A Humanist US Soldier

08.08.2010 - Washington - Redacción Chile

*by Nicolás Guerra Aguiar*

Bradley Manning, 22-year-old US soldier posted to Iraq in the military intelligence service, will be tried – and, of course, sentenced- by a war council that the high command of his own Army will preside over. The very serious accusation is “theft and dissemination of videos [military operation in Baghdad, 2007] and highly secret messages” sent by the State Department. He will also be charged with revealing thousands of documents on the war in Afghanistan.

The first video (video in America) shows that a journalist, a presenter from Reuters agency, and other civilians, were killed by helicopter bombings. The second one, allegedly, uncovers the extermination of a hundred civilians in Afghanistan in 2009.

The US Army arrested him and he is still in prison, although it is true that no one from the higher, intermediate or lower authorities has denied the reality of the images and words, not even the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mr Obama, its president and therefore commander in chief.

The Army wrote the word “humanist” on the soldier’s record, a term that comes from the XIV century (Italian Renaissance), referring to people who participated in intellectual thinking dominated by reason. Therefore, Humanism holds that men possess capabilities – as the rational beings that they are – to discover the truth, although it also considered those people devoted to letters and the arts as humanists, who studied the classical world of Greece and Rome and also tried to understand the reasons for existence. In short, it considers that one can be happy if one respects human life and that political power cannot impose its ideology on reason, the capacity of human thought.

In view of the evidence, I think that the US Government has hit the target when it labels soldier Manning as “humanist” (or “very dangerous”, it is all the same), in other words, as a person who does not accept imperatives of force or violence, as a thinking being who claims reason as a fundamental guide in human behaviour. Reason also pervades the letters and sensibilities of classical culture.

That a young man of twenty two – from the intelligence service – has disseminated or sent visual and written material to the media on assassinations committed by his Army (and kept quiet by the Administration), even knowing that in the US he would be considered a traitor, leads me to the assertion that yes he is a “humanist”, a rational being, a young man who places himself above passion and crazy arbitrary actions.

It is interesting, if it is true, that among today’s thousands of young US soldiers – passionate, thoughtless, fanatically imbued with messianic designs – there is one, like soldier Manning, who does not accept his country’s redeeming mission in those unknown lands, although filled with millions of barrels of oil, the sole obsession of companies’ and therefore, of the Administration, however much the wells overflow with the blood of innocents.

Soldier Manning reminds me – even if in other times – of the US soldiers who demonstrated in the US to demand the withdrawal of a million fellow countrymen from Vietnam, sent under deceit and fraud, and where thousands of them lost arms, legs, noble sentiments, youth, and even worse: the dogmatic belief that their country was acting in the name of liberty, democracy and social justice.

Soldier Manning will be sentenced, inevitably, to thousands of years in prison. They will accuse him of everything and, especially, of his “humanist” condition, in other words, of being a man who uses reason in the face of the barbarism of murder. He will be sentenced for reporting that happiness is not attainable if the human condition is not respected. However, he will be sentenced specifically because he was capable of thinking for himself. That is his greatest crime.

Source: “La Provincia” Newspaper, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

*translation: Rhona Desmond*

Categories: International, North America, Politics

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