February 6th, 2016

Over There: Bush predictions back in 2007

This certainly seems prescient. It’s a 2007 interview with President Bush. He uses the phrase “failure in Iraq,” but we didn’t actually fail; we (Obama, that is) abandoned it very prematurely. I don’t think that, at the time of this 2007 interview, Bush could conceive that his successor would voluntarily do that, although the Democrats in Congress had certainly been trying for a while. Bush also uses the term “Al-Qaida,” because ISIS did not yet exist. But what he’s doing here is predicting something like ISIS:

Failure in Iraq will cause generations to suffer, in my judgment. Al-Qaida will be emboldened. They will say, “Yes, once again, we’ve driven the great soft America out of a part of the region.” It will cause them to be able to recruit more; it will give them safe haven. They are a direct threat to the United States.

And I’m going to keep talking about it. That’s my job as the president, is to tell people the threats we face and what we’re doing about it. They’re dangerous, and I can’t put it any more plainly to the American people, and to them, we will stay on the offense. It’s better to fight them there than here.

And this concept about, well, maybe, you know, let’s just kind of just leave them alone and maybe they’ll be all right is naive. These people attacked us before we were in Iraq. They viciously attacked us before we were in Iraq, and they’ve been attacking ever since.

They are a threat to your children, David. And whoever is in that Oval Office better understand it and take measures necessary to protect the American people.

This is a later interview with Danielle Pletka, who was “the president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute” and “a former Republican staff member at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee”:

If we retreat, if we surrender in Iraq, then I think we should have no doubt that there will be places from which they can plan and operate. That doesn’t take away from their ability to plan and operate elsewhere. That’s why we need to be fighting them in Iraq and elsewhere.

But the second part of this is, it reminds me of the discussions that we had with the Clinton administration about Afghanistan in the 1990s. There was a huge amount of frustration that the rise of the Taliban, at the fact that the Taliban was giving al-Qaida a safe haven, and that the administration wasn’t doing enough about it. Now, to be fair, the Congress wasn’t doing enough about it, either.

But, again, you heard the same sort of complacency about where they would be doing their planning. No, they’re not going to operate and plan against us in the United States. They’re focusing on Africa. Or they’re focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I think that they are focusing on us. And where we give them room to breathe, they will operate, and they will plan, and they will strike us, and they will be encouraged and emboldened if we retreat and allow them that headquarters in Iraq.

Obama gave them plenty of room to breathe, and now they have that headquarters in Iraq and Syria, and they’ve already been striking at the west after wreaking tremendous havoc in the Middle East.

29 Responses to “Over There: Bush predictions back in 2007”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    Yeah. George was a real dummy. Not smart like all the people in the Obama Administration.

  2. Eric Says:

    Compilation of sources plus commentary about President Obama’s irresponsible exit from Iraq.

    While the Afghanistan intervention was necessitated by al Qaeda’s base of operations there, the Iraq intervention was the center of the War on Terror.

    It should be noted that the Saddam regime was a world leader of terrorism, including Islamic terrorism, that both rivaled and worked with the al Qaeda network. Of course, Saddam’s terrorism was a material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire for casus belli.

    And it’s a myth that Saddam was a secular bulwark. In fact, Saddam had undertaken the sectarian radicalization of Iraqi society since the Iran-Iraq War. That was also a material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire for casus belli inasmuch it was part and parcel with the Saddam regime’s rule of “all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror” (UN Commission on Human Rights, 2002).

  3. Eric Says:

    Add:

    See the answer to “Was Operation Iraqi Freedom a strategic blunder or a strategic victory?”.

  4. Eric Says:

    Cornhead:
    “Yeah. George was a real dummy. Not smart like all the people in the Obama Administration.”

    As I found out, the more you learn the primary sources of the mission in order to cut through the conjecture (including by OIF supporters) and misinformation, the better – the right-er – that President Bush looks on Iraq.

    By the same token, learning the primary sources of the mission shows that OIF opponents have misled the American people.

