Albright Blasts Bush Mideast Response, Cites Iraq 'Disaster'

ByABC News
July 16, 2006, 10:48 AM

July 16, 2006— -- Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright criticized the Bush administration for not getting more involved in the crisis in the Middle East and said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should leave the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, and begin Mideast shuttle diplomacy.

"I'm very worried that we're at a crossroads and we're not going to take the right turn here," Albright told "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "I still do think that we actually need to be more involved. And I wish that the secretary had announced that she was leaving."

Rice, appearing on "This Week" before Albright, defended Israel's right to counter the terrorist group Hezbollah's deadliest rocket attacks in a decade, and resisted calls for an immediate cease-fire.

"We support, at this point, an effort to make certain than when there is a cease-fire that it is one that is sustainable," Rice said.

Rice said that the United States' Middle Eastern policy now focuses on supporting democratic change in the region.

"For the last 60 years, American administrations of both stripes -- Democrat, Republican -- traded what they thought was security and stability and turned a blind eye to the absence of democratic forces, to the absence of pluralism in the region. And out of that set of policies we got a situation that produced or helped produce al Qaeda and other extremist elements," she said. "That policy has changed."

Critics have said U.S. operations in Iraq have shaken Middle East stability even though President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that democracy in Iraq would reverberate throughout the region. Rice said the turmoil in Lebanon and other regions has been stirring for years.

"Iraq has diverted everybody's attention from really looking at a whole host of other issues," Albright said. "I think that it's very hard to say that [the Iraq war] has not made it worse. It is absolutely clear that it has made it worse."