I looked unsuccessfully all over the Web yesterday for a complete transcript of Ambassador Bolton’s response to Mark Malloch Brown’s speech (discussed here with Eric Shawn of FOX News, who may have asked the first question below). Deputy press secretary Jana Chapman in the ambassador’s office has kindly emailed us the transcript:
Reporter: Ambassador, could I get a few comments about, especially about Mr. Brown’s comments about my station?
Ambassador Bolton: Well, on that speech, this is a very, very grave mistake by the Deputy Secretary General. We are in the process of an enormous effort to achieve substantial reform at the United Nations. And it’s a difficult effort, but it’s an effort that we feel very strongly about. And to have the Deputy Secretary General criticize the United States in such a manner, can only do grave harm to the United Nations. Even though the target of the speech was the United States, the victim, I fear, will be the United Nations. And even worse was the condescending and patronizing tone about the American people. That fundamentally and very sadly, this was a criticism of the American people, not the American government, by an international civil servant, it’s just illegitimate. So we’ve thought about this a good deal and we didn’t respond to it yesterday evening when we got a copy of the speech. But what we think the only way at this point to mitigate the damage to the United Nations is that the Secretary General Kofi Annan, we think has to personally and publicly repudiate this speech at the earliest possible opportunity. Because otherwise I fear the consequences, not just for the reform effort, but for the organization as a whole. I spoke to the Secretary General this morning. I said I’ve known you since 1989, and I’m telling you this is the worst mistake by a senior UN official that I have seen in that entire time. That’s why the only hope I think is that the Secretary General comes to the rescue of the organization and repudiates the speech.
Reporter: Did you also call for Mr. Brown’s resignation?
Ambassador Bolton: I’ve said what I have to say on that subject for now.
Reporter: What do you mean, “come to the rescue”? What could the United States do next if he does not repudiate the speech?
Ambassador Bolton: I am concerned at this point at the very wounding effect that this criticism of the United States will have in our efforts to achieve reform. And this isn’t the first time the Deputy Secretary General has done this recently. He gave an interview a few weeks ago that criticized the United States and the other major contributors. This is very serious. This is very serious.
Reporter: What was Mr. Annan’s reaction to your suggestion that he repudiate the speech?
Ambassador Bolton: I’ll leave him to speak. Hopefully he would address this by the noon briefing. If it’s his opinion that he supports what the Deputy Secretary General said, I hope it’s not, but if it is then he should say so forthrightly. My hope is that he looks at the potential adverse effect that these intemperate remarks would have on the organization and repudiate it. I think that would be the cleanest, safest thing for the organization.
Reporter: What’s the response been in Washington to this? Has there been any, Capitol Hill and in the White House?
Ambassador Bolton: In the time since the speech was given I’ve heard a lot that disturbs me and it’s one reason that I called the Secretary General this morning and believe that the only way to mitigate the damage is to repudiate the speech.
Reporter: To what extent to you take some of these comments personally in terms of what he seems to be implying by the style you bring to this, or create suspicion…?
Ambassador Bolton: I don’t take any of it personally.
Reporter: This could be interpreted by some in this institution as a US attempt to silence its critics. How would you address that criticism?
Ambassador Bolton: The organization is an organization of member governments. The Secretariat works for the member governments. So that when a member of the Secretariat criticizes a member government, and as I said, criticizes the intelligence of the people of a member government, that’s a very questionable activity. I think it’s important to rescue the reform effort, to rescue the institution that Secretary General needs to make it clear that these remarks did not represent his opinion about the United States. Okay. Thank you very much.