    The Obama administration is evidently smart. The US-led, UN-mandated Gulf War ceasefire enforcement had been headline news for over a decade by 2002-2003. Iraq was evidentially in material breach across the board of the Gulf War ceasefire, including the disarmament and terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, for casus belli. The primary sources of the mission are easily accessed on-line, straightforward, and show the decision for OIF is a simple fact pattern.

    Yet with all of that, the American people were successfully bamboozled by OIF opponents to set the stage for the Obama administration and its deliberately anti-OIF – ie, anti-strong-horse American leadership of the free world – foreign policy. It took smarts to pull off that history course-setting con job.

  5. alfondso Says:

    @ Eric
    Thanks for the link! It’ll help me greatly in arguments with my friends of the,ahem,liberal persuasion.

  6. Eric Says:

    alfondso:
    “my friends of the,ahem,liberal persuasion”

    They’re the primary intended audience.

  7. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    Eric, in a comment on a previous Neo post, I responded to a criticism you made to my use of a Hoffer quote by pointing out that to Hoffer, to me, and to Thomas Sowell and Paul Johnson, both of whom wrote books called “Intellectuals”, an intellectual is an “ivory tower” thinker who builds systems with no attention to factual reality, and is not the same as a person of high intellect. I also suggested that you should find a graphic novel artist who might join with you to set out the truth of the OIF story in a short, tight graphic novel.

    The story is perfect for the graphic novel treatment, being filled with action and decisions, and could bring the truth to a wider audience than a regular book. If you got it into the hands of even a single fount of widespreading wisdom—a Rush, a Levin, a Prager, etc.—it might serve an important purpose in the Great American Experiment.

    By the way, thanks for the link.

  8. Frog Says:

    George W. understood geopolitics. But he could not just come out to the American people and declare a geopolitical strategy. He could not say, “Look, we take out Saddam, see, who kills about 86,000 people in an average year, and is a major supporter of (Islamic) terrorism. And then we pacify Iraq, and have a permanent major military presence on Iran’s western flank from which we can project power and prevent the Iranian spread into Shia Iraq.”
    Instead, he had to use WMDs as a reason…which disappeared into Syria (remember the caravans of trucks?). The entire civilized world, including Hillary and JEffingK, agreed until they decided to disagree.
    Then came Obama….

  9. yara Says:

    Anyone who read the 9/11 commission report will also remember the cautions about allowing a failed states to exist. One of the best quotes was (pg 367) “If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home.”
    I suspect that no one now remembers the calls (probably only in the US) in 2006-2007 that the US “just do what the 9/11 commission said”. I guess no one noticed that that was arguably what we were trying to do in Iraq.

  10. japan Says:

    yara said:
    Iraq becomes a failed state,
    The question for yara, Who was responsible for Iraq becomes a failed state?

    Iraqis or U.S.?

  11. japan Says:

    Richard Perle

    a private lecture on the importance of securing victory in Iraq. “Iraq is a very good candidate for democratic reform,” he said. “It won’t be Westminster overnight, but the great democracies of the world didn’t achieve the full, rich structure of democratic governance overnight. The Iraqis have a decent chance of succeeding.”

    Perle suggested, Iranian reformers would feel emboldened to change their own regime, while Syria would take seriously American demands to cease its support for terrorists.

    Three years later, Perle and I meet again,It is October 2006,

    Perle says, adding that total defeat—an American withdrawal that leaves Iraq as an anarchic “failed state”—is not yet inevitable, but is becoming more likely. “And then,” he says, “you’ll get all the mayhem that the world is capable of creating.”

    Perle goes as far as to say that, if he had his time over, he would not advocate an invasion of Iraq: “I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, ‘Should we go into Iraq?,’ I think now I probably would have said, ‘No, let’s consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.’ … I don’t say that because I no longer believe that Saddam had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction, or that he was not in contact with terrorists. I believe those two premises were both correct. Could we have managed that threat by means other than a direct military intervention? Well, maybe we could have.”

  12. Richard Saunders Says:

    Eric, as I’ve said before, I agree with you completely about OIF. However, we must admit that W let himself be convinced by the MSM that the American people would never support a long-term US troop presence in Iraq. I think they would have, had he ben able to articulate the reasons, which he wasn’t.

