Marco Rubio on the Iran Deal

 

A few days ago, Jeffrey Goldberg published the transcript of his interview with Marco Rubio in the Atlantic. I won’t try to summarize it, because I found the whole thing interesting — which is noteworthy in itself. It isn’t easily reduced to a soundbite, because he’s actually making arguments.

I don’t want to prejudice your views unduly, but there’s no reason for me not to say that Rubio seems to me in much better touch with reality than the other candidates have so far. He’s not saying things that make him (and by implication America) sound insane. He’s not scoring cheap points. He’s not talking about himself. He’s answering the questions directly. He’s obviously aware what he would inherit if he were elected.

The interview goes well beyond the Iran deal. Here’s the final paragraph:

[Obama] is the guy who was going to get us out of these conflicts, but now he has been pulled back in, and he’s trying to do it in the most limited way possible. But this is ending up making it worse, not better, because what’s happening now in Iraq is people are looking at these limited air strikes and saying, “This is not American power. We know what American power really looks like, and this isn’t it.”

I read this interview; I didn’t watch it. So I’m fairly sure that I’m responding to something beyond his looks and his charm. What he’s saying makes sense.

Read it and tell me what you think.

There are 87 comments.

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  1. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    The man impresses as knowledgeable and savvy.  His appreciation that new Chinese missiles are designed to keep the US Navy away from their ‘near abroad’, as the Russians term it, shows strategic vision.

    This quote reveals his appreciation for subtle defects in the agreement terms:

    Jeffrey Goldberg: Let me just go right to what is probably the most biting point you’ve made to Secretary of State Kerry: this idea that the Iran agreement might put the U.S. in the position of having to help Iran defend its nuclear facilities from cyberattack or other attacks from Israel. It seems like an outlandish notion.

    Senator Marco Rubio: Well, I was just reading out of the text of the agreement, and I assure you that the Iranians interpret it the way that I alluded to, which is that if they come under cyberattack or any other effort to sabotage their program, then not just the U.S., but all the world powers, will have the obligation to assist them technically in defeating those measures. Now obviously Kerry and the administration would say that their reading of this is that we’re trying to protect them from some sort of terrorist group, for example.”

    One question I would have to him: is there a significant downside in the future to seeing the Japanese build up their military capability?

    • #1
  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    If only Sen. Rubio can stop saying chaotic matrix, he can start talking somewhat more seriously. It is a mistake not to have one standout feature of the deal to publicize–it takes away focus–it assumes the public will pay attention to the very incremental violations he fears will go unnoticed. He knows Mr. Obama has done a great job of getting this done & that it is in fact very difficult to unravel things: The people do not yearn & burn for the very principled, very serious-minded foreign policy that the GOP might some time talk about, but about which it was neither persuasive publicly nor effective internationally.

    He is in a rather good position to be Mr. Republican–serious about foreign policy, but also serious about politics: No crazy talk. Idealism, yes, but without fearful images of bloodshed. He seems careful not to be painted as a simpleton–nor to adopt extreme opinions.

    But Senators do not seem to have much influence on the public anymore. I do not see how he plans to move from being a lonesome Senator of some influence in the small world of politicians to the far more public man to whom America would listen on matters that always threaten war. I think GOP types believe that’s after you win the presidency, however that might be accomplished. I think that is not true.

    I might be wrong: I have no idea how he proposes to win, without which his opinion cannot matter.

    • #2
  3. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    If only Obama had fought as hard against Iran’s “peaceful nuclear energy” program as he does fighting against new nuclear energy facilities being built in the United States.

    Of course, nobody believes that Iran insisted on maintaining its own nuclear enrichment program for the purpose of “peaceful nuclear energy.”  The purpose of that program is chanted by mobs all over Iran:  “Death to America.  Death to Israel.”

    • #3
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I don’t think this is a serious estimation of Iran. People who say, Iran is dedicated to exterminating Israel, & post-haste, no deterrence fail to explain why it has not as yet done its worst. Surely, if we say, well, Iran does not as yet have nuclear bombs, & Israel does, then we mean that they are not suicidal. If we admit this much, we have to admit they also conduct foreign policy in large part by playing crazy. If we admit all this, we have to admit that calculation as to posturing & suicide is more important to Iran than calculation as to destroying Israel or, per impossibile, America.

    Iranians are evil, but what is the evidence they’re crazy? How does crazy run the most stable regime in the Middle east for more than 30 years?

    If they were crazy, wiping out the regime would be the only reasonable answer! Does anyone advertise that?

