The University Record, March 13, 2000

‘After the Fall: Vietnam Plus Twenty-Five’ is focus of April 7 program

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

The memo from then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger advising Ambassador Graham Martin on the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. It is among the documents that have been declassified for release April 7. Courtesy Ford Library
The Gerald R. Ford Foundation, in conjunction with the Gerald R. Ford Library and the University’s Ford School of Public Policy, will sponsor a major conference April 7 at the Michigan League Ballroom. Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, former President Ford will host a day-long program examining how America’s involvement in Indochina changed this country, its institutions of government, the making of foreign policy, and popular and media attitudes toward the political process.

Tickets to the full day’s program are free but must be reserved in advance. To reserve tickets, call the Ford Library, (734) 741-2218.

At 9 a.m., Ford will welcome the audience and share his own reflections on the tumultuous events of April 1975. The first of three panels, “America and the World,” will be moderated by historian Douglas Brinkley. The panel will include, among others, Brent Scowcoft, national security adviser to Ford and former President George Bush; Lawrence Eagleburger, secretary of state in the Bush administration; and Richard Haass, an assistant to Bush for national security affairs and now a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Panelists discussing “The Presidency” beginning at 11 a.m. include Lou Cannon, Reagan biographer and prize-winning reporter for the Washington Post; Haynes Johnson, assistant managing editor of the Washington Post; Stephen Hess, a well-known political scientist, author and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Robert Dallek, biographer of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy; and Roger Porter, economic advisor to the Ford, Reagan and Bush administrations. This panel will discuss the making—or unmaking—of the presidency during the quarter century since the last U.S. troops left Saigon.

Panelists focusing on “Politics and the Media” will convene at 1:30 p.m., following a lunch break. Morley Safer of “60 Minutes” will be joined by Andrea Mitchell of NBC News; former U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy; and Ford biographer and former Newsweek correspondent James Cannon, among others. Closing remarks will be made by U.S. News and World Report editor-at-large David Gergen, who served as an adviser to Ford, Reagan, Bush and Clinton.

The Ford Library will use this occasion to release thousands of pages of newly declassified documents resulting from the special review of more than 35,000 pages of documentation related to America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Most of the materials are from the Ford White House offices of National Security advisers Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft and from the files of National Security Council staff. New rules on declassification and assistance and advice provided by the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council and the National Security Agency make the release possible.

Information about Ford’s presidency and the Ford Library is on the Web at http://www.ford.utexas.edu/.