  13. Yackums Says:

    It took smarts to pull off that history course-setting con job.

    It took nothing of the kind. It took one simple tactic, and the resolution to use it:
    the
    Chinese
    water-
    drip
    torture
    of
    endless
    and
    constant
    repetition
    of
    the
    big
    lie
    over
    and
    over
    and
    over
    and
    over
    and
    over
    and
    over
    and
    over
    and
    over
    again.

  14. Eric Says:

    Minta Marie Morze:
    “The [OIF] story is perfect for the graphic novel treatment, being filled with action and decisions, and could bring the truth to a wider audience than a regular book.”

    I reacted to Green Zone (2010) and its misrepresentation of the grounds for OIF with the thought that a much-needed counter-balance is a big movie about, one, the COIN “Surge” (specifically inspired by these e-mails from Baghdad by an Army platoon leader who served in the thick of the COIN “Surge”) that, two, conveys the President’s view of it per Neo’s post and, three, sets up with a correct recount of the law and policy, fact basis of the Iraq intervention.

    I’m not an aficionado, but I do like graphic novels. They go hand in hand with movie-making nowadays because graphic novels are popular, accessible, with increasingly sophisticated authorship, and convey notions, if not depth, succinctly and compellingly with their combination of graphics and economical text. They’re like ready packaged storyboards.

    A solid graphic novel built on an Army platoon leader’s experience in the COIN “Surge” that conveys the President’s view of it per Neo’s post and sets up with a correct recount of the grounds for the Iraq intervention could be a game-changer if it caught on with the right people, then caught fire in the popular culture and political discourse – keeping in mind that setting the record straight on OIF isn’t only about OIF.

    The fundamental principles of American leadership of the free world were invested in the Iraq intervention since 1990-1991, let alone 2002-2003. As OIF opponents have understood, based on the compounding profit from their Vietnam War stigmatization, the Iraq intervention embodied a paradigm of American leadership, so that the fundamental course of American foreign affairs would be cast by whether the Iraq mission was stigmatized or upheld.

    With Cornhead’s ‘1st’ comment, the “people in the Obama Administration” are indeed smart. They knew what their acts of commission and omission with Iraq meant. The difference on Iraq between Presidents Bush and Obama is less about their smarts than the divergent paradigms of their worldview and America’s proper position in it.

    I don’t know how to seek out a graphic novelist, anymore than I know how to seek out a traditional author per JJ’s suggestion for spreading the word on the why of OIF.

    That being said, I’ll point out that the OIF FAQ explanation is not tucked into an academic journal behind a paywall in a university library database. More, the salient characteristic of the OIF FAQ explanation is that it’s essentially a cheat sheet that flags and synthesizes the primary sources of the mission. It’s not an esoteric insider’s account. It’s not an arcane academic analysis. I wrote it with smart HS graduates in mind.

    The law and policy, fact basis of OIF is open to the public and uncomplicated. Any smart HS graduate with internet access should be able to click open and learn the controlling law, policy, and precedent and determinative facts that governed the decision for OIF – once he knows what to look for.

  15. n.n Says:

    First, Hussein chose his fate when he invaded a sovereign nation. He sealed it when he refused the terms of the ceasefire. The resolution should have happened under Clinton. It did happen under Bush.

    Second, we replaced a dictator with mediators, successfully. It would be either a dictator or mediator for the foreseeable future. Our premature departure ensured that there would be civil strife and a power struggle, including the rise of a regional terrorist organization, and renewed neighborhood conflicts. Supporting the displaced social justice movement “Arab Spring”, along with its violent regime changes, realized and attempted, only served to exacerbate the dysfunction, and, among other things, created a “refugee crisis” followed by a global humanitarian disaster.

    America was not defeated. Our government proactively, opportunistically abdicated responsibility for Iraqis, Syrians et al, and Americans, too.

  16. Eric Says:

    Frog:
    “George W. understood geopolitics. But he could not just come out to the American people and declare a geopolitical strategy. … Instead, he had to use WMDs as a reason…”

    There’s no “instead”. Bush’s case against Saddam was correct on the law and policy and consistent with precedent.

