2016 Green Party vice-presidential nominee, longtime human rights activist, founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and coordinator of the U.S.-based Black Left Unity Network’s Committee on International Affairs.
Vice-presidential candidates Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence squared off Tuesday night at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, in the only vice-presidential debate, which was moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News. Third-party vice-presidential candidates were excluded from the debate. On Tuesday night, Democracy Now! aired a special "Expanding the Debate" broadcast, where we gave Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka a chance to respond to the same questions in real time as the major candidates. We continue to broadcast parts of this expanded debate here.
AMY GOODMAN: Vice-presidential candidates Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine faced off in Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, Tuesday night in their first and only debate before next month’s election. Pence is the governor of Indiana and a former congressman. Tim Kaine is the junior senator from Virginia and Virginia’s former governor, before that, the mayor of Richmond.
Third-party vice-presidential candidates, including Libertarian William Weld and the Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka, were excluded from the debate stage under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties.
Well, on Tuesday night, Democracy Now! aired a special "Expanding the Debate" broadcast, where we gave major third-party candidates a chance to respond to the same questions in real time live as the major candidates. The Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka joined us live from Richmond, Virginia. Libertarian vice-presidential candidate William Weld did not respond to our offer. Ajamu Baraka is a longtime human rights activist and the founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and coordinator of the U.S.-based Black Left Unity Network’s Committee on International Affairs. Today we air highlights from our "Expanding the Debate" special. We begin with moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.
ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, I want to turn to our next segment now: immigration. Your running mates have both said that undocumented immigrants who have committed violent crimes should be deported. What would you tell the millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed violent crimes? Governor Pence?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Donald Trump’s laid out a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country. We’ve been talking it to death for 20 years. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to continue the policies of open borders, amnesty, catch and release, sanctuary cities—all the things that are driving—that are driving wages down in this country, Senator. And also, too often, with criminal aliens in the country, it’s bringing heartbreak.
But I—Donald Trump has a plan, that he laid out in Arizona, that will deal systematically with illegal immigration, beginning with border security, internal enforcement. It’s probably why for the first time in the history of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement their union actually endorsed Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, because they know they need help to enforce the laws of this country.
And Donald Trump has laid out a priority to remove criminal aliens, remove people that have overstayed their visas. And—and once we have accomplished all of that, which will—which will strengthen our economy, strengthen the rule of law in the country and make our communities safer once the criminal aliens are out, then we’ll deal with those that remain.
But I have to tell you, I just—I was listening to the avalanche of insults coming out of Senator Kaine a minute ago.
SEN. TIM KAINE: These were Donald’s—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: And he said—he says—
SEN. TIM KAINE: Hold on a second, Governor.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: It’s my time, Senator.
ELAINE QUIJANO: It is, in fact, the governor’s time.
SEN. TIM KAINE: It is. You’re right. I apologize. This is your two minutes. I apologize.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Thanks. I forgive you. He says ours is an insult-driven campaign. Did you all just hear that? Ours is an insult-driven campaign? I mean, to be honest with you, if Donald Trump had said all the things that you said he said, in the way you said he said them, he still wouldn’t have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said that half of our supporters were a "basket of deplorables." It’s—she said they were irredeemable, they were not American. I mean, it’s extraordinary. And then she labeled one after another "ism" on millions of Americans who believe that we can have a stronger America at home and abroad, who believe we can get this economy moving again, who believe that we can end illegal immigration once and for all. So, Senator, this—this insult-driven campaign, I mean, we’re—
ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: That’s small potatoes compared to Hillary Clinton—
ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: —calling half of Donald Trump’s supporters a "basket of deplorables."
SEN. TIM KAINE: Hillary Clinton said something on the campaign trail, and the very next day, she said, "You know what? I shouldn’t have said that." Look—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: She said she shouldn’t have said half.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, this is Senator Kaine’s two minutes, please.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Look—yeah, that’s right, so now we’re even.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Yeah.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Look—look for Donald Trump apologizing to John McCain for saying he wasn’t a hero.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Oh, come on.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Did Donald Trump apologize for calling women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: She apologized for saying "half."
