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June 20, 2007

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Ryan Lizza pwned! Don't worry TNR is probably considering endorsing Leiberman again.

Stephen Cassidy

Richardson has been consistent on the primacy of diplomacy in conflict resolution. On Iraq, Richardson advocated that the U.S. explore all diplomatic avenues, including returning to the U.N. and developing support within the Security Council for U.S. objectives. Under the U.N. Charter, only the Security Council can authorize a member state to wage war.

Richardson's view, that the U.S. must place the matter of invading Iraq to a vote of the Security Council prior to commencing hostilities, was rejected by many in Congress, including John Edwards, and ultimately was the path President Bush pursued.

On March 11, 2003, eight days before President Bush announced the U.S. was at war with Iraq, Richardson urged patience and diplomacy, criticizing the Bush Administration's rush to war, in an interview on CNN. At this time, The New Republic was advocating the U.S. go to war, polls showed most Americans supported going to war and were critical of the U.N. Richardson defended the work of the U.N. Richardson explained how unilateral U.S. military action in Iraq would undermine the U.N. and hurt the prestige of the U.S. abroad:

CROWLEY: I want to ask you the question, first, if there is no Security Council resolution approving of a war on Iraq, and if the Bush administration should go ahead, who loses in that scenario?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think the United Nations loses because it shows a lack of relevance to this crisis.

And, secondly, I think, Candy, that the United States loses because we're going into a major conflict without the blessing of the U.N. Security Council, without some of our major allies like France and Russia, and also those 10 other members of the Security Council, the 10 non-permanent members that have a voice right now.

So I think it would come at considerable cost especially if we're to win the war, which we would, issues relating to a post-Iraq configuration to the prestige of the United States worldwide to bring some kind of order to the Middle East and bring some kind of Persian Gulf-lessening attention. So, I think everybody would be a victim. The United Nations, the United States and, certainly, our NATO allies. I think would be hurt, too, because if they don't support us the breakdown of the NATO alliance might be next to go.

CROWLEY: Well, I want to cite a couple of figures for you. One of them just came from a CBS/New York Times poll, which showed that right now only about 34 percent of Americans believe the U.N. is doing a good job handling this situation.

Fifty eight percent think it's doing a poor job. On top of that, we also found that 55 percent would support an invasion, even if the Security Council says don't do it. What does that say about how Americans view the U.N., and has that changed since you were the ambassador?

RICHARDSON: Well, the United States as a populous, here in new Mexico, there's not much support for the United Nations. But at the same time, Candy, what everyone should understand is the United Nations does a lot of things that we, the U.S. as the only superpower, don't want to do.

They get involved in conflicts in Kosovo, in the Congo in Africa, in Guatemala and Latin America. Immigration issues, AIDS, refugees. We don't want to get directly involved in these, but we use the arm of international support, legitimacy of the United Nations to do it.

Now, in the Persian Gulf, conveniently, the U.N. supported our efforts in 1991 to get a broad coalition. And I think we've used the U.N. in the war on terrorism to get international support.

But clearly in this Iraq crisis, the U.N. has to step up and simply enforce its [1441] resolution. And it's not doing that. So, it's going to be a big loss for the U.N. in terms of its peacekeeping relevance, unless it really steps up and gets tough on Saddam Hussein. I think that's the issue.

CROWLEY: So, am I right, am I hearing you correctly that you believe that the U.N. Security Council should pass the resolution that Britain and the U.S. are proposing?

RICHARDSON: Well, I would go a little differently, Candy. I think the U.S. and Britain should compromise. That's the essence of diplomacy. To get nine votes, if it means postponing for 30 days, or 15 days or 10 days, a new resolution with benchmarks on Iraq's behavior, let's do it. I think that France and Russia are basically gone.

They are going to veto. But it would be a partial victory if we get nine votes for a victory of a majority in the Security Council. If we don't do that, I think it's going to be tremendous prestige loss overseas. I think, domestically, it's going to cause more problems for the administration. The Congress will be divided. This is a time when it's frustrating, but what's the rush, really. Iraq is not heading down Baghdad into the United States.

Again, it is a threat, but it's not an immediate threat. It's not something that is like the war on terrorism, where we're under alert from a potential terrorist attack in this country. So let's be judicious. Let's be calm. Let's be patient.

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