Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bill Richardson: a clear vision on Iran

[x-posted at Daily Kos]

If the United States chose its presidents based on resumé alone, Bill Richardson would be the clear front-runner for 2008.

But Richardson, who is notably lacking in Obama's charisma, Hillary's name recognition and organization, or even Edward's boyish charm, is currently firmly ensconced in the dwindling (farewell Tom Vilsack, we hardly knew ye) second tier of potential Democratic nominees.

But regardless of his poll standings, I have no doubt that the New Mexican Governor, former UN ambassador, and Energy Secretary (see, I told you he has a great resumé) would may an excellent president.

One reason I believe that is his clear vision of America's place in the world and what needs to be done to improve that place.

In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, Richardson outlines his vision for dealing with an international crisis that, should it follow the trajectory which BushCorp™ seems to have mapped out for it, would indeed make the debacle in Iraq appear the mere comma W says it is:

The recent tentative agreement with North Korea over its nuclear program illustrates how diplomacy can work even with the most unsavory of regimes. Unfortunately, it took the Bush administration more than six years to commit to diplomacy. During that needless delay North Korea developed and tested nuclear weapons -- weapons its leaders still have not agreed to dismantle. Had we engaged the North Koreans earlier, instead of calling them "evil" and talking about "regime change," we might have prevented them from going nuclear. We could have, and should have, negotiated a better agreement, and sooner.

As the International Atomic Energy Agency just confirmed, Iran has once again defied the international community and is moving forward with its nuclear program, yet the Bush administration seems committed to repeating the mistakes it made with North Korea. Rather than directly engaging the Iranians about their nuclear program, President Bush refuses to talk, except to make threats. He has moved ships to the Persian Gulf region and claims, with scant evidence, that Iran is helping Iraqi insurgents kill Americans. This is not a strategy for peace. It is a strategy for war -- a war that Congress has not authorized. Most of our allies, and most Americans, don't believe this president, who has repeatedly cried wolf.

And while BushCorp™ continues to rely on its belief that diplomacy amounts it the issuance of threats and ultimata, Richardson proposes an approach to the issue that relies more on neurons than testosterone:

A better approach would be for the United States to engage directly with the Iranians and to lead a global diplomatic offensive to prevent them from building nuclear weapons. We need tough, direct negotiations, not just with Iran but also with our allies, especially Russia, to get them to support us in presenting Iran with credible carrots and sticks.

No nation has ever been forced to renounce nuclear weapons, but many have chosen to do so. The Iranians will not end their nuclear program because we threaten them and call them names. They will renounce nukes because we convince them that they will be safer and more prosperous if they do that than if they don't. This feat will take more than threats and insults. It will take skillful American diplomatic leadership. [Emphasis mine]

The article should be read in whole, but my point is that, whatever is lacking in candidate Richardson (and I'm not endorsing ANYONE at this point), he would none-the-less, be a vast improvement over the current administration, and is certainly worthy of consideration for the Democratic nomination.

As a commenter on the WaPo article puts it:

What a breath of fresh air. Finally, some level-headed, discerning experience talking. Exactly what this country has needed for the past six years. Not the deceit and recklessness of the dangerous boy scouts running the country who are happy to use our kids for their wars. Thanks, Governor. Such sanity shines through the clouds of war of these dark, tragic days.

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