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NATO's big problem is its military

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(CNN) — The future of Europe may rest on whether NATO can recover its roots.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin “land grabbing” and violating international law, the alliance is finding itself “brought back to its core,” says Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s former secretary general. But it isn’t prepared.

When NATO was founded in 1949, its central task was to protect its members against military aggression and work to promote democracy — which, in the years following, often meant standing against the Soviet empire.

The alliance declares success in achieving that goal peacefully, saying on its website that “throughout the entire period of the Cold War, NATO forces were not involved in a single military engagement.”

Unmarked military vehicles burn on a country road in Berezove, Ukraine after a clash between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists.

But things changed after the Cold War. The focus was no longer on Russia. NATO says “new threats” emerged. The alliance got involved militarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, and later in Macedonia. It established a military force in Afghanistan, and has forces in Somalia and some other parts of Africa.

Now, Russia is increasing its reach, and getting close to NATO terrain. It annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March and is accused of sending its troops into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian rebels, a claim that Moscow denies. So, 55 years into its existence, NATO finds itself, as the Financial Times put it, going “back to the future.”

Just how to do that is a central question as the alliance convenes its summit in Wales.

“The problem NATO has is it’s not fully ready to be able to protect its own members,” Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, told CNN. NATO’s military preparedness is “paltry compared to the kinds of steps the Russians are taking.”

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NATO's big problem is its military

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September 4, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

David J. Meadows: Reassessing post-Cold War assumptions after Russias invasion of Ukraine

Since April, Russia had been waging a proxy war in eastern Ukraine. Although no war was officially declared, Russias covert and overt support was crucial in financing, equipping, providing personnel, and supplying intelligence to the pro-Russian separatists. Still, even with such support, pro-Russian separatist rebels proved unable to counter Ukraines military advances. As a result, Russia recently made the fateful decision to undertake a direct military invasion into southeastern Ukraine, turning what was previously only a proxy war into something undeniably real.

However, even with units of the Russian army invading and occupying parts of eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied any Russian involvement, and cynically played himself off as being a peacemaker. Most recently, Putin even had the audacity to suggest that the Ukrainian government in Kyiv needed to sit down and seriously discuss statehood for the Russian occupied regions of eastern Ukraine. In reality, Russias illegal annexation of Crimea and current invasion of eastern Ukraine, illustrates that historical patterns of Russian imperialism never went away after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Yet Russias actions in Ukraine appear to have come as a surprise to many policymakers, analysts, and media commentators in the West. Part of the problem is that many in the West were lulled into a false sense of security after the end of the Cold War, stemming from the widely accepted triumph of liberalism thesis popularized by Francis Fukuyama, where it was taken for granted that Russia and the other post-Communist states would transition into democracies and liberalized economies. As a result, many analysts and policy elites in the West generally failed to see the illiberal patterns of post-1991 transformation actually taking place in Russia. That assessment would have pointed to the coming of an increasingly authoritarian, atavistic, and re-assertive Russia.

The triumph of liberalism largely proved to be illusory and false, as Russia is far from being either a democracy or liberalized economy. But this has not been so much a reversal of reforms. Even a cursory glance at political patterns in Russia compared to the relative rates of transformation in leading liberal reform countries, such as the Baltic States, Czech Republic, and Poland would have revealed that Russia was actually a laggard in putting in place significant democratization and economic liberalization policies.

On democratization, Russia lagged behind when it came to comprehensive reforms to ensure the protection of individual rights, rule of law, and private property rights. These reforms would have all served as prime ingredients buttressing a stable democracy. Consequently, comparatively little change occurred during the crucial years of the 1990s. Instead, there was backsliding on most of the tentative reforms, and increasing reversion towards authoritarianism, as illustrated in Freedom Houses annual rankings.

While often overlooked by many Western analysts, Russian political culture simply lacks the historically rooted liberal-democratic traditions that often underpin democratic consolidation. Another problem has been Moscows increasingly firm control over the Russian media, which now promotes a stridently anti-democratic, anti-capitalist, and anti-Western message.

In terms of economic liberalization, evidence suggests that far-reaching reforms in Russia were marginal and not even halfway at best, particularly in Russias dubious attempts at privatization. Instead, many of the business practices from Soviet times continued to persist. This was especially apparent with Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, where the state has retained virtual control. Indeed, Gazprom has served as a key foreign policy tool used to promote Moscows interests in disputes with Ukraine, the Baltic States, and other European Union (EU) members.

Russias failure to democratize, and its reversion to authoritarianism, was also matched by historical continuities in foreign policy reminiscent of Soviet times. Although underreported and often ignored by Western media, this has been happening more and more since 1991. Throughout the 1990s, Moscow supported separatists in proxy wars in Transnistria in Moldova, and in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. It also attempted to coerce and bully the governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania away from their desire to democratize and liberalize economically, which were key steps to return to Europe and move away from Russia.

To illustrate one specific example, Latvia repeatedly faced significant coercion from Russia, which included embargoes of trade, oil, and gas; delaying tactics in the closure of Russian military bases and troop withdrawals; stalling on ratifying border agreements; threats over the treatment of ethnic-Russians; and economic sanctions for not conceding privileged access to Russian oil and gas interests. Russian officials and media even resorted to baseless propaganda in calling Latvia fascist, in what can only be described as a rehearsal to the type of vitriolic propaganda being directed at the current government in Kyiv.

