Bolton: Obama Needs Additional 'Schooling'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," April 3, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a "FOX News Alert." North Korea says the launch of its rocket is imminent. According to the Associated Press, North Korea pose a preparations to launch a rocket are now complete. And sources also tell FOX News this launch will happen at any minute. Now, the entire world is watching, wondering what is going to happen.

North Korea insists the launch is harmless, that this is the launch of a peaceful satellite. But the United States and many other nations around the world simply do not buy it. They say this will be a dangerous test of a long-range missile, one that it's feared could now reach Japan and sometime soon could reach the United States. Should the United States do something to stop this? And how should the world respond if North Korea goes ahead with the launch?

Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton joins us. Welcome, Ambassador.


VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, are we certain that this is a test of a long-range missile? Is there any chance what the North Koreans say, that this is a harmless launch of a satellite, communications satellite is possible?

BOLTON: Well, it could be they're trying to launch a communications satellite, but the technology is exactly the same. John Kennedy was once asked, What's the difference between an American Atlas missile that puts John Glenn into orbit and the Atlas missiles targeted on the Soviet Union, and he said one word, "attitude." It's the same technology.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Who are they sharing their technology with? Who are they getting it from and who are they giving it to? Because, you know, we've actually taken "On the Record" to North Korea, and there's not a lot of activity, commercial activity, going on there. And so they must be getting something from somebody.

BOLTON: Well, they keep this program under wraps, but they're using the same Soviet-era Scud missile technology as Iran. We know there have been extensive cooperation between the two counties. North Korea is actually the world's largest proliferator of ballistic missile technology, and there are press reports that there's a delegation of Iranians there in North Korea assisting, or at least observing this launch. So I think their relationship is very close.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, I heard President Obama say -- I think he said it even today -- that it would be, quote, "provocative." And Secretary of State Clinton told us last week something very similar, provocative. OK, provocative. Great. I got that. But what we do?

BOLTON: Well, I'm sure that's really shaking them up in North Korea. The fact is, I don't think the Obama administration knows much what to do. I think their reaction will be in the U.N. Security Council. I think that's going to be entirely inadequate. North Korea, by launching this rocket, is already violating several Security Council resolutions, so I don't think they pay much attention to what happens in New York.

This is really a long-term increase in the rest from North Korea as their ballistic missile program improves to give them the delivery capability for their nuclear weapons.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, even the U.N. (INAUDIBLE) and what can the U.N. do and what it's likely to do? Because, I mean, this is a country that for all intents and purposes is hermetically sealed, and there's very little interaction with the rest of the world. And while it may be sort of starving, it may need fuel, it may need all those things, it doesn't seem to need that much or care that much. What can the U.N. truly do?

BOLTON: I don't think the U.N.'s going to do much of anything. I think it's very unlikely they'll get a stiff sanctions resolution. The sanctions that were imposed in 2006, when North Korea tested missiles and a nuclear device, obviously haven't not stopped them.

I think the real pressure has to be applied on China, which gives North Korea 80 to 90 percent of its energy and a substantial amount of its food and other humanitarian needs. China's got the capability to stop this nuclear program. We've just never applied adequate pressure to them.

VAN SUSTEREN: What -- to what -- to what impact is it that North Korea's now holding two women American journalists? Does that in any way complicate this?

BOLTON: It could well be, in the State Department's mind. I don't think it should. I think this is a much larger question. I'm sorry for the two people who were detained by the North Koreans. That's for sure. But I think we've got to keep the big picture in mind, and a ballistic missile that can reach the United States, can easily reach Japan, is a substantial threat.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you said that China -- we haven't put enough pressure on China. What would be China's resistance? Because -- I mean, I realize they're not sort of in the line of fire. Japan is much more concerned about this. And of course, people who live on, you know, the Western part of the United States, even though this missile is not thought to be able to reach that right now, the United States. But why isn't China more on board on this to do something about North Korea?

BOLTON: Well, they should be. I take China at its word that it doesn't want to have North Korea with nuclear weapons. The problem for China is they're afraid if they apply to much pressure to North Korea, they'll collapse the regime entirely. There'll be reunification of the Korean peninsula, and they'll see American forces on the Yalu River. They didn't like that movie in 1950. They don't like it any better today.

But it is really is contrary to China's own interests not to do more to stop this North Korean nuclear program because if it continues, it provides a strong incentive for Japan and others to go nuclear, and that clearly is going to increase tension in Northeast Asia.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any thoughts on whether you think that this -- if, indeed, it's a rocket launch, whether it truly can reach the United States? I mean, people feel pretty comfortable it can hit Japan. It's gone over Japan once before, when they did the last one.

