New York, Keith Olbermann and McChrystal’s Afghanistan

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keith_olbermann_068.jpgI am heading up to New York now to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative and to check up on the UN General Assembly drama.
Tonight, I will be appearing on Countdown with Keith Olbermann chatting about the implications of the leaked McChrystal report on Afghanistan and his call for a new strategy and significantly upgraded resources.
What McChrystal’s report doesn’t make clear and should is that we aren’t just fighting and ferreting out Arab jihadists tied to al Qaeda. We are getting deeply engaged — as America has done in other societies in its past — on one side of an uncomfortable civil war, and even with great resources and a “protection strategy” of those we are allied with, McChrystal doesn’t make a broader case for “roll back” of the enemy — at least in what I have seen.
The scale of resources needed to hug tightly a nation that doesn’t fully trust American intentions and capabilities is staggering — and may pull the nation into a set of obligations that truly do break the back of America’s national security machinery.
And of course, while the U.S. looks so bogged down and without momentum in Afghanistan — with desperate pleas coming from military leaders and just as passionate resistance from leading members of Congress like Senator Carl Levin and Representative Jane Harman — Iran simply won’t move.
Iran doesn’t need to shift as it remains unconvinced that America has the ability to achieve its objectives in the international system today.
That is why “not” getting bogged down in Afghanistan was so important — and why Obama should not have allowed himself to be dangerously misled by advisers. That is why outcomes on Israel/Palestine this week in New York need to be more than photo-ops that look like efforts to “put lipstick on a pig.” We need real outcomes that push the policy needle into positive territory.
America under Obama’s leadership has generated new opportunities with China and Russia, opened up some opportunities for ending the Cold War with Cuba, done some good work in stabilizing the international economy, and has set important horizons on climate change and nuclear non-proliferation — but there are many defining challenges still lurking that could still sink this administration and keep the nation’s power very constrained.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

36 comments on “New York, Keith Olbermann and McChrystal’s Afghanistan

  1. ... says:

    john waring, johnh and jamesl – i appreciate your insight in these posts this morning.. thanks..

    Reply

  2. JamesL says:

    While it is tempting to join the lamentations on the fall from grace and power of the US, and to gnash teeth about how Israel could possibly be manipulating US policy as well as it apparently does, I must note that Israel is not in a strong place, and its position is deteriorating. Americans may continue to argue about Israel, and Israel may be able to keep the pole of American opinion balanced in its favor, but public opinion in the rest of the world is moving away from Israel. Israel has latched onto the US to be able to continue to frame world debate about its position, but as the world has shifted away from acceptance of a US centric perspective, Israel has been left in a chilly vacuum with the communications it still retains with other nations reduced to the love/hate, don’t-exactly-trust-you channels of military equipment sales and backchannel threats.
    Netanyahu’s trip to Moscow most certainly included Israeli lobbying to stop or slow delivery of Russian missile systems to Iran. Israel isn’t even trying to hide the fact that Iran, driven away from the US by Israel’s own actions, has become a Russian client state against Israel.
    The point is not who is most effectively using whom, but how advances in technology do not favor Israel. The missile systems Russia sent to Iran in 2006-2007 were immediately disdained by US and Israeli militarists. But the next batch is on the way and the announced improvements are significant for a period of only two years:
    “The Tor-M1 can hit aerial targets flying at up to 20,000 feet. Russia delivered the system to Iran in early 2007. The two countries are now discussing the delivery of a newer version of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense system that is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of over 90 miles and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet.” (AP via Yahoo this date, in a story about an Iranian plane crash during a military parade.)
    Israeli intelligence is very good and improvements of the newer Russian missiles are probably anticipated, though they supposedly don’t yet exist and haven’t not been tested in battle or feint.
    Key point: If one projects such improvements into the future, it becomes apparent that Israel, defending a tiny spot of land, will become less and less secure as military technology advances continue and the list of lethal enemies, moderate enemies,slight enemies, and distrustful friends grows. Both the US and Israel must face up to a very different future, but both are still vainly holding onto positions that have now or will soon become figments of the imagination.

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  3. JohnH says:

    Agreed that retrenchment in Eastern Europe and in Central Asia is the issue. Of course, the debate about retrenchment obscures the question of why the US got so entrenched in the first place.
    Steve is worried about the illusion (the bubble) of American prestige bursting. He should be. But where was he when the US was getting itself into situations it had no business being in? Situations that were bound to expose America’s limits? Where was the questioning of the false pretenses? Where was the search to identify the real ambitions of the perpetrators? Hel-lo-o-o??
    You get the impression that America’s foreign prestige bubble is going to break just like the financial bubble burst the illusion of a god-like finance industry. And when it does, a lot of dirty laundry will be hung out to dry.
    Sibel Edmonds only had access to one small window into what’s going on in Washington. When the bubble breaks, there will be a lot of criminality regarding government/industry collusion exposed, profiteering in the name of the “public interest” and at the expense of “disposable” foreigners.
    Going all the way back to the military interventions in the Balkans, there has been something suspicious going on. This is obvious, since the government could never really account for what it was doing. Oh, there were the official, stated reasons, which most people accepted at face value. But those reasons could not really bear scrutiny, kind of like the reasons a cheating husband gives his wife when he doesn’t come home in the evening. The real reasons for attacking Serbia and Kosovo, occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and threatening Iran have yet to be divulged. And when the bubble breaks, this information will start to leak out.
    My guess is that this is why people are so desperately trying to keep the bubble inflated, in Eastern Europe, in Central Asia, and elsewhere. When the bubble breaks, there will be a lot of back biting and finger pointing. The Bernie Madoffs of the energy security complex will be exposed along with a lot of others.

