Bradley Manning did not deserve Nobel Peace Prize nomination
In past years, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to influential individuals who are positively contributing to the cause of world peace. This can be done through anything from easing international relations to creating grassroots movements that advocate for the promotion of peace. Recent laureates include President Barack Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy,” Liu Xiaobo for his “struggle for fundamental human rights in China” and even the European Union for “contributing to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
Recently, the Nobel Committee nominated a rather controversial figure to join this illustrious group: Bradley Manning. Manning leaked a large amount of confidential military documents to the transparency-promoting organization WikiLeaks. There were 250,000 diplomatic cables and over 500,000 army reports based on actions undertaken by the military during their operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Also included within the leak were videos of the 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Granai airstrike, both of which were allegedly covered-up because of the unarmed civilians killed in the attacks. In its entirety, the documents Manning revealed comprised the largest leak of documents in American history.
The United States prosecuted and arrested Manning afterward, charging him with 20 criminal charges ranging from “failure to obey a lawful order” to charges as severe as “aiding the enemy.” While Manning was awaiting his trial, his incarceration involved solitary confinement, a scarcity of food and water and some allege that he was subject to torture. He was finally moved from these conditions after concerned scholars, both abroad and at home, interceded on his behalf, claiming that his treatment was unconstitutionally cruel.
Whatever the reason, Manning is now located in Fort Leavenworth, Texas. He has pled guilty to ten of the twenty charges leveled against him, with the notable exception of aiding the enemy — it’s Manning’s express belief that none of his actions knowingly helped any enemy of the United States.
It is the opinion of the prosecution that Manning’s actions were irresponsible and needlessly endangered the lives of thousands of deployed Americans. Furthermore, the leaked documents posed a threat to the military plans of the U.S. government, which could have indirectly jeopardized the safety of the U.S. population as a whole.
I believe that Manning’s actions were a tad irresponsible — he never stopped to think about what the repercussions of his actions could be. That being said, the end results of the leak were to the benefit of the world in its entirety, if not so helpful to the U.S. government.
Take the released videos of the airstrikes as an example. Sure, it did reveal military actions, technically providing a source from which information could be garnered about the operating procedures of the U.S. armed forces. From a humanitarian standpoint, however, it merely shined a light upon the atrocities committed during the war. It made it so that no actions could be covered-up, ensuring the delivery of justice to those who deserve it. War calls for terrible things, and mistakes come with the territory. But a soldier is honor-bound to answer for whatever his or her actions in the field are — it’s the least that the victims deserve.
Manning’s leak also provided the public with an insight into the inner workings of our government. Abraham Lincoln said that our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people,” yet it seems as if we never really understand what is happening at the federal level. We see the important voter issues that affect domestic policies, but what does the average citizen know of the diplomatic relations between the United States and its various allies? If you’re anything like me, these leaks are the first inklings of exactly what the administration does.
But in the end, I don’t believe that either of those things would be good enough to qualify Manning for a Nobel Peace Prize. There are far more significant actions that occur on a more global, wide-reaching scale than his. And though Manning’s actions to promote transparency at the highest levels is an admirable thing, it was not his intent when he leaked the documents. The sullen private was dissatisfied with his command, dissatisfied with his orders and dissatisfied with his government in general. So he struck back in the only way that a private can: he leaked information that was never supposed to have been seen outside the military and governmental echelons which required them. It would be a travesty to award a prize which holds someone in the highest esteem for something so juvenile.
Bradley Manning’s decision to expose secret U.S. documents to the world was motivated by nothing more than a petty attempt to get back at his superiors. The principles advocated by his actions were positive, but the consequences could have caused immeasurable harm to both his country and his people. A prize as respected as the Nobel Peace Prize should go to someone who truly strove to make the world a better place, not one who did so accidentally.
By Rajesh Satpathy