SEN. TIM KAINE: Did—
ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, it is his two minutes, please.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Did Donald Trump apologize for taking after somebody in a Twitter war and making fun of her weight? Did he apologize for saying African Americans are living in hell? Did he apologize for saying President Obama was not even a citizen of the United States? You will look in vain to see Donald Trump ever taking responsibility for anybody and apologizing.
Immigration. There’s two plans on the table. Hillary and I believe in comprehensive immigration reform. Donald Trump believes in deportation nation. You’ve got to pick your choice. Hillary and I want a bipartisan reform that will put keeping families together as the top goal; second, that will help focus enforcement efforts on those who are violent; third, that will do more border control; and, fourth, that will provide a path to citizenship for those who work hard, pay taxes, play by the rules and take criminal background record checks. That’s our proposal.
Donald Trump proposes to deport 16 million people, 11 million who are here without documents. And both Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to get rid of birthright citizenship. So if you’re born here but your parents don’t have documents, they want to eliminate that. That’s another four-and-a-half million people. These guys—and Donald Trump has said it—deportation force. They want to go house to house, school to school, business to business, and kick out 16 million people. And I cannot believe—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: That’s nonsense. That’s nonsense.
SEN. TIM KAINE: I cannot believe that Governor Pence would sit here and defend his running mate’s claim that we should create a deportation force to—so that they’ll all be gone.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Senator, we have a deportation force. It’s called Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. And the union for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, for the first time in their history, endorsed Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States of America.
SEN. TIM KAINE: So you like the 16 million deportations?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: The—no, Senator, that’s nonsense. Look, what you just heard is they have a plan for open borders, amnesty. That’s—that goes—
SEN. TIM KAINE: Our plan is like Ronald Reagan’s plan from 1986.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: They call it comprehensive immigration reform—they call it comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill. We all know the routine. It’s amnesty. And you heard one of the last things he mentioned was border security. That’s how Washington always plays it.
SEN. TIM KAINE: No, I—
ELAINE QUIJANO: So, Governor—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: They always say we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, we’ll eventually get the border.
SEN. TIM KAINE: We voted for border security three years ago, and Governor Pence was against it.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, Mr. Trump has said—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: I’ll tell you, Ronald Reagan said a nation without borders is not a nation. Donald Trump is committed to restoring the borders of this nation—
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka, the Green Party’s plan for immigration and your response to the Democratic and Republican candidates?
AJAMU BARAKA: Dr. Stein has laid out our plan, which is basically we support comprehensive immigration reform. But we also understand that we’ve got to address the issues that drive people to this country. And those issues are related to the—to the relationship between the U.S. and these various countries in various parts of the world, in particular in Central and South America. If we have fair trade, if we have a situation where countries are allowed to develop along their own lines, where they can develop their economy, then we won’t have the push that we see that is occurring that’s compelling people to have to come to or go to another country in order to survive. We see the consequence of NAFTA is devastating effects on the countryside in Mexico. And now we see the same kind of agreement being at the point of being approved with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So, these kinds of fair—these kinds of trade issues, these kinds of economic issues are the driving force for immigration.
We think that both parties are—can be criticized for their immigration, or non-immigration, policies. It is really sort of rich that the Democrats will talk about deportation, where under the Obama administration we’ve had record deportations. And the consequence has been a reign of terror in various immigrant communities. The Obama administration has refused to respect the provisions of the covenant—of the convention on migrant rights, that would give undocumented folks the ability to live a life out of the shadows, to have access to education and to healthcare. So, both parties have played games with this immigration issue.
And we believe that the only way we’re going to be able to address this issue is, again, building a powerful movement that will force the politicians to have something that is really rooted in the real needs of people, to allow them to be legalized and allow them to organize themselves and allow them to be fully human. And that means we’ve got to struggle to achieve that.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News questioning Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Your fellow Republican, Governor Pence, Senator Tim Scott, who is African-American, recently spoke on the Senate floor. He said he was stopped seven times by law enforcement in one year.
SEN. TIM KAINE: A U.S. senator.
