“Irony is the bringing together of contradictory truths, to make out with a contradiction, a new truth, with a laugh or a smile. And I confess that, a truth must come with one or the other, or I count it as false and a denial of the very nature of humanity itself (chuckles).” – The character of Jane Austen, in the film ‘On becoming Jane‘, based on the novel by John Spence.
Interview with the US Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy on the US blockade of Cuba and related matters.
4PR: Can you please introduce yourself?
Caroline Kennedy: My name is Caroline Kennedy and I am the US ambassador to Australia. I am proud to carry on my father’s legacy of public service … you know, my father had hoped to be the first US President to visit Australia.
4PR: Instead we got Lyndon Baynes Johnson – all the way with LBJ (sardonically). I would like to make reference to a speech by your uncle, Robert Kennedy, made on a visit to apartheid South Africa in 1966. Let’s have a listen to a speech he gave at the University of Capetown on 6 June 1966:
I come here this evening because of my deep interest and affection for a land settled by the Dutch in the mid 17th century, then taken over by the British and at last independent, a land in which the native inhabitants were at first subdued, but relations with whom remain a problem to this day, a land which defined itself on a hostile frontier, a land which is tamed rich natural resources through the energetic application of modern technology, a land which was once the importer of slaves, and now must struggle to wipe out the last traces of that form of bondage. I refer of course to the United States of America. [Crowd murmurs and then applauds].
There is discrimination in New York, the racial inequality of apartheid in South Africa, and serfdom in the mountains of Peru. People starve to death in the streets of India; a former Prime Minister is summarily executed in the Congo; intellectuals go to jail in Russia; and thousands are slaughtered in Indonesia; wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere in the world. These are different evils; but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfections of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, the defectiveness of our sensibility toward the sufferings of our fellows; they mark the limit of our ability to use knowledge for the well-being of our fellow human beings throughout the world. And therefore they call upon common qualities of conscience and indignation, a shared determination to wipe away the unnecessary sufferings of our fellow human beings at home and around the world.
4PR: Why didn’t the United States impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa.
Caroline Kennedy: It did. You know, my uncle Robert gave his life for his beliefs.
4PR: The US did not initiate an economic blockade on apartheid South Africa until 1986, 20 years after your Uncle’s visit.
Caroline Kennedy: The disinvestment campaign in the United States took that time before it gained critical mass, you know.
4PR: The United States did not do so until black South Africans mobilized to make the townships ungovernable, black local officials resigned in droves thus making the whole country ungovernable. The former Democrat President, Jimmy Carter, wrote a book called Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid. Do you agree with it?
Caroline Kennedy: Well not all of it, I am a strong supporter of Israel, you know, and I believe an undivided Jerusalem must be Israel’s national capital.
4PR: Didn’t you say that when you sought the New York senate seat of Hillary Clinton after Obama made her Secretary of State?
Caroline Kennedy: I made that as a policy statement in response to a New York Times political questionnaire in, you know, 2008.
4PR: What about the requests by Palestinian civil society that Palestinians have the same democratic rights as Israelis?
Caroline Kennedy: Israel is a democracy, you know.
4PR: Yes that is why progressive Israelis are being driven out of Palestine by right-wingers. Your father, John F Kennedy, made the following statement in his inaugural address as President of the United States in 1961.
John F Kennedy
Before the dark powers of destruction, unleashed by science, engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction, we dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt, can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed. But neither can too great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course. Both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final loss. So let us begin anew remembering on both sides, that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
4PR: Your father’s speech was followed by the CIA’s failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 and 1962 October Crisis with Cuba where he did not negotiate with Fidel Castro but formed a naval blockade around that small island of the coast of Miami.
Caroline Kennedy: I was only 5 years old at the time but it was always referred to later as the Cuban Missile Crisis. You know my father gave his life for his beliefs.
4PR: This crisis brought the two super powers to the brink of nuclear war. The US military deployed nuclear armed missiles in both Turkey and Italy pointed at Moscow. The naval blockade imposed by your father led to an economic blockade of Cuba which still exists to this day. Do you support that blockade?
