Bush’s Legacy

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George_W_Bush.jpg
In considering George W. Bush’s legacy, I would suggest that Bush flamboyantly hastened America’s global decline — a decline that might have otherwise been stretched out over many decades and happened anyway.
Bush sped up history and punctured America’s mystique as a superpower by showing key fundamental limits. Being a superpower is more spin and more sleight-of-hand than real. The rest of the world has to believe that a superpower has few constraints and can tackle nearly any problem. Once limits became exposed, allies counted on America less and foes pushed their agendas forward.
On top of over-stretching the US military, Bush oversaw a government that allowed toxic financial products to be injected intravenously into the global financial system — thus robbing America of any status as the finest manifestation of near perfect capitalism. I didn’t believe that the US has been anywhere near a well performing economy for some time — but my view and that of many other working middle class Americans has been insufficient to pry the hands of Bob Rubin and his Wall Street self-dealers off the levers of the government’s economic machinery.
Bush has undermined America’s trust in its institutions and values by promulgating torture, domestic spying, extraordinary rendition, secret prisons, and fabricated truths and wars. The scars of these sins won’t easily be heeled or easily reversed for many years.
Dan Froomkin of The Washington Post has a very compelling assessment of Bush’s legacy — and then a long compilation of other comments from political observers worth reading.
A clip from Froomkin:

Here is Bush’s legacy, in part:
He took the nation to a war of choice under false pretenses — and left troops in harm’s way on two fields of battle. He embraced torture as an interrogation tactic and turned the world’s champion of human dignity into an outlaw nation and international pariah. He watched with detachment as a major American city went under water. He was ostensibly at the helm as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression took hold. He went from being the most popular to the most disappointing president, having squandered a unique opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after Sept. 11. He set a new precedent for avoiding the general public in favor of screened audiences and seemed to occupy an alternate reality. He took his own political party from seeming permanent majority status to where it is today. And he deliberately politicized the federal government, circumvented the traditional policymaking process, ignored expert advice and suppressed dissent, leaving behind a broken government.
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Bush’s great hope is that Iraq in the years to come will emerge as a thriving pro-Western democracy — and offer some vindication for the misbegotten war that will always be associated with his name. (He has already done a masterful job of spinning his troop “surge” as a profound success — instead of a maneuver that has simply postponed the nearly inevitable paroxysms to come.) But even if he does ultimately have something to show for our incredible — and profoundly mismanaged — investment of blood and capital, it will never be enough.

It does disturb me that Obama sees it as necessary to sit down and break bread with some of the nation’s opinion leaders who were proponents of and cheerleaders for all of the destructive policy decisions that harmed the United States under the direction of George W. Bush.
Obama reportedly dined at the home of George Will along with Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol and David Brooks.
Despite what may happen in coming days in Obama’s Inaugural festivities, I can hear and sense the excitement seeping out of America’s and the world’s Obama bubble.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

61 comments on “Bush’s Legacy

  1. Fred says:

    Bush was a failed leader,a killer of humanity.

    http://truck-racing-games.blogspot.com

    Reply

  2. J Crippen says:

    Can a man’s legacy be drawn from an eight year period in time? What kind of a footprint has GWB left on the American people, or the world for that matter? Has he served his country well by protecting us from terrorism, or has a alienated America from the rest of the world. Has he acted as a Christian in his role as President of the United States, or has he misused the Bible as a means of procuring votes and evoking war? Was the rebuilding of Iraq set in motion years before the Twin Towers tragedy, or was this a rapid decision based on an emergent circumstance? I have tried to keep this debate as original as possible. That includes errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling. I have also tried to collect them in a somewhat chronological method in order to keep a level playing field. I have simply collected publicly posted comments of others from open sources.

    Reply

  3. John Crippen says:

    Can a man’s legacy be drawn from an eight year period in time? What kind of a footprint has GWB left on the American people, or the world for that matter? Has he served his country well by protecting us from terrorism, or has a alienated America from the rest of the world. Has he acted as a Christian in his role as President of the United States, or has he misused the Bible as a means of procuring votes and evoking war? Was the rebuilding of Iraq set in motion years before the Twin Towers tragedy, or was this a rapid decision based on an emergent circumstance? I have tried to keep this debate as original as possible. That includes errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling. I have also tried to collect them in a somewhat chronological method in order to keep a level playing field. I have simply collected publicly posted comments of others from open sources.

    Reply

  4. silver slipper says:

    I think President Bush has been a good president.
    Why are persons concerned that Obama met with conservative thinkers? He says he is willing to meet with Iran’s and/or Venezuela’s president. If he can manage holding conversations with those kind of thinkers, surely he can handle talking with a few conservatives!

    Reply

  5. downtown says:

    How anyone could “dine” with a Krauthammer is completely beyond me. Just looking at this guy’s visage makes me feel like regurgitating. Opinion leader my foot.

    Reply

  6. ... says:

    paul – your posts are very thoughtful and considerate and i really appreciate that.. i found your 830pm last night especially informative.. thanks for being a part of these ongoing discussions..

    Reply

  7. rich says:

    Wow, Paul, an on-point exposition. Makes all the difference in the world.
    I’ll concede one point to varanasi: history can be instructive. Detail really undoes the dogma —
    quote: “Fighters of the Jewish Combat Organization, under the command of Mordechaj Anielewicz, together with those of the Jewish Military Union, had a well developed network of bunkers and fortifications. Over 2,000 heavily armed soldiers of the Wehrmacht and SS assailed the fighters. The Polish Underground actively supported the Ghetto Uprising; it supplied arms and organized military actions. On May 8th, after an admirable defense, the bunker at Mila 18 Street fell, and the staff of the Jewish Combat Organization, together with their commander all gave up their lives.”
    Source: http://www.cyberroad.com/poland/jews_ww2.html
    Just change the flags and insignia, and this is what is unfolding in Gaza today, except that for the people of Gaza, there is no escape.
    http://www.juancole.com/2009/01/israel-in-gaza-increasingly-seen-as.html
    People didn’t go quietly during WWII, and varanasi and others would do well to remember that richly-textured reality. A blockade is a blockade, and cities under siege will tunnel out to survive, for food, for medicine, and to defend themselves. Oh, varanasi, it’s just the humanity.