ELAINE QUIJANO: He said, "I have felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness and the humiliation that comes with feeling like you’re being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself." What would you say to Senator Scott about his experiences?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, I have the deepest respect for Senator Scott, and he’s a close friend. And what I would say is that we—we need to adopt criminal justice reform nationally. I—I signed criminal justice reform in the state of Indiana, Senator, and we’re very proud of it. I worked when I was in Congress on the Second Chance Act. We have got to do a better job recognizing and correcting the errors in the system that do reflect an institutional bias in criminal justice.
But what—what—what Donald Trump and I are saying is let’s not have the reflex of assuming the worst of men and women in law enforcement. We truly do believe that law enforcement is not a force—
SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, can I—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: —for racism or division in our country.
ELAINE QUIJANO: So what would you say to Senator Scott, Governor?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Law enforcement in this country is a force for good. They are the—they truly are people that put their lives on the line every single day. But I would—I would suggest to you what we need to do is assert a stronger leadership at the national level to support law enforcement. You just heard Senator Kaine reject stop-and-frisk. Well, I would suggest to you that the families that live in our inner cities that are besieged by crime—
SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, let me—let me—
ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, the question was about Senator Scott. What would—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: —want to see more vigorous law enforcement in the country.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Yeah, let—
ELAINE QUIJANO: What would you tell Senator Scott?
SEN. TIM KAINE: And, Elaine, if I could—if I can jump in. I’ve heard Senator Scott make that eloquent plea. And look, criminal justice is about respecting the law and being respected by the law. So there is a fundamental respect issue here.
And I just want to talk about the tone that’s set from the top. Donald Trump during his campaign has called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He’s called women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting. I don’t like saying that in front of my wife and my mother. He attacked an Indiana-born federal judge and said he was unqualified to hear a federal lawsuit because his parents were Mexican. He went after John McCain, a POW, and said he wasn’t hero because he had been captured. He said African Americans are living in hell. And he perpetrated this outrageous and bigoted lie that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
If you want to have a society where people are respected and respect laws, you can’t have somebody at the top who demeans every group that he talks about. And I just—again, I cannot believe that Governor Pence will defend the insult-driven campaign that Donald Trump has run.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka, what would you respond to South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, African-American, who spoke about being stopped by police numerous times?
AJAMU BARAKA: That he represents a lived reality in this country, that it is what we spoke about a moment ago, that in this country, if you are an African American, and, in particular, African-American male, and—but now also a African-American woman, you are being—you are subjected to this kind of harassment, this kind of dehumanization. It is part of what we see with the increased, aggressive policing in our communities.
And why have that—why has that occurred? Well, one reason, we believe, is because what we have now is an aggression that is a reflection of the fact that our communities are seen as a surplus population, a surplus community, that right now, because black labor is no longer needed in this new economy, we find that we have become a social problem. And we see the consequence of that with mass incarceration, with this aggressive policing, with these—with the war being waged against our communities and against Latinos and against Native people.
So, you know, that is the reality that we are facing, and it’s a reality that we’ve got to resist. It is a systematic violation of our fundamental human rights. And every people on this planet have a right to resist any encroachment, any violation of their human rights. And that is something that we are—we are prepared to support. We stand in solidarity with people who are in resistance to the systematic oppression. And it’s part of what we are doing with this campaign in terms of connecting up with that resistance movement and hoping that we can expand that movement to a powerful force here in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka responding in real time during the debate last night in our "Expanding the Debate" special. We’ll continue with this special in a moment.
AMY GOODMAN: "You Can’t Always Get What You Want," The Rolling Stones, here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to our "Expanding the Debate" special. On Tuesday night, vice-presidential candidates Republican Governor Mike Pence and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine faced off at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, in their first and only debate before next month’s election. Democracy Now! aired a special "Expanding the Debate" broadcast last night, where we gave major third-party candidates a chance to respond in real time to the same questions put to the major candidates. The Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka joined us live from Richmond, Virginia. Today we’re airing highlights of our special. This is moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea and has provided crucial military support to the Assad regime. What steps, if any, would your administration take to counter these actions? Senator Kaine?
