Chelsea Manning Breaks Silence, Speaks Out On ISIS


Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the U.S. intelligence analyst who made headlines in 2013 after leaking thousands of classified documents depicting abuse and torture being carried out by U.S. soldiers to WikiLeaks, recently took to The Guardian to share her thoughts on how the American military could best deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, colloquially known as ISIL or ISIS. They key to dismantling the jihadist group, Manning says, is to let its leaders prove how unsustainable its hypothetical caliphate would be in reality.

“Let Isis succeed in setting up a failed ‘state’ – in a contained area and over a long enough period of time to prove itself unpopular and unable to govern,” she reasons. “This might begin to discredit the leadership and ideology of Isis for good.”

Manning also points out that the U.S. isn’t doing enough to combat ISIS’s well documented and effective use of social media to spread its propagandistic messages. In addition to a physical presence within Iraq and Syria, she says the U.S. needs to “counter [ISIS’s] narrative” that the organization uses to recruit youth fighters into its ranks.

Reactions to Manning’s piece have been mixed, but generally positive. Ben Kesling, a marine Corps veteran and Wall Street Journal reporter, took issue with Manning’s logic considering her rank at the time of her dishonorable discharge.

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  1. Jason MacBride says

    She’s entitled to her opinion, though I’m not sure what her qualifications are to be taken seriously on the question. I do feel pretty sure that carving out a piece of a sovereign nation to give land to these terrorists is a genuinely awful idea.

  2. Harry Vik says

    Finally! I’ve been waiting to hear an analysis of an Islamic militant movement from a mentally ill, violent, dysfunctional prisoner who achieved the rank of Private. Thanks for breaking the silence!

    BTW, the Islamic Republic of Iran is now in its 36th year. It isn’t in any danger of collapsing and is in full governing control of its territory, despite its unpopularity. The Taliban ruled 95% of Afghan territory for years prior to the US intervention despite massive poverty, tribal war, and a contracting economy. North Korea has been in full governing control of its territory since 1953, despite being a basket case and even after suffering one of the worst famines of the 20th century. So the entire thesis of “Chelsea’s” piece, i.e., let them have a state and fail at it, is transparently flawed.

    However, the piece is useful because it puts on display “her” palpable disregard for human rights. The people who would have to live in that experimental ISIS state would be brutalized. They have videotaped what they do to civilians and captives from Raqqa to Mosul. The BBC has reported that ISIS keeps Yazidi women in rape prisons and has deliberately allowed them to have cell phones so they can share their torment with the world. This is what this transgender celebrity wants to visit upon women – real women. Sick and malicious to the core, that’s the nature of the transgender activist.

  3. Rowan says

    Seriously, Charles Pulliam-Moore is turning out to be the worst writer on Towleroad. He recycled a 3-month old video yesterday and reported on it as if it were breaking news. He claimed that the gayest film he saw at a recent film festival was not the major feature about gay hero Alan Turing, but a film about a heterosexual white male crossdresser who wears his deceased wife’s clothes. And now there’s this piece, nearly a self-parody. Reviews are mixed? The most positive thing that anyone said about Manning’s drivel is that there are op-eds in existence that are less coherent.

    IMO, there is something not quite right in the head with Mr. Pulliam-Moore.

  4. Sarah Jane Smith says

    These past 2 weeks, we have all had a teachable moment about violence against women. So it is important to remember that Manning is a perpetrator of that violence. He physically attacked women, and only women, in his unit. A coward, a liar and an abuser of women.

  5. Randy says

    “the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, colloquially known as ISIL or ISIS”

    But actually known as “Islamic State” since late June.

    Let’s not make this any more difficult than it is.

  6. Randy says

    Chelsea’s analysis is incorrect.

    There is no “fail” for the Islamic State. The fact that it exists at all is the only victory they need, to keep going.

    Further, the more the US attempts to respond to their propaganda, the more it will backfire and lead to increased recruitment, because it reaffirms Islamic State’s legitimacy.

    The way the US can fight the Islamic State is to stay away. No planes. No bombs. Just stay away. This is Europe’s fight. More UK Muslims are fighting as part of the Islamic State than are prepared to fight as part of the UK military against it.

