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Sethomas Sethomas is offline
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 02:58 PM        Told you so
Do any of you remember how I used to always post how the answer I got for "why we went to Iraq" is totally separate from the reasons made public? That is, it wasn't about the WMD, it wasn't about Saddam being a nasty fellow, and it wasn't about his non-existent ties to al-Qaeda. It was about starting a decade-spanning motion in the middle east at large to turn it into a viable social and economic market in a plan that was ethically unsound and tactically impossible. Go in, brutally rape Iraq and rebuild it in a couple of months, then hope that other Middle Eastern regimes get the message and clean up their act autonomously. This is the explanation I heard from two different, very educated Neo-cons (although they for some reason thought it would work). This was corroborated by a guy I talked to with multiple doctorates on Middle East policy, who flatly denounced the war.

I always believed that this is what the Neo-cons were after, but I had the comfort of denying it consciously because nothing in our policy made it distinct from the three public reasons for war.

Now, between the three public reasons for war and the Pax Americana version of the war, which explanation better supports why the president refuses to set any time-tables or withdraw troops?
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 09:32 AM       
Plus, it fits nicely with Wolfies quote about WMD having just been the most sellable reasoning and the Neocon concept of the 'Noble Lie'.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 02:44 PM       
Seth, while I always appreciate your insights regarding just about everything, don't you think even Geggy probably beat you to the punch on the whole "IT'S PNAC PAX AMERICANO WITH SOY MILK!22!1" thing??? I mean, seriously, how many people were saying this before we even went to war (I was probably one of them, too)?

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Go in, brutally rape Iraq and rebuild it in a couple of months, then hope that other Middle Eastern regimes get the message and clean up their act autonomously.
I think your use of the words "brutally rape" is interesting, since it's what Hussein and his sons used to do to their people for enjoyment...but I digress.

I think your argument is fair...not entirely accurate, but still fair. I believed prior to the invasion, and still believe today, that this administration became overzealous with a desire to include Iraq in the War on Terror, so much so that they jumped at any shit intelligence they saw in front of them in order to mobilize for war. I think they saw Iraq as a weaker link in a generally rotten network of regimes that were aiding in keeping the Middle East under the grip of oil oligarchies. Before the war, it was the war CRITICS who were pointing out how Iraq had the largest middle class in the Middle East, the resources, the education, etc. to create a sustainable liberal democracy...or something like that. I think Iraq represented all of those things in what they saw as a broad plan to end what had been fueling Islamic Terrorism.

However, there are a few obvious things that are worth pointing out here:I think that last point is especially pertinent. Through our own government's actions, we have shown the rest of the world that if you misbehave we will bother you (Iran, Iraq, Syria), but if you already HAVE a nuke (North Korea, China) we will coddle you and talk about third party negotiations. Saddam Hussein had every reason in the world to have a nuclear weapon, especially knowing that his position in the Middle East was always in question.

Also, as an addendum to the point about Saddam being not a nice guy, Hussein had a massive destabilizing effect on the Middle East. He initiated two wars that hit the oil markets and left thousands upon thousands dead. A lot of attention has been paid to what we alone have done to Iraq, without paying any attention to the full context of what the Hussein dictatorship did to the entire Middle East. Do tyrants ever think they're going to die? If they've already twice before shown you the imperialistic ambitions they have, what leads one to believe they wouldn't try at it again?

I think this is one of the fatal flaws in your argument, Seth. By ridding the country of an imperialist, you declare us as imperialists. And the main foundation you have for this is that we're still there and won't say when we will leave.

Huh? So staying in a country you "brutally raped" until you can help properly rebuild it is Pax Americana? We have historical evidence in Afghanistan that leaving a shattered and sectarian nation in the hands of the radicals and the warlords leads to pretybad things. It seems less like imperialism, and more like an attempt at not repeating history.
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Sethomas Sethomas is offline
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 03:29 PM       
I do agree that, among terrible regimes in the middle east, Iraq posed itself as the most viable and logical target. So, I agree with the three points to war that you posted as being good considerations to choose Iraq among a list of potential targets, or even first among eventual targets.

