RUSH: This is a real pleasure to have for the first time on the program our ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, on the phone with us from New York. Mr. Bolton, thank you, and welcome. Great to have you with us sir.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Glad to be here, Rush.
RUSH: Now, my first question to you is not meant to be asked with any disrespect. I have been in contact with a lot of people in the country, the reaction that they have toward the United Nations I’m sure doesn’t surprise you after the comments of Mark Malloch Brown and the circus that we’ve had this week. Many Americans want to know what is today, and into the future, the real point of the UN anyway?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think there have been a number of occasions when the UN has been an effective instrument of American foreign policy. I think back to the first Persian Gulf War, for example, where President Bush 41 assembled an international coalition to help repel the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and there have been other occasions since then. I think this, obviously, it’s a mixed bag. There are some UN agencies that do very effective work. There are some that don’t. That’s one of the reasons why the president has pushed for reform in the UN so hard, because when you have the oil-for-food scandal as the dominant image in the UN obviously people are not going to have confidence.
RUSH: Well, has there been any reform? Is there any real chance for reform? I know that the president has invested great hope in your appointment and nomination for that. But has there been anything substantively done to correct the systems that led to the oil-for-food program? It appears that every attempt to reform that place fails.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: What has happened is that a number of the reform efforts have simply been derailed. Just to give you one example, reforms, management reforms, personnel, procurement, integrity, accounting, and so on, proposed by the secretary general himself were rejected by the so-called nonaligned movement here at the UN. So very little has happened since the summit last year that launched this reform effort. We’re continuing our work because we think it’s important, but the record to date is not impressive.
RUSH: How would you define the nonaligned movement? We know now that it’s Castro, a lot of Latin-American countries, Venezuela, Iran — well, not Iran — basically Third World countries. What’s their purpose?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, you know, it’s interesting, Daniel Patrick Moynihan who was up here has ambassador some years back once asked an ambassador from the nonaligned at the end of the Cold War, he said, “Since there’s no more Soviet Union what are you nonaligned about anymore?” and there wasn’t a very good answer to that. But I think one thing they do here is help protect the existing programs, the existing distribution of jobs and benefits, and that’s one reason why there’s so much opposition to reform. There are a lot of countries that are completely satisfied with the way things work here in New York. We obviously are not.
RUSH: Well, do you sometimes feel like a lone wolf? I know you represent the most powerful country in the world but it seems to observers who are not there and don’t get to see the daily inner workings of the place that the whole world is aligned against us in this place for all practical purposes.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, there are different pieces of the UN. I think that’s important to keep in mind. And the Security Council, obviously, we’re one of the five permanent members; we have a veto. We’ve made progress on some fronts there, not what we’d like to see, but in Lebanon and Darfur, and the General Assembly, though, keep this statistic in mind: We are one of 192 members of the UN, so we have one vote out of 192. But when it comes to the budget of the UN, we pay 22%.
RUSH: Yeah, that would qualify under future reform. A lot of people are upset that we pay that big a percentage and portion of it, and yet it’s on our soil. What about Chavez’s idea to move it down to Venezuela?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, that was one of his more creative thoughts in that speech. It was really remarkable performance. Maybe he’d like to pay 22% of the budget.
RUSH: What about that performance along with Ahmadinejad? I mean, you have this week when the UN is highlighted, of all weeks, a lot of people watching it and it’s very tough, Mr. Ambassador, for people to take any of what happens up there seriously when those two people are allowed to speak, as they should be, but then the reaction they get based on what they say has people scratching their heads and saying, “Why in the world do we treat them like adults, why do we treat them with any respect? What is the point?”
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, certainly their performances were not serious, and I can tell you from the letters and phone calls we’ve been getting this week from people around the country, they didn’t like that performance at all, and I know how frustrating it is. In the administration we’ve gotta kind of grit our teeth and say we don’t think we should take it seriously. But I fully understand how frustrated people are, and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve been trying to persuade people here in New York that business as usual is not going to work. It’s not going to work in Congress anymore, it’s not going to work with the American people. After the scandals of oil-for-food program, they expect reform, and that’s what we’re working for.
RUSH: But do we have to take it seriously? You have the Chinese aligning with both Iran and Venezuela. Chavez obviously is trying to position himself to lead the anti-American, non-align movement Third World. He’s trying to gain their votes. He wants a seat on the Security Council. I’d like your opinion on that. I know we blocked him previously, but is he succeeding in fomenting among populations in Latin America anti-American sentiment that’s going to become serious enough for us to have to deal with?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Listen, I think Chavez’s role in the real world out there in Latin America is much more dangerous, much more troubling than his antics up here in New York. You know, he’s in a situation where he has enormous revenue from oil. He’s formed a close alliance with Fidel Castro, and all of the things that Fidel has wanted to do over the years he has not been able to do for lack of resources, especially after the former Soviet Union cut him off. Now you’ve got the possibility of the combination of Castro and Chavez with real resources behind that mischief. So I wouldn’t… You know, it’s very disturbing what Chavez did up here. But what he’s doing, interfering in the affairs of many Latin-American nations really is quite profoundly disturbing.
