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How America Went Rogue


America's Shadow Wars

America's Shadow Wars

What We All Need to Know About Our Government’s Shadow Wars

Reagan’s shadow government was a disaster, but it was a pygmy compared with Obama’s.

April 22, 2012   The Nation / By Juan Cole

Covert operations are nothing new in American history, but it could be argued that during the past decade they have moved from being a relatively minor arrow in the national security quiver to being the cutting edge of American power. Drone strikes, electronic surveillance and stealth engagements by military units such as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), as well as dependence on private corporations, mercenary armies and terrorist groups, are now arguably more common as tools of US foreign policy than conventional warfare or diplomacy. But these tools lend themselves to rogue operations that create peril for the United States when they blow back on us. And they often make the United States deeply unpopular.

Shadow power has even become an issue in the presidential campaign. Newt Gingrich advocates ramped-up “covert operations” inside Iran. President Obama replied to Mitt Romney’s charge that he is an “appeaser” by suggesting that his critics “ask bin Laden” about that.

Obama often speaks of the “tide of war receding,” but that phrase refers only to conventional war. In Afghanistan, where the administration hopes to roll up conventional fighting by the end of 2013, it is making plans for long-term operations by special forces through units such as JSOC. It is unclear what legal framework will be constructed for their activities, other than a wink and a nod from President Hamid Karzai.

Although the Iraqis managed to compel the withdrawal of US troops by the end of last year, Washington is nevertheless seeking to remain influential through shadow power. The US embassy in Baghdad has 16,000 employees, most of them civilian contractors. They include 2,000 diplomats and several hundred intelligence operatives. By contrast, the entire US Foreign Service corps comprises fewer than 14,000. The Obama administration has decided to slash the number of contractors, planning for an embassy force of “only” 8,000. This monument to shadow power clearly is not intended merely to represent US interests in Iraq but rather to shape that country and to serve as a command center for the eastern reaches of the greater Middle East. The US shadow warriors will, for instance, attempt to block “the influence of Iran,” according to the Washington Post. Since Iraq’s Shiite political parties, which dominate Parliament and the cabinet, are often close to Iran, that charge would inescapably involve meddling in internal Iraqi politics.

Nor can we be sure that the CIA will engage only in espionage or influence-peddling in Iraq. The American shadow government routinely kidnaps people it considers dangerous and has sent them to black sites for torture, often by third-party governments to keep American hands clean. As usual with the shadow government, private corporations have been enlisted to help in these “rendition” programs, which are pursued outside the framework of national and international law and in defiance of the sensibilities of our allies. How the United States might behave in Iraq can be extrapolated from its recent behavior in other allied countries. In November 2009 an Italian court convicted in absentia twenty-three people, most of them CIA field officers who had kidnapped an alleged Al Qaeda recruiter, Abu Omar, on a Milan street in the middle of the day and sent him to Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt for “interrogation.” Obama has explicitly continued this practice as a “counterterrorism tool,” though he says torture has been halted. Iraq is likely to continue to be an arena of such veiled struggles.

The Obama administration’s severe unilateral sanctions on Iran and attempts to cut that country off from the world banking system have a shadow power aspect. Aimed at crippling Iran’s oil exports, they are making it difficult for Iran to import staples like wheat. Although Washington denies carrying out covert operations in Iran, the US government and allies like Israel are suspected of doing just that. According to anonymous US intelligence officials and military sources interviewed by The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, the United States has trained members of the MEK (Mojahedin-e Khalq, or People’s Jihadis), based in Iraq at Camp Ashraf, to spy on Iran and carry out covert operations there, just as Saddam Hussein had done, though any American support for the organization would directly contradict the State Department listing of it as a terrorist organization. The MEK is suspected of carrying out a string of assassinations against Iranian nuclear scientists, but US intelligence leaks say Israel’s Mossad, not the CIA, is the accomplice. Indeed, the difficulty of disentangling Washington’s shadow power from that of its junior partners can be seen in the leak by US intelligence complaining that Mossad agents had impersonated CIA field officers in recruiting members of the Jundullah terrorist group in Iranian Baluchistan for covert operations against Iran. Jundullah, a Sunni group, has repeatedly bombed Shiite mosques in Zahedan and elsewhere in the country’s southeast. Needless to say, the kind of overt and covert pressure Obama is putting on Iran could easily, even if inadvertently, spark a war.

The recent release of more than 5 million e-mails hacked from the server of the private intelligence firm Stratfor shows that it did more than analysis. It engaged in surveillance and intelligence activities on behalf of corporate sponsors. Dow Chemical, for example, hired Stratfor to monitor a protest group agitating on the issue of the catastrophic 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India, which killed at least 3,500. WikiLeaks maintains that Stratfor exemplifies the “revolving door” between private intelligence firms and the US government agencies that share information with them.

The increasingly frequent use of civilian “security contractors” — essentially mercenaries — should be a sore point for Americans. The tens of thousands of mercenaries deployed in Iraq were crucial to the US occupation of that country, but they also demonstrate the severe drawbacks of using shadow warriors. Ignorance about local attitudes, arrogance and lack of coordination with the US military and with local police and military led to fiascoes such as the 2007 shootings at Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where Blackwater employees killed seventeen Iraqis. The Iraqi government ultimately expelled Blackwater, even before it did the same with the US military, which had brought the contractors into their country.

* * *

The bad feelings toward the United States generated by hired guns can also be seen in the infamous Raymond Davis incident in Lahore, Pakistan. On January 27, 2011, Davis, a CIA contractor, was waiting at a traffic light when two Pakistanis pulled up next to him on a motorcycle. Davis, who later alleged that one of them had a gun, became alarmed and shot the men. The driver survived the initial volley and tried to run away, but Davis shot him twice in the back. Instead of fleeing the scene, he spent time searching and then photographing the bodies and calling the US consulate for an extraction team. Undercover CIA field officers raced toward the site of the shooting in a consulate SUV, hoping to keep Davis out of the hands of Pakistani authorities, who were approaching, sirens blaring. In its haste, the extraction team killed a motorcyclist and failed in its mission. Davis was taken into custody. His cellphone yielded the identities of some forty-five members of his covert network in Pakistan, who were also arrested.