  7. MiddleoftheRoader says

    Maybe you don’t have enough other material to put on Towleroad, but you are really diminishing the reputation of Towleroad — which many of us think is an excellent online publication — when you take this much space to report the opinions of someone (Chelsea Manning)who lacks any meaningful qualifications to address an extremely serious international issue involving terrorists who behead, torture, rape and maim thousands of innocents. What’s her qualification — that she was an Army private who served in Iraq for 6 months and who leaked a lot of classified material that she had access to?

    Truly, you are hurting your own publication by stories like these that focus on know-nothings, whether anyone agrees or disagrees with her opinion.

  8. Steve says

    That sounds nice in the abstract, but the problem is that there are millions of people living in that area who are massacred and oppressed by these subhuman barbarians.

  9. MATTROCKS says


    You do know that the above piece is a summary of a story from the Guardian. It is not an opinion piece by Mr. Pulliam-Moore. It is provided for to read. He summarized it and the link is there for you to read. Do you not know the difference. Agree or disagree, don’t shoot the messenger alerting you to this story.

    Some people need to give their head a shake and take their anti-whining pills.

  10. Rowan says


    The decision to post on this lies with Pulliam-Moore. And the laughable observation that “reactions were mixed” comes from Pulliam-Moore, not from the Guardian.


    It is proper to continue to refer to this entity as ISIS or ISIL and not the “Islamic State” because the group changed its name to IS when it declared itself a state in fact (and not in aspiration). Since no country recognizes that state, it is appropriate to continue to refer to it as ISIS or ISIL. By way of comparison, if you didn’t recognize the US as a country after the 1776 declaration of independence, you would refer to its army as the Colonial Army or the Continental Army. But you would not call it the United States Army.

  11. Buckie says

    Her opinion is a big deal simply because she was the scapegoat for everyone in the military that made it possible for a lowly PFC to have access to such important state secrets in the first place…

    So her opinion is just as relevant as all the people along the chain of command that were truly responsible for the leak, but faced zero repercussions for their simply stunning incompetency.

  12. EchtKultig says

    And the winner is…Eric.

    But seriously, flawed analysis, obviously, but underscores that being attention seeking is just one of her many psychological issues. Not that it shouldn’t be here, but the faster the gay community disavows people like this, the better. “Sorry, it’s true” as Ja’mie King would say (hehe).
    And btw that’s whether or not his acts had any positive benefit in the world…which remains an open question. The leaks were coming from someone who was mentally ill and should not have had a clearance. (but who, pray tell, is the military prosecuting for that?)

  13. Jay says

    She has a point. Why should more American blood run in the Middle East? Why must we bleed for Saudi Arabia? Syria? or Iran? If we have massive surveillance, then put it to work and control the threat with intelligence. No need to fight other countries wars for them.

  14. L G. says

    The violence met with violence has YET to be successful. Look at the wars or conflicts over the centuries. The spread of peace a democracy is failed. Period! When confronting a culture / religion that HAS no problem being killed is a basic FACT the West has yet to learn. Keep killing and the land of virgins await them with open arms. The “ists” of any religion are incapable of reason. EVERY religion has its “ists.” Even Protestants.

  15. Chuck Mielke says

    I see that ISIS/ISIL needs the USA as an opponent to recruit more extremists to its “cause.” We shouldn’t throw gasoline on that particular fire. Leave it to the Guardian to depend on mere rank as a proxy for knowledge; rank isn’t as important as what she actually did in her position hence, her opinion may actually have some value.

  16. Joseph Singer says

    Yes Eric, let’s base our opinion of her on how she looks. That should be an accurate way to judge how competent she is. Well, I guess it is if you are so shallow as to judge someone just on their looks or your opinion of their looks.

  17. ratbastard says

    Violence met with violence has yet to be successful? Sorry, I know that sounds good, but it’s untrue. Sometimes, you gotta fight, words and passive aggressive response aren’t enough. Many in our world only appreciate and respect raw power.

