Five Theses about Assange-Manning-Snowden

EDITORIAL, 5 Aug 2013

#284 | Johan Galtung - TRANSCEND Media Service

[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 from 31 Jul 2013, “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?–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? (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 Japanese 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.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgment and link to the source, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS, is included. Thank you.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 5 Aug 2013.

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5 Responses to “Five Theses about Assange-Manning-Snowden”

  1. Yes dear Johan, the Senate executive, State Department, Pentagon, White House, Supreme Court, the giant banks, etc, want to hang on to imperial economic, military, political and cultural power. This means, they do not want change.

    But their counterparts in Russia, UK, Israel, France, China, etc “also” do not want change. And, when I speak to powerful politicians in Sudan, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Nigeria, etc, it’s all the same, they do not want change.

    Only recently I was speaking to Congolese diplomats/politicians. They described life of the (starving) Congolese as “the best in Africa”. “No unemployment, no hunger,” etc., they claimed. Of course they are so well looked-after by Americans and European alike, that of course they do not want change. And, when I speak to them about war, they all repeat what Europeans and America has taught them:”you can’t avoid the fighting. Man was born to fight”. With this idiotic and ignorant assertion, change is not going to occur easily.

    You say “And those who want a change, a major part of the US population,……” but they want a change on “their” own, American terms. That is, they want USA to be always the richest, the more powerful, the more influential country in the world.

    The best thing that has happened to us is Technology, the Internet. Without it, we’d have never had Assange, Manning and Snowden.

    Best wishes, Alberto

  2. […] First published here. […]

  3. Werner T. Meyer says:

    A Great comment on the effects of the leaks on treacherous politicians.

    State archives are usually kept secret for a long period just just avoid this effect. When official releases dates arrive, sometimes generations of historians make their names rewriting history (the Israeli “new” historians of old for instance) unmaking some famous names in the process.

    Now this happens in real time. (Again after the Pentagon papers and some premature archive openings in 89).
    Dear Alberto Portugheis: Many politicians and diplomats may be cynical and stuck on low steps of moral character formation. But now they have to fear they have to read their treacherous words of today in tomorrows blogs instead of history logs sold in 1000 copies in 20 years.
    That may change even a RAT-behavior patterns.

  4. Dear Werner T.Meyer,

    Politicians and diplomats are not cynical by nature. They start their careers full of enthusiasm and ideas, for the betterment of our world.

    However, they have NO OPTION than to turn cynical, because of the ridiculous system the world is keen on promoting: a world where every country has “Defense” Forces. Since all countries are armed, the only way to keep the Arms Trade going is by organising wars. But politicians CANNOT openly admit this, so they are forced to be cynical and lie. They have to organize wars whilst at the same time “pretending” they’re working for Peace.

    Documents revelations, I’m afraid, teach NOTHING the brain-washed, militarized minds of the masses. We have “plenty” of now public – formerly classified – documents from the past, showing how wars were concocted by Churches, by kings and Queens, by prime Ministers, etc, all people or organizations claiming they were Peace lovers, all working for the Peace, prosperity and benefit of the people.

    All those documents clearly show how those in position of authority lied to us, century after century. What lesson has humanity learnt???? NONE. ZERO. Why, because of the teaching of bigot Religions, bigotry in Nationalism, bigotry in Patriotism.

    When do we hear of strikes because of low pay, late pay, bad working conditions, etc, in military factories or Armed Forces? never. Whilst society accepts that Governments treat those in the “Death Industry” better than teachers, nurses, etc, etc. nothing will change, no matter how many Assanges, Snowdens and Mannings we produce.

    You say “That may change even a RAT-behavior patterns”, but I’m not talking of behaviour. I’m talking of Business. A business that feeds around 2 billion people.

  5. What concerns me about this story is the manner of its release. If the story is of State abuse and alleged attack on civilians then that story could have been double and triple sourced from wholly independent sources, and the tipster not revealed.

    Also, if the story is of State abuse, then that is the focus, not the helicopter. As things stand Wikileaks, a helicopter, and a trial dwarf what the story ought to be, if the allegations are true.