Revolutionary News

Afghan marathon: US troops passing the baton to mercenaries ahead of 2014 withdrawal

While Washington is pulling out its military might from Afghanistan next year, it is stepping up efforts to supply the war-torn state with plenty of military contractors, practically switching from national armed forces to mercenaries.
According to the latest census on contractors accompanying US forces performed by the Professional Overseas Contractors industry group, the US employs 110,404 people in Afghanistan, 33,444 of which are Americans. Their job classifications include everything from base support to construction and from logistics to security.

“There are already far more contractors or mercenaries in Afghanistan than there are [US] troops,” Middle East expert, Phyllis Bennis told RT.

Once US troops withdraw, it will be up to this private military to train the Afghan police and army. They will also take charge of the development and reconstruction effort. All of this is stipulated in the Afghan-American strategic partnership agreement which allows a small number of US forces to remain in the country until 2024.

Under this strategic partnership agreement the remaining troops – the number of which has not yet been made public – will remain “until the future government in Afghanistan says that they can’t,” Bennis says.

But since only a small number of US military personnel will stay, these “would likely be mainly special forces” whose only job “will be largely to kill Afghans, not to do anything else,” Bennis believes.

“We don’t know either the final number, if that’s been agreed to yet it’s being held privately, and we also don’t know the critical question of whether the Afghan government will allow those US troops to serve with immunity. That was the reason they were all pulled out of Iraq,” she added.

The military troops however may have to leave all together if the Afghan government refuses to grant them immunity, leaving US soldiers prone to prosecution.

“The Obama administration was not prepared to have US troops who might be accused of war crimes and might indeed be guilty of war crimes be sent to trial in Iraqi courts,” Bennis explained. “They may face the same decision in Afghanistan.”

In any case, experts agree, the US paid contractors will stay in Afghanistan for many years to come.

AFP Photo / Manjunath Kiran

According to casualty figures, contractors are also the primary targets of armed attacks by insurgents in the county. In 2011, at least 430 workers employed by American contractors lost their lives as the US began relying less on military enforcements and more on performance by way of private companies. By comparison, the US military reports that 418 of their own soldiers died that year.
With an estimated cost of some $627 billion in Afghanistan since 2001, that is some $50 billion a month, the US aims to reduce its military spending. However it will still pay for contractors to remain as long as the troop contingent stays for a decade.
The government spent $516 billion on contracts in 2012 all over the world, according to Bloomberg government study.

“Between 2001 and 2011, dollars obligated to contract awards by DOD more than doubled, and contract spending outpaced growth in other DOD outlays,” according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies which discovered DOD spent $375 billion on contracts in 2011.
For instance the USAID spent just $1.6 billion on contracts in 2000 – but in 2011 that number rose to $9 billion. The State Department $700 million in 2000 but was awarded $4 billion in 2011.
US government agencies do not disclose the funds they spend on contracts related to the war effort.
At the height of the US war in Iraq more than 150,000 contractors were employed there. Around 8,500 remain today, including 2,356 Americans.
“In Iraq, at its peak, we had at least as many, sometimes many more contractors as we did troops in battle areas,” Stephen Schooner, a professor of government contract law at George Washington University was quoted by the Fiscal Times.
While Washington is pulling out its military might from Afghanistan next year, it is stepping up efforts to supply the war-torn state with plenty of military contractors, practically switching from national armed forces to mercenaries.
According to the latest census on contractors accompanying US forces performed by the Professional Overseas Contractors industry group, the US employs 110,404 people in Afghanistan, 33,444 of which are Americans. Their job classifications include everything from base support to construction and from logistics to security.

“There are already far more contractors or mercenaries in Afghanistan than there are [US] troops,” Middle East expert, Phyllis Bennis told RT.

Once US troops withdraw, it will be up to this private military to train the Afghan police and army. They will also take charge of the development and reconstruction effort. All of this is stipulated in the Afghan-American strategic partnership agreement which allows a small number of US forces to remain in the country until 2024.

Under this strategic partnership agreement the remaining troops – the number of which has not yet been made public – will remain “until the future government in Afghanistan says that they can’t,” Bennis says.

But since only a small number of US military personnel will stay, these “would likely be mainly special forces” whose only job “will be largely to kill Afghans, not to do anything else,” Bennis believes.

“We don’t know either the final number, if that’s been agreed to yet it’s being held privately, and we also don’t know the critical question of whether the Afghan government will allow those US troops to serve with immunity. That was the reason they were all pulled out of Iraq,” she added.

The military troops however may have to leave all together if the Afghan government refuses to grant them immunity, leaving US soldiers prone to prosecution.

“The Obama administration was not prepared to have US troops who might be accused of war crimes and might indeed be guilty of war crimes be sent to trial in Iraqi courts,” Bennis explained. “They may face the same decision in Afghanistan.”

In any case, experts agree, the US paid contractors will stay in Afghanistan for many years to come.