Caroline Kennedy: Why, yes, of course I do. You know, I am a member of the Biden Administration and we are determined to bring freedom to the Cuban people. We oppose communism.
4PR: By assisting disaffected Cubans in bringing down a sovereign government that has the broad support of its people?
Caroline Kennedy: You know, my father knew less that Khrushchev about the Bay of Pigs.
4PR: Your uncle Robert Kennedy said that there is nothing criminal in a Cuban patriot leaving the United States with the intent of joining an insurgent group. There is nothing criminal in his urging others to do so. There is nothing criminal in several Cuban patriots departing at the same time.
Caroline Kennedy: You know, my uncle Robert said that nothing of what happened at the Bay of Pigs offends the neutrality laws of the United States.
4PR: Would you say that about US citizens going to fight with Al Queda in Iraq or Daesh in Syria?
Caroline Kennedy: You know, I opposed the invasion of Iraq from the outset.
4PR: Yes, you used that to distinguish yourself from Hilary Clinton who supported the Iraq war … this was when you were angling for the New York Senate seat after Hilary became the Secretary of State under Obama.
Caroline Kennedy: You know, the truth is I withdrew from that contest.
4PR: Are you aware that there is a ‘From Australia to Cuba with Love’ campaign that explicitly intends to assist in ending the US blockade of Cuba?
Caroline Kennedy: Why no, but I am new to the office of ambassador to Australia. You know, I would be happy to talk with the organisers.
4PR: Are you aware that since 1992 the Australian government has either abstained or voted against the US blockade in the United Nations? Let’s have a listen to what one of the organisers, Sue Monk, has to say.
But back in the 90s, when the Soviet Union collapsed … Cuba’s major trading partner at that time … Cuba really nosedived. It was desperate and starvation conditions for Cuba. And similarly with COVID, Cuba has experienced a problem with food, transport, lack of access to material goods, and in particular access to syringes to distribute and implement their vaccination program. So again, it’s been a critical situation. And so one of the things that we discussed in our meetings was, how do we do something a little bit differently …. so that we’re not just continually fundraising, fundraising fundraising. We would never have to fundraise if the blockade was lifted, the single most thing that’s affecting Cuba’s development is the US blockade. So we wanted to refocus back on the US as the major problem for Cuba.
4PR: Is it fair for the US to maintain this blockade at a time when the global pandemic threatens to end the lives of so many people? Over 800,000 US citizens have already died. Why should the same fate await the Cuban people who have had difficulty in getting syringes to administer the vaccines developed by Cuba?
Caroline Kennedy: You know, I would be happy to talk with the organisers.
4PR: One quick question before you go, the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has said that Julian Assange should be returned home. What is your position on this?
Caroline Kennedy: The Biden administration will not involve itself in matters before the courts. I understand the British High Court has ordered Mr Assange’s extradition to face trial in the United States on 17 espionage charges relating to his involvement with Chelsea Manning who released classified videos of US engagement in the Iraq war.
4PR: A war which you opposed from the outset, a war which was illegal, was not sanctioned by the UN, and which was based on a lie that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Caroline Kennedy: Yes, all of those things but we must uphold the rule of law particularly when Mr Assange and his organisation insists on undermining our democracy by releasing private emails of Hilary Clinton leading directly to the election of Donald Trump as President.
4PR: No better proof of the decline of the American empire. Oh, one last thing, former CIA operative Christopher Boyce warned the Australian people that the CIA was behind the sacking of the Whitlam government in 1975.
Caroline Kennedy: You know Christopher Boyce was convicted of espionage.
4PR: Just like the US government did to Chelsea Manning and are trying to do to Julian Assange. I think we should leave it there.
Please note: So there is no doubt, the answers given by the US Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, were performed by a voice actor. All other voices are by the persons as stated.
We shall overcome sung by Sue Monk
FOR INFORMATION about the ‘From Australia to Cuba with Love‘ campaign go to from-australia-to-cuba-with-love.raisely.com/