Photo Courtesy Kris Long
ABC News' Kirit Radia (@kiritradia_abc) reports: In an interview on "The Colbert Report" tonight, the US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice argued for continued involvement with the world body and defended the American response to the recent bloodshed in Libya and Syria.
"The UN is the one place on the planet, despite its many flaws, where we can marshal the support and share the costs of doing what is necessary to protect the United States," Rice told host Stephen Colbert, the faux-right wing satirist on Comedy Central who challenged her to explain why the United Nations was necessary.
"We have others paying the bulk of the bills for important missions that otherwise we’d have to pay for ourselves or wouldn’t get done," she added.
Ambassador Rice's comments come as some Republicans have sought to cut off some funding for the United Nations. The American contribution totals about $500 million, or nearly a quarter of the UN's budget. Last month the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved amendments to next year's proposed budget that would slash funding for the UN's peacekeeping operations and cut another 25% of its non-peacekeeping budget.
In his trademark style, Colbert peppered Ambassador Rice with questions ranging from the serious ("What is the difference between Libya and Syria?") to the lighthearted ("Can the UN do anything to make Ahmadinejad wear a tie? Can you get a resolution on that?") to somewhere in between (in asking Rice about the famine in Somalia: "It’s a humanitarian tragedy, but you know keep it light.").
Colbert suggested a new way to condemn Iran and North Korea for their continued nuclear activities.
"I know sternly worded letters are the bread and butter of the UN but maybe we should start typing them all caps to let them know we’re really angry," he said.
Rice was pressed as to why the United States supported military intervention in Libya when longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi threatened civilians there and not in Syria, where President Bashar Assad has killed thousands in a brutal assault on several restive cities. She cited what the US Ambassador in Damascus Robert Ford has reported back from his meetings with ordinary Syrians.
"What he hears every day and what they want from the United States is more leadership, political pressure, and sanctions, but very clearly no military intervention," she said.
During the interview Rice referenced reports that Assad has used Navy gunships to attack the port city of Latakia, despite the fact that hours earlier the State Department spokesperson said there were some inconsistencies with the reports.
She said the NATO operation in Libya has been "highly effective" and has saved "tens of thousands" of lives from Gadhafi's forces.
In a brief interview with ABC News shortly after taping the interview, Rice said she enjoyed her first appearance on the show.
"I hope it went well, I think it was fun, I enjoyed it. It was a great audience, they were into it. And he's as funny in person as he is on the screen," she said.
Despite the unique style of Colbert's interview, Rice admitted she had little time to prepare for the interview other than to watch some recent episodes.
"I was doing my regular stuff," she said, referring to her diplomatic efforts throughout the day.