As an anti-war veteran, my perspective on the Bradley Manning trial is that capitalism/imperialism has once again turned truth into a victim of war.
The Manning court martial trial presents challenges to vets. The government public relations campaign puts out allegations, disinformation and outright lies about what Manning is alleged to have done. Too often veterans are expected to support the official government and Pentagon positions no matter what, but anti-war vets typically don't fit this traditional mold. We are outspoken, go against the grain and are demonstrative, for which we are criticized and attacked by conservative and pro-war forces.
The protests at Fort Meade, Md. where Pfc. Manning's trial is taking place include many vets who are members of a number of anti-war veterans organizations as well as some who are unaffiliated.
As a Vietnam-era vet I've seen the attacks and lies before. I got out of the navy in 1969, fourteen months before the Pentagon Papers hit the streets. The Pentagon Papers validated what I had known to be true for the second half of my four-year enlistment: the government lied to get us into war and continued to lie to keep us fighting. Many of us veterans consider Bradley Manning to be this generation's Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers.
Political and military "leaders" have consistently lied to get public support for waging wars in other people's countries, and the corporate media falls in line until long after the fact, when the truth is eventually exposed. LBJ lied to get us into Vietnam; Reagan lied to invade Grenada and to overthrow the Sandinista government in the "Contra war" in Nicaragua; George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction to wage war in Iraq. The list goes on and on. Service members, vets, the American public and those in far off lands who are subjugated by our political, military and economic "leaders" pay the price in blood and treasure for these lies and wars. Meanwhile, the war profiteers get rich.
Fourteen American resisters from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, some of whom are veterans and others who fled to Canada rather than continue their part in the two wars, sent a representative to the Bradley Manning protest on June 1 with a statement which she read at the rally: It stated in part:
"Many of you might remember what it was like under similar circumstances during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, we are living proof that not much has changed since then. The imperialist war machine is still turning out young killers with factory-like efficiency. Nowadays at the crew-served weapons ranges at Ft. Benning, they teach you to hold the butterfly trigger for three words, four syllables: "die-Hajji-die". Since the start of these wars, thousands of U.S troops have deployed overseas to kill and die for these scumbags who run the show: the profiteers and the zealots. But, just as in all wars that are unjust and based on false pretenses, there springs forth an organic resistance to the bullshit.
Young people like Camilo Mejia, Mike Prysner, Kelly Doherty, Jeremy Hinzman, and Bradley Manning-- you can't really fit us into one category. We are not all socialists; we are not all pacifists; not all of us began our resistance from a place of ideology. Some of us had to see and do the things we did to figure out that we didn't want to do them anymore, and some of us figured it out right away. We here in Canada left our contracts early, while those resisters who chose to stay behind became outspoken while respecting their contracts. Resistance has been unique to each individual-as it should be."
This new generation of young war resisters has said 'no' to being a part of the U.S. military machine. They're risking a lot to speak the truth from their 'inside' perspective. Bradley Manning risked everything to speak truth from his perspective. And at the Ft. Meade Main Gate they are represented by fellow young vets and by seasoned vets for whom the "organic resistance" to injustice and war has endured a lifetime.
The trial is expected to continue through the summer. You can be sure that U.S. veterans will continue to be there, supporting the truth-telling patriot and exposing the real criminals-the corporate-military-industrial-financial elites.
Photo: Dozens of veterans and activists demonstrated at President Obama's campaign office in Oakland, Calif., August 2012, demanding Pfc. Bradley Manning's freedom. (Bradley Manning Support/CC)