Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald R. Ford July 14, 1913 - December 26, 2006

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Former President Gerald R. Ford Died on December 26, 2006. Here is the link to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.

Here is a good AP article about his life and achievements. Here is the Washington Post account of his life and achievements.

Ford is being remembered for pardoning President Nixon and allowing the nation to heal from Watergate.

For me, President Ford's greatest achievement is that he signed the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. Soviet and East European dissidents were able to use the civil rights provisions of this agreement as a legal basis for mounting a non-violent, dissident movement that challenged the one-party dictatorship in the USSR. These organizations included the Moscow Helsinki Group and Charter 77.

Wikipedia observes:

"The document was seen both as a significant step toward reducing Cold War tensions and as a major diplomatic boost for the Soviet Union at the time, due to its clauses on the inviolability of national borders and respect for territorial integrity, which were seen to consolidate the USSR's territorial gains of the Second World War.

However, the civil rights portion of the agreement provided the basis for the work of the Moscow Helsinki Group, an independent non-governmental organization created to monitor compliance to the Helsinki Accords (which evolved into several regional committees, eventually forming the International Helsinki Federation and Human Rights Watch). While these provisions applied to all signatories, the focus of attention was on their application to the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, including Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania."

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