Tag Archives: nuclear proliferation

Bill Richardson Roundup: June 23-30, 2007 News Review

Highlighting his considerable foreign expertise, Governor Bill Richardson last week set forth a path to avoiding military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program. Richardson called on Bush administration to stop threatening Iran with “incendiary rhetoric,” and instead recognize our interests in engaging Iran diplomatically. 

Richardson’s week ended with a well-received speech before Latino leaders in Florida.  Decrying the tone of the debate in the Senate on the immigration bill and how Latinos are portrayed in the media, Richardson asked

Do you notice that when they depict immigrants, they have someone crossing a wall, jumping as if they are criminals? How about the farmers who break their backs working or those who are cleaning the toilets and working at the hotel where we stay? How about the American media covering the immigrant who died protecting his country?

Also of note, Pollster.com added Richardson to its Top Democrats charts, joining Clinton, Obama and Edwards.  Charles Franklin of Pollster.com stated, “For other Democratic candidates, we’ve not seen a substantial upturn anywhere. Richardson stands alone in that respect at the moment.”

For a full review of Richardson’s week, continue reading.

Last week began with Richardson campaigning in Iowa.  He stepped up his rhetoric opposing the ongoing U.S. occupation in Iraq. As noted by the Rocky Mountain News:

While all the other Democrats call for an end to the conflict, Richardson goes a step further by saying virtually every American soldier – with the exception of Marine embassy guards – should be pulled out by the end of the year. He is pressuring congressional Democrats to pass a resolution by the end of the summer revoking authority for the war.

Richardson also addressed the question of the process he would employ if as President he believed war necessary:

If I am president, I would only go to war if I get authority from Congress. If you go to war, it’s my view that first you exhaust every diplomatic option, you exhaust mediation, even sanctions, build international support for your goals.  I would not hesitate to go to war if it preserved the security of this country, but I believe this administration has been too trigger-happy. And I would use diplomacy.

Richardson has been consistent on the primacy of diplomacy in conflict resolution.  On Iraq, Richardson advocated that the U.S. explore all diplomatic avenues, including returning to the U.N. and developing support within the Security Council for U.S. objectives.  Under the U.N. Charter, only the Security Council can authorize a member state to wage war. 

Richardson’s view, that the U.S. must place the matter of invading Iraq to a vote of the Security Council prior to commencing hostilities, was rejected by many in Congress, including John Edwards, and ultimately was the path President Bush pursued.

On March 11, 2003, eight days before President Bush announced the U.S. was at war with Iraq, Richardson urged patience and diplomacy, criticizing the Bush Administration’s rush to war, in an interview on CNN.  At this time, polls showed most Americans supported going to war and were critical of the U.N. Richardson defended the work of the U.N. Richardson explained how unilateral U.S. military action in Iraq would undermine the U.N. and hurt the prestige of the U.S. abroad:

CROWLEY: I want to ask you the question, first, if there is no Security Council resolution approving of a war on Iraq, and if the Bush administration should go ahead, who loses in that scenario?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think the United Nations loses because it shows a lack of relevance to this crisis.

And, secondly, I think, Candy, that the United States loses because we’re going into a major conflict without the blessing of the U.N. Security Council, without some of our major allies like France and Russia, and also those 10 other members of the Security Council, the 10 non-permanent members that have a voice right now.

So I think it would come at considerable cost especially if we’re to win the war, which we would, issues relating to a post-Iraq configuration to the prestige of the United States worldwide to bring some kind of order to the Middle East and bring some kind of Persian Gulf-lessening attention. So, I think everybody would be a victim. The United Nations, the United States and, certainly, our NATO allies. I think would be hurt, too, because if they don’t support us the breakdown of the NATO alliance might be next to go.

CROWLEY: Well, I want to cite a couple of figures for you. One of them just came from a CBS/New York Times poll, which showed that right now only about 34 percent of Americans believe the U.N. is doing a good job handling this situation.

Fifty eight percent think it’s doing a poor job. On top of that, we also found that 55 percent would support an invasion, even if the Security Council says don’t do it. What does that say about how Americans view the U.N., and has that changed since you were the ambassador?

