.

“—A strong defense is the essential deterrent to aggression. By demonstrating that there is no alternative to negotiation, it is the precondition of our policy of relaxing tensions with our adversaries.

“—A strong defense is the cement of our alliances, reinforcing our partners’ will to join in the common defense. It is the basis of mutual confidence and thus of our cooperation across the whole spectrum of our common interests.” (Department of State Bulletin, September 16, 1974, page 374)