RUSH: Let’s turn to Ahmadinejad for a moment. The man is all over the map, charming people, including media and some delegates. In one appearance he will say, “We don’t even need a nuclear weapon. We love all people. We love the Jews. We love the Christians. We love everybody.” On another occasion he will advocate for the limitation of Israel and proceed with a nuclear enrichment program. What is the policy for dealing with this?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, you know, you put your finger on it at the beginning. This week was a charm offensive by Ahmadinejad. He’s now gone back to Iran, canceling actually a few appearances here, but look, the Iranian government, even before him for the last three years has been throwing sand in the eyes of the people who are concerned about their nuclear weapons program. That’s their tactic to avoid real scrutiny, to avoid the pressure they need to be put under to give up that program. Right now, they’re in a stalling mode trying to avoid what has gotta be the inevitable consequence here that they give up their uranium enrichment program. We’re giving our European friends a little bit more time to work on that, but if the Iranians don’t come through on that point we’re prepared to move for sanctions here on the Security Council.
RUSH: Why would they give it up? I mean, this is something, just in a commonsensical way, I don’t understand. Why would any kind of pressure force people like that who definitely want to join the nuclear club to give it up? What sanctions are going to harm him? I know war is the last option anybody wants to take, and these are stages that we must go through, but is there some acknowledgement of the threat this man and if he actually leads this country and makes decisions for it, poses?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think President Bush has been all over this for the past couple years, and he said many, many times in public, and I’ve heard him say it in private, that it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons. You know, they are the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. We call them the central banker of terrorism. They fund Hezbollah and Lebanon to the tune of a hundred million dollars a year, they fund Hamas and they occupy territories. You can imagine this kind of regime with nuclear weapons and what a threat it would be not just in the region, but in the world as a whole, as they also move to development their ballistic missile program. It’s a frightening prospect.
RUSH: So, by the way, we’re talking with Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. What is the practical impact of sanctions, and how far would those sanctions go?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, you know it is a step. We don’t believe it’s a panacea for sure, but what we want to do is put pressure on Iran to make it universal that countries don’t cooperate with them in supplying them weapons and materials of mass destruction, and to go after the funds that the leadership has sent overseas to freeze those funds. They don’t want the sanctions to affect the average Iranian citizen. We don’t have any quarrel with them. Our quarrel is with the government, and that’s where we would target the sanctions.
RUSH: A policy question. The situation in Iraq as it is perceived — as it is reported — by much of the world’s media, including ours, is that it’s a failure. That, of course, is an opinion that has been advanced for the purposes of advancing an agenda of a certain group of people, but it is perhaps… Well, let me ask you. Has the situation in Iraq where we were told weapons of mass destruction, attempted nuclear buildup, now we’re hearing almost identical things about Iran. Does this situation in Iraq paralyze us in terms of acting?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Absolutely not. You know, President Talibani of Iraq has been here in New York the whole week. He spoke to the UN General Assembly this morning. I had participated in a small dinner with him last night, and if you listen to him go through the accomplishments that the government of what he calls the new Iraq has accomplished, this democratic regime, the effectiveness of the military and police that have been stood up with American and coalition support. We’re not there yet, but the real facts, as opposed to a lot of what we see in the media, the real facts show a steady progress toward giving the Iraqi authorities themselves more control over security, more responsibility. That’s what we want. We want Iraqis to control their own destiny, and they’re increasingly doing it.
RUSH: One more question. I’d love to follow that up but I know your time is short, and I want to ask you about France. Chirac has again said no to sanctions, or very weak ones, regarding Iran. How is there going to be any agreement in the Security Council if France and Russia and China continue to give Iran a pass?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, look, this is going to be a test of the Security Council. There’s no guarantee that will come to the right result even with the very aggressive diplomacy that President Bush and Secretary Rice and I and others have been engaged in. And this will tell us a lot about whether the Security Council can be effective in helping us against the two greatest threats to the United States in the world today, the international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. So I don’t want to leave anybody with the impression that we’re promising success in the Security Council. We’re going to do everything we can, but we’ll find out just how effective the council is going to be.
RUSH: Ambassador Bolton, thanks for your time. It has been a real treat. I wanted to speak to you for a long time and I’m glad we were able to arrange it today. All the best to you. There’s a lot of support for you out there, you should know.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, many, many thanks, and I’d love to come back again.
RUSH: Any time, sir. Ambassador of the UN, John Bolton.
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