The incident provoked rolling street demonstrations and enraged Pakistanis, who are convinced that the country is crawling with such agents. Davis was jailed and charged with double homicide, and only released months later, when a Persian Gulf oil monarchy allegedly paid millions on behalf of the United States to the families (in Islamic law, families of a murder victim may pardon the murderer on payment of a satisfactory sum). It was a public relations debacle for Washington, of course, but the salient fact is that a US public servant shot two Pakistanis (likely not terrorists) in cold blood, one of them in the back.

American drone strikes on individuals and groups in the tribal belt of northwestern Pakistan, as well as in Yemen, also typify Washington’s global shadow wars. The United States has 7,000 unmanned aerial vehicles, which it has deployed in strikes in six countries. Both the CIA and the US military operate the drones. Rather than being adjuncts to conventional war, drone strikes are mostly carried out in places where no war has been declared and no Status of Forces Agreement has been signed. They operate outside the framework of the Constitution, with no due process or habeas corpus, recalling premodern practices of the English monarchy, such as declaring people outlaws, issuing bills of attainder against individuals who offend the crown and trying them in secret Star Chamber proceedings.

Despite President Obama’s denials, the Britain-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that not only are civilians routinely killed by US drone strikes in northern Pakistan; often people rushing to the scene of a strike to help the wounded are killed by a second launch. The BIJ estimates that the United States has killed on the order of 3,000 people in 319 drone strikes, some 600 of them civilian bystanders and 174 of those, children. Some 84 percent of all such strikes were launched after Obama came to office.

Moreover, the drone operations are classified. When asked about strikes, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refuses to confirm or deny that they have occurred. The drones cannot be openly debated in Congress or covered in any detail by the US media. Therefore, they cannot be the subject of a national political debate, except in the abstract. The Congressional intelligence committees are briefed on the program, but it is unlikely that any serious checks and balances can operate in so secret and murky a realm, and the committees’ leaders have complained about the inadequacy of the information they are given. No hearing could be called about them, since the drone strikes cannot be publicly confirmed. Classified operations create gods, above the law.

* * *

The WikiLeaks State Department cables reveal that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh secretly authorized US drone strikes, pledging to take the blame from their angry publics. But a private conversation with a single leader, repeatedly denied thereafter in public, is hardly a treaty. The only international legal doctrine (recognized in the United Nations charter) invoked to justify drone strikes is the right of the United States to defend itself from attack. But it cannot be demonstrated that any drone strike victims had attacked, or were in a position to attack, the United States. Other proposed legal justifications also falter.

The doctrine of “hot pursuit” does not apply in Yemen or Somalia, and often does not apply in Pakistan, either. The only due process afforded those killed from the air is an intelligence assessment, possibly based on dubious sources and not reviewed by a judge. Those targeted are typically alleged to belong to Al Qaeda, the Taliban or some kindred group, and apparently thought to fall under the mandate of the September 14, 2001, Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force by the president against those behind the September 11 attacks and those who harbored them. The AUMF could probably legitimately be applied to Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Al Qaeda faction, which still plots against the United States. But a new generation of Muslim militants has arisen, far too young to be implicated in 9/11 and who may have rethought that disastrous strategy.

Increasingly, moreover, “Al Qaeda” is a vague term somewhat arbitrarily applied by Washington to regional groups involved in local fundamentalist politics, as with the Partisans of Sharia, the Yemeni militants who have taken over the city of Zinjibar, or expatriate Arab supporters in Pakistan of the Haqqani network of Pashtun fighters — former allies of the United States in their struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. How long will the AUMF be deployed in the Muslim world to authorize cowboy tactics from the skies? There is no consistency, no application of the rule of law. Guilt by association and absence of due process are the hallmarks of shadow government. In September the Obama administration used a drone to kill a US citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki. But since the Supreme Court had already ruled, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), that the AUMF could not authorize military tribunals for Guantánamo detainees that sidestepped civil due process — and since the subsequent Military Commissions Act of 2006 allows such tribunals only for aliens — it is hard to see how Awlaki’s right to a trial could be summarily abrogated. Two weeks after he was killed, his 16-year-old son, also a US citizen and less obviously a menace to the superpower, was also killed by a drone.

By contrast, the United States and its allies are sanguine about a figure like the Libyan Abdel Hakim Belhadj, now in charge of security in Tripoli, who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union and was later held in US black sites. Released, he emerged as a rebel leader in Libya last year. The circumstantial case against him would easily allow a US drone strike on him even now under the current rules, but he was rehabilitated because of his enmity toward Muammar el-Qaddafi.

* * *

Among the greatest dangers to American citizens from Washington’s shadow power is “blowback,” the common term for a covert operation that boomerangs on its initiator. Arguably, the Reagan administration marked a turning point in the history of US infatuation with shadow power. Reagan strong-armed King Fahd of Saudi Arabia into providing funds to the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua, and the president developed his own resources for the Contras by illegally selling weapons to Iran (despite its being on the terrorist watch list and ineligible for such sales). Washington also joined Fahd in giving billions of dollars of arms and aid to the fundamentalist mujahedeen in Afghanistan (“freedom fighters,” Reagan called them, “the equivalent of America’s founding fathers”), where Arab volunteers ultimately coalesced into Al Qaeda. They later used the tradecraft they had absorbed from CIA-trained Afghan colleagues to stage operations in the Middle East against US allies and to carry out the 9/11 attacks. Two allied groups that received massive aid from the Reagan administration became among the deadliest US enemies in Afghanistan after 2002: the Haqqani network and the Hizb-i-Islami. Blowback goes hand in hand with covert operations.

The use of mercenaries and black units by the US government undermines discipline, lawfulness and a strong and consistent chain of command. Regular armies can be deployed and then demobilized, but Al Qaeda-like networks, once created, cannot be rolled up so easily, and they often turn against former allies. Black intelligence and military operations with virtually no public oversight can easily go rogue.