I didn't use the term imperialism because I think it's misleading. In some sense it's accurate, sure, but while many people want to think that America is trying to make a 51st State from Algeria to Afghanistan, I don't think that's what was intended nor pursued. Like I said, the idea that was told to me was that as many middle eastern countries as possible would reform themselves and not wait for an American invasion. We want them to play fair and by our rules. I don't know if that's really a spade, but if it is...

And no, I don't think that any aggression that could possibly be construed as "imperialist" automatically makes it wrong. What makes it wrong tactically is that it operates under zero understanding of Islamic culture, and what makes it wrong ethically is that it's going to have a murderous effect several fold worse than if we left them to their own devices. I've heard personal stories of Iraqi's family members just disappearing, and it's terrible. Absolutely. But I genuinely feel that Saddam was too emasculated to cause another genocide, so killing hundreds of thousands to save tens of thousands is not a very altruistic argument.

And like I said, I think that Saddam was too emasculated by 2003 to really be a destabilizing agent. To look at the state of the Iraqi national economy and how it was much EASIER to trample Iraq (remember the media going on and on about how the Republican Guard were going to be a huge hindrance?) than we actually believed it would be? Maybe economic sanctions actually worked in this sense.

What I told war hawks in 2003 was that it wasn't going to be hard to overthrow the regime, but that a Western occupation would never sit well with either a Sunni or a Shi'a population, let alone a heterogeneous nation of the two. You can argue for years about what's right or wrong, but if the right thing is impossible then what's the point?

I think there's something to be said for America's efforts to win them over with love--the hundreds of thousands of inoculations performed is one example--but when the average Iraqi family is more likely to know a civilian casualty than a polio victim, you can't blame them for harboring hostility that's not going to end any time soon.

When you factor in the fact that a strong American presence is going to turn the evil Westerner from an ideological image into a palpable force of daily life, it's like trying to smother the fires of terrorism with shreds of paper. If you don't give a damn about whether or not we're making a utilitarian moral measure of progress in the middle east, maybe you should consider how much more dangerous our lives our now. Madrid's train stations were bombed two weeks after I stopped using them and I had to wonder whether my friends were dead, so maybe I just have a tainted perspective on the Iraq war.
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theapportioner theapportioner is offline
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 12:24 AM       
I think we can say that the reasons for going to war in the first place (dubious at best) are largely irrelevant now. Even dreams of remaking the Middle East are more or less shattered.

The reason why some want to stay in Iraq now is to clean up our damn mess. The justification for the proposed course of action (increase troops by a bit, stay there indefinitely) is that things will get better. However that's altogether unclear to me.

Why should we believe that staying there a couple years longer will make things any better in the long run? They've been feeding us that same old drivel for the past four years now. Oh, we should just hope, believe in America, believe in Iraqis, blah blah blah. We could stay there another five or ten years and not establish any long-term stability in that country.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 01:24 AM       
Would you even believe any positive feedback on Iraq? Since General Petraeus has taken over under the so-called surge, there has been some substantive change. Baghdad has been brought under control exponentially, and places such as Anbar have made a remarkably quick turnaround.

Would any good news sway you? My guess is no, and my guess is that your opinion is a political one that's already decided.

Seth, I'll touch on your thoughts later.
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 01:45 AM       
Regardless of whom you're addressing, all the good news from here on out wouldn't sway me from thinking that this attack was a mistake. It would, however, give me hope that maybe long-term damage isn't going to be as bad as we have good reason to expect it to be. I didn't make this thread as pointless bitching, but rather to explore the strong possibility that this is to become a long-standing state of affairs. The strained military, the foreign occupation, the absurd amount of debt we're accruing. I'm going to be honest and say that I don't know for myself that a pull-out in the near future is the best option with the cards we've been dealt, but it does strike me for now as the less terrible of our options.

One of the aforementioned defenders of the idea I described threw out the number "twenty years", referring to our presence in the middle east. Four years has put us into a debt that's going to multiply and perhaps destroy the next generation's economy.

