By BARRY MASSEY
America needs a "new realism" in its foreign policy and a concerted push for energy independence to safeguard national security, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former U.N. ambassador, said Saturday.
"What the Bush administration has failed to understand is that while diplomacy without power is weak, power without diplomacy is blind," Richardson said in the Democrats’ weekly radio address.
Richardson pointed to fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants, escalating violence in Iraq, the stalemate with North Korea over its missile and nuclear programs and rising oil prices as evidence that "the world around us in on the verge of spiraling out of control."
The governor’s remarks came as more U.S. troops were ordered to Iraq and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returned to the Middle East to try to broker an end to the Israel-Hezbollah violence. President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair want to send a multinational force to southern Lebanon.
"If we would have had a permanent Middle East envoy in the region, we would have been in a better position to disarm Hezbollah and protect Israel, and implement a concurrent cease-fire along with a legitimate, international peacekeeping force on the ground," Richardson said.
He called for direct U.S. talks with North Korea and Iran, objecting that the Bush approach has been to "outsource our diplomacy."
"We are Democrats and we stand for diplomacy, not threats; bridges, not walls; alliances, not isolation," he said.
Richardson, the nation’s only Hispanic governor, is seeking re-election this year and is considered a possible presidential candidate in 2008. He was a U.N. ambassador and energy secretary during the Clinton administration.
On the domestic front, Richardson said, "We need a man-on-the-moon effort to reduce our dependency on foreign oil _ go from 65 percent to 20 percent by 2015."
He recommended investing in alternative and renewable energy sources, "green buildings" that use technology and materials to save energy and improved fuel efficiency of cars and trucks.
He urged Congress to approve immigration legislation that included "a path to legalization for the 11 million immigrants already here."