    Reply

  8. Paul Norheim says:

    Someone on this thread said that “Chomsky called Israel a blood
    stained monster”, and added: “Apt”
    This triggered an idea in varanasi`s head, and he replied:
    “true. but can you name a modern nation-state that is not? i’m
    having a hard time coming up with one.”
    I wonder why he said that. Correction, I do not wonder; I know
    why he said it. He admitted, for the first time in these
    discussions after the attack on Gaza started, that Israel at the
    moment actually is “a blood stained monster”. But somehow, if
    no one could come up with names of modern nation-states that
    had not been a “blood stained monster” some time in their past,
    then this would justify the fact that Israel currently is a blood
    stained monster. Since countries like Japan and Germany had
    committed grave crimes in their past, that would somehow
    justify the crimes Israel are committing today. Since Holland,
    Belgium and Denmark have a colonial past, nobody can blame
    Israel for the undeniable fact that it currently is a blood stained
    monster.
    So he must have thought. Because who can blame someone for
    being a murderer, if everybody else are or were murderers.
    Unfortunately for varanasi, rich actually suggested a lot of
    modern nation-states lacking a blood-stained, monstrous past.
    Obviously, rich interpreted varanasi`s challenge as mentioning
    contemporary examples. But varanasi claimed that he had
    defined “modern” to include the last, say 200 or 300 years. This
    gave him the opportunity to ridicule some of rich`s examples,
    and to claim that rich was ignorant of the colonial past of
    countries like Denmark, Holland and Belgium.
    Reading rich`s post, it was clear that he had initially interpreted
    varanasis challenge differently then varanasi apparently had
    intended it. Still, rich offered plenty of names of modern nation-
    states with a relatively “clean” past. Varanasi must have realized
    that he had lost, that he could not argue that history somehow
    justified the fact that Israel currently is a blood stained monster.
    But varanasi did not want to admit that. So he used the initial
    misunderstanding to further ridicule rich, calling him a fool,
    accusing him of being ignorant of history, and even teasing
    POA, in the hope that POA should react and insult him, thus
    make us ignore that he had lost the argument. And then insults
    were exchanged back and forth, as usual…
    If you ask me, history does not justify the current crimes
    committed by Israel. What Israel is doing against the
    Palestinians – the blockade, the starving, the systematic
    establishment of settlements on Palestinian soil, robbing them
    for hope, stealing their homes, denying them work, medicine,
    bombing them – is simply morally wrong, regardless of history.
    Among the countries rich mentioned as “relatively clean” was my
    own country, Norway. This does not mean that Norwegians are
    or were very good people (the documented history of the
    Vikings in pre-modern times suggest the opposite), but is due
    to several circumstances, among them a small population on a
    relatively large areal, an egalitarian society etc. etc.
    I got the idea of bringing in new elements into the discussion,
    but not directly related to varanasis suggestion. Thus I
    compared Israel to several African countries, especially with
    regards to the difficult transition from guerilla fighter to
    politician, from a nation at war to a nation at peace with its
    neighbors, as well as its former rivals within the country. Some
    of the African nation states were born ca 10-20 years after the
    establishment of Israel.
    I have no idea why, but these reflexions somehow resulted in a
    rather grumpy reaction from rich, accusing me of an “appalling
    moral relativism” and several other things. He did not refer to
    specific statements in my post, and I am still clueless as to what
    he meant. So be it.
    And the whole “debate” ended with rich throwing in a handful of
    new names of `clean” nation-states, to which varanasi replied:
    “never heard of ’em. never visited ’em. never cared” – as if it was
    not himself who had suggested that someone should try to
    bring up such examples, and that he couldn`t care less about
    the whole debate that he just lost.
    And then, as an afterthought, he writes:
    “i hate to say it, but i feel like i’m arguing here with a mentally
    challenged 13 year-old.
    i’m actually embarrassed to have been engaged with the likes
    of rich and POA for the last week or so.
    it certainly doesn’t speak highly of me. i definitely have more
    productive things to do. clearly their ramblings are ridiculous.”
    The quote speaks for itself.
    And if anybody should feel “embarrassed” through the
    discussion on this particular thread, it has to be us, for having
    “been engaged with the likes of” varanasi.
    It certainly doesn`t speak highly of us.

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    “Arguing over whether a nation-state killed a couple dozen or a
    few hundred is pointless when the issue is whether that nation is
    a genocidal blood-stained monster–or not.” (rich)
    Did I do that? Where?
    “I have to say, Paul, the moral relativism you display is appalling.”
    Now rich, will you please explain and point to where in the text
    you referred to I display such an appalling moral relativism?

    Reply

  10. rich says:

    “As of Thursday morning, the Israelis have now killed 1038 and wounded 4850 Palestinians.
    “The BBC reports that “More than 300 of the dead are said to be children, 76 are women and more than 4,500 people have been injured, of whom 1,600 are children and 678 are women.” In addition, many of the dead or wounded are just Gaza police and municipal authorities that the Israelis are counting as “Hamas” when they may be no such thing. Tens of thousands of civilians have been rendered homeless, which is to say that there are thousands of families and children without shelter in the middle of winter (the low tonight in Gaza is 6 C./ 42 F.)”
    “It is now estimated that Israel has inflicted $1.4 bn. in damages on Gaza, which was already desperately poor. It is being accused of deliberately and wantonly targeting civilian targets, on the grounds that they are ‘symbols of government’ and Hamas had gotten into control of the government.”
    The respected medical journal Lancet let the Israeli leadership have it in an editorial this week:
    ‘ “We find it hard to believe that an otherwise internationally respected, democratic nation can sanction such large and indiscriminate human atrocities in a territory already under land and sea blockade,” The Lancet said. “The collective punishment of Gazans is placing horrific and immediate burdens of injury and trauma on innocent civilians. These actions contravene the fourth Geneva convention.” The editorial also blasted “national medical associations and professional bodies worldwide,” accusing them of keeping silent as the destruction unfolded. “Their leaders, through their inaction, are complicit in a preventable tragedy that may have long-lasting public-health consequences not only for Gaza for also for the entire region,” it said.’
    The Lancet editorial board used the same word as I have, “atrocities,” for what is being done to the civilian population, and agrees with my charge of indiscriminate fire on civilians (a war crime) and contravention of the international law governing treatment of subject populations in occupied territories (Israel controls Gaza’s borders, air and sea access and denies it statehood, and so is the occupying authority. Having merely removed its colonists does not mean it is no longer an occupier; colonizing an occupied territory is itself illegal). The Israeli military’s apparent targeting of clinics and other medical facilities at a time when they are most needed for care of civilians seems to have especially angered the Lancet editors.”
    “Unlike the obsequious US press, Britain’s Channel 4 is capable of challenging the propaganda that Hamas was intensively bombarding Israel with rockets during the 2008 ceasefire. The anchor was given a report by the Israeli government that showed that Hamas did not in fact send rockets on Israel in that period. Only 20 rockets were fired from Gaza between June and December of 2008, and they were fired by organizations other than Hamas. No Israelis were killed in that period by these little home made projectiles.”
    “The European Union has put off plans to declare Israel a privileged partner in trade, diplomacy and political ties on Wednesday. The falling through of this program is a blow to Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who had hoped to campaign on the achievement in her bid for the prime ministership (the election is Feb. 10).
    http://www.juancole.com/2009/01/israel-in-gaza-increasingly-seen-as.html

