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My opinion on the war has changed. I no longer support our goal in Iraq, because it has shifted from the goal of self-defense to the futile goal of bringing democracy to a barbarian culture with no respect for human life or the rule of law, sacrificing our soldiers in the process.

So, while I don't exactly support the war anymore, I think that withdrawal is an even worse idea, because it will be seen as a victory for the jihadists. In the best of worlds, Bush would realize his mistakes and shift his objectives to self-defense...try to achieve a victory, rathern than trying not to lose. But I don't see this happening with Bush or any other politician who is likely to take his place.

What do you think needs to be done?

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What do you think needs to be done?
1: Send a photocopy of the map of the Turkish-Iraqi border, and inform Turkey that it is inviolable. 2: Inform the Kurdish government that we will defend their right to exist as long as they remain civilized. 3: Inform the Baghdad government that military incursions across the Kurdistan border will not be tolerated. 4: Inform the Baghdad government that we will not tolerate Iraq becoming a staging ground for terrorist attacks against the civilized world. 5: Remove all US troops from Iraq. 6: Mean it.
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In the best of worlds, Bush would realize his mistakes and shift his objectives to self-defense...try to achieve a victory, rathern than trying not to lose. But I don't see this happening with Bush or any other politician who is likely to take his place.

I'm afraid you're right about that. The MSM is certainly trying to prevent it from happening, by telling us that Republicans lost because they were too hawkish and that voters want more "moderate" politicians. What needs to be done is to explain that the truth is the exact opposite of that.

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At THIS point, we have certainly got ourselves into a hole...although we can get out of it...

As a start, we should withdraw from the Geneva Convention accords and all other rules grounded in Just War theory.

While it was a mistake to scurry about trying to figure out how to implement a new political system in a country before the country was even defeated [although the strategy the war was fought with never permitted the option of defeat of the enemy in the first place], Iraq has come under new leadership, endorsed by us, while we are still in the country fighting an insurgency. This really makes things messy, but the best way to handle the problem in Iraq is, as has been said many times over, to eliminate the threat in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc.

Condi said something to the effect of, "Iran acts as the central banker for terrorism in the middle east..." If we crush the source and backing of jihadists, which we should have done in the first place, things will shape up for us.

DavidOdden, I like your idea of informing the Kurdish government that we will defend their right to exist as long as they remain civilized.

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My opinion on the war has changed. I no longer support our goal in Iraq, because it has shifted from the goal of self-defense to the futile goal of bringing democracy to a barbarian culture with no respect for human life or the rule of law, sacrificing our soldiers in the process.

Withdrawing now without establishing a running democratic regime will mean the USA would have to invest more money in the future, fighting the next Iran.

Objectivism has a retribution policy in foreign affairs, and "educating" policy in internal affairs: meaning that investing time and money in changing US citizen's philosophy for capitalism and individualism is good, trying to change the government by force is bad, but with foreign countries investing time and money in educating is bad, but using force is good.

Why? I don't know. I think that investing resources in "educating" would be a very good solution: I think that the USA should insist that Arab countries will not use anti-freedom, anti-America books in educating kids (in schools). And they should insist on this just as they insist that they do not develop nuclear weapons.

And another question I have about Iraq: Isn't the majority of the fighters Al-Qaeda terrorists rather than Iraqi citizens?

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...

Objectivism has a retribution policy in foreign affairs, and "educating" policy in internal affairs: meaning that investing time and money in changing US citizen's philosophy for capitalism and individualism is good, trying to change the government by force is bad, but with foreign countries investing time and money in educating is bad, but using force is good.

...

I disagree with you in several points you made in this segment:

1. Objectivism has no "retribution" policy as such, but rather a self defense against force policy. From the p.o.v of a government that would mean : The country is under attack -> I must protect my citizens and prevent such things from happening -> I attack the offender so the attack is stopped and never happens again (like nuking Japan in WWii).

2. An ideal Objectivist government is funded by it's citizens for 3 reasons : Self defense against outside aggressors (The military), Self defense against inside aggressors (The police force) and Mediating disputes between citizens (The courts). A government based on those ideas cannot ethically spend her citizen's money on foreign education such as you suggest because that's contradictory to Objectivist ethics (just like government social security is contradictory to Objectivism).To put it bluntly - as an Objectivist government I must not finance any aspect of a foreign citizen's life on the expense of my citizens.

3. Trying to change the government in the country you live by force is not bad as such . For instance - If you lived in Germany in 1933 , would it be immoral to change the Nazi government by force in order to liberate it's citizens? I think not. Using force in order to gain freedom is not immoral. However, if you live in a relatively free society (like the US) , using force to change the government is wrong because you will not really gain freedom by doing so.

