I'm a little puzzled by something - why are so few people talking about Bill Richardson's recent article in Harvard International Review setting out his vision for American foreign policy? The media majors and even progressive bloggers haven't even noticed the article's existence and comment on the blogs so far has been limited to a very few hawkish center-right and center-left blogs linking to each other.
Kevin Drum, in an email, thinks that Richardson's being ignored because he simply isn't one of the Big Three frontrunners for the Dem nomination. That's probably true but it seems Richardson's campaign could work harder too. The article contains some very interesting and very progressive ideas that deserve to be discussed and could perhaps inform and influence the Big Three's platforms if they were more widely acknowledged by the netroots.
James Joyner helpfully lays out the highlights in sound-bite sized chunks.
*“First and foremost, the United States must repair its alliances.”There's a lot there to like and some to quibble about for every Democrat and progressive, I expect. Newshoggers' hawkish Dem pal Dave Schuler has some quibbles, for instance.
*“US leaders also must restore their commitment to international law and multilateral cooperation . . .”
*“[P]romoting expansion of the UN Security Council’s permanent membership to include Japan, India, Germany, and one country each from Africa and Latin America.”
*“[E]thical reform at the United Nations so that this vital institution can help its many underdeveloped and destitute member states meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
*“[E]xpanding the G8 to include new economic giants like India and China.”
*“The US government must join the International Criminal Court and respect all international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions.”
*“On environmental issues, the United States must be the leader, not the laggard, in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by embracing the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and then, going well beyond it, leading the world with a man-on-the-moon effort to improve energy efficiency and to commercialize clean, alternative technologies.”
*“[S]top considering diplomatic engagement with others as a reward for good behavior.”
*Various efforts to contain nuclear proliferation, including ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
*“The United States needs to start showing, both through its words and through its actions, that this is not, as the Jihadists [and Conservative Islamophobes - C] claim, a clash of civilizations. Rather, it is a clash between civilization and barbarity.”
*“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.”
*“[S]pend 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.”
*“The United States needs to lead the global fight against poverty, which is the basis of so much violence.”
*“Encourage all rich countries to honor their UN Millennium goal commitments.” “Lead donors on debt relief, shifting aid from loans to grants, and focus on primary health care and affordable vaccines.”
*“[P]romote trade agreements which create more jobs in all countries and which seriously address wage disparities, worker rights, and the environment.”
*“[P]ressure 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.”
*[P]romote a multilateral Marshall Plan for the Middle East and North Africa.
Cheryl Rofer and others joining the debate on what should replace the current nuclear non-policy are going to be especially interested in the detail of Richardson's proposals there;
Most urgently, the United States must focus on the real security threats, from which Iraq has so dangerously diverted its attention. This means doing the hard work to build strong coalitions to fight terrorists and to stop nuclear proliferation. There is a pronounced need for better human intelligence and better international intelligence and law enforcement coordination to prevent nuclear trafficking. US diplomatic leadership is needed to unite the world, including Russia and China, to sanction the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, and to provide these nations with positive incentives and face-saving ways to renounce nuclear weapons.While others will be more interested in Richardson's views on the "war" on (some) terror.
The global community needs to intensify its efforts to lock down all fissionable material. The United States, specifically, must increase funding for the Nunn-Lugar program and for US Energy Department programs to secure former Soviet plutonium stocks and nuclear weapons. The United States must also work with Pakistan to make sure that their nuclear arsenal does not fall into the hands of Jihadists. The Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) needs to be upgraded and tightened in an effort to prevent states from legally developing their nuclear capabilities and then opting out of the treaty as they rush to build bombs.
If the United States wants other countries to take the NPT seriously, it must show that it takes it seriously itself. The United States should re-affirm its NPT commitment to the long-term goal of global nuclear disarmament, and it should invite the Russians to join in a moratorium on new weapons and further staged reductions in arsenals, beyond what has already been agreed, over the course of the next decade. US diplomacy should also seek to get the other nuclear powers to reduce their arsenals, to get the non-nuclear powers to forego nuclear fuel enrichment, and to agree to rigorous global safeguards and verification procedures. The United States also should ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, not only because it is good policy, but also to send a signal to the world that it has turned a corner and once again will be a global leader, not a unilateralist loner.
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.I find his views on both those sectors of foreign policy - and several others - eminently sensible.
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.
...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.
Richardson, it is widely acknowledged, is not a serious nomination contender any longer. Partly that's because he never did have the large support base of the frontrunners, partly it's because on domestic policy he has an alarming tendency to shoot himself in the foot. But potentially he's a Secretary of State for a progressive Democratic cabinet. He has the experience as US representative to the UN and Secretary of Energy which says he could hold the job. At the very least he's a counterweight of Democratic opinion to those establishment Very Serious People who believe, and advise nominees to say, that keeping nukes on the table is effective foreign policy planning. That last means Richardson's article is very much worth further dissemination and discussion.