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Interview with Former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna; Interview with Father Being Held by Azerbaijan Government David Vardanyan; Interview with "An Unfinished Love Story" Author Doris Kearns Goodwin; Interview with Ukrainian Conductor Oksana Lyniv. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 23, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


CATHERINE COLONNA, FORMER FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER: I'm confident that implementing these recommendations will help UNRWA fulfill its mandate.


AMANPOUR: An independent review into the U.N. relief Agency, UNRWA, finds its neutrality must be strengthened. Former French Foreign Minister

Catherine Colonna, who led the review, joins me.

And a report on the overwhelming grief as hundreds of bodies are uncovered in Khan Younis.

Plus, behind bars and on hunger strike, Nagorno-Karabakh's former leader remains in prison after Azerbaijan took control of the enclave in

September. His son joins me to discuss this forgotten inmate.

Also, ahead, "An Unfinished Love Story." Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin on her husband's final years, their own love and their

relationship to influential American leaders.

And finally, culture, patriotism, and pride through music. I sit down with the first Ukrainian maestro at the New York Metropolitan Opera, Oksana


Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza is fueling protests around the world. Right now, most dramatically, in the United States, where college

campuses are in some turmoil, as protests, arrests, and crackdowns escalate and spread from Columbia to other Ivy Leagues and universities on both


Support for the Palestinian cause has picked up pace, while support for Israel has seen a big drop in young adults, from 64 percent in 2023 to 38

percent last month. That is according to the latest Gallup poll. Now, let's the United Nations says Israel continues to prevent crucial aid into

Northern Gaza, where the United States says famine has set in.

And amidst all of this, amidst this crisis, the U.S., the U.K., and others are still withholding funding to UNRWA, the main relief agency there, after

Israel said some UNRWA staff members took part in the Hamas atrocities of October 7th. The U.N. is investigating that, but in a separate independent

review headed up by Former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, there is a conclusion that UNRWA's neutrality must be strengthened. And she

joined me from New York to discuss her findings.

Catherine Colonna, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, it is probably not an exaggeration to say that a lot of concerned parties have been waiting for this report. I would like to start

by confirming that what it isn't, it is not an investigation into Israel's specific allegations about a number of UNRWA staff taking part in October

7th. Is that correct?

COLONNA: Yes, this is absolutely correct. These allegations, the serious allegations, are taken care of by the specialized unit inside the United

Nations called the OIOS. Our review is a separate review. And the task was to assess whether UNRWA does anything in its power to ensure neutrality, to

respond to allegations of breaches or breaches when they occur, and to make, of course, recommendations. This is what we did.

So, it's a separate task. It's a different mission, and I want to insist on that. Thank you for making it clear, because so many people are confusing

the two. There are two tracks. This is one part, and the other one is still under investigation by the United Nations.

AMANPOUR: So, tell me what you found. What was the most important finding over the last several weeks that you've been doing this? Was it about, you

know, their dedication to neutrality, their implementation of neutrality? What did you find specifically and what did you recommend on that front?


COLONNA: Well, I'd say the overall evaluation is that the systems in place, the mechanism, the procedures, the documents, everything that staff

has to abide by within UNRWA is a very strong, solid, and quite extensive set of rules, probably more than for any other U.N. organization or U.N.

agency and this is because, of course, the unique mission that they have and the very complex situation within which they operate makes it necessary

to have such a strong set of rules.

Nevertheless, considering all the challenges that they face because of that situation, because of that complexity, not to mention even the ongoing

crisis for the last six months, makes that so many challenges for neutrality arise that some improvement may be needed, in my opinion, is

needed, and this is why we made 50 recommendations across eight major areas going from, you know staff neutrality to installations, neutrality to staff

unions, which is a big question or educational.

You know, eight pillars, 50 recommendations. We want to be clear, direct, up to the point for helping UNRWA implementing these 50 recommendations to

better deliver on its mission and to better address the question, the difficult question of how to maintain neutrality in such an environment.

AMANPOUR: So, let me read just a little bit from the final report. "Despite this robust framework, neutrality-related issues persist. They

include instances of staff publicly expressing political views host-country textbooks with problematic content being used in some UNRWA schools, and

politicized staff unions making threats against UNRWA management and causing operational disruptions."

Can you just address those three points that you've laid out in that paragraph and what you recommend?

COLONNA: Unfortunately, this happened, you know, in the past. This is not new actually, but it needs to be fixed. It needs to be addressed. It's

extremely difficult for the staff. And most of the staff is local staff. To be, you know, absolutely neutral in such a difficult environment, but they

have to.

As U.N. employees, they have to abide by the principle of neutrality for the sake of helping the agency to deliver on its mission. This is, you

know, a built-in precondition. Sometimes they fail to do that. The issue of textbook is a longstanding issue. There have been improvements in the

recent years, and they are welcome, but they must go on.

There's a marginal percentage of the contents within textbooks that is not acceptable, whether it's promoting, you know, hatred or incitation to

violence, or sometimes antisemitism. This is not acceptable in an in-house school. This is not what we what kids should be taught anyway. So, we

recommend to just stop using such toxic material and to reform the textbooks industry with the P.A., with the host countries.

