State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki got into a testy exchange with AP reporter Matt Lee Monday over Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion that the “era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.” Psaki failed to provide Lee reasoning behind Kerry’s statement and ended the discussion by stating “I would caution anyone from making a larger analysis of what it meant.”
The full exchange is available below:
Q: So was the secretary — I mean, the Monroe Doctrine is dead, RIP, after 200 years. Is that something that just has been decided today?
MS. PSAKI: He’s said that before, Matt. I’m happy to find you past references.
Q: OK. Can I — OK. He has?
MS. PSAKI: I believe so.
Q: OK. All right. What was wrong with the Monroe Doctrine?
MS. PSAKI: (Laughs.) Matt, I would point you to the discussion of his speech and —
Q: Well, one of the things that he talked about was — OK.
MS. PSAKI: — in his speech and our relationship with the Western Hemisphere and where we want to go moving forward, which is what he was conveying.
Q: I — OK, but one of the things that he seemed to be implicitly criticizing about the Monroe Doctrine was that the United States would act unilaterally to prevent any kind of interference in the hemisphere, which is portrayed, I think, at least the implication of it was that this is somehow kind of arrogant and that the United States, as they treat all the countries of the hemisphere as a — as a partner. And I — and with respect. And I’m just — I don’t see how you can do that when every single country in this hemisphere opposes your policy towards Cuba. Every single country in the world, with one exception, Israel, your new best friend over the Iran nuclear deal, is opposed to this policy.
If the Monroe Doctrine was arrogant, what is the policy towards Cuba?
MS. PSAKI: There’s a lot in that question, Matt. I don’t have anything new. Obviously if there was anything new to convey vis-a-vis our policy toward Cuba, the secretary would have conveyed it today in his speech. He was making the point that we need to work closely with the Western Hemisphere. Our partnership is important. We want to work in coordination and conjunction. And that was the point he was making in his speech.
Q: All right. But does the — does the abandonment of the Monroe Doctrine after 200 years imply that the United States is going to be more willing to listen to its partners in the hemisphere? And if does, why do you refuse to listen to them on this issue?
MS. PSAKI: Well, broadly speaking, Matt — and I hate to go down this pole here, but broadly speaking, we’re always happy to listen, and we hope other countries are happy to listen when we have thoughts as well. I doesn’t mean we agree with every country on every issue. By the nature of that, you wouldn’t;’t be able to, because many countries disagree, having nothing to do with the United States.
So the point is, we’re going to continue to work with the Western Hemisphere.
The relationship is important. He’s looking forward to traveling back to the region soon. Beyond that, I would caution anyone from making a larger analysis of what it meant.