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A tale of two Nobel Prize speeches

Much has already been written about Barack Obama's speech in Oslo. In the featured article on The Nation's website, we read that the President exhibited "grace," "frankness" and "humility" in accepting the Peace Prize. That a progressive could write this shows just how deeply myopia and denial run in U.S. society.

A fitting rebuttal to this year's 'war is peace' address was in fact delivered four years ago -- pre-emptively, you might say -- by the late British playwright Harold Pinter, when he was accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Barack Obama, 2009: "Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest -- because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity."

Read Obama's full speech here.

 

Harold Pinter, 2005: "The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it. It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. 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."

Read Pinter's full speech here.

 

 

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