    Recall that the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement had progressed for a decade and was fully mature by the time Bush became President. Bush merely carried forward the operative enforcement procedure for the Gulf War ceasefire, inherited from Presidents HW Bush and Clinton, that had always prioritized paragraphs 8 to 13 of UNSCR 687 while requiring full Iraqi compliance with all the terms of ceasefire – especially the terrorism mandates in paragraph 32 of UNSCR 687 (1991) and humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688 (1991).

    There was no need for Bush to “declare a geopolitical strategy”. The “geopolitical strategy” with Iraq was already long incorporated in the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, which was purpose-designed to resolve the manifold threat of Iraq that had manifested with the Gulf War.

    By the same token, the regional effect of Iraq, including pertaining to Iran, was already factored by Presidents HW Bush and Clinton when they assessed the cost/benefit of the noncompliant Saddam regime and formulated their respective policies for Iraqi regime change. (Note: Contra the contention of IR-realists, Iraqi regime change was HW Bush Iraq policy by May 1991 at the latest.)

    Which is to say, your implied premise that Bush formed a novel approach to Iraq in 2002-2003 is incorrect. Both the 2002 AUMF (PL 107-243) and UNSCR 1441 merely reiterated and updated the standing terms of the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441) for the Gulf War ceasefire and its enforcement under US law that had been established since 1990-1991.

    There was hardly room for President Bush to be novel with Iraq other than to adjust the threat calculation of Saddam’s combined WMD/terrorism threat due to 9/11. Even in that respect, President Clinton had already established Saddam’s combined WMD/terrorism threat and formulated robust counter-terrorism policy regarding WMD acquisition. As such, Clinton’s original endorsement of Bush on Iraq cited to Clinton’s own experience with the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement.

    Frog:
    “…which disappeared into Syria (remember the caravans of trucks?). The entire civilized world, including Hillary and JEffingK, agreed until they decided to disagree.”

    In fact, Saddam was confirmed guilty on the WMD issue according to the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441).

    Not ‘found’ guilty. Confirmed guilty. Recall that Iraq’s guilt of proscribed armament was presumed from the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire until Iraq cured its guilt by proving it disarmed as mandated under the terms of ceasefire.

    In Saddam’s “final opportunity comply” (UNSCR 1441), Iraq’s material breach of the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” for disarmament mandated by UNSCR 687s and 1441 was confirmed by the UN weapons inspections for casus belli. The Iraq Survey Group investigation then corroborated UNMOVIC’s confirmation of Iraq’s guilt.

    Secretaries Clinton and Kerry “decided to disagree” by adopting the demonstrably false premise that there was a burden of proof on the US to verify the predictive precision of our pre-war intelligence.

    In fact, in terms of establishing casus belli, whether or not Saddam hid WMD in Syria is only relevant insofar as it pertained to whether Iraq proved it disarmed as mandated. Rather than citing to speculation about the suspicious Iraqi convoys, you ought to cite to the UNMOVIC Cluster Document finding of “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues” – which included unaccounted for stocks such as those that might have been hidden in Syria – that established the casus belli for OIF.

    That being said, Bush officials did make a politically harmful error of presentation when they improperly characterized the pre-war intelligence as “evidence”. I address the Bush administration’s error of presentation with the pre-war intelligence here.

  17. Eric Says:

    Richard Saunders:
    “However, we must admit that W let himself be convinced by the MSM that the American people would never support a long-term US troop presence in Iraq. I think they would have, had he ben able to articulate the reasons, which he wasn’t.”

    See my commentary linked upthread at Obama’s “irresponsible exit from Iraq”.

    I think your notion is partially correct as reflected in the messaging with the 2008-2011 SOFA.

    At the same time, I don’t believe that President Bush was convinced “the American people would never support a long-term US troop presence in Iraq” because of the conditions-based Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) that was agreed upon along with the SOFA.

    The SFA spoke to a conditions-based commitment to Iraq beyond the 2008-2011 SOFA like our still-ongoing post-war missions that have followed the WW2, Kosovo, and Afghanistan interventions, all of which pre-dated OIF. None of our overseas strategic partnerships are just because. They’re all conditions-based.