Reagan’s shadow government was a disaster, but it was a pygmy compared with Obama’s. Americans will have to be prepared for much more blowback to come if we go on like this — not to mention further erosion of civil liberties at home, as the shadow government reaches back toward us from abroad. (Electronic surveillance without a warrant and the militarization of our police forces are cases in point.) Moreover, the practices associated with the shadow government, because of the rage they provoke, deepen mistrust of Washington and reduce the international cooperation that the United States, like all countries, needs. The shadow government masquerades as a way to keep the United States strong, but if it is not rolled back, it could fatally weaken American diplomacy.


Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Professor of History and the director of the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan. His latest book, Engaging the Muslim World, is available in a revised paperback edition from Palgrave Macmillan. He runs the Informed Comment website.

Copyright © 2012 The Nation – distributed by Agence Global

Stories by Juan Cole

Juan Cole is a professor of history at the University of Michigan and maintains the popular blog Informed Comment.

How America Went Rogue: What We All Need to Know About Our Government’s Shadow Wars

Posted on Apr 22, 2012, Source: The Nation

Reagan’s shadow government was a disaster, but it was a pygmy compared with Obama’s.

Why Washington’s Iran Policy Could Lead to Global Disaster

Posted on Apr 12, 2012, Source: TomDispatch.com

What history should teach us about blockading Iran.

10 Catholic Teachings Conservatives Reject While Obsessing About Birth Control

Posted on Feb 13, 2012, Source: JuanCole.com

Santorum and Gingrich are both Catholics, and wear their faith on their sleeves, but they are hypocritical in picking and choosing when they wish to listen to the bishops.

How Students Landed on the Front Lines of Class War

Posted on Nov 23, 2011, Source: Truthdig

University students find themselves victimized by the same neoliberal agenda that has created the current economic crisis.

What Norway’s Terrorist Has in Common With the American Tea Party and Right Wing

Posted on Jul 24, 2011, Source: Informed Comment

Why seeing the world in black and white is so dangerous.

Police Downloading Your Data off Your Phone After Pulling You Over — A Nightmare Reality

Posted on Apr 20, 2011, Source: Truthdig

Obama is siding with police who want to use GPS devices to track you without a warrant.

Was the West’s Intervention in Libya Justified?

Posted on Mar 29, 2011, Source: Democracy Now!

Juan Cole defends the use of force to aid the Libyan rebel movement. Professor Prashad warns the US has involved itself in a decades-long internal Libyan struggle.

An Open Letter to the Left on Libya: Why Intervention in Libya Is a Good Thing

Posted on Mar 29, 2011, Source: JuanCole.com

Juan Cole: “I am unabashedly cheering the liberation movement on, and glad that the UNSC-authorized intervention has saved them from being crushed.”

Uprisings in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt — America Is Paying the Price for Supporting Corrupt Dictatorships in the Muslim World

Posted on Jan 25, 2011, Source: TomDispatch.com

Paranoia about Muslim fundamentalist movements and terrorism is causing Washington to make bad choices that will ultimately harm American interests and standing abroad.

Tunisian Revolution Shakes and Inspires Middle East

Posted on Jan 19, 2011, Source: Truthdig

Every state and movement in the Middle East is reading into the events in Tunisia its own anxieties and aspirations.

WikiLeaks: Israel Plans Total War on Lebanon, Gaza

Posted on Jan 3, 2011, Source: Informed Comment

The Israeli military is planning out massive bombings of areas full of innocent civilians.

Afghanistan: Obscenely Well-Funded, But Largely Unsuccessful War Rages on Out of Sight of the American Public

Posted on Nov 18, 2010, Source: Truthdig

That there has been heavy fighting in Afghanistan this fall would come as a surprise to most Americans. 10 NATO troops were killed this past Saturday and Sunday alone.

Asian Powers Are Starting to Call the Shots, and the US Can’t Do Anything About It

Posted on Nov 11, 2010, Source: TomDispatch.com

Just how weakened the United States has been in Asia is easily demonstrated by the series of rebuffs its overtures have suffered from regional powers.

Harvard Professor’s Shocking Proposal: Starve the Palestinians in Gaza into Having Fewer Babies

Posted on Feb 26, 2010, Source: JuanCole.com

At a recent conference, Prof. Martin Kramer called for population growth in the Muslim world to be restrained and made a series of other outrageous claims.

The Ten Worst Nightmares Bush Inflicted on America

Posted on Dec 22, 2009, Source: Informed Comment

Here are my picks for the top ten worst things about the wretched period, which will continue to follow us until citizens stand up to fix them.

100 Years of Imperial Paranoia About the Pashtuns

Posted on Jul 28, 2009, Source: TomDispatch.com

The doomsday rhetoric in Washington over lightly settled, mountainous Pashtun tribal lands is strikingly similar to that of the British Empire.

Let’s Hope India Doesn’t React Like We Did to 9/11

Posted on Dec 2, 2008, Source: Outlook India

The choices India makes now about the threat of terrorism will help determine what kind of superpower it will be.

Forget the Surge — Violence Is Down in Iraq Because Ethnic Cleansing Was Brutally Effective

Posted on Jul 29, 2008, Source: JuanCole.com

The bloodbath in Baghdad has resulted in fewer ethnically mixed neighborhoods, leading to the recent drop in violence.

Juan Cole — Iraq Civil War Round-Up

Posted on Mar 28, 2008, Source: Informed Comment

The latest, as violence flares up across Iraq.

Iraq’s Three Civil Wars

Posted on Mar 6, 2008, Source: MIT Center for International Studies

There are three major conflicts in Iraq — and the U.S. is virtually powerless to stop them.

New Iraqi Law on Baath Worries Ex-Baathists

Posted on Jan 14, 2008, Source: Informed Comment

The passage of the new law will be hailed by the War party as a major achievement. But as usual they’re misreading what really happened.

Romney: Some Beliefs are More Equal than Others

Posted on Dec 9, 2007, Source: Informed Comment

Romney’s “landmark” speech didn’t follow in Kennedy’s footsteps — it was the antithesis of JFK’s call for religious tolerance.

