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Posted: August 31, 2013

A uniquely deserving candidate for a Nobel Prize

GerryWarner1-150x150Perceptions by Gerry Warner

It’s almost Nobel Prize season again and I have a nomination for the Peace Prize – Bradley Manning. Yes, that Bradley Manning, the US soldier who leaked more than 700,000 classified security documents to WikiLeaks and set off a firestorm of controversy about the ruthless savagery the US is using to conduct the war in Afghanistan.

Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in jail by a military court Aug. 21, only escaped execution because the judge found him not guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy.

The 25-year-old former security analyst, who spent three years in jail including months in solitary confinement prior to his trial, was unbowed by his conviction telling the court he will seek a pardon. Directly addressing President Obama, the only person with the power to grant him a pardon, Manning said: “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”

Considering that President Obama pressed hard for Manning’s trial as a deterrent to stop other potential whistle blowers from revealing American war atrocities, Manning’s chances for a pardon are about as likely as Fidel Castro being invited to the White House for dinner or Edward Snowden being awarded a Pulitzer Prize for revealing the monitoring of American phone calls and email by the National Security Agency. Despite this, a Slate on-line poll last week found that 13 per cent of Americans think Manning shouldn’t be jailed at all and more than 100,000 have signed the petition to award him the Nobel Prize.

And when it comes right down to it, why is Manning being jailed at all? For telling the truth, of course, the one thing that must never be done in war time, which has grown to be “all the time” for our neighbors in the south. Since the Cold War in the 1950s, the Vietnam War in the 1960s, the Bay of Pigs War, mini-wars in Grenada and Panama, the Balkans War, The Persian Gulf  War, the Iraq War, the seven-year invasion of Afghanistan and war now being contemplated in Syria.

And even domestically the war rhetoric continues with the likes of the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs – surely this is the most war-like country on the face of the Earth?

You may call Sweden, and Canada for that matter, “welfare states,” but some are beginning to call the US the “warfare state” and sadly there’s a lot of truth in that. And in the last few years we’ve entered the era of Drone Wars where American military personnel sit in underground bunkers in Nevada chawing on Big Macs while sending drones buzzing through the sky half-a-world away to kill Taliban terrorists, real or imagined, along with women, children and other civilians nearby.

This is the kind of classified “secret” information that Manning revealed to the world when he hit the send button on his computer and sent a tidal wave of documents to WikiLeaks much to the chagrin of his military masters, who think you and I dear reader, aren’t capable of forming our own opinions on how the war is conducted, or if it should be conducted at all, and that we should only get scrupulously, sanitized war reports spun to us from those embedded journalists (?) fraternizing with the troops.

We’ve all heard the cliché that truth is the first casualty in war, a cliché that only grows stronger with each passing war. But it’s thanks to courageous individuals like Bradley Manning that a little bit of truth leaks out occasionally in the ocean of propaganda that the spinmeisters roll out to justify every war. And the propaganda doesn’t just come from the military.

Many in the media as well as politicians are only too glad to spin the patriotic pap, too. Look at all the fuss and money being spent by the Harper government on the War of 1812. To what end? You tell me.

Thank God there are a few fearless people left in the world like Bradley Manning – and I don’t care if he regards himself as a man or a woman – to give us the unadulterated truth about war and how it diminishes us all.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and Cranbrook City Councillor. His opinions are his own.

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