    If we do not believe war is necessary–has been since the Revolution!–then we have to talk about what it means for Senators like Mr. Rubio to talk about credible threats of force-

    • #4
  5. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: One question I would have to him: is there a significant downside in the future to seeing the Japanese build up their military capability?

    There could be, but it’s far from the top of my list of immediate worries.

    • #5
  6. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Good interview and encouraging that he can do more than stitch together sound bites.  I wish all the candidates would engage in the same.  But they couldn’t really speak about what we must do.  The deal strengthens the regime and reduces our ability to change it. it has disturbing echoes of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, i.e. it’s pure process leading nowhere but simultaneously empowering the central problem, Palestine is a welfare state sustained by all the rest of us.  They have no incentives to change, the Palestinian authority controls most of the welfare.    Oil does that in Iran and now we’re being sucked into a process which does nothing but offer legitimacy, cash flow, weakens opposition within Iran by showing that they are isolated.  As long as these people run Iran there will be a nuke, an arms race and ultimately war.  Obama just made the real alternative very significantly more difficult, but it’s still the only real alternative..

    • #6
  7. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    This (and his luxury speedboat) is what I find most impressive about Rubio.  He has impressed me with an overall vision concerning foreign policy.  Specifics are important but it’s the “vision thing” that guides a president when the unexpected happens.  Our complete lack of an overall national foreign “policy” right now is very frustrating…unless it is just to weaken America’s influence in the world

    • #7
  8. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Titus Techera:I don’t think this is a serious estimation of Iran. People who say, Iran is dedicated to exterminating Israel, & post-haste, no deterrence fail to explain why it has not as yet done its worst. Surely, if we say, well, Iran does not as yet have nuclear bombs, & Israel does, then we mean that they are not suicidal. If we admit this much, we have to admit they also conduct foreign policy in large part by playing crazy. If we admit all this, we have to admit that calculation as to posturing & suicide is more important to Iran than calculation as to destroying Israel or, per impossibile, America.

    Iranians are evil, but what is the evidence they’re crazy? How does crazy run the most stable regime in the Middle east for more than 30 years?

    If they were crazy, wiping out the regime would be the only reasonable answer! Does anyone advertise that?

    If we do not believe war is necessary–has been since the Revolution!–then we have to talk about what it means for Senators like Mr. Rubio to talk about credible threats of force-

    Uh…five years ago…divine auras…Granted Ahmadinejad is no longer president but one might assume that the ruling mullahs believe this as well.

    • #8
  9. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    John Penfold: Good interview and encouraging that he can do more than stitch together sound bites.

    What I noticed is that he’s speaking like someone who’s already aware that what he’s saying will be heard. He knows this deal is done. He is saying something that will be noticed where it matters, however:

    If you go into Iran and build a pharmaceutical plant, and you invest all this money to build it, and then suddenly Iran does something, and now you’re subject to sanctions if you continue to do business with them, you’re going to lose that investment. And so I do think that it’s important for investors and others around the world who are looking to do more business with Iran to be very conscious about this, because they’re basically gambling that this regime is not violating the deal or doing something new that could impose sanctions.”

    In saying this, he is leading. He could have spouted many nonsense talking points, but used this time and space to say something that has a useful effect. His statement is designed to put an anxious chill down the spine of investors who are eager to flood into Iran. It’s a useful thing for him to say. He’s not saying this to persuade American voters that Marco Rubio is tough. He’s saying this to warn people that their money might not be safe in Iran.

    There’s a difference, and to me it’s a significant one.

    • #9
  10. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Titus Techera:Iranians are evil, but what is the evidence they’re crazy? How does crazy run the most stable regime in the Middle east for more than 30 years?

    If they were crazy, wiping out the regime would be the only reasonable answer! Does anyone advertise that?

    Crazy is one of those ambiguous terms, that most often should be taken as they lack our values and frame of references. Which means that unless we acknowledge this about them their actions will always have an element of unpredictability and irrationality to us. I don’t think they are crazy in the sense that they are random, but then again I don’t think the Khamer Rouge was crazy in that sense either.

    So what I will say is this anyone who thinks radically differently from us is from our perspective functionally crazy. We will never really grasp why they do or say the things they do. Nor will we ever be able to assess their priorities correctly. So I think wiping out the Iranian regime is our only real long term option. It is either us or them. We will not be able to coexist in perpetuity, at some point it will come to a head. It must. Our systems are incompatible.

    This is not an excuse to blindly run in there, but we should be aware of it.

    • #10
  11. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: One question I would have to him: is there a significant downside in the future to seeing the Japanese build up their military capability?

    There could be, but it’s far from the top of my list of immediate worries.

