Foreign Relations


In his August, 1974, speech before a joint session of Congress, President Ford expressed his belief that a successful foreign policy has to rest on a strong national defense, one able to command respect from adversaries and to provide leadership to friends:

"A strong defense is the surest way to peace . . . Weakness invites war . . ."

Since taking office, President Ford has continued to add to the record of leadership in foreign affairs and in maintaining a strong national defense that he built in his 25 years in the Congress. As President, he has pursued a realistic foreign policy, reaching to all areas of the globe in his efforts to strengthen allies and to minimize the danger of needless confrontation between ourselves and potential adversaries.

President Ford talked about his policy of peace through strength in a recent interview:

". . . the United States will meet with super powers, the Soviet Union and with China and others, and seek to relax tensions so that we can continue a policy of peace through strength. If we are strong militarily, which we are, and if we continue that strength, we can negotiate with the Soviet Union, with China and with others in order to maintain that peace. I think we ought to talk about the realities--the negotiation for a lowering of a strategic nuclear ballistic type capability. We ought to talk about trade. We ought to talk abut [about] science and those things in an atmosphere where we are dealing from strength."

In pursuing a more constructive relationship with the Soviet Union, President Ford, in the short time he has been in office, has been able to:

In the Middle East, President Ford seized an historic opportunity to help the area move towards a secure, just, and [c]omprehensive peace settlement. During the Spring of 1975, the President held an extensive series of meetings with important leaders in the area, including Egyptian President Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, Jordan's King Hussein, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Khaddam and others. Shortly thereafter, in early September, an interim agreement of potentially great importance was reached between Israel and Egypt. This agreement reaffirmed and strengthened the 1973 ceasefire, widened the buffer zone, and, most importantly, committed both sides to settle their differences by peaceful means. As but one result, the Suez Canal was opened to Israel for non-military shipping for the first time in years.

In carrying out his wide-ranging and comprehensive foreign policy, the President has, in other areas:

President Ford fully recognizes the responsibility that accompanies American economic power. He has committed his Administration to policies which will bring about an improved international economy and stable growth serving the interests of America and the world. Stable economic growth is critical to solving the problems of the developing world and President Ford has taken concrete steps, to ensure that our country plays a constructive leadership role in meeting these challenges:

The pursuit of peace requires decisive action:

President Ford's pursuit of peace has been based on a realistic understanding of world affairs and a commitment to a strong national defense. The President has pledged to maintain a national defense second to none, and to modernize and upgrade our capabilities. He has:

Without question, President Ford has built a solid record of achievement in foreign affairs:


Recent Cuban intervention in the domestic affairs of other nations such as their attempt to interefere [interfere] in the U.S. relationship with Puerto Rico and their massive involvement in the Angola conflict, is unacceptable and precludes any improvement in relations between the United States and Cuba at this time.

While we acceded to persistent Latin American demands within the Organization of American States that each government be free to determine and follow its own policy with respect to relations with Cuba, the administration nonetheless has maintained the U.S. bilateral prohibition against trade with Cuba. The President has made clear that no improvement in U.S. relations with Cuba is possible as long as Cuba pursues such interventionist policies.

President Ford reaffirmed this position on February 28, 1976:

"When you look at the fact that he (Castro) took the initiative to try and upset the problems in Puerto Rico, when he took aggressive action in Africa some 4,000 or 5,000 miles from Cuba where he sent 12,000 mercenary forces, I see nothing but an aggressive, anti-freedom movement and so, under Fidel Castro, unless there is a 180 degree turn, I can't imagine any change . . ."

And on July 29, 1976, he said:

"My administration will continue a policy of friendship toward the people, and I underline the people, of Cuba. But, I add very emphatically, we will not accept intervention by the Fidel Castro regime in the affairs of other countries. We will not accept the counsel of those who would give in to Fidel Castro."


President Ford's policy in the Middle East is to take advantage of what is now an historic opportunity to help the area move to a secure, just and comprehensive peace settlement. So long as this conflict remains unsolved, it poses the constant danger to us of renewed war, international crisis and economic disruption, strains in our major alliances and nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union. These are intolerable dangers. Because the United States is in a unique position of trust with all the parties, we have -- at their request -- been engaged for the last two years in a peacemaking effort without precedent in three decades. The President is determined that this effort continue until the achievement of a negotiated peace as foreseen by the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

Because President Ford believes that this nation can make a decisive contribution to world peace, he has:

President Ford intends to maintain our peace effort, to prevent the momentum of events in that volatile region from rushing again towards war. This effort serves important. American interests, and interest of world peace, our moral commitments in the area and the desire of the American people to see the specter of war and dislocation banished from the Middle East. Any stagnation of the negotiating effort poses intolerable risks to the interests of the United States -- economic, political, and security -- and to world peace. The President is determined to move forward until the achievement of a final, just, and durable peace.


Every President since Franklin Roosevelt has recognized a need to modernize our relationship with Panama concerning the Canal. President Ford believes that modernization is possible, and his Administration is discussing with Panama the possibility of arriving at such a treaty relationship. The goal of these negotiations is to reach an agreement which will accomodate [accommodate] the needs of both the United States and Panama, while protecting our basic interests in defense and operation of the Canal. The President will not propose to the Congress any agreement with Panama that will not protect our vital national interests.

"We will absolutely insist that our interests and the defense of the Canal and of the use of the Canal be maintained. That is why the negotiations have been going on so long under five Presidents and why there is no settlement of the issues right now . . ."

President Gerald R. Ford

February 18, 1976

Return to President Ford '76 Fact Book

Send e-mail to the Gerald R. Ford Library