Pinter and Hume lead assault on plans for war in the Gulf

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The Independent Online
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 "killed 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 the 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 1930s. 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."

Iraq crisis, pages 12, 13