For information on the sanctions imposed by the West on the country of Iraq.
Campaign Against Sanctions and War on Iraq (CASWI) email:
Mariam Appeal: works directly with children affected by sanctions.
Voices in the Wilderness UK- a campaign to break the immoral sanctions against the people of Iraq. Email:
In 1992 Pinter wrote the satirical poem "American Football".
To read the poem and for an account of the media reaction please see the poetry section:
The Gulf War and the continuing bombing of Iraq
Following recent world events and the proposed War on Iraq, Harold Pinter gave a speech at a 'No War on Iraq' Liaison meeting in Parliament - October 2002.
Click here to read the speech

'No War on Iraq Liaison'

Pinter's opposition to post-war American foreign policy, and in particular to the smokescreen of doublethink that surrounds it, remains unyielding.

The Life and Work of Harold Pinter, Michael Billington, Faber and Faber 1996, p370


I CAN'T REMEMBER where Saddam Hussein was when the USA invaded Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989 but he probably made a note of both escapades in his diary and kept them up his sleeve for a rainy day. The International Court of Justice in The Hague, however, was quite explicit in its judgement in 1986 on America military and paramilitary activities in Nicaragua. It stated that the USA had breached its obligations under international law not to intervene in the affairs of another state, demanded that it refrained from all such acts and make reparation for all injury caused. The USA laughingly dismissed this judgement, declaring, in so many words, that its actions were none of the business of any damn International Court of Justice, and that anyway they were inspired by a determination to kept the world clean for democracy. The death toll in Nicaragua went on to reach 30,000. President Bush's "outrage" at the Iraqi breach of this very same international law is good for a pretty short laugh. (The only people who won't be laughing, of course are the dead.) What the US is doing is perfectly simple. It's asserting what it conceives to be its spiritual destiny: "I am God: get out of my fucking way." This stink is with us forever.

The Observer 3/2/91

See also letter to the Independent 29 January 1991, on the detainment of Abbas Cheblak, Palestinian, in Censorship and Freedom of Speech section

Pinter and Hume

Harold Pinter and Cardinal Basil Hume lead assault on plans for war in the Gulf.

HAROLD PINTER last night delivered a stinging attack on Tony Blair and Bill Clinton over the threatened war against Saddam Hussein, claiming the US President had kil1ed thousands of children" by sanctions and accusing the Cabinet of being excited by the prospect of dropping "big bombs" on Iraq. The playwright led mounting opposition to war in the Gulf at a meeting of dissident Labour MPs at Westminster, as Cardinal Basil Hume, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, released a letter to Mr Blair expressing "strong doubts" over whether military targets could be hit without causing "disproportionate harm". Mr Pinter, a long-term critic of American aggression, told The Independent that the close Anglo-American relationship forged between Mr. Blair and Mr. Clinton was "shameful and pathetic". He said: "The USA is a monster. It's actually the USA that needs to be stopped. "Everyone knows that war is appalling but what we lose sight of is that it's been abstracted now and sanitised to such a degree... I said in my speech that Mr Clinton has killed children and he hasn't even noticed it, because they are actually abstractions - they are children dying by his sanctions." War had been sanitised by political propaganda from government with a certain kind of complicity in the media. That was certainly the case in the Gulf War." Mr Pinter added: "I am not a pacifist. I am rational." Addressing an anti-war meeting at Westminster, Mr Pinter said: "Despite continual references to thc solidarity of 'the international community', the United States has in fact held international law in contempt for so long it has succeeded in rendering the concept meaningless. "Madeleine Albright [the US Secretary of State] said the other day "our patience is running out'. I remember a man who used to say very much the same thing in the l93Os. The USA is now a bovine monster out of control. That this government can so glibly ally itself to such a pointless, utterly irresponsible and profoundly dangerous enterprise is lamentable."

Independent, February 13th 1998

By Colin Brown, political correspondent



Letter to Tony Blair
Pinter's open letter to Tony Blair, PM, (published in The Guardian 17 February 1998)on the subject of Britain's involvement in Iraq appears in the politics section of Various Voices, page 236.

