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Richardson on foreign policy

From NBC's Mark Murray
In a speech this morning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in DC, Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson laid out his foreign policy vision, calling for a "new realism" to restore America's leadership in the world. He began by criticizing what he said is the Bush Administration's dogmatic approach to international affairs -- which he said has squandered America's military power, depleted its financial resources, emboldened its enemies, and isolated its friends. "So America needs to take a different path… We must work with our friends, our enemies, and everyone in between." Playing off of Bush's memorable "axis of evil" line, Richardson also called for "an axis of reason" to confront urgent global problems.

Demonstrating the breadth of his foreign policy experience -- as a former UN ambassador, international negotiator, and Energy Secretary -- Richardson identified six global trends the US currently confronts: 1) fanatical jihadism; 2) nonstate- and state-sponsored terrorist enterprises; 3) Asia's economic and military power; 4) Russia's re-emergence; 5) global economic interdependence; and 6) world health and environmental problems.

And Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, ticked off six steps to deal with these trends: 1) repair America's alliances; 2) renew America's commitment to international law (like the Geneva conventions); 3) make the US a leader in the effort to reduce greenhouse gases (by joining the Kyoto Protocol and cutting fossil fuel consumption); 4) engage enemies like Iran, North Korea, and Syria, as well as Russia and China); 5) focus on America's real security issues, which he said don't include Iraq; and 6) pay attention to Latin America (to deal with the problems of drugs and illegal immigration).

During the Q&A, in a response to a question about his plans regarding Iraq, Richardson said that the US needs to "get out" this calendar year -- but he wants to couple that with diplomacy (to deal with the thorny issues of oil revenues and the Shia-Sunni conflict) and convening a regional conference (that would include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, and NATO nations).