    Thay said, I agree with others we shouldn’t be fighting other countries battles, we shouldn’t be the world’s policeman by ourselves. It only garners contempt from many of our allies and enemies. And it’s used as an excuse by others to not take their share of responsibility, why bother, the Americans (or fill in the vulgar slang for Americans) will do it. I also loath the gulf states, especially the Saudis (the real masterminds of 9/11, along with another ostensibly friendly nation state).

    We stuck ourselves into a nasty situation long ago, and have taken sides, becausr the US is (and still is) the preeminent nation state and world superpower. It’s absence would create a horrifying power vacuum, and the most obvious heirs are far worse than the US. It would be nice if China was a reasonably democratic state that reasonably respects human rights and political dissension, it of course isn’t. India is a great country but a long way from being a superpower, and is naturally preoccupied with their massive and mostly poverty stricken people. Russia’s sole claim is they can nuke everybody back to the stoneage and screw with oil deliveries to the Euros. The EU: a pretentious and useless organization on the world stage, incapable of backing up it’s words with force of arms, if necessary, without the US and NATO. Europe is fragmented, probably always will be. Even the friggin Scots and English are still at it after 300+ years. Take away Pax Americana and America’s nuclear umbrella, and see what happens.

  18. Bill says

    After seeing it once in print, the group’s name in Arabic is Daesh (I posted something similar a few days ago but didn’t include the ‘e’ because I heard it verbally from an Israeli citizen and didn’t know the spelling). It appears that they call themselves that, and that ISIS/ISIL is an Anglicized variant.

    Let’s switch to Daesh to avoid confusion with Isis (the ancient Egyptian goddess). Besides, we don’t want the NSA to start spying on our opera companies when they post a synopsis of the Magic Flute on-line, mentioning Isis and Osiris.

  19. Eric says

    LOL. She was a PFC. She doesn’t have the knowledge or credibility to talk about this. PLEASE STOP GIVING THIS POS a forum to air her crazy grievances. THIS TRAITOR DOES NOT SPEAK FOR THE MAJORITY of the gay community and I’m disgusted that she’s treated like she does.


  20. Bill says

    @Eric: you statment, “LOL. She was a PFC. She doesn’t have the knowledge or credibility to talk about this.” is a classic example of argumentum ad hominem – the logical fallacy where you attack a person rather showing a flaw in that person’s reasoning.

    As a counter example to your argument in general, during the Vietnam war, they started drafting people out of graduate school. Many opposed the war and, if they could not avoid participating by some other means, they might credibly have chosen to not be officers in order to provide the government with as little of their abilities as possible. So we did, at least at some points in U.S. history, have cases in which a PFC opinion would be definitely an interesting one.

    While there is no reason a priori to believe that Manning has any qualifications germane to dealing with Daesh, it is incumbent, at a minimum, for you to show that Manning’s qualifications on the subject are inferior to that of a newspaper reporter or columnist, and my experience with some of these is that this is a pretty low bar indeed.

  21. Tyler says


    I am not Eric, but I just wanted to say that you don’t understand what argumentum ad hominem means. Eric did not commit that fallacy in this context. You also don’t understand who bears the burden in this case. Other than that, great post.

  22. Bill says

    @Tyler: Eric dismissed the idea (silly as it might be) based on Manning’s rank, not on the merits of what Manning claimed. That is clearly a case of argumentum ad hominem and is no different than discounting some idea purely because the person who came up with it was a former porn actor.

    Perhaps you are confusing the term argumentum ad hominem as used in a textbook on informal logic with the recent colloquial use of “ad hominem” to mean a personal attack. You should note that nowhere in Eric’s comment did he indicate what might be wrong with Manning’s proposal, and that’s what Eric should have done – commment on why he thought it was a bad idea.

    A legitimate argument against Manning’s proposal might mention that Daesh now has a sizable income (about 3 million per day) from smuggling oil and that it has managed to obtain military-grade weaponry, both of which suggest sufficiently competent management that, if left alone, would not collapse due to incompetence. Eric could have said that, but he didn’t – hence the statement that he had resorted to argumentum ad hominem rather than addressing the issue. What Eric posted is fundamentally no different than discounting what someone says about an economic issue because he’s a wife beater.

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