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Crippling Austerity Measures and NATO's War Machine: Tariq Ali On Why the European Union Doesn't Deserve a Nobel

Democracy Now! interviews the political commentator Tariq Ali on why the awarding of the peace prize to the EU is a "complete and utter joke."

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TARIQ ALI: Amy, the Norwegian Peace Council has criticized the peace prize in the past. In fact, Alfred Nobel specified that the peace prize should only be given to those who are actively promoting the cause of peace, which the EU doesn’t do, either in the Middle East—for instance, it has backed and supported everything the Israelis have done as far as the occupation of Palestine is concerned. It has tried to isolate the elected Palestinian government in the past. It has carried on supporting NATO—and it’s part of it—and the war in Afghanistan. So, it’s—the question is, is the Nobel Prize committee on a suicide [inaudible], because this decision will not be popular even amongst many, many Swedish—Norwegian members of parliament. I was there a few years ago when they gave it to Obama, and about 10,000 people demonstrated against that, because Obama had just said he was going to escalate the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

So, the peace committee itself now, the Nobel Prize committee, has become a version of the EU. It’s undemocratic. It’s self-appointed. There’s no accountability whatsoever. And something needs to be done to change it. In the case of the prize committee, it should be internationalized. It can’t just be these deadbeat politicians.

AMY GOODMAN: Panos Skourletis, the spokesperson for Greece’s main opposition party, Syriza, said, "I just cannot understand what the reasoning would be behind it. In many parts of Europe, but especially in Greece, we are experiencing what really is a war situation on a daily basis, albeit a war that has not been formally declared. There is nothing peaceful about it," he said. Tariq?

TARIQ ALI: Well, Greece is, of course, a classic case in point, Amy, because not only have they created a situation by their demands, the German banks, in particular, backed by the French banks and the politicians who defend the system, they’ve made the life of virtually every Greek, right up to the middle classes, barring the very rich—which is miserable. I’ve been to Greece often over the last year and a half, and the situation is really bad now. And more to the point, that when there was a chance that the Syriza leader, Alexis Tsipras, might be elected—they came very close to it—every EU politician, including the recently elected François Hollande of France, went on Greek television and appealed to the Greek people that "if you vote for Syriza, you will be crushed. This is a suicidal thing. Greece will be destroyed." These threats worked, and the elderly, in particular, didn’t vote for Syriza, but the young did. And so, this open intervention, anti-democratic, in the elections of a Greek—of a European Union country had a very negative impact.

The question is, Amy, why did this committee behave like this? And it’s because it’s totally out of touch. It doesn’t care. It feels it can be part of the prize committee forever. They nominate each other. And I think this time, though we’ve said this before, they’ve gone too far, and people will be very angry.

AMY GOODMAN: European Commission President Barroso praised the Nobel Committee’s decision. This is what he said.

JOSÉ MANUEL BARROSO: We must never forget that, at its origins, the European Union brought together nations emerging from the ruins of the devastating Second World War and united them in a project for peace built on supranational institutions representing the common European interest. The European Union, then European Community, has reunified countries split by the Cold War and has made it around the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, justice, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

 
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