    That President Obama pulled the plug on our peace operations with Iraq when conditions called for us to stay is the exception, not the rule, with our similar post-war strategic partnerships since WW2.

    The historical analogue to Bush and Obama’s respective roles in determining the long-term US commitment to Iraq is Truman and Eisenhower with Korea. Truman gets post hoc credit because Ike carried forward the course from his Democratic predecessor, but Truman’s post-WW2 actions were ad hoc. It was Ike’s presidential determination, largely informed by the Korea intervention, to establish the long-term US commitment as the robustly forward-deployed leader of the free world.

    The Iraq intervention should have informed President Obama’s determination with Iraq like the Korea intervention informed President Eisenhower. But Obama, unlike Ike, was committed to installing a different paradigm for America’s position in the world.

    Whatever President Bush may have believed in 2008 about the American people supporting a long-term commitment to Iraq, he articulated by word and action the importance of post-Saddam Iraq succeeding.

    More significantly, with the COIN “Surge”, the conditions-based SFA, and moving the legal basis of the Iraq intervention from the 1-year UN renewables to a 3-year transitional bilateral agreement, Bush set up his successor to make a long-term course-setting decision with Iraq in a better position than Truman had set up Eisenhower to make his course-setting decision with Korea et al.

  18. Richard Saunders Says:

    There should not have been a SOFA or an SFA so soon after victory. There should have been an American Military Government, a US Constabulary, and a US General running Iraq. Hell, we didn’t even let the Germans form a government until nine years after the war was over.

    When people say the US should never be involved in nation-building, they are unaware that we have been in the past and have done it very successfully.

  19. Eric Says:

    Richard Saunders:
    “There should not have been a SOFA or an SFA so soon after victory. There should have been an American Military Government, a US Constabulary, and a US General running Iraq.”

    3 factors. In addition to the intense adverse political pressure you point out, the SOFA and SFA followed the UN authorizations linked here, and they were negotiated in the promising conditions on the ground created by the COIN “Surge”.

    All 3 factors were influential in the 2008 negotiation.

    Your criticism on the form of the OIF occupation, though, points to decisions made from the beginning of the post-war. Those decisions were due most to the original legal design for the Iraq intervention determined by President HW Bush in 1990-1991: the US-led enforcement of UN mandates.

    The reasons for – and criticism of – HW Bush’s original legal-design determination are a masters thesis in their own right. Be that as it may, HW Bush’s successors were beholden to the US-led enforcement of UN mandates for Iraq, including with the occupation. For better or worse, Bush’s post-war decisions continued to conscientiously track the UN mandates.

    The 1st real opportunity for the US to determine our relationship with Iraq separate from the parameters imposed by the obligation to enforce UN mandates was under Obama. Of course, at that point, we had moved past the original form of occupation.

    Richard Saunders:
    “When people say the US should never be involved in nation-building, they are unaware that we have been in the past and have done it very successfully.”

    Your point was brought home to me when I served in Korea and escorted elderly Korean War veterans who had returned there for the 1st time since the war. Watching their reaction to the modern South Korea that had progressed from their sacrifice made me appreciate what it meant to be part of the lineage of GIs who inherited their mission to protect South Korea. It also enriched my understanding of American leadership of the free world since WW2, including the Iraq intervention.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Leftists in Europe and the US thought that was wrong, they thought it was the right thing to fight them “over here”. Which is why they import in so many Islamic rapists.

  21. japan Says:

    n.n.
    we replaced a dictator with mediators, successfully.

    To correct n.n.
    “You” replaced a dictator with with pro Iranians!

  22. japan Says:

    Eric
    “When people say the US should never be involved in nation-building, they are unaware that we have been in the past and have done it very successfully.”

    Yes that right the history prove it, but in Iraq you brought a lunatic stupid Bremer who insisting and he thinking he done his job perfectly.

    The fact is Bremer was a tool for America’s Destruction of Iraq?

    Just ask him were 2.9 Billions that Airshipped in cash to him?

