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10/16/2011

U.S. international credibility is at an all-time low – an ambitious energy policy is the single best way to restore U.S.
global leadership. We solve all of your alternate causalities

Richardson, 8 - former US Secretary of Energy
(Bill, Leading By Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution, p. 72-75)

Further, other nations remember the Bush administration walking away from the Kyoto Protocol. Message: before the richest
country, the country that most pollutes the climate, will take on the financial burden of lowering its emissions, the rest of the
world, especially the poor, must do it first.
The Law of the Sea treaty, still not accepted by the United States, is another example. More than half the world’s population
lives near coastlines, and billions of people can tell that our oceans are suffering, that they reflect the pollution and over-
fishing at the hands of larger populations and more sophisticated technology over the decades. Yet the United States has
refused to participate in this needed international effort to protect the oceans. It is a further indication, in the minds of those
who doubt us, that we are in it for our own good at the expense of others, and that we live by double standards.
In these cases, in just a few short years, the United States went off on its own. There were problems with some of these
international agreements. But instead of withdrawing, it is our responsibility – and the world’s expectation of us as the
world’s leading proponent of markets and freedom – to work toward acceptable international arrangements. While most of
the world has reacted in anger and dismay to our new isolation and self-certainty, the right wing and neoconservatives praised
the president, saying we were leading the world into a new future. Even a lot of Republicans thought it was crazy. Like most
people, they realize that you’re not a leader if no one follows you.
I was born in the United States and spent much of my youth growing up in Mexico. I have traveled the world for decades. I
studied foreign policy in college and graduate school. I speak three languages (my French surprised my staff and a group of
visiting French scientists a couple of years ago), and I have worked and met face-to-face with many world leaders. Because
of my experience in Washington and at the United Nations, people from every imaginable country keep in touch with me,
even though I am the governor of a small, somewhat isolated state. In fact, as I write these lines, I am returning from North
Korea after my sixth trip to negotiate with that nation’s leaders on issues that separate the United States and North Korea.
Given my background, my interests, and my experience, I don’t make the following statement lightly.
I have never seen the United States as isolated, as alone, as it finds itself today.
World leaders are no longer our daily courtiers and contacts. The polls from most nations, including some of our closest
allies, show that approval and trust of the United States is at an all-time low – often in the single digits. It’s not just that the
United States has abdicated its leadership role as the leader of the free world. It’s also unsettlingly true that our leaders have
alienated people around the world. Polls show that even our longest-standing and closest allies look on us with suspicion.
Still, with the right leadership, this is a situation that shouldn’t take long to correct. The American people are full of optimism
and ingenuity. The people of the world want to believe that we are responsible and compassionate, that we are committed to
freedom and basic rights, and that we want to participate constructively in world affairs. Visionary leadership, and visionary
action to implement a new role for the United States, will turn the situation around quickly, and America will find itself
surrounded by friends and allies once again.
The key to regaining our leadership role will not be the war on terror, although it is very important, and we must guard
vigilantly against enemies who would perpetrate terror against us while we also work with other nations to root out terrorists
wherever they are. Nor will the key to new international leadership be trade agreements and economic prosperity, although
these are crucial. In this new, uncertain international age, the primary threat and opportunity is the creation of a new energy
future that provides hope and prosperity for the United States and other nations while protecting our global atmosphere.
In other words, the way back to world leadership – the necessary and unavoidable way back to world leadership – is for
America to combine the issues of energy security and climate protection, to set ambitious goals, and to make their
accomplishment the shared priority of leaders in Congress, in industry, and throughout the states. This will, in turn, help
spread participation, opportunity, and prosperity across the globe while preventing climate catastrophe.
Some say we’re a nation that use more than its share of resources and gives nothing back. But in fact we are a nation poised
to take the lead in conserving resources and in bringing needed technology to the world. Further, some say we’re a nation
with an agenda that doesn’t take the interests of other nations into account. That contradicts our proud history of building
peaceful institutions. We know that it’s the “big idea” – freedom, or civil government, or fair trade and commerce – that
matters, not just at home but around the world.
New leadership will show the world what America is about. We can work our way back to an international polity that
considers challenges and needs, and finds hopeful, promising, affordable solutions. We aren’t the nation that critics suspect
we are, and there may be no better forum than the international energy and climate dialogue to prove it.

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