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  4. John Waring says:

    Dan and JohnH,
    Abandoning the missile shield in Poland and in the Czech Republic is tantamount to retrenchment in Eastern Europe. That’s what the fuss is all about. Some do not want to give up their dream of American uber alles.
    There is only one way to reset relations with Russia. Cease and desist our Drang noch Osten. Besides, Germany will never agree to extend the NATO alliance to the Ukraine and Georgia. Angela Merkel is a very intelligent person. The fairy tale is over. It ended when Russia destroyed the Georgian army. We are now beginning to accommodate ourselves to this reality.

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  5. questions says:

    POA,
    Not sure you’ll get it this time either, but here goes…
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/9/21/784706/-AR-04,-MI-01,-GA-12,-TX-28:-These-Blue-Dog-districts-support-public-option,-even-if-tepid-on-Obama
    This is a link to a kos piece by kos reporting on polling in Blue Dog districts regarding health care.
    What you see is that many many people dislike their rep’s stand on the public option, but many fewer of them will dump their reps based on this vote. Maybe or maybe not there will be enough votes to dump. The reps have to do some serious calculating on this issue.
    Lobbying can always only do so much before it meets head on with constituent preferences. Lobbying that is in keeping with constituent preferences seems powerful, but really is merely in concordance with what people already want.
    Lobbying that opposes constituent preferences is highly problematic if the issue is one that might switch votes. If no one gives a damn, then it doesn’t really matter what the lobbying does, there’s no perversion of constituent preference and the MC can do anything he or she feels like. If you want to term this “awesome power” of THELOBBY, fine. I don’t really see it as awesome or as “power.”
    Lobbying can only go so far in an institutional system. It works with the same legitimacy and concordance and “power” issues I laid out above and that (sorry for invoking someone else’s name, especially someone who has deemed my postings as “empty”) Dan Kervick elaborated on with more concrete detail above.
    So what does it mean for a lobby to be effective? It means some of the following: they highlight issues that they care about but that few others do; they monopolize all information such that no one else can hear anything else (I’m highly dubious of this one, though I know it’s your favorite, but I’ve argued against it elsewhere with some frequency); they do a lot of favor trading (money for votes) — but this only works when the constituents don’t give a damn about the issue or agree already with the lobbyist stance, so again there’s no perversion of preferences.
    So what then is the power?
    Ahh, I know. Junkets! Pay for a trip to Jerusalem and guarantee that the MC will vote for you and in opposition to his/her constituent preferences for forever and a day!
    Until you can show that in absence of any lobbying whatsoever, an MC votes the opposite of how he/she does in the presence of lobbying, you can’t really trace the vote directly to the effects of lobbying. Until you can trace the effects directly, you can’t really claim legitimately that lobbying is effective. Until you can claim that lobbying is effective, you can’t claim that THELOBBY is exceptionally effective.
    Exceptionalism is a dubious enterprise under any and all circumstances.
    MCs want re-election above all else. They will do their best to collect money, avoid difficult votes, scare off high quality challengers, stay away from controversy, glom on to the safest positions and power brokers, and never ever risk screwing with their constituents enough that they finally kick the bums out. MCs can certainly misread the tea leaves, and they do. But they don’t try to misread tea leaves. So if THELOBBY has an effect, it’s in encouraging votes that are not so utterly contradictory to constituent preferences that the MC gets kicked out by those very constituents. That’s pretty awesome, I have to say.
    And all the gerrymandering in the world won’t save an MC if the voting is truly hideous on issues that the constituents actually really and truly give a damn about.
    I remain, as ever, a buffooninsh paid hitman for THELOBBY.

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  6. JohnH says:

    Fascinating thread. Sibel Edmonds juxtaposed next to the “bubble” of US “position,” power and prestige. Something is definitely rotten, and it’s not in Denmark!
    Kudos to POA and Dan Kervick!

    Reply

  7. Carroll says:

    Is there really any “mystique” about US power any longer? Except in Washington and among our less mentally gifted citizens on the far right?
    Obama appeared when our mystique was on the last swrill around the toilet..and put it in a sort of suspended animation with expectations of change.
    So that’s where the US power mystique is now… awaiting final judgement.
    Afghan, Paskistan, Israel,Iran..step on a crack break our back.

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  8. Carroll says:

    “If this were written up as a novel, no one would believe it.'”>>>>>>>
    I would. We’ve already seen enough formerly unbelivable things become reality.
    Washington is stranger than fiction.

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  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And I could say the same thing about AIPAC’s illusory power as well — this for POA.”
    Like I said on a prior thread, anyone still spouting that kind of stupidity is either a buffoon, or a liar.
    “Illusory”, my ass.

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  10. JohnH says:

    Sure sounds like Wigwag wants American policymakers to be led around by their noses by the military!
    If protecting the military is the goal, maybe policymakers should consider what they would do if somebody plopped themselves down in their living room and started shooting the place up.
    If protecting the military is the goal, maybe they should tell us why the military is put in harms way in the first place. Safe haven? BS! Timothy McVeigh’s terrorist group didn’t need a safe haven! Disrupting Al Qaeda networks? Timothy McVeigh’s network never got disrupted, and he spoke the same language as American spooks.
    In fact, if you want to disrupt terrorist training, stop teaching soldiers how to make bombs. Both McVeigh and Bin Laden were originally trained by the US government!!!
    It’s called blowback, and the US government is increasing the odds of catastrophic blowback every day it trains soldiers and sends them to sit in somebody else’s living room.

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  11. ... says:

    wigwag quote “My question is how does the military benefit? Is it so unreasonable for them to want more troops if it helps keep the troops who are already there safer?” i guess the idea of bringing them home takes about 7 or 8 years to enter the conversation, as it has finally come around to with iraq… now we need to wait another 7 or 8 years before the bozos in power can consider same with the troops in afgan…
    wigwag quote “Is it so unreasonable for the military, which has already seen so many service people killed and injured, not to want their efforts wasted if the situation is still salvageable?” no it is not unreasonable…making stupid wars in faraway places is unreasonable though and realizing much later what a mistake it was (vietnam is a good example to consider) is also very unreasonable…. while you might like something to be reasonable in all this wigwag, consider how unreasonable this shit even began in the first place…. those are the ”’unreasonable”’ things you need to be questioning instead of your ”tow the line” thinking here..