However, it was not until the Russian cyber attacks on Estonia in 2007, and the Russian invasion of Georgia in the summer of 2008, that many in the West began to wake up to Moscows revanchist behaviour even if such attention proved to be short-lived. Sadly, it was not until Russias recent illegal annexation of Crimea, the tragedy of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, and Moscows support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, that many Western leaders began to realize that Russian interests are increasingly out of sync with the commonly shared liberal-democratic values found among members of the EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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September 3, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

NATO, EU Should Give Up Plans of Incorporating Ukraine Dr. John Mearsheimer

MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) The West ought to fundamentally change its approach towards the Ukrainian crisis, making Ukraine a ‘neutral buffer’ between Russia and NATO instead of westernizing it, asserts John J. Mearsheimer, American professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

“The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win,” he emphasizes in his article “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the Wests Fault,” recently published in Foreign Affairs magazine.

According to the myth circulating in the western mainstream media, Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to “resuscitate the Soviet empire,” and overthrow Ukrainian President Yanukovych, pointing to Russia’s incorporation of Crimea as pretext. These arguments, however, collapse upon careful scrutiny, the professor notes, as “if Putin were committed to creating a greater Russia, signs of his intentions would almost certainly have arisen before February 22.” It is the United States and its European allies who bear most of responsibility for the Ukrainian crisis, he adds.

The root of the problem lies in rapid expansion of NATO and the EU in Eastern Europe towards Russia’s borders, which had begun immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian coup has evidently become “the final straw” for Moscow, the professor underscores. According to John J. Mearsheimer, Vladimir Putin’s decision to protect Crimea was spontaneous, as “he [Putin] feared [Crimea] would host a NATO naval base.” Since the Pentagon and the pro-western Ukrainian elite have repeatedly considered Russia’s Black Sea Fleet expelling from the peninsular, his anxiety was not groundless.

“US and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russias border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy,” the professor stresses.

Putin’s reaction is quite understandable, asserts the author. “Imagine the American outrage if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico,” he writes. John J. Mearsheimer emphasizes that Washington should realize the logic behind Moscow’s stance, although it may dislike it. “This is Geopolitics 101: great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory,” reminds the professor.

The US sanctions policy against Russia is a road to nowhere, he adds, as history has repeatedly shown countries could “absorb enormous amounts of punishment in order to protect their core strategic interests.” John J. Mearsheimer believes that the US and its European allies should suspend NATO’s expansion into Ukraine and Georgia as well. Furthermore, the West should present a viable economic recovery plan for Ukraine and join efforts with Moscow to accomplish this task. Along with this Washington and Brussels should “considerably limit” their social-engineering practice in Ukraine. Thus, neutral and prosperous Ukraine will become a “win-win” solution for all sides, stresses the professor.

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NATO, EU Should Give Up Plans of Incorporating Ukraine Dr. John Mearsheimer

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Europe threatens more sanctions while Ukraine says Russia is already at war

On the move: Ukrainian servicemen of volunteer battalion Azov ride towards the town of Novoazovsk in the Donetsk region. Photo: AFP

Washington:In a tit-for-tat escalation in the separatist crisis in eastern Ukraine,there’s a real danger that a bigger historical picture is being lost in acontest for today’s news headlines.

Despite categorical statements by US President Barack Obama and a host of European leaders that there will be no military response to Russia’s rope-a-dope mix ofaggression one day and humanitarian diplomacy the next, European officialswere doing a war dance for the cameras on the weekend.

Jose Manuel Barroso, outgoing president of the European Commission, said: “We are ina very serious, I would say, dramatic situation where we can reach the pointof no return.”

Arguing that Russia was at war with Ukraine, Lithuanian President DaliaGrybauskaite, declared: “We need to help Ukraine to defend its territory andits people and to help militarily because today Ukraine is fighting a war onbehalf of all Europe.”

That was a cue for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who intoned: “Today,we’re talking about the fate of Ukraine; tomorrow, it could be for all Europe.”

Protest: A man holds a placard reading “Putin get out!” during a rally in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Photo: AFP

They were ramping up the rhetoric ahead of a NATO leaders conference inWales on Thursday. But British and other officials were quick to weigh in,insisting that the only weapon likely to be fired would be another round ofsanctions which surely must have Russian President Vladimir Putin trembling in his boots.

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A war for Europe has been a constant in the Kievrhetoric since early this year, when the Russian president snatched theCrimean peninsula and started running weapons and fighters over his westernborder.

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West rules out military action against Russia despite 'war dance' on behalf of Ukraine

On the move: Ukrainian servicemen of volunteer battalion Azov ride towards the town of Novoazovsk in the Donetsk region. Photo: AFP

Washington:In a tit-for-tat escalation in the separatist crisis in eastern Ukraine,there’s a real danger that a bigger historical picture is being lost in acontest for today’s news headlines.

Despite categorical statements by US President Barack Obama and a host of European leaders that there will be no military response to Russia’s rope-a-dope mix ofaggression one day and humanitarian diplomacy the next, European officialswere doing a war dance for the cameras on the weekend.

Jose Manuel Barroso, outgoing president of the European Commission, said: “We are ina very serious, I would say, dramatic situation where we can reach the pointof no return.”

Arguing that Russia was at war with Ukraine, Lithuanian President DaliaGrybauskaite, declared: “We need to help Ukraine to defend its territory andits people and to help militarily because today Ukraine is fighting a war onbehalf of all Europe.”

That was a cue for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who intoned: “Today,we’re talking about the fate of Ukraine; tomorrow, it could be for all Europe.”

Protest: A man holds a placard reading “Putin get out!” during a rally in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Photo: AFP

They were ramping up the rhetoric ahead of a NATO leaders conference inWales on Thursday. But British and other officials were quick to weigh in,insisting that the only weapon likely to be fired would be another round ofsanctions which surely must have Russian President Vladimir Putin trembling in his boots.