AFP Photo / Manjunath Kiran

According to casualty figures, contractors are also the primary targets of armed attacks by insurgents in the county. In 2011, at least 430 workers employed by American contractors lost their lives as the US began relying less on military enforcements and more on performance by way of private companies. By comparison, the US military reports that 418 of their own soldiers died that year.
With an estimated cost of some $627 billion in Afghanistan since 2001, that is some $50 billion a month, the US aims to reduce its military spending. However it will still pay for contractors to remain as long as the troop contingent stays for a decade.
The government spent $516 billion on contracts in 2012 all over the world, according to Bloomberg government study.

“Between 2001 and 2011, dollars obligated to contract awards by DOD more than doubled, and contract spending outpaced growth in other DOD outlays,” according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies which discovered DOD spent $375 billion on contracts in 2011.
For instance the USAID spent just $1.6 billion on contracts in 2000 – but in 2011 that number rose to $9 billion. The State Department $700 million in 2000 but was awarded $4 billion in 2011.
US government agencies do not disclose the funds they spend on contracts related to the war effort.
At the height of the US war in Iraq more than 150,000 contractors were employed there. Around 8,500 remain today, including 2,356 Americans.
“In Iraq, at its peak, we had at least as many, sometimes many more contractors as we did troops in battle areas,” Stephen Schooner, a professor of government contract law at George Washington University was quoted by the Fiscal Times.

Gitmo prisoners threatened with degrading body search

Attorneys for the hunger-striking inmates at the notorious US Guantanamo Bay prison say the jail’s officials have threatened their clients with humiliating body searches as a scare tactic to dissuade them from meeting their lawyers.

“Under the new search policy, a detainee who leaves his camp is subject to a search including his private parts and ...,” AFP quoted lawyer David Remes as saying on Saturday.

Remes made the remarks after coming back from the military prison to speak with some of his dozen clients kept in there.

Over two thirds of the 166 prisoners still held at the notorious US jail are on a hunger strike, which began on February 6 against prison conditions and the detainees’ indefinite confinement.

Remes added that two of his Yemeni clients on hunger strike, identified as Abd al-Malik Abd al-Wahab, and Salman Rabeii, had talked about the new policy. The lawyer was at the US naval prison from April 29 to May 3.

Describing the searches as “shocking,” Remes highlighted that they were “designed to deter many detainees from meeting with their” lawyers and “to make their life more miserable and put the detainees in front of an impossible choice.”

He said that “scare tactic” is meant to break the hunger strike at the prison.

Remes cited Abd al-Wahab as telling him that fellow inmate Mukhtar al-Wrafie, who is another of his clients, decided against meeting him last week because he was afraid he would be subjected to the search.

The US forces recently resorted to force-feeding some of the striking captives via tubes through their nose and into their stomach.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has urged the US President Barack Obama's administration to mend the situation in Guantanamo that has compelled prisoners to go on hunger strike, saying the act of force-feeding is akin to torture.

Most of the 166 detainees being held at the jail have been cleared for release or have never been charged.

MR/NN/HJL

California dad 'begged for his life' as police beat him to death - witnesses

A California father of four died Wednesday shortly after a group of police allegedly beat him with batons as he lay defenseless on the sidewalk. Cops, before confiscating witness' cameras, also reportedly unleashed a canine unit on him.
David Sal Silva, 33, allegedly resisted when police approached him to ask if he was who neighbors called about to complain of an intoxicated man in the area. The officers called for backup and, witnesses told the Bakersfield Californian, Silva was soon being beaten in the face and upper body by as many as nine policemen and their batons. At least one of the cops reportedly held a German Shepherd on a leash nearby.
Witnesses who had recorded the events on their cell phone cameras had the devices confiscated by officers, who claimed the footage was part of a police investigation that could yield evidence. The Sherriff’s Department has released the names of seven officers who were on the scene, but the identities of the California Highway Patrol police who were also there have not yet been made public.
“When I got outside I saw two officers beating a man with batons, and they were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head,” said witness Ruben Ceballos, who told the Californian the noise was so loud it woke him up.

AFP Photo / Kevork Djansezian

“His body was just lying on the street and before the ambulance arrived one of the officers performed CPR on him and another used a flashlight on his eyes but I’m sure he was already dead.”
Police have refused to comment, citing an ongoing investigation that could take years to complete, but relatives have demanded the cell phone footage be made public.
“My brother spent the last eight minutes of his life pleading, begging for his life,” said Christopher Silva, 31. “The true evidence is in those phone witnesses that apparently the sheriff deputies already took. But I know the truth will come out and my brother’s voice will be heard.”
An autopsy was completed Thursday but the cause of death’s release is pending a toxicology report and microscopic studies, the local coroner’s office told the Bakersfield Californian Friday.
The family has hired attorney David Cohn, who told reporters they plan to file a civil rights lawsuit in federal district court next week. He sent a letter formally requesting that law enforcement agencies do not tamper with the video evidence on the phones.
“We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words,” Cohn said. “And thank God we have concerned citizens who take video and pictures of incidents like this and who are ultimately policing the police … But we will get to the bottom of this and I ask the sheriff’s department once again, what are you hiding?”

