Bill Richardson’s New Realism
Bill Richardson sets forth his foreign policy vision in a piece called “New Realism: Crafting a US Foreign Policy for a New Century” published in the Harvard International Review.
The beginning is standard boilerplate, with plenty of sops to the base thrown in:
US foreign policymakers face novel challenges in the 21st century. Jihadists and environmental crises have replaced armies and missiles as the greatest threats, and globalization has eroded the significance of national borders. Many problems that were once national are now global, and dangers that once came only from states now come also from societies—not from hostile governments, but from hostile individuals or from impersonal social trends, such as the consumption of fossil fuels.
That’s all innocuous enough, although it’s rather dubious to argue that “environmental crises” and “the consumption of fossil fuels” are now foreign policy threats on par with terrorism; indeed, he largely abandons that pretense for the remainder of the piece, which does a creditable job of laying out the problems before us and arguing that the Bush Administration has not taken the appropriate measures to deal with them.
The second half of the piece lays out, in fairly detailed terms, Richardson’s plan. The highlights:
- “First and foremost, the United States must repair its alliances.”
- “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 claim, a clash of civilizations. Rather, it is a clash between civilization and barbarity.”
- “[C]losing 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.”
- “[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.
Most of these policies have been Democratic Party platform bread and butter since probably the Truman Administration. Others, including various poverty reduction programs, amount to minor tweaks of existing U.S. policy. Overall, then, it’s quite sensible.
My major disagreements are on the former UN Ambassador’s quest for internationalism.
Expansion of the Security Council and G-8 actually make it much less likely that we’ll achieve his other goals of increasing multilateralism and adherence for international law. It’s hard enough to get France on board; adding the tyrants of Beijing to the equation doesn’t exactly make things easier. For that matter, increasing China’s power would complicate ethical reform at the UN, given different views as to what constitutes “corruption.”
Most importantly, joining the International Criminal Court is fraught with peril. Handing American sovereignty over to an organization dominated by Third World tyrannies simply makes no sense.
via Dave Dilegge