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A war for Europe has been a constant in the Kievrhetoric since early this year, when the Russian president snatched theCrimean peninsula and started running weapons and fighters over his westernborder.

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The AIPAC Wars are Underway Again

TIME Opinion faith The AIPAC Wars are Underway Again Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to the cheering audience as he arrives to speak to the AIPAC meeting at the Washington Convention Center on March 4, 2014, in Washington. Carolyn KasterAP The latest attack on AIPAC is seriously flawed

AIPACthe American Israel Public Affairs Committeeis a lobby created by American Jews and devoted to improving relations between the United States and Israel. Every 5 or 6 years a book or major article is published, containing an expos on how AIPAC operates. The latest version, a 12,000-word article written by Connie Bruck and entitled Friends of Israel, appears in the September 1 edition of The New Yorker.

The problem with this most recent effort, like the ones that precede it, is that it tells us very little we dont already know. The workings of AIPAC are not a secret. The organization was founded 50 years ago with a small office in Washington, D.C., but now has a hundred thousand members and a grassroots presence in every state and congressional district. It does not endorse candidates or raise funds for campaigns, but many in the Jewish community will donate or not depending on whether a politician backs AIPAC positions.

AIPAC is committed to the proposition that Israel is a vital ally of the United States, and it supports military aid and political backing for the Jewish state. It operates by initiating email campaigns, offering trips to Israel for politicians and community leaders, developing constituency groups that will contact their Senators and Congressmen, and providing educational programs. In short, it does what all lobbies do, and while it lacks the clout of the banking or oil lobby, it is enormously effective for the simple reason that the American people are supportive of Israel. In addition, AIPAC is very good at its job.

If this sounds admirable, it is. In Americas vibrant democracy, a group of citizens has come together to defend another democracy, a tiny state surrounded by enemies in the radicalized Middle East. What then is there to expose?

Bruck offers more or less the same far-fetched answers that we heard from the last major expos, written by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in 2007. AIPAC, she suggests, basically controls American foreign policy in the Middle East. Members of Congress are victims of the AIPAC machine, forced by its political pressure to put the interests of Israel before the interests of America. Furthermore, as Israel has moved to the right, AIPAC has allowed itself to become a tool of rightwing Republicans who want to use Israel as a wedge issue to undermine President Obama. But, Bruck concludes, things are looking up. The American public, members of Congress, and even American Jews are fed up with the increasing extremism of both AIPAC and the Netanyahu government, and AIPACs support is declining.

The Bruck article does offer a few interesting insights, but its hostility to AIPAC and Israel is so intense that it is impossible to take seriously. Bruck professes to see AIPAC as a terrible bully, but the kind of arm-twisting that she describes happens every day in Washington. Since lobbying and tough talk on every issue imaginable are the very lifeblood of our political system, why exactly is advocacy for Israel any less legitimate than advocacy for any of the other matters, foreign and domestic, that come before Congress?

Furthermore, Brucks portrayal of Israel as the villain in Gaza is the best gauge of how she really feels about the Jewish state. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, more than 15,000 rockets have been fired at Israels civilian centers, traumatizing the population and bringing ordinary life in large parts of Israel to a halt. While the civilian casualties in Gaza are tragic, Israel is the victim of Hamas, and not the other way around.

And finally, the picture that she presents of members of Congress borders on the absurd. They do pay attention to AIPACand to other lobbying groups, their own sense of duty, and most important, what they see, rightly, as the pro-Israel sentiments of their constituents. Even an American public that does not hold Senators and Congresspersons in high regard is not prepared to accept as credible that they are mindless automatons, disregarding principle and blindly accepting AIPACs dictates.

Bruck gets some things right. While the danger of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is a serious issue and a legitimate concern of Congress, we see from Brucks account that AIPAC bungled its handling of the matter. And she is right that despite its claim of bipartisanship, it has not always done well in that regard. As an example of AIPACs professed intentions, she quotes a statement by the AIPAC spokesman: Our position in support of the Oslo process and the two-state solution have generated criticism from some on the right, just as our stand for strong prospective Iran sanctions has spurred criticism from on the left. Fair enough. But while AIPAC leaders frequently talk about Iran sanctions, they hardly ever mention the two-state solutionor the settlements that may prevent such a solution from happening. These subjects are virtually absent from their educational materials and their annual conferences. If AIPAC is serious about bipartisanship and about bringing more Democrats, liberals, and young people into the AIPAC tent, it will need to advocate for the two-state solution that it already supports.

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Ukraine: The clash of partnerships

Ukraine: The clash of partnerships John Feffer

The Cold War is history. For those growing up today, the Cold War is as distant in time as World War II was for those came of age in the 1970s. In both cases, empires collapsed and maps were redrawn. Repugnant ideologies were laid bare and then laid to rest, though patches of nostalgia persist.

Surely the Cold War has been consigned to the textbooks as irrevocably as the Battle of the Bulge. The Berlin Wall is in pieces. The US president speaks of the abolition of nuclear weapons. The “common European home” from the Atlantic to the Urals – a conceit embraced by such odd bedfellows as De Gaulle and Gorbachev – beckons on the horizon, with the OSCE in place and

the European Union creeping ever eastward. Tensions inevitably crop up, but they’re nothing worth exchanging inter-continental ballistic missile’s over.