RICHARDSON: Well, the United States as a populous, here in new Mexico, there’s not much support for the United Nations. But at the same time, Candy, what everyone should understand is the United Nations does a lot of things that we, the U.S. as the only superpower, don’t want to do.

They get involved in conflicts in Kosovo, in the Congo in Africa, in Guatemala and Latin America. Immigration issues, AIDS, refugees. We don’t want to get directly involved in these, but we use the arm of international support, legitimacy of the United Nations to do it.

Now, in the Persian Gulf, conveniently, the U.N. supported our efforts in 1991 to get a broad coalition. And I think we’ve used the U.N. in the war on terrorism to get international support.

But clearly in this Iraq crisis, the U.N. has to step up and simply enforce its 1881 resolution. And it’s not doing that. So, it’s going to be a big loss for the U.N. in terms of its peacekeeping relevance, unless it really steps up and gets tough on Saddam Hussein. I think that’s the issue.

CROWLEY: So, am I right, am I hearing you correctly that you believe that the U.N. Security Council should pass the resolution that Britain and the U.S. are proposing?

RICHARDSON: Well, I would go a little differently, Candy. I think the U.S. and Britain should compromise. That’s the essence of diplomacy. To get nine votes, if it means postponing for 30 days, or 15 days or 10 days, a new resolution with benchmarks on Iraq’s behavior, let’s do it. I think that France and Russia are basically gone.

They are going to veto. But it would be a partial victory if we get nine votes for a victory of a majority in the Security Council. If we don’t do that, I think it’s going to be tremendous prestige loss overseas. I think, domestically, it’s going to cause more problems for the administration. The Congress will be divided. This is a time when it’s frustrating, but what’s the rush, really. Iraq is not heading down Baghdad into the United States.

Again, it is a threat, but it’s not an immediate threat. It’s not something that is like the war on terrorism, where we’re under alert from a potential terrorist attack in this country. So let’s be judicious. Let’s be calm. Let’s be patient.

While in Iowa, Richardson sat down for an interview with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register. The reporter covering the interview wrote:

Richardson might not be the best-known candidate – for now, anyway – but he might have the best credentials. His resumé includes U.S. congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and governor. He served in Congress under three presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

That’s him on paper.  In person, he’s a bit beefy, his eyes scrunch up, and his body shakes when he laughs. He boasts that he holds the world’s handshaking record – more than 13,000 handshakes in eight hours. And his sense of humor comes through loud and clear. . . .

Yet he has a serious side.  It’s the side that made him a go-to envoy while still in Congress. He helped negotiate the release of the body of a U.S. Army helicopter pilot killed in North Korea in 1994. The next year, he negotiated the release of two Americans detained in Iraq. Then he secured release of three Red Cross workers being held in Sudan.

During the interview, Richardson highlighted three issues of such importance that he would make special efforts to reach bipartisan consensus: getting out of the Iraq war; setting up solid funding for Social Security and Medicare for future generations; and achieving energy independence.  The reporter added:

If that sounds like a lot, his vision for the country is equally expansive. Building an America without divisions by race or ethnicity. Launching an Apollo-like program to secure energy independence. Curing cancer. Giving the middle class a break. “My vision is to think big for this country,” he said.

On June 27th, Richardson gave a major address at the Center for National Policy in Washington, D.C.  Richardson laid out his vision for engaging Iran and convincing Iran to halt its development of nuclear weapons.  Richardson also spoke on building support to fight international terrorism and nuclear proliferation, while bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.

I am convinced that a concerted diplomatic effort, backed up by tough sanctions, undertaken with our international partners and grounded in bipartisan cooperation at home, stands an excellent chance of persuading Iran to forego nuclear weapons and to adopt more responsible policies.  We need to end the taboo on open-ended talks, so that we can begin serious, continuing, and senior-level negotiations on the full range of nuclear, Middle East security, and economic issues. . . .

We need to be absolutely clear that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and we need to be absolutely credible when we say what we will do about it if the Iranians continue to disregard the will of the international community. . . .

