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The Things Democrats Carry

| 43 Comments | 4 TrackBacks
A great, if slightly biased article in today's New York Times Magazine about Democrats and foreign policy. The article, called The Things They Carry, by James Traub (echoing Tim O'Brien's great book) is written from the perspective of a friendly critic, but a critic informed by history nonetheless. He explains some of the historic roots of Democratic ambivalence toward the use of force, and talks about the thorny dilemma the party finds itself in today. He talks at length with Dean:
When I pointed out to Dean that he was depending heavily on continued failure in Iraq, he said, ''I'm not betting on it, and I'm hoping against it, but there's no indication that I should be expecting anything else.'' What neither of us knew at the time was that Saddam Hussein was already in custody, having been seized about eight hours earlier. The following day, when Hussein's capture was announced, there were endless TV images of Iraqis dancing with relief and joy, and even the most intractable foreign capitals issued gracious congratulations. There was no way of knowing whether Hussein's apprehension might prove as transitory a success as the toppling of his statue, but suddenly the antiwar position seemed like a less marketable commodity than it had the day before. And the fear of some senior Democrats -- and a considerable number of freshly polled voters -- that the party hadn't disposed of the old antiwar bogy, but rather raised it once again, appeared all too well founded.
and then lets Dean set out his strategy for confronting Bush:
Toward the end of our conversation, Dean said to me: ''The line of attack is not Iraq, though there'll be some of that. The line of attack will be more, 'What have you done to make us feel safer?' I'm going to outflank him to the right on homeland security, on weapons of mass destruction and on the Saudis,'' whom Dean promises to publicly flay as a major source of terrorism. ''Our model is to get around the president's right, as John Kennedy did to Nixon.''
which is a most interesting strategy. I'll suggest that Dean and I may well agree on homeland security, but probably differ on WMD and the Saudis. I think that a defense strategy based solely on containing WMD and pre-WMD artifacts is a bad, brittle strategy; that the technology is - as all technologies do - moving down the learning curve, and that effective embargoes amount to putting reassembling shattered bottles and hoping the genie will climb back in. Clearly we need to do the easy things - buy up and secure the Soviet warheads, track the large-scale industrial complexes where components and weapons will be built. But as long as there are people who want to use them, we have to assume they eventually will get them, and so in parallel we need to reduce the number of people who want them. Here his argument about the Saudis makes sense. But I'll disagree with his priority. It is clear that Saudi money and influence are a big part of what we face in Islamist terror, and worse, permeate Washington, in both parties, at high levels. And we can only assume that Europe is similarly disposed. But I don't even think that is the major obstacle to directly confronting the Saudis. It is simply that direct confrontation will lead to their collapse - and that our logical response - occupation - will provoke the Muslim-wide war I mean to avoid if possible. Here is a case where gentle pressure, patience and finesse - combined with some serious housecleaning on our part - seem like the logical paths. Which is a polite way of saying that in a year, the horse may learn to sing. Traub puts the debate into historic perspective.
The Vietnam War spelled the end of cold-war liberalism. Jackson sought the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1972 but lost to George McGovern, the leader of the peace wing, who had opposed almost all the weapons systems that Jackson supported. The battle inside the party continued with the election in 1976 of Jimmy Carter, who divided his foreign-policy team between the dovish Vance and the hawkish Brzezinski; the contest reached its theatrical climax when Carter nominated Paul Warnke, a former McGovern adviser, as chief negotiator on the 1979 SALT II arms talks. Warnke had stated that he would be willing to make unilateral cuts to the American nuclear arsenal. Jackson, who opposed the negotiations altogether, used Senate hearings to depict the nominee as an enemy of military prepared-ness. He brought in witnesses from the Committee on the Present Danger, an assemblage of Democratic hawks, many of whom would soon be known as ''neoconservatives.''
The Democratic Party lost these hawks, and was soon moved to the sidelines on issues of security.
It remains a matter of debate whether Reagan did, in fact, spend the Soviets into the ground [A.L. note - hey, I said he was partisan...]. Nevertheless, the cold war ended on the Republicans' watch, and so Reagan's unyielding stance was given much of the credit for bringing it to a close. And while the G.O.P. emerged from that era as the party of resolution, the Democrats emerged as the party of fecklessness -- a status brought home in the most mortifying possible manner when Michael Dukakis, their nominee in 1988, posed in a tank wearing a tanker's helmet and was compared to Rocky the Flying Squirrel.
The collapse of the USSR left us as the world's hyperpower, and gave us the luxury - as Halberstram describes Clinton - of being disinterested in foreign policy. It became a secondary arena for policymakers, and a place where a kind of cross-party, nonideological consensus could emerge.
There are two very large inferences that can be drawn from comments like these and, more broadly, from the current debate over national security issues in policy institutes, academia and professional journals. One is that the Bush administration stands very, very far from the foreign-policy mainstream: liberal Democrats, conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans have more in common with one another than any of them have with the Bush administration. The other conclusion is that the administration's claim that 9/11 represents such a decisive break with the past that many of the old principles no longer apply is right -- but the new principles need not be the ones the administration has advanced. A different administration could have adapted to 9/11 in a very different way. And this is why national security should be, at least potentially, such a rich target of opportunity for a Democratic candidate.
The fact that the Bush policy violates so many of the 'institutional' norms ought to make him vulnerable to charges of recklessness. But...
The terrorist attacks made the moral quandaries of the 90's look like luxuries and restored the old party stereotypes with a vengeance. By the time of the 2002 midterm elections, the Republicans enjoyed an astounding 40-point advantage on the question of which party was best at ''keeping America strong''; the election was understood as a referendum on national security policy, and the G.O.P. swept the board.
The Democrats are, intelligently, trying to reformulate a response. Dean has one, as does Clark. But Clark's positions are surprising, and raise questions about whether he will be able to directly confront Bush on issues of military policy.
And yet here was the former Supreme Allied Commander positioning himself slightly to Howard Dean's left. Indeed, the central paradox of Clark's campaign, which in recent months has neither gained nor lost much altitude, and remains fixed in a flight path well below Dean's, is that a candidate whose chief virtue was his credibility on national security issues has proved to be such a peacenik. People around Clark disagree as to the source of his surprising politics. One figure who has given Clark substantial advice says that Clark has moved left owing to the ''political dynamic'' fostered by Dean. Clark himself says that he's just angry at the commander in chief's failure to take responsibility. When Clark and I spoke in November, I said that those of us in the audience at the conference assumed that he believed the Bush administration could have and should have stopped the terrorist attacks -- a terrible charge, almost a calumny. No, he said; he meant that the administration had refused to conduct ''an after-action review,'' as he would have done. Of course, if that's what he meant, he could have said so. It seemed, rather, that he had decided to mine the vein that Dean had worked so effectively.