Iraq Oil Bonanza for Hunt; Displacement, Hunger, Alcoholism, Addiction for Iraqis

Posted on Sep 10, 2007, Source: Informed Comment

Texas oil cronies readying to clean up.

Big Lies Surround the Iraq “Surge”

Posted on Sep 1, 2007, Source: Informed Comment

Juan Cole slices and dices the administration’s spin.

Bush and Napoleon Both Believed Their Own Propaganda About a “Greater Middle East”

Posted on Aug 25, 2007, Source: TomDispatch.com

There are times when the resonances of history are positively eerie. The parallels of Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt with Bush’s disaster in Iraq are enough to make you jump out of your chair.

Al-Maliki Declines Turkish Terror Treaty; Kurds Pass Oil Law

Posted on Aug 8, 2007, Source: Informed Comment

Iraqi-Turkish relations are strained, and the Kurds pass an oil law before the national government in Baghdad.

Top Ten Iraq Myths for 2006

Posted on Dec 29, 2006, Source: Informed Comment

Sunnis, Civil War, Sadr and the prospects of ‘victory.’

A Ceasefire Call in Lebanon Bush Can’t Ignore

Posted on Aug 3, 2006, Source: Informed Comment

Shiite leader Ayatollah Sistani’s call for a ceasefire should be heeded, or else the U.S. military mission in Iraq could quickly become untenable.

Hitchens the Warmongering Hacker

Posted on May 5, 2006, Source: AlterNet

Juan Cole chastises Christopher Hitchens and tells warmongers to ‘sit down and shut up.’

Fishing for a Pretext to Squeeze Iran

Posted on Mar 17, 2006, Source: Truthdig

Despite Bush’s new national security report, it’s clear that Iran presents little threat, so the administration must have other motivations.

The Democracy Lie

Posted on Mar 19, 2005, Source: TomPaine.com

President Bush and his supporters are taking credit for spreading freedom across the Middle East. But where changes are genuinely occurring they have nothing to do with the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Elections: A Baby Step

Posted on Feb 2, 2005, Source: Informed Comment

The details behind the ballyhooed elections – that Bush first opposed them and then postponed them for his own benefit – tend to get lost in the media’s boosterism.

The Other Shoe Drops: bin Laden Weighs in

Posted on Oct 30, 2004, Source: Informed Comment

In a new video, bin Laden indicts Bush for still hiding the truth from Americans, saying that the reasons for attacking the U.S. are still there. In other words, Bush has not made us safer.

The New and Improved Iraq

Posted on Jun 28, 2004, Source: In These Times

The so-called handover is merely a symbolic act that does little to alter the daunting reality on the ground. The only move that could bring real change is the complete withdrawal of the United States.

The Cleric Who Would Be Rousseau

Posted on Jun 10, 2004, Source: TomPaine.com

The man who will determine the shape of the new Iraq is not Iyad Allawi but Shi’ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The good news: He’s no Khomeini.

Battle of the Photographs

Posted on May 3, 2004, Source: TomDispatch.com

The problem of war images from Iraq alienating Iraqis and Arabs has dogged the Bush administration from the start of the war. Now, the administration is losing the battle of images with the American public, as well.

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America Humanitarian Imperialism in Uganda


America Humanitarian Imperialism in Uganda

America Humanitarian Imperialism in Uganda

There is a new global phenomenon called “KONY 2012” that has been circling the internet very recently. A 30-minute video about an African warlord and his army blasted its way onto the Internet this week, lighting up social networks like Facebook and Twitter and becoming a YouTube phenomenon.

The international campaign is an attempt to raise awareness of a man named Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that has been fighting in Sub-Saharan Africa for over two decades.

This conflict needs to be presented in a much broader context and understand the situation better.

Kony is from north Uganda. He follows and preaches a blend of different traditional “African” Christian teachings. He is basically regarded within his own group as having “God’s” spirit within him. The whole issue with him is he has the largest child soldier army in Africa , Sudan\South Sudan has the 2nd highest, he’s also been involved in child slavery\human trafficking.
A Ugandan journalist named Rosebell Kagumire said this of the campaign to make Kony “famous”:
[The film seems to suggest that the power to change the situation lies in America and it doesn’t lie in the hands of the government of Uganda and local governments. It is a furthering of an image of Africans as being totally unable to help themselves. It continues a narrative of Africa as being a place of conflict and the people are “so hopeless” that America “can help.” Kagumire goes on to say that “the war is much more complex than just one man.” It is largely about “resources and the marginalization of people in Northern Uganda.”]

This whole Kony 2012 seems to be hogwash propaganda to encourage the public to increase “pressure” on congress and the president to militarily get involved; or just simply justify unilateral military intervention in this region.

There has been a lot of investigation into the non-profit organization that made this film, Invisible Children. The organization got its name when it created the video “Invisible Children” in 2006. It is running this whole KONY 2012 marketing sales \ donation rush.

Military intervention will come not because of the LRA but because of what the United State or more percisely because the Centralized banking system fears Chinese influence over the 3rd world. They will shower this fear in the mask of humanitarian needs. China over the last 10 years has been building their relationship with Africa increasingly.

Now the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has got two bases in Uganda which claim to be promoting “regional stability.” But US military bases have been in place for one very specific reason – to protect US economic interests.   In Uganda and South Sudan there are significant oil and natural gas resources. Uganda’s recently-discovered oil reserves may produce between 2.5 billion to 6 billion barrels of oil.

U.S. Army Sets Base in Kitgum plus an air base in Entebbe. Also, U.S. Special Forces have set up a base in Obo in the Central African Republic as part of their regional hunt for fighters from the Ugandan-born Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA is estimated to have only 200-300 fighters.

More important for the United States, the deployment offers an opportunity for U.S. Africa Command to further its goals in the region, including those in South Sudan and Somalia.

AFRICOM’s Objectives

Established in 2006 by the Bush administration and based in Stuttgart, Germany, AFRICOM is primarily intended to help African security forces build up their capabilities to handle regional security issues. To complete its mission, AFRICOM needs stable African partners with access to areas of instability. Having such a partner is especially important at a time when the international community and pan-African groups are calling for African-based initiatives to solve African problems. A committed political partner such as Uganda can legitimize and complement U.S. initiatives in Africa.