Richardson added the Bush Administration was foolish to fund Iraqi exile groups in the delusional expectation that they would somehow topple the regime, and called on Bush not to repeat the mistake with Iran:

The Bush administration foolishly tried this approach with Iraq, and we know what it got us. There is no reason to expect better results with Iran. . . No constructive dialogue with Iran is possible until we break the vicious cycle of suspicion and hostile, incendiary rhetoric. If we want Iran to improve its behavior, we would do well to stop threatening to attack them.

Bill Richardson advocated that the U.S. reach out to moderate elements in Iranian society to defuse the standoff between the two countries.  Richardson reiterated his position that the U.S. must remove all troops from Iraq as soon as possible:

The presence of American troops in Iraq fuels the insurgency and strengthens Al Qaeda.  I strongly believe that the complete withdrawal of all US military from Iraq will have a salutary effect on all of our goals in the region, including our efforts to build a better relationship with Iran, and to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Back in New Mexico, the leading state organization on environmental issues, the non-partisan Conservation Voters New Mexico gave Richardson an “A” in its annual scorecard of elected officials:

The CVNM Scorecard recognizes Governor Bill Richardson with a solid “A” for his commitment to protecting the environment. The Governor weighed in behind a strong renewable energy agenda in 2007 and exercised his veto power on several anti-conservation measures, including a line-item veto of $945,000 for “Gila basin water development”, and a pocket-veto of SB 220 that would have provided a de facto $6.9 million subsidy to the coal industry.

Sandy Buffet, the Executive Director of the CVNM applauded Richardson’s efforts to make “New Mexico the ‘Clean Energy State.‘” She also complimented Richardson for his work on a non-environmental issue, but one affecting the integrity of the state government and New Mexico elections:  uphelding strong campaign finance reporting rules from efforts by the state legislature to reverse progessive statutes.

In response Richardson stated:

We have worked closely with all those who seek to conserve our water, air and public lands and establish New Mexico as the clean energy state — and this grade shows we’ve worked well together.  Having enacted 23 pro-conservation bills this year, this legislative session was an unprecedented success with significant increases to our renewable energy portfolio standard, passage of the surface owner’s protection act and the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority.

On the political front, independent polls issued last week re-confirmed Richardson’s growing support in Iowa and New Hampshire.  The campaign’s internal poll released to the media showed Richardson at 13% in Iowa, and at 18% (above Obama) among likely caucus voters.  And, in in action I believe is related to Richardson’s rise in the polls, the week also saw Obama launch TV ads in Iowa and Edwards commence a TV campaign in New Hampshire. 

In response to Richardson’s momentum in Iowa and New Hampshire, Pollster.com added Richardson to its Top Democrats charts, joining Clinton, Obama and Edwards.  Charles Franklin of Pollster.com explained, “While Richardson is still in fourth place in both states (5th in NH if you include Gore), his is the only trajectory that is clearly moving up.” 

The positive trend in Iowa polls was noticed by reporters in the state:

Lending credence to a poll showing his support has jumped to double digits among likely Iowa caucus-goers, Bill Richardson attracted more than 200 people to a “job interview” in Iowa City. The Democratic governor of New Mexico made an impression Tuesday with the folks who will be doing the “hiring” when Iowans caucus in January.

“He’s the ‘been there, done that’ guy in the field” of Democratic candidates for the 2008 presidential nomination, Sally Peck of West Branch said of listening to Richardson. “He’s not just mouthing platitudes. He has the experience others don’t.”

For months, Richardson has been calling for comprehensive immigration reform in harmony with the ideals upon which our nation was founded.  In a speech last December at Georgetown University, Richardson spoke on the issue:

I come here today as a border state Governor, and a  Hispanic-American who knows that our nation can no longer afford to  ignore the issue of illegal immigration. I come here as a Democrat who  believes my party has an obligation as the new majority party to pass  comprehensive legislation to reform our immigration laws. And I come  here as someone who believes it’s time for our leaders to tell the  simple truth about this — and every other — issue.