The US government might be the biggest hacker in the world

The United States government is investing tens of millions of dollars each year on offensive hacking operations in order to exploit vulnerabilities in the computers of its adversaries, Reuters reports.
According to an in-depth article published Friday by journalist Joseph Menn, the US and its Department of Defense contractors are increasingly pursuing efforts to hack the computers of foreign competitors, in turn exposing a rarely discussed aspect of the nation’s clandestine cyber operations.
In a time when the government continues to prosecute alleged domestic computer criminals — so much so that demands for technology law reform have been rampant as of late — Menn says the US is guilty of spending millions on discovering, identifying and exploiting previously unknown security flaws, often gaining unfettered access to the systems and networks of international targets.
As a result, the US has become one of the world’s top players in regards to wreaking havoc over the Internet — even as calls to investigate foreign hackers increase in Congress.
On Tuesday, a bipartisan supported proposal was introduced in Congress specifically to protect US commercial data from being compromised by foreign hackers. According to Menn, however, the American government is just as guilty of cybercrimes as the countries it warns against in introducing the “Deter Cyber Theft Act.”
“Even as the US government confronts rival powers over widespread Internet espionage, it has become the biggest buyer in a burgeoning gray market where hackers and security firms sell tools for breaking into computers,” Menn wrote.
In his report, Menn explained that a large chunk of the country’s current cyber endeavors does not rely on defensive strategy as one might imagine, but instead involves offensive operations launched with the intent of causing harm on the computers of adversaries.
Menn wrote defense contractors “spend at least tens of millions of dollars a year” on simply researching exploits that, if pursued, could put the eyes and ears of the American intelligence company essentially anywhere in the world.
And although the US has not officially gone on the record to acknowledge these shadowy operations, Menn wrote that the nation’s most well-known cyber endeavor — the Stuxnet worm that targeted Iranian nuclear plants — is just one example of the budding attempts to attack foreign entities.
“Computer researchers in the public and private sectors say the US government, acting mainly through defense contractors, has become the dominant player in fostering the shadowy but large-scale commercial market for tools known as exploits, which burrow into hidden computer vulnerabilities,” he wrote.
“In their most common use, exploits are critical but interchangeable components inside bigger programs. Those programs can steal financial account passwords, turn an iPhone into a listening device or, in the case of Stuxnet, sabotage a nuclear facility.”
Menn cited several defense contractors and government officials — many speaking on condition of anonymity — who admitted the increasingly dominant role the US government has in pursuing research on these exploits and using them to attack rival networks.
According to the report, “Reuters reviewed a product catalogue from one large contractor, which was made available on condition the vendor not be named. Scores of programs were listed. Among them was a means to turn any iPhone into a room-wide eavesdropping device. Another was a system for installing spyware on a printer or other device and moving that malware to a nearby computer via radio waves, even when the machines aren't connected to anything.”
These contractors, he wrote, spend upwards of $100,000 on licensing single operations to governments, including the US. The result has been the development of a thriving industry, largely underground, where exploits are bought and sold before patches are developed to protect against intrusions. These “zero-day exploits”— labeled as such because developers are unaware of the flaw until it’s announced — fetch big bucks from contractors, governments and hackers.
And as the demand for these exploits increases, so do the players in the game. One example cited by Menn is Atlanta-based Endgame Inc., which recently brought in $23 million in funding courtesy of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. But as early as 2011, Endgame and similar entities have been on the radar of hacktivists hell-bent on exposing the largely unknown doings of defense contractors.
When the loose-knit hacking collective Anonymous investigated security consultants HBGary in 2011, they uncovered only the tip of an intricate iceberg made up of former federal employees and other intelligence workers being paid boatloads to give governments exploits that could be used to their advantage. Project PM, the open-source online think tank started by former Anonymous collaborator Barrett Brown, discussed Endgame and its associates in great detail.
From a Business Week article cited by Brown:
“Endgame executives will bring up maps of airports, parliament buildings and corporate offices. The executives then create a list of the computers running inside the facilities, including what software the computers run, and a menu of attacks that could work against those particular systems. Endgame weaponry comes customized by region — the Middle East, Russia, Latin America and China — with manuals, testing software and ‘demo instructions.’ There are even target packs for democratic countries in Europe and other US allies.”
Last year Brown was arrested on unrelated counts and remains in custody six months later with an eventual trial still a ways before him. The US government has since subpoenaed Internet host Cloudflare for records pertaining to Project PM, and has equated the website as a criminal enterprise.
“Project PM served as a forum through which defendant Brown and other individuals sought to discuss their joint and separate activities and engage in, encourage, or facilitate the commission of criminal conduct online,” the government alleged when it fought back attempts from the current Project PM administrator to quash that subpoena.
Brown fired back from prison: “It makes it much more obvious that this investigation and the charges against me has to do with our successful research into what may be criminal activities by firms close to the government.”
If convicted on all counts — more than one dozen including threatening a federal agent and sharing a hyperlink — Brown could be sentenced to 100 years in prison.
“It is virtually impossible to conclude that the obscenely excessive prosecution he now faces is unrelated to that journalism and his related activism,” Glenn Greenwald wrote earlier this year for The Guardian.
Meanwhile, Menn admitted that other investigative computer work — specifically discovering exploits like the one Endgame thrives off of — is an endeavor that discourages people outside of the government and defense industry from entertaining.
“Most companies, including Microsoft, Apple Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc, on principle won't pay researchers who report flaws, saying they don't want to encourage hackers,” he wrote. “Those that do offer ‘bounties,’ including Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., say they are hard-pressed to compete financially with defense-industry spending.”
Andrew Auernheimer, a 26-year-old independent security researcher, was recently sentenced to 41 months in prison for identifying and disclosing a harmless exploit on the servers of AT&T that allowed anyone with the know-how to collect the email addresses of thousands of Apple iPad users. After he was convicted, Auernheimer wrote for Wired that the selective prosecution of some security researchers will deter future hackers from ever disclosing exploits, even critical ones that effect national security.
“In an age of rampant cyber espionage and crackdowns on dissidents, the only ethical place to take your zero-day is to someone who will use it in the interests of social justice. And that’s not the vendor, the governments, or the corporations — it’s the individuals,” he wrote. “In a few cases, that individual might be a journalist who can facilitate the public shaming of a web application operator. However, in many cases the harm of disclosure to the un-patched masses (and the loss of the exploit’s potential as a tool against oppressive governments) greatly outweighs any benefit that comes from shaming vendors. In these cases, the antisec philosophy shines as morally superior and you shouldn’t disclose to anyone.”

