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March 12, 2005

Comments

Thanks a lot, postit. I wasn't angry enough at BushCo for cramming another paleo-hack down the world's throat, it turns out Bolton's an mf'ing simpoid nutcase, too?

This is ridiculous. Maybe we should let the bastard get confirmed. The Bush Admin is batfart insane, half the country is batfart insane along with it. Maybe the best thing is to appoint Bolton as an announcement to the rest of the world that the US should be quarantined until it's done self-destructing. Just get it the f over with.

SH, don't mean to pick a fight with you. I'm dissatisfied with the UN. I think the US is in part to blame for the UN's problems. And I think the US is responsible for problems entirely unrelated to the UN as currently configured. I think the Europeans are to blame for some of the above. It's a sucky world and there aren't enough hours in the day to apportion blame. But as a proud American I think we should shoulder our burdens first and complain about the shirkers second.

"Sort of missed the admin's actual investment of any diplomatic/political capital or, well, anything actually useful in Sudan."

Well then I'm afraid you haven't been paying attention. Please google to find headlines from February regarding a US proposal for 10,000 peacekeeping troops with US air support in the Sudan. Or look up US proposed sanctions against the government which were thwarted first by France, then by Russia and now by China.

"Feel free to try again with a reality-based argument. Or don't."

Just because you don't bother to pay attention to the news doesn't make my argument bad.

actual investment of any diplomatic/political capital

"proposal"

and a pony.

Sebastian,

Those proposed 10,000 troops were for southern Sudan. Not Darfur.

postit

[sigh]

Political crony, you need to read some history bub.

I think the US is in part to blame for the UN's problems.

Well yes it is. Who let the dogs (PRC) in?

diplomatic capital, what is that?

Another negative for Bolton

One thing I absolutely hate about newspaper journalists is that they can claim absolutely anything without substantiation. SARS was a bioweapon? If so, it was an indication of just how feeble China's bioweapons program is/was. Google shows it's almost completely the rumour rags that are pushing this idea.

But I keep forgetting this is the Chronicle we're talking about, here.

Timmy,

"So the PRC's position is new, well who knew."

What's new is our limited ability to oppose it. When China asks us whether we support this more aggressive restatement of their policy, we now get the choice of acceding and seeling out a democratic ally or watching our economy implode as the Chinese refuse to buy more of our debt and dump their reserves of our currency. China is just applying the old Golden Rule ("Whoever has the gold, makes the rules.") in a way we should be very uncomfortable with.

"seeling" really should be "selling"

Southern Sudan is the current location of the largest percentage of the people fleeing the killings in Nothern Sudan, correct?

You use an example of the US doing what it can with the nearly useless UN as if the UN had already not turned down all of the other US proposals.

"Southern Sudan is the current location of the largest percentage of the people fleeing the killings in Nothern Sudan, correct?"

Seriously? Any evidence? My impression is that the refugees are mostly in Chad and West Darfur.

http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/images/satellite/

Well yes it is. Who let the dogs (PRC) in?

And what is the GDP of those losers, anyway?

From the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur (published in January):

“At the time of the establishment of the Commission and, subsequently, upon its arrival in the Sudan in November 2004, two irrefutable facts about the situation in Darfur were immediately apparent. Firstly, there were more than one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside Darfur (1,65 million according to the United Nations) and more than 200,000 refugees from Darfur in neighbouring Chad to the East of the Sudan. Secondly, there were several hundred destroyed and burned villages and hamlets throughout the three states of Darfur. While the exact number of displaced persons and the number of villages destroyed remain to be determined, the massive displacement and the destruction of villages are facts beyond dispute.”

Did any significant number of refugees really get from Darfur to Southern Sudan?

I'm also wondering what you think about Bolton's unequivocal stance on the ICC.

I'm against our joining the ICC, LJ. When there are eleven investigations into the prison abuse scandal, there's no reason to have another layer of prosecution. It's tantamount to double jeopardy. I also have serious reservations about the ICC itself, who it's accountable to, what it chooses to prosecute and the sovereignty that we give up in the process. Our system of checks and balances is working.

As for your NYT link, there's no doubt that it was a huge mistake not to secure the weapon sites after the regime fell. Last item, thanks for the Japanese lesson. Democra-nami sounds better.