And the issue of self-union causing sometimes operational disruptions or threats to the management is another well-known issue. It doesn't happen

that often, but it is so unacceptable. And this is not the role of a staff union, staff unions represent the staff, the interest of the staff, the

protection of the staff, not turn into political organizations or being influenced by political factions and sometimes, you know, armed groups or

taking sides into other activities.

They should reform the staff union system within UNRWA just to align it to the -- you know, the rest of the U.N. staff union system. So, this is a

recommendation we made among so many.

AMANPOUR: So, the UNRWA chief, Philippe Lazzarini, said that he welcomes the findings and the recommendations. He posted the following, safeguarding

the agency's neutrality is central to our ability to continue delivering lifesaving aid in Gaza, plus education and primary health services across

the region. The report confirms that the agency has the systems in place, and that it acts to address allegations of neutrality breaches.

So, have you found UNRWA forthcoming and agreeing that some of these issues do need to be further taken care of?


COLONNA: Well, I think it's very important that we were given this mission at this particular moment, where support for UNRWA is needed, both, you

know, financial but also political support from member states, from the International Community.

What UNRWA does is absolutely indispensable and irreplaceable in the absence of a political solution. UNRWA -- the mission of UNRWA is to

deliver services to Palestine refugees, and nobody else is doing it. For the time being, at least, they are the only ones with the capacity on the

ground to deliver those basic services, health, education, basic, you know, day-to-day services for population in need.

So, this is the global picture. And we must not forget that fact. It is a fact. It is a reality. And if you miss to repeat and to understand that

fact you miss the global picture. Within the pictures, there are some challenges and there are some difficulties for now to address these

challenges. Implementing these recommendations will help the organization to deliver.

And I was extremely pleased to see first the secretary-general of the United Nations yesterday welcoming all the recommendations of the report

and endorsing them, you know, fully and requesting the commissioner general, Philippe Lazzarini, to do the same and to present a plan of

implementation, and this is what it will do. It reacted very quickly. It reacted positively. It's working on it. And if I quote him correctly, he

says, "He will work on it without delay."

AMANPOUR: Catherine Colonna, let me just read you what the -- so far, the only public response from Israel has been. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

spokesman on a post. The problem with UNRWA Gaza isn't that of a few bad apples. It is a rotten and poisonous tree whose roots are Hamas. The

Colonna report ignores the severity of the problem and offers cosmetic solutions that do not deal with the enormous scope of Hamas infiltration of

UNRWA. This is not what a genuine and thorough review looks like. This is what an effort to avoid the problem and not address it head on looks like.

What is your comment to that?

COLONNA: Well, we've already heard that when we visited Israel, you know, I've been there, I've been elsewhere in the region. And by the way, we had

full cooperation from Israel and from all parties and I thank them for that. It helped us during our review and our report.

The public views of the government of Israel are what you just quoted, you know, it is public, it is well-known, they have strong views about UNRWA. I

just add that the vast majority of the International Community do not share his views and I do not either, based on the fact that UNRWA delivers an

indispensable and irreplaceable service, I repeat, based on its mandate by the 1949 resolution.

Now you can say, well, 75 years later, we're still there. Yes, very unfortunately, we're still there. And a political solution would be the

best solution to move ahead. And have a two-state solution, ensuring peace and security for both people is what we should be looking for. So, beyond

helping UNRWA in its mission, really, the International Community should work harder for a political solution. It is urgently needed. And this is

what we should look for.

AMANPOUR: Former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, thank you so much.

COLONNA: Thank you. Thank you so much, Christiane. Thanks.

AMANPOUR: Meantime, the State Department has raised concerns about the conflict in Gaza in its annual report on human rights. Antony Blinken

called it "deeply troubling," and noted allegations of war crimes by both Israel and Hamas. This comes as a mass grave containing over 300 bodies has

been uncovered at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Correspondent Nada Bashir reports on the intense grief amongst the survivors. And of course, this

story is difficult to watch.


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the last 10 days, this mother has returned to Gaza's Nasser Hospital, searching desperately for

the body of her 24-year-old daughter, Kalthar (ph). She had been buried at this makeshift gravesite in January. Now, she's her body is missing.

The Israelis turned the hospital upside down, she says. They dug up all the dead bodies and moved them around.


These are the shrouded corpses of those retrieved from a newly discovered mass grave in Khan Younis. More than 300 bodies have recovered so far,

according to Gaza's civil defense, but the search is still ongoing.

This is a crime against humanity, Dr. Al Marhaya (ph) says. How could the Israeli occupation forces dig up these graves and mishandle the bodies of

our martyrs? In some cases, they even opened and removed the bodies from their bags even though their names had been marked on them.

Many of the bodies recovered here were buried by relatives or medics on the hospital's grounds in January as a temporary measure.