US seeks permanent occupation of Afghanistan: Taliban

The Taliban militant group has said that the United States seeks permanent occupation of Afghanistan following its announcement to keep nine military bases in the war-torn country.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahed said in an e-mailed statement that the group would not allow the US and its allies to have a permanent presence in Afghanistan, despite an announcement by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday that Washington had demanded to keep nine military bases across the country.

Karzai’s remarks showed that both Kabul and Washington are trying to deprive the Afghan nation of political independence, the spokesman said, adding, “Afghans want an independent Afghanistan. We will never make any deal on our independence.”

The Taliban spokesman said that the presence of foreign troops had sustained the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the “longer the occupiers are here, the longer it will take to find peace.”

Karzai’s stated in his announcement that Washington planned to keep the nine bases in the main cities of Afghanistan including the capital, Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif in the north, Jalalabad and Gardez near the eastern border with Pakistan.

In 2011, Karzai confirmed for the first time that the administration of US President Barack Obama had demanded the establishment of a system of permanent US military bases across Afghanistan.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains across the country despite the presence of thousands of foreign troops.

GMA/MKA/HSN

‘Our homeland defense system failed’ - Congress holds first hearing on Boston bombing

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis entertained questions from the United States House Committee on Homeland Security Thursday morning as lawmakers learn if last month’s terrorist attack could have been prevented.
Authorities attribute three casualties and more than 260 injuries to a pair of ethnic Chechens brothers accused of detonating explosives near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last month in the state of Massachusetts. But as investigators learn that the Tsarnaev family raised international red flags in the years before the April 15 tragedy, congressional leaders are looking to see what could have been done to thwart the attack.
Investigators say 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar plotted the attack and intended to detonate more explosives in New York City if they could ever made it out of Massachusetts. During the Thursday morning hearing, Commissioner Davis was grilled over what the city of Boston — as well as state and national law enforcement — could have done to curb plots to terrorize the citizens of both cities.
Davis said the Boston Marathon bombing created “the most complex crime scene we ever processed in the city.”
In a statement published before the testimony began, the commissioner advocated for having more resources that might be able to give law enforcement the upper-hand in instances where future plots are being hatched. Ultimately it was footage of the Tsarnaev brothers caught on surveillance cameras that led authorities to identify them as suspects in the bombing, and many have made a push in the weeks since to increase the number of cameras across the city. Speaking to the committee on Thursday, Davis suggested he stands in line with this take but does have reservations about what it could lead to.
“I strongly support the enhanced ability to monitor public places,” Davis said. “This monitoring . . . violates no constitutionally protected rights but gives police the ability to investigate and effectively prosecute. Images from cameras do not lie. They do not forget.”
But in the wake of what unfolded in his city last month, civil liberty proponents have condemned the response in Boston and elsewhere. Davis’ city was placed on lock-down after the bombings during a manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers, and heavily armed police conducted warrantless searches of homes across the region. Coupled with calls for increased surveillance, critics have blasted Boston’s response and have warned of what could come next.
“I do not endorse actions that move Boston and our nation into a police-state mentality, with surveillance cameras attached to every light pole in the city,” Davis added with his statement.
Elsewhere in the hearing, Massachusetts Undersecretary for Homeland Security Kurt N. Schwartz said Boston’s transit and traffic cameras are already linked to “a quite complex, sophisticated system,” but that admission didn’t deter members of the House from inquiring about other means of foiling future plots.
Joe Lieberman, a former Independent senator from Connecticut and co-architect of the US Department of Homeland Security, opined at the hearing that the DHS was designed after the September 11 terrorist attacks essentially to prevent events like Boston from ever unfolding.
“Though it would not have been easy, it was possible to prevent the terrorist attacks in Boston,” Lieberman said.
The former senator took several opportunities throughout the hearing to offer criticism aimed at the DHS. “To put it bluntly, our homeland defense system failed in Boston,” he said in a statement offered before he took the microphone.
