In an October 28 commentary discussing remarks about the state of the Iraq war by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Los Angeles Times conservative columnist David Gelernter misquoted President Jimmy Carter's secretary state in an effort to portray Democrats as willing to weaken U.S. military and security operations for political gain.
During an October 25 speech on the state of the Iraq war, Leahy said, “It has become increasingly apparent that the most powerful army in the world cannot stop a determined insurgency,” and raised the possibility that Congress would withdraw funding for the war.
In response, Gelernter argued that the U.S. military has suffered in the past from lack of funding and from demoralizing statements by “the left.” To support his claim, he described the Carter administration's post-Vietnam military policy as “anti-anti-Communism.” Gelernter noted, “As the U.S. military deteriorated for lack of funds and confidence, and Cuban troops with Soviet advisors moved into Angola and Ethiopia, Carter's secretary of State announced that 'to oppose Soviet or Cuban involvement in Africa would be futile.' ”
However, during the 1977 speech that Gelernter quoted, then-Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance said a "negative, reactive policy that seeks only to oppose Soviet or Cuban involvement would be both dangerous and futile." Further, the speech was primarily concerned with U.S. foreign policy towards Africa, not the administration's position on either Cuba or the Soviet Union.
From Fortune magazine, 1978:
The more lucid and consistent statements of U.S. policy over these past months have come from Secretary of State Vance, as he initially outlined it in an address in July, 1977, at St. Louis and restated it in an Atlantic City speech this past June. Essentially, Vance on both occasions sought to identify American policy with African nationalism, on the basis of the faith that “having won independence, African nationals will defend it against challenge from any source.” Accordingly, a “negative, reactive policy that seeks only to oppose Soviet or Cuban involvement would be both dangerous and futile.” Instead of any such “mirroring” of Communist activities in Africa, the Secretary has said, “our best course is to help resolve the problems which create the excuse for external intervention and to help strengthen the ability of Africans to defend themselves.”
From Gelernter's October 28 commentary in the Los Angeles Times:
When Democrat Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, he had large congressional majorities to work with. Carter described the Vietnam War as “moral poverty” in action. One of his first acts was to pardon all draft evaders -- at a time when families were still mourning soldiers dead in battle.
Carter preached anti-anti-communism: As the U.S. military deteriorated for lack of funds and confidence, and Cuban troops with Soviet advisors moved into Angola and Ethiopia, Carter's secretary of State announced that “to oppose Soviet or Cuban involvement in Africa would be futile.” This was foreign policy as the left liked it.