The RAND Corporation: America’s University of Imperialism


RAND Corporation (Research ANd Development)

RAND Corporation (Research ANd Development)

By Chalmers Johnson, TomDispatch.com

[This essay is a review written by Chalmers Ashby Johnson for the book: Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire by Alex Abella]

The RAND Corporation of Santa Monica, California, was set up immediately after World War II by the U.S. Army Air Corps (soon to become the U.S. Air Force). The Air Force generals who had the idea were trying to perpetuate the wartime relationship that had developed between the scientific and intellectual communities and the American military, as exemplified by the Manhattan Project to develop and build the atomic bomb.

Soon enough, however, RAND became a key institutional building block of the Cold War American Empire. As the premier think tank for the U.S.’s role as hegemon of the Western world, RAND was instrumental in giving that empire the militaristic cast it retains to this day and in hugely enlarging official demands for atomic bombs, nuclear submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers. Without RAND, our military-industrial complex, as well as our democracy, would look quite different.

Alex Abella, the author of Soldiers of Reason, is a Cuban-American living in Los Angeles who has written several well-received action and adventure novels set in Cuba and a less successful nonfiction account of attempted Nazi sabotage within the United States during World War II. The publisher of his latest book claims that it is “the first history of the shadowy think tank that reshaped the modern world.” Such a history is long overdue. Unfortunately, this book does not exhaust the demand. We still need a less hagiographic, more critical, more penetrating analysis of RAND’s peculiar contributions to the modern world.

Abella has nonetheless made a valiant, often revealing and original effort to uncover RAND’s internal struggles — not least of which involved the decision of analyst Daniel Ellsberg, in 1971, to leak the Department of Defense’s top secret history of the Vietnam War, known as The Pentagon Papers to Congress and the press. But Abella’s book is profoundly schizophrenic. On the one hand, the author is breathlessly captivated by RAND’s fast-talking economists, mathematicians, and thinkers-about-the-unthinkable; on the other hand, he agrees with Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis’s assessment in his book, The Cold War: A New History, that, in promoting the interests of the Air Force, RAND concocted an “unnecessary Cold War” that gave the dying Soviet empire an extra 30 years of life.

We need a study that really lives up to Abella’s subtitle and takes a more jaundiced view of RAND’s geniuses, Nobel prize winners, egghead gourmands and wine connoisseurs, Laurel Canyon swimming pool parties, and self-professed saviors of the Western world. It is likely that, after the American empire has gone the way of all previous empires, the RAND Corporation will be more accurately seen as a handmaiden of the government that was always super-cautious about speaking truth to power. Meanwhile, Soldiers of Reason is a serviceable, if often overwrought, guide to how strategy has been formulated in the post-World War II American Empire.

(more…)

The Ad That May Kill the Next USA President


Senator Dr. Ron Paul

Dr. Ron Paul, the Republican Party senator seeking nomination for 2012 presidential elections in the USA, maintained his strong stands against the deeply unpopular and continuous US violent defense policy and the very intrusive foreign policy running for decades. The team of Senator Paul produced a superb advertisement titled “Imagine!” or “Just Imagine” presenting his alternative peaceful and constructive defense and foreign policies; and it is powerfully challenging US military adventurism.

The wealthy and extremely influential war business establishment in the USA is definitely extremely worried from such campaign promises. This business which involves arms, oil, minerals, banking, security, entertainment, organized crime, intelligence, media and many other lucrative ventures are at stake.

The main stream media as affiliated to the defense business is trying hard to ignore the campaign of Ron Paul and even negatively influence public support. They are working to reduce the chances and even prevent any possible outcome that may install Ron Paul in the White House. But the most dangerous scenario is a repeat of the assassination of Anti-war heroes like John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963; and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968.

“Imagine!”/“Just Imagine” advertisement says:

[Imagine for a moment that somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base, say Chinese or Russian. Imagine that thousands of armed foreign troops were constantly patrolling American streets in military vehicles. Imagine they were here under the auspices of “keeping us safe” or “promoting democracy” or “protecting their strategic interests.”

Imagine that they operated outside of US law, and that the Constitution did not apply to them. Imagine that every now and then they made mistakes or acted on bad information and accidentally killed or terrorized innocent Americans, including women and children, most of the time with little to no repercussions or consequences. Imagine that they set up checkpoints on our soil and routinely searched and ransacked entire neighborhoods of homes. Imagine if Americans were fearful of these foreign troops, and overwhelmingly thought America would be better off without their presence.

Imagine if some Americans were so angry about them being in Texas that they actually joined together to fight them off, in defense of our soil and sovereignty, because leadership in government refused or were unable to do so. Imagine that those Americans were labeled terrorists or insurgents for their defensive actions, and routinely killed, or captured or tortured by the foreign troops on our land. Imagine that the occupiers’ attitude was that if they just killed enough Americans, the resistance would stop, but instead, for every American killed, ten more would take up arms against them, resulting in perpetual bloodshed. Imagine if most of the citizens of the foreign land also wanted these troops to return home. Imagine if they elected a leader who promised to bring them home and put an end to this horror.

Imagine if that leader changed his mind once he took office.

The reality is that our military presence on foreign soil is as offensive to the people who live there as armed Chinese troops would be if they were stationed in Texas.

Shutting down military bases and ceasing to deal with other nations with threats and violence is not isolationism. It is the opposite. Opening ourselves up to friendship, honest trade and diplomacy is the new foreign policy of peace and prosperity. It is the only foreign policy that will not bankrupt us in short order, as our current actions most definitely will. I share the disappointment of the American people in the foreign policy rhetoric coming from the administration. The sad thing is, our foreign policy WILL change eventually, as Rome’s did, when all budgetary and monetary tricks to fund it are exhausted.]

[Click here to learn how Ron Paul is America’s strongest presidential candidate on national defense; or get involved and click here to register to vote in 2012]

(Imagine! : Is a speech written & given by Ron Paul on March 11, 2009; while the ad is of recent production.)