The one thing that does make me wonder, though, is how optimistic the administration was at the outset. They obviously believed that the war would come so easily as to garner the respect of the American people and keep the GOP in power. It worked in 2004, but not in 2006. I'm not comfortable with either alternative this implies: the administration really is as incompetent as we think (which I've wondered about), or its intentions are more perverse and this is really going to fall back into their hands in some way unforeseeable to me.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 07:17 AM       
I don't think anyone is asking you to like the invasion, but that's neither here nor there at this point. A lot of us opposed the invasion, but the question now is whether or not you believe the campaign in Iraq is tied to a broader, more valuable mission. You clearly don't think so, and I disagree. If you did believe that staying in Iraq were important, then the strained military, occupation and debt probably wouldn't bother you as much, no?

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If you don't give a damn about whether or not we're making a utilitarian moral measure of progress in the middle east, maybe you should consider how much more dangerous our lives our now. Madrid's train stations were bombed two weeks after I stopped using them and I had to wonder whether my friends were dead, so maybe I just have a tainted perspective on the Iraq war.
If you believe that Madrid was a product of our actions in Iraq, well then I guess I'd see your point. But I don't believe our actions give any form of reasonable fuel to their irrational, backward fire. I believe Madrid had a lot more to do with the "tragedy of al-Andalus," and not a whole lot to do with our actions.

And if Extremists/Islamists whatever were to attack because we are in the Middle East, much like they claimed to do on 9/11, is that good enough reason to stop a mission? "Hey guys, the Taliban is threatening to blow shit up if we don't leave...pack it up!"

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The one thing that does make me wonder, though, is how optimistic the administration was at the outset. They obviously believed that the war would come so easily as to garner the respect of the American people and keep the GOP in power. It worked in 2004, but not in 2006. I'm not comfortable with either alternative this implies: the administration really is as incompetent as we think (which I've wondered about), or its intentions are more perverse and this is really going to fall back into their hands in some way unforeseeable to me
I think this administration completely half assed the invasion, and made mistake after mistake in the following months. Politically, Iraq remained a viable issue for them, as long as the American people believed that Iraq was A. actually winnable, and B. Tied to the overall War On Terrorism. The public isn't buying either these days.

But you're witnessing a sea change on the issue, even from the GOP. Senator Brownback, one of the lesser known GOP candidates for president, is going to submit a bill proposing a partition of Iraq. This strikes me as huge, because it clearly undermines President Bush's policy for one, and it especially pulls the rug out from any notion that we are trying to build a stable democracy in the Middle East. Then it becomes "hey, we blew the shit out of your country, and then officially wiped it out of existence with the strike of a pen." Now THAT stinks of the worst kind of imperialism to me.
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 04:10 PM       
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Originally Posted by KevinTheOmnivore View Post
Would you even believe any positive feedback on Iraq? Since General Petraeus has taken over under the so-called surge, there has been some substantive change. Baghdad has been brought under control exponentially, and places such as Anbar have made a remarkably quick turnaround.

Would any good news sway you? My guess is no, and my guess is that your opinion is a political one that's already decided.

Seth, I'll touch on your thoughts later.
Speaking for myself, I dont find it hard to believe reports of reductions in casualties (I'm assuming "exponential" is hyperbole) when there are tanks and humvees on every other street corner. Those statistics also say that the number of attacks remains steady. I'm not sure "turnaround" was the best word choice, either. (What I can't believe is the notion that Iraq was going to build a nuke, try as they might, under the noses of the international community- or US intelligence, for that matter. Anyone who believes otherwise is drinking kool-aid.)

The blatant waste and mismanagement of something so serious as an invasion isn't going to be absolved by even the greatest of triumphs, so believe me I am eager to hear something encouraging here.
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theapportioner theapportioner is offline
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Old Apr 28th, 2007, 02:21 AM       
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Originally Posted by KevinTheOmnivore View Post
Would you even believe any positive feedback on Iraq? Since General Petraeus has taken over under the so-called surge, there has been some substantive change. Baghdad has been brought under control exponentially, and places such as Anbar have made a remarkably quick turnaround.