Timmy - Political crony, you need to read some history bub.

No I'm not going down that road, especially not with you. The dictionary meaning is quite enough for me.

Sebastian - You use an example of the US doing what it can with the nearly useless UN as if the UN had already not turned down all of the other US proposals.

If Russia or China turns down US initiatives at the UN then it is incumbent on the US, if it truly believes in the efficacy of it's proposals, to negotiate with Russia and China to find a way for them to vote in favour. The idea is to 'work the room' and not simply throw up your hands like Pontious Pilate and hide behind the skirts of the UN as an institution.

Bird - When there are eleven investigations into the prison abuse scandal, there's no reason to have another layer of prosecution.

http://www.intel-dump.com/archives/archive_2005_03_13-2005_03_19.shtml#1110763295>When all we get is investigations like this one

then there is no layer of prosecution, only whitewash.

Actually, the ICC was set up for situations like civilian contractors in Iraq, overseeing torture in military prisons, where the US military cannot prosecute - these are civilians: and the US DoJ is unwilling to prosecute (who knows why?)

The ICC will not prosecute those accused of crimes unless the justice system of their country is either unwilling or unable to prosecute. That is certainly the case with the civilian contractors involved in the torture at Abu Ghraib.

"If Russia or China turns down US initiatives at the UN then it is incumbent on the US, if it truly believes in the efficacy of it's proposals, to negotiate with Russia and China to find a way for them to vote in favour. The idea is to 'work the room' and not simply throw up your hands like Pontious Pilate and hide behind the skirts of the UN as an institution."

You forgot France.

And eventually, I would guess after a couple hundred thousand are murdered and a million or so are driven from their homes, it might be better to act outside the UN rather than subject anyone to endless rounds of France, China and Russia trading objections. It is not incumbent on the US to try to bribe France, China and Russia into going along unless you accept the idea that the only way to deal with international disputes is through the UN. I quite specifically do not accept that idea.

It is constantly amazing to me that the same people who complain about the arrogance of the US when it tries to lead in the UN with respect to something they don't like also complain about the US not leading enough when talking about something they would like to see happen.

There is a serious confusion here about the limits of diplomacy at the UN. We have gone at least four rounds of trying to do something about the genocide in the Sudan. In each case the US proposed action has been met with a 'wait and see' response. At this point the only thing we have to wait to see is how many tens of thousands of people will be murdered and how many hundreds of thousands will be driven from their homes. The US has not chosen to unilateraly deal with things in the Sudan. In my view that is unfortunate. But it is also independent from the issue of UN uselessness on the issue. The US has tried to take action through the UN. It has failed because of the various obstructive moves by France, Russia and China. Say whatever you want about the US unwillingness to act unilaterally. If you are suggesting that the US ought to ignore the UN and try to stop the slaughter without UN sanction I am in complete agreement. But that is an independent issue from general UN unwillingness to act.

I am not a UN advocate. I think it is an awful institution when it comes to matters of war and peace. Certain of its member nations would rather ignore genocide or other serious threats rather than act with military force. I believe others don't care about genocide at all. The UN inaction reflects that. Those who think the UN is an important institution for world peace might want to examine the Sudan and UN political gaming with respect to genocide.

The US cannot act unilaterally in Darfur for obvious reasons that are yet one more consequence of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The UN is the sum of it's parts nothing more nothing less, we can all wish it were better than it is but wishing doesn't get the ball rolling. Personaly I prefer the chaos we have with the UN over the chaos that preceded it.

I hadn't heard the news of the US proposal for 10,000 troops in the Sudan. Sounds great. When are they going?

"The US cannot act unilaterally in Darfur for obvious reasons that are yet one more consequence of the invasion and occupation of Iraq."

But European troops are not tied down in Iraq. They are available if the UN wanted to act. I strongly suspect the US would be willing to contribute all sorts of transport support. Perhaps the UN does not desire to act.

"The UN is the sum of it's parts nothing more nothing less, we can all wish it were better than it is but wishing doesn't get the ball rolling."

Actually I would suggest that the UN is a lot less than the sum of its parts.

If the UN cannot take action in the face of genocide for two years, why not just admit that it is not the proper forum to deal with genocide?

