Several months ago, I was hoping that Bradley Manning and the WikiLeaks (BMWL) team would be awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Liu Xiaobo won instead, and I am enthusiastic about that, although I hope Manning and WikiLeaks are nominated for the 2011 award.
I find it interesting to compare the current plights of Manning and Liu. (I have no idea how much, if any, merit there is to the sexual assault/misconduct allegations against Julian Assange, so I’ll leave him out of this comparison.) I also recall that only one other person won the Nobel Peace Prize while imprisoned: Carl von Ossietzky.
About a month ago, The Wall Street Journal had a piece about Ossietzky and Liu in which Fredrik Stang, the chairperson of the Nobel Committee at the time of Ossietzky’s award in 1936, is quoted: “Many people ask, has Ossietzky really contributed so much to peace? Has he not become a symbol of the struggle for peace rather than its champion? In my opinion this is not so. But even if it were, how great is the significance of the symbol in our life!”
Similarly, the clique ruling China and their sycophants regard Liu as nothing but a troublemaker who does not deserve a prize for efforts toward peace. It’s true that the short-term impact of Liu’s work is one of strife and dissension, which seem contrary to peace. But the “harmonious society” of today’s China is euphonious — whatever measure of peace it may be said to have is illusory and counterfeit. In such a situation, the path to true peace can only be reached after first traversing a winding road of strife and dissension.
I say the same of Bradley Manning and the people of WikiLeaks. Yes, they are causing trouble by the standards of those who wish to maintain the status quo. But those who wish to maintain the status quo have long caused far more trouble for far more people. BMWL are trying to unwind the systematic violence and injustice of the establishment. For this reason, I consider them champions of peace.
Theodore Roosevelt said: “If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness.” Although choosing what is right may disturb the so-called “peace” in the short term, it really means choosing true peace in the long term.