Today, there are over 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Most are law abiding, except for the fact that they have entered this country illegally. And almost all have come here to work — to build a  better life for themselves and their families, just as previous generations of immigrants have done.

Eleven million people living in the shadows is a huge problem, and we need to address it intelligently and thoughtfully — and urgently. If Congress fails to do so, it will only get worse, and the demagoguery about it which we have heard so much of recently will only get louder.

Sadly, Richardson’s prediction that the demagoguery on immigration would only get worse proved true last week. Following the failure of the Senate to advance a bill, Richardson stated:

I am deeply disappointed. You can’t solve a problem by ignoring it. We have got to find a way to bridge the divide and bring people together to address the critical problems facing our nation — immigration, energy, healthcare, education. This is the price America pays for divisive leadership. Congress should continue to work on passing immigration reform.

Richardson explained further his opposition to the Senate immigration bill, while calling for immigration reform, in an address to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials on June 30, 2007 in Orlando, Florida.  As reported in the Boston Globe:

“The Congress failed to pass an immigration act, and they must return” to it, said Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a lawmaker of Hispanic background who received one of the most enthusiastic receptions among the seven Democratic candidates for president from the members of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.

“But it was a bad bill. What I objected to was that they stopped working” on it, Richardson said. He decried that he called an overly onerous provision that would have required undocumented immigrants to return to their home countries to be considered for a green card giving them permanent legal status.

As reported in the Chicago Tribune, at the same conference Obama decried an “ugly undertone that crept into the debate” this year. Yet, Obama defended his vote last year to build the 700-mile fence along U.S. boarder with Mexico because that provision was just one part in a “much more humane” reform bill.  This was not the case.  The “Secure Fence Act of 2006” that Obama, Clinton, Dodd and Biden voted for contained only provisions authorizing the wall and securing the border. Richardson has consistently opposed the border wall as ineffective, a terrible symbol for America and in conflict with our goal of seeking Mexico’s cooperaton on immigration issues.

The Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the Florida conference continued:

But Richardson landed the hardest punch with the crowd when he suggested that the failure to pass fair immigration laws is due partly to a societal failure to recognize that “immigration has historically been a very positive element.”

“I have a message to the American media,” Richardson said. “Do you notice when they depict immigrants, they have somebody crossing a wall … as if they’re criminals? How about the American media looking at the farmworker who breaks his back? How about the American media covering the Latino immigrant that has died for this country?”

Richardson added:  “I’m not running as a Latino candidate. I’m running as an American governor who is enormously proud to be Latino.”

There has been significant blog commentary on the Democratic Presidential debate last Thursday at Howard University.  I won’t add anything further with one exception.  Much of the commentary focused on style and ignored the substance of the candidates’ statements. In particular, on the question of economic growth and tax unfairness, Richardson set forth an unique vision. 

Richardson’s voice is important as he is the only Democratic candidate in the race with executive branch experience and success in working with local communities, private corporations and public entities in creating thousands of new, quality jobs. 

Richardson advocated repealing the Bush tax cuts at the very top of the income bracket, which other candidates did as well.  But Richardson would go much further by replacing the Bush tax cuts with tax cuts for the middle class and to promote job growth, including in the inner cities and rural areas.  Richardson stated

We need to rebuild this economy by being pro-growth Democrats. We should be the party of innovation, of entrepreneurship, of building capital, getting capital for African American small businesses. We need to find a way in this country that we say that globalization must work for the middle class.

Finally, the Bay Area Reporter, the leading LGBT paper for the San Francisco Bay Area, profiled Richardson last week:

B.A.R. publisher Thomas E. Horn, who was born and raised in New Mexico and whose family has been involved in the state’s politics – an uncle served as a state legislator and then the state’s Democratic Party chair in the 1950s and 1960s – first met Richardson when he served as a congressman.

“I really think he is the most qualified Democrat in the race for president,” Horn wrote in an e-mail. “His track record is exceptional. He’s done a fine job as governor … and was re-elected with around 70 percent of the vote.”

Horn, who said he expects to make an endorsement in the primary but has yet to back a candidate, said winning the southwest will be key to the Democrats taking back the White House. Not only does he see Richardson having an advantage in the West, but Horn also praised his gay rights track record.