Senator Ron Paul also said: [We would not stand for it here, but we have had a globe-straddling empire and a very intrusive foreign policy for decades that incites a lot of hatred and resentment towards us.

According to our own CIA, our meddling in the Middle East was the prime motivation for the horrific attacks on 9/11. But instead of re-evaluating our foreign policy, we have simply escalated it. We had a right to go after those responsible for 9/11, to be sure, but why do so many Americans feel as if we have a right to a military presence in some 160 countries when we wouldn’t stand for even one foreign base on our soil, for any reason? These are not embassies, mind you, these are military installations. The new administration is not materially changing anything about this. Shuffling troops around and playing with semantics does not accomplish the goals of the American people, who simply want our men and women to come home. 50,000 troops left behind in Iraq are not conducive to peace any more than 50,000 Russian soldiers would be in the United States.]

Will the war establishment in the USA allow Ron Paul to come to power and implement his policies?

Who will win? – knowing that Obama’s job approval rating dropped to 40% in October 2011 and the curve is downward.

For more details on Jim Garrison’s, the District Attorney of New Orleans, Kennedy assassination investigation please see JFK, a 1991 American film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner); and how his office was blocked from successful prosecution by a federal government cover-up defending the two official investigations: the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Canada Shipping Quietly Bomb-grade Uranium to U.S.


Chalk River Labratories Canada

Canada Shipping Quietly Bomb-grade Uranium to U.S. according to CTV (Canada’s largest private broadcaster and a division of Bell Media, Canada’s premier multimedia company) and also to The Globe and Mail (Canada’s largest-circulation national newspaper and second-largest daily newspaper) and to Andy Blatchford of The Canadian Press and other sources.

Andy Blatchford wrote on The Canadian Press, Date: Tue. Dec. 27 2011 9:34 AM ET

[MONTREAL — Weapons-grade uranium is quietly being transported within Canada, and into the United States, in shipments the country’s nuclear watchdog wants to keep cloaked in secrecy.

A confidential federal memo obtained through the Access to Information Act says at least one payload of spent, U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium fuel has already been moved stateside under a new Canada-U.S. deal. The shipments stem from the highly publicized agreement signed last year by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama, amid fears that nuclear-bomb-making material could fall into the hands of terrorists.

The Canadian stash gradually being shipped from Chalk River, Ont., contains hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched uranium — large enough to make several Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs. But even as the radioactive freight travels toward the U.S. border, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has no plans to hold public hearings or disclose which communities lay along the delivery route.

The shipments themselves are protected by intense security protocol, which means specifics like routes, transportation method, quantities and schedules remain top secret. The federal nuclear body, a co-regulator of the uranium transfers, says rules restrict it from disclosing such information to the public.

A ministerial memorandum, classified as “Secret,” says the nuclear watchdog considers it unnecessary to hold public sessions that would allow citizens to ask questions and comment on the shipments. That same memorandum, dated Feb. 25, 2011, points out that recent hearings for another nuclear-shipment case generated intense public and media interest. The controversy has stalled the project to ship 16 generators from a Bruce Power nuclear plant through the Great Lakes, up the St. Lawrence River and onto Europe.

The memo, obtained by The Canadian Press, appears to warn against a repeat scenario.

“Given the public and media interest surrounding Bruce Power’s plan … there may be an expectation that similar information be made public on the shipments of spent HEU (highly enriched uranium) fuel to the U.S., and that the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) hold public hearings,” said the document, addressed to then-natural resources minister Christian Paradis.

“To date, the CNSC has not considered it necessary to hold public hearings on the shipment of spent HEU fuel to the U.S.”

When asked why public hearings aren’t necessary for the uranium deliveries, a commission spokeswoman replied by email: they “are not carried out given the robustness of the packages used and due to the security issues related to the transfers of highly enriched uranium.”

The government added that there has never been a significant transport accident involving nuclear materials, anywhere in the world, and that such shipments occur regularly in Canada. It said only authorized people or agencies, like police forces along the shipment route, are made aware of the details.

One nuclear expert said theft is the primary concern when shipping highly enriched uranium fuel — because there is virtually no danger of leaks or explosions.

“If I were the people doing the shipping and so on, I’d want to keep as low a profile as possible … you don’t want to give terrorists or criminals any advantage,” said Bill Garland, a professor emeritus from McMaster University in nuclear engineering.

“There’s a greater risk in the general public knowing, because then the bad guys would know as well.”

As for non-theft incidents, like possible road accidents, he described the containers carrying the substance as highly resistant to collisions, chemicals, fire and explosions.

“It’s relatively easy to contain and secure and it’s not going to go off like a bomb,” Garland said.

“I would have no hesitation sitting in the truck and driving across the country with it. It wouldn’t bother me in the least.”

Garland added that drivers share Canadian highways every day with trucks carrying loads of liquid chemicals, like gasoline and chlorine that would pose a much bigger danger in a smash-up than nuclear waste.

While the risks are small, he said, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. He warned that radiation could be released if someone deliberately opened a container, for instance.

Garland said moving uranium poses far more danger than shipping Bruce Power’s old generators up the St. Lawrence.

He calls the generator shipments a “trivial radioactive situation” and a “non-issue” because the cylinders hold very low levels of radioactive material. He said that even if they fell into the bottom of the river, the generators would pose a negligible risk.

Canada has been importing highly enriched bomb-grade uranium from the U.S. to make medical isotopes at Chalk River for the past two decades. While Canada has been pushing for all nations to move to low-enriched uranium, it maintains a large inventory of the substance at Chalk River.

The Canada-U.S. agreement is part of a broader international project by the Obama administration to consolidate highly enriched uranium at fewer, more secure sites around the world.

The U.S. government says it wants to convert the uranium into a form that cannot be used to build nuclear weapons.

Canada made its first uranium delivery under the repatriation deal in 2010, the February memo says. It occurred in “a single shipment using an existing, licensed fuel shipping package.”

The continued shipments are scheduled to take place until 2018.

But some nuclear-industry observers fear that Canadians have been left in the dark about the project.

