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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Interview With Lawrence Eagleburger

Aired September 23, 2003 - 10:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Lawrence Eagleburger is with us. Mr. Eagleburger's a former secretary of state. He served with President Bush's father and he joins us from Charlottesville, Virginia. It's nice to see you, Mr. Eagleburger.
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FRM. SECRETARY OF STATE: Good to be here.

BROWN: How ought Americans hear this, if you will, rebuke. And maybe you won't agree it was a rebuke, of the notion of preemptive war. Ought it matter? Or is it is language of diplomacy, the venue of the moment?

EAGLEBURGER: Oh, I think it should matter, because from his point of view it is a rebuke, I suppose.

I must tell you, I thought it was an excellent speech. I think it's sort of whistling as you walk past the graveyard, since I don't think much of it is going to -- much of what he suggests will necessarily take place. But he laid it out and I was impressed, as you two have been, about the fact even when he condemned unilateralism, which he did in very gentle tones, he also indicated that he recognized that we, the U.S., had some specific problems. And that he said we need to examine how to deal with that. I'm not at all sure you can.

I'm also clear -- one of the things I really liked was when he came down hard about reforming the Security Council. That, again, has about as much chance of succeeding as I do of eating an ice cream cone in hell.

(LAUGHTER)

EAGLEBURGER: But the point is, it's because as soon as you start that one, you have a real battle royale with everybody. But it is exactly the sort of thing that if the U.N. is ever to become effective again is going to have to be looked at.

Because, for example, the United States cannot sit there, always depending -- dependent upon how the French president got out of bed today. I mean, France cannot simply block us all the time and not have us end up being unilateralists whether we want to be or not.

BROWN: Well if the United Nations isn't a place for dreamers, there is no place for dreamers in the world. So in that regard we understand the secretary-general.

The secretary-general talked about the need for patience in Iraq. Do you think that in fact the body, that is the United Nations or more importantly the Security Council, in fact, has the patience and the where with all to create stability in that country? Or will it be, in the end, up to the end up to the Americans?

EAGLEBURGER: It's basically going to be up to us, I think. The Security Council and the U.N. can help some on the financial side and I think they will in the end. I think the Germans and the French are going to give us real -- particularly the French on the Security Council are going to give us constant problems with regard to the politics of the issues.

But I think the Security Council will have enough patience, they don't have much choice. The question to me is whether the American people will have the patience or not.

BROWN: And, finally, sir, we listen to the president's speech in a few moments for both word and tone. What is it you're listening for?

EAGLEBURGER: I would hope, well, what I hope is not important. I suspect that what he'll try to do is give -- he'll speak nicely as clearly Kofi Annan put some of his more difficult words aside. I think the president will try to be as forthcoming as he can be. I think he's going to make it clear we need some help in Iraq, and he's going to admit that, I think.

But at the same time I suspect he will continue to say that we're not going -- he'll do it nicely but he's going to continue to say we're not going to give up the reigns of power of what goes on in Iraq. But I think he'll do everything otherwise to indicate that unilateralism on our part is not something we enjoy, we won't do it everyday. But we will reserve the right to do it if we have to.

BROWN: Mr. Eagleburger, it's always to see you. Lawrence Eagleburger in Virginia this morning.

EAGLEBURGER: Thank you, sir.

BROWN: Thank you, former secretary of state. The art of diplomacy is learning to say no a lot gently.

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