    Not good enough, because now is when we can alter said course because of the strictures of the existing constitution.  Much less likely so in the future.  We need to be far-sighted right about now, otherwise we may wake up in the future and wonder what we were (or were not) thinking at this times about priorities.

    • #11
  12. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Titus Techera:I don’t think this is a serious estimation of Iran. People who say, Iran is dedicated to exterminating Israel, & post-haste, no deterrence fail to explain why it has not as yet done its worst.

    It has done its worst.  Iran has attacked the U.S. and Israel with every weapon it can muster.  So far, its main weapon has been terrorism, but that is only because it lacks the nuclear or conventional arms to carry out fully its mission of “Death To America, Death To Israel.”

    Just because Iranian landing craft have not sailed up the Potomac River does not mean that Iran has not been at war with the United States and Israel since the fall of the Shah.  They fund and arm terrorist groups, carry out assassinations, kill American servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on and on.  Is there anything you can think of that Iran could do to kill Americans or Israelis that it has not done?  Anything?

    So far, its means have been relatively ineffective.  Which is why it has tirelessly pursued nuclear weapons for decades.  Now that Obama has effectively given them nuclear weapons, they will use them in the same way that they have used every possible weapon available to them up until now.

    • #12
  13. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: His statement is designed to put an anxious chill down the spine of investors who are eager to flood into Iran. It’s a useful thing for him to say

    Yes, this was brilliant.  All the Republican candidates should say this, and say it with feeling.

    • #13
  14. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Let every [investor] know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure [the Iranian Nuclear program remains defunct].”

    • #14
  15. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire,

    I think we should contrast Rubio’s clarity on foreign policy with Jeb Bush’s now disastrous stumbling.

    JEB BUSH AT REAGAN LIBRARY: LOST IN FOREIGN POLICY DETAILS

    This will not do. The left wing media will tear him apart in the general with this. He looks foolish. The country is obviously looking for leadership. This is self involved useless political triangulation. He has twisted himself into a pretzel that nobody can untwist. That’s that.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #15
  16. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: One question I would have to him: is there a significant downside in the future to seeing the Japanese build up their military capability?

    There could be, but it’s far from the top of my list of immediate worries.

    Not good enough, because now is when we can alter said course because of the strictures of the existing constitution. Much less likely so in the future. We need to be far-sighted right about now, otherwise we may wake up in the future and wonder what we were (or were not) thinking at this times about priorities.

    You’re correct about this, actually. I was giving your comment some thought.

    Anecdote. A random encounter I had on Twitter on December 7 — with an authentic Tojo apologist. He was dismayed that I’d Tweeted “We remember Pearl Harbor.” He wanted to know why I’d fallen for the terrible slanders against Tojo.

    Always curious about other human beings, especially when they’re at a safe distance, I exchanged a few Tweets with him. I have no idea where he really is, but I’m satisfied that he is indeed an authentic Tojo apologist — someone who has dedicated his life to rehabilitating his memory.

    Some time thereafter ISIS beheaded a Japanese hostage. I’d forgotten all about the Tojo apologist. He sent me a message: “Don’t you miss Tojo now?”

    • #16
  17. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Mr. 3435, what you are saying is not true. If you say, Iran is in fact at war with America & Israel, not in the sense of making speeches, but getting things done to get Jews & Americans killed, I would agree. But if you are saying or implying every resource we know is being spent on getting Americans killed–that’s not serious in the least. To know the difference between the two is of great importance. America was also at war with the USSR–but the USSR never did its worst, or you would not be around to talk about it!

    Your language is metaphors. Past, present, & future meld into certainties that have nothing to do with describing things accurately or making predictions. If you think, however, that you’re all that & bag of chips–what’s your prediction for next month or next year or the year after that?

    • #17
  18. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: One question I would have to him: is there a significant downside in the future to seeing the Japanese build up their military capability?

    There could be, but it’s far from the top of my list of immediate worries.

    Not good enough, because now is when we can alter said course because of the strictures of the existing constitution. Much less likely so in the future. We need to be far-sighted right about now, otherwise we may wake up in the future and wonder what we were (or were not) thinking at this times about priorities.

    You’re correct about this, actually. I was giving your comment some thought.

    Anecdote. A random encounter I had on Twitter o

    Always curious about other human beings, especially when they’re at a safe distance, I exchanged a few Tweets with him. I have no idea where he really is, but I’m satisfied that he is indeed an authentic Tojo apologist — someone who has dedicated his life to rehabilitating his memory.