    Reply

  11. rich says:

    Funny, you seemed to care at the time:
    Cee Jan 15, 12:30PM – Link
    “Chomsky called Israel a blood stained monster.
    Apt.
    They bombed at UN aid headquarters and a hospital today.”
    _____
    varanasi Jan 15, 2:05PM – Link
    “‘Chomsky called Israel a blood stained monster.
    Apt.’
    true. but can you name a modern nation-state that is not? i’m having a hard time comin gup with one.”
    _____
    but then, you weren’t trying. When assisted, you squawk and complain. I don’t mind a good debate, but

    Reply

  12. varanasi says:

    rich wrote:
    “Try and run away from it. Deny the existence of Costa Rica and Belgium and Switzerland.”
    hearye, hearye, i, varanassi of TWN hereby officially deny the existence of costa rica, belgium and switzerland.
    never heard of ’em. never visited ’em. never cared

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    rich,
    I did not intend to take side in your dispute; I used one
    sentence, en passent, on definitions of “modern; and you`ll not
    find a ” long, involved, tendentious philosophical discussion
    about the semantics of ‘modern'” in my post.
    My post was not intended as an answer to Varanasis question (a
    modern nation-state that is not a blood stained monster), but
    an attempt to say something else re. the stalemate in the
    Israel/Palestine conflict.
    “The ethnic makeup of said nations, f’rinstance, is wholly
    outside the scope of the question, as we’re not searching for an
    apt analogy, although many exist and any will do.”
    No, you did not. But I did. And obviously i went “outside the
    scope of the question”.
    “You choose sophistry and hair-splitting over sticking to the
    point or the facts of the question.”
    Which point, which facts, which question? I did not try to stick
    to your point, nor continue your quarrel.
    I tried to do something else.
    I have absolutely no idea why you are angry or “disappointed”,
    nor what you are accusing me of moral relativism or of having
    intentions of muddying the water, of sophistry and hair-
    splitting.
    To be honest rich, I have no idea what you are talking about.
    Maybe you do?
    To me it seems to have nothing to do with my post, but with
    something else. But who knows…

    Reply

  14. varanasi says:

    rich wrote:
    “varanasi challenge has been met and now it’s dead.”
    i hate to say it, but i feel like i’m arguing here with a mentally challenged 13 year-old.
    i’m actually embarrassed to have been engaged with the likes of rich and POA for the last week or so.
    it certainly doesn’t speak highly of me. i definitely have more productive things to do. clearly their ramblings are ridiculous.
    that’s right, richy, “varnasi challenge has been met and now it’s dead.”
    good job! good boy! you won again!!!
    *applause and approving nods from the rafters*

    Reply

  15. Cee says:

    I hope Obama took a food taster to dinner.
    People are responding to repair the damage that Bush and the dinner guests have caused.
    From YNet
    British MP: Israel exploiting Holocaust
    Jewish lawmaker says gentiles’ guilt providing Israeli government with excuse to murder Palestinians
    Vancouver Sun
    Jewish British lawmaker likens Israel to Nazis
    AFPJanuary 15, 2009
    LONDON – A veteran British Jewish lawmaker compared the Israeli offensive in Gaza Thursday to the Nazis who forced his family to flee from Poland.
    Gerald Kaufman, a member of the Jewish Labour movement linked to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s ruling party, also called for an arms embargo against Israel.
    “My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town . . . a German soldier shot her dead in her bed,” Kaufman said during a parliamentary debate on the 20-day-old war which has left over 1,000 dead.
    “My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.

    Reply

  16. rich says:

    varanasi @ 9:48PM –
    “i never said ‘anything goes’ ”
    I simply drew that logical conclusion from your retreat into the historical details of Belgium, the Netherlands, etc.–both modern nation-states that are not “blood-stained monsters.”
    If you cite their actions in 1850 to justify the Israel’s actions today–to assert that every nation-state is a “blood-stained monster”–then I’M saying the obvious conclusion is ‘Anything Goes’. I didn’t say you explicitly said those words. I’m saying that’s what your position boils down to.
    Try and run away from it. Deny the existence of Costa Rica and Belgium and Switzerland. Deny that indigenous people weren’t forced off the land they own in Palestine. Successful, modern nations come to terms with these things and change their behavior. The alternative …

    Reply

  17. rich says:

    Paul,
    (my last comment delayed by captcha)
    I’m disappointed in you. Two points: varanasi also used the present-tense “is,” confirming the obvious interpreting of “modern” and eliminating historical indulgences–and more important, he only asked for one example. So a long, involved, tendentious philosophical discussion about the semantics of ‘modern’ are irrelevant and self-indulgent. It doesn’t matter what happened in 1850–is there now a single modern nation, based on current behavior, that is not a blood-stained monster–that’s the question varanasi posed. Paul, you’re not intent on reaching a clearer understanding here, but appear eager to muddy the waters. The ethnic makeup of said nations, f’rinstance, is wholly outside the scope of the question, as we’re not searching for an apt analogy, although many exist and any will do. Arguing over whether a nation-state killed a couple dozen or a few hundred is pointless when the issue is whether that nation is a genocidal blood-stained monster–or not. Big, big difference between relatively clean and “blood-stained monster.”
    I have to say, Paul, the moral relativism you display is appalling. You choose sophistry and hair-splitting over sticking to the point or the facts of the question. Obviously every nation has their moments. But you’re arguing for the sake of arguing.
    varanasi challenge has been met and now it’s dead. As dead as the ~1,000 or so Palestinian civilians who had the temerity to want food, or justice, or want their land back.

