Jill Stein on War & Peace
Green Party presidential nominee; Former Challenger for MA Governor
STEIN: U.S. foreign policy based on regime-change and military intervention has been an utter disaster. It is exhausting our budget; it takes up 54 percent of our discretionary budget for a defense department, which is truly an offense department, and it takes almost half of your income taxes. And what do we have to show for it?
Q: How are you going to pull the troops back in a way that, for instance, won't allow Iraq to collapse? Obama promised to pull the troops back, tried to do it, got sucked in again.
STEIN: Well, right. Shouldn't have been in there in the first place. We are bombing seven countries right now. Yesterday we fired missiles at Yemen. I mean, there is no end to U.S. incursions. We have this terrific power of militarism, and we're doing it all over the place. So here's the solution: We need a weapons embargo in the Middle East, and we need to freeze the bank accounts of those countries who insist on funding terrorist extremism.
Hillary Clinton: I intend to defeat ISIS to do so in a coalition with majority Muslim nations.
Jill Stein: If we want peace at home we need peace abroad. It's despicable for Trump to bash Muslims and Hillary to bomb them overseas.
DR. JILL STEIN: Let's be mindful here of Secretary Clinton's track record. Was the invasion of Libya an example of how we lead with strength consistent with our values? It would be hard to imagine a more catastrophic war than what took place in Libya, that helped strengthen ISIS, that helped release an incredible stockpile of weapons, further inflaming the crisis and the violence in the Middle East. Clinton has said she would like to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, which basically means we are going to war with Russia, [who fly in that airspace].
Instead of spending a trillion dollars creating a new generation of nuclear weapons and modes of delivery, it's time to instead change direction here and move as quickly as humanly possible towards nuclear disarmament. And instead of blaming the Russians, we need to acknowledge it was actually the Russians who tried to engage us in a nuclear disarmament process, again, several decades ago. We need to revive that proposal, take them up on it and move to nuclear disarmament as quickly as we possibly can.
STEIN: Well, criminal? Does it violate international law? Yes. I think it does violate international law.
Q: What violates international law?
STEIN: For example, sending in the troops to Libya. Sending in the troops to Iraq for that matter. I think the criteria for invading other countries is that we need to be under imminent threat. And I think it would be hard to establish that we were under imminent threat, say, in Libya. Or in Iraq for that matter. I would argue that this is not consistent with international law or human rights, and that that should be the basis of our foreign policy going forward. We're proposing essentially a weapons embargo, a freeze on the bank accounts of countries who continue to fund terrorist enterprises and also we call on allies like Turkey to close their borders to the movement of jihadi groups.
The current foreign policy isn't working out so well for us. We've spend $6 trillion since September 11, 2001, on these wars for oil or wars on terror, whatever you call them. A million people have been killed in Iraq alone, and that isn't winning the hearts and minds of people in the Middle East, to say the least. And we have killed or wounded tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers. What do we have to show for it? Failed states and a mass refugee crisis.
And with each new front in this war in the Middle East, we are creating worse terrorist threats.
Stein was referring to the US-backed overthrow of the democratically elected Mohammed Mosaddegh, a reformer who began nationalizing the country's oil industry. That action, argued Stein, paved the way for his government's eventual toppling by the CIA: "We overthrew Mosaddegh and substituted the shah. That resulted in a tyrannical regime, which was then overthrown [by people]."
Iran wanted a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, Stein pointed out. She added that such a zone could be a "stepping stone to worldwide disarmament." "Fortunately things have mellowed on both sides" of the conflict between the US and Iran, Stein said. "There's an enormous potential for engagement and peace."
Part of that conflict's resolution is based in the nuclear agreement reached in July of 2015. Although Stein believes that the "issue of the nuclear threat was concocted" by the US, she welcomes the potential for nuclear disarmament and a nuclear free zone in the Middle East as a whole.
STEIN: I became very involved in the antiwar movement in high school & sort of had that combat in my household. They weren't quite ready to go there.
Q: So they supported the Vietnam War?
STEIN: Yes. They were clueless about the Vietnam War. And they considered themselves reliable, faithful, patriotic Americans. So of course they supported the war. You know, they were not into questioning things.
Q: And how much were your parents children of the Cold War?
STEIN: No, they were not--they were sufficiently apolitical that they really didn't tune in to sort of international anti-communist issues and so on.
Q: So you start getting involved in the antiwar movement in high school. Where do you go to college?
STEIN: I went to Harvard.
Q: It's also a fairly political time there as well?
STEIN: It was. Yes. It was a great time to be at Harvard. There was a very vibrant antiwar, human rights movement going on at the time.