    Some time thereafter ISIS beheaded a Japanese hostage. I’d forgotten all about the Tojo apologist. He sent me a message: “Don’t you miss Tojo now?”

    You lead an interesting life.

    We gravitate towards letting Japan and South Korea shoulder more of the defense burden for, dare I say, ‘containing’ China without any (apparent) thought given to the consequences.  Need a genius to trace all the ramifications.

    • #18
  19. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Thanks for bringing this interview to my consciousness, Claire. Rubio has a firm grasp of issues that goes way beyond skin deep. We are blessed to have a strong stable of accomplished execs in our Governors, yet their knowledge of other than domestic issues is slim. There is some serious international tumult thanks to Obama and we need a President that is capable of addressing these issues from day one. Several months ago my team pick for Republican candidates was Rubio/Fiorina for foreign policy and elect-ability reasons. I have yet to see anything that doesn’t re-enforce that original opinion.

    • #19
  20. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Valiuth:

    Titus Techera:Iranians are evil, but what is the evidence they’re crazy? How does crazy run the most stable regime in the Middle east for more than 30 years?

    If they were crazy, wiping out the regime would be the only reasonable answer! Does anyone advertise that?

    Crazy is one of those ambiguous terms, that most often should be taken as they lack our values and frame of references. Which means that unless we acknowledge this about them their actions will always have an element of unpredictability and irrationality to us. I don’t think they are crazy in the sense that they are random, but then again I don’t think the Khamer Rouge was crazy in that sense either.

    So what I will say is this anyone who thinks radically differently from us is from our perspective functionally crazy. We will never really grasp why they do or say the things they do. Nor will we ever be able to assess their priorities correctly. So I think wiping out the Iranian regime is our only real long term option. It is either us or them. We will not be able to coexist in perpetuity, at some point it will come to a head. It must. Our systems are incompatible.

    This is not an excuse to blindly run in there, but we should be aware of it.

    Yeah. Americans had better find some people who understand your enemies as they understand themselves first of all. Especially conservatives-

    • #20
  21. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Titus Techera:Mr. 3435, what you are saying is not true. If you say, Iran is in fact at war with America & Israel, not in the sense of making speeches, but getting things done to get Jews & Americans killed, I would agree. But if you are saying or implying every resource we know is being spent on getting Americans killed–that’s not serious in the least. To know the difference between the two is of great importance. America was also at war with the USSR–but the USSR never did its worst, or you would not be around to talk about it!

    Your language is metaphors. Past, present, & future meld into certainties that have nothing to do with describing things accurately or making predictions. If you think, however, that you’re all that & bag of chips–what’s your prediction for next month or next year or the year after that?

    Titus,

    Aside from the present politics, this is a very important issue. America hasn’t declared War since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Korea, VietNam, Iraq I, Iraq II, Libya..etc. have been done with less than a declaration of war. Given this I think not recognizing the reality of the situation with Iran is at the heart of the problem.

    They are a Jihadist State who’s religious ideology from its conception has been a full holy war with America. It is actively engaged in proxy war with the other Middle East states who haven’t the slightest doubt themselves that the deal means Iran will have the bomb soon. They will purchase their own in very short order if necessary. Who would be able to convince them otherwise.

    To say we are not at war with Iran is wishful thinking. They are at war with us whether we like it or not. Only Obama could have ignored this.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #21
  22. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Brian Watt:Uh…five years ago…divine auras…Granted Ahmadinejad is no longer president but one might assume that the ruling mullahs believe this as well.

    Mr Watt, this man was president of Iran for two terms. I would say his deeds prove he was not insane in any way with which you need to be concerned. Iran really does seem to be cleverer than the US about foreign policy. Have you noticed any big mistakes that bespeak insanity?

    • #22
  23. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Manfred,  Agree on Japan.  The issue is terribly important and very current.   The Japanese are unique in many ways, one of them is that once mobilized in a direction with a national consensus, they don’t change until they run into a brick wall, pick up run into it again, and keep doing so until some senior group starts forming a new consensus.  Now is the time to address the issue and the way to address it is the same way we should address China and the rest of Asia and is consistent with what Rubio is saying;  with a calm,  overwhelming, unchallengeable presence in the Pacific and credibility with our allies and other powers in the region.  The Japanese will continue to develop their Defense capability but we want it to be part of and interactive with ours  so that the direction they choose is not one of balance of power, and independent projection which  will happen if we pull back even a little, or continue to lose credibility.

    • #23
  24. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    James Gawron:Titus,

    Aside from the present politics, this is a very important issue. America hasn’t declared War since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Korea, VietNam, Iraq I, Iraq II, Libya..etc. have been done with less than a declaration of war. Given this I think not recognizing the reality of the situation with Iran is at the heart of the problem.

