2006 Gala: Larry King Questions US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton

Dalia Golan at the Gala

Q: What is it like when a diplomat, such as an Ambassador, disagrees with his government? A: The Ambassador serves at the behest of the President. I remember what Jim Baker said to me when I was trying to make a contrary point, "Look, John, the President does not want to do that." I knew, then, that I had to remain quiet. So, the honorable thing to do is to follow the President or resign, if the disagreements are about principle. What is not honorable is to leak disagreement.

Q: Why is America so disliked in the world? A: The first reason is that some people don't like the values we stand for. They feel threatened by them. These values stand for a government that is too open and free. Others resent America's power. That is the one that troubles me the most because we are not an imperial power. We have no imperialistic ambitions.We believe that countries have a right to govern as they choose if they do not threaten us or others. That is what we have to explain to the world.

Q: In your job, is it difficult to be friendly with governments we don't like? A: Fortunately, I don't have to speak with certain rogue governments- like Iran and North Korea. But I do speak with every government that the US has diplomatic relations with. It is part of the tradecraft that you have to have equitable relations with people. You say what you think, but it does not have to be personal. But sometimes it gets personal, such as working these last few weeks to keep Venezuela off the Security Council, which I am glad to say was successful. You can add Hugo Chavez to the list of people who says unkind things about me.

Q: How do you take negative comments about you-not only by other countries but from or Senate? A: When I was nominated for the job, I did not think I was running for public office. But I found out that I was. It is an unfortunate commentary on our political process that it is so personal. Policy differences are often subsumed under personal attack. You stand for your principles, and you try to rise above the fray. I speak to most representatives of other countries, and if necessary we tell them how the US feels. This worked in the case of Venezuela that became an adversary to the United States, and we were able to keep them off the Security Council.

Q. People often ask, "Why don't we talk to our enemies? What is the harm? How does it hurt? A: John Kennedy said, "We should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate."We would be prepared to talk to Iran under the right circumstances.We have spoken to Iran about the liberation of Afghanistan because of their ties with the Hazari population. We also spoke to Iran about their interference in Iraq in the Shiite regions. In recent months it has been Iran who hasn't spoken to us.We had only one condition and that is that Iran suspend their uranium enrichment activity.We had put that condition in place is to support what the European community has said and that is that the Iranians were using this long process of negotiations to perfect various aspects of their nuclear cycle to build an indigenous nuclear capability. What we said was we were not going to use that period when they are marching toward nuclear weapons.We are ready to talk to them about other issues.

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