"Our system of checks and balances is working."

Congress has done nothing. Nothing. Some of the Democrats have tried valiantly to do something about this; they have been completely stonewalled. And the military reports have varied greatly in quality--this most recent one is an appalling whitewash--and haven't been serious about appointing people of high enough rank to investigate and recommend charges of the higher-ups. Anyway, as honorable as people like Taguba are & as impressive as the military justice system can be, an organization investigating itself is NOT an example of checks and balances.

I don't think the ICC is the remedy here, but come on.

On the ICC, I can see an honorable basis for opposition, but not for what we're doing. We could say "that's great, but we're the most powerful country in the world, we're a target for politically motivated prosecutions, we're understandably wary & we have our own laws against this, and we have some constitutional concerns about it. It's great for a situation like Darfur where there's no other options, but we're going to wait and see before we ask our military to risk international prosecution when they're already risking their lives."

There's no honorable basis for shooting it down regarding Darfur (I don't think it'd be sufficient but it can't hurt and might help), and for signing nonextradition treaties with countries like the D.R.C. and Uzbekistan.

Sebastian - But European troops are not tied down in Iraq. I wasn't just referring to the lack of available troops. There are other reasons equally inhibitive.

If the UN cannot take action in the face of genocide for two years, why not just admit that it is not the proper forum to deal with genocide?

Perhaps it isn't, suggest another, or perhaps we are seeing the limit of the UN's efficacy when its constituent members are really only in for what they can get out of it. It's called a lack of leadership.

Sebastian - But European troops are not tied down in Iraq. I wasn't just referring to the lack of available troops. There are other reasons equally inhibitive.

If the UN cannot take action in the face of genocide for two years, why not just admit that it is not the proper forum to deal with genocide?

Perhaps it isn't, suggest another, or perhaps we are seeing the limit of the UN's efficacy when its constituent members are really only in for what they can get out of it. It's called a lack of leadership.

Well that was messed up - sorry.

Sebastian - But European troops are not tied down in Iraq.

I wasn't just referring to the lack of available troops. There are other reasons equally inhibitive.

If the UN cannot take action in the face of genocide for two years, why not just admit that it is not the proper forum to deal with genocide?

Perhaps it isn't, suggest another, or perhaps we are seeing the limit of the UN's efficacy when its constituent members are really only in for what they can get out of it. It's called a lack of leadership.

"It's great for a situation like Darfur where there's no other options..."

Huh. Why would it be great for a situation like Darfur? The UN isn't willing to get involved in stopping the genocide. The EU and most of its member countries are unwilling pretend it isn't genocide while France obstructs UN action. What is the ICC going to do? Are they going to make arrests in the Sudan?

Getting the ICC involved would just be another case letting the Europeans get away with pretending to do something instead of actually bothering to do anything. They can then engage in useless tut-tutting. Endless blah, blah, blah instead of action. I'm not personally convinced that sanctions would solve the problem, but they don't even want to do that much. If everyone is going to ignore the treaties about genocide because action is inconvenient, adding the ICC as another layer of paper isn't going to help anything. This is one of those 'enforce the existing laws' situations. It isn't that we don't have mechanisms in place already such that we need to use the ICC as a new mechanism. The problem is that no one wants to take action so no action gets taken. Adding another powerless agency to the mix isn't going to help.

Italics off?

repetition does the trick.

Southern Sudan is the current location of the largest percentage of the people fleeing the killings in Nothern Sudan, correct?

No.

Ah, my mistake. The majority end up in Chad. But the 10,000 are to facilitate the resettlement of the areas previously destroyed by the civil war as well as refugees from other areas in the Sudan.

BTW, on further inspection this stregthens my point. The US can push things through the UN only pertaining to areas which are not currently subject to much violence.

So unless there are changes, we can suspect that the UN will get involved in Darfur only after the genocide has succeeded in its aims.

So unless there are changes, we can suspect that the UN will get involved in Darfur only after the genocide has succeeded in its aims.

That's pretty much an astute observation, so what would you see done differently and how ? and getting back on topic what effect do you envisage Bolton will have on the process?

UN will get involved in Darfur only after the genocide has succeeded in its aims..

