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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 17:54 GMT
Bush and Blair slated by Pinter
Harold Pinter's vide message being played at the at the Swedish Royal Academy in Stockholm.
Pinter is an outspoken critic of the UK and US governments

George W Bush and Tony Blair must be held to account for feeding the public "a vast tapestry of lies" about the Iraq war, writer Harold Pinter said.

The playwright launched a scathing attack on US and UK politicians in his lecture as winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.

Most politicians "are interested not in truth but in power and the maintenance of that power", the 75-year-old said.

His speech was pre-recorded as Pinter was admitted to hospital this week.

'Live in ignorance'

Pinter, whose plays include The Birthday Party and Betrayal, was announced the winner of the $1.3m (740,000) cash prize in October.

On Wednesday his lecture, entitled Art, Truth and Politics, studied the importance of truth in art before decrying its perceived absence in politics.

He said politicians feel it is "essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives".

Pinter said the US justification for invading Iraq - that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction - "was not true".

(America) has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good
Harold Pinter

"The truth is something entirely different," Pinter added. "The truth is to do with how the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it."

Pinter said that since World War II the US government "supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship in the world".

"I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador and, of course, Chile."

'Bleating lamb'

He added: "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."

Referring to Blair's support for the US-led war on Iraq, Pinter described the "pathetic and supine" Great Britain as "a bleating little lamb tagging behind (the US) on a lead".

He called for President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to be "arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice".

"But Bush has been clever," Pinter said. "He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice."

Nevertheless he added that "thousands, if not millions" of people in the US were "sickened, shamed and angered" by their government's actions.

"As things stand they are not a coherent political force - yet."

Publisher Stephen Page will accept the Nobel Prize for Literature on Pinter's behalf on Saturday.

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