On Wednesday, we learned the fate of American whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking documentation of war crimes to Wikileaks, after conviction on violating key provisions of the Espionage Act (an act which is in and of itself an offense to liberty and repeatedly abused by the Obama administration) and for stealing government property. There was a small victory, however, as the state tried with all its might to convict Manning on the charge of “Aiding the Enemy” — a charge that would have left him a prisoner long after his death. Pressure from the community that quickly surrounded and supported Manning got this charge dropped by the judge.
The state is not omnipotent, we know it and this is what it fears — we are a fundamental threat to its power.
This is why Manning became such a target. While US president Barack Obama was extending old and beginning new wars (and getting himself a Peace Prize), Manning’s actions caused exactly zero deaths. Manning’s actions did not terrorize families with fist or gun or bomb. But Manning did directly challenge power in war time – and in war time state power is at its greatest.
This war is a war without an end. A “War on Terror” — against an adjective where countless people have been affected. This war is an incredible assault on living, breathing human beings, the very type of terror campaign it is supposed to oppose. In the name of this war the US government has occupied cities, destroyed lives and shattered any hope of liberty for people living in the territories targeted by military interventionism. This war has also, surely, fostered even more “blow back” against civilians under the rule of government.
This war has carried over two administrations. It has gone through waves of shock and awe and high tech drones. It has ended and injured the lives of troops sacrificed by a power drunk government. It has ended the lives of millions of innocent civilians – children, women and men. It has maimed even more and displaced an endless number of people. It has allowed the worlds most powerful nation state to become even more repressive. It has created a giant security complex – dedicated to bombs and bribes and back room deals. Dedicated, no matter the human cost, to an endless campaign of aggression.
As we learn the fate of PFC Manning, this is truly a time to mourn. Our hearts go out to Manning. Our hearts go out to the countless lives impacted by these unlawful wars. We lament that such a peaceful act could be met with such brutal force, while the brutal forces of the machines of war are hardly protested. Our blood boils because of this injustice.
We stand in solidarity with PFC Manning and the peace his actions stand for. The state has grown far too large. The centralized, federated nation-state is a great agent of repression. Its power lies in the hands of state servants who wish to extinguish what tiny flames of liberty are left among us. But for many, this sentence has inspired a howl so large that these flames may rage into a roaring fire. If such an injustice can come down on Manning then it can come down on any of us who wish to challenge the immoral actions of the state. May the mighty fist of solidarity vanquish this state!