Nobel winner rails against U.S. policy

Playwright Harold Pinter, in his acceptance speech for the literature prize, says the "crimes" of the United States are vicious.

By Sarah Lyall
The New York Times
December 8, 2005

London - British playwright Harold Pinter turned his Nobel Prize acceptance speech Wednesday into a speech against American foreign policy, saying that the United States had not only lied to justify waging war against Iraq but had also "supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship" in the past 50 years.

"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them," Pinter said. "You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

Sitting in a wheelchair, his lap covered by a blanket, his voice hoarse but unwavering, Pinter, 75, delivered his speech via a video recording that was played on Wednesday at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, Sweden.

He was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus several years ago and had been ordered by his doctors not to travel to Stockholm for the speech, his publisher said.

The playwright, known in recent years as much for his fiery anti-Americanism as for his spare prose style and haunting, elliptical plays such as "The Caretaker" and "The Homecoming," was awarded the $1.3 million literature prize in October.

In its citation, the Swedish Academy made little mention of his political views, saying only that he is known as a "fighter for human rights" whose stands are often "seen as controversial."

He clearly welcomed the platform the award gave him to bring his views, long expressed in Britain, to a larger audience.


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