President Ford's News Conference of January 21, 1975, Questions on Military Intervention in the Middle East, Department of State Bulletin, February 10, 1975, pp. 179-180)


Question. Mr. President, both you and Secretary Kissinger have said that in case of strangulation of the West by oil producers you would use military force, and you were hypothetically speaking. I think on that same basis the American people would like to know whether you would require a congressional declaration of war or whether you would bypass that constitutional process as some of your predecessors have done.

President FORD. I can assure you that on any occasion where there was any commitment of U.S. military personnel to any engagement we would use the complete constitutional process that is required of the President.

Question. Mr. President, I would like to follow up on Helen Thomas' question. There has been considerable discussion, as you know, about the question of military intervention in the Middle East, and you and others have said that it might be considered if the West's economies were strangled. Mr. President, as you know, the Charter of the United Nations says that all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat of the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. Now, Mr. President, I would like to know whether this section of the Charter of the United Nations was considered, taken under consideration before these statements were made by members of the administration, and if not, why not?

President FORD. Well, the hypothetical question which was put to Secretary Kissinger, a hypothetical question of the most extreme kind, I think called for the answer that the Secretary gave and I fully endorse that answer.

I can't tell you whether Secretary Kissinger considered that part of the U.N. Charter at the time he made that comment, but if a country is being strangled--and I use "strangled" in the sense of the hypothetical question--that, in effect, means that a country has the right to protect itself against death.

Question. Mr. President, would a new oil embargo be considered strangulation?

President FORD. Certainly none comparable to the one in 1973.


Source: U.S., Congress, Committee on International Relations, Special Subcommittee on Investigations, Oil Fields as Military Objectives: A Feasibility Study, Report Prepared by the Congressional Research Service, 94th Cong., 1st sess., August 21, 1975, (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1975), pp. 77-78.


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