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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Interview With Senator Christopher Dodd

Aired September 23, 2003 - 11:47   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now we are going to check in with Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He joins us from Capitol Hill this morning.
Senator, did you have a chance to listen to the president's speech?

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: I certainly did and let me just -- couple of -- first of all, the positive notes here. And that is I think the president's comments about human rights and issues were right on target. He is calling for the United Nations to step up and do more on those common threats around the globe. That's really exactly on point. Totally agree with him.

I think his certainly suggesting in his rhetoric here that we want to get the Iraqis in control of their own government at a proper pace makes an awful lot of sense, and I'm encouraged by it. I would be hopeful that we are not necessarily going to insist upon a constitution and free elections, there's an interim authority there that could begin to take more control much more rapidly than that, in my view. But that's a nuance difference.

Where the real rub is going to come, I think, is over the -- how the $20 billion that we're talking about in reconstruction. There's no debate at all about getting the sources of support to our U.S. military. They have done a fabulous job. You heard it again this morning. There's great respect for what our military has done both in the war and in the reconstruction phase, but we want to see more nations get involved in this. And right now, only about $1 billion has been forthcoming. That's less than a week's support of what we need in Iraq. So you're going to have to give up more, it seems to me and to others around here, if you're going to get the kind of cooperation both financially and in terms of military support.

ZAHN: You have been highly critical of the Bush administration for being reluctant to ask more countries to share in the burden and although the president did not make any specific requests in his speech today, do you, in fact, think it will lead to greater financial involvement of some of these other countries, particularly those countries who were opposed to this war?

DODD: Not based on what I heard today. And I hope there are private conversations, as I'm confident that are going on, on how we can secure that kind of support. Unlike this president's father, President George Bush, 41, where he built that coalition which was so critical to our success in the Gulf War and then was able to get that kind of financial backing and troop support -- this president has been so reluctant to do that. And you are not going to get money or troops there if they don't have some say in how this money is going to be spent and how this reconstruction is going to be conducted. I think it's wishful thinking to assume you are going to get real support.

ZAHN: Ultimately, how many more troops might come out of this U.N. process?

DODD: Well, not many at this particular point. Basically, it's ourselves and the British. We have had to pay some other governments to get them involved in all of this, and I don't think that's the kind of support you're going to need if you are going to truly internationalize this. And of course, there are great demands here at home. Isabel cost $1 billion. The blackout this summer has a cost to it.

We talk about schools being built in Iraq; I don't need to tell you there are people here at home who would like to see far more support for education and health care. I don't want to necessarily compete these -- have these issues compete, but you're going to have a difficult time here at home when you are unable to get other countries to step in and support you and simultaneously tell the American public, we can't do anything on prescription drugs, we can't do anything on education and the like. That is going to pose some real problems for this president.

ZAHN: Senator Dodd, thanks so much for your feedback this morning.

DODD: Thank you.

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