Thursday, August 1, 2013

Oathbreakers 2

(Another partial answer to Jim Wright on Bradley Manning. [Added] I didn't post this one there, either.)

All the US service oaths I know contain a paradox: they are oaths to uphold the constitution, some laws, and obey one's superiors. But how when one's superiors are corrupt, all the way to the top? Where does loyalty lie?

Do you really believe that going through channels would have worked for Manning? In a time when we have to defend the idea that torture is illegal? In a time when the Secretary of State of the United States stood up in front the United Nations General Assembly and lied to justify a war? None of the Bush administration officials who made the war, who have made torture policy, who argued that it was legal, have been disciplined in any way. There has been no action to set matters straight in any way by the Obama administration—the war criminals of the Bush administration keep their pensions, their private lives, their war profits—yes, I'm looking at you, Mr. Former Vice President.

You know this. What, exactly, could PFC Bradley Manning do against so much corruption? As far as I can see the only effective action he could take was the action he did take. We can argue the law and the merits of the law endlessly. But what is the point?  We need to step back and ask ourselves what we have become and why we have become it. And, if we feel very brave, we might ask ourselves why Bradley Manning faces decades in prison while the people who killed hundreds of thousands in Iraq, who are making the USA enemies worldwide with their dirty wars and their killings of civilians, go free and are lauded as great men.  What harm could Bradley's revelations do compared to that? 

I think we are like the extended family that is run by violent fathers and uncles, and who beats up the son who goes to the police, whose members say that everything was all right until someone blew the whistle.  No.  Everything was not all right.  Everything that went before is not irrelevant, is not to be ignored.  No-one lets bygones be bygones when someone has died, let alone the hundreds of thousands who have died.  And—the people you have rightly criticized for tearing the country apart—they are the ones who have done this, who are doing this.  Not Manning's defenders on the left.  Not the moderate conservatives like you.  The people who made the dirty wars, who looted the banks, who wrecked the global economy. 

Let us fight the real enemy, not the poor schmuck who cries out, "My god, what have we done?"

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