Pol­i­tics

The Green Party’s Jill Stein talks North Korean nukes and why Trump beat Clin­ton

Newsweek International - - NEWS - BY ALEXAN­DER NAZARYAN @alex­nazaryan

(Third) Party Pooper

TO SOME, Green Party pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Dr. Jill Stein was a spoiler last Novem­ber, pulling lib­eral vot­ers away from Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton. To oth­ers, she was a prin­ci­pled truth-teller who o ered a nec­es­sary cri­tique of a mori­bund two-party po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.

The de­bate over Stein’s role in Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory was re­vived when her name ap­peared over the sum­mer in a doc­u­ment re­quest by the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, which is in­ves­ti­gat­ing po­ten­tial col­lu­sion be­tween Rus­sia and Trump’s cam­paign. With that re­turned long-stand­ing, but

un­founded, sus­pi­cions that Stein was some­how as­so­ci­ated with el­e­ments within the Krem­lin. Those sus­pi­cions stem, in good part, from a pho­to­graph of Stein taken in Moscow in 2015, where she was at­tend­ing a con­fer­ence. The now-in­fa­mous im­age shows her sit­ting at a din­ner ta­ble with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn, who is at the cen­ter of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Trump cam­paign’s ties with Rus­sia.

I caught up with Stein, and we talked about Rus­sian hack­ing, North Korea and the fu­ture of the Demo­cratic Party.

Let’s start with a story I wrote—“rus­sian Plot to Elect Trump In­cluded Jill Stein, Ac­cord­ing to Lat­est Glee­ful Twit­ter The­ory”— which you called fake news.

It wasn’t ac­tu­ally fake news. I slightly ex­ag­ger­ated in call­ing it fake news. Shall we say the sen­sa­tion­al­ist head­line stopped just short of fake news?

The doc­u­ment re­quest from the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee to the lawyers of Paul Manafort and Don­ald Trump Jr. men­tioned you. Why?

I think it’s there for the same rea­son that that photo keeps cir­cu­lat­ing with­out a sin­gle fact. There was no trans­la­tor at the din­ner. Putin came in very brie y. Maybe he was there for 10 or 15 min­utes be­fore he gave a speech in Rus­sian. No­body was in­tro­duced to any­body. My con­ver­sa­tion was ac­tu­ally with the guy sit­ting next to me, a Ger­man diplo­mat.

My clear mes­sage at that con­fer­ence was to chal­lenge both U.S. and Rus­sian mil­i­tarism.

The facts do not sup­port what­so­ever the con­tention that I was there for some ne­far­i­ous pur­pose or for some kind of back­room deal. I re­ceived zero spon­sor­ship to be there. No pay­ment. There was noth­ing com­pro­mis­ing about my be­ing in Moscow.

Did you talk to Michael Flynn at that din­ner?

He in­tro­duced him­self to me just be­fore we sat down, and I be­gan to give him my el­e­va­tor speech about the “peace o en­sive” in the Mid­dle East, which was my pol­icy through­out the cam­paign. Our con­ver­sa­tion very quickly ended at that. Maybe two sen­tences about the peace o en­sive, which he was not in­ter­ested in.

Did you have any other con­tact with any­one a li­ated with the Trump cam­paign that could have led the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee to rea­son­ably sus­pect col­lu­sion?

Zero.

Zero?

Zero. Po­lit­i­cally, we couldn’t be fur­ther apart. Cul­tur­ally, we couldn’t be fur­ther apart. It makes me laugh to even think of the sug­ges­tion.

But you did want to de­feat Hil­lary Clin­ton, so in that sense—

Well, let me say, that is fake news. That is based on an ar­ti­cle, this con­tention that I thought Hil­lary was worse than Trump. I never said that. [Sug­ges­tions that Stein was a Trump sup­porter were in­deed de­bunked as fake news.]

My sum­mary state­ment was al­ways that I would feel ter­ri­ble if Don­ald Trump was elected, and I would feel ter­ri­ble if Hil­lary Clin­ton was elected. I feel most ter­ri­ble about a vot­ing sys­tem that re­stricts vot­ers to two un­trusted, widely dis­liked choices.

I have never said that Hil­lary Clin­ton was bet­ter or worse than Don­ald Trump.

Do you be­lieve that in some way you dele­git­imized Clin­ton in the eyes of young pro­gres­sives and in that way paved the way for a Trump vic­tory?

Greens do not vote for Democrats. You have to do the num­bers. You can’t just move Green votes into the Demo­cratic col­umn.

Re­mem­ber, most peo­ple who voted for Don­ald Trump were not vot­ing for him. They were ac­tu­ally vot­ing against the Clin­tons.

Find­ing ways to ra­tio­nal­ize the sup­pres­sion of op­po­si­tion voices is not what democ­racy needs. Democ­racy needs more voices and more

“THERE WAS NOTH­ING COM­PRO­MIS­ING ABOUT MY BE­ING IN MOSCOW.”

choices, es­pe­cially at a time when the Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can par­ties are be­ing widely re­jected by the Amer­i­can public.

Do you still think, six months into the Trump pres­i­dency, that a Pres­i­dent Clin­ton would have been no di er­ent than a Pres­i­dent Trump?

