Pinter at the University of Turin
Earlier this year I had a major operation for cancer. The
operation and its after-effects were something of a nightmare. I felt
I was a man unable to swim bobbing about under water in a deep dark
endless ocean. But I did not drown and I am very glad to be alive.
However, I found that to emerge from a personal nightmare was to enter
an infinitely more pervasive public nightmare - the nightmare of American
hysteria, ignorance, arrogance, stupidity and belligerence; the most
powerful nation the world has ever known effectively waging war against
the rest of the world. "If you are not with us you are against us"
President Bush has said. He has also said "We will not allow the world's
worst weapons to remain in the hands of the world's worst leaders".
Quite right. Look in the mirror chum. That's you.
The US is at this moment is developing advanced systems
of "weapons of mass destruction" and it prepared to use them where
it sees fit. It has more of them than the rest of the world put together.
It has walked away from international agreements on biological and
chemical weapons, refusing to allow inspection of its own factories.
The hypocrisy behind its public declarations and its own actions is
almost a joke. The United States believes that the three thousand
deaths in New York are the only deaths that count, the only deaths
that matter. They are American deaths. Other deaths are unreal, abstract,
of no consequence. The three thousand deaths in Afghanistan are never
referred to. The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children dead through
US and British sanctions which have deprived them of essential medicines
are never referred to.
The effect of depleted uranium, used by America in the Gulf
War, is never referred to. Radiation levels in Iraq are appallingly
high. Babies are born with no brain, no eyes, no genitals. Where they
do have ears, mouths or rectums, all that issues from these orifices
is blood. The two hundred thousand deaths in East Timor in 1975 brought
about by the Indonesian government but inspired and supported by the
United States are never referred to.
The half a million deaths in Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador,
Nicaragua, Uruguay, Argentina and Haiti, in actions supported and
subsidised by the United States are never referred to. The millions
of deaths in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are no longer referred to.
The desperate plight of the Palestinian people, the central
factor in world unrest, is hardly referred to.
But what a misjudgement of the present and what a misreading
of history this is.
People do not forget. They do not forget the death of their
fellows, they do not forget torture and mutilation, they do not forget
injustice, they do not forget oppression, they do not forget the terrorism
of mighty powers. They not only don't forget. They strike back.
The atrocity in New York was predictable and inevitable.
It was an act of retaliation against constant and systematic manifestations
of state terrorism on the part of the United States over many years,
in all parts of the world.
In Britain the public is now being warned to be "vigilant"
in preparation for potential terrorist acts. The language is in itself
How will - or can - public vigilance be embodied? Wearing
a scarf over your mouth to keep out poison gas? However, terrorist
attacks are quite likely, the inevitable result of our Prime Minister's
contemptible and shameful subservience to the United States. Apparently
a terrorist poison gas attack on the London Underground system was
recently prevented. But such an act may indeed take place. Thousands
of school children travel on the London Underground every day. If
there is a poison gas attack from which they die, the responsibility
will rest entirely on the shoulders of our Prime Minister. Needless
to say, the Prime Minister does not travel on the underground himself.
The planned war against Iraq is in fact a plan for premeditated
murder of thousands of civilians in order, apparently, to rescue them
from their dictator.
The United States and Britain are pursuing a course which
can lead only to an escalation of violence throughout the world and
finally to catastrophe.
It is obvious, however, that the United States is bursting
at the seams to attack Iraq. I believe that it will do this - not
just to take control of Iraqi oil - but because the US administration
is now a bloodthirsty wild animal. Bombs are its only vocabulary.
Many Americans, we know, are horrified by the posture of their government
but seem to be helpless.
Unless Europe finds the solidarity, intelligence, courage
and will to challenge and resist US power Europe itself will deserve
Alexander Herzen's definition (as quoted in the Guardian newspaper
in London recently) "We are not the doctors. We are the disease".