Would any good news sway you? My guess is no, and my guess is that your opinion is a political one that's already decided.
Would I believe any positive news on Iraq? Of course. Whether that news is just a blip in the natural ebbs and flows of a generally intractable situation, or whether it reflects substantive moves towards long-term stability and recovery is another matter entirely. In the last four years, the overall trend has not been good. As derrida says, the increased presence has hardly stanched the number of attacks, and moreover, public opinion of the American presence there is dismal. Iraqis see the Americans as not helping at all, and the overwhelming majority want them to leave. I doubt that's going to change anytime soon.

And come on, is building a bunch of walls a serious long-term solution to the problem?

I'd like to see Iraq turn the corner, but I just don't think it's going to happen with us being there.
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Old Apr 29th, 2007, 02:16 PM       
Iraqis are fucked.
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Old Apr 30th, 2007, 12:38 PM       
Here's an op/ed by Bill Buckley

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q...lkOTE5OWVkOTc=
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But beyond affirming executive supremacy in matters of war, what is George Bush going to do? It is simply untrue that we are making decisive progress in Iraq. The indicators rise and fall from day to day, week to week, month to month. In South Vietnam there was an organized enemy. There is clearly organization in the strikes by the terrorists against our forces and against the civil government in Iraq, but whereas in Vietnam we had Hanoi as the operative headquarters of the enemy, we have no equivalent of that in Iraq, and that is a matter of paralyzing importance. All those bombings, explosions, assassinations: we are driven to believe that they are, so to speak, spontaneous.

When the Romans were challenged by Christianity, Rome fell. The generation of Christians moved by their faith overwhelmed the regimented reserves of the Roman state. It was four years ago that Mr. Cheney first observed that there was a real fear that each fallen terrorist leads to the materialization of another terrorist. What can a “surge,” of the kind we are now relying upon, do to cope with endemic disease? The parallel even comes to mind of the eventual collapse of Prohibition, because there wasn’t any way the government could neutralize the appetite for alcohol, or the resourcefulness of the freeman in acquiring it.

General Petraeus is a wonderfully commanding figure. But if the enemy is in the nature of a disease, he cannot win against it.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Apr 30th, 2007, 01:20 PM       
Are you saying Islam is a disease? I'd have to disagree, my Dear Sir.

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Would I believe any positive news on Iraq? Of course. Whether that news is just a blip in the natural ebbs and flows of a generally intractable situation, or whether it reflects substantive moves towards long-term stability and recovery is another matter entirely. In the last four years, the overall trend has not been good. As derrida says, the increased presence has hardly stanched the number of attacks, and moreover, public opinion of the American presence there is dismal.
But General Petraeus hasn't been there for four years. So the administration capitulates and changes leadership on the ground in Iraq, and you say "well so what so what!? Things have BEEN bad!"

Does that make any sense? This is why I think a great deal of war criticism is actually a political decision, not a military one (anybody get the reference!!?). For example, the Speaker of the House wouldn't attend the briefing on Iraq's status given by the general last week due to "scheduling conflicts." This is the comander of your Iraqi operation, and all your going to do is give him a 30 minute phone call (as was Pelosi's excuse)? How long do you think her meeting with President Assad went?

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As derrida says, the increased presence has hardly stanched the number of attacks, and moreover, public opinion of the American presence there is dismal
Of course a country doesn't want to be occupied. But we didn't invade them to take a public opinion poll, did we? All I ever hear is that the Middle East can't be thrust into democracy, yet somebody takes a public opinion poll and you guys jump on it.

If our mission is truly consistent with stabilizing a truly unstable regime, toppling a dictator, and (now) preventing another radical islamic regime from growing and funding extremism, than we need to stay and finish, despite the opinion on our presence.

However, Tommy Thompson has an interesting proposal-- let the iraqi govt. vote on whether or not we should stay there. Any takers?
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theapportioner theapportioner is offline
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Old Apr 30th, 2007, 11:53 PM       
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Are you saying Islam is a disease? I'd have to disagree, my Dear Sir.
Uh, obviously no. I do think Buckley's characterization is accurate, in that the Iraq situation is now a chronic condition that can't be treated by our current efforts. Unlike conflicts with centralized command, there isn't a tumor that you can remove and have the problem be solved.

