Saturday, September 16, 2023

the last book I ever read (Gerald R. Ford: The American Presidents Series: The 38th President, 1974-1977, excerpt twelve)

from Gerald R. Ford: The American Presidents Series: The 38th President, 1974-1977 by Douglas Brinkley:

A tragedy in the Middle East brought Ford back to center stage that autumn. On October 6, 1981, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was killed, gunned down in a half of automatic gunfire at a military parade in Cairo that left eleven dead and forty wounded. In A Time to Heal Ford had written about Sadat in glowing terms, describing him as a combination of a “professional soldier’s erect posture with an aristocratic air of elegance.” Both men enjoyed lighting up a pipe while they spoke. As president, Ford learned three fundamental imperatives about negotiating with Sadat that all worked in America’s favor; he never lied, he desperately wanted to avoid a confrontation between Egypt and Israel in the Sinai Peninsula, and he disdained the bullying tactics of the Soviet Union. Without the diplomatic spade work conducted by Ford and Kissinger from 1974 to 1977, President Jimmy Carter would never have been successful at Camp David in brokering the historic peace accords between Egypt and Israel in 1979.

It was at Sadat’s funeral that Ford and Carter, old political adversaries, deepened their friendship. An easy camaraderie developed between the two ex-presidents, sustained in the coming years as their wives, Rosalyn and Betty, also grew close, lobbying together on such worthwhile causes as alcohol and drug prevention, the Equal Rights Amendment, and health care policies toward the mentally ill. “On foreign policy our views are similar,” Ford recalled in 1995, “so we can work together on joint projects very effectively.”

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