Harold Pinter’s Stunning Nobel Acceptance Address

I sup­pose anoth­er moment in his­to­ry has arrived.

Yes­ter­day, at the Nobel prize cer­e­monies, the play­wright, poet, and now Nobel Lau­re­ate Harold Pin­ter gave an address to the Swedish Acad­e­my in Börssalen, Swe­den that severe­ly crit­i­cized the US and the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion. It includes some of the most scathing words ever spo­ken about the US; prob­a­bly the worst in the his­to­ry of the coun­try. It burns with the white heat of out­rage by a great man. I was par­tic­u­lar­ly struck by this passage:

The Unit­ed States now occu­pies 702 mil­i­tary instal­la­tions through­out the world in 132 coun­tries, with the hon­ourable excep­tion of Swe­den, of course. We don’t quite know how they got there but they are there all right.

The Unit­ed States pos­sess­es 8,000 active and oper­a­tional nuclear war­heads. Two thou­sand are on hair trig­ger alert, ready to be launched with 15 min­utes warn­ing. It is devel­op­ing new sys­tems of nuclear force, known as bunker busters. The British, ever coop­er­a­tive, are intend­ing to replace their own nuclear mis­sile, Tri­dent. Who, I won­der, are they aim­ing at? Osama bin Laden? You? Me? Joe Dokes? Chi­na? Paris? Who knows? What we do know is that this infan­tile insan­i­ty — the pos­ses­sion and threat­ened use of nuclear weapons — is at the heart of present Amer­i­can polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy. We must remind our­selves that the Unit­ed States is on a per­ma­nent mil­i­tary foot­ing and shows no sign of relax­ing it.

Many thou­sands, if not mil­lions, of peo­ple in the Unit­ed States itself are demon­stra­bly sick­ened, shamed and angered by their gov­ern­men­t’s actions, but as things stand they are not a coher­ent polit­i­cal force — yet. But the anx­i­ety, uncer­tain­ty and fear which we can see grow­ing dai­ly in the Unit­ed States is unlike­ly to diminish.

The rest of the speech (includ­ing some equal­ly blis­ter­ing dia­tribes) can be found here. Will this be dis­missed as mere­ly rav­ings from anoth­er ‘Euro­pean Elit­ist’ (I can just hear Bush’s Press Sec­re­tary Scott McClel­lan say­ing some­thing like that), or will some of this stick? ‘Sick­ened, shamed and angered’ cer­tain­ly describes how I feel most of the time by near­ly every­thing the US gov­ern­ment has said and done for the past 5 years.

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