17 February 1998

Dear Prime Minister,
We have been reminded often over the last few weeks of Saddam Hussein1s appalling record in the field of human rights. It is indeed appalling: brutal, pathological. But I thought you might be interested to scrutinise the record of your ally, the United States, in a somewhat wider context. I am not at all certain that your advisors will have kept you fully informed. The United States has supported, subsidised and in a number of cases, engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world since 1945. I refer to Guatemala, Indonesia, Chile, Greece, Uruguay, The Philippines, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, El Salvador, for example. Hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered by these regimes but the money, the resources, the equipment (all kinds), the advice, the moral support, as it were, has come from successive US administrations.
The devastation the US inflicted upon Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the use of napalm, Agent Orange and the employment of new bombs which sprayed darts inside peoples bodies and finally wrenched their guts out was a remorseless, savage, systematic course of destruction which, however, failed to destroy the spirit of the Vietnamese people. When the US was defeated it at once set out to starve the country by way of trade embargo. The US invaded the Dominican Republic in 1965, Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1990 and destabilised and brought down the democratically elected governments of Guatemala, Chile, Greece and Haiti - all acts entirely outside the parameters of international law. It has given and still gives total support to the Turkish government1s campaign of genocide against the Kurdish people. It describes the Kurdish resistance forces in Turkey as "terrorists" whereas it referred to its own vicious Contra force in Nicaragua as "freedom fighters". Its "covert" action against Nicaragua was declared by the International Court of Justice in the Hague to be in clear breach of International Law. The Court demanded that the US refrain from such acts and make reparation for all injury caused.
The US dismissed the judgement, declaring, quite unambiguously, that its actions were outside the jurisdiction of the International Court. In 1954 in Guatemala and in 1965 in Indonesia the US Embassies made comprehensive lists of the communists to be killed. "The communists" were the usual crowd of priests, students, doctors, union leaders, social workers, teachers, lawyers and journalists. In Indonesia their corpses clogged the rivers.
In Jakarta in 1975 Henry Kissinger and President Ford gave their full backing to the projected Indonesian invasion of East Timor. They shook hands on it and Indonesia went into East Timor like a shot off a shovel.
At Fort Benning in Florida the US army taught various techniques to the eventual killers of Archbishop Romero, the six Jesuits in El Salvador and the four nuns raped and murdered in the same country. In respect of the murder of the Jesuits, the US Embassy nobbled the main witness and blatantly perverted the course of justice. In respect of the murdered nuns, Al Haig (US Secretary of State at the time) said, with a twinkle in his eye "I heard there was some kind of a shoot-out. Maybe they were pistol packing nuns".
The deaths really do mount up. 170,000 in Guatemala, 200,000 in East Timor, 80,000 in El Salvador, 30,000 in Nicaragua, 500,000 in Indonesia - and that1s just to be going on with. They are, every single one of them, attributable to your ally1s foreign policy.
Over the last five years the United Nations has passed five resolutions with overwhelming majorities demanding that the United States stop its embargo on Cuba. The US has ignored all of them. All UN resolutions criticising Israel have been ignored, not only by Israel but also by the US, which turns a blind eye to Israel1s nuclear capability and shrugs off the oppression of the Palestinians.
The US possesses of course quite a handy nuclear capability itself. I would say it outstrips Saddam1s ability to kill "every man woman and child on earth" by quite a few miles. If that wasn1t enough it also has substantial chemical arsenals and has recently rejected two United Nations inspectors, one Cuban and one Iranian. It also reserves the right to deny access to certain "National Security" zones. They are closed to inspection, as "Inspection may pose a threat to the national security interests of the United States".
Isn1t Saddam Hussein saying something like that?
George Kennan, Head of the US State Department, setting out the ground rules for US Foreign Policy, in a "Top Secret" internal document in 1948 said: "We will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We should cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans the better."
Kennan was an unusual man. He told the truth.
I1m sure you would agree that historical perspective is of the first importance and that a proper detachment is a crucial obligation which devolves upon leaders of men.
Anyway, this is your ally, with whom you are locked in a moral embrace.
Oh, by the way, meant to mention, forgot to tell you, we were all chuffed to our bollocks when Labour won the election.

Harold Pinter

For information on the current status of US activity in the Gulf region visit:
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