What was once confrontation has turned into joint efforts to address global challenges: stabilizing the world economy, negotiating nuclear agreements with Iran, ending the war in Syria. A long article in The New Yorker on a multi-billion dollar nuclear fusion project being constructed in France reminds us that this quest for a sustainable replacement for fossil fuels began as a late-Cold War agreement between Moscow and Washington. Impending environmental catastrophe is gradually uniting all sides in much the same way that Ronald Reagan once imagined that a Martian invasion would.

And then there’s Ukraine.

Just when you thought it was safe to get back into geopolitics, the Cold War has reared its ugly head once again. All your favorite characters have returned to the footlights – the iron-fisted Russian leader, the thundering American secretary of state, troops of multiple nations on alert, and lots of cloak-and-dagger intrigue behind the scenes. And starring in the role of Prague 1968 is that new and untested actor: Crimea 2014. We can only hope that history is repeating itself as farce, not as a tragic tale told twice.

But there are some crucial differences in this restaging of the Cold War classic. The West has not been practicing containment of Russia so much as rollback of its influence by expanding NATO and the EU up to the country’s doorstep. And Moscow is not invoking some form of internationalism in support of ideological compatriots but nationalism pure and simple to safeguard its ethnic brethren. Moreover, this is a democratic age: Russian military intervention now comes with the Duma’s imprimatur. From the West, so far, has come much sound and fury, including the threat of economic sanctions and other penalties, but a military response remains off the table. There is still time to find a diplomatic solution that can preserve Ukrainian sovereignty, address the concerns of Russians on both sides of the border, and revive that old vision of a common European home that treats Russia as a member, not a mobster.

When people speak of “Russia’s doorstep,” they mean Ukraine. No one aspires to be a doorstep, because that’s what people walk on with their muddy boots. As Timothy Snyder has detailed in his book Bloodlands, Ukraine has suffered incalculable losses because of its location, first as a locus of potential resistance to Soviet control and then as a battleground during World War II. War pushed the country’s boundaries westward to incorporate what had once been parts of Poland. Changing the map only further emphasized Ukraine’s centrality to the fate of Europe, particularly after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The western sections have leaned Europe-ward while large numbers of Russian speakers in the east feel some measure of allegiance to Moscow.

It’s not just language that pulls Ukraine in two directions like the poor baby in King Solomon’s parable. It’s also a question of which collective entity to huddle in for shelter. Ukraine joined Russia and Belarus to create the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in December 1991 as the Soviet Union fell to pieces around them. But Ukraine was also the first CIS member to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 1994. Fifteen years later, Ukraine signed up for the European Union’s Eastern Partnership. Russia has not been happy about either of these partnerships. Moscow put together its own partnership, the Eurasian Economic Community, more than a dozen years ago, but Ukraine is only an observer.

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CrossTalk: Containment 2.0? (ft. Stephen Cohen & John Mearsheimer) – Video



CrossTalk: Containment 2.0? (ft. Stephen Cohen amp;amp; John Mearsheimer)
CrossTalk: Containment 2.0? (ft. Stephen Cohen amp; John Mearsheimer) CrossTalk: Containment 2.0? (ft. Stephen Cohen amp; John Mearsheimer) CrossTa…

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Kerrys Propaganda War on Russias RT

Exclusive: Secretary of State Kerry, who has bumbledthrough a string of propaganda fiascos on Ukraine,decries Russias RT network as a propaganda bullhorn that Americans should ignore justtrustwhat the U.S. governmenttells you, an idea that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern rejects.

By Ray McGovern

When specialists with a good sense of history insist that war with Russia is not unthinkable precipitated by events in Ukraine, one should take careful note. The not unthinkable quote is from pre-eminent American historian of Russia, Stephen F. Cohen, who recently appeared with John J. Mearsheimer, historian of U.S. foreign policy, on RTs Crosstalk.

That Cohen and Mearsheimer are professors should not be held against them. They typify the best; they are not of the ivory-tower type. And, on Ukraine, they are a far cry from the ersatz-professors, the former U.S. officials and the blathering pundits dominating TV and newspapers, including the New York Times which is supposedly pledged to provide all the news thats fit to print.

Secretary of State John Kerry denounces Russias RT network as a propaganda bullhorn during remarks on April 24, 2014.

The Cohen/Mearsheimer commentary provided much-needed historical perspective for what is going on in Ukraine.And the possibility of a war between nuclear-armed U.S. and Russia over Ukraine is unsettling. But watch the Crosstalk program; it will help you understand why Secretary of State John Kerry has launched his own personal vendetta against RT, which is funded by the Russian government but offers important on-the-ground reporting and diverse opinions on a wide variety of topics.

Ironically, Kerry was warned three years ago by his predecessor of the steady strides being made by RT as well as Al-Jazeera and CCTV (the new English-language programming set up by China). At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with then-Sen. Kerry in the chair, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamented that the U.S. is losing the information war, and added that she finds watching RT quite instructive.

Are Kerry and Clinton unable to grasp that the U.S. corporate medias regurgitation of the manifold and manifestly deceitful justifications for U.S. actions abroad is the main reason whyRT and others are gaining on us? Despite awesome advances in communications technology, it remains difficult to make a silk purse out of a pigs ear, which is often what U.S. policies abroad are, especially to the people of the targeted countries.

It is easy to blame Russian propaganda for just about everything, including the public distrust of the endless propaganda pouring forth from Official Washington and its fawning corporate media. But people tire of the constant spin from U.S. officials and the one-sided coverage by the U.S. mainstream press. I may be nave about this, but I think people really do prefer the truth.