Of particular concern, he would later explain, was how information sharing between agencies didn’t occur to a degree that ended with Tamerlan Tsarnaev being detained, or even deported, after Russian intelligence notified the US Federal Bureau of Investigation about him years before the attack.
“Why didn’t the [Department of Homeland Security] notify the FBI and the Boston JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] when its system ‘pinged’ that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had left America for Russia on his way to Dagestan?” Lieberman asked.
But while Lieberman suggested that US agencies didn’t do their job properly, he had powerful words for Moscow too. “It could be that the most consequential failure to share information was the failure of the Russian intelligence to explain in more detail to us why they were interested in Tamerlan Tsarnaev,” he said.
“I’m agitated by,” he said, “why nobody was particularly looking for the name Tamerlan Tsarnaev by the time he came back.”
“Someone should have been on him,” he said.
Commissioner Davis admitted during the hearing that the FBI failed to inform the Boston Police Department about the Tsarnaev family despite Russian intelligence issuing a warning to the US.
When Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) asked, “Were you aware of Russian intelligence warning?” the police chief responded that he was “not in fact informed of that particular development.”
“[W]e would have liked to know,” Davis said.
“The whole point of the fusion centers and the Joint Terrorism Task Forces is to share information,” McCaul said. “The whole idea of information not shared defies why we even have a Homeland Security Department in the first place.”

Turkey to support potential US-led no-fly zone on Syria: Erdogan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will support the United States if Washington plans to impose a no-fly zone on Syria.

“Right from the beginning… we would say ‘yes,’” Erdogan stated in response to a question during an interview with NBC News on Thursday that whether Turkey would back such a potential move by the US against Syria.

The Syrian government says Turkey has been playing a key role in fueling the unrest in Syria by financing, training, and arming the militants since the turmoil erupted in March 2011.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in April that Turkey’s government “officially harbors terrorists and sends them into Syria.”

On March 19, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) Admiral James Stavridis, who is the commander of US European Command, said the member states of the military alliance had held negotiations over enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria and providing lethal support to the militant groups, the Washington Post reported.

In another part of the NBC interview, the Turkish premier further reiterated claims that Syria had used chemical weapons in its fight against foreign-sponsored militants.

Contrary to Erdogan’s unfounded allegations, the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria said on May 5 that it found testimony from victims and medical staff that showed militants had used the nerve agent sarin in Syria, which has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687.

The UN commission of inquiry also said that it could not find any evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against militants.

On March 19, over two dozen people were killed and many others injured when militants fired missiles containing a chemical substance into a village near the northwestern city of Aleppo, according to a report by Syria’s official news agency SANA.

The Turkish prime minister also said in the interview that the United States should “assume more responsibilities and take further steps” regarding the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, “And what sort of steps they will take, we are going to talk about this.”

MKA/HSN

Hezbollah: Israel struck to break Syria resistance

Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah says the recent Israeli strikes against Syria were meant to force the country to abandon resistance against Israel.

Speaking in a televised speech in Beirut on Thursday, Nasrallah said the attacks were part of an Israeli ongoing campaign to prevent the resistance from becoming stronger.

“With regards to the Israeli strikes on Syria, the Israeli enemy is seeking to achieve its aims, one of which is to exclude and eliminate it as a factor within the ongoing resistance against Israel,” he stated.

“Israel knows that the source of strength of the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine is Syria. That is why it wants to remove it from the resistance front,” Nasrallah pointed out.

On May 5, Syria said the Israeli regime had carried out an airstrike targeting a research center in a suburb of Damascus, following heavy losses of al-Qaeda-affiliated groups inflicted by the Syrian army. According to Syrian media reports, Israeli rockets struck the Jamraya Research Center.

It was the second time that Israeli rockets hit the Jamraya Research Center. The facility was first hit in an Israeli airstrike in January.