And having done so, will then be presented with the dilemma of selling those views to a general electoral base far less willing to be 'weak and right' than 'strong and wrong'. Clark also has very specific criticisms:
When I asked Clark how he would have behaved differently from Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 -- we were sitting on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport beside his campaign plane -- he said, ''You could have gone to the United Nations, and you could have asked for an international criminal tribunal on Osama bin Laden,'' thus formally declaring bin Laden a war criminal. ''You could then have gone to NATO and said: 'O.K., we want NATO for this phase. We want you to handle not only military, we want you to handle cutting of fund flow, we want you to handle harmonizing laws.''' NATO had, in fact, declared the terrorist attack a breach of the common defense pact, but the Bush administration had brushed it aside. Clark said that he would have made Afghanistan a Kosovo-style war.
and
Clark argues that the very consensus war-fighting strategy that produces terribly inefficient wars also greatly increases the likelihood of a successful postwar outcome -- which is what the whole effort is supposed to be about. ''It's not where you bomb and what building you blow up that determines the outcome of the war,'' Clark said to me. ''That's what we teach majors in the Air Force to do -- make sure you hit the target. It's the overarching diplomacy, the leverage you bring to bear, what happens afterward on the ground, that gives you your success. And for that you need nations working together.'' That, in a nutshell, is the Wesley Clark alternative paradigm of national security.
He's right in the sense that international consensus, once reached, is a powerful tool for managing the political aftermath of war. But discussing it and doing it are very different things.
Clark understands the lessons of the post-cold-war world as no other candidate does. But the post-cold-war world has already been superseded, at least from the American point of view, by something quite different -- the post-9/11 world. Clark argues persuasively that the NATO ''consensus engine'' forces member governments to ''buy into'' joint decisions. But what if the French or Germans don't want to buy into Iraq or, say, to a tough posture should Iran start violating critical nuclear safeguards? A key aspect of the neoconservative argument on terrorism, most associated with the analyst Robert Kagan, is that Europeans do not feel threatened by terrorism in the same way, or to the same degree, as Americans do; consensus-dependent institutions like NATO or the Security Council are thus likely to fail us in the clutch. Clark's answer is that if we take the concerns of our allies seriously, they will rally to our side. But they may not; Frenchmen may consider the United States, even under a benign President Clark, a greater threat to world peace than Iraq. It may be that in his years with NATO, Clark so thoroughly absorbed the European perspective that he has trouble recognizing how very deeply, and differently, Americans were affected by 9/11.
This isn't to suggest that Clark - or any of the Democrats - are without a grounded, coherent perspective in which to place their policies.
In an article last spring in World Policy Journal, Dana H. Allin, Philip H. Gordon and Michael E. O'Hanlon, foreign-policy thinkers from the conservative side of the Democratic spectrum, proposed a doctrine of ''nationalist liberalism,'' which would ''consciously accept the critical importance of power, including military power, in promoting American security, interests and values,'' as the neoconservatives had in the 1970's. But the doctrine would also recognize that America's great power ''will create resistance and resentment if it is exercised arrogantly and unilaterally, making it harder for the United States to achieve its goals.'' The authors laid out a ''generous and compelling vision of global society,'' which would include ''humanitarian intervention against genocidal violence; family planning; effective cooperation against global warming and other environmental scourges''; foreign aid; free trade; and large investments to combat AIDS. All the major Democratic candidates could be considered nationalist liberals. And it's no surprise: since this is more or less the consensual view of the foreign-policy establishment, practically everybody the candidates have been consulting takes this view. With the very important exception of Iraq, the major candidates hold essentially the same views. Hawkishness or dovishness on Iraq thus does not correlate with some larger difference in worldview, as, for example, the left and right views on Vietnam once did.
What is suggested is something which seems to combine the aggressive military effort of Bush with the humanitarian - and more importantly, the internationalist from an economic, environmental, and postentially political base. I see a number of issues with this approach, and will touch on several immediately. The first is that I think it unlikely that the world community - which had a stated interest in restraining US power before Iraq - is going to accede to the unfettered use of US military forces as long as we sign Kyoto, offer cheap AIDS drugs, accept the ICC, and agree to spearhead militarily intervention to limit genocide. I don't think that one buys us the other. Domestically, I see a hard time forging a consensus for the kind of sacrifice that would take - a military large enough to both act on our behalf, and do the world's bidding at the same time that we harness our economy to benefit the world's (stipulating for the moment that those actions would in fact benefit the world economy, which is a legitimate subject for debate). All of this is an airy academic discussion unless the Democrats can either sideline defense as a subject for this election, or demostrate that their warm goodwill for foreign governments can be handcuffed to a ruthless willingness to defend US lives and interests.
Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has a nightmare in which Dean wins the nomination, conditions in Iraq improve modestly and in the course of a debate, President Bush says: ''Go to Iraq and see the mass graves. Have you been, Governor Dean?'' In this nightmare, Bush has been, and Dean hasn't. ''Saddam killed 300,000 people. He gassed many of these people. You mean I should have thought there were no chemical weapons in the hands of a guy who impeded our inspectors for 12 years and gassed his own people and the Iranians?'' O'Hanlon glumly says that he has resigned himself to the thought that ''the Democratic base is probably going to lose the Democrats the election in 2004.'' Strong and wrong beats weak and right -- that's the bugbear the Democrats have to contend with. George McGovern may have had it right in 1972, but he won Massachusetts, and Richard Nixon won the other 49 states. McGovern recently said that he is a big fan of Howard Dean, whose campaign reminds him very much of his own. Dean may want to ask him to hold off on the endorsement.
No kidding. I'm wrestling with the issue of internationalism a lot these days. My core issues, simply, are that I believe that the EU elites are far more corrupt and self-serving than our own - and I distrust ours. I think that the UN has squandered it's legitimacy as it dignifies murderous kleptocrats with votes matching those of countries with legitimately chosen (or at least imposed over a long term) governments which have some legitimacy beyond the barrel of a secret policeman's gun. This is all great food for thought; sorry to have quoted so extensively, but please go read the whole article and draw your own conclusions.

