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What Should I Ask Bill Richardson About Foreign Policy?

by Nonpartisan Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 07:58:23 PM EST

[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

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that I'm ESPECIALLY interested in what you guys have to say.  As non-Americans, you have a lot of knowledge of how our foreign policy impacts the rest of the world.  I'll try to include as many of your questions as I can.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...
by Nonpartisan on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 07:59:54 PM EST
Wow!  Congratulations!  A great example of all our "work" here actually starting to make contact (and hopefully influencing) the "real world" of policy making.

I very much look forward to the discussion on this and to the outcome of your exchange with Governor Richardson.

I encourage you to go shopping more. -- George W. Bush

by marco on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 10:13:44 PM EST
Congratulations!

I'm American, but I offer these interview suggestions, because one way or another it is my right to determine if Richardson will be president. i'm well aware he's comfortable being a consultant and has cultivate personal relationships to mitigate abusive official policies.

Drill into exceptionalism. This foundation is so wrong in principle on so many levels of diplomatic relations, excluding FUBAR congressional oversight.

  • We need an international coalition for peacekeeping in the Middle East. Why? What is his value driver? And how does the US benefit? (Isreal is our "friend"  and ME "stability" is an insufficient explanation, to my mind, absent a fully formed vision of a Palestian state.)

  • Prioritize resources to fight Al Qaeda and Jihadist terrorists and the most urgent dangers, such as nuclear terrorism. Al Qaeda and "jihadist" are transnational, mobile individuals. What does his recipe of ME military intervention have to do with territorial US security, law enforcement, investigation and prosecution of terrorist activity? Why is his focus international and "preemptive"? How is this strategy efficient, when six years of US military action and EU, especially GB history, surveillance has proved it is not? Can it ever by executed without coercing conformation/abrogation of sovereignty by multiple nations?
  • How does he imagine Iran's nuclear capability will transform dirty-bomb production by "jihadist" moles in the US?


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 11:55:14 PM EST
Thanks for posting this here. As you may remember, I got to meet Bill Richardson last year at YearlyKos, as he joined us for the energy panel:

Naturally, I'd like to ask him whether and how he would proceed with an attempt to create a global carbon emissions deal. It's good to see him put energy as his first priority, and an additional mention of climate change as a specific topic, so it's obvious he is thinking about it, but what would he do to make it happen on the international scene?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 03:49:13 AM EST
Unfortunately, I didn't get to Yearly Kos last year (and won't be able to go again this year; it's just too expensive).  But that's a fun picture, even though I don't recognize anyone in it other than Richardson.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...
by Nonpartisan on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 10:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From left to right:

Mark Sumner (devilstower), me, BR, George Karayannis (Doolittle Sothere), Adam Siegel (A Siegel)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 06:19:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooh, come!  Tix are $100 until Feb.1.  Which means you have to buy them now for the discount.  Then they go up.

So, thank god I read this as I've forgetten to get my tix!  Off to purchase them now...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 06:26:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have my plane ticket and my hotel reservation.
I'll be arriving on 1 August in the afternoon. Shall we meet up?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 06:30:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course we shall.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The 1st questions I would ask would be :

What would change in the present policy towards Israel ?
What would change in the present policy towards Palestine ?

by balbuz on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 04:56:32 AM EST
That means a new strategy for success in Iraq that allows us to redeploy our troops.

This does mean, "declare victory and go home", right? Not another lunatic scheme to win, win, win.

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.

What about USA's policy towards Latin American countries and adressing the situations people run from? And let me be clear that I would like to see the US stop their interference in Latin American politics, not changing its direction.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 10:35:12 AM EST
OK, this is not terribly well thought out, but I'm short on time this week so I might as well pound this out while I'm still up finishing my glass of post-dinner wine.

So my question(s) would go something like this:

Governor Richardson, the second element of your "new realism" foreign-policy plan involves "re-build alliances and reinvigorate our allies."  But do you understand that in many cases, U.S. "support" for our "allies" (however we define them) actually weakens them because the United States' credibility is at an all-time low?

And how will you be defining who our "allies" are?  In the Middle East, and in other regions, the United States has a long history of befriending and backing regimes that are far from democratic and far from egalitarian and far from basically all of our values.  Our "closest allies" in the region practice torture against their own citizens and against citizens of other countries who happen to be ensnared in their prison systems, including those who have been "renditioned" by our own intelligence services.  Previous pushes for "democracy" or "reform" in the Middle East have foundered upon fear that Islamist movements might be elected (or, in the case of the Palestinian Authority, were elected) if free elections were to be held.

Will you continue the Bush Administration's apparent policy of believing that any and every Islamist group is dangerous and should be subverted, regardless of its level of popular support or its actual stated policies, and will you continue the Bush Administration's practice of failing to differentiate between Islamist groups that advocate the use of violence and those that just dislike us but do so peacefully?  

Would you continue with the longstanding practice of protecting "stability" in the Middle East even at the cost of dictatorship?  And do you recognize that this much-vaunted "stability" we have been seeking has not in fact emerged from our policies, that on the contrary, our policies have been destabilizing?

How will you approach the regimes of the Middle East that happen to be our closest allies, including Saudi Arabia and the so-called "moderate" governments of Egypt and Jordan and Morocco?  Will you encourage their reform, and if so, how, and if not, why not?

How will you engage Syria and Iran in an effort to bring a solution to the seemingly endless troubles in Iraq?

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 07:09:48 PM EST


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