“If a Democrat carries New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, we don’t need Ohio or Florida to win. Richardson is very popular throughout the southwest and stands the best chance of being able to do that,” wrote Horn. “His record of LGBT issues has always been stellar.”

Bill Richardson Roundup: Week in Review

This was a significant week in Bill Richardson’s campaign for President, with a major address on climate change and how to end the bloodshed in Iraq. 

It was also a significant week for peace and stability in Korea and Asia – which highlights Richardson’s expertise in foreign affairs and his diplomatic skills. With Richardson as President we get two for the price of one – a can-do leader on domestic issues and an experienced diplomat that knows how to bring people and nations together.

First, Richardson spoke in D.C. at the Take Back America Conference and set forth an unambiguous approach to Iraq – total withdrawal of U.S. forces combined with a diplomatic offensive:

But there is a fundamental difference in this campaign — and that’s how many troops each of us would leave behind. Other than the customary marine contingent at the embassy, I would leave zero troops. Not a single one. And if the embassy and our embassy personnel aren’t safe, then they’re all coming home too.

No airbases. No troops in the Green Zone. No embedded soldiers training Iraqi forces, because we all know what that means. It means our troops would still be out on patrol with targets on their backs.

A regional crisis is worthy of military intervention. A true threat to our country’s security is worthy of war. But a struggle between a country’s warring factions, where both sides hate the United States, is not worthy of one more lost American life.

Richardson also discussed his plan to addressing climate change:

I’m proud to have the most aggressive plan of anyone running for president. Within twelve years, my plan would reduce global warming pollution by 20 percent, lower demand for oil by fifty percent, and push fuel economy standards to 50 miles per gallon.

By the year 2040, my plan would require that 50 percent of our electricity be generated from renewable sources and would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent.

You can read the plan for yourself at my campaign website or you can listen to the League of Conservation Voters. They rated it the most aggressive plan with the highest goals of any other candidate. These aren’t pie in the sky proposals, but they are ambitious.

If we can spend billions waging war in a country that never had weapons of mass destruction … then we can certainly find the will to stop the mass destruction of our planet.

It’s time that we as a nation chose the collective good over the desire to collect goods. And frankly, buying carbon offsets isn’t enough. Just like paying somebody else to go to church doesn’t make you religious … paying somebody else to conserve doesn’t make you a conservationist.

Earlier this year, Richardson visited North Korea and helped revive U.S.-North Korean negotiations on nuclear weapons issues.  During his April visit, North Korean leaders promised Richardson that they would meet with U.S. officials and representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor the shutdown of North Korea’s nuclear reactor, in exchange for the U.S. unfreezing funds owned by North Korea and held outside the country. 

In statement issued by the campaign, Richardson noted:

North Korean leaders made a promise to me to invite Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill to meet in North Korea. This high-level meeting comes on the heels of progress made toward shutting down the Yongbyon nuclear facility. Both of these actions are important steps in the process toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

In an Op Ed published in The Hill, Richardson called on Congress to pass and fully fund the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 in order to move America to a reliable and verifiable paper-ballot system now, and discussed efforts in New Mexico to adopt paper ballots:

In 2005 a grassroots coalition of concerned New Mexicans demanded action — and we acted. Working together with these citizens and the state legislature, I fought for legislation to increase voter confidence in our democracy through specific and concrete measures. We improved and standardized training for poll workers. We established statewide standards for provisional ballots to ensure that voters in low-income areas will not be disenfranchised. We made absentee voting fair, simple and uniform. And we established a random, statewide 2 percent audit of voting machines.

One year later, I signed a bill to move New Mexico to an all-paper-ballot system using optical scanners to count votes. We ended the hodgepodge of systems that confused voters and raised questions about reliability.

New Mexico’s conversion to a paper-ballot system made sense. Paper ballots are the least expensive, most secure form of voting available. . . .Using optical scanners meant quick and accurate results, while at the same time paper ballots became the permanent, verifiable, durable record of the vote.