4 TrackBacks

Tracked: January 4, 2004 3:53 PM
Democrats and Foreign Policy from Unlearned Hand
Excerpt: Armed Liberal has a thorough discussion of James Traub's article in today's New York Times Magazine. The topic: Democrats and foreign policy. It's a long read, and Armed Liberal has done an excellent job discussing Traub's historical survey and its...
Tracked: January 4, 2004 9:22 PM
Excerpt: Armed Liberal has some excellent commentary today on James Traub's article in the New York Times Magazine on the disarray within the Democratic Party over foreign policy. Unlearned Hand has some good comments, too. Of course, Traub regurgitates the can...
Tracked: January 5, 2004 12:35 AM
The Power of Comments from Les Jones Blog
Excerpt: One reason I prefer blogs with comments: the commentors can make such good points. From a Winds of Change article about John Dean and Wesley Clark, reader Mike G. comments: As every management book ever written says, if you don't...
Tracked: January 6, 2004 6:51 PM
Tuesday Roundup from porphyrogenitus.net
Excerpt: We bring you today's news roundup. Some of it is yesterday's news today, but much of it is fresh. Krugman's Great Unraveling continues, as jobless claims hit a three year low and economists predict unemployment to fall. Indeed, Bush's December

43 Comments

Many thanks for your distillation of a fine article.
One comment: Michael O'Hanlon's nightmare is nothing compared with what will really happen. Power will be returned to a provisional Iraqi government this summer; Saddam goes on trial in September or early October; it will be the sort of courtroom drama that TV eats up. Night afte rnight, the news will be dominated by witnesses testifying to Saddam's murders and thefts. And all Bush has to say is, "If Howard Dean were president, this man would still be in power." Peace, Mr. O'Hanlan, but your nightmare will be longer and darker than you have any idea.

If the recent AP story about lax security at Vermont’s nuclear reactor during Dean’s term as governor proves to be true, it will seriously minimize his ability to criticize president Bush on homeland security.

Or Bush can just play the tape of Lieberman saying "If Howard Dean were president, this man would still be in power."

And in that Bush would be right.

"My core issues, simply, are that I believe that the EU elites are far more corrupt and self-serving than our own - and I distrust ours."

Amen.

O'Hanlon glumly says that he has resigned himself to the thought that ''the Democratic base is probably going to lose the Democrats the election in 2004.''

This is true to the nth degree. I'm a DLC Dem and I am just beyond pissed off at Dean and his supporters, both for being wrong, but worse than that, being so goddamn stupid. Anyone who has a thimble worth of knowledge about history can tell you that FP and military issues kill, just flay, leftwing Democrats. God, the left in this country, these Daily Kos types, they cost Gore in 2000 and they'll do exactly what O'Hanlon says this year. And I'm mad at Gore for his stupid convention speech in 2000 which got this neo-Tom Foleyism running, and for his endorsement of Dean, and his abandonment of any hawkish principles. I'm pissed at Clark for not running as tough as Lieberman, and I'm pissed at Lieberman for being such a bad candidate, and I'm pissed at Bush, too, because I really wanted to vote against him, but I am not going to vote for Dean. My first Presidential election, and I'm not going to be able to vote for any candidate (unless Perot Jr. runs, or something).

The DLC backlash starts now.

(Lewis Black scream)

In theory there ought to be a whole spectrum of possible responses to 9/11. Yet it is very hard not to see them as basically binary-- either you micromanage the problem within the existing world diplomatic framework, which is to say you overthrow the Taliban (but stop there), step up funding for AIDS or whatever, attend a lot of meetings with diplomats, keep sending checks to Egypt... and act surprised when the nuke goes off in Boston Harbor in 2005.

Or you break the rules in an effort to get ahead of the problem. As every management book ever written says, if you don't like the way the game is going, you need to change the rules, the playing field, the objective of the game. The Bushies, with their mostly CEO backgrounds, have done a Steve Jobs on the problem. They're not buying influence with dictators any more, they're building a whole new country in one of the worst old ones. They're scaring the shit out of all the other dictators. Since negotiation with Arafat has just been a con game in the past, they've stopped playing and paying, like a corporation that has finally decided Jesse Jackson doesn't represent anybody and there's no reason to pay him a big fat check to appease black people. They're reshaping the army and killing weapons programs aimed at the last war. Everywhere you look, they're trying something new.

Like their policies or not, it's hard to escape the notion that they're simply several years ahead of the Democrats on what foreign policy is like now. They're making iPods and selling 99 cent songs through iTunes while the Democrats are still trying to prevent music piracy and protect margins on CDs. They're thinking out of the box, to use the number one corporate cliche. Is it really a coincidence that the party that's identified with big corporations is acting as innovatively and daringly as our smartest corporations, while the party that's identified with sluggish, turf-protecting unions and government workers is the one desperately trying to resist change to the foreign policy paradigms of 1945 and 1975? The Democrats will only have a chance to start coming out of this slump when they stop reading Michael Moore-- and start reading Tom Peters.

The only interesting thing about Dean is how he will play the anti-Saudi card. This is one where Bush is vulnerable. Dean could pretend to have a energy independence strategy but such pretence would likely collapse fairly soon since none of Dean's ideas are about this. Dean could have had a 'Bush should have pushed democracy' line but that suffers because Clinton didn't. Also, a lot of people contributing to the Dean campaign are from the 'Israel is the problem' camp. I don't think these people would continue to contribute if Dean said really hard stuff about the Saudis since whatever is true about the Saudis is true to a lesser extent about other Muslim states in the mideast.

The only interesting thing about Dean is how he will play the anti-Saudi card. This is one where Bush is vulnerable. Dean could pretend to have a energy independence strategy but such pretence would likely collapse fairly soon since none of Dean's ideas are about this. Dean could have had a 'Bush should have pushed democracy' line but that suffers because Clinton didn't. Also, a lot of people contributing to the Dean campaign are from the 'Israel is the problem' camp. I don't think these people would continue to contribute if Dean said really hard stuff about the Saudis since whatever is true about the Saudis is true to a lesser extent about other Muslim states in the mideast.