BOLTON: You know, we don't -- we don't know exactly what this rocket is, but if it is Taepodong ballistic missile, it can probably hit Hawaii and parts of Alaska, if it meets its specifications, and in a different form could hit the Western part of the United States. But this is all part of an ongoing program the North Koreans have been at for quite some time now.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, it's breaking news that it could happen any time, any moment. North Korea seems ready to launch this. And of course, the world is anxiously watching to see exactly what it is and how successful they are. FOX News and the world will continue to watch this very important matter. And again, this launch is reportedly imminent, could come at any moment. We're going to tell you if and when it happens.

VAN SUSTEREN: But meanwhile, President Obama is on the road. He said goodbye to the queen and some world leaders and he headed east. His next stop, Strasbourg, France. What is he doing there? Well, for one thing, a town hall meeting. The president talked about the relationship between the United States and Europe. He had some harsh words for both sides.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In recent years, we've allowed our alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship. In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America's shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.

But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad.


VAN SUSTEREN: Is President Obama right? Ambassador Bolton is still with us. What do you think about his speech?

BOLTON: I was shocked at how poor his knowledge of history is. If he thinks tensions between Europe and the United States are of recent vintage, particularly during the Bush administration, he really needs some additional schooling.

If you go back to the time of the Revolution, there have been differences between Europeans and Americans very reminiscent of things we've seen in more recent years. If you read the diaries and letters of the British and American top political and military leaders in World War II, they were at each other's throats. Lord Allenbrook, the British commander, didn't think Dwight Eisenhower was fit to be Supreme Commander or Americans were fit to fight.

This goes back and forth all the time. The idea that, suddenly, he's going to change this as a matter of attitude is itself a form of arrogance on his part.

VAN SUSTEREN: When is a difference of opinion among nations or between nations -- when is that arrogant? At what point? I mean, is it that when someone just says, Never mind, we're just going to do what we want?

BOLTON: Well, it also goes to the point that he made that our alliance is drifting apart. When people's interests change, their approaches, their policies change. And it's not just a question of the United States having a dismissive attitude toward Europe. I'll just you one quotation from French Prime Minister George Clemenceau during World War I, where he said, America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization. How's that for arrogant?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. One of the things the president said was that the Europeans too often have blamed us for what is wrong in the world. Do you agree with that or not?

BOLTON: I think that is true. And I'll give you another quote. Back during those halcyon days of the Clinton administration's transatlantic relations, when former French President Francois Mitterrand said in 1996, We are at war with America, a permanent war, a war without death. They are very hard, the Americans. They are voracious. They want undivided power over the world. And that was five years before George Bush was elected president.

Obama is not going to change fundamental differences between Europe and the United States. I hope the NATO alliance holds together, but it's not going to hold together and it's not going to break apart because some people call those little pieces of potato "freedom fries."

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what's the sort of overarching strategy, do you think, in this trip through Europe for him?

BOLTON: I think it's a continuing campaign. I really don't know that he has yet adjusted to being president. I think he's going to come into some hard lessons at this NATO meeting. He's not going to get the support that he wants and that we should have from our NATO allies on Afghanistan. They're having trouble agreeing on a new NATO secretary-general. This is the real world of international geopolitics, different from the blue smoke and mirrors of the G-20 meeting, and I think it'll be a wake-up call for him. At least, I hope it will.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think's more difficult to get us all sort of on the same board (ph) -- I mean, all of us in the world, on economic issues or issues of security?

BOLTON: I think much harder on issues of security. I think too many people in Europe today think they have passed beyond history, that there are no more threats, or that if there are, they're probably caused by countries like the United States and Israel. And that's a feeling of security. It's very hard to break through with many European leaders.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me go back to North Korea because we still are standing by in case that missile -- that rocket does get launched. On a 1 to 10, while we're on the issue of security, how important is that is that launched to us?

BOLTON: I think it's right at the top. It's not only because North Korea's a security threat in Northeast Asia. North Korea is a global threat. As I mentioned, it's the world's largest proliferator of ballistic missile technology. Up through 2007, it was building a nuclear reactor in Syria up until the point the Israeli air force destroyed it. So it's cooperating with rogue states in nuclear programs, ballistic missile programs around the world. It's not just in its own region. It really could have a substantially detrimental effect on American interests worldwide.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you, sir.

BOLTON: Thank you.

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