SEN. TIM KAINE: You’ve got to be tough on Russia. So let’s start with not praising Vladimir Putin as a great leader. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have said he’s a great leader. And Donald Trump has business—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: No, we haven’t.
SEN. TIM KAINE: —has business dealings—has business dealings with Russia that he refuses to disclose. Hillary Clinton has gone toe to toe with Russia. She went toe to toe with Russia as secretary of state to do the New START agreement to reduce Russia’s nuclear stockpile. She’s had the experience doing it. She went toe to toe with Russia and lodged protests when they went into Georgia. And we’ve done the same thing about Ukraine, but more than launching protests, we’ve put punishing economic sanctions on Russia that we need to continue.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, didn’t know that Russia had invaded the Crimea.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Oh, that’s nonsense.
SEN. TIM KAINE: He was on a TV show a couple months back, and he said, "I’ll guarantee you this: Russia is not going into the Ukraine." And he had to be reminded that they had gone into the Crimea two years before.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: He knew that.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Hillary—Hillary Clinton has gone toe to toe with Russia to work out a deal on New START. She got them engaged in a meaningful way to cap Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And yet she stood up to them on issues such as Syria and their invasion of Georgia. You’ve got to have the ability to do that, and Hillary does.
On the other hand, in Donald Trump, you have somebody who praises Vladimir Putin all the time. There—America should really wonder about a President Trump, who had a campaign manager with ties to Putin, pro-Putin elements in the Ukraine, who had to be fired for that reason. They should wonder, when Donald Trump is sitting down with Vladimir Putin, is it going to be America’s bottom line, or is it going to be Donald Trump’s bottom line, that he’s going to be worried about with all of his business dealings?
Now, this could be solved if Donald Trump would be willing to release his tax returns, as he told the American public that he would do. And I know he’s laughing at this, but every president—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: But what’s it got to do with Russia?
SEN. TIM KAINE: Every president since Richard Nixon has done it, and Donald Trump has said, "I’m doing business with Russia." The only way the American public will see whether he has a conflict of interest—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: No, he hasn’t said that.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator, your time is up.
SEN. TIM KAINE: He has, actually.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, thanks. I’m just trying to keep up with the insult-driven campaign on the other side of the table.
SEN. TIM KAINE: You know, I’m just saying facts about your running mate.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Yeah.
SEN. TIM KAINE: And I know you can’t defend them.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator, please. This is the governor’s two minutes.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: I’m happy to defend him, Senator. Don’t put words in my mouth that I’m not defending him.
SEN. TIM KAINE: You’re not.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: I’m happy to defend him. Most of what you said is completely false, and the American people know that. This—
SEN. TIM KAINE: I’ll run through the list of things where you didn’t defend him.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator, please, this is Governor Pence’s two minutes.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: This isn’t—this isn’t the old days where you can just say stuff and people believe it. Look, this is the—this is the alternative universe of Washington, D.C., versus reality. Hillary Clinton said her number one priority was a reset with Russia. That reset resulted in the invasion of Ukraine, after they had infiltrated with what are called little green men, Russian soldiers that were dressing up like Ukrainian dissidents. And then they moved all the way into Crimea, took over the Crimean Peninsula. But Donald Trump knew that happened. He basically was saying it’s not going to happen again.
The truth of the matter is that—that what you have in the rise of aggressive Russia, which has had—increased its influence in Iran, that’s now—now, because of this deal, is on a pathway in the future to obtain a nuclear—the leading state sponsor of terror in the world, in Iran, now has a closer working relationship with Russia because of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and $150 billion and sanctions all being lifted.
And then, of course, Syria. I mean, it’s—it really is extraordinary. Syria is imploding. You just asked a very thoughtful question about the disaster in Aleppo. ISIS is headquartered in Raqqa. It is—ISIS from Raqqa has overrun vast areas that, at great sacrifice, the American soldier won in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And yet Senator Kaine still sits here, loyal soldier—I get all that—in saying that the foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama somehow made the world more secure. I mean, it really is astonishing, that on the day—
SEN. TIM KAINE: We’ve wiped out the leader of al-Qaeda.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: —on the day that Iran released four American hostages—
SEN. TIM KAINE: We stopped Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, Governor—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: —we delivered 400 million in cash on—as a ransom payment for Americans held by the radical mullahs in Tehran.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka?