The leader of the Lebanese resistance movement also said that the Syrian leadership has strong nerves, and has foiled Israel’s plots through a wise, logical, and strategic approach.

“Syria has a wise leadership that oversees the battle with the Israelis through a strategic mind,” he noted.

Nasrallah also said Hezbollah has been enjoying a strong support from Syria, like that of no other Arab country.

He went on to say that the Lebanese movement will stand by the Syrian resistance against Israel, specifically in its struggle to free the Golan Heights, referring to the part of the Syrian territory, which is under Israeli occupation.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah has the capability to obtain what he described as unique weapons that could be used to defend Lebanon against the enemies.

The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

MP/MN/HN

The Fourth Political Theory and Its Reception: A Review of a Non-Review

Michael O’Meara is the author of the definitive English-language overview of the French Nouvelle Droite’s ideas, New Culture, New Right. Anti-Liberalism in Postmodern Europe. An acute and perceptive writer himself, O’Meara is also the author, as Michael Torigian, of Every Factory a Fortress. The French Labor Movement in the Age of Ford and Hitler. For all those who gravitate towards the ideas of the Groupement de recherche et d’études pour la civilisation européenne (GRECE) and are serious about seeing them come to fruition in the real world, they could do worse than read the latter book and its account of what a militant labor movement can accomplish (That’s right, the working class also plays a role in a revolutionary struggle. Metapolitics alone and publishing articles on “Implicit Whiteness in the Second Season of Veronica Mars” are not going to cut it, no matter how many footnotes they have.)
 
 
 
O’Meara’s grasp of the nouvelle droite’s postulates as well as its ideological and cultural antecedents is second to none. If this was not enough, he is one of the few voices in his ideological sphere to unambiguously espouse a socialistic worldview and who understands that there can be no genuine change if you don’t do away with the libertarian delusions that afflict so many of his fellow travelers. This is why reading his underwhelming review of Russian thinker Alexander Dugin’s The Fourth Politcal Theory (Arktos, 2012) was such a disappointment. Focused on a minuscule portion of what the book actually says, if faults its author for allegedly turning the page too briskly on fascism (which O’Meara refers to as the “Third Political Theory” or 3PT) as a viable ideology to confront the onslaught of liberalism. Even if O’Meara’s take on Dugin’s analysis was right, not only does he fail to contribute a meaningful commentary on the Russian thinker’s seminal work, but he is also unable to posit arguments in favor of fascism or “3PT” as the alternative anti-liberals should be paying attention to.
 
 
 
Dugin has long railed against Western liberalism’s “colonization of the spirit and of the mind.” For Dugin, “This is a cultural, philosophical, ontological, and eschatological struggle, because in the status quo we identify the essence of the Dark Age, or the great paradigm.” Those who struggle against the liberal hegemon, however, are in dire need of concrete achievements in the political arena (as opposed to the ideological or even the metapolitical realm) and realize that in a global arena the fight is waged at all levels and regardless of national boundaries. “[A]t this geopolitical level,” Dugin says, “Russia preserves the potential, resources and inclination to confront this challenge, because Russian history has long been intuitively oriented against the same horizon.”
 
 
 
But even if given its historical and cultural circumstances, Russia is singularly positioned to spearhead this challenge, this does not mean that Dugin is espousing a new form of Russian imperialism. Building on the foundations of many conceivably 3PT strains of thought such as German national bolshevism and the ideas of Jean Thiriart, Dugin proposes an alliance of anti-liberal forces premised on the classical geopolitical principles and the outlook of thinkers like Alain de Benoist – especially in his book Europe,Tiers monde, même combat (Europe, Third World, same struggle) and his further elaborations of this argument.
 
 
 
This is where O’Meara sharply draws a line between himself and 4PT, and what he sees as a multicultural concession (and ultimately, a fatal flaw) in the ideas of Dugin and de Benoist. More than a review, the aforementioned analysis of The Fourth Political Theory is a gripe against Dugin’s take on fascism. Thinking of a hypothetical reader who potentially wants to get acquainted with the Russian thinker’s ideas or at least this particular tome, O’Meara leaves us in the dark about the rest of its contents. One can only wonder why he zeroed in on Dugin’s interpretation of fascism if at the same time he claims “there is almost no discussion” about said ideology in the book (*).
 
 
 
For all his intimate familiarity with the European New Right’s ideas and his extremely acute insights elsewhere, O’Meara is approaching Dugin’s work with too many prejudices. One of them stems from Dugin’s political affinity with de Benoist (which O’Meara seems to condemn even though he sympathizes with both thinkers) and how O’Meara misrepresents de Benoist’s ethnopluralism as multiculturalism. Far from proposing a melting pot society of anomic identities, ethnopluralism or cultural differentialism asserts a right to difference that does not undermine the specificity of each culture. Given the current scenario, it is a far more realistic (if less idealistic) approach than dreams of regional homelands in the Pacific Northwest or plans of massive deportation by people who cannot bring themselves to drop out of the same system that facilitates their alienation.
 