“I don’t think Canadians are aware that strategic nuclear material is, in fact, travelling across Canadian roads,” said Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition of Nuclear Responsibility.

“I think it’s essential that people be aware of what is involved here. People should be aware of the degree of secrecy which is required.”

While he has few fears about the safety of the shipment Garland, the nuclear engineering professor, does have some concerns about the government’s selective approach to transparency.

“They’re willing to talk about those things (the Bruce Power generators) publicly, but yet when they talk about something that’s more dangerous — like moving HEU — they’re not so willing to talk about it,” Garland said.

He said while it’s critical to keep specific details about the shipments confidential, there are ways to maintain security while offering some public oversight.

“If I were king … I would say, ‘Look, let’s have a committee of experts looking at this, working on behalf of the public so that they could analyze this without having to give out all the details to the public,’ ” Garland said.]

Who can ask the big sharks what they are doing?

Does the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have any idea or control? or it is just monitoring “rogue” regimes and both the USA and Canada are not rogue at all?

Africa Lies Naked to Euro-American Military Offensive


Atlantic Euro-American Military Offensive on Africa

Glen Ford wrote at Black Agenda Report (BAR)on 11/30/20:

As the U.S. and its NATO allies move southward to further consolidate their grip on Africa, following the seizure of Libya and its vast oil fields, most of the continent’s leadership seems to welcome re-absorption into empire. “Africa is the most vulnerable region in America’s warpath, a continent ripe for the plucking due to the multitudinous entanglements of Africa’s political and military classes with imperialism.” AFRICOM is already in the cat-bird seat, placed there by Africans, themselves.

Africa Lies Naked to Euro-American Military Offensive by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The United States and its allies, principally the French, are positioned to ‘take’ much of the continent with the collaboration of most of its governments.”

The United States and its allies are engaged in an Asian and African offensive, a multi-pronged assault thinly camouflaged as humanitarian intervention that, in some regions, looks like a blitzkrieg. This frenzied aggression, still in its first year, saw NATO transformed into an expeditionary force to crush the unoffending Gaddafi regime in Libya and is now poised to topple the secular order in Syria. Although drawing on longstanding schemes for overt and covert regime change in selected countries, and fully consistent with global capital’s historic imperative to bludgeon the planet into one malleable market subordinate to Washington, London and Paris, the current offensive had a particular genesis in time: the nightmare vision of an Arab awakening.

The prospect of an Arab Spring at the dawn of 2011 sparked a general hysteria in imperial capitals. Suddenly, they stared in the face of geopolitical death at the hands of the Arab “street.” Washington understands full well that the emergence of Arab governments that reflect the will of the people would soon result, as Noam Chomsky is fond of saying, in the U.S. being “thrown out” of the region – the final toll of the bell, not just for the oil-hungry West, but for international capital’s annexes in the autocratic cesspools of the Persian Gulf.

The prospect of an Arab Spring at the dawn of 2011 sparked a general hysteria in imperial capitals.”

With centuries of Euro-American domination flashing before their eyes, Washington, London and Paris quickly configured NATO to unleash Shock and Awe on the victim of choice in North Africa: Muammar Gaddafi. The momentum of that show of force has led an expanding cast of imperial actors to the gates of Damascus. But Africa is the most vulnerable region in America’s warpath, a continent ripe for the plucking due to the multitudinous entanglements of Africa’s political and military classes with imperialism. The awful truth is, the United States and its allies, principally the French, are positioned to “take” much of the continent with the collaboration of most of its governments and, especially, its soldiers.

AFRICOM, established in 2008 by the Bush administration and now fully the creature of President Obama’s “humanitarian” interventionist doctrine, claims military responsibility for the entire continent except Egypt. The U.S. military command has assembled a dizzying array of alliances with regional organizations and blocs of countries that, together, encompass all but a few nations on the continent – leaving those holdouts with crosshairs on their backs. As the U.S. bullies its way southward in the wake of the seizure of Libya, its path has been smoothed by the Africans, themselves.

The long U.S. war against Somalia, dramatically intensified with American backing for the Ethiopian invasion in late 2006, is now sanctioned by IGAD, the International Authority on Development in East Africa, comprised of Ethiopia; the puppet government in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu; Kenya; Uganda; the de facto French and U.S. military protectorate, Djibouti; and, nominally, Sudan.

As the U.S. bullies its way southward in the wake of the seizure of Libya, its path has been smoothed by the Africans, themselves.”

This year’s French-led, but nominally United Nations operation to oust the regime of Laurent Gbagbo, in Ivory Coast, was vouchsafed by ECOWAS, the 16-member Economic Community of West African States, including Benin Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

AFRICOM stages a huge, annual military exercise called African Endeavor, which trains African militaries to use “standard communications practices.” African armies are taught U.S. command-and-control procedures, on American-made equipment, that is serviced by American advisors. In 2009, the militaries of 25 African nations took part in the exercise. This year, 40 nations joined Operation African Endeavor, accounting for the vast bulk of the continent’s men under arms.

More insidiously, through AFRICOM’s “soldier-to-soldier” doctrine, U.S. and African military peers are encouraged to forge one-on-one relationship up and down the levels of command: general-to-general, colonel-to-colonel, major-to-major, and even captain-to-captain. AFRICOM hopes these peer partnerings will forge personal relationships with African armed forces over the long haul, regardless of whatever regime is in power.

In the Sahel, AFRICOM maintains close relationships with virtually every nation along the vast band of land south of the Sahara desert that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, all under the heading of “anti-terrorism.” These include Mauritania, Mali, Chad, and Niger, plus Nigeria and Senegal. To the north, AFRICOM has similar ties to the Maghreb countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and, until this year, Gaddafi’s Libya.

This year, 40 nations joined Operation African Endeavor, accounting for the vast bulk of the continent’s men under arms.”