I think you are far too kind to the Traub. For example, taking as given that McGovern was "weak and right" is insulting the majority of us who voted for Nixon because McGovern was weak and, well, weak. See here for more on Vietnam which shows how wrong McGovern really was!

Furthermore, past Democratic administrations, from Johnson onward, have a terrible record on international affairs. They have tried to give away US Sovereignty through treaties, treated our enemies far too lightly, opposed any workable missile defense (with Clinton offering instead a system which cannot work without nuclear warheads, which it is not allowed to use). In the case of Clinton, the administration treated foreign policy as a nuisance except when handy to distract attention from his scandal or when our critical interests were not at stake (Kosovo). The failure of the Democrat regimes in foreign policy can be traced to the stable of academics that they invariable appoint to positions of power. These tend to be idealists with little experience, and furthermore tend to be transnational ideologues. Notice how the Clinton administration treated Bin Laden's terrorism as a criminal problem (missing the whole point), focusing the antiterror apparatus on far less dangerous indigenous terrorists. That administration used the military as an arena for social experimentation, while dramatically reducing its size, moving entire war-critical specialties into the reserves to intentionally make it difficult to fight major wars, prohibiting research on the types of nuclear weapons (4th generation = low yield) that we might very well need to take out WMD installations with minimal civilian casualties, and faking a missile defense which we might soon need against a nuclear missile armed North Korea which might attack us in a spasm of regime collapse.

In other words, the Democrats in general have a structural problem: they are allied with, friends with and derived from the transnational, anti-American intelligencia. Even those with military experience are dubious - Clark is quite clearly a fool and "perfumed prince" who was detested by those in the military who knew him, and fired him from his most important command. Kerry aided the enemy in the Vietnam war by publically demonstrating against the war and throwing his medals over the white house fence, demonstrating that however good a grunt he was, he didn't have a clue about the big picture.

Now that we are in a war which has killed more of our civilians than any since the civil war, and which threatens vastly more killing, we are being asked to turn our defense over to these people! It is no wonder that the neocons went to the Republican strategy - they were inside this machine for a long time and saw its fecklessness.

Great post, Armed Liberal. Here's a suggestion for the Democrats advocating a "nationlist liberalism": demand that the UN hold its members accountable for human rights abuses, and nurture movements like the Council for a Community of Democracies.

I don't think any significant majority of Democrats read Michael Moore or his ilk; despite Dean being in the lead I continue to think that a vast majority of Democrats are sane people who who favor a strong defense but just want things done differently than how Bush is doing it. I might not agree with them, but their voices should be part of the discussion.

The problem is that these people are being crowded out by the Bush Is Evil people who are putting Dean in the lead, and forcing the other candidates to pander to them (did anyone foresee how dovish Clark would be?). Some might say that this is the result of the primary process where only activists and true believers bother to participate, but this problem doesn't seem to infect Republicans. In 1996, when the right wing crazies hate Clinton just as much as Bush is hated by the lefties now, the Republicans ended up with Dole, a mediocre candidate but one who isn't going to set the party back for 5 years (instead of, say, Pat Buchanan). The Democrats need to figure out why their party continually come up with electoral disasters (McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis) while the Republicans don't.

Although a look at any bestseller list would provide ammo for the idea that a lot of Dems are getting ideas from Michael Moore, he was used rhetorically in that last sentence. As for your last sentence, a better version of the same question might be: why did the Republicans get cured of electoral disaster after having one (Goldwater), while the Dems haven't lost their appetite for it after several?

Re Dean's statement "The line of attack will be more, 'What have you done to make us feel safer?'":

What an revealing statement! I would rather have thought the measure would be 'What have you done to make us be safer?' Well, that's a telling commentary on the difference between a politician and a leader, isn't it?

And I can dismiss the World Policy Journal guys just as quickly: once they talk about "humanitarian intervention against genocidal violence" and "family planning" in the same breath, is there the slightest need to continue listening to them? (Clue: the UN's own demographers, none of them neocons as far as we can tell, are expressing surprise at how much faster the fertility rate is decreasing in India and other parts of the developing world than they expected. So we need some vast tranzi family planning program why???)

The last time the Democratic governor of an insignificant state ran for President (in 1992), he criticised Bush 41's foreign policy as being too weak. He promised to get really tough with China, so largely on that basis, I voted for him. Instead he gave away the store (or perhaps sold it, depending on who you believe). He treated terrorists as if they were common criminals, de-funded our military, and drastically undermined our entire human intel effort.

And when he did use our military is was never once with UN 'permission' and was almost always done for domestic political effect. He furthered a cultural and political environment wherein if perchance we /had/ captured all 19 AQ terrorists on 10 September it would have been framed as immigrant-bashing and racial profiling and the majority of his party would have sided with the ACLU in calling for their release.

Absent a wholesale reform of the Democrat party, America should never, never trust them again in matters of security and defence. Certainly I have voted Democrat for the last time. In their current configuration they are a party out of its time and out of ideas (see Strauss & Howe, or Prechter, for details). Figuratively they are trying to duct-tape together anachronistic visions of internationalism, social harmony and naivete that no longer address emerging needs.

American civilians were attacked on our home soil. Until we have absolutely crushed Wahhabism and every structure that supports it, the best thing Democrats can do for America is to stay out of the way and shut up in public. In 4th Generation warfare, your short-sighted statements significantly undermine our nation's war efforts and give substantial comfort to the enemy.

If you can recognize your profound limitations and actually stay out of the way, once the problem has been solved and safer times return, people like me might be willing to trust you once again with the keys to our future. For now, your pervasive hunger for power at any price clearly demonstrates that you are not mature enough to handle such power responsibly if you somehow managed to grab it.

The Democrat party of 2004 is no longer the party of Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, or even Jack Kennedy.
.

Dear A. L.:

As usual you've kicked off an interesting and thought-provoking exchange of ideas. After reading the original article and your precis and commentary, it's clear that there are some unstated and, I believe, incorrect assumptions in both the article and your commentary.