Israel's relentless bombardment of the southern city making it too difficult to carry out a traditional burial. Following the IDF's withdrawal

from Khan Younis, families returned in the hope of finally laying their loved ones to rest. Only to find that their bodies had been exhumed by the

Israeli military, according to civil defense officials, and discarded in this nearby mass grave.

I still haven't found my son Khalil's (ph) body, this father says. We'd buried him over there, but we can't find him anymore. We just want to give

him a dignified burial.

According to Gaza's civil defense chief, some bodies have been discovered with their hands tied together. An indication, he says, that these may be

the victims of alleged field executions. Though CNN is unable to verify such claims, and cannot confirm the causes of death among the bodies being


But this would not be the first-time graves have been disturbed by the Israeli military. The IDF previously acknowledging that its forces have

exhumed graves in Gaza in order to carry out DNA tests to identify potential hostages.

This man points to the palm tree, beside which his brother, Alaa (ph), had been buried. Two weeks on and his body has still not been found.

Under international humanitarian law, graves must, in times of war, be respected, properly maintained and marked so they may always be found. But

in Gaza, the Palestinian people have been robbed of their dignity, even in death.


AMANPOUR: Nada Bashir reporting there. And the IDF says the claim that Israeli troops buried scores of Palestinian bodies in a mass grave is

"baseless and unfounded," saying bodies buried at Nasser Hospital were examined and returned to their place.

Of course, in addition, the horrific and soaring death toll inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza, we remember that estimated -- an estimated 133

Israeli hostages remain in Hamas captivity there.

With the eyes of the world on the Middle East, we turn now to a forgotten conflict and its aftermath. For decades, the ethnic Armenian enclave of

Nagorno-Karabakh resisted rule by Azerbaijan. Then, last September, Azerbaijan surprised the world by taking control of the enclave in just one

day. A seemingly intractable conflict suddenly ended by force, resulting in mass displacement. More than 100,000 people were forced to flee into


A few were detained, including the former leader of Nagorno-Karabakh, Ruben Vardanyan. Once a wealthy oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin,

Vardanyan renounced his Russian citizenship in 2022 and moved to Nagorno- Karabakh, becoming the equivalent of prime minister. Now, he's behind bars in Baku. Azerbaijan accuses him of financing terrorism. He's gone on hunger

strike, protesting the delay of his trial.

Today it's announced that Armenia and Azerbaijan will start fixing their borders as part of normalization efforts. Tomorrow is Remembrance Day amid

the biggest displacement of Armenians since the genocide 109 years ago.

Ruben Vardanyan's son David is joining me now from Dubai. David, thank you for being with us. And we're discussing a crucial part of essentially

Central Asia and your father's predicament. So, start off by telling me when was the last time you heard any news, what is his condition,

particularly since starting a hunger strike?

DAVID VARDANYAN, FATHER BEING HELD BY AZERBAIJAN GOVERNMENT: First of all, thank you so much, Christiane, for this opportunity. It means a lot for us

as a family, but also for all the Armenians who have suffered at the hands of oppressors 109 years ago. And unfortunately, this has happened again in

the 21st century. So, it truly means a lot for you to provide this platform for us to speak.


My father, Ruben Vardanyan, was illegally detained over 200 days ago now, and before that suffered a nine-month blockade together with 120,000 ethnic

Armenians. Personally, I have only spoken to him once since his detainment in November. However, previously, he had been able to call my mother once a

week every Tuesday.

However, since April 2nd, we have not heard his voice and grew increasingly alarmed about his condition. Considering his prominence as the -- an

Armenian philanthropist and his outspoken position on the rights of 120,000 ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. And unfortunately, and tragically, we

found out that he had been on a hunger strike since April 5th, only at the end of last week, with my father clearly denied any contact with the

outside world. We believe specifically for the reason to silence his protest, which is the reason why he launched the hunger strike.

However, we had, on Saturday, his sister, my aunt, had received a phone call very unusually on a weekend from him where he say -- said certain

things that were even more concerning to us, namely that he had been moved to a full isolation cell, meaning his conditions of imprisonment have even

worsened since before he started his hunger strike.

Secondly, he told her that he has only his blood pressure measured once a day, meaning, you know, for someone who has been on hunger strike for

almost 20 days now, it's -- we cannot even call this any medical treatment that he has provided.

And finally, he said at the end of the phone call a phrase that really, really troubled us where he said that he understood the laureates of the

Aurora Prize, which he co-founded, much better all those who risked their lives to save others. And he said, now, I understand that values and

principles are more important than life itself.

AMANPOUR: So, that troubled you because you thought he was telegraphing that his life is in danger. Yes.

VARDANYAN: That is correct. And we believe that, knowing my father, Ruben, he has always stood up for the rights of the ethnic Armenians. That has

always been his core belief that Azerbaijan and Armenia are neighbors, of course, and we must coexist together. But it cannot happen when one is the

oppressor and the other is the oppressed.

And his fight for the rights of those ethnic Armenians who have become refugees in a matter of days, as you said it previously, has been a matter

that's more important than his own life. That he's willing to die for.