    Reply

  18. varanasi says:

    rich wrote:
    “Now, you tell me how the annals of history give you license to say ‘Anything Goes’.”
    uhhh, just one little thing, rich…
    i never said “anything goes”
    now go write another 250 words in response to nobody and nothing.
    sheesh.

    Reply

  19. rich says:

    varanasi @ 5:28PM –
    You asked a present-tense question:
    ” .. but can you name a modern nation-state that is not? [a blood stained monster]” And I listed ten.
    Your words: “modern” and “is.”
    Clearly you indicated a contemporary not historical time-frame. You explicitly asked for the name of a country that “is not” a blood-stained monster, and did not mean ‘has never been’ a blood-stained monster.
    You challenged us to name a single modern nation-state that was IS not a blood-stained monster–and I named ten.
    Now you presume to deliver a history lesson?
    Even if I’d stopped at Costa Rica, which abolished its standing army in 1948, your contention’s been disproven. For kicks, let’s add Finland, Iceland, Switzerland, and Ireland.
    “so, what do you say now, buddy? want to try again and come up with a new list???”
    varanasi, no one ever said several listed nations hadn’t done horrendous things in the past. Their modern incarnation, however, clearly indicates a different mode is not only possible, but that genocide is not necessary.
    Consider the precedent that your reference to history is really asking: because “blood-stained monsters” existed in the past, it must be okay for other “blood-stained monsters”–Israel (not my words)–to exist today.
    Further, you open the door for ANYthing–anything is now fair game. According to you, Congo and Saudi Arabia can justify current conditons by pointing to slavery in the United States in 1859. It must be ok. Thailand & Afghanistan & Serbia & West African rebels can cite the ‘comfort women’ forced into sexual slavery by Japanese Army in Korea & China to justify the sex trade, mass rape and general abuse of women. They’ll be relieved. Torquemada tortured–he waterboarded. Good to know we’re in the clear.
    And my favorite: collective punishment has a historical precedent, too—several hundred men, women and children were killed at Oradour to ‘educate’ the French populace. You see, the French Resistance–a non-state actor, just like Hezbollah–had killed several German soldiers during WWII during the Occupation. Germany made the many pay for the resistance and bravery of the few–an atrocity reviled then and reviled now. Now Israel is doing the same in Gaza, and openly making the same argument, to the tune of a thousand dead civilians rather than a few hundred. You see how easily ‘Never Again’ becomes ‘It must be OK if we’re the ones doing it’?
    Now, you tell me how the annals of history give you license to say ‘Anything Goes’.
    Basically, you’ve defaulted to the kinda of schoolyard logic routinely dismissed by exasperated headmaster since time immemorial: ‘Everybody does it.’ That’s your position?

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    123 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,050 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.
    http://www.ifamericansonlyknew.org/stats/children.html#source

    Reply

  21. varanasi says:

    but clearly history doesn’t mean much to you and rich, POA. it makes your black and white world all so confusing and gray.
    there is no room for nuance and ambiguity in small minds.

    Reply

  22. varanasi says:

    or killed by a jihadist.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Try talking history to a woman holding an infant that was just fried in White Phosphorous.

    Reply

  24. samuel burke says:

    nice post mr clemons….now lets call a spade a spade.
    yoour congress is israeli occupied territory and the israel lobby
    needs to register as a foreign agent.
    or whatever the technical jargon is.

    Reply

  25. Paul Norheim says:

    “”Chomsky called Israel a blood stained monster.
    Apt.” (Cee)
    “true. but can you name a modern nation-state that is not? i’m
    having a hard time coming up with one.” (Varanasi)
    Ok folks, “modern” may mean anything from 150 or 500 years
    old stuff (modern Greece as opposed to ancient Greece) to
    current stuff – and you did not define it before the fighting
    started.
    But does it make any sense to compare Israel/Palestine to, let`s
    say the ethnically homogenous and egalitarian background of
    the Scandinavian countries?
    Vietnam is a more appropriate analogy.
    But why not compare it to some African nations? To a certain
    degree, the Palestinian population and their different leaders
    may be comparable to the South African black population and
    their leaders – the ANC.
    But although the Israelis in many ways treat the Palestinians
    like the white minority treated the black majority during
    Apartheid in SA (some times better, and some times even much
    worse), the comparison does not stick.
    If you combine the attitude of former white South Africans with
    that of Tutsis in Rwanda, you may perhaps come closer to the
    Israelis of today, on a very general level. The Tutsis experienced
    genocide, and this experience plays a large role in how they
    deal with the world today – their domestic politics (very
    centralized rule), their dealing with the region (military and
    financial involvement in the guerilla wars in Congo) and the
    international community (France, the UN and the US did not help
    them during the genocide in 1994); all of this is colored by this
    experience – their anger, suspicion, bitterness and fear.
    The Israelis have similar experiences, but still, the analogy is
    not entirely convincing. While the Tutsis were slaughtered by
    people within their own country, sharing the same language and
    culture, only distinguishable by artificial and rather arbitrary
    identity classifications and economical positions, there has
    never been any serious attempt of genocide towards the Jews in
    Israel from arab groups in the region; the genocide happened
    on another continent.
    Analogies go only so far, and not longer. But one of the reasons
    why I chose the African continent for comparison, is that the
    leaders, both on the Israeli side and the Palestinian side,
    reminds me of certain leaders in some African nations, skillful
    and smart people like Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Meles in
    Ethiopia, Esaias in Eritrea, and Museveni in Uganda. They are all
    former guerilla leaders. And though most of them (the
    exception is Esaias in Eritrea) have done considerable efforts
    towards civilian rule and democratic institutions, they still think
    like military leaders. They are still somehow fighting the war of
    independence, long after it`s over.
    And this reminds me of the Israeli leadership, in a nation that is
    50% democracy and 50% Sparta. They somehow still have the
    same mentality as the first generations of Jewish guerilla
    leaders/terrorist in Palestine between the first world war and
    1948. They should know the mentality of people like Arafat, and
    how the current leaders of Hamas are thinking, because they
    were in exactly the same positions themselves yesterday, and
    using the same means and tactics.
    For how long will nations like Eritrea, Uganda, and Rwanda be
    lead by people unable to take of their military uniforms? And
    the same question applies to Israel. Will we live to see new
    generations of Israelis, of Israeli leaders who brake the circle of
    retaliations, and the military mindset of their grandparents?