First, GWB's policies do not represent the far right. They are the moderate position. Jacksonian America would already have turned much of the Middle East into radioactive glass (NOT my position BTW--but that position is probably more widely held than the Democratic party believes in their wildest nightmares). In this context it's really rather remarkable how measured the responses of the Administration have been to 9/11. I chalk it up to near-panic on the part of Hamiltonians in the Administration.

Second, the problem with multilateralism as it currently seems to be construed (i.e. the UN) is that there is little or no empirical evidence that it is effective. As the late Mayor Daley used to say "Let's look at the record". The UN has not prevented genocide or created a stable state anywhere. The UN still has troops pretty much anywhere they've been sent in the last ten years. The only thing the UN has really demonstrated effectiveness in is employing diplomats.

I happen to agree with Dave Schuler, President Bush moderated the response that probably the majority of the Country felt should happen within weeks of 9/11. Thank god that he didnt act out the fury of the Jacksonians, he is carefully moderating the fury of the country and moving deliberately.

Will this mean that we wont be attacked again...nope. But no one could promise that the attacks would stop. Only by surrendering can we have the attacks stop and since I have a marvelous wife 2 daughters and a son I have a stake in winning this war. I have no desire to see Islam spread across the globe...my daughters are too beautiful to be hidden behind burkas.

The way to victory is to harness the fury with patience and to contine to move against any nation that supports terror.

The President said it best.
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

PAPADOC

A.L.

John Moore is correct in his observation that the Democrats have a structural problem. It isn't just a matter of national security awareness. It is a result of fund raising and the Democratic Party's dominant Government-client party meme.

Damn the Religious Right as much as you want too A.L., but they are the ones responsible for today's Republican position of dominance. The Right Wing Evangelical Church fund raising by small contributor subscription model was adopted by the Republican state and national party organizations in the early 1970's after Watergate. It has made sure a large number of contributors to the Republican party are middle class. Thus the Republican Party -- outside of California anyway -- is far more reality based because their money givers are.

Democrats fund raising is based on getting the "one big score" from rich guys like George Soros or big media, financial institutions (like S&L's) or Big Business (Archer Daniels Midland) or big labor. Those interests are far removed from the middle class. They are interests who are clients of government. Point in fact, the Democratic Party is dominated by the government-client model and relationship to the exclusion of all other relationships.

This shows up in national security in more than one way. It is easier for Democrats to grand stand as Dean has done on Foreign and National Security policy than to address the interlocking government-client relationships inside the party.

Second, the Democratic Party, by alienating rural small town people, and Southerners in general,in pursuit of their urban government-client relationships have lost complete touch with the non-career military. The 10% of the American population that is small town rural provide something like 40% of the enlisted ranks in our military. Those people are either non-political poor folks using the military as a form of social mobility or they are rock rib Republican if they are middle class. Neither of whom, BTW, are clients of government.

This is a really important point. How many children of teachers are serving military compared to the general population? The answer is "Very Few." That is a consistent theme with most of the "government-client dependent." The Democratic party, due to the reality of a small, expensive, professional military is demographically isolated from the human consequence of screwed up foreign and National Security policy. Further, they view any money spent on standing forces, their training or equipment as a theft of resources that should be going to the "needy" AKA their government-clients.

The problem this year with the Democrats is that the DLC types tried to do a Republican style primary season to keep out people like Dean. It failed because Dean adopted the Republican mass market fundraising model and updated it to internet speed. This model holds the hope of eventually liberating the Democratic Party from the government-client meme. Unfortunately for Democrats, DEAN's mass fundraising base is dominated by the activists in the government-client axis and they are functional Transnational Progressives in the area of Foreign and National Security policy.

As I said about them in an earlier post here:

Dead and Damned -- Democrats after 9/11
http://windsofchange.net/archives/003510.html

...They are the mind children of the people President Truman ran out of the Democratic Party in 1948. They came back to power in 1972-74 with the McGovern primary victory and the aftermath of Watergate. They make up the vast majority of Democratic political activists today.

This dominant Democratic faction is opposed to nationalism, any nationalism, most especially American nationalism and the ordered liberty that arises from it. The Democratic Party's devotion to senseless forms of both domestic multi-culturalism and foreign policy multilateralism can be seen as a political allergic reaction to American nationalism. There can be no "American Exceptionalism" in any sense of the word for them. This worldview cannot acknowledge either federalism or anything political outside the USA, as Michael Totten recently noted about his fellow liberals.

Today's "Democratic liberals" are big central government statists who are functional isolationists. As such, a political party run by them can provide neither national security nor long term economic prosperity, with that faction's devotion to a multi-cultural/anti-nationalist/anti-American, isolationist, and centralized regulatory state.

One more thing, these activists don't believe that war on terror is real. This is something from Andrew Sullivan that was dropped in the comments section of this post:

Going Off the Cliff -- Democrats in 2004
http://windsofchange.net/archives/003808.html

Sullivan URL:
http://andrewsullivan.com/index.php?dish_inc=archives/2003_07_20_dish_archive.html#105893464231917639

THE PRE-9/11 MIND: The more I read emails or talk to anti-war types, I get a sense that 9/11 never really happened. Or if it happened, it meant nothing more than a discrete crime with discrete criminals who alone deserved justice. The notion that it meant that we were and are actually at war with a series of terrorist entities and the tyrannies that support them never truly took hold on the far left (or right). As the months have passed, their complacency and denial have undoubtedly metastasized among others as 9/11 recedes from our collective consciousness and its emotional wound begins to heal. These people, it's worth remembering, believe that the exercise of American military power is almost always more morally problematic than any foreign tyranny or even a serious security threat to the homeland. They can only justify American military power if it is wielded under imminent, grave danger that can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. That's why they are so exercised about tiny pieces of evidence today. They still believe we were wrong to remove Saddam from power without incontrovertible proof of WMDs of a type unobtainable in police states; they still believe America had no moral sanction for such an action; and they are even more determined to prove the superiority of their case now that the war was such a military success. So they have to turn the fallible evidence before the war into "lies"; and they have to turn the difficult but worthy post-war reconstruction into a "quagmire." They know the only chance they have is to turn American public opinion against the war so as to prevent any such exercise of military power again. In that sense, they really cannot simply be mocked. They must be challenged at every turn. For they are engaged in a process that will not only stymie efforts at reforming the Middle East but will make Americans and others more vulnerable to the designs of the Islamofascists and their terrorist allies. The war abroad cannot therefore be extricated from the debate at home. We will not win the former without winning the latter.
- 12:30:51 AM”

The end result of these structural problems for the Democratic Party is that they have played exclusionary games for so long there isn't a constituency in the party for strong assertive national security policy. Even serious on national security candidates like Lieberman and Clark are forced to mouth the activist's fantasy ideology cant to get traction in the primaries and the money game leading up to them.

