During his interview with U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton, Bill O'Reilly repeatedly lashed out at the U.N., putting Bolton -- who, before being appointed ambassador to the U.N., had made comments that were harshly critical of the organization -- in the position of defending the U.N. and its Security Council.
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During his July 20 interview with U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly repeatedly lashed out at the U.N., putting Bolton in the position of defending the U.N. and its Security Council. O'Reilly called Security Council actions "a joke," accused the U.N. of not being "able to do anything," and declared that "I just think the whole place [the U.N.] is a rat's nest." In response, Bolton -- who, before being appointed ambassador to the U.N., had made comments that were harshly critical of the organization -- criticized some U.N. actions but defended many others, attempting to explain what was "worthwhile" about U.S. involvement with the U.N.
Prior to his 2005 recess appointment, Bolton was a harsh critic of the United Nations. Bolton has reportedly remarked that "[t]here is no such thing as the U.N." and lamented that "if the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." Yet, in his interview with O'Reilly, Bolton had to defend the U.N. from many of O'Reilly's accusations.
- Opening the interview, O'Reilly asked, "Why should I or any other American care about what the United Nations does in the Security Council?" and added that a Security Council resolution involving Hezbollah and Lebanon "was a joke." Bolton responded by stating that "we can use the Security Council as a way to" bring "democracy to the Lebanese people," and noted that the Security Council "helped push Syria out of Lebanon."
- Continuing, O'Reilly informed Bolton that he didn't "see the U.N. as able to do anything" and asked Bolton if the U.N. understood "there's a worldwide war on terror." Bolton replied that he didn't "think that's well understood," but that the United States is trying to "advance American interests" in the U.N. and the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was an opportunity to do so.
- While discussing Iran, O'Reilly declared that the United Nations "is a rat's nest," asking Bolton why "China and Russia [are] supporting Iran." Bolton pointed out to O'Reilly that "the five foreign ministers have agreed to ... begin to put the squeeze on Iran" and called the Iranian nuclear situation, North Korea's missile launches, and the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict "tests for the Security Council," which it "may fail" or "may succeed."
- Later, O'Reilly opined that Bolton "must have the most frustrating job in the world" because "you can't reason with people" at the U.N. Bolton responded that the U.S. presence in the U.N. is "worthwhile" to ensure "American interests are protected and the interests of our allies." O'Reilly responded by maintaining that "[m]ost Americans, they don't have any use for the U.N." and "they don't have any confidence in the U.N."
From the July 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: With us now, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. This is going to sound like an immature question. I know it is, and I don't mean it to be, but I have to ask the question. Why should I or any other American care about what the United Nations does in the Security Council? I mean, you pass a resolution almost two years ago, 1559, that said that you were going to control what happened in southern Lebanon; you were going to disarm Hezbollah. It was a joke. It was a joke. So, why should we care?
BOLTON: Well, I think what can happen is that we can use the Security Council as a way to do -- to accomplish the objective of bringing democracy to the Lebanese people. We've helped push Syria out of Lebanon, although their intelligence services are still there. So, it is a place where, under the best of circumstances, you can make progress on issues like that.
O'REILLY: But, why didn't you make progress on the big terrorism issue of Hezbollah? I mean, 13,000 rockets -- 13,000?
BOLTON: Yeah. Well, the U.N. has been involved in Lebanon for 28 years, and that gives you some measure of how unsuccessful it's been. But, in the past couple of years because of -- not what happens in New York, but because of what's happened in the region, there has been pressure to get Syria out. What we need to do, now, is move to get that 1559 framework fully implemented, get the Syrians out completely, and that means have them stop funding Hezbollah.
O'REILLY: But, but wait. You know, I don't see, I don't see the United Nations as able to do anything.