Yet, it is in vogue to blame Washingtons loss of credibility on Kremlin propaganda.At a State Department press conference last Thursday, Kerry lashed out at RT for its coverage on Ukraine:

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NATO's big problem is its military

STORY HIGHLIGHTS (CNN) — The future of Europe may rest on whether NATO can recover its roots. With Russian President Vladimir Putin “land grabbing” and violating international law, the alliance is finding itself “brought back to its core,” says Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s former secretary general. But it isn’t prepared. When NATO was founded in 1949, its central task was to protect its members against military aggression and work to promote democracy — which, in the years following, often meant standing against the Soviet empire. The alliance declares success in achieving that goal peacefully, saying on its website that “throughout the entire period of the Cold War, NATO forces were not involved in a single military engagement.” Unmarked military vehicles burn on a country road in Berezove, Ukraine after a clash between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists. But things changed after the Cold War. The focus was no longer on Russia. NATO says “new threats” emerged. The alliance got involved militarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, and later in Macedonia. It established a military force in Afghanistan, and has forces in Somalia and some other parts of Africa. Now, Russia is increasing its reach, and getting close to NATO terrain. It annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March and is accused of sending its troops into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian rebels, a claim that Moscow denies. So, 55 years into its existence, NATO finds itself, as the Financial Times put it, going “back to the future.” Just how to do that is a central question as the alliance convenes its summit in Wales. “The problem NATO has is it’s not fully ready to be able to protect its own members,” Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, told CNN. NATO’s military preparedness is “paltry compared to the kinds of steps the Russians are taking.”

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David J. Meadows: Reassessing post-Cold War assumptions after Russias invasion of Ukraine

Since April, Russia had been waging a proxy war in eastern Ukraine. Although no war was officially declared, Russias covert and overt support was crucial in financing, equipping, providing personnel, and supplying intelligence to the pro-Russian separatists. Still, even with such support, pro-Russian separatist rebels proved unable to counter Ukraines military advances. As a result, Russia recently made the fateful decision to undertake a direct military invasion into southeastern Ukraine, turning what was previously only a proxy war into something undeniably real. However, even with units of the Russian army invading and occupying parts of eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied any Russian involvement, and cynically played himself off as being a peacemaker. Most recently, Putin even had the audacity to suggest that the Ukrainian government in Kyiv needed to sit down and seriously discuss statehood for the Russian occupied regions of eastern Ukraine. In reality, Russias illegal annexation of Crimea and current invasion of eastern Ukraine, illustrates that historical patterns of Russian imperialism never went away after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet Russias actions in Ukraine appear to have come as a surprise to many policymakers, analysts, and media commentators in the West. Part of the problem is that many in the West were lulled into a false sense of security after the end of the Cold War, stemming from the widely accepted triumph of liberalism thesis popularized by Francis Fukuyama, where it was taken for granted that Russia and the other post-Communist states would transition into democracies and liberalized economies. As a result, many analysts and policy elites in the West generally failed to see the illiberal patterns of post-1991 transformation actually taking place in Russia. That assessment would have pointed to the coming of an increasingly authoritarian, atavistic, and re-assertive Russia. The triumph of liberalism largely proved to be illusory and false, as Russia is far from being either a democracy or liberalized economy. But this has not been so much a reversal of reforms. Even a cursory glance at political patterns in Russia compared to the relative rates of transformation in leading liberal reform countries, such as the Baltic States, Czech Republic, and Poland would have revealed that Russia was actually a laggard in putting in place significant democratization and economic liberalization policies. On democratization, Russia lagged behind when it came to comprehensive reforms to ensure the protection of individual rights, rule of law, and private property rights. These reforms would have all served as prime ingredients buttressing a stable democracy. Consequently, comparatively little change occurred during the crucial years of the 1990s. Instead, there was backsliding on most of the tentative reforms, and increasing reversion towards authoritarianism, as illustrated in Freedom Houses annual rankings. While often overlooked by many Western analysts, Russian political culture simply lacks the historically rooted liberal-democratic traditions that often underpin democratic consolidation. Another problem has been Moscows increasingly firm control over the Russian media, which now promotes a stridently anti-democratic, anti-capitalist, and anti-Western message. In terms of economic liberalization, evidence suggests that far-reaching reforms in Russia were marginal and not even halfway at best, particularly in Russias dubious attempts at privatization. Instead, many of the business practices from Soviet times continued to persist. This was especially apparent with Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, where the state has retained virtual control. Indeed, Gazprom has served as a key foreign policy tool used to promote Moscows interests in disputes with Ukraine, the Baltic States, and other European Union (EU) members. Russias failure to democratize, and its reversion to authoritarianism, was also matched by historical continuities in foreign policy reminiscent of Soviet times. Although underreported and often ignored by Western media, this has been happening more and more since 1991. Throughout the 1990s, Moscow supported separatists in proxy wars in Transnistria in Moldova, and in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. It also attempted to coerce and bully the governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania away from their desire to democratize and liberalize economically, which were key steps to return to Europe and move away from Russia. To illustrate one specific example, Latvia repeatedly faced significant coercion from Russia, which included embargoes of trade, oil, and gas; delaying tactics in the closure of Russian military bases and troop withdrawals; stalling on ratifying border agreements; threats over the treatment of ethnic-Russians; and economic sanctions for not conceding privileged access to Russian oil and gas interests. Russian officials and media even resorted to baseless propaganda in calling Latvia fascist, in what can only be described as a rehearsal to the type of vitriolic propaganda being directed at the current government in Kyiv. However, it was not until the Russian cyber attacks on Estonia in 2007, and the Russian invasion of Georgia in the summer of 2008, that many in the West began to wake up to Moscows revanchist behaviour even if such attention proved to be short-lived. Sadly, it was not until Russias recent illegal annexation of Crimea, the tragedy of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, and Moscows support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, that many Western leaders began to realize that Russian interests are increasingly out of sync with the commonly shared liberal-democratic values found among members of the EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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NATO, EU Should Give Up Plans of Incorporating Ukraine Dr. John Mearsheimer

MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) The West ought to fundamentally change its approach towards the Ukrainian crisis, making Ukraine a ‘neutral buffer’ between Russia and NATO instead of westernizing it, asserts John J. Mearsheimer, American professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. “The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win,” he emphasizes in his article “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the Wests Fault,” recently published in Foreign Affairs magazine. According to the myth circulating in the western mainstream media, Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to “resuscitate the Soviet empire,” and overthrow Ukrainian President Yanukovych, pointing to Russia’s incorporation of Crimea as pretext. These arguments, however, collapse upon careful scrutiny, the professor notes, as “if Putin were committed to creating a greater Russia, signs of his intentions would almost certainly have arisen before February 22.” It is the United States and its European allies who bear most of responsibility for the Ukrainian crisis, he adds. The root of the problem lies in rapid expansion of NATO and the EU in Eastern Europe towards Russia’s borders, which had begun immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian coup has evidently become “the final straw” for Moscow, the professor underscores. According to John J. Mearsheimer, Vladimir Putin’s decision to protect Crimea was spontaneous, as “he [Putin] feared [Crimea] would host a NATO naval base.” Since the Pentagon and the pro-western Ukrainian elite have repeatedly considered Russia’s Black Sea Fleet expelling from the peninsular, his anxiety was not groundless. “US and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russias border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy,” the professor stresses. Putin’s reaction is quite understandable, asserts the author. “Imagine the American outrage if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico,” he writes. John J. Mearsheimer emphasizes that Washington should realize the logic behind Moscow’s stance, although it may dislike it. “This is Geopolitics 101: great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory,” reminds the professor. The US sanctions policy against Russia is a road to nowhere, he adds, as history has repeatedly shown countries could “absorb enormous amounts of punishment in order to protect their core strategic interests.” John J. Mearsheimer believes that the US and its European allies should suspend NATO’s expansion into Ukraine and Georgia as well. Furthermore, the West should present a viable economic recovery plan for Ukraine and join efforts with Moscow to accomplish this task. Along with this Washington and Brussels should “considerably limit” their social-engineering practice in Ukraine. Thus, neutral and prosperous Ukraine will become a “win-win” solution for all sides, stresses the professor.

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August 31, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Europe threatens more sanctions while Ukraine says Russia is already at war

On the move: Ukrainian servicemen of volunteer battalion Azov ride towards the town of Novoazovsk in the Donetsk region. Photo: AFP Washington:In a tit-for-tat escalation in the separatist crisis in eastern Ukraine,there’s a real danger that a bigger historical picture is being lost in acontest for today’s news headlines. Despite categorical statements by US President Barack Obama and a host of European leaders that there will be no military response to Russia’s rope-a-dope mix ofaggression one day and humanitarian diplomacy the next, European officialswere doing a war dance for the cameras on the weekend. Jose Manuel Barroso, outgoing president of the European Commission, said: “We are ina very serious, I would say, dramatic situation where we can reach the pointof no return.” Arguing that Russia was at war with Ukraine, Lithuanian President DaliaGrybauskaite, declared: “We need to help Ukraine to defend its territory andits people and to help militarily because today Ukraine is fighting a war onbehalf of all Europe.” That was a cue for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who intoned: “Today,we’re talking about the fate of Ukraine; tomorrow, it could be for all Europe.” Protest: A man holds a placard reading “Putin get out!” during a rally in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Photo: AFP They were ramping up the rhetoric ahead of a NATO leaders conference inWales on Thursday. But British and other officials were quick to weigh in,insisting that the only weapon likely to be fired would be another round ofsanctions which surely must have Russian President Vladimir Putin trembling in his boots. Advertisement A war for Europe has been a constant in the Kievrhetoric since early this year, when the Russian president snatched theCrimean peninsula and started running weapons and fighters over his westernborder.

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August 31, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

West rules out military action against Russia despite 'war dance' on behalf of Ukraine

On the move: Ukrainian servicemen of volunteer battalion Azov ride towards the town of Novoazovsk in the Donetsk region. Photo: AFP Washington:In a tit-for-tat escalation in the separatist crisis in eastern Ukraine,there’s a real danger that a bigger historical picture is being lost in acontest for today’s news headlines. Despite categorical statements by US President Barack Obama and a host of European leaders that there will be no military response to Russia’s rope-a-dope mix ofaggression one day and humanitarian diplomacy the next, European officialswere doing a war dance for the cameras on the weekend. Jose Manuel Barroso, outgoing president of the European Commission, said: “We are ina very serious, I would say, dramatic situation where we can reach the pointof no return.” Arguing that Russia was at war with Ukraine, Lithuanian President DaliaGrybauskaite, declared: “We need to help Ukraine to defend its territory andits people and to help militarily because today Ukraine is fighting a war onbehalf of all Europe.” That was a cue for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who intoned: “Today,we’re talking about the fate of Ukraine; tomorrow, it could be for all Europe.” Protest: A man holds a placard reading “Putin get out!” during a rally in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Photo: AFP They were ramping up the rhetoric ahead of a NATO leaders conference inWales on Thursday. But British and other officials were quick to weigh in,insisting that the only weapon likely to be fired would be another round ofsanctions which surely must have Russian President Vladimir Putin trembling in his boots. Advertisement A war for Europe has been a constant in the Kievrhetoric since early this year, when the Russian president snatched theCrimean peninsula and started running weapons and fighters over his westernborder.