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  12. John Waring says:

    My wake up call was in 2004, as I faced a steel supply shortage in my day job, and learned that China had steel making capacity equal to the next three countries combined.
    The rise of China as a manufacturing powerhouse fundamentally changes the equation in the Far East. The post WWII era of unprecedented, and largely unchallenged, US power and influence in the Pacific is drawing to a close. Case in point, watch the new Japanese administration.
    We Americans have got to get our act together in the international arena. The greatest game on earth is not domestic US politics. The greatest game on earth is international politics. Getting the ducks of sovereign nation states lined up is several orders of magnitude more difficult than lining up a majority of fractious Democrats, and we know how tough the latter endeavor is.
    With the world-side economic collapse resulting from the contagion spread by Wall Street, we have suffered the worst blow to our prestige in several generations, far worse than Vietnam or Iraq. If there’s one thing the rest of the world expected of Americans it is our probity on issues of dollars and cents. Not only did we fail miserably, worse, we failed mindlessly, selling worthless junk far and wide. The rude upshot to all of this is the possibility of our losing the reserve currency status of the dollar.
    Our economy underwrote and dollar. The dollar’s status as the world’s fiat currency underwrote our ability to project military power around the globe. Our financial and military fiascoes this past decade have eroded our once robust margin of error. Our cherished freedom of action in world affairs is constricting.
    So, at a minimum we must stop shooting ourselves in both feet. Steve has pointed out several national policies that fit quite nicely into this category. For instance, our policy towards Cuba. Why are we hanging on to this relic? If this policy is, in the slightest, negatively affecting our relationships with South America, we must toss it overboard as inimical to our long-term interests. We can no longer afford dumb-ass policies.
    At a more profound level, we have to change the way the American tribe interacts with the rest of the world. You know, we really do expect the rest of the world to speak English. We have to fund the State Department. We have to fund regional studies programs in our colleges and universities. A little grad school money goes a long way, believe me, I know. As a nation we must value deep understanding of and appreciation for other cultures, languages, and customs. Our leaders must respect and consult the country experts in our intelligence agencies, not demoralize and vilify, a practice raised to perverse perfection by Cheney and Rumsfeld.
    With understanding I hope will come a greater maturity towards world affairs. You know, we cannot get everything we want. We have to make choices; calculated, cunning, and ruthless choices. We may have traded an unproven missile defense system for an unannounced quid pro quo that may or may not materialize, but we still have Prague, we still control Central Europe. Poland has become a member of NATO, and we have enough citizens of Polish decent to keep it that way. What we retain is of great value. And we may get a little help when we need it. What I get fed up with is partisan rancor over a supremely rational strategic decision. Jones and Burns were in the room with Obama and Putin. Rest assured, those two consummate professionals did not give away the store. And they may have gained a little good will from Russia, which, at a crucial moment, may just do the trick some day.
    Our leader Steve is providing his readership a great service. He is giving us a glimpse into, and educating us on several levels, how the great game is played. We Americans must get better at this. We are not, in any way shape or form, France after her defeat in 1870. But we are no longer the dominant economic colossus of the Fifties and Sixties. As we rebuild our economy, and put our people back to work, we have to learn that great foreign policy, well crafted and well executed, can, like the great Celtic defenses, keep us in the game and position us to win. So, for your tireless efforts, thank you Steve.

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  13. questions says:

    A glimpse into questions’s head for the benefit of Paul Norheim….
    The worry about American “power” is, in my crazy, buffoonish, ignorant, 47-year old virgin mind (if, OA, I even have a mind), the wrong issue at some level.
    Power comes from military might on the one side and fear of death or suffering on the other; from a deep-seated feeling of concordance or respect in the Kantian sense; from a basic sense of legitimacy or the idea that the one on top has a right to dominate the one on the bottom.
    We know that “might doesn’t make right” and so the first kind of power is somewhere between nonsense and the immoral. We also know that there are numerous people who simply don’t fear death (suicide bombers and patriots). So there’s not much in the way of American power on this score.
    Respect for AMERICA is a mixed thing to try to depend on. American sexual mores offend a lot of people on the planet even as American life is kind of tempting. This dynamic has been much commented on. American exceptionalism is felt more by Americans than by non-Americans, though certainly there are people on the planet for whom America is a destination is a strong sense of that term.
    We know that when nations benefit from relationships with the US, they will maintain them until the benefit goes away. So concordance only goes so far.
    And as for legitimacy, it doesn’t take much for those on the bottom to wonder why they are there and not on the top. Plato hits this point in Book IX of the Republic (yes, that), Hegel and Marx use it to great effect, and anyone with a defiant personality figures out pretty quickly that those on top are not really MEANT to stay there.
    So power, as I have noted before, is largely illusory — the mystique thing that gets bandied about around here. We can’t always beat the shit out of adversaries for eventually they embrace their suffering. We can’t keep concordance going for forever either. Eventually “friends” move on, want more in return, start blackmailing, find greener pastures, or we start being less able to pay. As for respect, though it should command categorically (see Kant), it doesn’t (see Kant) as we are not deitific. And finally, legitimacy works better in consent/concordance systems. The world system tends to function as an exploitation system.
    How could US “power” ever last in these circumstances?
    (And I could say the same thing about AIPAC’s illusory power as well — this for POA.)

    Reply

  14. WigWag says:

    So who leaked the McChrystal Report?
    In his appearance on “Countdown” Steve Clemons seemed to suggest that it was someone in the defense establishment. Steve suggested that the military benefited most from the recommendations that more troops be sent to Afghanistan.
    My question is how does the military benefit? Is it so unreasonable for them to want more troops if it helps keep the troops who are already there safer? Is it so unreasonable for the military, which has already seen so many service people killed and injured, not to want their efforts wasted if the situation is still salvageable?
    The McChrystal Report was classified; isn’t it illegal to leak a classified report?
    Is the military the likely guilty party in leaking the report or is it more likely that the leaker was someone in the Administration who wants to see the commitment to Afghanistan continued and expanded?