I am running out of time, but I will post a more coherent reply to the topic....

Alon

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Withdrawing now without establishing a running democratic regime will mean the USA would have to invest more money in the future, fighting the next Iran.
How much money will be necessary for us to spend in order to establish a rights-respecting government in the first place? (Footnote: Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was elected on 24 June, 2005, with 61% of the vote. No rational person wants mob rule a.k.a. democracy, though that is what Iran has now). When daily costs approach $200 million, if we were to withdraw now and bank that money, even if we felt the urge to return to "save" the Iraqi people from themselves in a couple of years, we could easily obliterate the sitting Shite Islamofascist regime at the same cost (since one way or the other, the Shites are gonna drag that country down into terminal civil war, so if you think it is America's obligation to pound trillions of dollars worth of sand down a rathole, we might as well at least take a break from commiting slow suicide for a few years). If there were a reason to think that another two thousand American deaths and a couple trillion dollars more might somehow bring freedom to Iraq, I might at least consider the arguments, but until you can give even a smattering of a reason to think that freedom and rational behavior is possible there, I don't see that the "stay the course" argument has a jot of persuasiveness.
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I'm going to reply to what you said not in the order you said it - on purpose: the order I choose builds up towards my point:

Reply to point 3:

However, if you live in a relatively free society (like the US) , using force to change the government is wrong because you will not really gain freedom by doing so.

Not in the short term, but certainly in the long term. Freedom can be gained by force. It's the cost and the method's-efficiency that are in question here, when considering the best course of action.

Reply to point 2:

A government based on those ideas cannot ethically spend her citizen's money on foreign education such as you suggest because that's contradictory to Objectivist ethics (just like government social security is contradictory to Objectivism).To put it bluntly - as an Objectivist government I must not finance any aspect of a foreign citizen's life on the expense of my citizens.

The ARI is investing a lot of resources in educating other people. If the goal of an individual is to live only for the sake of oneself, then educating US citizens for capitalism, without any agreed-upon payment is altruism according to your view.

But of course it isn't a sacrifice: it is a form of self-defense, and investment in their (each of the individuals there) future.

Reply to points 1:

Objectivism has no "retribution" policy as such, but rather a self defense against force policy

Self defense can be done in several ways: one of them is retribution, the other is prevention. You can fight an enemy's guns or you can fight an enemy's philosophy. Investing money in changing the philosophy of your enemy is a form of self-defense, in the same way that the ARI promoting capitalism & individualism is a form of self-defense.

The primary difference between the two methods of self-defense is that in one you also provide your enemy with a value (a good philosophy), in the other you only destroy. But both are methods of self defense.

Now to get back to my question: Why does the ARI only encourage choosing the educating strategy in internal policy, but not in external policy?

I believe the answer involves arguments of efficiency and cost. I'll leave the presentation of such arguments to someone else, because I want to be the prosecutor in this one.

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1: Send a photocopy of the map of the Turkish-Iraqi border, and inform Turkey that it is inviolable. 2: Inform the Kurdish government that we will defend their right to exist as long as they remain civilized. 3: Inform the Baghdad government that military incursions across the Kurdistan border will not be tolerated. 4: Inform the Baghdad government that we will not tolerate Iraq becoming a staging ground for terrorist attacks against the civilized world. 5: Remove all US troops from Iraq. 6: Mean it.

This is completely right on the money.

Also, sit back and let the Sunni's and Shiites kill each other off in civil war.

This is a good strategy.

Syria is mainly Sunni. Iran is mainly Shiite. Iraq could bring them into conflict instead of friendship. It could also drag in other nations like Saudi Arabia (no friend of the west). If Iraq ends up in the wrong hands, bomb them again, arm the friendlies (if we can find any).

Also, if Iran is becoming a problem, and there is an independent Kurdistan, start shipping arms to the Kurds in Iran to help destablize Iran itself. (we should be doing this right now).

Edited by $$$
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I disagree with people who say we should turn everything over to the Iraqis and leave. For better or worse, we're there. The cost of leaving right now would be too high. It makes America look incredibly weak and it would be perceived as a victory for the jihadists. I fully believe that we need to stay there and fight the good fight at least until things calm down. And the military is fighting the good fight, no matter how misconceived its mission might be. Additionally, Iraq is a magnet for Islamic terrorists. If we want to fight them, there's no logical reason to pull out, since they're coming from all over the eastern hemisphere just to give us that opportunity.