    Reply

  26. varanasi says:

    wow, POA. not much to say about the content of my riposte to rich, huh? sometimes facts are frustrating things, huh?
    and spare us your “high-road” BS. while i always hold out the possibility that people can change, your written record on TWN is utterly profane and antagonistic.
    you set the tone when it comes to gutter rhetoric.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “but, i know that you’re a star around here, richard. and maybe your asshat, sidekick POA will come to your rescue with a tirade of personal insult and invective”
    Anyone else see the complete and utter hypocricy here?
    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m really sick of this guy. In my opinion, he’ll be doing us all a huge favor when he moves on.
    Reread the thread. Who is attempting to turn it into another spitting match?
    Count me out.

    Reply

  28. ... says:

    varanasi – i think rich was thinking shorter term history.. it is only in the last 60 years that both the country israel started and the usa has went from being perceived as a world leader towards being more like a tinpot dictatorship where money and power trump freedom and democracy… things can change fast in terms of time…
    i suspect you are a bit younger then i thought you were – 30’s???

    Reply

  29. varanasi says:

    knock yourself out rich, but you’re sure coming across as a fool.
    i guess history doesn’t matter, huh? unless you’re your talking about israel.
    for instance, denmark colonized parts of india for 300 years into the 20th century. they brutalized locals and stole their land and resources, but they have no blood on their hands?
    you don’t respond to my points about canada’s past or vietnam’s present.
    belgium?! ever heard of congo?! maybe you should read up on the atrocities that belgium committed there well into the 20th century and the chaos that persists as a result. but i guess black africans dying in congo by the tens of thousands don’t matter as much as palestinians, right?
    the netherlands? ever heard of the dutch east india company? ask 230 million indonesians, for instance, how they feel about the dutch. and, while you’re at it, forget about the widespread dutch collaboration with the nazis. if anne frank was alive she might have something to say about the blood on many dutch hands.
    so maybe, just maybe richard, you have no fricken idea what you are talking about?
    clearly you have little grasp of history and a bias against israel and the u.s. i get that. you employ double standards like the hypocrite who preaches, “do as i say, not as i do.” i get that as well.
    but, i know that you’re a star around here, richard. and maybe your asshat, sidekick POA will come to your rescue with a tirade of personal insult and invective.
    so, what do you say now, buddy? want to try again and come up with a new list???

    Reply

  30. Ajaz says:

    WILL THE AMERICANS PAY A PRICE FOR GEORGE W. BUSH’S POLICY ON GAZA?
    President George W. Bush may be right when he says that Barack Obama’s most serious challenge may be another 9/11 type attack on the U.S. soil. Bush should know because he has caused enough pain around the world, first by attacking Iraq then supporting Israel on their failed war against Lebanon and now the blatant support for attack on Gaza.
    Those in Gaza, Iraq or Lebanon who have lost a parent, a brother or a sister in the conflicts could very well take up arms and plot and plan revenge against the U.S. This will be unfortunate because a majority of Americans do not approve Bush’s foreign policy and have at least this time, openly opposed Bush’s support for attack on Gaza. Even the Orthodox Jews have protested Israel’s behavior in Gaza.
    But unfortunately the U.S. public may end up paying the price for Georoge W. Bush’s policies as angry young Arabs suffering in these conflicts do not distinguish between Bush & the U.S.
    I hope Barack Obama can move the Middle East peace process forward quickly so the Gaza nightmare does not come back to haunt the U.S. public.

    Reply

  31. rich says:

    varanasi,
    No wonder people take issue with you. You’re unbelievably disingenuous.
    Your question was ” .. but can you name a modern nation-state that is not? [a blood stained monster]” And I listed ten.
    You said “modern” nation that “IS” not currently a “blood-stained monster.” It is an irrefutable fact that Japan and Germany did an about-face roughly 63 years ago, and have been pretty much genocide-free since. Yet you shift the goalposts from current events, and point back to the 20th Century, rather than acknowledge the point made.
    Further, the question easily qualifies ‘relatively clean’ nations as disproving your contention. You can’t be a “blood-stained monster” and relatively clean at the same time, and few nations manage to qualify as relatively clean. It’s the nature of the beast. Most nations have flaws, but not that many have vastly improved their human rights record. So any improving to the relatively clean level–by any reasonable measure–clears the hurdle of being a ‘blood-stained monster’.
    I proved your attempt at moral relativism wrong. Deal with it.
    Your refusal to recognize the other 8 nations I listed, though, shows just how hard that is for you. Might’ve known.
    This is just too easy.