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Sibel Edmonds’s Big Day
    Scott Horton, September 21, 2009
    Sibel Edmonds, former contract-FBI translator/whistleblower and “most gagged person in U.S. history” has finally told all – to Antiwar.com’s Philip Giraldi. It’s all in the cover story for November’s issue of The American Conservative magazine, “Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?” which hits the stands on Tuesday.
    Last month, Edmonds was deposed in a civil lawsuit for 6 hours (video and transcript here), and told as much of her story as she ever has, and all together in one place. Now, however, she has gone much further and apparently told Giraldi everything, less sources and methods.
    For those who’ve been waiting for the day when this story would break back into the mainstream media, this may be the time to get out your trusty old letter-to-the-editor pen, set your speed-dial to the local morning news radio stations, and make sure to Facebook friend your 2nd cousin at CNN so you can send him a message when the article goes online.
    How could they possibly continue to ignore such tales of drugs, guns, spies, lies, bribes, sex, blackmail, terrorism and the nuke black market from such an inside source?
    Tuesday on Antiwar Radio, I’ll be speaking with Giraldi, David Rose and Joe Lauria – the journalists who’ve done the best and most “credentialed” reporting on her case – about all of Edmonds’ explosive allegations. Listen live 2-4 Eastern at Antiwar.com/radio.
    http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2009/09/21/sibel-edmondss-big-day/

    Reply

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “However, I sincerely doubt that the Tristan Anderson story would stop these Congress
    people you`ve repeatedly mentioned here from visiting Israel and doing the same propaganda
    stunts, with basically the same effect”
    Oh, I wholeheartedly agree. Its not going to change the actions of those pieces of shit, they could care less about an American citizen being shot down on foreign soil while engaged in peaceful protest. They’ve shown us that fact by their silence.
    What needs to be changed is the narrative, and how the American people perceive Israel. Only then will our politicians be brought to rein. It is not an overnight endeavor. But it will NEVER be achieved if tragic examples of the true nature of Israel are not brought to the public eye. Tristan Anderson’s case was one such window, a chink in Israel’s armor, and one that would resonate well stateside. This wasn’t some nasty raghead terrist being shot down while feasting on the toes of some Israeli girl scout, but rather it was little Bobby from down the street in Podunk, Nebraska, who just wanted to make a small contribution to peace.
    Its gotta start somewhere, Paul. And standing mute while Israel dumps phosphorous on children, and guns down peaceful American protestors, is not the way to precede demands about settlements.

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  17. ... says:

    johnh – thanks for saying that.. i agree 200%..

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  18. JohnH says:

    From my perspective, those who share Steve’s concern about America’s loss of power, prestige and influence have gone about restoring America’s “position” in a singularly counterproductive manner.
    Framing is everything. And the frame has been cast in a binary way that can only lead to victory or defeat. Nations who vigorously pursue their national interests–Iran, Russia, Venezuela–are cast as implacable enemies. Once that frame is established, everything leads either to war or to regime change by subversion. I don’t see Steve disagreeing with this frame in any significant way. His major disagreement is that he prefers diplomacy. But the militarists, their frame well established, mock this as unrealistic and futile, given the irrational, implacable hatred that these nations show America. And so, those who prefer negotiations remain firmly on the defensive.
    The way out of the bind is twofold. One is to show that the militarists’ motivations are suspect and their premises false. If ever there was an opportunity to do that, it would be now. The militarists fed us a pack of lies on Iraq, and they are doing the same thing on Afghanistan and Iran, as well as Venezuela and Russia. Their ambitions are hidden and increasingly suspect. But do I ever see Steve challenge any of this? Not really. The passivity of the realists in challenging neocons’ false pretenses is mind boggling, given the extremes of prevarication to which the militarists must go to fix the evidence against an “enemy.”
    The second, better way, is to cast a new frame. That frame would explain the motivations of “enemies” in terms of the rational pursuit of national interests. The “enemies” are neither irrational, nor implacable. They just have their own view of the world. And they are people, once you understand them, that you can deal with.
    Once foreign leaders’ motivations have been explained as being entirely understandable, then you have a frame that fosters negotiation, not confrontation. And then the US can assume the role of the “indispensable nation,” take a leadership role, and engage these leaders in a process that best meets their vital strategic interests as well as ours. Ultimately, the US emerges as a wise and honorable nation, its power and prestige intact, unsullied by futile, pointless wars.
    Unfortunately I do not see Steve as particularly inclined to meet people like Ahmadinejad, Chavez or Putin half way. He seems captive to the standard Washington mindset of dominate or be dominated. Steve has clearly revealed his personal hatred for Chavez and intimated as much about Ahmadinejad. But what is their particular sin? Disrepect? Failure to cave to American “exceptionalism?”
    This mindset got us nowhere under Bush. And it will get us nowhere as long as the binary frame dominates, leading inevitably to costly, futile wars that repeatedly expose America’s limits.

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  19. Paul Norheim says:

    “But, as Kervick points out on a prior thread, the main mistake Obama made was in his
    selection of cabinet members”
    That was the thing I thought of.
    However, I sincerely doubt that the Tristan Anderson story would stop these Congress
    people you`ve repeatedly mentioned here from visiting Israel and doing the same propaganda
    stunts, with basically the same effect.
    I never had any higher expectations of the outcome of the current “peace process” than of
    the Annapolis summit during Bush/Rice. I am neither disappointed nor angry.
    But I regard the combination of Obama`s insistence on settlement freeze, and the Goldstone
    report as something that in the long term may delegitimate and weaken the Israeli position
    – not only politically, but also morally. This may have a long term effect – even within
    the American public.
    On the other hand: how will Israel act if it gets more and more isolated, more paranoid,
    more — crazy? We saw a positive outcome of this in South Africa in the 1980`s. Inside
    Israel in the next decade? – I frankly don`t know… A new North Korea right in the middle
    of the Middle East isn`t exactly a recipe for peace either…
    But this is how I regard the stuff going on right now – as a long term process where the
    direct diplomatic negotiations perhaps will be of minor importance, compared to the global
    symbolic war of moral and political legitimacy.

