TEHRAN (FNA)- A leading American intellectual an anti-war activist believes that the United States is the most serious threat to the world peace and that the US government is a major terrorist entity.
Bill Ayers says, according to the most standard and reliable definitions of terrorism, “US is indeed a terrorist nation.” He adds, “It’s also the greatest purveyor of violence on earth over the past half century, and the foremost threat to world peace today.”
Bill Ayers, a retired professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, believes that despite its destructive and dreadful impacts on the livings of American people and other nations across the world, the US imperialism is “in a decisive decline.”
“US imperialism is in decisive decline today as an economic and political power even as it is expanding as a ferocious and aggressive military power. This combination—decline and ascent—makes this a particularly unstable, dangerous, and urgent moment on the clock of the universe,” he argued.
“I think the US should immediately close all military bases and installations abroad, withdraw all troops on foreign soil including all mercenary fighters, end all military aid to Israel, and unilaterally decommission its nuclear arsenal,” Bill Ayers added.
Bill Ayers is a former leader in the 1960s counterculture movement that was formed to oppose the US war on Vietnam. He is the co-founder of the Weather Underground group, which was a left-wing organization founded on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan in 1969 to champion the cause of the African-Americans and the opponents of Vietnam War.
For his activism and his vocal opposition to the US military expeditions, Bill Ayers received very serious death threats and hate messages that were even sometimes directly sent to his home address. Ayers lived in the neighborhood of Barack Obama before he became the US President in 2008, and from 1999 to 2002, they jointly served on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago.
To discuss the ups and downs of the US foreign policy, the White House’s military expeditions, the project of War on Terror and its failures and the current state of civil liberties in the United States, FNA spoke to Mr. Bill Ayers in an exclusive interview. Here is the full text of this in-depth interview.
Q: You’ve called the United State a “terrorist nation.” It’s the US government, however, that usually accuses other nations of sponsoring terrorism, and designates its adversaries as state sponsors of terrorism. What’s your logical argument for calling the United States a terrorist nation? Is it because of the numerous military operations it has been conducting across the world and the high rate of civilian casualties resulting from the US wars of aggression?
A: The word “terrorist” is used so frequently and in so many wildly diverse contexts in the US today that it resists any logic whatsoever. Three young men breaking windows at an anti-war mobilization are charged by the state with “terrorism;” a whistle-blower determined to expose illegal government surveillance is referred to by the bought media and the political establishment as a “terrorist;” a businessman donating money to rebuild schools in Palestine is arrested for aiding a “terrorist” organization; environmental activists blockading a road into an old-growth forest to prevent the clear-cutting of ancient trees are imprisoned on “terrorist” charges. At the same time the US government routinely detains people without charge or trial, lines up its citizens and residents to be searched and scanned—in airports, of course, and increasingly at train stations, concerts, lectures, and office buildings—in the name of preventing “terrorism,” and defends its own bad behavior—breaking international as well as domestic laws again and again—on the grounds that it is acting only to stop “terrorism.” “Terrorists” are the vaguely-designated bad guys and the “evil-doers,” and “terrorism” is whatever hazy enterprise the speaker disapproves of. The word is so freighted with fear and anxiety, so emotionally charged and politically loaded, that it lacks coherence and defies any straight-forward definition. But let’s try anyway.
What is terrorism? Scholars and other experts have developed a consensus on a few common traits: terrorists have political, ideological or philosophical objectives, and they intend to spread fear and panic as they intimidate an audience much larger than their immediate victims. That’s a hopeful beginning. But from here the experts and the government apologists become muddled and go completely off the tracks: terrorists are non-state actors – according to the US Congress and the State Department – which exempts Russia’s assaults in Chechnya, Israel’s relentless brutality in Gaza, and countless other horrors and atrocities throughout history designed to cause horror and alarm in order to advance a political or an ideological goal. The expert definition continues: terrorists target ordinary citizens, or, when they kill soldiers, their attacks don’t take place on a field of battle. Now that’s a convenient and self-justifying tautology, and it means that if any conventional government decides to pound a village to dust—the US obliterates Fallujah in Iraq to take one example—it’s a field of battle; if a villager in Fallujah shoots at an American soldier in the exact same spot the day before the invasion officially commences, that’s an act of terrorism. That is utterly absurd.
Terrorism, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “a mode of governing, or of opposing a government, by intimidation.” This definition has the virtue of consistency and fairness; it focuses on the use of coercive violence, whether committed by a religious cult, a political sect, a group of zealots, or the state itself. And by that definition the US is indeed a terrorist nation; it’s also the greatest purveyor of violence on earth over the past half century, and the foremost threat to world peace today.
Q: You have personally known Barack Obama for quite a long time. You were neighbors in the same district, but you said that you haven’t met with him since he ran for the presidency and was elected to the office. Which of his foreign policy approaches do you disagree with? Why did he intensify the campaign of drone strikes against Pakistan, Yemen and Somali after coming to power? Why did he repeatedly threaten Iran with “all options,” including a military strike threat over its nuclear program several times?
A: I don’t have any inside information about US intentions in Iran or elsewhere; I don’t know from the standpoint of an insider why the administration has intensified drone strikes and built up its drone warfare program.
But from my perspective, the two establishment political parties in the US—the Democratic Party and Republican Party— are united in their commitment to US military supremacy and world domination. When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, he assumed the role of commander-in-chief of the largest military behemoth ever assembled on earth—he’s been sitting on the throne of empire and commanding its violent legions ever since, exactly as every US president does. And I oppose it all, because when the American boot comes down, it brings neither freedom nor democracy nor peace nor human rights; it brings only violence and hatred and the chaos of war.
US imperialism is in decisive decline today as an economic and political power even as it is expanding as a ferocious and aggressive military power. This combination—decline and ascent—makes this a particularly unstable, dangerous, and urgent moment on the clock of the universe.
I oppose US imperialism in all its expressions and iterations—military intervention and occupation, economic aggression, and political or cultural manipulation. I think the US should immediately close all military bases and installations abroad, withdraw all troops on foreign soil including all mercenary fighters, end all military aid to Israel, and unilaterally decommission its nuclear arsenal. In all my efforts I work for more peace and more participatory democracy, more transparency and sustainability, more joy and more justice in large and small matters. I work toward a state of affairs in which the US might become a nation among nations—not the uber-nation that the ruling and political classes dream of and fight for.