It will not be for a lack of trying. You know, there will never be a true international consensus on any given crisis (and this will be a problem that will exist with or without the UN). This is why UN reform must be enacted that removes such things as Security Council vetos, that lowers the bar from "consensus" to the "will of the majority".

Only a global institution such as a UN has any hope of addressing the majority of the Darfurs in this world. Regional bodies such as NATO or ad hoc coalitions not only still faces the same foot-dragging that afflicts the UN, but will only be able to act selectively and will always be undermined by the suspicion, justified or not, they represent some sort of imperial design. NATO was able to intervene in Kosovo, barely, because Kosovo is in Europe, and in Afganistan because the regional powers did not object, but it would face a great deal of difficulty in other parts of the world.

"Only a global institution such as a UN has any hope of addressing the majority of the Darfurs in this world. Regional bodies such as NATO or ad hoc coalitions not only still faces the same foot-dragging that afflicts the UN, but will only be able to act selectively and will always be undermined by the suspicion, justified or not, they represent some sort of imperial design. NATO was able to intervene in Kosovo, barely, because Kosovo is in Europe, and in Afganistan because the regional powers did not object, but it would face a great deal of difficulty in other parts of the world."

This doesn't seem true at all. Darfur continues not because NATO could not act, but because it does not desire to act. The UN does not act because it does not desire to act. There are institutions that could act. The countries behind them prefer not to. No amount of institutional juggling is going to change the fact that important countries like Russia and China and France feel that their best interests are served by keeping the UN from acting. How are you going to push through the kind of reform you are talking about when France especially isn't going to give up the lest shred of real super-power level importance that it has?

I believe Sebastians position could be distilled as favouring replacement of the UN with an ad-hoc 'coalition of the willing' who's membership would constantly ebb and flow as dictated by the demands of the moment but would always be headed by a resolute and gallant US striding forth bearing the torch of freedom and shining light on such dark areas of the world as it from time to time so chooses. An Al Swearengen philosopy for the modern world.

That certainly beats trying to be the moral authority when everyone else gets to pontificate on what's moral and what isn't.


One last point: Assume the ad-hoc approach is, at the moment, better than using the UN.

Using this approach on a long term basis presumes the U.S. will be a perpetual power. Even if you feel this will be the case, there is a great deal of evidence that cannot sustain it's preeminence, especially when you start thinking in terms of centuries and not decades.

2shoes - You are correct but you can't expect any self respecting neocon to think such thoughts. It would be tantamount to treason.

I believe Sebastians position could be distilled as favouring replacement of the UN with an ad-hoc 'coalition of the willing' who's membership would constantly ebb and flow as dictated by the demands of the moment but would always be headed by a resolute and gallant US striding forth bearing the torch of freedom and shining light on such dark areas of the world as it from time to time so chooses. An Al Swearengen philosopy for the modern world.

That certainly beats trying to be the moral authority when everyone else gets to pontificate on what's moral and what isn't.

I don't even care if we are always the leader of such coalitions. It might be nice if France stepped up to the plate on smaller more manageable things. But I'm not holding my breath. I defintely agree that there are large number of options which would be better than Europe feeling free to avoid doing practically anything toward world security while constantly engaged in talking carping about it.

Using this approach on a long term basis presumes the U.S. will be a perpetual power. Even if you feel this will be the case, there is a great deal of evidence that cannot sustain it's preeminence, especially when you start thinking in terms of centuries and not decades.

Ceding things to the UN presupposes that it will always be a moral power. Hell, it presupposes that it will ever become one. There is a great deal of evidence that nothing can sustain preeminence forever. I'll just take it 50 or 100 years at a time.

I don't even care if we are always the leader of such coalitions. It might be nice if France stepped up to the plate on smaller more manageable things.

I'd suspect you might think otherwise, as they may do things in a way that you might not think right. Leadership means taking leadership, not in doing things the way someone else wants. Hell, I think I'm more comfortable with US leadership than French, but truth be told, I'd be far happier with the UN after a few changes are made.

It might be nice if France stepped up to the plate on smaller more manageable things.

Such as in West Africa? Cote d'Ivoire? Ring a bell?

Ceding things to the UN presupposes that it will always be a moral power.