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  20. Outraged American says:

    Oh please, Paul: Questions’ humor is intentional. Mine is not- I
    am actually a very serious person– tremendously serious — as
    evidenced by the minutes I spend reading and analyzing your
    and Steves’ posts. They’re important. You two are veritable
    gurus.
    I’ll translate that from Hindi to Norwegian for you Paul — geez, I
    missed my calling, Yiddish/ Hindi to Norweigian translator-
    “guru” means “teacher.”
    Plus, I wear glasses when I can find them, always the sign of a
    great mind — think Cambodia. I even read tomes, even really
    long ones like Kervick’s posts.
    OK, Questions can very intellectually natter on about Deridia or
    the Analysis of Analysis, but does she have three kids. Gained
    one over the weekend– the ex-meth head’s next door five-
    year-old. He has ADD and YET AGAIN jammed a rubber duckie
    down the bathtub drain at which point I sent him to juvenile
    detention.
    Now onto a more serious note, because I am very serious as I’ve
    averred over and over, the BABIES IN THE GAZA STRIP ARE
    TURNING BLUE! Just in time for Halloween!
    RAMALLAH, Sep 16 (IPS) – The International Committee of the
    Red Cross has warned that Gaza’s access to safe supply of
    drinking water could cease at any time. The World Health
    Organisation (WHO) says outbreaks of disease could be
    triggered as a consequence…
    “We have noticed an increase in people suffering from kidney
    diseases from water contaminated with toxins, as well as babies
    born with an unnatural blue tinge,” Munther Shoblak from
    Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) told IPS.
    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48464
    Now I’m going to have to spend 26 cents a damn minute to call
    the Gaza Strip (Israel is 3 cents a minute) to figure out what’s
    happening to these damn infants, who are obviously
    hypochondriacs.
    “I’m going to hole my breath until I turn blue,” McCain used to
    say it to his mom, I kid you not.

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  21. PiussedOffAmerican says:

    Yes, if he was serious about taking on Israel, Tristan Anderson’s cause was one that would have resonated loudly with the American people, and opened the door to open criticism of Israel’s human rights record.
    A formal complaint, and a strong response from our Secretary of State, would have gone far in prying open some doors. Americans, botrh right and left, don’t take kindly to foreign armies shooting our citizens. This issue, if properly framed, could have martyred Anderson to our benefit, and turned public opinion in a direction that would have been far more sympathetic to Obama’s styance on the settlements. We saw Bush use this ploy with Tillman, Lynch, and Perle, did we not? And Anderson’s plight could have been presented in an honest light, with the FACTS used to our advantage, unlike the utter horseshit fantasies that the Bush Administration concucted around Tillman and Lynch.
    Of course, this is just one small way, albiet an honest and pure way, that the narrative about Israel could BEGIN to be turned. It won’t happen overnight, but Obama isn’t even taking baby steps. When every realistic opportunity arises to begin to change the dynamic, Obama misses it. Just look at how his Administration, and our congress critters, are handling (mishandling) the Goldstone report. Another missed opening.
    But, as Kervick points out on a prior thread, the main mistake Obama made was in his selection of cabinet members, if in fact he intended to take on Israel. Obama is fucked before he even gets out the gate on the issue of Israel, because he is surrounded by people that don’t want him to prevail. Obama is Israel’s bitch, and he did it to himself.

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  22. Paul Norheim says:

    POA,
    I don`t disagree at all with your point that Obama`s efforts in the I/P conflict
    are undermined by powerful members of Congress within his own party, in addition
    to GOP people etc.
    But I`m curious: do you think there is ANYTHING a US President realistically could
    have done in these domestic and international circumstances (except, of course,
    protesting during the Gaza invasion)?
    Anything that possibly could change the status quo?
    Personally, I can come up with ONE thing, but I am curious to hear what you think
    first.

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  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “No mystique, no aura emanating from the weapons, the dollar, the oval office.
    And then maybe even the rock-star like charisma of Barack Obama vanishes?”
    In regards to the Isr/Pal dynamic, Obama’s own party has underscored the “weakness” of this Presidency. Obama’s own party has put him in the position of sitting down with Netanyahu as a eunich, completely neutered of any bargaining strength. A US President, standing alone on policy, is powerless. Is there anyone reading this that believes Hillary Clinton is willing to play hardball with Israel??? And without the sopport of the majority in Congress, it doesn’t matter what Mitchell does.

    Reply

  24. Paul Norheim says:

    Thanks Steve,
    I guess the biggest challenge now is to sort out the head of certain commenters
    like, like Questions and Outraged American. I don`t think I`m up to it…

    Reply

  25. Steve Clemons says:

    Paul — You have pretty good insights into my soul and into what I’m thinking. You are exactly right on Cuba and in most of what you post above. I realize as well that you have long disagreed with my take on the fragility of American power and what the consequences of that are — but you have sorted out my head quite brilliantly.
    best, steve