    Reply

  32. TonyForesta says:

    Froomkins list of crimes, carnage, perversion, and betrayal, fails to mention the treasons spiriting 140 Saudi nationals including bin Laden family members around and eventually out of the America in the dark days after 911 when every American was grounded, and the more pernicious treachery of revenge outing Valerie Plame and Brewster Jennings and Associates because Joseph Wilson dared to speak the truth, and counter a bushgov patent lie, – the wanton profiteering in the backdoor, cloak of night, nobid, openeded, unaccountable erection of mammoth private military, private intelligence, and private PR industrial complexes all with direct links to the bushgov and the bush crime family cabal oligarchs, the ruthless sliming of any one who dared question, challenge, dissent with or oppose the bushgov wayward predatory policies, the gagging whistle blowers – and on and on and on. The bushgov legacy is nothing, but rank deception, pathological lying, grotesque crimes against humantiy, perversion, betrayal, treason, and wanton profiteering.
    And let us not forgive the evil policies the bushgov attempted to force down our throats, Total Information Awareness, the creepy terrorism futures markets ran by that criminal Poindexter, or imagine how much worse our already calamitous economic realities would be had the thieves and profiteers in the bushgov privatized our Social Security system.
    The thieves, perverts, traitors, criminals, pathological liars, and wanton profiteers in the bushgov should be in jail, or hung, – not parading around bruting a legacy of carnage, failure, calamity, betrayal, systemic lawlessness, and pervesion as some kind of success.
    Sickening.
    Everyone should boycott the Andover cheerleader, papasboy, traitor, and wanton profiteers night of pathological lying. Turn off, tune out, ignore and refuse to watch dearleader brute another series of pathological lies.
    BOYCOTT DEAR LEADERS SPEECH!!!
    TURN OFF, TUNE OUT, REFUSE TO WATCH DEAR LEARDER BRUTE ANOTHER SERIES OF PATHOLOGICAL LIES!!!!
    DO NOT WATCH THIS SPEECH!!!
    IGNORE THIS PATHOLOGICAL LIAR!!!!

    Reply

  33. varanasi says:

    Rich:
    i do not agree entirely with your list. japan has no blood on its hands?! maybe you should reread 20th century history and ask the chinese what they think. vietnam?! you can still be arrested by secret police and imprisoned for criticizing the national government. canada?! they committed genocide against their native people and some dead afghani “collateral damage” might beg to differ. and germany’s “hands are clean”?!?! wow. ok buddy.
    talk about unreality.
    how about this question: is there a *world power* that can’t be called a “blood stained monster.”

    Reply

  34. Bart says:

    Froomkin: “He took the nation to a war of choice under false pretenses — and left troops in harm’s way on two fields of battle.”
    Does the last part of this sentence refer to the lack of body and humvee armor for so long? It was years before the Pentagon got around to providing body armor, which was a criminal disgrace.

    Reply

  35. ... says:

    canada is dropping fast with harper trying hard to be mini bush of the north and the opposition some power hungry crazy named ignatieff who spent most of his life in the usa agreeing with the invasion of iraq and etc… things are bad at present in canada as we have a leadership vacuum and it doesn’t look to be getting better any time soon…

    Reply

  36. rich says:

    varanasi @ 2:05PM –
    ” ‘Chomsky called Israel a blood stained monster.
    Apt.’
    varanasi:
    “true. but can you name a modern nation-state that is”
    Sure. Costa Rica. Denmark. Canada. Vietnam’s not doing too badly these days. Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands; Germany’s hands are relatively clean. The list is longer if you want to reward improvements without demanding absolute purity.

    Reply

  37. rich says:

    Steve writes:
    “Bush has undermined America’s trust in its institutions and values by promulgating torture …. The scars of these sins won’t easily be heeled or easily reversed for many years.”
    So true.
    Not helping matters none other than David Ignatius. Greenwald calls him on it (link below):
    “The Washington Post’s David Ignatius today does what he does best: serve as the spokesman for the Washington establishment’s most conventional wisdom in a way that really illuminates what it is:
    [Ignatius:]’To underscore the message, Obama indicated that he would oppose retrospective investigations of wrongdoing by the CIA and other agencies, arguing: “When it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed [to] looking at what we got wrong in the past.” This is the kind of realism that will disappoint liberal score-settlers, but it makes clear that Obama has a grim appreciation of the dangers America still faces from al-Qaeda and its allies.’
    Greenwald: “The word “liberal” has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last eight years. All that has been necessary to qualify is a belief in such radical, exotic and fringe-leftist concepts as search warrants before the Government can eavesdrop on our communications; due process before the state can encage people for life; adherence to decades-old Geneva Conventions restrictions which post-World-War-II America led the way in implementing; and the need for an actual, imminent threat from another country before we bomb, invade, occupy and destroy it.”
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/01/15/ignatius/
    _____
    Hmm. This is at least the second time Ignatius has scorned ‘liberals’ as “score-settlers” because, apparently, they believe in foundational American legal principles. By definition, though, adherence to such traditional values is ‘conservative’–isn’t it? An earlier Ignatius column mischaracterized Reid and Pelosi as ‘venomous’ and ‘vengeful’ presumably because Ignatius sought to prevent some measure of accountability.
    Accountability; responsibility. Again–sounds conservative. Until you remember liberals embraces those values, always have, and they were never the exclusive province of Republicans.
    Steve, glad to see you uncomfortable with PE Obama breaking bread with war proponents and cheerleaders like George Will and David Brooks. David Ignatius wrote such a column when this country least needed it as well. I’m more than happy to recognize Ignatius is thoughtful, sane and has much to offer.
    But civility has its limits. At some point, it’s essential for friends to call out friends, constrain those who’ve gone too far, break up the groupthink, and let fresh voices into the discussion. Now Ignatius, Voice of Reason, advises America to refrain from looking to closely and turn back before seeking accountability, because we’re not strong enough, you see. We’re a weak nation in the view of some–too traumatized to take another blow. So we should bury the Truth, like Joseph Stalin used to do, and avert our eyes from the Reality. Had Ford not pardoned Nixon, we’d have had due process, catharsis, and would’ve avoided all this. And Nixon would’ve been better off for it.
    Steve, you’re on a roll. I’m not hammerin’ on ya here. You’ve already done much to call the powerful to account, etc.—and you don’t deserve the flak you get, in my view, for enjoying dinner with colleagues—of whatever stripe.
    At the same time, Establishment Pundits across the spectrum are rushing to agree with themselves that accountability for torture would be . .. inadvisable. Uncomfortable. It’s just not done. The country deserves better. The country is stronger than that. And we’ve got the stomach that some don’t. That doesn’t mean we need a pound of flesh or blood revenge–just that you can’t heal unless you dress the wound.
    digby’s on it too:
    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/cya-by-digby-other-day-i-wondered-why.html

    Reply

  38. varanasi says:

    “Chomsky called Israel a blood stained monster.
    Apt.”
    true. but can you name a modern nation-state that is not? i’m having a hard time comin gup with one.

