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Monday, January 29, 2007


What Should I Ask Bill Richardson About Foreign Policy?

posted by Nonpartisan at Monday, January 29, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians.]

Well, folks, I have some pretty big news. 

Yesterday morning, I posted this diary, which discussed the need for a visionary foreign policy in the context of Woodrow Wilson's 1919 Pueblo, Colorado speech in support of the League of Nations.  In it, I argued that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is the only Democratic Presidential candidate who has made foreign policy his top priority, but that he still had a ways to go as far as developing a comprehensive foreign policy vision.

Last night, I received an e-mail from a Richardson staffer who had read my piece.  He wanted to let me know that Richardson had in fact articulated a more complete international vision than I had realized.  He also asked me whether I wanted to interview Governor Richardson on foreign policy issues.

To make a long story short (or a short story shorter), I'll be submitting a list of foreign policy-related questions for Richardson via e-mail within the week.  I'll receive his answers sometime after that, I'm guessing within a few weeks.  When I do, I'll post the entire text of the interview right here.

I've got a couple of questions I want to ask the Governor, but beyond that, I'm throwing the floor open to YOU.  What questions do YOU think I should ask Governor Richardson?

Post your questions in comments, and I'll read them all and use those I like the best in the interview.  Remember to keep your questions limited to foreign policy issues.  Also, over the flip I'm including the text of a speech I was sent by Richardson's staff laying out what he's said so far about foreign policy.  I'd appreciate it if you'd read the text and not ask questions that are already covered in there -- I'd like the interview to cover material Richardson hasn't already articulated, not simply rehash what he's already said.

To put this in perspective, Governor Richardson is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, U.S. Secretary of Energy, and a four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee.  He just returned from a trip to Darfur, where he successfully brokered a cease-fire, and has been instrumental in conducting talks with North Korea.  In addition to being one of the leading Democratic candidates for President, Richardson is widely considered to be the leading candidate for U.S. Secretary of State in a Democratic administration -- so the importance of his views on foreign policy can't be overestimated.

Let me know what YOU think I should ask Richardson.  On the flip, his "New Realism" foreign policy address from last summer.

Democrats know from experience that maximizing our national strength means knowing when to work with others, and when to act alone. It means knowing when and how to employ our great military.

Above all, it means understanding that military power and diplomacy are not alternatives to one another, but rather are complementary sources of strength. What the Bush Administration has failed to understand is that while diplomacy without power is weak, power without diplomacy is blind.

Democrats offer real solutions that provide a new direction for America. We need a new realism in our foreign policy, which includes the following elements:

One, achieve national security through energy independence. We need a man on the moon effort to reduce our dependency on foreign oil -- go from 65-percent to 20-percent by 2015; increase fuel efficiency; invest in green buildings and fuel cells; and become the leader of the future economic engine of the world - renewable energy, such as ethanol, solar and wind.

Two, re-build alliances and reinvigorate our allies. A far-sighted policy would have built a coalition to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Most immediately, we need an international coalition for peacekeeping in the Middle East.

Three, focus on the real dangers. Prioritize resources to fight Al Qaeda and Jihadist terrorists and the most urgent dangers, such as nuclear terrorism. That means a new strategy for success in Iraq that allows us to redeploy our troops.

Four, don't outsource our diplomacy. We need direct, face to face talks with North Korea. We should also talk directly with Iran.

Five, we need to pay attention to Latin America, our own back yard. The key is passing a comprehensive immigration plan now that includes enhanced border security, a path to legalization for the 11 million immigrants already here, and sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The House should stop holding these silly hearings. Mr. President, your good words on immigration should be followed by deeds to pass a comprehensive plan.

Six, face up to global environmental threats. The first thing this Administration did was reject the Kyoto Treaty. America should be the world's leader, and that means owning up to grave environmental dangers, such as global warming.

Finally, respect human rights and American values. Prisoner abuse, torture, secret prisons and evasion of the Geneva Accords should have no place in our foreign policy.  link



I have two questions I would like to ask Governor Richardson.

1. What is your opinion on United Nations reform?
(I realize that he probably stated this at some point when he was UN Ambassador, but I haven't seen it and it might have changed.)

2. The United States has, for a very large portion of its history, exported its values throughout the world. How would you propose is the most efficient way of doing this?


My main questions are these:

I was dismayed by the way in which the Democratic establishment seized upon the Dubai Ports World deal as a means to burnish their foreign policy credentials at the expense of the Bush Administration. If we are to reform the Arab world, it will require building long-lasting economic links between our societies, and making common cause with political moderates against the Islamists. As has been noted, the Islamophobia evident in the reaction to the DPW deal (which was largely fueled by the Democrats, it must be noted) has had serious consequences. So, my question is, (a) what is your position on the DPW deal and (b) what strategies do you support for reaching out to the moderates in the middle east?


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