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August 31, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

The AIPAC Wars are Underway Again

TIME Opinion faith The AIPAC Wars are Underway Again Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to the cheering audience as he arrives to speak to the AIPAC meeting at the Washington Convention Center on March 4, 2014, in Washington. Carolyn KasterAP The latest attack on AIPAC is seriously flawed AIPACthe American Israel Public Affairs Committeeis a lobby created by American Jews and devoted to improving relations between the United States and Israel. Every 5 or 6 years a book or major article is published, containing an expos on how AIPAC operates. The latest version, a 12,000-word article written by Connie Bruck and entitled Friends of Israel, appears in the September 1 edition of The New Yorker. The problem with this most recent effort, like the ones that precede it, is that it tells us very little we dont already know. The workings of AIPAC are not a secret. The organization was founded 50 years ago with a small office in Washington, D.C., but now has a hundred thousand members and a grassroots presence in every state and congressional district. It does not endorse candidates or raise funds for campaigns, but many in the Jewish community will donate or not depending on whether a politician backs AIPAC positions. AIPAC is committed to the proposition that Israel is a vital ally of the United States, and it supports military aid and political backing for the Jewish state. It operates by initiating email campaigns, offering trips to Israel for politicians and community leaders, developing constituency groups that will contact their Senators and Congressmen, and providing educational programs. In short, it does what all lobbies do, and while it lacks the clout of the banking or oil lobby, it is enormously effective for the simple reason that the American people are supportive of Israel. In addition, AIPAC is very good at its job. If this sounds admirable, it is. In Americas vibrant democracy, a group of citizens has come together to defend another democracy, a tiny state surrounded by enemies in the radicalized Middle East. What then is there to expose? Bruck offers more or less the same far-fetched answers that we heard from the last major expos, written by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in 2007. AIPAC, she suggests, basically controls American foreign policy in the Middle East. Members of Congress are victims of the AIPAC machine, forced by its political pressure to put the interests of Israel before the interests of America. Furthermore, as Israel has moved to the right, AIPAC has allowed itself to become a tool of rightwing Republicans who want to use Israel as a wedge issue to undermine President Obama. But, Bruck concludes, things are looking up. The American public, members of Congress, and even American Jews are fed up with the increasing extremism of both AIPAC and the Netanyahu government, and AIPACs support is declining. The Bruck article does offer a few interesting insights, but its hostility to AIPAC and Israel is so intense that it is impossible to take seriously. Bruck professes to see AIPAC as a terrible bully, but the kind of arm-twisting that she describes happens every day in Washington. Since lobbying and tough talk on every issue imaginable are the very lifeblood of our political system, why exactly is advocacy for Israel any less legitimate than advocacy for any of the other matters, foreign and domestic, that come before Congress? Furthermore, Brucks portrayal of Israel as the villain in Gaza is the best gauge of how she really feels about the Jewish state. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, more than 15,000 rockets have been fired at Israels civilian centers, traumatizing the population and bringing ordinary life in large parts of Israel to a halt. While the civilian casualties in Gaza are tragic, Israel is the victim of Hamas, and not the other way around. And finally, the picture that she presents of members of Congress borders on the absurd. They do pay attention to AIPACand to other lobbying groups, their own sense of duty, and most important, what they see, rightly, as the pro-Israel sentiments of their constituents. Even an American public that does not hold Senators and Congresspersons in high regard is not prepared to accept as credible that they are mindless automatons, disregarding principle and blindly accepting AIPACs dictates. Bruck gets some things right. While the danger of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is a serious issue and a legitimate concern of Congress, we see from Brucks account that AIPAC bungled its handling of the matter. And she is right that despite its claim of bipartisanship, it has not always done well in that regard. As an example of AIPACs professed intentions, she quotes a statement by the AIPAC spokesman: Our position in support of the Oslo process and the two-state solution have generated criticism from some on the right, just as our stand for strong prospective Iran sanctions has spurred criticism from on the left. Fair enough. But while AIPAC leaders frequently talk about Iran sanctions, they hardly ever mention the two-state solutionor the settlements that may prevent such a solution from happening. These subjects are virtually absent from their educational materials and their annual conferences. If AIPAC is serious about bipartisanship and about bringing more Democrats, liberals, and young people into the AIPAC tent, it will need to advocate for the two-state solution that it already supports.

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August 31, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Ukraine: The clash of partnerships

