WASHINGTON (Jan. 5)
President Ford declared tonight that United States foreign policies will not be determined by any "highly articulate" or "very tightly organized pressure group of any kind" that is unrepresentative of American Society as a whole and because they "have a limited perspective or scope…can on occasion, tend to distort the circumstances and can hamper rather than help in the solution" of the problems at hand.
The President made those remarks in the course of an interview on a three-hour NBC television program devoted to U.S. foreign policy in 1976. A transcript of the pre-taped interview was made available to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
While Ford did not identify the "pressure groups," he referred to them in direct response to NBC reporter John Chancellor who asked for a comment on "some of the pressure groups we find both within the United Nations and as you see these pressure groups in foreign affairs, thinking, for example, of the influence of American Jews, of the growing influence of Arabs of various groups."
CRITICIZES UNDUE CONGRESSIONAL INFLUENCE
In the course of the interview, the President also sharply criticized what he considered undue Congressional interference in the Presidential foreign policy-making prerogatives. In that connection he referred, without mentioning by name to the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the U.S. Trade Reform Act that linked U.S. trade benefits for the Soviet Union with that country’s emigration practices.
"The action of Congress about a year ago has harmed the opportunity of many to immigrate from the Soviet Union," Ford said. "I noticed just the other day that the immigration from the Soviet Union is down this year including many reductions in the immigration of Soviet Jews from Russia. I think the action of Congress was harmful in that regard."
ASSESSES ACTIONS IN THE UN
The President was surprisingly mild in his response to a question about U;S. relations with the UN, where it has suffered a series of diplomatic setbacks. "I believe that substantial progress was made…in the UN in the seventh special session late in 1975," he said. "That was a very constructive session of the UN which sought to bring together developing as well as the developed nations."
He conceded that "it is true that subsequent to that there were some very vitriolic debates; there were some very serious differences that developed in the UN from various pressed’s groups."
Ford expressed hope that in the future "some of this conflict would subside and there would be a more constructive effort made to solve the problems, and since I am always an optimist– and I think that is important and necessary for a President to be that–I think that as we move in the UN in the future that we can calm some of the voices and get to some answers."
Ford added that "this country’s foreign policy in the UN will be aimed in that direction, and if we follow what we did in the seventh special session and what we are trying to do now, I think these pressure groups will recognize that words are not the answer but solutions will be to the benefit of all parties concerned," the President said.
LOOKING AT THE BROADER PERSPECTIVE
When asked if he thought that "organized pressure groups play a greater role now in terms of our foreign affairs or trying to influence them" than in the past, Ford replied: "To some degree, yes. I think highly organized, very articulate pressure groups can, on occasion, tend to distort the circumstances and can hamper rather than help in the solution.
"I don’t believe those pressure groups necessarily represent the American people as a whole. So a President, myself included, has to look at the broader perspective and not necessarily in every instance respond to the pressure groups that are well-intentioned but who have a limited perspective or scope.
"And as we move ahead, we are going to try and predicate our foreign policy on the best interests of all the people in this country, as well as our allies and our adversaries, rather than to respond to a highly articulate, a very tightly organized pressure group of any kind. We cannot let America’s policies be predicated on a limited part of our population or our society."