    Reply

  26. Paul Norheim says:

    I have a feeling that Steve sees all of this with a slightly different
    perspective (not necessarily “better”) than many of the commenters here.
    In contrast to many commenters here, I think our host regards not only China
    and North Korea, but also countries like Iran, Venezuela and Russia as more or
    less hostile, or potentially hostile countries who may undermine US interests.
    Now, what I assume he fears most of all – Steve Clemons` biggest nightmare
    right now – is that after 8 years where Bush exposed the limits of America`s
    political, military and economic power, as well as it`s moral credibility,
    Obama continues exposing those limits with his escalation in Afghanistan. Then
    there is the Iran issue, the Israel/Palestine “peace process” and the domestic
    health care reform. On all these issues, Obama doesn`t only risk a further
    puncturing of the “enigma of US power” as well as his own moral and political
    authority. He also risks loosing his PRESIDENTIAL CHARISMA, which is the
    current surrogate for the “mystique of US power” lost under the Bush
    administration.
    No mystique, no aura emanating from the weapons, the dollar, the oval office.
    And then maybe even the rock-star like charisma of Barack Obama vanishes? Then
    what? Will all these potentially hostile countries see this as an invitation to
    not only further advance their interests, but also to undermine US interests?
    And even Israel may unintentionally undermine US interests in this situation,
    if they attack Iran while America is bogged down in Afghanistan AND Iraq.
    I think this big picture – especially preserving the credibility, authority and
    charisma of the POTUS – is the main reason why Steve hopes that Obama may
    achieve something in the coming talks with Netanyahu and Abbas – not the
    outcome of the peace talks per se.
    When the charismatic Kennedy met Soviet premier Khrushchev, America was strong.
    What scares Steve, is that now America is perceived as weak – bogged down in
    TWO Vietnams, so to speak – even before a new young, charismatic and relatively
    unexperienced President entered the world stage.
    And this is also the reason why he so often posts about his “pet issue” – Cuba.
    He may want to visit the beaches there without hassle (who wouldn`t?). But the
    foreign policy wonk in him hopes for a domino effect throughout Latin America,
    changing the perception of USA in countries with left wing governments, thus
    neutralizing the more resolute opposition to US policies in the region.
    Maybe I`m wrong, but this is how I interpret Steves post, as well as several of
    his recent posts on Cuba, the mystique of US power etc.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    excert……
    More Details from the American Conservative Exclusive
    Among the other new and key allegations fleshed out in the Giraldi interview, in addition to the disclosure concerning Schakowsky:
    Giraldi describes “a pattern of corruption starting with government officials providing information to foreigners and helping them make contact with other Americans who had valuable information.” That information, “including weapons technology, conventional weapons technology, and Pentagon policy-related information,” according to Edmonds, was then sold on the black market to Turkey, Israel and beyond, and “the money that was being generated was used to corrupt certain congressmen to influence policy and provide still more information-in many cases information related to nuclear technology.”
    The most serious allegations in the piece are detailed against Marc Grossman who had served as the Ambassador to Turkey before being named as the third-highest official at the State Department by the Bush Administration, where he is said to have “received money directly” for his work on behalf of Turkish agents. The article explains, in the most detail to date, Grossman’s criminal involvement as the ring-leader for much of this, as first exposed in a January 2008 London Sunday Times front page story which described Grossman’s activities but, due to British libel laws, didn’t identify him by name. The paper also followed it up with some corroboration of FBI case files on the allegations later that month, and then dropped a blockbuster concerning Grossman’s outing of Valerie Plame-Wilson’s CIA front company Brewster-Jennings to Turkish diplomats long before she was ever outed publicly by Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Robert Novak.
    A great deal of explanation is given concerning Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)’s extremely close alliance with Turkey and the American Turkish Council (ATC) in all of these matters, and how the now-deceased Democratic U.S. Congressman from California, Rep. Tom Lantos was “the top person obtaining classified information” concerning Israel in Congress for both groups.
    Former Lousiana Republican, and almost-Speaker of the House Rep. Bob Livingston is described as “the number-one congressman involved with the Turkish community, both in terms of providing information and doing favors.” Livingston now runs a lobbying firm representing Turkey. “Number-two after him was Dan Burton” of Indiana (still serving), Edmonds tells Giraldi, “and then he became number-one until Hastert became the speaker of the House.”
    Details about how the Bush Administration, including officials such as Douglas Feith, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, were “discussing with the Turkish ambassador in Washington an arrangement whereby the U.S. would invade Iraq and divide the country” between the U.S., Great Britain, and possibly Turkey, some four months before 9/11 occurred.
    Former Bush Sr. administration official Brent Scowcroft, who had become chair of the American Turkish Council (ATC), is said to have been involved in similar discussions as well prior to 9/11, along with James Baker and Richard Armitage. Scowcroft, Edmonds alleges, only came out against the Iraq War when the George W. Bush administration decided against an arrangement for a “Turkish protectorate” in northern Iraq.
    Some members of Congress were wiretapped directly by the FBI after information had been obtained “secondhand through FISA, as [the FBI’s] primary targets were foreigners.”
    “The epicenter of a lot of the foreign espionage activity was Chicago.” Hence the involvement of Hastert and Schakowsky, all of which leaves Edmonds with many concerns about Illinois’ former U.S. Senator Barack Obama and his current Chief of Staff, the former U.S. Congressman from Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel.
    Edmonds further details what she had briefly discussed with me on air in June, during an interview I did with her while guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show, in which she had said she was aware of the “intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban … all the way up to September 11,” 2001 by certain forces in the U.S. Whatever the operations were with bin Laden — actually “‘bin Ladens’ plural” as she clarifies to Giraldi — Edmonds notes that “Marc Grossman was leading it, 100 percent” and that the U.S. was “100 percent” aware of the deal. “From Turkey,” she says, “they were putting all these bin Ladens on NATO planes. People and weapons went one way, drugs came back.”
    There is much more, but one new point, in particular, caught my eye and certainly demands further immediate follow-up, though it could be difficult, even as it may serve to help explain the virtual U.S. media blackout on this story up until now. Edmonds tells Giraldi about Grossman paying off “some other people, including his contact at the New York Times.” She says he bragged about faxing articles to the paper, which were then printed under the names of Times reporters or Op-Ed columnists virtually verbatim. In speaking with her on Sunday, in hopes of following up on that a bit — no reporter is identified by name in the AmCon article — she said this “also happened with the Washington Post, but the New York Times was their primary one for this.”
    “Every time they wanted something on Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan, for example, they just faxed it over [to the Times], and it was run under their own guys’ name, even though it was written by the State Department,” she said during our conversation on Sunday. “This was an ongoing operation, at least during a four year period of time” from 1997 to 2001.
    Edmonds was fired by the FBI in 2002, after she began reporting to her superiors on a colleague in the translation department who was, herself, a member of one of the Turkish organizations being targeted by the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation.
    Edmonds went on to found the non-partisan National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) in August of 2004, “comprised of current or former federal employees or civilians working under contract to the United States who, to their detriment or personal risk, bring to light fraud, waste, and abuse in government operations and agencies when such improprieties compromise the national security of the United States.”
    Giraldi’s article in The American Conservative should be on newsstands and on the Internet, in full, at their website by Tuesday.
    http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7427
    It will be interesting to see how our MSM, and the Obama Administration, manage to avoid addressing this.