AMANPOUR: I mean, it's obviously very difficult for you to speak about this and come to terms with that. But just to put what the Azerbaijanis

say, he was charged with financing terrorism and establishing armed groups. But he himself is demanding a speedy and transparent trial.

Now, we did, you know, try to contact -- we did contact the Azerbaijan embassy here, but haven't heard back from them. What is the status? He's

obviously gone on hunger strike over the fact that the trial is -- where is it? Is there any trial? Has it started? What is the status of that?

VARDANYAN: Christiane, this is what concerns us so much, that there has been a complete lack of transparency on the process that is ongoing. So, he

has been accused without any evidence or any proof of really serious crimes, although everyone knows that he has been a philanthropist his whole

life. He has invested over $1.5 billion together with his partners in the development of Armenia and actually humanitarian projects around the world.

And actually, he -- even in Artsakh, he invested not only in the restoration of churches and cultural monuments, but also of a Shia Mosque,

which shows his philosophy of life. So -- that he believed that the only way to achieve peace is to respect each other's cultures and histories.

However, about his process, unfortunately, we have no information about or what the current status is of the prosecution's office. The trial was

supposed to happen in January. However, arbitrarily, the trial date was moved again, and it was supposed to happen in May now. However, as we

understand, there is absolutely no guarantees that we will be able to have a trial in May as well because it can be unilaterally postponed.

And the demand that our family has is, A, that all Armenian prisoners are released. But if the trial does happen, that he did not recognize, but if

it does happen, it must happen as soon as possible because he would believe he's innocent of any crimes that he is -- his crew told about.



VARDANYAN: And finally, that it has to have international observers.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, because your father has a complicated past. Let's just put it in context, Azerbaijan backed by Turkey, Armenia backed by

Russia and the previous Soviet Union. This, you know, takeover of Nagorno- Karabakh by Azerbaijan happened with no resistance and no opposition from Putin. But your dad did have a -- or what was said to be close to President

Putin, even though he renounced his Russian citizenship in 2022.

And as you know, he is -- has been placed on the Ukrainian government's list of sanctioned people because of his role as a board member in a

Russian air cargo company. So, these are all, you know, complicated links. Do you think any of that led to, you know, him being persecuted by any

number of people who had political or other issues with him?

VARDANYAN: You know, before the conflict in Artsakh and the war that happened in 2020, my father had always stayed out of politics and was a

businessman at first and then a philanthropist, as I said, who co-founded, you know, international prizes, such as the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative,

United World College in Armenia as well. And he was never interested in participating in any of the political situations that were happening there.

However, for him, the red line, as he said, was the suffering of the 120,000 Armenians who were basically abandoned by the world after the 2020

war. And he saw that the situation was so dire that he risked everything that he had, including his own safety and the safety of his family to move

to Artsakh.

It was -- and when I spoke with him last in August 2022 in person, I could see that it was a completely emotional and in some ways decision that was

motivated completely by his values.

AMANPOUR: David, I just want to point out that you -- you know, you, every time I say Nagorno-Karabakh, you use the local word for it, just in case

people are confused about that.

But I want to ask you about the United States. David Ignatius in "The Washington Post" last month said, the United States is focused on a broader

peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Also, he notes, it's caught in a difficult position. "The Biden administration, like its predecessors, has

been caught between sympathy for the Armenian cause and its ties to Turkey, a NATO ally, and to Azerbaijan, a useful partner against Iran."

Do you agree that, you know, part of your personal and family dilemma is caught up in this realpolitik, so to speak?

VARDANYAN: Yes. Unfortunately, we live in such a complicated world today, not just in the south caucuses, but as you highlight as well, around the

world, it seems like we're facing new crisis every week. And I understand that, obviously, geopolitics is coming to the forefront. However, it is my

sincere hope that we do not abandon our, you know, search for values and our strive to preserve, you know, human rights and basic principles despite

all the difficulties that we're facing today, and the same goes for the discussions that are happening between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

I believe that the issue of the Armenian prisoners, not just my father, but seven other political prisoners and also, you know, countless other

prisoners of war who are being held in Baku. This is not a matter of politics, it's actually a matter of human decency and dignity.

AMANPOUR: David Vardanyan, thank you so much indeed. And as we speak to you, we note that it is tomorrow, Remembrance Day, 109 years since the 1915

Armenian Genocide.

And next we turn to Doris Kearns Goodwin, the presidential historian famed for her captivating biographies of American leaders. In her new book, she

focuses on an unlikely character, herself. Called "An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s," it is part memoir and part

history. Taking her readers on an incredible journey, the one she and her writer husband embarked upon in the last years of his life, to make fresh

assessments of the central figures of the 1960s. And she tells Walter Isaacson all about it next.


WALTER ISAACSON, CO-HOST, AMANPOUR AND CO.: Thank you, Christiane. And Doris Kearns Goodwin, welcome to the show.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, AUTHOR, "AN UNFINISHED LOVE STORY": Oh, I'm so glad to be on with you, Walter, my old friend.