Tom Holsinger said the following about the fall out of all this in the comments section WRT long term Democratic prospects. I have very little to add to it:

IMO the thing to watch for is how sectional the Democratic Party becomes. The Federalists went down because they first became a sectional party, and then tainted themselves with treason at Hartford. I’m thinking more of the red/blue split than the South – the GOP had nothing in the South for more than a hundred years and did just fine. The sectional divide right now, though, seems more based on religion, and that is ominous for the Democrats as the rapidly growing Hispanic vote is so devout. Religious divides in American politics are often sectional based. If the Democrats are frozen out of the West in general, other than the coast, as well as the South they will be in peril.

Experience here in California indicates that third parties can get started – what is necessary is that one party has to self-destruct. The California GOP is third behind the Greens in some counties because it was taken over by the anti-abortion single-issue faction, who then played exclusionary games. State Republican parties in other states have had major rows with this faction and now point to California as a horrible example of what happens if they win.

The real threat to the Democrats, however, is the timing of their activist base eruption. It is not uncommon for a barking moonbat faction to seize control of a party temporarily, paint themselves blue, howl at the moon, slobber in public, urinate on carpets and generally repulse the majority of voters. But right now we’re at war and siding against the nation is dangerous. I agree with Trent that the Democrats are dead for 2004. The danger is that they might be damned thereafter if their party both becomes tainted with treason a la the Federalists, and becomes sectional based a la the Federalists.

The Republicans would have been in big trouble 1942-44 if their isolationist wing had continued to oppose American participation in World War Two.

A.L., you said the following in response to my Dead and Damned post:

Trent, want to make this a bit interesting?? I think the Dems will lose the White House in '04 - but it is going to be fairly close. The DLC controls the levers of cash, and McKinney and Sharpton will provide the Sistah Soljah's needed for the eventual candidates to push to the center.

The war in the M.E. is going to be in that difficult long-term phase, requiring patience and sacrifice - something I haven;t seen in long supply from the GOP leadership.

Dinner at Arthur Bryant's on the loser??

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal on May 30, 2003 07:03 AM

Whose political predictions do you think have held up better since May 2003? Mine or yours?

OT: in the tiral of Saddam, what if we did it in two phases:

First, before trying him "politically" for war crimes etc, have him stand trial on a few of his "personal" crimes: i.e. those where Saddam himself carried out the deed. Pick some that are obivously non-political (e.g. rape & murder) and that are also particularly heinous.

Let Iraqis try him on those charges, too. Domestic crimes such as rape & murder should clearly be handled in Iraq. In a fair trial, Saddam would be convicted & sentenced to death.

Which would effectively render moot his opportunity to showboat in the subsequent political trial. Not only would the previous convictions further discredit him, there would be less reason for other countries to offer him diplomatic support.

In fact, if they are worried about what he might reveal (and I suspect that they are) they would likely cheer on his political trial to the speediest conclusion possible, followed by the swiftest execution. All of it taking place in Iraq.

Can you say "third party?"

"My core issues, simply, are that I believe that the EU elites are far more corrupt and self-serving than our own - and I distrust ours."

And we now have 9 dem candidates advocating for some version of a national single payer healthcare system that has failed miserably everywhere, depsite what that loon Moore says. 9 candidates squeeling about Teddy Kennedy's HMO's like they were some evil Republican invention rather that a half step to socialized medicine with all the same problems. Joy. Yes please force into a healthcare system where I get loose half my income to go to the SSA administered HMO of some bureaucrat's choosing so that I may long for the care I recieved when I was destitute and uninsured.

Just abandon the Democrat party to the Michael Moores and other unrepentant stalinist scum and stake out positions which do not create an all powerful federal government.

Re: O'Hanlon's nightmare

Bad Attitudes has an awesome response for Dean here.

Too much is being focused in Iraq, and how much the Dems are worried about losing over it. There are tons of other issues to cover.

Not really. Market forces will take care of a lot of those "other issues" better than politics anyway. Foreign policy and national security is THE issue this year, and the Dems are doomed.

Bad Attitude's response linked above didn't impress me much. Since it's a combination of lies and bad left-wing arguments, I don't think such an argument would win Dean any new fans.

I imagine that most readers here already recognize the problems with BA's response, but anyhow, it's a lie that it's a tradition that presidents attend individual soldiers' funerals, it's a lie that it was a tradition to have ceremonies for arriving caskets, and it's a lie that Bush ended the so-called tradition.

Also, BA puts forth the "we supported Saddam in the past, so we must do nothing now" argument, which isn't just unpersuasive but inane, asserts falsely that Saddam's massive violations against his own people ended more than ten years ago, and asserts falsely that Clinton's strategy to disarm and contain Saddam worked.

I would also dispute the assertions that Canada is our best friend in the world, that the UN inspections worked, and that we have "abandoned our allies".

Power will be returned to a provisional Iraqi government this summer; Saddam goes on trial in September or early October; it will be the sort of courtroom drama that TV eats up.

And where does this provisional government come from? Two weeks later, the Iraq Civil War breaks out. Our remaining troops (and there will be many of them) are targeted by all sides who wish to go mano-a-mano with the other Iraqi factions. Our trial plans for Saddam aren't going to well; no one can pick a suitable venue. Meanwhile, it looks like his worst massacres all occurred right around when he was our ally, as his defense counsel prepares to point out. (AFAIK, we won't be ready for the Saddam trial on the suggested timetabe anyway.)

God, the left in this country, these Daily Kos types, they cost Gore in 2000 and they'll do exactly what O'Hanlon says this year.

Which 2000 candidate derided nation-building? Which took the more isolationist foreign policy position?

The Bushies, with their mostly CEO backgrounds, have done a Steve Jobs on the problem.

