[Harold Pinter's Nobel Lecture was pre-recorded, and shown on video December 7, 2005, in Bšrssalen at the Swedish Academy in
Stockholm. This is a short excerpt.]
. . . The truth is something entirely different. The truth is to do with how
the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to
But before I come back to the present I would like to look at the recent
past, by which I mean United States foreign policy since the end of the
Second World War. I believe it is obligatory upon us to subject this period
to at least some kind of even limited scrutiny, which is all that time will
Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern
Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread
atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has
been fully documented and verified.
But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only
been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged,
let alone recognised as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and
that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now.
Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet
Union, the United States' actions throughout the world made it clear that it
had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked. . . .
The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating
absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an
arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross
manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to
consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East
masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to
justify themselves - as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force
responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of
We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts
of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call
it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.
How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a
mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I
would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned
before the International Criminal Court of Justice. . . .
I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching,
unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the
real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which
devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.
If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no
hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man.
[The Bush administration is studying options for military strikes against
Iran as part of a broader strategy of coercive diplomacy to pressure
Tehran to abandon its alleged nuclear development program, according to U.S.
officials and independent analysts.--Peter Baker, Dafna Linzer and Thomas E.
Ricks, "U.S. Is Studying Military Strike Options on
Iran," Washington Post, April 9, 2006]
VIDEO: Goring said, "Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would
some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war? But, after all, it
is the leaders of the country who determine the policy. The people can
always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell
them they're being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of
patriotism. It works the same way in any country."--Howard Zinn, "The
Uses of History and the War on Terrorism," democracynow.org,
November 24, 2006