MANCHESTER, NH -- Governor Bill Richardson today outlined a bold, comprehensive strategy to defeat Al Qaeda and blasted the incompetence of the Bush Administration in a major foreign policy address to the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire .
"Al Qaeda was on the ropes in 2002, cornered in the badlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan. If our troops had been given the resources they needed, we could have finished them off," said Governor Richardson.
"But the President chose instead to divert our resources from that necessary war to a war of choice. Mr. Bush did not have a plan. But Al Qaeda did."
Governor Richardson laid out an ambitious vision for smashing Al Qaeda and restoring America's place in the world. A strategy that devotes our military, intelligence, diplomatic, humanitarian and political resources to the task.
Governor Richardson again demonstrated that he is the only candidate for President with a wide range of diplomatic experiences, and a record of accomplishment to guide America through the foreign policy challenges that lie ahead.
"A new grand strategy against the al Qaeda movement must repair this damage that the Bush policies have done to our international reputation. In particular, we need to reach out to Muslims, and demonstrate -- by our actions as well as our words -- that we respect Muslim culture and value Muslim life," said Governor Richardson.
"The target of our military strategy needs to be the al Qaeda leadership. As long as these men are active, they symbolize the success of resistance to America, and attract new recruits. It is not good enough to have them ‘hiding in caves.' The death or capture of Osama bin Ladin and his associates in Pakistan and Afghanistan will not end the Al Qaeda movement, but it will deal it a serious setback."
Governor Richardson emphasized the strategic importance of Afghanistan, and pointed the way toward our ultimate success there.
"A critical first step is to enhance our commitment -- military, political and economic -- to Afghanistan. Saving Afghanistan will require a multilateral Marshall Plan -- an effort on the scale of what rebuilt Europe after the Second World War," said Governor Richardson.
"These efforts also must extend into Pakistan. The border regions are poverty-stricken breeding grounds for Jihadism. We need to read the riot act to Dick Cheney's pal, President Musharraf. We have provided him with $10 billion, in mostly military aid. Future aid must be linked to a real crackdown on terrorists -- including Arabs, Afghans and Kashmiris."
Governor Richardson also warned of the extraordinary strategic mistake of leaving US forces in Iraq indefinitely. He reiterated his decisive plan to get all of our troops out of Iraq leaving no residual forces.
"Iraq is also a critical battlefield in the fight against Jihadism -- because it prevents us from fully engaging the core Al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our enemies want us to remain bogged down in Iraq," said Governor Richardson.
"Let me say that again -- Al Qaeda benefits from our being trapped in Iraq, and wants us to stay there. They know that if we were not stuck in Iraq, we could go after them where they are. They know that the Shia and the Kurds in Iraq don't want them there, and that many Sunni Iraqis tolerate them only because they are allies against us. When we leave, they know the Iraqis will drive them out of Iraq.
"We cannot defeat Al Qaeda until we get out of Iraq. An orderly, phased and complete troop withdrawal could be completed rapidly -- and it is imperative that it be complete."
Finally, Governor Richardson forcefully underscored the need for improved homeland security.
"We also must address homeland security much more strategically than we have. A biological or nuclear attack could be as horrific as Hiroshima -- and terrorism experts agree that sooner or later such an attack is likely. We must do everything we can to prevent this -- and we must improve our ability to respond quickly if an attack occurs, to assist the victims, and to recover," said Governor Richardson.
Governor Richardson recognizes the challenges put to us by Jihadism and international terrorism. He knows that we will win the war against the terrorists because, for our nation and for the world, we must.
"With the right American leadership, the world will follow us as we put these people out of business. We need leadership that understands the nature of the enemy, and focuses on the real terrorists who attacked us on 9-11. Leadership that recognizes that we must lead by example, that our deeds must match our words, and that we are strongest -- and safest -- when we use all of our resources -- military, economic, diplomatic, humanitarian and political."