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, what the hell, as long as I raised the issue of a media that picks and chooses what “news” they intend to manipulate us with, through lies or omission, I might as well throw this out there….
    By Brad Friedman on 9/21/2009 10:17AM
    Exclusive: Upcoming Cover Story on Edmonds ‘Outs’ Video-taped, ‘Blackmailed’ Dem Congresswoman; Alleges State Dept. Mole at NYTimes; MUCH MORE…
    ‘American Conservative’ mag’s description of interview with previously-gagged FBI whistleblower as ‘explosive’ may prove to be a gross understatement
    Blackmail, bribery, infiltration, theft and sale of nuke secrets by Turkey, Israel explained in clearer detail than ever before…
    On Friday, we reported on the coming exclusive American Conservative cover story interview with formerly-gagged FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds by quoting the magazine’s own teaser description of the piece as “explosive”. Over the weekend, we received an embargoed look at the final version of the AmCon interview by former CIA officer Phil Giraldi, and yes, “explosive”, may be a vast understatement. At least if the U.S. corporate media bothers to notice it this time.
    It seems it may be difficult to not notice it, given that Edmonds finally names, on the record, for the first time, in a right-leaning periodical founded by Pat Buchanan, the identity of the currently-serving Democratic Congresswoman she has previously described as married with grown children and having been “hooked” into participating in a lesbian affair with a Turkish foreign agent, as she was secretly video-taped for blackmail purposes.
    Edmonds has alluded to the Congresswoman, without naming her, in the past, most notably in her recent sworn and video-taped deposition in the Schmidt v. Krikorian case now pending before the Ohio Election Commission. In that testimony, she did manage to name the names of other Congress members she had previously identified publicly. At the time, we (and virtually no other media outlets) reported on her disclosures that Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Bob Livingston (R-LA), Dan Burton (R-IN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Stephen Solarz (D-NY) and Tom Lantos (D-CA, deceased), were all participants in blackmail and/or bribery schemes by and with agents of the Turkish government, as she became aware while translating wiretaps in the FBI’s counterintelligence division after 9/11. Some of those crimes are said to have resulted in the theft and sale of nuclear weapons technology to allies and enemies alike.
    The exclusive interview lays out the details of what can be described as nothing short of a national security cancer that has metastasized throughout the U.S. government, to the covert monetary, military and strategic intelligence benefit of our allies and enemies alike.
    In her 8/8/09 D.C. deposition, she discussed, for the first time on the public record since being previously gagged by the Bush Administration’s use of so-called “State Secrets Privilege” (twice), details of what she heard while reviewing and translating wiretaps of Turkish agents who were targets of a long-running FBI investigation centered out of Chicago, but extending far beyond.
    In addition to specific details on allegations of serious wrongdoing by the Congress members mentioned above, as well as State and Defense Department officials such as Marc Grossman, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, Edmonds had offered details, during the deposition, about a Democratic Congresswoman who is “married with…grown children, but she is bisexual.”
    “So they have sent Turkish female agents,” she testified, in her sometimes-broken English, according to the transcript [PDF]. “And that Turkish female agents work for Turkish government, and have sexual relationship with this Congresswoman in her townhouse actually in this area, and the entire episodes of their sexual conduct was being filmed because the entire house, this Congressional woman’s house was bugged.”
    She went on to add that she hadn’t used her name in the past because she left the FBI before knowing whether or not the information was actually used against the Congresswoman to blackmail her, or if the woman had even been made aware of it. “I don’t know if she did anything illegal afterwards,” Edmonds said.
    In Giraldi’s AmCon interview, Edmonds again repeats that she doesn’t know if the Congresswoman “ever was actually blackmailed or did anything for the Turkish woman”, but she does name her name this time…
    The Congresswoman in question, according to Edmonds, is Illinois’ 9th-district Rep. Jan Schakowsky.
    The BRAD BLOG has attempted to contact Schakowsky’s office over the weekend, but they have yet to return several calls and emails seeking comment. We will, of course, update this story if we are able to receive comment.
    Edmonds says in the Giraldi interview that “in 2000 … Turkish agents started gathering information on her, and they found out that she was bisexual.” A female Turkish agent is said to have “struck up a relationship with her”, and then, following the death of Schakowsky’s mother, the woman is said to have attended the funeral “hoping to exploit her vulnerability.”
    “They later were intimate in Schakowsky’s townhouse,” Edmonds tells Giraldi, “which had been set up with recording devices and hidden cameras.”
    The reason for attempting to get at Schakowsky, Edmonds believes, is so that they would be able to get both her “and her husband Robert Creamer to perform certain illegal operational facilitations for them in Illinois,” along with Hastert, who was already on the payroll, and several other Chicago officials.
    Edmonds has previously disclosed some of Hastert’s dealings with shady Turkish operatives. Many of those charges were originally detailed in a 2005 Vanity Fair exposé by David Rose, which focused on the allegations of payoffs to Hastert by the Turks to the tune of some half a million dollars, or more.
    Schakowsky’s husband, lobbyist Robert Creamer, was indicted on 16 counts of bank fraud in 2004. In 2005 he pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to five months in prison and 11 months of house arrest. He was released from the federal penitentiary in 2006.
    Since leaving Congress, Hastert, as Edmonds points out to American Conservative, and as previously reported, now works as a registered lobbyist for the Turkish government for some $35,000 a month.
    Schakowsky is a member of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she is a member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management and the chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation.
    A Metastasized National Security Cancer
    Some more details from the interview in a moment, but I want to note that Giraldi’s interview is exceptional and brings together a great deal of the entire breadth of Edmonds’ long-quashed allegations in a simple, clear, cogent, easy-to-understand (even for beginners to the story) narrative.
    He’s done an excellent job in that regard, and Edmonds told me over the weekend that she believes it was due to his own knowledge of the topic, from both his years of covering her story at various times, as well as his own inside knowledge as a counterintelligence officer at the CIA, working a similar beat.
    The exclusive interview lays out the details of what can be described as nothing short of a national security cancer that has metastasized throughout the U.S. government, to the covert monetary, military and strategic intelligence benefit of our allies and enemies alike.
    She discusses a well-organized foreign intelligence black market superstore, benefiting everyone from treasonous U.S. officials to operatives and governments in Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, al-Qaeda and beyond.
    Edmonds is more specific than even in her recent deposition, in explaining what she’s been disallowed from talking about publicly for so long. She names very specific names, describes massive government infiltration and the theft of weapons technology and nuclear secrets beginning at the very top of government (the State Department and top White House officials and appointees) going through Congress (at least half a dozen current and former members) and defense contractors (RAND), through Ph.D. programs (MIT) and highly-classified nuclear facilities (Sandia, Los Alamos) and even, for good measure, through the media (New York Times) and beyond.
    She discusses a well-organized foreign intelligence black market superstore, benefiting everyone from treasonous U.S. officials to operatives and governments in Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, al-Qaeda and beyond.
    “No one has ever disproved any of Edmonds’s revelations, which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files,” Giraldi notes in the opening of his nearly-4,000 word article/interview. “As Sibel herself puts it,” Giraldi writes, “‘If this were written up as a novel, no one would believe it.'”
    Bingo. And shy of investigation from other media and/or law enforcement, that could still remain the case, even after AmCon’s exclusive.
    Where any of her allegations may be untrue or in accurate, given the exceptional gravity of them, it would be nice if the media investigated if only to disprove them. If they can. Or, otherwise, corroborate them with other sources.
    Virtually all of the mainstream corporate media outlets who have bothered to investigate her story over the years — largely before Edmonds was able to speak out herself — such as CBS’ 60 Minutes, Vanity Fair, Sunday Times of London (front-page series here, here and here), etc. — have almost all been able to find corroboration from various sources, including within the FBI, for the allegations.
    It remains both astounding and alarming that almost all of those same media have now stopped dead in their tracks from continuing to dig, investigate and report.
    As we’ve pointed out many times before (and so does Giraldi), an unclassified FBI Inspector General’s report, released on her case in 2005, declared many of Edmonds’ classified allegations to be “credible,” “serious,” and “warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI.” In 2002, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), then the ranking members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, co-wrote letters on Edmonds’ behalf to Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and DoJ Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, calling on all of them to take action in respect to her allegations. In 60 Minutes’ 2002 report Grassley says about Edmonds: “Absolutely, she’s credible…And the reason I feel she’s very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story.”
    In the next week or so, we hope to offer still more corroboration from an FBI source concerning her allegations.
    Continues….
    http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7427