My point in making this thread is basically an admission that I was wrong when I supported the initial invasion. I should have known what it would turn into. I now believe that we should have stayed out of Iraq completely, until the situation with Iran is resolved. Things being what they are, however, I believe a pullout at this stage would be disastrous.

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The cost of leaving right now would be too high.
What is that cost? I don't necessarily mean a precise dollar bottom line, but what do you mean by "the cost of leaving"
It makes America look incredibly weak and it would be perceived as a victory for the jihadists.
I just cannot see any way that that could be true. Now if we omitted stem 6 of the plan, of course, but step 6 is essential to any foreign policy.
I fully believe that we need to stay there and fight the good fight at least until things calm down.
Are you referring to when Hell freeze over. What I do not understand is the basis for your firm belief. I firmly believe that we should implement Odden's 6 point plan. What is "the good fight" -- does that mean "courageously committing suicide under orders"? If so, I agree that the military is fighing fighthing the good fight. But I would also argue that they should be fighting the best fight. Which, in this case, is a strategic withdrawal followed by serious whup-ass on Baghdad if they do not get their house in order. The term "parking lot" comes to mind.
Additionally, Iraq is a magnet for Islamic terrorists. If we want to fight them, there's no logical reason to pull out, since they're coming from all over the eastern hemisphere just to give us that opportunity.
There is a perfectly logical reason to pull out -- to stop killing Americans. I wonder, are you seriously suggesting that using the lives of American soldiers as bait to attract the riff-raff of the Islamic world is a good plan?

I understand that you may want to reduce the matter to the question of the propriety of removing Sodom in the first place. Well, frankly I am also not so sanguine about the initial decision. But whatever validity there was in the initial quarter-hearted move into Iraq, there is no remaining valid reason to continue to destroy American lives and American resources and get absolutely nothing in return.

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And they should insist on this just as they insist that they do not develop nuclear weapons.

They can insist all they want, but unless they back that insistence up by force, the Islamic governments will not care about it any more than ........... they care about the insistence not to develop nuclear weapons.

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.... Freedom can be gained by force. It's the cost and the method's-efficiency that are in question here, when considering the best course of action.

When you live in a relatively free society (Which means a society in which your basic rights are mostly kept , like in the US , or Israel) , the use of force is not considered self defense, and therefore unethical. Of course, it begs the question when is it moral to use force in a revolution, which is out of context in this thread.

The ARI is investing a lot of resources in educating other people. If the goal of an individual is to live only for the sake of oneself, then educating US citizens for capitalism, without any agreed-upon payment is altruism according to your view.

the ARI is a non-profit organization, voluntarily funded by private people (Objectivists). ARI has set it's goals to promote Objectivism in the US , mainly through lectures , conferences and forums. That is obviously not altruism since every man that donates to ARI has the same goals in mind. On the other hand, even in an Objectivist country , taxes are paid by people for militaryself protection and for law enforcement. They do not pay taxes for the education of enemy countries , or (for that matter) for financing other people through social security.

ARI's investment in the education is , therefore , not altruism , but egotism since every man funding ARI selfishly wants to live in a free, Objectivist society.

Now to get back to my question: Why does the ARI only encourage choosing the educating strategy in internal policy, but not in external policy?

I will give you a very simple answer: You cannot educate anyone who doesn't want to be educated. period. You cannot educate people by forcing you ideas on them. It never worked and never will .

You can force them to understand that their ideas are wrong and to make them want hear you ideas. You cannot do any other thing. Japan before the WWII was a country that worshiped death (e.g the Samurai code). When the US nuked them and showed them that the consequences of their Death-worshiping is death and nothing else, they managed in a very short time to change their views and beliefs and became an economic power. You can educate your enemy only by showing him the consequences of his philosophy, not by chanting you ideas at him (Exactly like John Galt showed everyone the consequences of their action in AS).

On the other hand, ARI tries to educate people who want to be educated. No one is forced to go to their lectures, or even to read Ayn Rand's books. ARI cannot educate people who don't want to be educated.

By the way, notice that we both are from Israel, and we still manage to read Ayn Rand's books, and even benefit from ARI's articles and videos on their site, even though we are not from the US (in which ARI works). We wanted to be educated, and we were. I believe that anyone in Iraq who wanted to be educated can be. It cannot be forced on him...

Alon

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With all due respect to our new formed friendship and all, your post is very much devoid of content. It look to me like a bunch of sentences that someone has memorized rather than a logical explanation to support those arguments.

Take this for example:

When you live in a relatively free society (Which means a society in which your basic rights are mostly kept , like in the US , or Israel) , the use of force is not considered self defense, and therefore unethical.

