Is Paul suggesting that human beings are willing participants manipulated to commit evil?
Firstly, mankind is not willing participants. We are unwittingly stooges of evil - not by choice - but by default.
Secondly, are they manipulated? Yes.
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. John 8:44
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matt 12:34
There are numerous examples of those who are 'evil' contrasted with the 'good'. There is no choice for the those under the influence of evil - it is who they are! Children of the devil - what chance have they got to choose anything other? None! Not until God removes the influence or downgrades it with His spirit.
When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ Col 2:13
Once made alive, we are able to see the deception of evil that made us dead and out of which we operated. We labour with this reality until our change at Christ's return.
No amount of truth telling or gospel preaching will change the default - unless God expressly calls someone out of the death/darkness/deceit they lived in.
Thus, freewill is not a reality for any person under deception. They don't really choose anything as their default is evil. Once relieved of deception to any degree, freewill can begin to operate and grow - forming an increasing desire for good and right. Obviously, for the purposes of explanation, I have described this matter in black and white terms. An reality, all men possess some kind of good, this of course is of God and varies greatly within each person.
Once Christ returns, Satan is banished for 1000 yrs and freewill will finally begin for the masses.