That's priceless. The Bushies represent the absolute worst in American CEO tradition. Cooked budget numbers from Ken Lay. Spurious results from Al Dunlap. Dean and Clark are the OOTB thinkers in campaign structure, whatever you might think of their policies.

All the major Democratic candidates could be considered nationalist liberals... With the very important exception of Iraq, the major candidates hold essentially the same views. Hawkishness or dovishness on Iraq thus does not correlate with some larger difference in worldview, as, for example, the left and right views on Vietnam once did.

What it correlates with is whether or not they are lying sacks of shit. If you opposed President Bush using the US military to overthrow Saddam for reasons of principle rather than political expediency, then there exists no place where you can justify using American military power to make the world a better place (we had a fascist dictator, who has started wars of conquest, backed terrorists, and murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people, occasionally using chemical weapons, under UN Sanctions for violating the truce he'd signed, and then failed to follow. If you can't attack him, you can't attack anyone).

Greg --

Surely you can; the principle is that the US needs to give up its sovereignity and ask for permission before acting.

Exactly from whom is not clear though. In the case of Dr. Dean, he would have asked the UN for permission to invade Iraq, but claims he supported the Balkan wars despite the lack of UN permission, so it doesn't strike me as much of a principle. Or maybe the principle is just too nuanced to be described in words.

And where does this provisional government come from? Two weeks later, the Iraq Civil War breaks out. Our remaining troops (and there will be many of them) are targeted by all sides who wish to go mano-a-mano with the other Iraqi factions. Our trial plans for Saddam aren't going to well; no one can pick a suitable venue. Meanwhile, it looks like his worst massacres all occurred right around when he was our ally, as his defense counsel prepares to point out. (AFAIK, we won't be ready for the Saddam trial on the suggested timetabe anyway.)

Hey, look, I just found what's wrong with the Democratic Party!

Maybe you could tell me from what evidence you infer that Saddam stopped massacring his people when we stop being his ally. Short of your producing any evidence that "it looks like his worst massacres all occurred right around when he was our ally", I'm going to dismiss it and the rest of the screed as wishful thinking.

PS Mano-a-mano means "hand to hand", not "man to man". I don't think it'd be that bad if Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds take out their aggression with boxing.

Hei Lun Chan: all the evidence of use of chemical weapons dates to the Iran-Iraq War, when we were somewhat favoring Saddam as better than the Ayatollahs. And there were mass killings after the Gulf War, but since then, I think it was just the standard murderous police state. The idiomatic meaning of mano a mano, BTW, is in direct competition. ¿Comprende?

I find it very interesting that President Bush did not find Greg's rationale for invading Iraq adequate (at least publically), and invented others, which were unfortunately (I suppose) based on fictions, forgeries, and lies.

Very good posts! Keep in mind that the anti-war left is performing a valuable strategic service in this war (and I am not kidding): they are giving comfort to an enemy that will hopefully choose not to commit terror against our citizens because they know that lack of terror might cause our electorate to vote for lefties again. If Gore had been allowed to claim his "victory" in the 2000 election, Pakistan would have given their nuclear umbrella to the Taliban and Saddam by threatening Gore with massive retaliation if we "touched another Muslim country" after 9-11. Our enemies can only wish now that a Gore-backed leftie wins again...and they feel they can help accomplish this by killing one or two of our soldiers per day but only in Iraq. Our enemies know that the killing of American civilians (or soldiers outside Iraq) will only help the Republican's chances of winning next November. Of course, our smarter enemies and all smart people realize that the Democrats have a 0% chance of winning next November no matter what happens...but that is beside the point. :-)

Plus, its important to note that Dean would be no typical leftie if he somehow achieved office. He only says he was against the Iraq War. This isn't true and its just a rhetorical question for him anyway. Dean, unlike Clark, would not treat terrorism as a criminal issue: he would try to crush Wahhabism aggressively and preemptively. Dean is a Manchurian Candidate...only one that has no chance of winning simply because his position on the Iraq War is weak and wrong.

By the way, to clean up a few things...

Reason #1 for the Iraq War: to replace Sunni dominance of the Mideast with Shiite dominance, thus altering 1300 years of Islamic history more than the Crusades ever did. This irreversible move should have the same ultimate effect as the crushing of Nazi Germany and Bushido Japan. Shiite dominance will not only be political now: it will involve the Shiites controlling all of the Middle East's oil. Note the recent Saudi regional elections...Shiites dominate in the parts of Saudi Arabia that have oil. The Sunnis have been crushed already...an irreversible payback for 9-11...unless the USA does the reversing, which would involve Al Qaeda scrambling to be friends with the USA again the way Wahhabists were when communism was their biggest enemy.

Also, the Far Left forgets that the anti-war movement in Vietnam was fueled initially by the Sexual Revolution being more of a priority for young men than fighting for one's country, not any ideological problem with war itself. After World War Two, the American male was "Europeanized" and wanted to see sexual liberation in our own society. Their goals were not realized by the Mid-Sixties when most American women were predominantly Republican and anti-sex. Why should single men have fought for a society where the Republicans' daughters were "unavailable." Dean was very smart the other day when he condemned Bush for his "abstinence-only" sex education policy...smart single guys should see the overt threat in such a policy.

If Dean could reverse his position on the Iraq War and support Richard Perle's neoconservatism, I would vote for him simply because he shows a good attitude about premarital sex. Our country needs to move in the direction of socially moderate conservatism, ala Schwarzeneger.

Jim,

Could the fact that the Republican daughters were "unavailable" have to do with the unavailability of the pill in the late 40s?

Omitting this fact forms a most peculiar analysis.

Reading the comments here (an armed conservative :) ) it's neat to see intelligent discussion about the Democratic party, rather than the "OMG BUSHIES ARE NAZIS" ranting on IMC and it's ilk.

While I vote Republican, I am certainly not above voting Democrat - but all the candidates you guys have suck. In fact, most of the party sucks, even worse than most of the Republicans. The core of the Dems are certainly reasonable people, but in order to gain votes the republican party would never get, and gain an advantage, the Dems have pandered to a very vocal leftist minority that middle America just can't see itself aligned with. My wife's aunt is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, but I just can't see her standing arm in arm some of the card-carrying Communists who'd like to turn the U.S. into some E.U. experiment in social control.