I never said they were “no di er­ent.” That’s an­other trap I have learned to avoid. What I said was, they are di er­ent, they’re just not di er­ent enough to save your job, to save your life and to save the planet and the cli­mate. We shouldn’t be forced to choose be­tween two can­di­dates who don’t meet our needs.

You’ve men­tioned fake news sev­eral times dur­ing our con­ver­sa­tion. Do you be­lieve that Rus­sia pro­mul­gated fake news dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign?

I have seen con ict­ing re­ports about that, and I have not been fol­low­ing it closely enough to give you a de ni­tive opin­ion.

Do you sup­port the re­cent pas­sage of tougher sanc­tions against Rus­sia?

“I HAVE NEVER SAID THAT HIL­LARY CLIN­TON WAS BET­TER OR WORSE THAN DON­ALD TRUMP.”

I think the sanc­tions are not go­ing to ac­com­plish what we need, which is to pro­tect our elec­tion sys­tem. We need to pro­tect it against not only hos­tile for­eign pow­ers; we need to pro­tect it also against do­mes­tic par­ti­sans, against lone gang­sters and against the pri­vate elec­tion soft­ware com­pa­nies who also have skin in this game. We need blan­ket pro­tec­tion. That is why I ini­ti­ated a re­count [af­ter the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion].

The in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity has de­ter­mined unan­i­mously that, to some de­gree, Rus­sia in uenced this past pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Are you agree­ing with Pres­i­dent Trump that we should be doubt­ful of that as­sess­ment?

There’s not a lot I agree with Pres­i­dent Trump on. What I’m say­ing is that the story is not over. Un­for­tu­nately, we have seen our se­cu­rity agen­cies make some er­rors in the past, like weapons of mass de­struc­tion in Iraq. Let’s say Rus­sia did it. Sim­ply pun­ish­ing Rus­sia doesn’t keep make vot­ing sys­tems se­cure.

Doesn’t it dis­suade them from do­ing it in 2018 and 2020?

Well, it might dis­suade them, but there are all kinds of other peo­ple wait­ing in line. We need an in­ter­na­tional treaty to end this in­ten­sive cy­ber­war­fare.

Some might call you an apol­o­gist for Rus­sia for say­ing what you just said.

I think we are in an era of Mc­carthy­ism. If you think the Rus­sians are the only ones com­mit­ting cy­ber­se­cu­rity in­tru­sions, I say “good luck” to you. Time to start read­ing the cy­ber­se­cu­rity lit­er­a­ture out there.

The Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ment has blamed you for its losses. Why?

If I’m per­ceived as a threat, I take that as a com­pli­ment. The Democrats are not do­ing a lot of in­tro­spec­tion about why they have lost sup­port. Things aren’t chang­ing in­side the Demo­cratic Party. And a lot of peo­ple are los­ing pa­tience. Part of their de­fense, I think, is to try to dis­credit the faces of op­po­si­tion.

Some have ac­cused you of ex­cus­ing North Korea’s nu­clear am­bi­tions. What do you make of that?

I think some peo­ple fall vic­tim to...the regimechange playbook. Let me ask you: How did that work out for us in Libya? And how did that work out for us in Iraq? Regime change is not a great idea, but part of regime change is ab­so­lutely de­hu­man­iz­ing and de­mo­niz­ing the per­son you’re about to go af­ter. Now, that’s not to de­fend the hu­man rights record of North Korea, which is o the charts. None­the­less, we gotta be able to deal with peo­ple as peo­ple. That’s what [Sec­re­tary of State] Rex Tiller­son and [for­mer Director of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence] James Clap­per are say­ing now.

Didn’t Pres­i­dent Barack Obama try “strate­gic pa­tience”?

Un­for­tu­nately, strate­gic pa­tience did not in­clude ne­go­ti­a­tion. Ne­go­ti­a­tion has not been tried since the mid-’90s. And, ac­tu­ally, it worked very well. We ba­si­cally froze the North Kore­ans’ nu­clear pro­gram for eight years, un­til Ge­orge W. Bush came along and de­clared the “axis of evil.” And not only did he de­clare the axis of evil, he ini­ti­ated a rst-strike nu­clear at­tack pol­icy against North Korea. This is why North Korea is backed into a cor­ner, feel­ing they need a nu­clear weapon if they’re go­ing to sur­vive. That’s what the war ex­er­cises have been about. We have been con­duct­ing war ex­er­cises for well over 10 years. These war ex­er­cises es­sen­tially re­hearse drop­ping nu­clear bombs on North Korea. You can imag­ine that they might be feel­ing de­fen­sive.

Would you be will­ing to serve as an en­voy to North Korea to try to bro­ker some sort of deal with Py­ongyang?

Would I? Yes—i mean, I don’t think I’m the per­son with the cre­den­tials to do it. I un­der­stand there is a move­ment afoot to send Rex Tiller­son there for that pur­pose. I think that’d be great. I’d be more than happy to ac­com­pany him, but I don’t think that’s gonna hap­pen.

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DIN­ING WITH THE EN­EMY: Stein at­tended the now­in­fa­mous din­ner with Putin, cen­ter right, and Flynn, cen­ter left, in Moscow in 2015 but says she was there to chal­lenge both U.S. and Rus­sian mil­i­tary ac­tion.

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GREEN FIST: Stein in­sists that her sup­port­ers did not hand the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to Trump. And she laments that the Democrats aren’t learn­ing from their loss in Novem­ber.

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