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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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AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with the selection of the European Union for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for its historic role in uniting the continent. Committee chair Thorbjoern Jagland praised the EU for transforming Europe "from a continent of wars to a continent of peace."

The selection of the European Union surprised many, as it comes at a time when much of Europe is facing an economic crisis that threatens the EU’s future. Just this past week, thousands of Greeks protested in Athens against a visit by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has pushed Greece, Spain and Ireland to enact deep austerity measures.

For more on this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, we go to London, where we’re joined by Tariq Ali, political commentator, historian, activist and editor of the New Left Review. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power. He joins us by Democracy Now! video stream.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Tariq.


AMY GOODMAN: When you got up this morning and heard the news that the Nobel Prize committee has honored the European Union, given it the Nobel Peace Prize this year, your response?

TARIQ ALI: My initial response, Amy, was to burst out laughing, because this Nobel Peace Prize committee, basically run by clapped-out former politicians in Norway, never fails to amuse and disappoint. I mean, they constantly behave like this. Their prize choices over the last 20 years have been laughable, in some cases monstrous.

To give the prize to the European Community at a time, effectively, when economically it is promoting unemployment, creating real class divides in virtually every country in Europe, where it has led to enormous violence on the streets of Greece, because of the policies being pushed by the EU—democratically, there’s a huge deficit. The vote cast in the whole of Europe, member of the EU, has gone down 40 percent over the last 20 years. I mean, about 43 percent of the people vote. And in fewer numbers, the young barely bother to vote at all. The constitution was rammed through at a time, several years ago, when not even the politicians who signed it had read it. And the third policy of the EU, which is not talked about much, that it is now almost a duty of every country joining the EU to automatically become part of NATO. So giving the EU the prize is also rewarding NATO. And it’s worth remembering that virtually every major EU country has troops in Afghanistan. Every major EU country has supported and ratified the occupation of Iraq, even though some opposed the war.

So it’s a complete and utter joke, especially at this time, when there’s complete turmoil on the streets of southern Europe. And it just shows that these Norwegian former politicians who comprise the committee are completely out of touch. And I’m sure there will be anger in Norway itself, as there usually is when they announce the peace prize.

AMY GOODMAN: The Norwegian Peace Council has called for the resignation of the head of the Nobel Committee after it awarded the peace prize to the European Union. The Norwegian Peace Council said, "Granting the EU the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 indicates its highly political dimension, awarding it to a project that for the past year has proven to represent the opposite of peace. The EU suffers from an extensive democratic deficit, with violations of human rights along increasing social inequality." That statement from the Norwegian Peace Council, Tariq Ali.

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