  23. japan Says:

    “So Bush’s original sin was invading in 2003 and Obama’s original sin was not respecting the Iraqi election’s results or the constitutional process in 2010, without any shadow of a doubt.” Although it’s highly unlikely Khedery strongly believed Bush was misguided in invading Iraq at the time it was happening and thereafter, since he was helping manage the diplomatic dimension of the whole Iraq liberation enterprise.

    “the Iraqi government is fully penetrated by these Iranian-sponsored groups, and many of them are now in charge of the security services, they’re on the front lines with these militias, they’re receiving American weapons, they’re receiving American tanks, they have American air support, they have American diplomatic cover. So in this case we are backing the Iranian-commanded Shia militias to defeat ISIS. But the Iraqi security forces and the Iranian-backed militias are guilty of the same atrocities and war crimes that ISIS is known for. They are beheading individuals, they are torturing, and evidence of this emerges every day. And yet they are receiving billions of dollars of advanced military equipment from the United States.”

    Longest-Serving U.S. Diplomat In Iraq: Obama Gave Us ISIS

  24. Eric Says:

    japan:
    ““You” replaced a dictator with with pro Iranians!”

    Well yeah. Neo point’s is that Obama’s record has been a mounting disaster since he took over with the loss – reversal – of opportunities that had opened under Bush.

    Iran and ISIS in Iraq are related problems that have followed from the vacuum of President Obama’s disengagement of the necessary strong-horse American leadership from Iraq.

    From 2007, from around the same time as the PBS interview with President Bush that Neo posted, former DoD official Peter Rodman (RIP) wrote this counter-Iran strategy paper:
    http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2007/5/08iran-rodman-opp08/pb_iran_rodman.pdf

    OIF had opened a counter-Iran strategy that relied on 3 prongs: stabilize Iraq as an American ally, increase sanctions pressure, and support civil reform in Iran.

    President Obama, instead, pointedly did the opposite of all three.

    Under different American leadership post-Bush, a Shia-majority while pluralistic, American-allied, rising, post-Saddam Iraq partnered with a strong-horse American leader might have played a constructive role with civil reform in Iran.

  25. Eric Says:

    Oops. Fix: Well yeah. Neo‘s point is …

  26. Richard Saunders Says:

    “It also enriched my understanding of American leadership of the free world since WW2, including the Iraq intervention.”

    Well said, Eric! When I arrived in Germany 1970, we had just reduced our troop strength in half — to 300,000! Twenty-five years after WWII ended, we were told our mission was to “Keep the US in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.”

  27. Eric Says:

    Richard Saunders:
    “When people say the US should never be involved in nation-building, they are unaware that we have been in the past and have done it very successfully.”

    Me, to Richard Saunders:
    “Your criticism on the form of the OIF occupation, though, points to decisions made from the beginning of the post-war.”

    Add:

    First reason again: The US mandate since 1990-1991 was to enforce the UN mandates for Iraq, and the President’s decision-making accorded with the UN mandates for Iraq.

    Second reason: That’s on us. Due to the ingrained Powell Doctrine derived from the cultural Vietnam War stigma, many military people were (and are) opposed to “American Military Government, a US Constabulary, and a US General running Iraq” to the degree of post-WW2/Cold-War missions like Germany and to the degree needed for Iraq.

    Initial post-war plans reflected the Powell Doctrine and pointedly assigned the military a support role with the lead assigned to civilian GOs and IGOs.

    President Bush decided on the subsequent COIN “Surge” over the opposition of many military officials and even officials within his administration who opposed the strategy on the grounds of the Powell Doctrine – even as necessity, the mother of invention, was banging hard on the bell.

  28. Eric Says:

    Oops. Fix: Initial post-war plans reflected the Powell Doctrine and pointedly assigned the military a support role with the lead assigned to civilian GOs and IGOs IOs.

    [There are GOs, NGOs, and IOs. There aren’t IGOs … yet.]

  29. Japan Says:

    Eric
    ISIS in Iraq are related problems that have followed from the vacuum
    The andwer clear Eric
    “was not respecting the Iraqi election’s results or the constitutional process in 2010, without any shadow of a doubt.” Although it’s highly unlikely Khedery str

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