Ethics are what make people stand against tyranny. Saying “no” to the crowd is one of the most difficult challenges we face as social animals. Bradley Manning had the courage to make an ethical stand, we all possess similar characteristics, we just choose to dismiss these ethical impulses. When we do so, our the moral fabric of our society degrades.
“Washington, DC - Private Bradley Manning was just 22 years old when he allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of US State Department cables and video evidence of war crimes to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. For that act of courage that revealed to the world the true face of the American empire, he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.”
Making an ethical stand always has consequences; I’m surprised Mr.Manning has not been executed yet for his actions. The international media, not heard in the US of course, is picking up the story and telling a significantly different narrative than what the White House would like you to believe.
“All one needs to know about American justice is that if he had murdered civilians and desecrated their corpses – if he had the moral capacity to commit war crimes, not the audacity to expose them – he’d be better off today.”
Not exactly good for the recruiting posters.
“Indeed, if Manning had merely murdered the nameless, faceless “other”, as his Army colleagues on the notorious Afghan “Kill Team” did, he would not have had his right to a speedy trial blatantly violated. If Manning had intentionally killed unarmed civilians, posed for pictures with their dead bodies and slashed their fingers off as souvenirs, he would not have had his guilt publicly pronounced by his own commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama, months before he so much as saw the inside of a military court. If he had killed poor foreigners instead of exposing their deaths, he might even stand a chance of getting out of prison while still a young man.”
War brings a different set of rules to the table, but we in the West would like to think that we possess some noble spirit that sets us apart from the rest. Yo-ho, it is they who are savages, the brutes who kill indiscriminately. What bullocks.
“This isn’t really a head-scratching development. While killing unarmed civilians for sport may not be officially sanctioned policy, it doesn’t threaten the functioning of the war machine as much as a soldier standing up and refusing to be complicit in mass murder. From the perspective of a Washington establishment much more concerned with maintaining hegemony than its humanity, the former – murder – is much less troubling a precedent than the latter.
And so the US government is making an example of Manning, lest any other cogs in the machine start thinking about listening to their consciences instead of their commanders.”
The mirroring of foreign policy onto this case bears further investigation. The bullshite you here about the domino theory and the various red-scares starts with the implicit assumption that the “threat of a good-example” must be quashed at all costs. The illegal terrorist war waged by the United States on Nicaragua is a prime example of a country using resources for its people instead of the multinationals. Raises the poor a few steps out of abject poverty is the “good example” that must be utterly destroyed so “stability” can be restored. Stability being shorthand for globalized corporate control. Focusing on the individual case of Mr.Manning we can observe the same pattern.
Manning’s actions speak of a human conscience, a sense that what was going on was horribly wrong and it needed to stop. Acting on his conscience as a decent human being, Manning took action. Having people empathically relate to official enemies is a big no no in the armed forces, you might start questioning the rational, as such, of what you’re doing there and that, gentle readers, is not allowed.
“Had Manning – instead of exposing the crime – been the one pulling the trigger in the US Apache helicopter that in 2007 murdered at least a dozen unarmed people in Baghdad, he wouldn’t be facing any legal consequences for his actions. Had Manning authorised a 2009 missile strike in Yemen that killed 14 women and 21 children, instead of releasing the State Department cable that acknowledges responsibility for the killings, we wouldn’t even know his name.
But Manning didn’t kill anybody. Rather, he was outraged by the killing he saw all around him and angered at the complicity of his higher-ups who weren’t prepared to do a damn thing about. So, the system having failed to ensure accountability, Manning took it upon himself to share the inconvenient facts his government was withholding from the world.
“I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy”, he explained in a chat with hacker-turned-informant Adrian Lamo. As an Army intelligence analyst, Manning witnessed firsthand the American empire in action – and it changed him. “I don’t believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore”, he lamented, “only a plethora of states acting in self-interest”.
Transparency, accountability, responsibility are all hallmarks of a functioning democracy. The people of a democracy have the right to know what is being done in their name.
“Confronted with the reality of institutional evil, Manning risked his career – and his freedom – in order to expose everything from mass murder and child rape in Afghanistan to US support for brutal dictators across North Africa and the Middle East. His actions were heroic, and Amnesty International has even credited them as the spark for with jump-starting the Arab Spring. And yet a president who proclaims his commitment to transparency while on the campaign trail is determined to go down as the one whose administration mentally tortured, prosecuted and jailed the most famous whistle-blower in half-a-century.”
Officially we want heroes from war, but what we really get are ‘made-men’ who, with the consent of the state, parrot the institutional truths back to the public to keep them in the dark. Outside of the borders of the USA, the notion of ‘defending freedom’ has a much different definition, one much closer to the harsh truth that Bradly Manning chose to share.
Manning said,”I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy”. – Perhaps if the American public could share a similar sentiment democracy might begin to flourish once again in the USA.