Bill Richardson’s New Realism in Foreign Policy

Bill Richardson recently received negative publicity after a joke was covered by some of the news media to make it appear Richardson was making a serious statement when he quipped that both the Constitution and the Lord supported keeping the Iowa caucus first. Some bloggers continued to smear Richardson even after both a campaign spokesman and Richardson himself verified that this was a joke. Congratulations to Richardson supporter Stephen Fox for defending Richardson and getting Richardson’s more significant words out in the blogosphere.Stephen Fox has commented here from time to time. In August he emailed me this excellent article on foreign policy by Richardson. While it certainly deserved attention, it came to me on a busy day and I never got around posting on it. It was also ignored by most of the blogosphere, but it is getting some attention today. Stephen left a comment for Michael van der Galiën following negative posts related to Richardson’s joke, suggesting he read this article. Michael both read the article and posted on it, with the post now listed at Memeorandum, helping to bring it more attention. There is also a briefer version of his post at The Moderate Voice.

For those who do not want to read the full article by Richardson, Michael does provide a good summary. Michael generally agrees with Richardson except in one area. He writes, “If he considers the war against terrorism to be so important, I cannot quite see how he can deny the obvious; namely, that Iraq has become a central front in the war against Islamic extremism.” This is hardly so obvious. The major problem in Iraq is a civil war which has little to do with the overall issue of international terrorism. Support for al Qaeda in Iraq is falling, and what support they do have is fueled by anti-American sentiment. Our presence in Iraq only acts to inflame the situation and increase support for terrorism.

While he has some disagreements, Michael calls this article “probably the most intelligent piece about foreign policy produced by any of the candidates thusfar.” Libby at The News Hoggers agrees with Michael about the quality of the article, and shares my disagreement with Michael over his major criticism on Iraq. It is a shame that there has been far more discussion of a joke Richardson told than there is of his serious foreign policy proposals.

Richardson’s article is on many major areas of concern with regards to foreign relations. Under the fold I’ll post an excerpt where Richardson discusses his ideas on terrorism.
Selection from A New Realism Crafting a US Foreign Policy for a New Century

The United States also must lead the world in opening an ideological front in the war against Jihadism. There is a civil war within Islam between extremists and moderates, and the United States and its allies need to stop helping their enemies in that civil war. The United States needs to start showing, both through its words and through its actions, that this is not, as the Jihadists claim, a clash of civilizations. Rather, it is a clash between civilization and barbarity. The international community needs to present Arab and Muslim populations with a better vision than the apocalyptic fantasy of the Jihadists: a vision of peace, prosperity, tolerance, and respect for human dignity. There are a number of steps the United States can take to help accomplish this.

First and foremost, the United States must live up to its own ideals. Prisoner abuse, torture, secret prisons, and evasion of the Geneva Conventions must have no place in US policy. If the United States wants Muslims to be open to it, it should start by closing Guantanamo.

The United States also needs to pressure Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other friends in the Arab world to reform their education systems, which are incubators of anti-US sentiment. Moderate US Muslims must be given a louder, more systematic voice in US policy toward the Middle East so that they can speak the truth about the West and be heard by their fellow Muslims. The United States also must re-engage the Middle East peace process, as peace would deprive the Jihadists of their most effective propaganda tool. The sole superpower must use all its sticks and carrots to strengthen Palestinian moderates and to achieve a two-state solution which guarantees Israel’s security.

The United States spends more than US$2 billion per week on Iraq, but it has left its own cities, nuclear power plants, and shipping ports vulnerable to terrorist attack. Resilience, or the ability to recover from an attack, is an essential component of national defense, and it lowers the utility to the terrorists of attacking. The United States must spend more to recruit, equip, and train more first responders and to drastically improve public health facilities, which, five years after 9/11, are not ready for a biological attack. Homeland Security dollars should be allocated to where they are needed most—to the population centers and facilities that Al Qaeda targets.

The United States needs to lead the global fight against poverty, which is the basis of so much violence. By example and diplomacy, the United States can encourage all rich countries to honor their UN Millennium goal commitments. A Commission on the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, composed of world leaders and prominent experts, should be created to recommend ways of meeting Millennium commitments.

In this effort, the United States should lead donors on debt relief, shifting aid from loans to grants, and focus on primary health care and affordable vaccines. The World Bank must focus on poverty reduction, and the IMF must be more flexible regarding social safety nets. The United States should promote trade agreements, which create more jobs in all countries and which seriously address wage disparities, worker rights, and the environment. Together with other governments, the United States should pressure pharmaceutical companies to allow expanded use of generic drugs, and it should encourage public-private partnerships to reduce costs and enhance access to anti-malarial drugs and bed nets.

Most importantly, the United States should promote a multilateral Marshall Plan for the Middle East and North Africa. For a small fraction of the cost of the Iraq war, which has created so many enemies for the United States, the nation could make many friends. A crucial effort in fighting terrorism must be support for public education in the Muslim world. Many Muslim students have no educational opportunities except for madrassas, some of which teach Jihad. It must be a major component of US aid policies to poorer Muslim countries, as well as of US diplomacy with all Muslim countries, to take education out of the hands of those who preach violence. Development alleviates the injustice and lack of opportunity that proponents of violence and terrorism exploit. To those who say the United States cannot afford an aid program to build pro-American sentiment in the developing world, I say the United States cannot afford not to.

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  1. 1
    Stephen Fox says:

    Thank you, Dr. Chusid. I have gone to great lengths to get this information out about Richardson’s foreign policy ideas. It should be on every editorial page in America, but his campaign staff seems to have a different viewpoint and hasn’t sent this great article out very widely. That is saddening to me, because if there is any place Richardson could “catch up” with the three rockstars in the top tier, it is on the editorial pages of the United States, and I don’t just mean blogs and comments: I mean asking editorial page editors to read it and put their own views in with or against it, so that mainstream America could learn of all of this. Otherwise, the abysmal ignorance and indifference to foreign policy continues, and we let the Halliburtons and the Brown and Roots run the State department in their ongoing kleptocracy.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    Unfortunately the news media is far more interested in discussing things like a joke than serious foreign policy proposals such as this.

  3. 3
    Libby says:

    Thanks for the link Ron.

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