At one point, I considered Bill Richardson the most prepared Democrat for the Presidency, based on his extensive experience in foreign relations, Congress, and the executive branch. That experience doesn’t do much good without common sense, and Richardson keeps proving his lack of it. Today, in response to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, he made us all thankful that he doesn’t already occupy the White House:
Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called on President Bush to force Musharraf to step down. Until then, Richardson said the U.S. must suspend military aid to the Pakistani government.
“A leader has died, but democracy must live. The United States government cannot stand by and allow Pakistan’s return to democracy to be derailed or delayed by violence,” Richardson said.
The stupidity of this statement cascades through several levels. First and foremost, how would the US “force” Musharraf to step down? Should we invade Pakistan to fight on the side of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who have pursued that same goal for the past six years, thanks to Musharraf’s alliance with the US? Or does Richardson expect us to conduct an assassination? Better yet, why should we dictate who runs Pakistan? Isn’t that a rather bald assertion of so-called American imperialism?
And after we somehow force Musharraf from power, what comes after? Even with a passive removal of support, something has to push Musharraf from power. Does Richardson have a clue what that might be? I’ll give him a hint. We did the same thing in 1979 with Iran and the Shah. How did that work out for the US and the region, as well as for democracy? Not well enough to want a repeat — especially with Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal at risk.
Richardson fortunately doesn’t have a prayer of victory in the primaries. It’s worth considering, however, that he will likely be a candidate for Secretary of State in any Democratic administration that wins in November 2008, if not a running mate on the ticket. Keep that in mind when thinking about whether to get involved in the next election.
UPDATE & BUMP: To the disappointment of the Richardson apologists in the comments, Richardson used the word “force” in his statement:
We must use our diplomatic leverage and force the enemies of democracy to yield: President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all the democratic parties, should be formed immediately. Until this happens, we should suspend military aid to the Pakistani government. Free and fair elections must also be held as soon as possible.
If George Bush is an imperialist warmonger for just talking about regime change in Iran — a country that has conducted at least a cold war against the US since 1979 — then what does this make Richardson?