Ukraine: The clash of partnerships John Feffer The Cold War is history. For those growing up today, the Cold War is as distant in time as World War II was for those came of age in the 1970s. In both cases, empires collapsed and maps were redrawn. Repugnant ideologies were laid bare and then laid to rest, though patches of nostalgia persist. Surely the Cold War has been consigned to the textbooks as irrevocably as the Battle of the Bulge. The Berlin Wall is in pieces. The US president speaks of the abolition of nuclear weapons. The “common European home” from the Atlantic to the Urals – a conceit embraced by such odd bedfellows as De Gaulle and Gorbachev – beckons on the horizon, with the OSCE in place and the European Union creeping ever eastward. Tensions inevitably crop up, but they’re nothing worth exchanging inter-continental ballistic missile’s over. What was once confrontation has turned into joint efforts to address global challenges: stabilizing the world economy, negotiating nuclear agreements with Iran, ending the war in Syria. A long article in The New Yorker on a multi-billion dollar nuclear fusion project being constructed in France reminds us that this quest for a sustainable replacement for fossil fuels began as a late-Cold War agreement between Moscow and Washington. Impending environmental catastrophe is gradually uniting all sides in much the same way that Ronald Reagan once imagined that a Martian invasion would. And then there’s Ukraine. Just when you thought it was safe to get back into geopolitics, the Cold War has reared its ugly head once again. All your favorite characters have returned to the footlights – the iron-fisted Russian leader, the thundering American secretary of state, troops of multiple nations on alert, and lots of cloak-and-dagger intrigue behind the scenes. And starring in the role of Prague 1968 is that new and untested actor: Crimea 2014. We can only hope that history is repeating itself as farce, not as a tragic tale told twice. But there are some crucial differences in this restaging of the Cold War classic. The West has not been practicing containment of Russia so much as rollback of its influence by expanding NATO and the EU up to the country’s doorstep. And Moscow is not invoking some form of internationalism in support of ideological compatriots but nationalism pure and simple to safeguard its ethnic brethren. Moreover, this is a democratic age: Russian military intervention now comes with the Duma’s imprimatur. From the West, so far, has come much sound and fury, including the threat of economic sanctions and other penalties, but a military response remains off the table. There is still time to find a diplomatic solution that can preserve Ukrainian sovereignty, address the concerns of Russians on both sides of the border, and revive that old vision of a common European home that treats Russia as a member, not a mobster. When people speak of “Russia’s doorstep,” they mean Ukraine. No one aspires to be a doorstep, because that’s what people walk on with their muddy boots. As Timothy Snyder has detailed in his book Bloodlands, Ukraine has suffered incalculable losses because of its location, first as a locus of potential resistance to Soviet control and then as a battleground during World War II. War pushed the country’s boundaries westward to incorporate what had once been parts of Poland. Changing the map only further emphasized Ukraine’s centrality to the fate of Europe, particularly after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The western sections have leaned Europe-ward while large numbers of Russian speakers in the east feel some measure of allegiance to Moscow. It’s not just language that pulls Ukraine in two directions like the poor baby in King Solomon’s parable. It’s also a question of which collective entity to huddle in for shelter. Ukraine joined Russia and Belarus to create the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in December 1991 as the Soviet Union fell to pieces around them. But Ukraine was also the first CIS member to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 1994. Fifteen years later, Ukraine signed up for the European Union’s Eastern Partnership. Russia has not been happy about either of these partnerships. Moscow put together its own partnership, the Eurasian Economic Community, more than a dozen years ago, but Ukraine is only an observer.

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August 31, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

CrossTalk: Containment 2.0? (ft. Stephen Cohen & John Mearsheimer) – Video




CrossTalk: Containment 2.0? (ft. Stephen Cohen amp;amp; John Mearsheimer) CrossTalk: Containment 2.0? (ft. Stephen Cohen amp; John Mearsheimer) CrossTalk: Containment 2.0? (ft. Stephen Cohen amp; John Mearsheimer) CrossTa… By: nOCoReL Wan

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May 2, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Kerrys Propaganda War on Russias RT

Exclusive: Secretary of State Kerry, who has bumbledthrough a string of propaganda fiascos on Ukraine,decries Russias RT network as a propaganda bullhorn that Americans should ignore justtrustwhat the U.S. governmenttells you, an idea that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern rejects. By Ray McGovern When specialists with a good sense of history insist that war with Russia is not unthinkable precipitated by events in Ukraine, one should take careful note. The not unthinkable quote is from pre-eminent American historian of Russia, Stephen F. Cohen, who recently appeared with John J. Mearsheimer, historian of U.S. foreign policy, on RTs Crosstalk. That Cohen and Mearsheimer are professors should not be held against them. They typify the best; they are not of the ivory-tower type. And, on Ukraine, they are a far cry from the ersatz-professors, the former U.S. officials and the blathering pundits dominating TV and newspapers, including the New York Times which is supposedly pledged to provide all the news thats fit to print. Secretary of State John Kerry denounces Russias RT network as a propaganda bullhorn during remarks on April 24, 2014. The Cohen/Mearsheimer commentary provided much-needed historical perspective for what is going on in Ukraine.And the possibility of a war between nuclear-armed U.S. and Russia over Ukraine is unsettling. But watch the Crosstalk program; it will help you understand why Secretary of State John Kerry has launched his own personal vendetta against RT, which is funded by the Russian government but offers important on-the-ground reporting and diverse opinions on a wide variety of topics. Ironically, Kerry was warned three years ago by his predecessor of the steady strides being made by RT as well as Al-Jazeera and CCTV (the new English-language programming set up by China). At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with then-Sen. Kerry in the chair, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamented that the U.S. is losing the information war, and added that she finds watching RT quite instructive. Are Kerry and Clinton unable to grasp that the U.S. corporate medias regurgitation of the manifold and manifestly deceitful justifications for U.S. actions abroad is the main reason whyRT and others are gaining on us? Despite awesome advances in communications technology, it remains difficult to make a silk purse out of a pigs ear, which is often what U.S. policies abroad are, especially to the people of the targeted countries. It is easy to blame Russian propaganda for just about everything, including the public distrust of the endless propaganda pouring forth from Official Washington and its fawning corporate media. But people tire of the constant spin from U.S. officials and the one-sided coverage by the U.S. mainstream press. I may be nave about this, but I think people really do prefer the truth. Yet, it is in vogue to blame Washingtons loss of credibility on Kremlin propaganda.At a State Department press conference last Thursday, Kerry lashed out at RT for its coverage on Ukraine:

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May 1, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed


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