    Reply

  39. TB says:

    Bush’s Legacy?
    8 years ago we were a prosperous nation at peace, and now we are a debtor nation mired in two wars.
    That’s all you really need to know

    Reply

  40. rich says:

    1 . 2 . 3 . .
    ‘No, Cee, Hamas was hiding behind all the crates of food and medicine in that UN warehouse! Vicious, rabid Hamas!’
    Wait for it. It’s coming.

    Reply

  41. ... says:

    cee – they are making it plain to see who the terrorists are…

    Reply

  42. Cee says:

    Chomsky called Israel a blood stained monster.
    Apt.
    They bombed at UN aid headquarters and a hosptial today.

    Reply

  43. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “But be that as it may, no one in the United States cares…..”
    Of course, Wigwag ignored the posts I put up that illustrated the HUGE volume of citizens that flooded Obama’s website with anti-Israel sentiments.
    He also chooses to ignore the unmistakable shift, however slight, that our media seems to be experiencing in beginning to cast the Israelis as the antagonists rather than the victims. Surely, bombing UN compounds, santuaries, schools and HQs with White Phosphorous is not exactly the way to nurture this “no one in the United States cares” public consensus that Wigwag has long asserted. Wigwag’s ally is the media, that thus far has only presented us with the sentiments of a government that has been despicably one sided in presenting the Isr/Pal conflict to the American people. The media has ignored the general public’s sentiments, avoiding the kind of polling that might accurately assess the public’s sentiments about AIPAC and Israel’s stranglehold on Washington DC as it applies to our foreign policies in the Middle East. In this time of economic hardship, it would be interesting to poll the public, and see what percentage still want to continue the tradition of sending Israel billions in blood money annually.
    People DO care, its just that we haven’t been given a voice yet. The zionist monsters responsible for the decades of carnage inflicted against the Palestinians have outscreamed the American public. That seems to be changing, albiet slowly and belatedly. Its a shame that Obama has chosen to fill key positions with people that will continue to advance the false notion that the American people condone and applaud genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    Reply

  44. ... says:

    “We’ve got nothing to fear as long as know who we are and what we stand for and our values.” …
    indeed…

    Reply

  45. ... says:

    money calls the shots and trumps any idealism around capitalism… when you can buy your way to power, wall street will always play a deciding role in who gets to be leader.. bush is only the latest representative of these same merchants of greed who bow at the alter of money… war and money are the pillars of american society.. freedom and democracy got sold out to war and money.. i doubt this is what the founders of the usa had in mind…
    obama isn’t going to be much different.. the usa continues to be a nation in decline.

    Reply

  46. Zathras says:

    No one should get too excited about a dinner. President-elect Obama will get a fair amount of static from some of these conservative columnists over the next four years, but not all of the ones said to be at this dinner were hard-core Bush Republicans, and those are the people he needs to worry about.
    There is a danger in believing too much one’s own rhetoric about tone-changing, Washington culture-changing, and the rest of it. The unpopularity of the outgoing administration, and its strong identification with the opposition party, is one of Obama’s strongest assets right now. Seeking to divide the opposition is always a good idea, but regardless of what Obama and his team think about President Bush and his legacy they should recognize the power of this asset and use it.
    Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, who barely knew their immediate predecessors in the White House, effectively used the unpopularity of Hoover and Carter (respectively) to advance their policy programs and maintain public support for their administrations during difficult times. The thing that makes me wonder if Obama is thinking of pursuing this line is that he really didn’t when it would have made the most immediate impact, during the campaign. I’ve said before here that Obama’s approach to a President strongly disliked by a large majority of Americans was pretty bloodless, as he spent most of his time between the Denver convention and the election exchanging tit-for-tat with the McCain campaign.
    It was the wrong approach then, and would be a mistake now. Bringing people together is great; it’s an effective means of addressing many subjects. Politics, though, is also about fighting battles and winning them. Bush Republicanism and Bush Republicans would make a useful foil for an Obama administration, which could hang the record and personality of President Bush and his team around their necks at will. This worked for Roosevelt and Reagan, two good examples for a new President to follow.

    Reply

  47. ken melvin says:

    Bon dit!

    Reply

  48. PissedOffAmerican says:

    …”I was called irresponsible and naive because I believe that there is nobody we can’t talk to,” said Obama, drawing loud cheers. “We’ve got nothing to fear as long as know who we are and what we stand for and our values.” …
    Yet Hillary just came out and said that she will not talk to Hamas.
    Go figure.
    Who do you think will prevail, Obama, or Hillary. My bet? Hillary. After all, her stance is in lockstep with Israel’s.
    And if Obama should demand that she meet with Hamas? How much diplomatic conviction and effort can we expect her to expend to be fair and unbiased towards the Palestinians? And considering her public statements, how can we expect the Palestinians to trust that she will mediate or negotiate in good faith?
    The deck is already stacked against thje Palestinians, and this Administration hasn’t even assumed office yet. Hillary, Ross, Emmanuel….what “hope” can the Palestinians possibly have?

    Reply

  49. David says:

    There is also this perspective to consider re: Kristol, Kudlow, Will, etc.:
    http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2009/01/15/is-larry-kudlow-that-predictable.aspx

    Reply

  50. Bil says:

    Good Post Steve.
    POA, BUSH2 sealed his own fate by hiring his daddy’s
    warmongering Neocons that we had rejected a decade b4 and was
    led by the nose to Iraq by Rumsfeld and Cheney to satisy his
    personal vendetta and test their Mideast Democracy Domino Theory
    (FAIL). He was arrogant and mocked diplomacy and intelligence.
    He DID manage to lead a lot of politicians with him, but not me and
    not over half the country most of the time.
    The Worst President in History.

    Reply

  51. David says:

    I think Obama is confident enough to meet with Will, Kristol, et al and continue to disagree. Here is what Obama said about negotiating with our enemies on the international stage during the primaries, it is good advice here too:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20013543/
    …”I was called irresponsible and naive because I believe that there is nobody we can’t talk to,” said Obama, drawing loud cheers. “We’ve got nothing to fear as long as know who we are and what we stand for and our values.” …
    “I am confident we can go before the world and talk to the worst dictators and tell them we don’t believe in your values, we don’t believe in your human rights violations, we don’t believe in you exporting terrorism, but if you are willing to work with us in a better direction then we’re willing to talk,” Obama said. “We shouldn’t be afraid.”

