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Albright: Bush needs 'more specifics in his plan'


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Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

(CNN) -- Monday evening President Bush outlined to the American people his plan for transitioning Iraq into a free and democratic nation.

Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of state during Bill Clinton's presidency, watched the speech and shared her thoughts with CNN's Paula Zahn.

ZAHN: How plausible is this plan that the president laid out tonight?

ALBRIGHT: Well, he laid out five points, but they raise as many questions as he provided ideas about.

First of all, there's still no guarantee that the Iraqi people will accept whatever interim government -- the sovereignty that we are going to turn over something to somebody -- but we're not clear yet what is what.

The other question is whether the security will really be adequate because [these are] the same points that were made before: the Americans will train the Iraqis. How long will that take?

Will there be help, in terms of the reconstruction of Iraq? Where will it come from? Who will do it? We have to let contracts [go] to somebody other than American companies.

Will there, in fact, be international assistance, generally, on providing a multi-national force? And will these elections really take place?

So there are many, many questions, and I don't think there was anything particularly new. It was a little bit more organized than the ideas that we've heard before. And I'm glad that the president decided he had to talk to the American people.

But there is no timeline. And just because the president says it is so, doesn't mean that it really is based in reality. So I think there are a lot more questions that we still have to answer.

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ZAHN: Was there anything you heard from the president tonight that you agreed with?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I agree with the overall approach. And I'm very, very glad that he finally has figured out that the United Nations can be helpful to us. It would have been more helpful had we not tried to figure out how to undermine it first.

And so I'm glad that he has, in fact, now realized the importance of the U.N. The question is whether the president now has the credibility to bring about the kind of international cooperation that he's calling for. And I think that's where we have to focus our attention.

ZAHN: Don't you agree that a large part of the onus now falls on the United Nations in making that all come about, as well?

ALBRIGHT: Absolutely. And a United Nations which I happen to believe in, but in fact, has been severely weakened by our lack of attention to it. And so just because we are saying, all of a sudden, that the U.N. Security Council will give us a resolution we want -- some of the earlier comments that I heard from the ambassadors up there is that there still needs to be a lot of work on this resolution, and Secretary [of State Colin] Powell has his work cut out for him.

And I think we have to recognize the fact that things are very tough. The president said they appear chaotic. Believe me ... it's more than appear.

And I think that he's right to warn us about the fact that there will be even more violence and that this is still a long slog.

I've said this was a war of choice, not of necessity. Trying to get peace there now, however, is a necessity and not a choice. And the president does have to remain focused, but he has to have more specifics in his plan.

ZAHN: You say you worry about not only the appearance of chaos but the chaos that actually does exist in Iraq. Do you fear a civil war in that country?

ALBRIGHT: I think we have to avoid it. But all the elements are there for an internal fight, and that's why the U.N. really does have an important job. And Mr. Brahimi's job to select the right mix of ethnic representatives for this interim government is absolutely key.


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