AFRICOM is often the real power behind nominally African missions. AMISOM, officially the African Union’s so-called peace keeping force in Somalia, is in fact comprised of troops from Uganda and Burundi, U.S. client states that act as mercenaries for Washington, and paid for mainly by the Americans. They are soon to be joined by 500 soldiers from Djibouti. For years, AMISOM was all that saved the puppet regime in Mogadishu from instant annihilation in its tiny enclaves at the hands of the Shabab resistance. Today, the reinforced “African Union” fighters are on the offensive, along with Kenyan and Ethiopian invaders, aimed at smashing the Shabab in a pincer movement. U.S. drones based in Ethiopia and Djibouti bring death from overhead. Thus, a force nominally fielded by the African Union is an active belligerent in a U.S. engineered war that has set the Horn of Africa ablaze – a conflict also sanctioned by IGAD, the regional cooperative body.

It is only a matter of time before Eritrea, an adversary of Ethiopia and one of the few African nations outside the AFRICOM orbit, is attacked – doubtless by nominally African forces backed by the U.S. and French. Certainly, the thoroughly compromised African Union will be in no position to object.

No sooner than the last loyalist stronghold fell in Libya, President Obama extended his “humanitarian” interventionist reach deep into central Africa, sending 100 Special Forces troops to Uganda for later assignment to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the new nation of South Sudan, and the Central African Republic, the French neocolonial outpost where the Americans sent Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide after kidnapping him in 2004. Supposedly, the American Green Berets will hunt for the 2,000 or so fighters of the Lord’s Liberation Army – a force the Ugandans themselves could snuff out if they were not busy acting as America’s mercenaries elsewhere on the continent. (Washington’s other loyal hit man in the region, Rwanda, was cited by a United Nations report as bearing responsibility for some the millions slaughtered in Congo.)

A force nominally fielded by the African Union is an active belligerent in a U.S. engineered war that has set the Horn of Africa ablaze.”

NATO’s aggression in Libya was made inevitable when Nigeria, South Africa and Gabon dishonored themselves at the United Nations Security Council by voting in favor of the bogus “No Fly Zone.” The momentum of the Euro-American offensive flows southward, and will soon set much of the continent afire. The Horn of Africa is already a carnal house of flame and famine, engineered by the Americans but fully joined by Africans and their regional institutions. In the west, ECOWAS legitimizes imperial policies, while in the Sahel, Africans scramble to identify targets for the Americans. Each year, most of the continent’s militaries gather round the Americans to learn how to command and control their own troops, thus making their armies useless to resist the real enemy: the U.S. and NATO.

Betrayed by a political/military class eager to integrate itself into the imperial system on any terms, Africa lies naked to the Euro-Americans.

It will be up to the slums and the bush to reverse this catastrophe. If the Americans and Europeans are to be resisted, Africans will have to fight their own governments, first.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

NATO War in Libya a Face of “Neo-Colonialism”


Thabo Mbeki Former president of South Africa

Former president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki strongly criticized NATO, the West and the UN Security Council for their involvements in the war in Libya.

There are troubling, ominous developments in Africa, wrote former president Thabo Mbeki in Sowetan posted on Nov 8, 2011. Africa’s fundamental right to self-determination, the very independence for which it fought so hard and long to achieve, is being undermined by a pernicious “new imperialism” that threatens to end in the re-colonization of Africa.

He pointed out that NATO far exceeded its UN mandate in Libya, which allowed for the protection of civilians, not regime change. And he argues that the intervention was never motivated by anything other than a fig leaf to legitimize the involvement of foreign powers. “It is clear that the beginning of the peaceful demonstrations in Libya served as a signal to various Western countries to intervene to effect ‘regime change’. These countries then used the Security Council to authorize their intervention under the guise of the so-called ‘right-to-protect’.”

President Mbeki added: “In the aftermath of the disappearance of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War, the UN Security Council has been open to abuse with regard to respect for the rule of law and international law.”

The consequences of the international community’s complete disregard for Africa’s rights could be devastating, Mbeki said. Libya, in Mbeki’s view, is the beginning of a slippery slope. By letting the West determines its next government, Africa risks losing all the gains it has made over the last few decades, opening the door to the West who will reassert their control.

Recent events in Libya should raise alarm bells about the threat to Africa’s hard won right to self-determination, former president Thabo Mbeki said on Saturday 5 November 2011. Addressing the Law Society of the Northern Provinces in Sun City, Mbeki said it “seemed obvious” that a few powerful countries were seeking to use the council to pursue their selfish interests. They were also determined to behave according to the principle and practice that “might is right” and to sideline the principle of self-determination.

“I must state this categorically that those who have sought to manufacture a particular outcome out of the conflict in Libya have propagated a poisonous canard aimed at discrediting African and AU opposition to the Libyan debacle.”

He said this was done on the basis that the African Union and the rest of “us” had been “bought by Colonel Gadaffi with petro-dollars”, and felt obliged to defend his continued misrule. He said all known means of disinformation was being bandied about, included an argument that Gadaffi’s Libya had supported the ANC during the apartheid struggle.

“The incontrovertible fact is that during this whole period, Libya did not give the ANC even one cent, did not train even one of our military combatants, and did not supply us with even one bullet”.

“This is because Gadaffi’s Libya made the determination that the ANC was little more than an instrument of Zionist Israel, because we had among our leaders such outstanding patriots as the late Joe Slovo.”

Mbeki said Libya’s assistance to the ANC came after 1990, when it realized that the ANC was a genuine representative of the overwhelming majority of our people.

Assertions that the AU depended on Libyan money to ensure its survival were false and yet another fabrication.

“The (UN Security Council) Resolution (on a no-fly-zone) said nothing about regime change. However the fact of the matter is that the NATO actions had everything to do with the overthrow of the Gadaffi regime.”

The AU had in fact adopted a roadmap for the negotiated resolution of the conflict in Libya.

“To all intents and purposes the Security Council ignored the AU decision and later blocked the AU Panel on Libya from flying into the country to begin the process of mediating a peaceful resolution.

“Libya is an African country. In addition to this, in terms of international peace and security, the conflict in that country has impacted and will continue to impact directly and negatively on a number of African countries.”

Despite this, the Security Council chose to ignore the AU, he said.

For this and all speeches of former President Thabo Mbeki go to:

Thabo Mbeki Foundation

And for articles visit: Sowetan LIVE Website

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