ISAACSON: Good to see you. You know, this is called "An Unfinished Love Story." And it's about your love story with Richard Goodwin, who became

your husband, famous speechwriter for Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy. It's also an unfinished love story about America and the optimism and the youth

of America.


But let's start at the beginning of that love story. As you know, in the early 1970s, I was a student at Harvard in that little yellow house on

Mount Auburn Street. And one day, we were all eating sandwiches from Elsie's Lunch (ph). And a buzz goes through that Dick Goodwin has arrived

in the building. You had an office on the second floor. He goes up to the second floor. This is how your book begins. Tell me about that.

GOODWIN: You know, we were excited at the idea. We had heard that Dick Goodwin was coming. He was going to have an office in the same building as

all of us. We were young graduate students and young assistant professors, some of us, and he was coming to spend months in this place. And we'd heard

that he was mercurial and arrogant and brash and brilliant. So, I couldn't wait to meet him.

And I was sitting in my office on that second floor. And suddenly, he just came in and plopped down on one of the seats for my two tees. And he said,

so, you're a graduate student, right? I said, no, no, I'm an assistant professor. And I told him I was teaching courses. And he, of course, knew

who I was. And he said, I know who you are. You worked for Lyndon after I did.

And we started talking that afternoon about everything, about LBJ, about JFK, about sex, about astronomy, about science, about the beleaguered Red

Sox, and the conversation continued until dinner that night. And it really never stopped for 42 years.

I knew that day I went home and told my friends, Arthur and Patty Siegel, who were my students at one point, that I met the man I wanted to marry.

So, something happened that night.

ISAACSON: And when he is getting older and you all conceive of the project of this book, tell me how this book started.

GOODWIN: Well, it really began after he had turned 80. He came down the stairs one morning singing from Oklahoma, oh, what a beautiful morning. And

he was in such a good mood because he'd finally decided to open these 300 boxes that he had really schlepped around with us for 40 years that were a

time capsule of the 1960s.

And he decided that if he was going to have any wisdom to dispense, this is the way he would talk, I better start dispensing now. And so, that meant

that the project that. really occupied the last few years of his life and our life together was to start exploring these boxes from the beginning to

the end.

The reason he had not wanted to open them for all those years, even though he was caring for them so deeply, was that the '60s had ended so sadly,

with the deaths of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, who was his close friend, the escalating war in Vietnam, the riots in the cities and the

campus violence that he just wanted to look ahead instead of backward.

But once we decided that we would meet every weekend, we have both had other things we were doing, but we'd start exploring the boxes from the

beginning, from the late '50s and the '60s. And that's the way, as you know, Walter, as an historian, you have to do history without knowing how

it's going to end or the whole suspense of the people who are living at the time will be lost.

So, we just had to put in suspense that we knew sad things would happen later and just begin as if he's a young person going to Harvard, going to

Frankfurter, and I'm going along on the ride with him. A little bit younger than him, but it's my decade as well.

ISAACSON: You helped pioneer the genre of narrative nonfiction. In other words, wonderfully research nonfiction that reads like a novel or

screenplay. With this book, it seems to me you're almost inventing a new genre, because it's not just narrative nonfiction, not just biography, but

there's a treasure hunt in it.

You take us along as a historian and say, here's how I pulled this document out of the archives, and here's how I interviewed some people related to

it. So, it's almost a book on how to write history and how to have fun doing it.

GOODWIN: Yes, I think it was something that I wasn't sure what it was going to be at the beginning. When Dick and I first started going through

the boxes, I was going to help him to write a book about it. It would have been in his voice, but then once he died, of course, that was impossible.

And I promised him I would somehow finish it, but I wasn't sure how I could do it without him there. And that took a little bit of time to absorb.

Then I finally realized that I had to be an historian writing it, just like I wrote my other books. Even though it was a more intimate history, it also

was a history of the '60s, and I decided there were certain paths of things that were unresolved from his experiences and mine. And I wanted to

interview those people, as you say, so I could get a chorus, because the 1960s generation, my generation, beginning to fade, I wanted to be able to

get their voices in. So, it became this unusual combination of biography and history and memoir. So, I was inventing it as I was going along.

ISAACSON: One of the sparkling things in the book is the idealism that wove through the '60s and '70s and in some ways in the book, historically,

it begins with the Kennedy campaign. And there's a moment that your husband, Dick Goodwin, is involved with the Peace Corps, suddenly comes

into people's minds. Explain that to me.


GOODWIN: Yes, it was really one of the moments that was so much fun. I'd read about it as a historian, but to see it through the eyes of a front row

person who was there, John Kennedy, in October, is going, during the campaign in 1960, to the University of Michigan just to sleep for that

night at the union because he's going to have a whistle stop tour the next day of the state.

But he gets there at 2:00 in the morning and there's an entire crowd of 10,000 kids from the university waiting for him. So, he knew he had to

speak to them. No speech had been prepared. So, he just simply gave a series of remarks that lasted only three minutes. And he talked about the

fact that -- he asked them questions. Would you be willing to spend a couple of years of your life as potential doctors or engineers or social

workers going to another developing country like Ghana and helping them and thus, helping America by showing in this Cold War, showing what American

volunteerism can do? And the kids responded immediately. And then he went away.

