Saturday 25 November 2017

Rhodri Jones: Bravery should inspire us to scrutinise our leaders

Rhodri Jones

Power has to be relentlessly fought. Without being constantly checked, exposed, harangued, mocked and driven back, it would swiftly devour all the rights that were won at its expense. There is, invariably, a cost. The powerful know that if those who chip away at their authority are not undermined, or humiliated, or even persecuted, others would be emboldened to strike blows at them, too.

Although found not guilty of aiding the enemy by a military judge, the guilty verdicts on other charges will leave Bradley Manning languishing in military custody for much, if not all, of his life: he faces a sentence of more than 130 years. Here is the sacrifice he has paid for exposing the secretive actions of a government that claims to act in the name of the US people.

Over a decade ago, the US initiated two calamitous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with a terrible human cost that is still being paid. It was always in the interests of the US elite to keep the consequences of their actions as far away from public consciousness as possible. The justification is that such secrecy is needed to protect the US people from the country's enemies, but the real aim is to stem opposition.

Every US hawk still shivers at the photos of naked Vietnamese children running from a napalm attack, which helped galvanise the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

By being responsible for the biggest leak of classified information in US history, Manning revealed the sordid realities of a war that the armchair warriors want sanitised – such as a helicopter bombing of Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists.

We shouldn't pity Manning. We should admire his courage and be inspired by it to scrutinise what our governments do.

For us all to do our bit in a struggle for a more just world order would be the ultimate show of gratitude for him. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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