March 6, 1975 – As the situation in Cambodia grew dimmer and as Vietnam was getting ready to capitulate, President Ford held his 10th Press Conference since taking office – he began with a statement:
President Ford: “Before we start on questions tonight, I would like to make a statement
on the subject of assistance to Cambodia and South Vietnam.
There are three issues. The first is the future of the people who live
there. It is a concern that is humanitarian–food for those who hunger
and medical supplies for the men, women and children who are suffering
the ravages of war. We seek to stop the bloodshed and end the horror
and tragedy that we see on television as rockets are fired wantonly into
Phnom Penh. I would like to be able to say that the killing would cease
if we were to stop our aid, but that is not the case. The record shows,
in both Vietnam and Cambodia, that a Communist takeover of an area
does not bring an end to violence, but on the contrary, subjects the
innocent to new horrors.
We cannot meet humanitarian needs unless we also provide some military
assistance. Only through a combination of humanitarian endeavors and
military aid do we have a chance to stop the fighting in that country in
such a way as to end the bloodshed.
The second issue is whether the problems of Indochina will be settled
by conquest or by negotiation.
Both the government of Cambodia and the United States have made vigorous
and continued efforts over the years to bring about a ceasefire and political
The Cambodian Government declared a unilateral ceasefire and called for
negotiations immediately after the Peace Accords of January, 1913. It
has since repeatedly expressed its willingness to be flexible in seeking a
negotiated end to the conflict. Its leaders have made clear that they are
willing to do whatever they can to bring peace to that country.
The United States has backed these peace efforts. Yesterday, we made
public an outline of our own unceasing efforts over the years. including
six separate initiatives since I became President.
Let me assure you: We will support any negotiations and accept any
outcome that the parties themselves will accept; as far as the United
States is concerned, the personalities involved will not, themselves,
constitute obstacles of any kind to a settlement.
Yet all of our efforts have been rebuffed. Peace in Cambodia has not been
prevented by our failure to offer reasonable solutions. The aggressor
believes that it can win its objectives on the battlefield. This belief will
be encouraged if we cut off assistance to our friends.
We want an end to the killing and a negotiated settlement. But there is no hope of success unless the Congress quickly provides the necessary means for Cambodia to survive.”
Here is that complete Press conference, as it was broadcast on March 6, 1975.