 
 
O’Meara’s summary of Dugin’s political itinerary is equally superficial. While it is hard to outline a trajectory that goes from Pamyet to Gennady Zyuganov’s Communist Party and so forth, this scrutiny does not necessarily reveal deep contradictions in Dugin’s thought. His willingness to work and be part of different camps (some of them, like Zyuganov’s organization in the ‘90s, seemed perfectly positioned to assume a larger role in Russian history before they imploded) are also signs of pragmatism and reaffirm one of the 4PT’s core principles in that all serious anti-liberal forces have something to contribute. This does not mean that Dugin’s thought did not experience an evolution, but that is not the same as claiming it is contradictory in its present form.
 
 
 
Likewise, you cannot assume that Dugin’s last decade of thought and activism is exclusively predicated on his relationship with Putin. Dugin himself has said that he has only had sporadic contacts with the Russian leader and the fact that he has advised Putin doesn’t mean that: a) there is a significant overlap between Dugin and Putin’s politics, and b) that this denotes a change in Dugin’s own thought. What are the exact matters in which Dugin has advised Putin? If you don’t know, you can’t claim they constitute a different stage in his thought or a “conflicting interpretation” within his work.
Still, perhaps the object of most of O’Meara’s reticence towards the 4PT comes from Dugin’s stance on racial matters. Besides the fact that neither Dugin nor de Benoist are even remotely close to liberals on race as the review seems to imply, O’Meara does not strengthen his case by citing Francis Parker Yockey’s ideas as comparatively superior examples of both theory and practice. If anything, Yockey’s concepts of vertical and horizontal race are exactly the type of racial relativism that O’Meara sees in de Benoist and Dugin. On the other hand, de Benoist has never denied the contributions of Konrad Lorenz and ethology to differentialist thought, placing the French thinker much closer to the human biodiversity camp than Yockey or even Evola. The review is ripe with these contradictions. While O’Meara says at one point that spirit is far more important than race, the attention he pays to de Benoist and Dugin’s supposed deviation muddles his argument.
 
 
 
Whatever the reasons for O’Meara distancing himself from the New Right –and there should be more points of disagreement than just de Benoist’s stance on race– his admission that he no longer reads the GRECE’s publications is baffling. This is not a matter of not reading the right authors but of willingly ignoring one of the most dynamic powerhouses of political ideas worldwide –the GRECE’s publications are not just magazines, but a treasure trove of valuable orientations to navigate modernity– a rather unusual stance for an intellectual of O’Meara’s caliber.
 
 
 
This obsession with race as a stumbling block for building meaningful alliances between anti-liberal forces is also evidenced in O’Meara’s hostility to Dugin’s tactical inclusiveness of Islam. It is unfortunate that this idea –articulated more famously by former GRECE member Guillaume Faye– has gained so much traction among intellectuals who should know better and be able to denounce it as the neoconservative Trojan horse it is.
 
 
 
Fascism’s Praxis
 
 
 
In criticizing Dugin’s dismissal of fascism, O’Meara also seems to claim that the heterogeneity of the different interwar fascist movements somehow invalidates the argument that they are part and parcel of the same political family. The notion that they had “little ideological similarity” is ludicrous. Roger Griffin and others have sufficiently debunked that line of analysis and while someone as well read and sharp as O’Meara is most assuredly familiar with this historical interpretation of fascism (also espoused to different degrees by Zeev Sternhell, Ernst Nolte, A. James Gregor, among others) his arguments don’t show it. Similarly, the notion that slapping the “3PT” label on these movements somehow changes the fact that they are fascist offshoots is simply non-conducive, semantic nitpicking.
 
 
 
O’Meara also faults Dugin for allegedly ignoring the accomplishments of postwar fascism but, truth be told, there’s not much to look at outside of the realm of ideology. When it comes to putting fascist ideas in practice, there are very few examples you can mention other than short-lived parliamentary victories (which some would say are useless in and of themselves,) the work of individuals such as Giorgio Freda (and only in the sense that he’s lived a life according to his principles) and, perhaps, the more revolutionary initiatives of the MSI and its splinter groups in Italy. As a matter of fact, one could argue that the GRECE has accomplished more than most of the post-war “3PT” put together.
 
 
 
The argument becomes downright absurd when O’Meara contrasts alleged (but mostly unspecified) “3PT” achievements with those of the “free-floating intellectuals” de Benoist and Dugin, who are likened to irrelevant British figurehead Prince Charles in their supposedly shared Traditionalism. The Fourth Political Theory is a comparatively younger school of thought than whatever O’Meara sees fit to identify as “3PT” and criticizing the former for not having accomplished in its young life what postwar fascism has in almost 70 years is unsustainable. Whatever the reasons for its shortcomings in the political arena, postwar fascism has to own up to its failures and while these owe more to its proponents and so-called leaders than to the ideology itself, this lack of self-criticism among its sympathizers speaks for itself. Not even the most rabid fascist advocates can deny that their ideology has been systematically weighed down by the often freakish incarnations of fascism that have surfaced throughout the years, especially in the United States, where even the more lucid individuals in this camp refuse to weed out obvious misfits, posers, and frankly deranged elements.
 