Campaigning in Iowa, Richardson was asked to respond to John Edwards’ claim that he is more electable than Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. Richardson noted that the Rocky Mountain and Southwest states were becoming increasing Democratic:

We in the Democratic Party seem to be nominating candidates that maybe are very strong in the East Coast and the far West Coast.  The only dispute I have with the senator’s perception is that I can deliver the Rocky Mountain states that other candidates can’t.

When questioned on his position on abortion rights, Richardson made clear his support:

Democrat Bill Richardson says that if he’s elected president, he would reject any Supreme Court nominees who believe Roe versus Wade should be overturned. . .  Richardson made the comment today in Des Moines, acknowledging that his stance probably upsets some people. Presidents typically say they don’t ask potential justices about their views on specific cases, but Richardson says he would make an exception for Roe versus Wade.

Another article on the question of abortion rights observed:

Richardson said he’d treat abortion rights differently than other issues because it’s so crucial to so many Americans. ‘‘I say this because we always dance around this issue,’’ said Richardson. ‘‘I’m also going to ask them, you do support civil rights, right? You do support a right of privacy, right?’’

By not directly discussing standards for picking nominees, Richardson said presidential candidates hide vital information from voters. ‘‘I would put men and women on the court who would shape policy for a generation,’’ said Richardson. ‘‘That’s the biggest legacy of a president. We’re already paying for the Bush legacy with these last few decisions on privacy and choice.’’

Questioned on his position on illegal immigration, Richardson stated:

I have to deal with this issue every day as the governor of New Mexico. There are four border states, and we are one of them. Am I for this wall? No. It’s a 10-foot wall. First of all, Congress didn’t fund the whole thing. And do you know what’s going to be built? Eleven-foot ladders.

Richardson criticized the new Senate energy bill passed by the Democrats as a Band-Aid approach that did not go far enough to curb our dependency on imported oil or spur serious technological innovation and promote renewable energy:

A haunting question hangs over the new energy bill passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate just before midnight Thursday: Would it work if it became law?

The real answer lies far in the future, but skepticism was rampant Friday. One prominent presidential candidate, New Mexico’s Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, called it a “Band-Aid approach,” a sentiment expressed by other critics. Some called price-gouging provisions in the bill virtually meaningless, and President Bush has threatened to veto any bill containing such provisions.

Democratic leaders held out great promise for the legislation, saying it would reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil and help keep gasoline prices in check. “A giant leap forward,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared.

. . .In counterpoint to high Democratic praise in the Senate, Richardson, who served as energy secretary in the Clinton administration, said in a statement the bill did not go far enough and would not break U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“It’s another Band-Aid approach, not the comprehensive medical treatment our nation’s energy policy needs,” he said. He called for a 50 m.p.g. fuel economy standard for cars instead of the 35 miles per gallon in the bill, which would have to be attained by 2020.

Richardson called for legislation that would incorporate the following elements as part of a comprehensive, integrated approach to climate and energy policy by 2020:

* Sharp incentives for making the plug-in car 50% of the auto market, giving consumers the option to fuel up at a fraction of the cost of gasoline;
*  A 50 mpg fuel economy standard for conventionally fueled vehicles, helping stimulate technologies that save fuel and save consumers gas money;
*  A 30% renewable energy requirement, which will help fuel our plug-in cars and will cause the retirement of dirty old coal plants;
*  A 20% improvement in energy efficiency across the board;
*  A climate change cap and trade program that auctions rights for industries and utilities to emit carbon at lower and lower levels — at least 20% less by 2020, and 80% less by 2040.

Finally, Richardson spoke on the importance of LGBT rights and Pride Month:

I am very pleased to join my friends in the GLBT community and Americans across the country in celebrating Pride Month. This month is a deserved commemoration of the contributions of GLBT Americans to the United States and a welcome symbol of how far we have come as a nation.

We must also acknowledge that we are in the midst of a difficult struggle for basic human rights and we have a long way to go. This month is a worthy symbol of our progress towards full civil rights for every American, but we cannot ignore the challenges we still must conquer before we can truly move forward and create a better society.