And he went -- he said, OK, it's time for me to go to sleep. They all laughed. And then, the children, the young adults took up that challenge.

And I interviewed two of them, the Ruskins (ph), Al and Judith, and they got a pledge signed by a thousand of the kids saying, we'll be willing to

give two or three years of our lives to this nonexistent Peace Corps. The name was not even mentioned that night.

And then, Ted Sorensen and Dick got a hold of the idea that they had done this and brought the kids, came to meet JFK. And then the Peace Corps was

born at that point. So -- and it was really a signature, I think, of the JFK program. Just it follows his whole inaugural later, you know, ask not

what the country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

And that idea that young children wanted to be -- young adults wanted to be part of an idealistic movement of America abroad, I think really set the

tone for some part of that idealism of the '60s, which of course is meshed with all sorts of problems as well as idealism.

ISAACSON: Looming at the center of this book is the Shakespearean character Lyndon Baines Johnson. And in some ways, it's a source of tension

in your marriage. Your first great book was Lyndon -- "LBJ and the American Dream." You worked at the LBJ White House. Your husband Dick was more

partial to the Kennedy side, even having worked for Lyndon Johnson. Tell me, I think you say in the book, tremors from this division ran through our

marriage. Tell me about that.

GOODWIN: Yes, it really was true. I mean, his loyalty, I think, because of having started as a young man. He was only 28 when he went to work in the

Kennedy campaign, and he worked for JFK and the White House, you know, was in the White House the night that the body was brought back, helped to get

the eternal flame, was very close to Jackie Kennedy, worked on a series of projects with her, has saving the Egyptian monuments. They were under

threat from the Aswan Dam project.

And then did the dinner in Camelot where the Nobel Prize winners were all there together. And he felt a sense of this was the beginnings of his whole

career, and then he later got very close to Bobby Kennedy. So, he had retained that loyalty to them.

I felt the loyalty to Lyndon Johnson because, in many ways, that experience of having been a White House fellow in the White House working for him, but

more importantly, helping him on his memoirs, the last years of his life, when he talked to me and talked to me and talked to me and never stopped

talking and really gave me the foundation for my first book on "Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream," which really was the beginning of my being

a presidential historian.

So, even though I knew his flaws, just as he knew John Kennedy's flaws or Robert Kennedy's flaws, we had basic loyalties to two different people. And

there was a fault line between those two people for much of that decade. Sadly, it didn't have to be that way theoretically, but it certainly was,

especially between Bobby and LBJ.

So, there was an irritant whenever we talked about them. I would constantly be saying, well, Johnson's the only one that got the bills through that

Kennedy wanted to get through. And he'd say, well, Kennedy had the vision. And we finally came to understand, really, as he went through the boxes

that related to LBJ, that in many ways, he's really the heart of the book in many ways Johnson is. He's the core of the great success that took place

in the '60s, was in '64 and '65 with civil rights and voting rights. Dick's greatest contributions to public life came during that period.

It was just that he had broken with him on the war. And then Johnson had broken back with him. And there was resentments toward the man that he had

truly loved during that period of time. And slowly, he began to remember what those moments were like.

So, in those last years, he softened his feelings so gladly toward LBJ. He said, oh, my God, I'm feeling affection for the old guy again. And I began

to realize more of the inspirational power of JFK. So, we came to a meeting that they really were two sides of the same coin, that both legacies were

enlarged because of each other.


ISAACSON: And then there's a scene in your book that's sort of a head snapping scene in the White House swimming pool with your husband, Dick

Goodwin, as Lyndon Johnson paddles around. And it's such an absurd scene, but out of that scene comes something transformational.

GOODWIN: You're absolutely right. I mean, it's just that that's often true with Lyndon Johnson. You know, there's so many different sides to him. Bill

Moyers once said there were 13 LBJs, and you might see him in a crazy situation, you might see him so serious, you might see him, you know,

hurting somebody, then being so compassionate.

But this was just a funny scene. Moyers called Dick and said, well, Johnson wants to meet with us to talk about his vision for his program. Now, the

civil rights bill was getting through, the tax cut had gotten through, and he wanted a Johnson program, so we got to go meet him. So, Dick said, are

we going to the Oval? No, no, we're going to the White House pool.

They get there, Johnson's already paddling naked around the pool. They're sitting there and they're standing there in their suits. Well, I guess we

just take them off and the three of them are now naked in the pool, paddling up and down with Johnson declaring, this is what I want to do for

my program. And then, it was Dick's responsibility to write a speech embodying those thoughts after they'd done a lot of research about what

issues should be part of them.

And then finally, it became a capital speech, "The Great society." So, it's an unusual way to begin, three naked guys in the pool coming up with "The

Great Society."

ISAACSON: You talk about Dick Goodwin having helped with "The Great Society" speech. It's a very soaring speech, but there's also some lines in

that speech that are personal about Lyndon Johnson, about the little kids he taught down in Texas when he was a teacher.