AJAMU BARAKA: You know, this conversation is really surreal. What gives the U.S. the justification to believe that it has a moral right to intervene any place on this planet? Are we—are we to believe that they are the arbiters or the supporters, the defenders of international human rights, when any rational person who can see and can think clearly can see that that cannot be the case, that we talk about the aggression on the part of the Russians?
But let’s look at what’s happened over the last 15 years with U.S. policies. They have gone into Iraq and destroyed that country. They have gone into Afghanistan. They have subverted Venezuela. They have gone into Libya and destroyed that country. They have been involved in aggression across the planet. Obama, every Tuesday, decides who’s going to live and die in his drone program. They allow for the—for the Saudis to go into Yemen and to create a humanitarian crisis there that no one talks about. So this notion of the U.S. having some kind of humanitarian justification to flaunt international law, to intervene where it chooses, to determine what governments are legitimate or not, to claim to be in a position to criticize the Russians, to me, is surreal.
We have to have a more critical approach to and understanding of U.S. policy. We cannot allow ourselves to be so easily manipulated by the administrations and by the corporate press. They clearly, even in the framing of these questions, have assumed that we have this enemy in the Russians and that the only solution, the only way we deal with these competitors—that’s what we’re talking about: capitalist competitors—is through military means. We’ve got to resist that and reject those kinds of policies. And that’s what we intend to do with this campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to debate moderator Elaine Quijano.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, I’d like to shift now to the threat of terrorism. Do you think the world today is a safer or more dangerous place than it was eight years ago? Has the terrorist threat increased or decreased? Senator Kaine?
SEN. TIM KAINE: The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways, because bin Laden is dead. The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways, because an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been stopped. The terrorist threat to United States troops has been decreased in some ways, because there’s not 175,000 in a dangerous part of the world. There’s only 15,000. But there are other parts of the world that are challenging.
Let me tell you this: To beat terrorism, there’s only one candidate who can do it, and it’s Hillary Clinton. Remember, Hillary Clinton was the senator from New York on 9/11. She was there at the World Trade Center when they were still searching for victims and survivors. That’s seared onto her, the need to beat terrorism.
And she’s got a plan to do it. She was part of the national security team that wiped out bin Laden. Here’s her plan to defeat ISIL. First, we’ve got to keep taking out their leaders on the battlefield. She was part of the team that got bin Laden, and she’ll lead the team that will get Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS. Second, we’ve got to disrupt financing networks; third, disrupt their ability to recruit on the internet, in their safe havens; but, fourth, we also have to work with allies to share and surge intelligence. That’s the Hillary Clinton plan. She’s got the experience to do it.
Donald Trump. Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot. Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan. He said, "Um, I have a secret plan," and then he said, "Um, I know more than all the generals about ISIL." And then he said, "I’m going to call the generals to help me figure out a plan." And finally he said, "I’m going to fire all the generals." He doesn’t have a plan.
But he does have dangerous ideas. Here’s four. He trash-talks the military: The military is a disaster, John McCain’s no hero, the generals need all to be fired, and I know more than them. He wants to tear up alliances: NATO is obsolete, and we’ll only work together with Israel if they pay "big league." Third, he loves dictators. He’s got kind of a personal Mount Rushmore: Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Muammar Gaddafi—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Oh, please. Come on.
SEN. TIM KAINE: —and Saddam Hussein. And last, and most dangerously, Donald Trump believes—Donald Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons. He’s said Saudi Arabia should get them, Japan should get them, Korea should get them. And when he was confronted with this, and told, "Wait a minute, terrorists could get those, proliferation could lead to nuclear war," here’s what Donald Trump said, and I quote: "Go ahead, folks. Enjoy yourselves."
