Bill Richardson
Governor, New Mexico (D)

Bill Richardson: Would you talk to Syria and Iran?

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Richardson, on being tough but open.

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson is the Governor of New Mexico and former candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Of Hispanic descent, Richardson was born in Pasadena, California, but spent most of his childhood in Mexico City. Richardson graduated from Tufts University, from which he also received a Masters in International Affairs. In 1982, Richardson was elected to the United States House of Representatives. During his time in the House, Richardson focused on foreign affairs as well as on issues of importance to the Native American community. In 1997, Bill Clinton appointed Richardson United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Richardson left that post in 1998 to become Secretary of Energy. Richardson is known for his "shuttle diplomacy" and has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Richardson was first elected the Governor of New Mexico in 2003; he was reelected in 2007 in a landslide, earning 69% of the vote. Richardson is the author of two recent books: the campaign autobiography Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life, and Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution.


Question: Would you talk to Syria and Iran?

Bill Richardson: Absolutely, with no problem preconditions. Now I’d be tough with them. I’d say to Iran, “You can’t have nuclear power; but maybe you can have civilian power.” I’d use sticks and carrots. I would not disrespect ‘em. I would tone the rhetoric down, because what we want Iraq to do is we don’t want them to start messing with our troops in Iraq, which is what they’re doing. We don’t want ‘em to help terrorist elements in the region. We certainly don’t want ‘em to build nuclear weapons. What we wanna do is just lessen the huge, huge instability in the region. With Syria, we don’t want them helping Hezbollah. We want to have Israel secure, but today Israel is less secure with Hezbollah, with Hamaas, with Iran wanting to build nuclear weapons. It’s important that we realize that the Israeli-Palestinian issue in talking to Iran and Syria, in trying to stabilize the region with a solution in Iraq that involves American diplomatic leadership without an American military presence is the way to go – the way we’ll regain our prestige internationally; the way America should be known, and that is as a nation that is not known as the world’s policeman, but as the world’s conscience; that we are gonna lead the world not with our military, and economic power, and political power; but by our moral force – that we stand for equality, and freedom, and human rights. That’s how we build international support for our goals.

Recorded on: 11/20/07