Can the U.N. Save the Day in the Middle East?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 20, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Impact" segment tonight, the U.N. Security Council met today to try to figure out what to do about the violence in the Middle East. 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 passed 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?

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I think what can happen is that we can use the Security Council as a way to accomplish the objective of bringing democracy to the Lebanese people. We've helped pushed Syria out of Lebanon, although they're 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: Yes. 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...

O'REILLY: You know, 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 — Kofi Annan today. I don't know what Kofi Annan said. I listened to the sound byte 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 they do.

O'REILLY: OK. So number one, the United Nations doesn't even understand there's a worldwide world 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 going to take for them to get it?

BOLTON: Well, I think what we're trying to do is advance American interests. And in this case and the case of Lebanon, we've got 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 financial 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 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 a terrorist, it's entitled to respond.

O'REILLY: Yes, but they don't care what President Bush says.

BOLTON: Well...

O'REILLY: 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.

O'REILLY: I hope he can help, but I don't have any faith he 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 interest in Iraq.

O'REILLY: So it's business, right?

BOLTON: But what we hope the five foreign ministers have agreed to here is 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: 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 interest of our allies. And that makes it worthwhile, because if we weren't there protecting them, it would be...

O'REILLY: Yes, you have to be there, but I got to tell you, Mr. Ambassador, and I appreciate you coming in, most Americans don't have a use for the U.N. They have no confidence in the U.N. These poor Darfur people are getting slaughtered. What is the U.N. doing about it?

BOLTON: Right. We're taking our good, old time, but the administration is committed to making sure that we do whatever we can in Darfur. It's been frustrating dealing with the U.N. there. There's no question.

O'REILLY: Yes, in Rwanda, they took their own time there, didn't they?

BOLTON: Right.

O'REILLY: How many dead? 750,000.

BOLTON: 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: Yes, they'd love to see me, wouldn't they?

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