Richardson Express charges down track

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE – What’s Bill Richardson doing these days? The answer is lots. And recently it is the sort of thing that gets you in the Washington Post and on weekend talk shows.
Last month Richardson took another trip to North Korea. I’m not sure what the link is between New Mexico and North Korea. Richardson has taken several trips there. A top North Korean delegation was Richardson’s first visitors when he took office January 1, 2003. The North Koreans arrived on the 6th, as I remember.
Former Gov. Dave Cargo was a good friend of the North Koreans, too. After his two, two-year terms, he says he made several private visits to North Korea. I’m not sure we ever knew exactly why but the first time Richardson was dispatched to Korea, Gov. Cargo offered to tag along and introduce him around.
Maybe the North Koreans are interested in New Mexico because of our nuclear history. Richardson says when he asked them what sights he would like to see, they pointed toward Los Alamos. Maybe they were scouting out the entire area so that they could familiarize future spies. That reportedly is what the Russians have long done.
Back in Richardson’s congressional days, he started traveling to rogue countries as a sort of special envoy with somewhat informal White House approval. This time, the White House did not approve. But Richardson countered that this time he was traveling as a private citizen.
Richardson was heading a delegation composed mostly of top executives from Google. The North Koreans are very interested in high-tech communication devices. And Google is interested in selling them.
Richardson also wanted to see what he could do about freeing an American who has been held for several months, He doesn’t seem to have accomplished anything on that count — probably because he was traveling as a private citizen and had nothing to bargain with.
But Richardson came back with a message of hope that the new North Korean dictator is interested in moving along from nuclear and missile development to economic development. Richardson felt so confident about the message he received from government officials near the top that he came home and wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post.
At just about the same time North Korea successfully fired a missile it claimed was capable of reaching the United States. The poor timing made Richardson a hot commodity on talk shows beginning last Saturday.
Richardson still thinks this would be a good time for top U.S. or U.N. officials to initiate some form of communication with the new dictator, himself. North Korea now has proved it can make a nuclear device and can fire a missile a long way. The next thing it needs to start developing economically is to get the many sanctions against itself lifted.
It is possible for the United States to get along with communist countries. We don’t get along well with Cuba. China practically owns us. It can’t let anything bad happen to us that would make all those U.S. Treasury notes it owns worthless.
Vietnam is proud of its good relations with our country despite the “American War” as it calls it. And that according to the people in Vietnam we visited last fall is the total of communist countries left in the world.
And what else has Bill Richardson been doing lately other than appearing in major newspapers and on national TV? He has an international relations firm of his own. He serves on volunteer boards of many other international relations agencies. He serves on boards of many profit-making firms pulling in lots of bucks and stock shares. And he is the featured speaker at many high-profile conferences and at many top universities.
Richardson didn’t start out particularly fast as an ex-governor. His website was rather bare for a while. But once he got going, it has been the typical Richardson Express charging down the track again.

Jay Miller is a syndicated columnist based in Santa Fe.