A comment that could be made about the United States...about anyone. But the question of morality is really secondary to this discussion. It's about setting up a system or framework that ensures the world will be governed peaceably and efficiently, as much as it can. What nations do within that system in terms of "moral behaviour" is really up to them: nothing can guarantee "good behaviour". The U.S. justice system doesn't ensure Americans behave well, it just designed to offer as much incentives as possible, and deals with them when those incentives fail.

What many of these UN discussions fail to do is address the matter using the proper timeframes. What we do now should be the laying of a foundation for future centuries of governance. An ad hoc coaliton may be able to deal with an individual crisis, and it may be able to do it quite efficiently on any given day. But looking at it over the longer timeframe, the "ad hoc coalition" as a system is destined to lead to a world where might makes right at best, mass chaos and misery at worst.

I would prefer the rule of law, which however imperfect at the moment, is what the UN represents.

A quick note to thank Chas for responding to my question about the ICC.

I agree that there are a lot of questions in what an ICC would ultimately look like, but if you believe that everyone in the world should be guaranteed a certain minimum level of human rights, then you have to have the process of working out those sorts of problems rather than simply pre-empting them, as Bolton has argued for. Two links of potential interest.

A 02 Bolton speech on the ICC

A bio of Bolton (viewed from the left side)

Here's the UN's ICC web page and the list of crimes that would be covered as well as a lot more background info

Bolton was absolutely right about the ICC, which is why Clinton never brought it before the Senate.

Some Americans simply want to withdraw from the United Nations, believing that it can never really be fixed. I understand the frustrations and disappointments that lead to that view, even though I disagree with it. We should tell the world community instead, "Let's make one last effort to put things right in the U.N. And make no mistake, our patience is not unlimited."

Sounds about right to me.

"I would prefer the rule of law, which however imperfect at the moment, is what the UN represents."

If you say so. The UN strikes me as the worst of legalism without any real respect for law. But your mileage clearly varies.

For those interested, the Bolton quote above comes from a book entitled _Delusions of Grandeur_, from a Cato Institute conference proceedings held in 1996. Aside from the guffaw inducing title (which shouldn"t be blamed on Bolton, the editor was Ted Galen Carpenter), this Bolton quote from the same book is equally amusing

"The U.N. was an admirable concept when conceived; it has served our purposes from time to time; and it is worth keeping alive for future services. But it is not worth the sacrifice of American troops, American freedom of action, or American national interests. The real question for the future is whether we will know how to keep our priorities straight."

Thanks LJ, again Bolton is spoton.

The first Bolton quote really makes me like him. The second is pretty good two. Were they supposed to be self-evidently ridiculous? I think I'm missing something.

The UN strikes me as the worst of legalism without any real respect for law.

Which law are you referring to?

"Which law are you referring to?"

None, which is rather my point. And their treatment of existing laws, say the treaty against genocide or the NPT, is rather pathetic. Which, again, is my point.

I'm going to assume that you understand the irony of the title _Delusions of Grandeur_. But as for Bolton, he seems (in the second comment) to state exactly what people here have warned against, which is the notion that the UN is only in the right when serves US needs. You may believe that in your heart of hearts, but I don't think it is a rational way to approach this. As a general principal, 'the US was always right' can be refuted with ample historical examples.

Second, the notion that it's not good to sacrifice American troops to support the UN in carrying out goals yet argue (as I would presume Bolton will when he's taking his shoe off and pounding the table) that US actions are altruistic and should be viewed in that light (such as democratizing Iraq) seems a bit rich. "Billions for democratization, not one cent for the UN" is the paraphrase that comes to mind.

But my main point is that this is _1996_ that he's saying this. You may call it prescient, I would simply suggest he's got a bit of an idée fixe. At least you aren't arguing that was the 'old Bolton'

However, it does seem that the free market has appropriately fixed an appropriate value to the book.


You say "there is no law", then casually slip in some references to...law. Which treaty against genocide do you mean? The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide? How does the UN "disrespect" it? Or the NPT? It seems to be that it is individual nations that are undermining the two you mention, not the UN as an institution. In the case of the latter, Pakistan springs to mind. What, precisely, can the UN do about it when powerful members states like the United States seem willing to forgive transgressions like those of Pakistan and Dr. Khan?

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, this is the fault of execution (the principle of consensus, and the Security Council veto), not of concept (the global institution).