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Does that make any sense? This is why I think a great deal of war criticism is actually a political decision, not a military one (anybody get the reference!!?). For example, the Speaker of the House wouldn't attend the briefing on Iraq's status given by the general last week due to "scheduling conflicts." This is the comander of your Iraqi operation, and all your going to do is give him a 30 minute phone call (as was Pelosi's excuse)? How long do you think her meeting with President Assad went?
Look, as far as I'm concerned, the political maneuvers going on now are irrelevant to whether or not the current strategy is going to work. I hardly pay any attention to them.

As far as I can tell, you're asking me to basically have faith in Petraeus, because you haven't convinced me why the surge is going to work. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt (since my opinion doesn't matter anyways), but reading about bombings nearly every day and 100 dead US soldiers in April doesn't inspire much confidence.

And if in six months things aren't really improving, what then? How long before you say enough is enough? Sure maybe if we stay there 50 years, things will improve, but that's never going to happen.

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If our mission is truly consistent with stabilizing a truly unstable regime, toppling a dictator, and (now) preventing another radical islamic regime from growing and funding extremism, than we need to stay and finish, despite the opinion on our presence.
There's plenty of extremism already in Iraq, as far as I can tell.

Yeah, we should fix our fucking mess. But to do so is going to require a radical reassessment of our approach to the region. I have no confidence that a direct military solution is the best one. I think Iraq needs to take its destiny into its own hands. It isn't inevitable that Iraq will be a radical Islamic regime.
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Old May 1st, 2007, 02:17 AM       
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It isn't inevitable that Iraq will be a radical Islamic regime.
What are the other options? If the US magically pulled out tomorrow, we can expect that a) Iran would go to town, and wouldn't stop with Iraq.
or b) it would be a mad scramble, with the secular-atheist democratic factions coming out severely under represented in all the fun.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old May 1st, 2007, 02:18 AM       
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Uh, obviously no. I do think Buckley's characterization is accurate, in that the Iraq situation is now a chronic condition that can't be treated by our current efforts. Unlike conflicts with centralized command, there isn't a tumor that you can remove and have the problem be solved.
Well if you're going to throw Buckley at me, then you should be willing to embrace his entire position on the war. I'm thinking it's actually pretty different from your own, mostly that we should blame this all on the temperament of the Iraqi people. That, IMO, is a conservative cop out for excusing the operation in the first place. Do you share that opinion?


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Look, as far as I'm concerned, the political maneuvers going on now are irrelevant to whether or not the current strategy is going to work. I hardly pay any attention to them.
Um, no, they are precisely the point--our elected leaders are playing politics with a fucking war. You can accuse Bush of it, but you can also accuse Reid/Pelosi/Dean of it as well. Like pushing through a bill filled with pork projects that has an arbitrary time table added to it, knowing the president will reject such an outrageous bill, so that they can all go back to their districts and say "well by golly shucks, I voted to end this thing!" in 2008.

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As far as I can tell, you're asking me to basically have faith in Petraeus, because you haven't convinced me why the surge is going to work. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt (since my opinion doesn't matter anyways), but reading about bombings nearly every day and 100 dead US soldiers in April doesn't inspire much confidence.
You read about bombings every day because 1. There IS BTW A REAL ENEMY OVER THERE, 2. Papers want to sell papers, and 3. Keith Olbermann needs a reason to live.

There are arguments outlining why the surge is working, with most emphasis on how unstable Baghdad was just a couple months ago. I can provide you with a bunch of links if you'd like, but they're pretty accessible.

But I don't think that would matter. I think you don't like this war, you didn't like this war, and you want us to leave. You make a perfectly reasonable argument along those lines, so i don't see why war critics need to keep saying "well there's no progress, we should leave!" There IS measurable progress there, just not what you'd like to hear. It took S. Korea decades to move away from authoritarian rule, with not NEARLY the kind of radical reaction we are finding in the Middle East. How truly democratic is Russia today? How much longer will the effects of Authoritarianism hamper China? Your expectations in Iraq are quite lofty, but I think the progress you want is American troops on carriers coming home. Why not just say that?


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I think Iraq needs to take its destiny into its own hands. It isn't inevitable that Iraq will be a radical Islamic regime.
Wow. So if mass genocide were to begin AFTER our departure, as has been suggested, you would pull a Buckley and wash your hands clean of this?
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