Richardson: U.S. Must Lead by Example

The Associated Press
Thursday, February 8, 2007; 3:51 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson said Thursday the United States must lead the way on global struggles by reducing its nuclear weapons, closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and dramatically cutting energy use.

In the first foreign policy address of his nascent candidacy, Richardson indicated he would reverse many Bush administration policies if he is elected to the White House in 2008. The New Mexico governor called his proposals "new realism."

"This administration's lack of realism has led us to a dangerous place," Richardson said during a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "So America needs to take a different path _ a path based on reality, not unilateralist illusions."

Richardson is an underdog in the Democratic race but is pegging his candidacy largely on his foreign policy credentials. He's a former ambassador to the United Nations, energy secretary and congressman who has extensive experience after years of freelance diplomacy.

Richardson, now governor of New Mexico, said demonstrating a commitment to multilateral cooperation could start by expanding the U.N. Security Council from its current five permanent members to 10. He said he would grant membership but not veto power to Germany and Japan and representation to Asia, Africa and Latin America, perhaps with countries in those regions rotating the seat.

He also called for the United States to join the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing such emissions "and then go well beyond it."

He said that would mean sacrifice to cut oil imports from 65 percent of fossil fuel use to 10 percent in 15 years. He said it would require a massive public and private investment in renewable technology and a drastic increase in automobile fuel economy standards. "This has to be led by a president," Richardson said.

Although the United States is the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gas, President Bush has argued that joining Kyoto would slow the U.S. economy intolerably and that it should have required reductions by poorer but fast-growing nations, such as China and India. Richardson said China and India certainly should be part of the solution and coaxed into cooperation through diplomacy.

Richardson said he would increase diplomacy across the globe, particularly in Iran, North Korea and Syria.

"We need to stop treating diplomatic engagement with others like a reward for good behavior," Richardson said. "The Bush administration's refusal to engage bad regimes has only encouraged and strengthened the most paranoid and hard-line tendencies."

Richardson said other countries will not take the nuclear nonproliferation treaty seriously until the United States leads a global effort to reduce nuclear weapons, "including our own."

Richardson also said to win the war against Jihadism, the United States must first live up to its own ideals.

"Prisoner abuse, torture, secret prisons, renditions, and evasion of the Geneva conventions must have no place in our policy," Richardson said. "If we want Muslims to open to us, we should start by closing Guantanamo."


On the Net:

© 2007 The Associated Press