Behind the Scenes With Former U.N. Ambassador Bolton

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 12, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: You see influential people on TV, but you don't often get to know much about them. So we decided to change that a bit. You are going behind the scenes at former U.N. ambassador John Bolton's office right here in Washington. Ambassador Bolton went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, North Korea, Pakistan -- which should I be worried about more right now?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, at the moment, I would worry about Pakistan because I think that the situation is sufficiently unstable that you have two possible scenarios that could develop. One is that military command and control over some part of their nuclear arsenal collapses and a relatively small number of nuclear weapons -- two, three, four -- could slip out into the hands of terrorists like Taliban or al Qaeda. That would be a worldwide threat and something we should be very concerned about.

There is a second scenario that's much worse in that the instability continues, and that Taliban or other radical elements are able to take advantage of the disorder across the country and seize control of the entire government, giving them control of all of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

That would be a colossal threat in the form of international terrorism and the possibility of nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

But having said that, I don't leave North Korea very far behind. They are the world's largest proliferators of ballistic missile technology. They are obviously cooperating with countries like Iran and Syria.

That is why North Korea is a global threat. It's not just a threat in northeast Asia.

VAN SUSTEREN: Talk Pakistan a second -- up until a week ago, I thought that Pakistan was just our biggest nightmare and it was so much worse than we were talking about.

Then we've had this offensive by the Pakistani government, and last week they killed 750 militants in the Swat Valley, so they say, or so it being said.

How much can we believe all the reporting that comes out of there? That 750 sounds like they are getting ahead of the game on the militants, they're fighting them, but how accurate are these reports.

BOLTON: Even if they are accurate, I don't think that is where the real potential problems lies in Pakistan. Obviously, a Taliban military takeover would be a catastrophe. I don't see that in the near future.

What I worry about more is the spread throughout Pakistani society, civilian and military, of radical Islam. And I think the graver threat comes not from Taliban winning vis-a-vis the military in Pakistan, but from the military itself fragmenting into groups that are radical themselves versus more moderate or more secular --

VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't that happening, though? That seems to have been happening and going on. I do not see that as a reverse situation getting better.

Everything that I read -- I'm not living there -- but everything I read is that this is sort of inching forward in that direction. A.Q. Khan, who was their big godfather of the nuclear weapon, he is an idol there.

BOLTON: Right. Now, I think the spread of radical Islam, particularly inside the Pakistani military, is a problem. It has been there and it's growing. There's no doubt that the intelligence services, I think, are largely in their hands.

And I think the risk is that the Islamicists are spreading their influence and their control through other elements of Pakistan's military as well.

Up until now, at least under Musharraf, the military was able to hold itself together. But I do not count on that in the future. And I think that is a particularly grave threat.

As the Taliban demonstrated even some of military capability, the risk of the military itself breaking and a large part of it siding with Taliban could be a real threat to civilian constitutional government.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it going happen? I don't see -- show me the good sign. Tell me the good sign so I don't have to worry.

BOLTON: I'm not sure there is a good sign --

VAN SUSTEREN: That's what I thought.

BOLTON: But I don't think it's inevitable either. And that's why, I think, really Pakistan ought to be at the top of our strategic priorities right now.

Afghanistan, in a way, is secondary at this point. It would be a terrible thing for Taliban to take back over in Afghanistan, but even if that happened, they would not have control of an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama's policy vis-a-vis North Korea, how is it the same or different from President Bush 43?

BOLTON: Well, I think it's the same, only taking it further in the wrong direction. North Korea is not going to be talked out of its nuclear weapons capability.

So the efforts of the Bush administration and the continuing efforts of the Obama administration to try to negotiate an end to that program are doomed to failure, as I think they are in the case of Iran.

These countries view nuclear weapons as trump cards, and they're not going to give them up voluntarily.

VAN SUSTEREN: When did you get into government?

BOLTON: I joined during the Reagan administration and went to the Agency for International Development, part of the State Department complex when Reagan came into office.


BOLTON: Because I was thrilled with Reagan's election. I thought this was the most important election since Roosevelt in 1932. And Reagan was exactly the right candidate. He, to me, mirrored what I had done in my very first campaign, which was for Barry Goldwater in 1964. And I felt, in a way, like Goldwater had won 16 years later. So I was not going to miss out on that.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is it about the people who worked for President Reagan and have such deep affection for him. Was it his ideology, or was it him?

BOLTON: I think it was a combination. In his first inaugural address, he said "Government is not the solution, government is the problem." That's something I had believed since I first got involved in politics or political philosophy, and he actually said it.

So, quite apart from his foreign policy views, which I obviously found most appealing, I think he understood exactly what was needed for the United States.

But at the same time, unlike a lot of other conservative candidates in the past, he was happy, he was optimistic. He was probably happier and more optimistic than a lot of us were.

But it was really something inspiring. And I think that that is one of the reasons he frustrated the liberals so much is that he said the most conservative things, and he said it with a big smile, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let's talk about some of these pictures. What is this a picture of?

BOLTON: This is the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow. And what's interesting about it is that if you carefully at the star, although it's not red, in the center is a hammer and sickle. Those doors were made during the Soviet days.

And even though it's Russia now and communism is not the official ideology, the hammer and sickle is still on the door. And I had a red tie on that day, so I thought it was fitting.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I see some of the cartoons that have been done. Some that may have skewered you a little bit, maybe, or they at least put you in it, I should say.

BOLTON: Yes. This is one of my favorites by Ramirez, who is a great cartoonist. This is Kofi Annan at the United Nations. This is me arriving with my symbols to wake him up.

VAN SUSTEREN: You have a baseball here?

BOLTON: Brooks Robinson.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which, of course, because you're from --

BOLTON: Baltimore.

VAN SUSTEREN: Baltimore. I take it you are an Orioles fan?

BOLTON: I am. If I could have had a football signed by Johnny Unitas, that would have been the real completion to that. He was one of my heroes growing up in Baltimore.

VAN SUSTEREN: My husband is from Baltimore as well, and he gets almost choked up talking about Unitas, all you guys about Unitas.

BOLTON: He reminds me of other people from Baltimore. He came out of nowhere. He didn't go to a fancy college. He played sandlot football in Pittsburgh. Nobody thought he could become a pro. And yet he was the greatest quarterbacks, probably -- many people have said the greatest athlete of the 20th-century. So it's fitting he was playing for Baltimore.


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