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Dissecting the Debate in Philly (Part 3)

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Part 3: The Third Ten Minutes

Russert: Governor Richardson, would you negotiate with Iran without any conditions?

Bill Richardson: Yes, I would. And I'm the only one on this stage that has actually negotiated with a foreign country...

(Unknown): That's not true.

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Richardson: And I want to just say to you that, in my judgment, we have to use diplomacy. And there is a redline. We cannot permit Iran to use nuclear weapons. And I do believe what you do is Ahmadinejad -- it's very difficult to deal with him. But there are moderate elements in Iraq. There are moderate clerics. There's students. There's a business community.

And I believe that we can achieve a compromise on the nuclear issue. In exchange for them having a nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear power, they don't develop nuclear weapons -- carrot and sticks, diplomatic initiatives, economic incentives.

The problem is we saber-rattle. And this resolution in the Senate saber-rattles. I was U.N. ambassador. I know this region. And I do believe that it's critically important that we talk to North Korea, that we talk to Syria, that we talk to Iran.

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It's going to take skilled diplomacy. What we have in this administration is a policy of preemption, of saber-rattling, of leaking out potential targets in Iran. That's not going to get diplomacy started.

I believe its critical that if we're going to resolve the situation in the Middle East, if we're going to get Iraq to stop Iran's helping terrorists, we have to engage them vigorously, potentially also with sanctions. We need to get European allies who refuse generally to help us with sanctions, as well as Russia. What you saw recently is Russia and Iran embracing each other. That is not healthy.

Richardson effectively calls for us to overthrow the Iranian government by not talking with Ahmadinejad and instead empowering “moderate elements” in Iraq, moderate clerics, students, and a business community. All of these things from Iraq can take on Iran and we can go through another Iran-Iraq War?

Okay let’s assume he meant Iran and misspoke. You want us to advocate that people within Iran overthrow their government? That is what we did in Iraq and it proved ineffective. Why waste our time pursuing a tactic we cannot execute?

For all the experience you claim to have in the international community, you’re so far off on this. I appreciate you not wanting to saber-rattle, but in the grand scheme, you throwing Russia into this misses the point that Russia is allied with China under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which Iran recently gained observer status to, and Europe listens to the International Atomic Energy Agency. So when IAEA inspectors say they are years from having nuclear WMDs, they listen and do not act against nations proven to not be a threat.

Russert: Congressman Kucinich, your opinion of this resolution?

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Dennis Kucinich: Well, first of all, we need to adamantly reject any kind of a move toward war with Iran.

There's no basis for it whatsoever. But we have to realize, Tim, that we have a number of enablers who happen to be Democrats who have said over the last year, with respect to Iran, all options are on the table. And when you say all options are on the table, you are licensing President Bush.

And I'm the only one up here on the stage who not only voted against the war in Iraq, voted against funding the war, but also led the effort against Bush's drive toward war.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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