Five theses about Assange-Manning-Snowden

By Johan Galtung

[1] The leaks are not about “whistle-blowing”, but a nonviolent, civil disobedient, fight against huge social evils.

Whistle-blowing, warning, presupposes that somebody can be warned, in fact wants to be warned, and is in a position to do something. Obviously those who can do something about US foreign policy, who have the power–legislative, the Congress, particularly the Senate; executive, State Department-Pentagon-White House; judiciary the Supreme Court; economically the giant banks; culturally the mainstream media – know perfectly well what is going on: these are all efforts to hang on to imperial economic, military, political and cultural power. But they do not want change. And those who want a change, a major part of the US population, allied populations and most of the rest of the world have been warned, but are to a large extent powerless. So they believe; but see thesis [5].

The whistle-blowing discourse is much too optimistic. Ossietzky was not a whistle-blower about Nazism, nor was Solzhenitsyn about Stalinism (nor Khrushchev for that matter), nor Solzhenitsyn about US foreign policy (his Harvard speech). They were fighting something they knew was basically wrong, hoping to alert others to join them in the struggle. Thus, to offer to do time in prison for Manning would be to relieve his pain, but the deep fight is more important. Civil disobedience carries risks, all three knew that; one was caught and exposed to a farcical military court process.

[2] Basic is not the media-political focus on Assange-Manning-Snowden, but on what they revealed.

The focus on the revealers is a cheap way of avoiding the focus on a painful reality. Take Manning as an example: TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS published an article by Juan Cole, “Top Ten Ways Bradley Manning Changed the World”:

• Manning revealed the video of a helicopter attack in Iraq on mostly unarmed non-combatants, including two Reuters journalists. Result: the Iraqi parliament said No to the Bush administration wish to keep a base in the country (the US military withdrew 31 December 2011):
• Manning revealed the full extent of the corruption of the Tunisian dictator Ben Ali, adding fuel to the youth revolt;
• Manning revealed that Yemen dictator Saleh acquiesced to the US drone attacks in Yemen, a factor in his removal from power;
• Manning revealed that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered UN diplomats to spy on their UN counterparts, wanting detailed intelligence on the UN leadership, with passwords, encryption keys;
• Manning revealed that John Kerry pressed Israel to be open to the return of the Golan Heights to Syria as part of peace negotiations;
• Manning revealed Afghan government corruption was “overwhelming”;
• Manning revealed the authoritarian, corrupt Mubarak-Egypt regime;
• Manning revealed that Robert Gates was against striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, arguing they would be counterproductive;
• Manning revealed the Israeli policy “to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis”;
• Manning revealed that Syria’s Assad and wife bought jewelry and had a gilded style of life in Europe while his artillery killed in Homs.

Not all is negative for USA-Israel; there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Take Snowden as another example: his revelations, the USA spying as much on their allies as on Afghanistan, threatens US plans for the two big Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific trade blocs to exclude BRICS (Peter Myers,, July 23 2013). Should that happen, then this is world history indeed – with the USA now bidding for time.

[3] Diplomacy in general was revealed, not only USA.

When Assange’s first WikiLeaks were published this column wrote:

“The emperor unclothed. But not only the US emperor, also the Diplomacy emperor. What kind of ridiculous discourse is this, so focused on the negative, on actors, usually elite persons, in elite countries? Gossip, puerile characterizations, the kind of “analysis” of power typical of immaturity. Where is the analysis of culture and structure, light years more important than actors who come and go? Where are positive ideas? Where are ideas about how to convert the challenges from climate change into cooperation for mutual and equal benefit? Like water distillation projects at Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Palestine, fueled by parabolic mirrors? Like positive US-Iran cooperation on alternative energy?

“These diplomats belong to a state system era we have to put behind us. Retrain or retire them, and train thousands of civil servants for world domestic policy. Drop the ridiculous secrecy and confidentiality of how they are playing cards with us all, with humans and nature. They have no right to hide their incompetence behind veils of secrecy. Democracy means transparency, not feudal games.

“WikiLeaks: Thanks. May you become WeeklyLeaks. We need you.

“Democracy dies behind closed doors. WikiLeaks opens those doors; an enormous service to democracy.”
. . .

What Manning and Snowden revealed are the death throes of the US empire.

What Assange et al. revealed are the death throes of the state system as we know it.

Both processes will take time; the former less than the latter. But make no mistake: the three made history. Three names that will be remembered after some US presidents recede into an oblivion so well deserved. Who knows the top English in India, like viceroys and their crimes – roys of vices? MacMahon, Mountbatten? Well, Gandhi looms higher. Who knows the names of Ossietzky’s and Dreyfus’ tormentors? Or the English who tried to keep the “Atlantic Seaboard” colonies? Washington, Jefferson, Franklin overshadow them all.

They may even contribute to the reduction of standing armies and, if the USA changes, to understanding among nations. A shared Nobel Peace Prize to all three? Unfortunately, not very likely from a US client country.

[4] US allies comply out of fear, not out of agreement.

Quite concretely: they comply to avoid that one day the US Air Force will land on the many bases at their disposal “as the government is unable to protect its own population”. The Americans are coming; not the Russians, not the Muslims. And more likely the further the USA slides down the well-greased totalitarianism incline: next step, probably FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) camps for suspects – for categories, meta-data! – like Japan during WWII.

[5] Everybody, and the media, can speed up the processes.

Rotten apples should fall from the tree; a little shake will help. The key star media, with Anglo-America’s The Guardian and The Washington Post playing major roles, deserve our praise. Then, let millions surround foreign ministries and embassies, demanding an end to spying, changing their servers away from the Big Traitors in the USA, suspending further cooperation, degrading diplomatic relations. Till credible dis-spying – the equivalent of dis-armament – takes place.

First published here.

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