    Reply

  52. Stephen Daugherty says:

    I’m not concerned with Obama meeting with those Republican pundits. Not one bit. Obama meets with everybody. It’s his way of extending his reach and sowing goodwill towards him beyond the natural boundaries defined by partisan politics.
    I really don’t have much patience for the sentiment that if somebody meets with somebody that they’re necessarily contaminated by listening to them. Such paranoia is far too much a product of recent years, a legacy of Bush and the other Republicans I would be glad to see folks renounce.

    Reply

  53. JohnH says:

    I agree with POA. This is not Bush’s legacy. It is Washington’s legacy, including Congressional “leadership,” merchants of death, oil and media executives, and their legions of “think” tanks, hired pens, and talking heads who fawned over Bush for 8 years. It was a systemic failure of the political class and their corporate sponsors.
    Yes, Pelosi and Reid, I’m talking about you: failed “leadership.” Lemmings marching into the sea, all of them.

    Reply

  54. rich says:

    Excellent series of posts, Steve, which I’ll be revisiting with some care.
    I share your discomfort with Prznt-E Obama’s dinner with Brooks, Will — with a chorus of leading sophists and hard-right ideologues. If I was wrong to lump David Ignatius with those proponents and cheerleaders of war, I’ll go off more than a single column.
    But are we viewing this dinner accurately? Is Barack Obama currying favor–or colonizing yet another groupthink cluster?
    Is it possible to view this differently? Perhaps it’s a kind of reverse-Cincinnatus: the generosity of a conquering hero—rather than killing them all, he’s pre-emptively and generously having them for dinner. Bet they’re tasty, too.
    I can picture Brooks and Will and Kristol so dizzy with self-regard, mid-way through the first course, that they have trouble keeping upright. And irony is, it’d be a self-administered ego-stroking that does them in.
    I imagine George Will and Brooks earlier, preening with self-regard at getting that phone call and actually getting to have dinner with the most popular PEOTUS ever. Not what they expected. They–and everything they stand for–has just been vanquished in November, and the general who destroyed their vaunted political machine and impregnable rhetorical armor with ease . . comes to them–not to lay waste their homes and office cubicles–but to kill them with kindness. Hmm.
    What’s an orwellian columnist to do? Sophistry may not seem so .. . pleasurable, anymore.
    So, after dinner’s over, who’s had who for lunch? I don’t think Obama expends political capital here, and maybe Obama gives new meaning to the word ‘disarming’.
    _________
    Also, do I detect a new level of frankness, or a decreased reticence to lay it on the line?
    It’s important to forthrightly name what’s been happening–what’s been done–rather than bury the reality behind carefully ladled heaps of obfuscatory but dignity-preserving language. (Not saying you haven’t before…)

    Reply

  55. Outraged American says:

    This is for Varanasi: Sorry, I saw your post in the Devanagari
    script, but I’ve been really busy since and don’t have time to search
    for it again. Which topic did you post it under? I will ask my
    parents to translate it. Thanks!

    Reply

  56. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Is there anyone here that really believes that historians will look back and only see the crimes and the ineptitude, yet be blind to the people and the government that allowed the crimes and the ineptitude?
    Doesn’t anyone here have the clarity of thought to realize that they will look back and say “But they were supposed to have a Representative Government, they were supposed to be a nation of laws. How could they have allowed this to happen?”
    Thats the true legacy. And it isn’t George Bush’s. Its ours.

    Reply

  57. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Why are we calling it “Bush’s legacy” when in fact it was a complete failure of our representatives to employ the checks and balances that enabled Bush to stray so far from our tenets, laws, and ideological foundations?
    Bush didn’t do this in a vacuum. What did Hillary, Reid, Pelosi, etc. do to rein in an out of control and criminal Executive Administration?
    It is no mystery that people in positions of power, if not held in check, will abuse that power. The greater power, the greater the risk of abuse, and the greater the damage rendered by the abuse.
    A nation bankrupt, morally humiliated, engaged in torture, pre-emptive and disastrous war, unable and unwilling to apply the rule of law to its leaders, a nation in crisis while its leaders bicker and point fingers ineffectively. This is not the legacy of George Bush alone, this is the legacy left by our Congress, by our Senate, by our Justice Department, and by the American people. This is the legacy of a far greater failure than the mere inept and criminal machinations of one lone and pathetic President.
    No, its not “Bush’s legacy”, its OUR legacy. And until our leaders are held to the same standard of law that we are, it is the legacy we deserve. We have been fat, lazy, self serving, unengaged, and apothetic for far too long. We have the government we deserve. And until we stand united in the streets, undivided by the purposely nurtured division of partisan politics, we will continue to have this government. Corrupt, unaccountable, non-Representative, elite, and self serving.
    And have no doubt, this is as much the legacy of those that Obama is putting in power as it is the legacy of George Bush. Like I said, George Bush didn’t do this in a vacuum.

    Reply

  58. carsick says:

    “…I can hear and sense the excitement seeping out of America’s and the world’s Obama bubble.”
    It will seep out but I think you’re being premature in this assessment now. He seems to counter every public action (like meeting with the “liberal” journalists the next morning) in ways that people I speak to in Ohio are believing he really is attempting to change the tone. He’s getting credit for that, not demerits.
    Maybe inside the Beltway his bubble is leaking but the Beltway is it’s own parallel universe.
    (I do wish he had more analysts/advisers with Arab descent at State though.)

    Reply

  59. Simone says:

    An absolutely excellent post.

    Reply

  60. Bob Miller says:

    Steve,
    I’m stealing this from somebody else, but I can’t remember where I read the comment, so I apologize to whomever it was.
    Sitting down with Will and his ilk will make even them temper the tone of their criticisms. It’s harder to be vicious if you know the guy personally. And can you imagine Bush doing the same with liberal columnists? The howl from the frothing right? GWB is so suggestible that they’d be afraid he might get an idea from them. I’m not worried about who has a better command of facts and options when Obama sits down with THAT group!
    Finally, that air will come out of the Obama balloon is inevitable. But when it does, we’ve got the man himself. And I have confidence in his ability to forge ahead anyway.

    Reply

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