A consistent trait of ideologues is the failure to see the consequences of their ideologies. Thus it is with antiwar movement’s defense of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged author of the notorious 90,000-page dump of classified military documents on WikiLeaks.
Libertarians love WikiLeaks because it discloses government secrets—in this case, about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning, the Army alleges, leaked the infamous recording of Army helicopter pilots vaporizing Iraqis on the ground and more than 150,000 classified diplomatic cables.
After WikiLeaks published the classified military documents, Swedish authorities suddenly—and suspiciously, some say—targeted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Criminal prosecutors arrested him for rape and molestation. Almost as quickly, they dropped the rape charges. He stands accused of molestation.
To the antiwar ideologues, Manning is a courageous whistleblower whose conscience could no longer abide an illegal and unjust war. So what he did is right and just. But is it?
Manning’s disclosure, the government claims, endangers the lives not only of American GIs but of confidential Afghan and Iraqi sources. WikiLeaks protested that it withheld names to protect them, but according to the New York Times, the Taliban is “scouring classified American military documents posted online by the group WikiLeaks for information to help them find and ‘punish’ Afghan informers.” The Times also reported that the published documents “gave the names or other identifying features of dozens of Afghan informants, potential defectors and others who were cooperating with American and NATO troops.”
In other words, Manning accomplished what he wanted to accomplish: to sabotage the American war effort. For that, the “Free Bradley Manning” Facebook page labels him a hero. The Bards Blog, which you’ve never heard of and likely won’t again, reports that “Bradley Manning is first and foremost a hero” because “he couldn’t morally agree with what was going on.” Writing at the leftist Common Dreams website, a former intelligence analyst and Army veteran of the Iraq war declares: “I look up to Mr. Manning specifically because he had the guts to do what I didn’t: expose the lie that is war.”
Manning needn’t have released the documents to expose anything. And the antiwar crowd knows it. Anyone with any sense knows our military expeditions in Mesopotamia and the Hindu Kush are disastrous foreign-policy mistakes; they don’t need 300,000 classified documents to tell them. Indeed, they knew it before President Bush launched the invasions. That’s why they opposed the wars before those documents were generated. Nor did anyone need to see the documents to know Americans are inadvertently, or advertently, killing civilians and committing other atrocities. Some soldiers in all wars commit murder and other crimes, and the leftist news media report them with unrestrained relish.
One can oppose and seek to end unjust wars without leaking secrets and endangering the lives of courageous American soldiers and the indigenous personnel helping them.
As for Manning—yes, he is an avowed and obviously frustrated homosexual. He reportedly leaked the documents because he is upset with the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. But his impulses and motives pale beside his crime: treason.
But for the antiwar crowd, ideology is all. It must prevail, whatever the cost. So what if American boys get killed? The war machine must be stopped! Sacrifices have to be made! Free Bradley Manning! No real patriot would say such things; he recognizes this thinking for what it is: ideological insanity.
Manning is a traitor. He deserves the firing squad. And an antiwar movement that applauds his disloyalty isn’t merely antiwar. It’s anti-American.