Solomon: Memo from Oslo: If peace is prized, a Nobel for Bradley Manning


Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."

Oslo, Norway: The headquarters of the Nobel Committee is in downtown Oslo on a street named after Henrik Ibsen, whose play “An Enemy of the People” has remained as current as dawn light falling on the Nobel building and then, hours later, on a Fort Meade courtroom where Bradley Manning's trial enters a new stage -- defense testimony in the sentencing phase.

Ibsen’s play tells of mendacity and greed in high places: dangerous threats to public health. You might call the protagonist a whistleblower. He's a physician who can't pretend that he hasn't seen evidence; he rejects all the pleas and threats to stay quiet, to keep secret what the public has a right to know. He could be content to take an easy way, to let others suffer and die. But he refuses to just follow orders. He will save lives. There will be some dire consequences for him.

The respectable authorities know when they've had enough. Thought crimes can be trivial but are apt to become intolerable if they lead to active transgressions. In the last act, our hero recounts: “They insulted me and called me an enemy of the people.” Ostracized and condemned, he offers final defiant words before the curtain comes down: “I have made a great discovery. … It is this, let me tell you -- that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.”

Alone, Bradley Manning will stand as a military judge proclaims a prison sentence

As I write these words early Monday, sky is starting to lighten over Oslo. This afternoon I'll carry several thousand pages of a petition -- filled with the names of more than 100,000 signers, along with individual comments from tens of thousands of them -- to an appointment with the Research Director of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The petition urges that Bradley Manning be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Like so many other people, the signers share the belief of Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire who wrote this summer: “I can think of no one more deserving.”

Opening heart and mind to moral responsibility -- seeing an opportunity to provide the crucial fuel of information for democracy and compassion -- Bradley Manning lifted a shroud and illuminated terrible actions of the USA's warfare state. He chose courage on behalf of humanity. He refused to just follow orders.

“If there’s one thing to learn from the last ten years, it’s that government secrecy and lies come at a very high price in blood and money,” Bradley Manning biographer Chase Madar wrote. “And though information is powerless on its own, it is still a necessary precondition for any democratic state to function.”

Bradley Manning recognized that necessary precondition. He took profound action to nurture its possibilities on behalf of democracy and peace.

No doubt a Nobel Peace Prize for Bradley Manning is a very long longshot. After all, four years ago, the Nobel Committee gave that award to President Obama, while he was escalating the war in Afghanistan, and since then Obama's dedication to perpetual war has become ever more clear.

Now, the Nobel Committee and its Peace Prize are in dire need of rehabilitation. In truth, the Nobel Peace Prize needs Bradley Manning much more than the other way around.

No one can doubt the sincere dedication of Bradley Manning to human rights and peace. But on Henrik Ibsen Street in Oslo, the office of the Nobel Committee is under a war cloud of its own making.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

(Bruce B. Brugmann edits and writes the Bruce blog. He  is the editor at large of the Bay Guardian and the former editor of the Guardian  co-founder and co-publisher with his wife Jean Dibble 1966-2012.)


of a convicted traitor getting the Nobel Prize.

And I'm a guy with a lot of hair.

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 9:56 am

The list of Nobel Peace Prize recipients is full of traitors.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 11:04 am

So I guess you are 100% wrong.

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 11:36 am

One need only mention Henry Kissinger, the greatest living war criminal, to prove the case.

Posted by ProudPrimate on Aug. 13, 2013 @ 7:43 am

Your opinion is highly subjective and partisan.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:42 am

He is using it repeatedly, incorrectly of course.

Opposition to war criminals or police misconduct is not a partisan issue.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:01 am

It means a fervent supporter of a particular cause or approach. The implication is that such people favour any tactic that achieves their chosen end.

Progressives and activists who seek to secure their own goals rather than ask the majority what goals they should have can reasonably be categorized as partisan (as well as biased, prejudiced and so on).

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:13 am

What are you? Some kind of communist?
Do you also check with the majority before you make a peepee?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:41 am

check first to see whether the people give a damn.

In this case, evidently, they do not.

Posted by Anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:34 am

But he could be out in 12, well before he is 40.

Under the circumstances, he got off quite lightly.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 7:40 am

The "circumstances" being that this was a kangaroo court in a police state where truth is treason? Sure.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 7:58 am

information that was classified.

He could have gotten life with no parole. He did well.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 9:55 am

In a democracy, those who share information which embarrass the nation's errant leaders and punishes them by shaming them with details of their misbehavior should be rewarded and not punished. Free Bradley Manning!

The government is supposed to be afraid of us, not the other way around.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:17 am

And because we the people have a reasonable expectation that those in the military keep sensitive and classified data confidential. The punishment for failing to do that has to be severe and, given that, Manning potentially getting out in his 30's (although I personally hope that parole is denied until his 50's) isn't a bad deal for him at all.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:28 am

*We* the people, hope and believe that Bradley Manning's courage is contagious. We hope and believe that for every Manning who suffers for revealing the crimes of our government against its own people and other people around the world, five more will arise who are willing to risk everything to stand up for what's good and right. We're seeing that already with Snowden, Greenwald, Assange, Levison, and others. The surveillance state is flailing. The epidemic of courage will only grow. I don't believe Manning will spend all those years in prison. I believe he'll eventually be pardoned, because the state will find it untenable to continue to hold a political prisoner who is a hero in the eyes of the people of the world.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:56 am

Manning did wrong and should be punished. The fact that a few liberals in outposts like San Francisco and Berkeley think otherwise isn't material in that context.

And remember this all happened under the most liberal President we ever had.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:13 am

Can't go wrong with that sort of logic.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:42 am
Posted by Anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:33 am

That's so darling!
"Hey everybody look at ME, I'm wearing the RED suit and I don't like that BLUE team!
I'm defining myself and that makes me feel proud!"

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:49 am
Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:01 am

Chelsea Manning

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:05 am

getting hormone treatment in the big house.

I suspect that if he dresses as a girl in prison, he will get a lot more than that.

Posted by Anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:32 am

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