O'REILLY: They can't stop the slaughter in Darfur, all right? They couldn't do anything in Iraq. We're almost going it alone, Britain and the United States. They sit by, [U.N. Secretary-General] Kofi Annan today -- I don't know what Kofi Annan said. I listened to the sound bite 12 times. I don't know what the man's talking about. And I mean, maybe I'm not smart enough, but he's going, "This is bad, this is bad, this is bad." It seems to me that the United Nations, number one, should understand there's a worldwide war of terror. OK? Do you think they understand that at the United Nations?
BOLTON: No, I don't think that's well understood.
O'REILLY: OK, so number one, the United Nations doesn't even understand there's a worldwide war on terror. Even though India gets bombed; even though Somalia, now, is making trouble with Ethiopia, and country after country after country. They still don't get it. What's it gonna take for them to get it?
BOLTON: Well, I think what we're trying to do is advance American interests, and in this case, in the case of Lebanon, we've got to a chance to set the Syrians and the Iranians back. Not because of what happens in the Security Council, but because of taking advantage of the moment that the action Israel has taken against Hezbollah. Hezbollah wouldn't be in the position it's in today if it weren't for Iranian, Syrian financing its support.
O'REILLY: We know that, but the world now is focusing on civilian casualties inflicted by Israel. You don't hear about civilian casualties inflicted by Hezbollah on Haifa. All you hear from [French President Jacques] Chirac, from the Pope, is, "Oh, Israel are killing the civilians." So, I don't think it's ever going to be overcome.
BOLTON: Well, I think what President Bush is doing is making a pretty clear statement that Israel has a right to self-defense, and when it's attacked by terrorists, it's entitled to respond.
O'REILLY: Yeah, but they don't care what President Bush says. Chirac doesn't care, Russia doesn't care.
BOLTON: What our job is in New York is to make sure that that right of self-defense is not abridged arbitrarily, but also to try and do what we can to help the Lebanese government, which was elected democratically, and to see if we can help remove the cancer that Hezbollah is --
O'REILLY: Well, I hope you can help, but I don't have any faith you can. And, that's not any reflection on you. I just think the whole place is a rat's nest. Why is China and Russia protecting Iran? Can you tell me why they are?
BOLTON: Well, they have a lot of trade interests in Iran.
O'REILLY: So, it's business, right?
BOLTON: But what we hope the five foreign ministers have agreed to here is to begin to put the squeeze on Iran. We'll see. Look, this is a test: Iran, North Korea, Lebanon. These are all tests for the Security Council. It may fail; it may succeed --
O'REILLY: But, are you optimistic?
BOLTON: No, I'm not optimistic; I'm not pessimistic either. I just try and take it a day at a time. What we need to do is to use this forum to advance American interests. And it's hard there; there's no question about it.
O'REILLY: You must have the most frustrating job in the world.
BOLTON: Could be right.
O'REILLY: Because you can't reason with people. If the United Nations, as you just said, doesn't understand there's a worldwide war on terror, and they don't, OK? And they won't band together to stop the worldwide war on terror, to stop the terrorists, I mean, how frustrating is that?
BOLTON: Well, I think the thing to keep your eye on is making sure that American interests are protected and the interests of our allies. And, that makes it worthwhile because if we weren't there protecting them, it would be trouble.
O'REILLY: Yeah, you have to be there. But, I gotta tell you, Mr. Ambassador, and I appreciate you coming in, most Americans, they don't have any use for the U.N.; they have no confidence in the U.N. These poor Darfur people getting slaughtered -- what is the U.N. doing about it?
BOLTON: Right. We're talking our good, old time, but the administration is committed to making sure that we do whatever we can in Darfur. It's frustrating, dealing with the U.N. there, there's no question about it.
O'REILLY: Yeah, Rwanda, they took their own time, didn't they?
O'REILLY: How many dead? 750,000.
O'REILLY: Right? Took their old time, didn't they? The U.N., Kofi Annan. All right, Mr. Ambassador, thanks for coming in, and keep slugging it out over there. If you need any help, get me a pass. I'll come with you.
BOLTON: I'll give you a call.
O'REILLY: Yeah, they would love to see me, wouldn't they?