This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 23, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes". Getting right to our "Top Story" tonight.
Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was back in New York this afternoon where he addressed the general assembly of the United Nations. In a speech he accused a, quote, "few bullying powers of trying to thwart his country's nuclear program."
He also criticized the United States for the occupation of Iraq and the growing financial crisis. And he also blamed the, quote, "Zionist regime" for the persecution of Middle East peoples. Translation: Israel.
Meanwhile, President Bush also addressed the U.N. today and had some tough words for nations who support and harbor terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of treating all forms of government as equally tolerable, we must actively challenge the conditions of tyranny and despair that allow terror and extremists to thrive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: Meanwhile, Sarah Palin was also at the United Nations today meeting with foreign leaders including Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, and former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger.
And joining us tonight with more, former ambassador to the United Nations and FOX News contributor, John Bolton.
Ambassador, welcome back. Should we take comfort with the idea that Sarah Palin avoided the press? They dictated to the press what they could do. The press wouldn't listen and they came up with a compromise for the attempt to keep her away.
Is that good or bad for the democratic process?
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER. U.N. AMBASSADOR: You know I don't think it makes a bit of difference, frankly. I think the purpose of these meetings in New York was to give her a chance to hear from significant foreign leaders, and that, obviously, was accomplished.
And whether she talked to the press before, during, or after, I think is completely irrelevant, if I may say so.
COLMES: Well, they didn't want the press in the meetings, that was the issue, to see the interaction. That was what the controversy was.
BOLTON: Well, you can't, Alan, you can't have a private meeting with the press there. Sometimes you can't have a private meeting even with the press outside the room, but I think that's perfectly understandable.
COLMES: The controversy with Ahmadinejad — the President Bush, today, also said — President Bush, speaking at the U.N., said the United Nations and other multi-lateral organizations are needed more urgently than ever now.
Do you agree with that?
BOLTON: Not necessarily. I mean I think that was kind of a gratuitous line for the crowd there in the general assembly hall. Much more pertinent was what the president said about — to the assembled foreign ministers and heads of state that you can't just pass resolutions about terrorism without trying to do something to prevent the terrorism from happening in the first place.
That's a plea that will fall on deaf ears up there. I can tell you that.
COLMES: Despite that you're a former U.N. ambassador, you don't agree with the president's statement of how urgently that organization is now needed — a place where you can actually or try to — if you use it correctly — have a dialogue with people like your enemies, like five former secretaries of states said we should have which is to talk to Iran?
BOLTON: You know you can ask yourself — and we've got plenty of time to wait for the answer — what exactly the United Nations and the Security Council, in particular, has done to stop terrorism.
They can't even agree on what a definition of terrorism is. It's a form of gridlock in the organization that's not at all helpful to the United States.
COLMES: But you don't agree with the five former secretaries of state including Warren Christopher who says our military options are poor. We don't want to go down that route? And, you know, members of both sides including James Baker, who work for Bush 41, say, you know, that's not a good option.
You — last time you were on this show last week — said all diplomacy is gone and we don't have any other options.
BOLTON: Now, Alan, before we get too far out of line here, we were talking specifically about the case of Iran. And I think the history of five years of European efforts to talk the Iranian regime out of pursuing nuclear weapons has left us simply five years closer to Iran achieving that objective.
And if anybody needed any convincing about how dangerous the Iranian regime is listen to Ahmadinejad today. Not only did he say the things that you mentioned, he also said that Zionists controlled the financial markets in the United States.
This is what this man thinks. Imagine him in possession of nuclear weapons.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Ambassador, thanks for being back on the program. Appreciate it.
Now I want to get this straight here, because this is a case issue in the campaign, because, I think sooner than later, the world is going to have to deal with Iran and Ahmadinejad, and this idea that we would speak to the leader of a rouge state.
Barack Obama said Iran is a tiny country and not a serious threat. He had to pull back from that, but that's what he said. What — if we're going to speak with rouge dictators — this is a — you know, an intellectual exercise.
How do you begin the discussion with a nuclear pursuing, holocaust denying, Israel threatening Ahmadinejad, a guy that's fighting two wars by proxy — Hezbollah and in Iraq? How do you begin that discussion?
BOLTON: Well, I think you have to believe that negotiation can actually accomplish something, and certainly in the overwhelming range of international disputes, of course, you use negotiation.
But negotiation is just like all other human activity. It has costs as well as benefits, and deciding when you negotiate should come from a cost-benefit analysis.
BOLTON: And in the case of Iran, we don't have to theorize about it, we've had five years of negotiation.
HANNITY: Well, then.
BOLTON: And it hasn't slowed him down a bit.
HANNITY: But, Ambassador, then we're moving closer to what is now becoming inevitable. And that is, for Israel's survival, can the world be judgmental considering he denies the holocaust? He's threatened to wipe them off the map.
If Israel decides to strike their nuclear facilities, is there anybody that can blame them and is that not out of self defense?
BOLTON: Well, I think Israel has shown before it's prepared to take preemptive action when there's an existential threat to the state of Israel. I think that's under active consideration in Israel now.
And let me just says, as unattractive as the military option is, obviously, Iran.
BOLTON: . with nuclear weapons would be even more unattractive.
HANNITY: Let me — to the best of my ability, I want to try and drag you into this political race, if we can. This debate on Friday is going to be about foreign policy. The words of Barack Obama — now remember he's talked about cutting our military significantly, major weapons systems.
He's talked about not pursuing strategic defense, but he said that Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela — they're tiny countries. They're not a serious threat.
Now aren't these the two countries — isn't Iran the country that's been fighting two proxy wars, one funding Hezbollah to $100 million a year and one sending the Iranian Revolutionary Guard into Iraq to kill our soldiers?
BOLTON: Iran is the largest financier of international terrorism in the world today, and you know, the notion that because they don't have the same kind of nuclear arsenal as the former Soviet Union means we don't have to consider them a serious threat.
BOLTON: . I think seriously underestimates the risk they pose to our deployed forces in the region.
HANNITY: All right.
BOLTON: . our friends and allies and our own civilian population.
HANNITY: Last question. And I know this is where you once worked, Ambassador. But I look at the United Nations. Over the years they have been anti-American in their rhetoric. And I think they've been and anti- Semitic. And we fund a significant portion of the budget for the United Nations.
At what point do we say it's wrong, we're not going to allow the world's dictators, rouge dictators, threatening our friends and allies, to come to the United States to spread their propaganda, and we're going to pay for it? At what point do we say that's enough?
BOLTON: Well, I think many Americans are already at that point. I would recommend one reform for the U.N., and that's to make our contributions voluntary. We pay for what we want. We insist what we get, what we pay for. We abolish the system of mandatory contribution, and see what effect that has on the United Nations.
If the president had said that today, I'd tell you, they would have sat up in their chairs.
HANNITY: Yes, All right. Ambassador, thanks for being with us.
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