    Reply

  29. Outraged American says:

    Why should Iran “move” or “shift”? She has ever legal right to do
    what she’s doing under the treaties she’s signed.
    Just that sentence alone made me question how much Steve’s
    become sucked into the crap filled, toilet bowl, vortex that is DC.
    Mine too, the maid stole my toilet brush and now the loo looks like
    a 7/11 run by an Indian.
    Before I get the inevitable accusations hurled at me ( you can hurl
    them into my toilet, everything else is in there including Jane
    Harman’s never existent integrity) LIGHTEN THE F-K UP.

    Reply

  30. TulsaTime says:

    The military has been allowed to believe in their own press for the last 8 years. As a result they are back in the zone where they believe that there is a military solution for everything. History shows that Afghanistan is where that dream always goes to die.
    If Washington wants to hold on to a vestige of world power, they would do well to find an exit now. Otherwise they will burn away any domestic support for foreign adventures at the same time they burn out world support for the collapsing dollar.
    I would hate to see what domestic politics would look like after the US was emasculated financially and militarily. It owuld be either brownshirts or hairshits!

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Then I’ve already had a successful day.

    Reply

  32. Dan Kervick says:

    “Perhaps “Give ‘Em Head Harry” will assist Obama in that endeavor, eh?”
    OK, I have to admit, that one made me laugh.

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “That is why outcomes on Israel/Palestine this week in New York need to be more than photo-ops that look like efforts to “put lipstick on a pig.””
    You gotta be kidding.
    Perhaps “Give ‘Em Head Harry” will assist Obama in that endeavor, eh?

    Reply

  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Resources”.
    That would be those bloody masses of pulp that return to the United States in body bags, eh?

    Reply

  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Olberman, Maddow, or MSNBC? Their complete and utter blackout on all things Israel consign them to the same ranks as Fox News, Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh.
    You might take Olberman an atlas, Steve, and show him where Israel is. And when he looks you straight in the eye, and says “Never heard of it”, smack him for me. If he looks like he might retaliate, just tell him you were channeling POA.
    But don’t smack Maddow. At least she’s pleasant to look at, even if she doesn’t choose to admit there is an Israel. She’d just look silly giving us half the news while sporting a black eye.

    Reply

  36. ... says:

    steve – the usa missed a perfect opportunity with the goldstone commission.. the trend on usa’s ability to be of any help with ip issues is a almost completely non existant, with a lot of hot air along the way being about the only thing the us seems capable of..

    Reply

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