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This House Resolves: The US is a Terrorist State - Exeter University

On Friday 28th September Exeter University Debating Society held a debate at Exeter University on the topic "Is the US a Terrorist State". Around 150 people were in attendance.

In favour of this proposition spoke the writer, researcher and Stop the War campaigner Daniel Jakopovich and Dane Harrison, previous Chair of the the Exeter Debating Society.

Although their argument focused on the nature of US military interventionism abroad, it was pointed out that the US is routinely also a terrorist state against its own people.

Dane Harrison stated that the US drone assassination programme amounted to terrorism, especially as it was carried out with the full knowledge that civilian casualties are also its inevitable result. He pointed out that in 2015 alone the United States dropped around 23,000 bombs on 6 Muslim-majority countries. He also noted the drastic scale of the US suspension of civil liberties at home, including the practice of mass surveillance of US citizens. He also spoke about the US torture and kidnapping programme, including its network of "black sites".

Additionally, Harrison discussed the highly repressive US government behaviour towards its own citizens, including the violence that was inflicted on the people protesting the construction of the the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Daniel Jakopovich pointed out that the US is the only country which has used nuclear weapons - not once but twice - killing over 300,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He remarked that no country has used weapons of mass destruction more frequently than the US since the end of the Second World War. Its systematic international campaign of state terror has included interventions in over 60 countries since the end of WWII. This has even included supporting extreme right-wing regimes on distant continents in order to defeat any challengers to the US-led global socio-economic order. He especially highlighted the terroristic nature of US military interventionism in Korea, Vietnam, Latin America and Indonesia, as well as in South Asia and North Africa as part of the "War on Terror".

Jakopovich remarked that the US-led "War on Terror" has in fact been a war of terror. Among the evidence which he marshalled in support of this claim was the case of the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad at the beginning of the invasion on Iraq in 2003. A major purpose of this terrible bombing campaign was to strike teror into the minds of the Iraqi people. He also remarked on the US use of chemical weapons in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which has led to a sharp rise in childhood cancers and horrible birth defects/disorders among children.

Jakopovich and Harrison emphasised the various terrible humanitarian consequences of savage US military interventionism, which has led to over a million people dying in Iraq alone, an estimated 200,000+ people dying in Afghanistan, and misery and destruction across large parts of the region and beyond. The Trump administration's escalation of military interventionism in the region, including its even greater disregard for civilian casualties, its support for the Saudi regime's bombing of Yemen, and its terrorising of the Iranian population with threats of a major new war, were also highlighted.

Faced with the strength of these arguments, the other two interlocutors, who were arguing against the proposition that the US is a terrorist state, nonetheless agreed that much of US foreign policy has been inexcusable. Their stance appeared to be that the United States' wars should nonetheless be afforded more legitimacy, and that the word "terrorist" should be reserved for non-state actors.

The opinion in the room was, however, closer to Jakopovich's and Harrison's. Of those who voted, roughly two-thirds voted in favour of the proposition that the US is, in fact, a terrorist state. The outcome of this debate is an indication that anti-war opinion in the country is much stronger than the establishment media would have us believe.