The most enraging part of this interview with the Daily Beast is Ayers’ claim “we [Weather Underground] never killed or injured anybody.” He knows that’s a total lie.
What about your policy of “direct action” in the form of bombing strategic targets within the U.S.?
The Weather Underground, while we certainly crossed lines of propriety and legality, we never killed or injured anybody. So what we did was a lot of vandalism. One of the most extreme actions that the Weather Underground took credit for was placing a bomb in the Pentagon which apparently, through some water damage, destroyed some computers and caused $1 million in damage. And that same day, 1,000 people were murdered. So how do you compare those things? A million dollars was the same cost as one hour of the war in Vietnam. As a culture in this country, we frame this issue in such a way that what we did was off the hook and completely violent, whereas John McCain has not had to answer that he killed civilians deliberately—that’s a war crime by any international standard—and yet he portrays himself, and apparently the powers-that-be agree, because he’s still consulted on foreign policy even though he’s been wrong his whole life, as someone who knows things, but how does he know things? He’s a war criminal whose crimes have gone unaccounted for, uncharged, and he’s unapologetic, and those who were trying to stop that war were people who were really crazy.
How do you feel about the current state of U.S. affairs abroad?
Things change but they also stay the same. The American Empire has not changed. American militarism has not changed. We spend $1 trillion a year in this country on war. It’s disgusting. That the U.S. considers itself, in the words of Madeleine Albright, the “indispensable nation”—that kind of arrogance leads straight down the path to hell.
There was a big hullabaloo during the 2008 presidential election over your relationship to Obama. What is or was your relationship to him?
I brief him every Monday in the White House, and he never listens! No. The truth is exactly what he said and what the campaign said in 2008. David Axelrod said we were friendly, that was true; we served on a couple of boards together, that was true; he held a fundraiser in our living room, that was true; Michelle [Obama] and Bernardine were at the law firm together, that was true. Hyde Park in Chicago is a tiny neighborhood, so when he said I was “a guy around the neighborhood,” that was true. Today, I wish I knew him better and he was listening to me. Obama’s not a radical. I wish he were, but he’s not.
Assuming you had the power, what would you change with the U.S.?
The first thing I’d do is close the Pentagon and every American foreign base—130 foreign bases around the world. If I had the power in the world, I’d say that every human being in a country that has an American military base should be given the right to vote in an American presidential election. I think wars are a huge issue and it’s linked to global warming and the environmental catastrophe we’re facing. Also, and this is a huge mistake on the Obama administration’s part, you have to prosecute the people who led us into these disastrous wars and the people who led us into this economic situation. Being an anarchist myself, and not having trust in government, I think Cabinet members should be chosen by picking names out of a hat. Everybody I know could do a better job than John Kerry in the State Department, so I would anarchize the government.