What is fascinating in this day and age is how the definition of previously well-known concepts mysteriously have changed. I’m not thinking of e.g. the word “defense,” which nowadays seems to have a much broader meaning and includes waging wars, occupying foreign nations, and having permanent military bases in almost 200 foreign countries. Not long ago these things would fit squarely in definitions of offense or aggression–but not anymore. Whereas I’m not talking about the definition of “defense,” the topic for this article is necessarily and closely related to it.
Consider the case of Bradley Manning. In case you have not heard of him, this is the 22-year-old former Army intelligence analyst who leaked the “Collateral Murder” video, in which a US helicopter crew brutally slaughtered a group of Iraqi civilians believed to be insurgents, among them two Reuters journalists (clearly seen carrying their camera equipment). After being practically an idiot and bragging online about leaking the video and other documents through the WikiLeaks web site, Manning was identified by Army security, subsequently arrested, and is now facing 52 years in prison.
Now, I’m not talking about the contractual issue here–it is quite legit for an employer to require that employees do not reveal sensitive information about the business. But the case of Manning is special in so many ways: the employer is not a market actor, the labor services offered by employees are criminal according to any set of laws or morals were they committed without wearing the uniform, and the actions revealed were utterly immoral, possibly illegal (even by state standards!), and took place in occupied territory.
The war fought in Iraq is supposedly a “just war” supported in part by the moral argument that one should get rid of dictatorial leaders (unless they are American) and replace them with democracy/freedom (the politically correct dyad), and in part to enforce UN resolutions and get rid of the non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). One would expect that a just war is not only just in its purpose but also in its implementation. In other words, the horrible deeds revealed to the public by Manning should not be tolerated. So from the same perspective used to legitimize this war, Manning did a good thing–and is being punished.
In fact, if the war is truly fought to save a people from their dictator or save the world from a dictator with WMDs, then it would make sense to keep the war machine as transparent and open as democracies–the ideal–supposedly are. After all, the very object of the war is to relieve the world of an oppressive regime for the sake of freedom, democracy, and all that is valuable to man (but I repeat myself, since “democracy” is usually used in the politically correct discourse to denote all that is of value). Then it doesn’t make sense to organize the war machine according to the same principle as the dictatorship one tries to get rid of.
It certainly doesn’t make sense to punish anyone blowing the whistle on things not being right. Obviously, any well-meaning democracy would want its defensive forces to behave democratically (whatever that means) and not use undemocratic methods. If undemocratic methods are used, it would be in the interest of the country’s leaders and the people, who theoretically have the true power, to find out and do something about it. Yet it seems in the case of Manning, nobody is happy about his very democratic, moral actions. No, he is regarded as an enemy, a traitor, and terrorist. Despite our high ideals of democracy, freedom, and equal rights, this man is persecuted and prosecuted as a simple criminal–for acting according to some of the most fundamental of these ideals.
This should tell us something about the state of things in our modern society. Not only are there different rules for different people, especially as pertains to a people and its leaders, respectively, but words have different meaning. A member of the ruling class who lies to the world is but doing his country a favor, protecting our liberties, and making a sacrifice for our national security. If you do the same, you will be thrown in jail for perjury or fraud. When a member of the ruling class decides to steal other people’s money to finance a campaign of rape and murder in foreign lands, he is protecting us from terrorism. If you do the same, you will be thrown in jail or even put to death as a simple thief, rapist, and murderer.
Of course, there is a way around this: If you act in the name of the ruling class, wear their costumes, and blindly obey their slightest whim, then you are free from guilt. Manning, it seems, was not able to see the difference, and for this, he was mercilessly and without warning demoted to citizen. He should have learned that words have different meaning depending on who you are and who you work for, and that different acts mean different things: a murder is not a murder if you’re wearing a uniform.
According to this logic, and Manning’s citizen status, he should be punished as the terrorist he is. After all, if he is not a terrorist–who is?