I’d love to hear Governor Pence tell me what’s so enjoyable or comical about nuclear war.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Did you work on that one a long time? Because that had a lot of really creative lines in it.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I’m going to see if you can defend any of it.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Look, look, I can defend. I—I can—I can make very clear to the American people, after traveling millions of miles as our secretary of state, after being the architect of the foreign policy of this administration, America is less safe today than it was the day that Barack Obama became president of the United States. It’s absolutely inarguable. Now, we’ve weakened America’s place in the world. It’s been a combination of factors, but mostly it’s been a lack of leadership.
I mean, I will give you—and I was in Washington, D.C., on 9/11. I saw the clouds of smoke rise from the Pentagon.
SEN. TIM KAINE: I was in Virginia, where the Pentagon’s smoke—
GOV. MIKE PENCE: I know you were. We all lived through that day as a nation. It was heartbreaking. And I want to give this president credit for bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.
But the truth is, Osama bin Laden led al-Qaeda. Our primary threat today is ISIS. And because Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate a status of forces agreement that would have allowed some American combat troops to remain in Iraq and secure the hard-fought gains the American soldier had won by 2009, ISIS was able to be literally conjured up out of the desert, and it’s overrun vast areas that the American soldier had won in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
My heart breaks for the likes of Lance Corporal Scott Zubowski. He fell in Fallujah in 2005. He fought hard through some of the most difficult days in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom and secure that nation. And that nation was secured in 2009. But because Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama failed to provide a status of forces agreement and leave sufficient troops in there, we are back at war. The president just ordered more troops on the ground. We are back at war in Iraq. And Scott Zubowski, whose mom would always come to Memorial Day events in Newcastle, Indiana, to see me, and I’d always give her a hug and tell her we’re never going to forget her son—and we never will—Scott Zubowski and the sacrifices the American soldier made were squandered in Iraq because this administration created a vacuum in which ISIS was able to grow.
And a reference to the Iranian deal, the Iranian deal that Hillary Clinton initiated, $150 billion to the radical mullahs in Iran.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Stopping a nuclear weapons program without firing a shot?
GOV. MIKE PENCE: You didn’t stop the nuclear weapons program.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Yes, we did.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: You essentially—
SEN. TIM KAINE: Even the Israeli military says it stopped.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: You essentially guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power, because there’s no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.
AMY GOODMAN: Ajamu Baraka, Green Party vice-presidential nominee, the question: Do you think that this country is safer, or is it more dangerous, than it was eight years ago?
AJAMU BARAKA: This country and the world is more dangerous as a consequence of the rampage that the U.S. has been involved in in the so-called Middle East. I think Governor Pence and Tim Kaine, I think they forgot that the real genesis of this—of this situation really has to be laid at the foot of the invasion of Iraq, an invasion that Hillary Clinton supported and an invasion that is where we see the expansion of the forces of the jihadists in that part of the world. So, it’s been the policies of both administrations. Under the Bush administration, there was a conscious decision to utilize jihadist forces to advance U.S. policies. The award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh clearly documented that. And that policy was continued under the Obama administration.
So, the policies of using these jihadists to advance their interests in places like Syria, we see the blowback happening across—across the world. The policies have gone into—into Libya and destroying that state. You know, one of the things that did not come out in the hearings around Benghazi was what was happening at that annex. And I think the story is very clear. What they were involved in at the annex was a gun-running program to transfer the weapons from Libya, after they had destroyed that country, to Syria. So we see that it’s been the militarism, it’s been the policies of the Bush and the Obama administration, that has created the destabilization, not only in the Middle East, but also we are experiencing the blowback of the enhancement, the military enhancement, of these jihadist forces.
So, you know, any simple explanation that could be put on the—at the feet of either one of these parties is something that we have to look at very critically. This is part a collective process, a bipartisan process, to advance U.S. interests by using these unsavory forces and using and working through their vassal states like the Saudis, who even Joe Biden said they can’t stop from—they can’t stop the Saudis from providing finance to these various Wahhabist groups. So, this is a complex and a nasty game that is being played by the elites.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, as part of our "Expanding the Debate" special, when we gave him a chance to respond to the same questions in real time posed to Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence in the first and only vice-presidential debate of this election season. Watch the full debate at democracynow.org. When we come back, we get response. Stay with us.