Amb. Bolton on proposed funding cuts to the United Nations

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 16, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR:  We're absolutely reducing funding to the U.N. and to the various foreign aid programs, including those run by the U.N. and other agencies.

That should come as a surprise to no one who watched the campaign.  The president said specifically hundreds of times -- you covered him -- "I'm going to spend less money on people overseas and more money on people back home."

And that's exactly what we're doing with this budget.



Trump's America-first budget calling for major cuts to the United Nations, and he wants to slash funding to foreign aid as well.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is John Bolton.

He joins us now.

John, there's a separate budget for peacekeeping at the United Nations.  At the moment, we contribute 28 percent of it.  We want to cut that to 25 percent.  How do you feel about cutting the peacekeeping budget?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS:  Well, I think it's certainly doable at the levels suggested, because a lot of these peacekeeping operations have essentially a perpetual life and become part of the problem.

They're not moving to solve the problem that they were set up to deal with. They're helping to perpetuate it.  So I think this notion that, oh, my goodness, if we don't spend on peacekeeping, we will have to spend it through our defense budget is absolutely wrong.

And, therefore, I think substantial savings can be made.

VARNEY:  Now, there's the main budget to the U.N., which pays for staffing and headquarters and that kind of thing.  We provide 22 percent of that budget, more than anybody else.  And we want to cut that.

Are you OK with cutting that portion of the U.N.'s budget?

BOLTON:  Absolutely.

Look, there's a lot of U.N. programs that we should not see our budget cut in some of the specialized agencies.  We have to look at how these figures work out.

But one of the reasons I said over 20 years ago that, if you lost 10 stories of the U.N. building in New York, it wouldn't make a bit of difference is because that's 10 stories less of bureaucrats.

And there's no governmental or intergovernmental institution in the world that can't see its budget cut with limited effect.

VARNEY:  Now, if you want to cut domestic spending in America, you have got to get that through Congress.  That's understood.

If you want to cut the U.N.'s budget, can you just do it just like that, without reference to Congress?

BOLTON:  No, Congress has to do it.

But, look, I think this should be part of a larger effort to move all of U.N. funding for -- U.S. funding for international organizations to a purely voluntary basis, no more assessed contributions, which, in effect, are taxes on the United States.

I will say, I would protect the U.S. bilateral foreign aid program.  If you have got to take cuts, I would take them in the multilateral development banks and in the U.N. programs.  I would keep as much of the bilateral programs as we could, although they can certainly be reformed too.

VARNEY:  Well, throughout this program, we have talked about the difficult of cutting any domestic spending program.

Do you think that U.N. budget cuts would pass relatively easily?  Because I'm sure they're popular.

BOLTON:  Yes.  Yes.

No, I think they would pass relatively easily.  And we don't know what the fate of this budget on domestic or international programs will be.  But I say those who want to continue to create the kind of deficits that we have seen and the addition to the national debt, let's have that debate.

I give Trump a lot of credit for following through on what he said to increase the military budget.  If anything, I would increase it more and cut the other spending more.

But he's off to an excellent start.  Let's have this debate.  I think I know where the American people will come out on it.

VARNEY:  Sure.  Sure.

John Bolton, thank you very much for joining us, sir.  Appreciate it. Thank you.

BOLTON:  Thank you, Stuart.


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