Dems have the unions, the teachers, and the minority vote (except the Hispanic vote, I guess), and even AARP. That's a lot of votes.

Divest yourselves of the Anti-America and disarmament-at-any-cost types and get back to your roots, and the Republicans wouldn't have a chance. Where are your Trumans?

This observation is right on the money:
***************************************
"My core issues, simply, are that I believe that the EU elites are far more corrupt and self-serving than our own - and I distrust ours. I think that the UN has squandered it's legitimacy as it dignifies murderous kleptocrats with votes matching those of countries with legitimately chosen (or at least imposed over a long term) governments which have some legitimacy beyond the barrel of a secret policeman's gun."
***************************************

Can I get an AMEN?

"I don't think any significant majority of Democrats read Michael Moore or his ilk; despite Dean being in the lead I continue to think that a vast majority of Democrats are sane people who who favor a strong defense but just want things done differently than how Bush is doing it."

A "vast majority" cannot be "crowded out" of any fair electoral process. If there were even a slim majority of Democrats who were not anti-WoT, they would be able to override any of the other segments of the Democratic party.

The fact is, there are a number of pluralities in the Democratic party, who split up the vote several ways. The reasonable Democrats who favor a strong national defense and only disagree with Bush in how it should be done, are not a majority, but one of several minorities within the Party, and they are being "crowded out" by many other demographic groups that have, for various reasons, decided the Democratic party motto should be "Peace at any price."

Reading Lazarus' anger ideas you can see why the Dems are in trouble. Reason is beyond their ability anymore and he and they fit all of A.L.'s stereotypes.

So like Lazarus I too would like to make a few predictions concerning the future because I have that same ability as Lazarus does. So here goes. Ahem, when end of the world comes a Democrat will be President of the United States, a Canadian will be the Secretary General of the United States, a smarmy Frenchman will head NATO, and Jeanne Garafalo will be the centerfold in Hustler magazine. Oh and Michael Moore will finally bathe.

I see there was "too much reality" in my last comment for any one to reply to it. Let's see if I can match that performance again.

A General Observation:

DLC aligned Candidate Gov. Bill Clinton of 1992 could not win this election cycle's 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination.

Nor could Candidate Vice President Albert Gore of 2000.

That is how far the Democratic primary nominating electorate has moved to the left.

That is why 2004 is going to make 1994 look like a Gust Front for this year's main electoral event.

Does anyone remember Clark's allegations concerning 9/11 and his being asked by the WH to lie about it being connected to Iraq? What have the Dems said about this?
Clark as a military strategist? Isn't this the guy who wanted to start an all out battle with the Soviets over control of the airport in Kosovo?

Bradley now endorses Dean!!! Is this the beginning of an attempt by Dems to rid the party of the Clintons influence? If so, how will the attack continue and just what will happen if it is successful? Say what you like about Clinton - he is still a powerful campaigner and skilful politician.

Trent, it's not just the 1992 candidate Clinton's wilingness to use force abroad which would keep him from getting a 2004 Democratic nomination. His 1992 inclusive message would too. This is the year for angry Democrats. They don't want to hear what Clinton said in 1992:

"We've gotten to where we've nearly them'd ourselves to death. Them, and them, and them. But this is America. There is no them; there is only us."

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/speeches/clinton.dir/c2.txt

"This country is being killed by people who try to break us down, and tear us down and make us little when we have to be big."

http://www.aegis.com/news/lt/1992/LT920505.html

The Democratic Party has changed a lot since 1992, since 1996, and even since 2000.

Trent, it's quite possible that having 9 candidates in the primary merely enables a more lefty candidate to split the centrists. In this scenario the Dems don't have to move left as a whole very much at all. I agree that there's been a leftward movement, but I also think you would have seen a different dynamic if it had been a two or three-man primary.

praktike,

The problem for the Democrats this year is that they have decided to be the party of upper class white male hate.

Clinton wasn't that. Nor was Gore. Neither could win this year because of it.

It is as if the Democrats -- after having discovered the internet as an organizing tool equivalent to the Republicans using talk radio in 1994 -- have decided to use the 1994 Republican strategy electoral strategy of hate as an organizing principle for 2004.

The difference between now and then is several fold. First, is it a Presidential election cycle and not an off year election. Second, we are at war. Third, Republicans didn't have the past baggage of Vietnam that Democrats do. The General public is paying attention and Democrats hate of Bush is making them align with the enemies of the USA.

The Democratic center has collapsed. Centerist Democrats have no candidates and they are repulsed by their choices in the General Election. This is a perscription for a large number of voters to check out of politics completely for several election cycles.

We also have with Dean a recognition that the organizational barrier to entry for creating a national party organization has falled radically.

This is the historical perscription for collapse of the Democrats and the creation of a new major American political party.

The Democratic center has collapsed. Centerist Democrats have no candidates and they are repulsed by their choices in the General Election.

Look at the numbers again, Trent. Dean plus Kooch does not a majority of Democratic primary voters make. Clark is trending upwards of late.

I'm a little tired of the bulls**t about Bush's "lies" leading to the invasion of Iraq. "Lying" is by definition deliberately saying something one knows is untrue. Arguably, Bush had faulty intelligence before the war (although I believe the jury's still out on Iraqi WMD). But before the war everybody "knew" Saddam had WMD. Everybody. The French knew it; the Russians knew it; the UN knew it; Saddam's own damned army knew it. The only controversy at the time was what to do about it. The intelligence Bush had may (and I emphasize may) have been wrong. He may have presented the evidence he had in the most favorable light for the policy he thought necessary (who, democrat or republican, would not have), but none of that amounts to lying. The fact that WMD have not been found in Iraq means one of two things: a) they are extremely well hidden or b) they are not there. Neither is hard evidence, much less proof, that Bush lied about WMD.

The foregoing was in response to Andrew Lazarus' contention that Bush's rationale for invading Iraq was based on "forgeries, fictions, and lies." While I'm at it, I'd like to add one more comment. As I said, I think the jury's still out on WMD, but frankly, I don't care if there are or ever were WMD in Iraq. The invasion was the right thing to do because it scared the hell out of folks like the Iranian Mullahs, Bashar Assad, and Gaddafi. For me, that fact alone justifies the war.

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