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tv   John F. Kennedy Speech to American Society of Newspaper Editors  CSPAN  April 23, 2021 7:31pm-7:46pm EDT

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into the night with key advisers. >> the cia deputy director has come to the president with a desperate last-minute appeal. he knows the president had said there would be no intervention. but he now said the brigade was doomed unless the united states intervened at least with air cover. or the navy task force that was standing off the beach. admiral burke, favored the intervention. law but it was opposing the risks to great. and we've probably endanger our latin america position. and they would ask chris schiff to come in. the president said he would make his decision with the next few hours. >> so the president makes his decision, later he tells it to the members of the revolutionary council. >> president kennedy was very firm. he repeated three times. americans shooting cubans, no
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no no. the president was very upset, and he wanted to explain to us why he had allowed the invasion to take place after he had decided against u.s. military force. he told them that on the day of april 13th, he sent a message to the project chiefs watching the brigades get ready to sail for cuba. yes this man, whose name was jack -- . he asked if the brigade could win by fighting alone? president kennedy showed us a copy of the reply. this document, informs the president that the brigade could over throw the castro regime without u.s. help. the president looked very angry, and he told us he had relied on such advice and making the decision to send the brigade help. >> on the beach of the bay of
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pigs the fighting continues. they have no food almost no ammunition. no hope of help from within cuba or from within the out or from the outside. >> 3:45 pm wednesday april 19th, the resistance ends. all those who are not killed or taken prisoner. all those who are not killed are taken prisoner. in less than 72 hours, castro has destroyed the brigade. the mission is now a total failure. >> the failure at the bay of pigs, was not mutually the failure of the cuban exiles. it was a failure of united states policy, which led to a failure of united states power. clearly the united states had the power to destroy castro.
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but he could not ignore world opinion and views. they could not risk the repercussions that might follow the slaughter of cubans. and the occupation of cuba by united states forces. they could not risk the possible escalation to nuclear war. one alternative had suggested, was in direct intervention. carried out secretly under cia supervision. the cia solution was a carefully controlled military operation, and it ignored for the most part the underground inside cuba. which could not be controlled. left-wing, former castro supporters, considered unreliable, were shut off from participation. no real effort was made to bring about an uprising of the cuban people. the mercurial exiled cuban leaders said control was taken on their hands. the cia, put its faith in the
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brigade. small politically reliable, and controlled by the united states navy. and attempt was made to use the brigade, and as an instrument of united states policy. it was the united states big stick diplomacy. but fidel castro did not collapse at the first sign of opposition, as many had thought. as a result, the cuban exile brigade was destroyed on the beach, while the cuban exile leaders were held in cia custody, and the united states task force helplessly. it was a low point, the worst moment for john f. kennedy in his three years in the white house. as president, he took full responsibility for the failure of the united states policy. this misuse of united states power, although the total blame was clearly not his. it
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on april 17th 1961 a group of about 1500 cuban exiles supported by the cia landed on the southern coast of the island nation on the bay of pigs. their goal was to spearhead an uprising and overthrow the revolutionary government of fidel castro. within two days the operation failed. on april 20th, 1961 president kennedy spoke before a meeting of the american society of newspaper editors at washington d.c. and outlined his policy towards cuba and fidel castro. >> ladies and gentlemen the
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president of the united states. >> members of the american society, newspaper editors, latest gentlemen, the president of the great democracy such as ours, and the editors of great newspapers, such as yours, oh a common obligation to the people. and obligation to present the facts, to present them with candor. and to present them in perspective. today is with the obligation of mind, that i have decided in the last 24 hours to discuss briefly at this time the recent
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events in cuba. on that unhappy island, as in so many other arenas of the contest for freedom, the news has grown worse instead of better. i have emphasized before that this was a struggle of cuban patriots against a cuban dictator. while we could not be expected to -- our sympathies, we made it repeatedly clear that the armed forces of this country will not intervene in any way. any unilateral american intervention in the absence of an external attack, upon ourselves or an ally, would have been contrary to our traditions and to our international obligations. but let the record show, that are restraint is not inexhaustible.
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should it ever appear that the inter american doctrine of non interference merely conceals or excuses a policy of non action, if the nations of this -- should fail to meet their commitments against outside communists penetration. then i won it clearly understood, that this government will not hesitate in meetings in meeting its primary obligation, which is the security of our nation. should that time ever come, we do not intend on intervention by those whose characters was damp for all times, on the streets of budapest. nor would we expect, or except,
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the same outcome which this small band of gallant cuban refugees must have known that they were chanting, as determined as they were against heavy arms. to pursue their courageous attempt, to regain their islands freedom. but cuba is not an island unto itself, and our concern has not ended. by mere expression of non intervention, or regret. this is not the first time in either ancient or recent history that a small band of freedom fighters, has engaged in the honor of to tell a terry -ism. it is not the first time that communist tanks, have rolled over gallant men and women, fighting to redeem the independence of their homeland. nor is it by any means, the final episode in the eternal
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struggle of liberty against tyranny anywhere on the face of the globe, including cuba itself. mr. castro has said these were mercenaries. according to press reports, the final message to be relayed on the refugee forces on the beach, came from the rebel commander. when i asked if he wish to be evacuated, his answer was, i will never leave this country. that is not the reply of a mercenary. he has gone now to join in the mountains, other guerrilla fighters, who are equally determined that the dedication of those who gave their lives shall not be forgotten. and cuba must not be abandoned to the communist. and we do not intend to abandon it either. [applause]. thank you and people have not yet spoken their final piece.
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and i have no doubt today, and the revolutionary council, led by doctor -- and members of the families of the revolutionary council, and i am informed by the doctor yesterday, they are involved themselves. and the island will continue to speak out, and break free for free and independent cuba. meanwhile we will not accept mr. castro's attempt to blame this nation, and his regarded oppression. but there are useful lessons for us all to learn. some may be still obscure. to wait for their information. but some are clear today. first it is clear that the forces of communism, are not to be underestimated in cuba, or anywhere else in the world. the advantages of a police state, its use of mass terror,
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and arrests, to prevent the spread of free descent. cannot be overlooked by those who expect the fall of every tyrant. the discipline of the free, cannot meet the iron discipline of the male fist. freedom will continue to rise. second it is clear that this nation, in concert with all the free nations of this hemisphere, must take an ever closer and more realistic look at the menace of external communist intervention and domination in cuba. the american people, are not complacent about iron curtain tanks and planes, less than 90 miles from the shore. but the nation of key was size,
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is less a threat to our survival than it is a base for subverting the survival of other free nations throughout the hemisphere. it is not primarily for our security, but there's. which is now today in great peril. it is for their sake, as well as our own, that we must show our will. the evidence is clear in the hours late. we and our latin friends will have to face the facts that we cannot postponed postpone any longer the real issue of survival and freedom in this hemisphere itself. on that issue, unlike some others, there can be no middle ground. together we must build a hemisphere where freedom can flourish. and where any free nation under outside attack of any kind, can be assured that all of our

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