The past decade of endless war on terror has been an unmitigated disaster which is now blowing back at us in the proliferation of extremist groups. ISIS itself grows directly out of the chaos; we see this in Iraq through ten years of vicious warfare and sectarian conflict that was promoted by our policies in Iraq.
STEIN: We define cyber attacks as an act of war so by our own definition we have engaged in unilateral warfare with Iran. That approach has been extremely unhelpful and we are not using diplomacy. If there are real threats to US security then sanctions are warranted but I don't see that Iran is threatening US security right now. The issue of Iran is that it has the potential to build nuclear weapons, it does not have nuclear weapons right now. There are already illegal nuclear weapons in the region in Israel and Pakistan. We need a comprehensive and evenhanded policy. There are drastic violations of human rights right now amongst both our friends and our enemies. Creating a nuclear free Middle East is the only way we are going to stop the development of nuclear weapons.
STEIN: I think the priority is that we do not bypass the American people who have been routinely bypassed in most of the interventions in recent decades including Iraq and Libya. This is being done without the explicit permission from Congress and is a critical check and balance that has gotten lost in the shuffle and is a violation of the US Constitution and the war powers act. It is very dangerous when politicians declare war and exhaust economic resources and spill the blood of Americans and civilians overseas. Most of the conflicts of the last decade would not have happened had there been a national conversation and discussion about what the true risks and benefits of our national security were.
STEIN: It's very clear that there is blowback going on now across the Middle East, not only the unrest directed at the Libyan embassy. 75% of Pakistanis actually identify the US now as their enemy, not as their supporter or their ally. And, you know, in many ways, we're seeing a very ill-conceived, irresponsible and immoral war policy come back to haunt us, where US foreign policies have been based, unfortunately, on brute military force and wars for oil. Under my administration, we will have a foreign policy based on international law and human rights and the use of diplomacy.
ROMNEY: The right course is to identify responsible parties within Syria, organize them, bring them together, and then make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves.
STEIN: It's as if there's collective amnesia here, as if we didn't just go through a decade, $5 trillion and thousands of U.S. soldiers whose lives have been sacrificed, and far more civilians whose lives have been lost, in an attempted military resolution in Iraq and in Afghanistan. So with a far smaller commitment, how in the world are they thinking that a lesser degree of military intervention is going to solve the problem? This is a failed policy from its very conception. With arms flowing in to both sides in Syria, you have really a catastrophe in the making. We need to stop the flow of the arms.
A: Iran does not threaten our national security and there is no proof they are building a nuclear weapon.
Q: Should the U.S. continue to support Israel?
A: Yes, but not the current regime.
A. Small time, sure. There are minor improvements. But on the other hand, he took single-payer off the table. He absolutely took a public option off the table. As we found on issue after issue--the war, reappointing George Bush's secretary of defense, sticking to George Bush's timeline on Iraq, expanding the war, expanding the drone wars all over the place. And how about bringing Wall Street in, the guys who created the problem, among his first appointments. It was pretty clear right then that this was going to be business as usual on steroids. We're certainly not more secure, more equitable, more healthy or safer internationally, with what Obama has brought.
Instead of austerity, we can end the Wall Street bailouts, cut the bloated military and tax the bloated rich.
A: We are not out of Iraq--we should be out of Iraq and we are not. We never should have been in Iraq. We have spent perhaps $1 trillion, lost nearly 5,000 American lives, and probably 100,000 or perhaps one million Iraqi lives. It's an unspeakable shame that this war occurred at all. A war caused by lies and military opportunism A war that has conveniently secured some oil supplies for the US and the West but what a horrible price that has been paid for that illegitimate bounty.
A: As in Iraq, in Afghanistan likewise we should not be there. If we hadn't been training militaries in Afghanistan to start with 30 or 40 years ago, there never would have been an Osama bin Laden. Afghanistan is a symbol: military solutions are not solutions. They don't end.
A: We're going to see it's not over in Libya . You don't solve problems, you don't promote international stability and democracy by bringing in the army and the bombs. That does not create national stability. The humanitarian concerns were legitimate but those humanitarian aims were really cast aside very early. After NATO entered the fray it quickly morphed from protecting civilians to regime change. There was no legitimate international justification for that.
The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are costing Massachusetts $3.4 billion per year. That money could go a long way toward creating jobs here in Massachusetts. Rather than serving as a Pentagon propagandist and obediently sending our National Guard off for yet another tour of duty, the Governor of Massachusetts should be telling President Obama that we need to end the wars, bring our National Guard home, and heal our economy.
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