LYNDON JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a

young child. I never thought then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in 1965. It never even occurred to me in my fondest dreams that I might

have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students and to help people like them all over this country. But now, I do have that

chance. And I'll let you in on a secret. I mean to use it.


ISAACSON: Tell me how ingrained in Lyndon Johnson were those feelings about kids growing up in poverty and was that something he added to the

speech or did Dick put that in?

GOODWIN: No, clearly what happened is that, you know, as a speechwriter, you were, in those days, in the West Wing, you listened to Lyndon Johnson

talk a lot, and Dick had gone to the ranch several times and talked to him. And constantly, Johnson would talk about this experience that you


That was, I think, a formative experience for him. That if he ever got the power, he wanted to be able to use it to help not only those kids,

obviously, and their children and grandchildren, but other people like them who suffered from prejudice and hunger. And it was really in the Selma

speech that he inserted the business about Cthulhu (ph).

He talked about it long before that in '64 and '65, but after he had gone through the great Selma speech, where He was talking about the importance

of voting rights for black Americans. He then said that, even if we get voting rights, which he hoped they would get from that joint session speech

after the Selma Bridge incident had happened and fired the conscience of the country, there's still a long way to go before we get the full

blessings to black Americans. And -- but if we come together, we shall overcome.

And that was a moment almost as electric as the moment where he used the phrase, we shall overcome the banner of the civil rights movement. Bringing

it to the highest councils of power in the presidency. And I think Johnson had a deep, deep conviction about the importance of having everyone have a

chance to rise in the system. It's what Lincoln talked about constantly that a democracy dependent upon the fact that everybody should be able to

rise to the level of their talent and discipline.

And you can't put more talent in a person, you can't make them work harder, but they should have the chance, if they can, to go as far as they can. And

that was Lyndon Johnson's mantra as well. And it was Dick's as well, in the same sense. And I think mine probably too.

ISAACSON: Less than two years after the speech that Dick writes, using the phrase, we shall overcome, for Johnson to deliver after the Selma march,

Dick is out in the streets protesting against Lyndon Johnson. What happened?

GOODWIN: Yes. As he said, when he was standing in the well of the House the night that Johnson delivered the "We Shall Overcome" speech, and he was

so heartened by it, not just because they were the words that he had helped to give to Johnson, but more importantly, he knew the Voting Rights Act

would probably pass, just as Martin Luther King did that night.

It was said that Martin Luther King cried in Selma when he listened to that speech, knowing that this probably would help to make the public sentiment

change in the country and allow that voting rights bill to come through. Dick said that night, never could I have imagined, as you say, that two

years later I'd be out in the streets against him.


After he left in the fall of 1965, he had been upset about the increasing focus toward the war away from the great society while he was there, but it

was only when he got out that he began to really look at the war from the outside in, and he became the first administrative person at a high level

in 1966 to give an antiwar speech against the war.

And he then got friendly with Bobby Kennedy. And Bobby Kennedy was turning more against the war. And then Lyndon Johnson broke with him at the same

time. And that's really what created the resentments that lasted the rest of their lives. It was a sad ending to this relationship that had been most

important during that period of time.

ISAACSON: This book, "An Unfinished Love Story," is an unfinished love story about Dick Goodwin, but it's also an unfinished love story about you

and him and America and America's idealism. When you're starting to work on this book, Dick writes for you this sentence, from the long view of life, I

see how history turns and veers. The end of our country has loomed many times before, but America is not as fragile as it seems.

This week, this month, this year, do you still believe that?

GOODWIN: I do. I mean, I think one of the great benefits of being an historian, the solace that you get from it, the perspective you get from

it, the reflections you get from it, is that when you look back at these other times, and I've chosen to write about people who lived in turbulent


I mean, Lincoln and the Civil War, obviously the Great Depression and world -- the early days of World War II. And in each one of those cases, the

people living at that time were very anxious about whether or not democracy was fit -- was fragile and would be undone. So, we've been through these

things before.

The people living at the time were anxious, like we're anxious now, not knowing how this chapter in our life is going to end. But each time,

somehow, the combination of leadership and the combination of citizens.

I mean, when Lincoln was called a liberator, he said, don't call me that. It was the anti-slavery movement that did it all. And the progressive

movement was there before Teddy Roosevelt, the union movement before FDR, and obviously, the civil rights movement before LBJ.

So, we've come through these hard times before, and you just got to hope that somehow, we'll work our way through this very difficult time as

difficult as any time that I've lived through. But you just know that we've done it before and hopefully, we'll be able to do it again.

ISAACSON: Doris Kearns Goodwin, thank you so much for joining the show.

GOODWIN: Thank you so much, Walter.


AMANPOUR: Difficult times indeed. And finally, tonight, we shine a spotlight on a symbol of patriotism and defiance through art and culture.

