Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bill Richardson: end torture, close the Guantanamo prison, live up to our ideals as Americans

Matthew Yglesias points us to this recent speech by Bill Richardson, where he details his foreign policy ideas. Focusing on the need for both strength and diplomacy, and reasserting American ideals of civil liberties and human rights, Richardson would end the war in Iraq within the calendar year, refocus on the al Qaeda threat, open a dialogue with Cuba, Syria and Iran and attack the problems of globalization:
[Y]ou know, in recent years American foreign policy has been guided more by dogma than by facts, more by ideology than by history, more by wishful thinking than by reality. This administration’s lack of realism has led us to a dangerous place. In an era of terrorism, they’ve squandered our military power, undermined our diplomatic leverage, and depleted our Treasury. They’ve emboldened our enemies and isolated us from our friends. They’ve confused our moral compass and compromised our national security.

So if America is to lead again, we need to remember this history and to rebuild our overextended military, increase the size of our Army, revive our alliances, and restore our reputation as a nation which respects international law, human rights, and civil liberties. There is really no time to lose, for we live today in perilous times in which policies shaped by fantasy and wishful thinking have already wreaked havoc and court further disaster.

There are six trends that are transforming our world. We need to understand them and we need to respond to all of them simultaneously.

1. Fanatical jihadism: This trend has been growing for years, but the invasion and collapse of Iraq has fueled its growth.

2. The growing power and sophistication of criminal and terrorist enterprises capable of disrupting the global economy and trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.

3. The rapid rise of Asian economic and military power, especially China and India.

4. The reemergence of Russia as an increasingly assertive global and regional player

5. Globalization, unaccompanied by the growth of institutional capacities to manage its consequences.

6. Urgent and worsening health and environmental problems. Global warming and pandemics like AIDS do not respect national borders. And poverty, ethnic conflict and overpopulation also spill over borders, feeding what Moises Naim has called the five wars of globalization: drugs, arms trafficking, money laundering, intellectual property, and alien smuggling.

[W]e need to live up to our own ideals as Americans. So prisoner abuse – Abu Ghraib, torture, secret prisons – eavesdropping, evasion of the Geneva Convention must have no place in America’s foreign policy. If we want Muslims to open up to us, we should start by closing Guantanamo. We also need to pressure Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other friends to reform their education system, which five years after 9/11 are still incubators of anti-Americanism. And we must give a louder, more systematic voice to moderate American Muslims so that they can speak the truth about us and be heard.

The United States also needs to start paying attention to the Americas, to Latin America, our own backyard. The legal trafficking of drugs and persons across the Mexican border threatens America’s national security, so we need better border security and comprehensive immigration reform – reform that provides for a guest worker program with a realistic and earned path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented workers that are in the United States.

[W]e must abandon the ridiculous notion of building a fence along the border. ... No fence ever built has stopped history, and this won’t either. It just won’t work. Let’s use those funds for the border for real border enforcement, and I propose doubling the number of border guards to do just that.

I live with this issue every day as a border governor. Real security, real results with a fraction of the financial and political cost of building a fence is critically important.

America needs to lead the global fight against poverty, ... America needs to lead donors on debt relief, shifting aid from loans to grants, and a greater focus on primary health care and affordable vaccines. We should pressure pharmaceutical companies to allow expanded use of generic drugs, and we should stimulate public/private partnerships to reduce costs and enhance access to anti-malarial drugs and bed nets.

Most importantly, America should spearhead a Marshall plan for the Middle East and North Africa. For a small fraction of the cost of the Iraq war, which has made us so many enemies, we could make many friends.

Global climate change has to be part of that effort too. We should have an all-out assault, led by the United States, not just to rejoin the Kyoto Treaty, but to make up for lost time.

Q: Do you favor restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba? And do you favor ending the embargo that has lasted almost 50 years?

A: Taking the embargo off I believe is premature. I think there has to be a negotiation. I would get leaders of foreign – former presidents of Latin America to help me visualize a policy for a post-Castro Cuba where you push for a democratic transition, where you push for democracy, where you push for fair elections, where you push for long-term viability of that country and reintegrate it into the Americas.

Q: What do you think we should be doing in Iraq that we’re not doing today?

A: Here’s what I would do with Iraq: I would get out this calendar year,... find a way that that reconciliation conference, using the leverage of a withdrawal, brings forth a coalition government, a sharing of oil revenues, a sharing of Cabinet ministries, and a Dayton-type accord similar to Dayton – not a division, a splitting up of the country, that would bring territorial integrity and respect to the religious groups in Iraq.

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