    Mr. Gawron, I of course agree that American should declare war whenever war has to be waged seriously–small operations might be ok. Also, that acknowledging war is serious & should be public in America.

    They are a Jihadist State who’s religious ideology from its conception has been a full holy war with America.

    Iran, however, has never waged this ful holy war.

    It is actively engaged in proxy war with the other Middle East states who haven’t the slightest doubt themselves that the deal means Iran will have the bomb soon. They will purchase their own in very short order if necessary. Who would be able to convince them otherwise.

    Agreed.

    To say we are not at war with Iran is wishful thinking. They are at war with us whether we like it or not. Only Obama could have ignored this.

    All your presidents have ignored it, since Mr. Carter. That is often reasonable in foreign affairs. None have ever done very serious things about it. It is hard to change now, but needful–America is not as strong now, nor its enemies as weak.

    • #24
  25. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Titus Techera:Iranians are evil, but what is the evidence they’re crazy? How does crazy run the most stable regime in the Middle east for more than 30 years?

    Illuminating question, imho, and one that is not asked often enough.

    • #25
  26. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Zafar:

    Titus Techera:Iranians are evil, but what is the evidence they’re crazy? How does crazy run the most stable regime in the Middle east for more than 30 years?

    Illuminating question, imho, and one that is not asked often enough.

    I hoped I could count on you, Zafar! There’s two of us now!

    • #26
  27. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Titus Techera:

    Brian Watt:Uh…five years ago…divine auras…Granted Ahmadinejad is no longer president but one might assume that the ruling mullahs believe this as well.

    Mr Watt, this man was president of Iran for two terms. I would say his deeds prove he was not insane in any way with which you need to be concerned. Iran really does seem to be cleverer than the US about foreign policy. Have you noticed any big mistakes that bespeak insanity?

    And with Mussolini the trains ran on time.

    I took him at his word that he felt a divine aura envelope him when speaking at the U.N. I take the current leadership at their word that the will do everything they can to annihilate Israel as well as develop ICBMs that can target Europe and the United States. Whatever credit you wish to give them for good governance of the own regime for thirty years – which would include torture, assassination and terrorism, have at it. The quicker this regime can be toppled, the better.

    • #27
  28. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Brian Watt:

    Titus Techera:

    Brian Watt:Uh…five years ago…divine auras…Granted Ahmadinejad is no longer president but one might assume that the ruling mullahs believe this as well.

    Mr Watt, this man was president of Iran for two terms. I would say his deeds prove he was not insane in any way with which you need to be concerned. Iran really does seem to be cleverer than the US about foreign policy. Have you noticed any big mistakes that bespeak insanity?

    I took him at his word that he felt a divine aura envelope him when speaking at the U.N. I take the current leadership at their word that the will do everything they can to annihilate Israel as well as develop ICBMs that can target Europe and the United States. Whatever credit you wish to give them for good governance of the own regime for thirty years – which would include torture, assassination and terrorism, have at it. The quicker this regime can be toppled, the better.

    This is a problem with Americans: You’re dealing with people who are not like you.

    I did not say good governance–I said it is more stable than any other in that region, including those Americans help or created. (I exclude Israel from consideration here, I should add.)

    Terror does not preclude stability always. Also, the people there are used to it.

    Taking men at their word means being lied to almost all the time. Strangers lie-

    • #28
  29. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    If we were genuinely concerned about China, we wouldn’t be buying missile parts from them.

    • #29
  30. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Titus,  Yes I guess I’m saying our goal should have been regime change from the start, now I don’t know how we’d bring that about and we should certainly not advertise it.  I don’t think they’d nuke Israel because Israel is useful and it would be costly and they’d get nothing.  But we can’t know that.  Their real enemies are the Sunnis but how does that play out?  They’re working toward regional hegemony and Obama is purposefully helping them.  They have an old deep culture and perhaps Obama’s advisors think that may manifest itself some day.  But what happens in the mean time?  What can we do about any of it ?   As to Israel, Iran and eventually the Arabs  just having the bomb and the US not having Israel’s back and promising to defend Iran from Israel, will shrink investment in Israel, sap vigor and strength and innovation and immigration  from that culture.  Not to mention the resulting arms race which we’ll get pulled into one way or another.   At this point maybe we want normal relations so we have gum shoes on the ground, lots of them.   Could a new President with hardline credibility backed by the things that make us strong,  do that in this age where there are no secrets and the Iranians will never trust us?  Obama has done a job on us indeed.

    • #30

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