 
 
While it would not be fair to say O’Meara falls in this particular camp, it is worth noting that many of those who are ready to fault de Benoist and Dugin for their “soft” stance on race are the same who have no compunction in associating with racist Buckleyites like Jared Taylor. While questioning ethnopluralism or the soundness of a geopolitical strategy predicated on Eurasia, they have no problem working together with advocates of unbridled free market capitalism and Israeli colonialism, and who support delusional pipe dreams like the “majority strategy” to “recapture” the Republican party (as if making the Republican party openly pro-white will change the fact that the ideology that inspires it and the U.S. itself since its foundation wasn’t the source of the problem.) How can you claim to be anti-system and fault others for their stance on Islam while overlooking these “lapses” among some of the main players in your own camp?
 
 
 
Going back to what O’Meara actually says in the review, his wildest claim is not necessarily what we’ve critiqued above, but his belief that global socioeconomic conditions are facilitating an eventual “3PT” uprising. It is hard to ascertain how O’Meara makes the connection between the objectively deteriorating global scenario and whatever he thinks these “3PT” forces are accomplishing or working towards accomplishing. What are the actual inroads being made? Greece’s Golden Dawn might grow but it hasn’t even won 10% of the national electorate yet and that’s assuming its irruption is indeed a positive development. I at least am not familiar with the party to make that assertion. To use another of O’Meara’s examples, Italy’s Casa Pound constitutes an encouraging development and its innovative tactics are a template that more should follow (instead of devoting their energies solely to “metapoliticking”) but at the moment their impact is marginal. O’Meara’s forecast is based on pure voluntarism, which is not necessarily negative as a political disposition but is certainly not enough to make accurate forecasts of how the political situation will evolve.
 
 
 
Unbecoming Bombast
 
This commentary would not be complete without noting some of the bombastic rhetoric (“fighting the dark legions of the Antichrist,” “Satan’s synagogue”) used throughout the review, as if someone had channeled the spirit of Richard Butler or Francisco Franco. The use of cryptic language and conspiratorial turns of phrase sends mixed signals and further undermine its credibility. For example: While on the one hand O’Meara makes the perfectly rational claim that the “hedonist dictatorship” that is modern society was not the “invention of maniacal Jews” (and it’s amazing that these caveats still have to be made among intelligent people) he also talks about the “Hebraic” model of state of society (there is no such thing unless you believe in the Protocols.)
 
 
 
All in all, it seems that no matter how well-equipped you are intellectually, if you do not shed dead weight ideas and attitudes –which is not the same as betraying core principles for the sake of mainstream acceptance– that have consistently helped marginalize your political camp you are bound to be hostile to new schools of thought, even if they are conceivably fighting for the same values of social justice you are. Genuine revolutionary movements need more people willing to throw a punch and take a punch than nitpicking over differences that are negligible when compared to the tasks ahead.
 
 
 
(*) See “Unthinking Liberalism” by Alex Kurtagic, also published in Counter-Currents, for a more comprehensive and even-handed commentary on Dugin’s book.
 

Obama must close Guantanamo prison: Former Gitmo chief prosecutor

Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at the Guantanamo Bay military commission, says US President Barack Obama "must" close the notorious Washington-run prison in Cuba.

On Thursday, Davis noted that “the cases” that have been generated out of the controversial prison made “bad laws,” adding, “We haven’t had any good law come out of Guantanamo. It’s just been a black eye legally.”

The former American Air Force colonel also stated that the prison costs are too great for the US to bear and the notorious jail should be closed entirely.

The comments come as a report says each inmate at the US-run prison costs Washington some USD 900,000 annually.

According to the Pentagon’s estimate, it spends around USD 150 million every year to run the prison and military court system at the US Naval Base in Cuba, Reuters said in a report on Friday.

This is while, the US President promised on April 30 to make a new attempt to shut down the military prison.

The United States holds some 166 men at the prison, with most of the captives being cleared for release or never charged.

US authorities say that 100 of the total 166 Guantanamo inmates are currently on hunger strike, though their lawyers have reported that 130 detainees are on strike.

Inmates began the hunger strike in February to protest against prison conditions and the detainees’ indefinite confinement. The US forces have resorted to force-feeding nearly two dozen of the captives via tubes put through their nose into their stomach.

The United Nations human rights office has condemned the force-feeding of the hunger strikers, saying it amounts to torture and violates international law.

MAM/SS

Pages