Tuesday, March 11, 2008

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Live-blogging Bill Richardson

The Governor of New Mexico is delivering the keynote address at the conference on "U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Rogue States: Engage, Isolate or Strike?" that I'm attending. Let's live-blog it!!

11:30 PDT: First superficial impression: Richardson looks much better in person than on television. Even the beard works. Opens with joke, "President Clinton always said, 'Send Richardson to talk to rogue leaders, because bad guys like each other."

11:50: Offers the following observations about face-to-face negotiations with rogue leaders:

1) They will always try to gain a psychological edge over you. They'll do this by never showing you the schedule. They'll want to talk to you alone. Test you when you’re tired and jet-lagged. 2) All negotiations with rogue leaders take place between three and four in the morning.

3) When rogue leaders try to show you hospitality, iit will happen in ways that might compromise you.

4) Rogue leaders care a surprising amount about public opinion -- in the United States and in their own country

5) Acting deferentially is not always the way to go. When Richardson met with Hussein, he mistakenly crossed his legs and showed Husseing the sole of his shoe, a big no-no in the Middle East. Hussein stormed off, and Richardson't interpreter told him he should apologize. He chose not to, which apparently impressed Hussein.

11:55: All rogue leaders want a visit from the President of the United States

12:00: Richardson believes that when dealing with rogues, all diplomacy is personal. He then gives a shout-out to George H.W. Bush as one of the best on this front.

12:01: Richardson is now sitting down with the LA Times' Maggie Farley. He says in response to Cuba, "by the way, the [Cuban] embargo is not working." He then says he wouldn't lift it unless Cuba took major steps towards liberalizing its regime.

12:02: Richardson: "George Clooney has been more effective in his Sudan diplomacy than the U.S. government."

12:05: Thinks a lot of simple steps -- closing Guantanamo, no more Abu Ghraibs, etc., will buy the U.S. a lot of goodwill.

12:10: In a response to endorsing Obama vs. Clinton, Richardson gives his boilerplate -- he feels a sense of loyalty to the Clintons because of past appointments.... but he did throw his hat into the ring against Hillary, so that only goes so far.... he likes Obama, thinks he's got... something, can't put a finger on it. Does plan to endorse someone. He's bemused that he's getting more press attention now than he did when he was running. Doesn't think endorsements matter, anyway.

I should add that, based on what I've heard while here, it's pretty damn obvious that Richardson would like to endorse Obama.

12:15: Just asked Richardson a question about whether the U.S. could influence who wins the Iranian presidential election in 2009, thereby removing Ahmadinejad from the equation. Richardson stalls for a bit, talking about broad Iranian support for closer U.S. ties. He then -- surprisingly -- trashes Radio Free Europe, Radio Marti, thinks they don't work terribly well. Would prefer to liberalize travel bans. etc. as a way to improve U.S. image inside Iran. In the end, thinks Ahmadinejad will lose. Doesn't really answer my question -- but bonus points for not getting fraked by me typing into the blog as he gives his answer.

12:20: Richardson thinks the most effective sanctions are the travel bans to elite leaders.

12:30: That's it. On to lunch!

posted by Dan on 03.11.08 at 02:39 PM


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