And since you haven't addressed it, why is the alternative, ad hoc coaltions, preferable over the long term. ie. centuries

In the case of the latter, North Korea would be the prime suspect.

"But as for Bolton, he seems (in the second comment) to state exactly what people here have warned against, which is the notion that the UN is only in the right when serves US needs."

Not only, but if it regularly against US needs, the US shouldn't continue supporting it.

"Second, the notion that it's not good to sacrifice American troops to support the UN in carrying out goals yet argue (as I would presume Bolton will when he's taking his shoe off and pounding the table) that US actions are altruistic and should be viewed in that light (such as democratizing Iraq) seems a bit rich."

That comment is about burden sharing. When US troops die the most we get most of the say. Many nations--especially in Europe want lots of say about where US troops under a UN flag get to die. I'm not thrilled with that concept of how the UN ought to work.

That comment is about burden sharing.

I don't have the publication here, so if you could post some more of the context, I would appreciate it. That was just the blurb that was given in the advertisement for the book, which I took to be representative.

For more breaking Bolton stuff (breaking modifies stuff, not Bolton) here is Clemon's latest about Waxman's letter to Shays on Bolton's role in the Niger Uranium fiasco.

May we live in interesting times.

Bolton

Really all you need to know about the man is that he was a Jesse Helms protege and now he's a Cheney favourite.

Nuff said. Can him.

"Nuff said. Can him."

Sort of the opposite of "We wish we could bottle him".

Not only, but if it regularly against US needs, the US shouldn't continue supporting it.

I think you meant to say "US interests", in which case see above, re my distinction between US "interests" (i.e. short-term maximizations of utility) and interests (i.e. long-term optimal strategies). If you really mean that the UN has regularly acted against the US' needs, would you mind listing them?

I'm not sure about your distinction between needs, 'interests' and interests. But the UN has not helped forward US security interests very well. It does much better with organizations like the WTO in forwarding US economic interests or with the WHO in forwarding global health interests (though there are some major lapses). Unfortunately for the UN, both of those could be done with those organizations spun off of the UN.

"You say "there is no law", then casually slip in some references to...law. Which treaty against genocide do you mean? The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide? How does the UN "disrespect" it? Or the NPT? It seems to be that it is individual nations that are undermining the two you mention, not the UN as an institution."

The UN plays games with the Genocide Convention by refusing to label clear genocide as genocide in order to avoid the responsibilities of the convention. That is legalism instead of respect for the rule of law.

The UN refuses to enforce the NPT while constantly paying lip service to the idea of non-proliferation. That is legalism instead of respect for the rule of law.

The UN is not a 'rule of law' institution. A 'rule of law' institution is about applying neutral laws to everyone. The UN has never been about that and it certainly isn't now.

Your distinction between individual countries and the UN doesn't make sense from an institutional point of view. You attempt to claim that the UN manages or mitigates conflict between countries AND operates with the rule of law. It does not. If you look at the UN from a rule of law point-of-view (which I contend is silly because it obviously is not a rule of law institution) you would find that the UN facilitates individual country's abilities to thwart the rule of law. That is an institutional defect if you are attempting to look at it from a rule-of-law point of view.

Sebastion every time you write the word UN try writing "the current concensus of individual governments" instead, this may give you better insight into what kind of an 'institution' the UN truly is.

Yes the UN can exhibit institutional behaviour but only at the micro level not the macro level. The UN isn't in competition with national governments it reflects the current concensus between national governments and if there is no concensus then that is what it reflects. This is not an institutional defect it's a feature.

I have a good understanding of what kind of institution the UN really is. And contra other people's opinion on the subject it is NOT an institution to further world peace or protect human rights. And for those who believe that it is, the institutional lack of consensus is not a feature.

"Yes the UN can exhibit institutional behaviour but only at the micro level not the macro level."

That makes no sense whatsoever. On a macro level, the UN has an institutional bias toward static non-involvement in issues of war and genocide. It also has an institutional bias towards showy pretense of dealing with issues instead of really taking action--see for example what happens when you put Lybia, Syria and the Sudan on the UN Commission for Human Rights; see also UN and the NPT, see also the endless talk about non-genocide in the Sudan.

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