The first Ukrainian maestro at the Metropolitan Opera, Oksana Lyniv, is a classical music trailblazer. Right now, she's conducting Puccini's

"Turandot" at the legendary New York Opera House. But this remarkable professional achievement comes at a time of great personal cost, as

Russia's invasion ravages her hometown, Odessa, and the whole country, putting her family and friends in danger.

Speaking with her at the Met, I asked about this experience, and why promoting Ukrainian culture is so important to the war effort.


AMANPOUR: Oksana Lyniv, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: What does it mean to you to be the first Ukrainian conductor to step onto the Metropolitan stage?

LYNIV: It is absolutely exciting. I feel very honored to be the first Ukrainian conductor in 141 years of Metropolitan Theatre history and to be

a part of this legendary and historical Zeffirelli production of "Turandot."




AMANPOUR: Is "Turandot" a favorite of yours?

LYNIV: Yes, it's one of my favorite operas. In general, I love to conduct Puccini, and "Turandot" is the last one, and maybe most significant because

the composer even didn't finish the opera. He died already before, and it was finished by other composers.

AMANPOUR: And what does it mean to you, given the fact that there's a horrible war raging in your homeland, to you to be here, and what do you

hope the audience and even the choir and the performers to take from this moment in history?

LYNIV: Yes, this terrible war makes us suffer with all together people in Ukraine. Even though I am abroad, but my family is Ukraine, all my friends,

all my colleagues are in Ukraine. My first "Turandot" I conducted in National Opera Odessa. And of course, on my debut night, of course I was

thinking and I was thinking about this incredible experience and about the terrified conditions, which now all musicians are suffering with.


And I have to say that fighting for the freedom makes us to feel everything deeper, everything more emotionally. And I would like, through my music,

through my arts, make people also to understand, because art is about humanity, and I would like with our arts also to educate and to do some

impact for the future generations.

AMANPOUR: And you said Odessa, and we all know there was a missile attack by Russia on Odessa very close to the opera house there.

LYNIV: Yes, and it was on 2nd of March. Exactly on the day when I conducted here, my second night of "Turandot." And of course, I was

conducting and I had tears in my eyes. And, for example, in my future concert, I already commissioned the piece to Ukrainian composer, Evgeni

Orkin, and I'm going to premiere this in Denmark and it will call five interrupted lullabies dedicated to five innocent children who died in that


AMANPOUR: Five interrupted lullabies, it's a very evocative title. And do you still like Russian music, or is it a no, no now, Russian opera?

LYNIV: There are many discussions now in Ukraine. In Ukraine, no one orchestra or theatre or artist is performing Russian music like

Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Prokofiev. But now, I am also stepping into big discussion to say that all artists who is working internationally have to

accept. And of course, I'm also accepting because I feel myself also absolutely European that right that the artist, for example, the genius

Tchaikovsky, who died 150 years ago, has nothing to do with that crimes, which is doing now Russian governments.

And also, many composers had a very clear -- very close connection to Ukraine. For example, both parents of Stravinsky, they are Ukrainian and he

composed his "Sacre Du Printemps" in Ukraine using Ukrainian melodies. The same with Prokofiev, who was born in Donetsk, and now that territories are

occupied already by Russian troops.

So, I think that the world, we have to protect the world heritage. But my dream is, and I am working actively for this, that Ukrainian unknown music

until now, because Ukrainian culture was always also under the pressure of imperialistic Russian governments and politics, that Ukrainian culture will

spread more in the world. And I am also -- in any concert, in any different continents, I am also doing and performing Ukrainian composers.

AMANPOUR: When you were growing up, were there many female Ukrainian conductors that you could look to as an example?

LYNIV: No, absolutely not. When I entered to the Lviv Music Academy, I was only single woman.

AMANPOUR: You're the only one there.

LYNIV: Yes, I was only one. And next year was another second one. She is now working in Lviv National Opera House. But I am very happy to see the

development now and they're becoming more and more fantastic women conductors. And especially now in New York at the Metropolitan Opera, we --

female conductor, we are dominant in majority to male conductors.

AMANPOUR: That's amazing.


AMANPOUR: What would you like your audiences to know about your country now?

LYNIV: I just want to say that the war, it is not about politicians, about territory, about to see the news in the TV. The war is about human, about

people, about families, about lost childhood. And it is terrible to see every day it can happen that more and more innocent people are dying

because Russia is doing that terrified action just to bomb civilian cities.

And I just would like to say thank you, especially also to all American people for your help to Ukraine, because I think that American can

understand what is such important values as freedom. And I just want to thank you for your solidarity and want to say that please don't lose the

hope also to continue to help us.

AMANPOUR: And actually, this war has world much more Ukrainian culture, dance, music, art. It's an interesting byproduct of this terrible war.

Oksana, thank you so much indeed.

LYNIV: Thank you so much.




AMANPOUR: Magnificent indeed. And "Turandot" runs until June 7th at the Met.

That's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can always find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember, you can

always catch us online, on our website, and all across social media.

Thanks for watching. And what we want to do is leave you with a little bit more of Oksana's conducting the incredible "Turandot" at the Met.