I might as well say, that giving gifts to terrorists is "considered" self-defense and therefor it is ethical. Your "considered" is not a logical explanation: it just shows that in this case you take Peikoff's (or whomever) considerations and make them into a universal truth. Objectivists "consider" this (something) to be good, so therefor it is ethical. WTF?

I claimed that the ARI are giving people values for free (payment is not guaranteed or agreed upon), as a method of self-defense and investment in their (individual) future.

The declared goal of the ARI is not to make money (they can make money as individuals through contracts with other people, that guarantee them payment). Their goal is to "promote Objectivism in the US" like you said.

The reason why they promote Objectivism is to fight for a rational society and ultimately an ideal government (and objective laws). This is self defense: someone is taking their taxes by force, they react by giving their enemy a value: a good philosophy. It is not altruism: it is a form of self-defense, so I claim. Prove me wrong, if you can!

Now I don't know what was the point about telling me things I already know about the ARI ("the ARI is a non-profit organization, voluntarily funded by private people (Objectivists). ARI has set it's goals to promote Objectivism in the US , mainly through lectures..." and so on and so on boring things. ) But one thing you did not do is refute what I said.

Perhaps your arguments are hidden within this summary of what is the ARI: if so, please emphasize just them, and add the context to which they belong, so they make sense as counter-arguments to something I said.

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My opinion on the war has changed. I no longer support our goal in Iraq, because it has shifted from the goal of self-defense to the futile goal of bringing democracy to a barbarian culture ... .

When was the Bush Administration’s goal in Iraq ever self-defense?

Regarding the “the U.S. will look weak if we leave now” argument (not quoting anyone in particular): The U.S. should care about reality, not what other people think. The fact is that in this kind of war, a “4th generation war” on foreign soil where the enemy, however primitive its weapons, feels that it’ s defending its own soil, the U.S. is weak. William S. Lind, who writes for Military.Com, has analyzed this weakness in detail. See his articles at

http://www.Military.com/Opinions/0,,Lind_Index,00.html

The U.S. is strong in that it could carpet any country on earth with nuclear bombs and destroy most everything there. Apparently some people would do that to Iraq, though Iraq never was a threat to the U.S. and any threat it is now was created by the U.S. Our government creating or propping up enemies then going “Augh! an enemy!” is a cycle seen many times before.

I’m sick of this. And I’m sick of rewarding con men in our government with yet more money and power.

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I disagree when you say we shouldn't care what other people think. In the sense that, who cares if the world is against the invasion, I agree. But I'm talking about emboldening the terrorists, thereby encouraging more attacks on Western targets.

Leaving Iraq will be seen as a victory by the jihadists, the same way Hizballah sees a victory in Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon and the same way that Hamas saw a victory in the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. David Odden's point of "Mean it" sounds nice, but the fact is that we've given the world no reason to think that we "mean it," and you're kidding yourself if you think any of our politicians would do such a thing. Given the current politicians in control of the US, withdrawal would be a disaster. We would withdraw and make threats, but we wouldn't back them up.

Now, we may not be fighting the war properly, in Iraq, but at least we're fighting it. I would prefer that we hadn't gone in in the first place, but make no mistake, withdrawal right now would be a sign of weakness. Maybe something will happen over the next few years that will make the war take a turn for the better. For instance, if a new president is elected who is more willing to disregard political correctness. From the current cast of candidates, that doesn't look likely, but we don't really know enough about some of them to make that judgement yet.

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David Odden's point of "Mean it" sounds nice, but the fact is that we've given the world no reason to think that we "mean it," and you're kidding yourself if you think any of our politicians would do such a thing.
Nah, none that I know of. As far as foreign policy goes, the most important thing the US has to do is develop a policy, not just a "position of the week", and the principle that we will use the necessary force has to be the first thing we do -- not may use force, but will. Until we are willing to articulate a principle, something that can be understood at the conceptual level, we really should not be misleading people into thinking that our use of force is meaningful. We don't really have a policy about stopping the Islamist jihad, it would just be convenient for us to not embarass ourselves by admitting "This place really is a totally uncivilized quagmire and it was a mistake to think that we could bring civilization to the Shites".

I don't hold that my 6 point plan is actually likely to be implemented by the current or next US president, so I hope you didn't think I was predicting what would actually happen. I think we will continue to dick around, destroy a couple trillion dollars of tax money, kill another couple thousand troops, there will be a regime change locally and the new commander in chief will negotiate something that resembles a way out, by promising to pour vast amounts of money directly into the Iraqi government coffers (on the pretense of helping them to rule their country). Then after the US troops are largely gone, the whole thing will go all Somalia.

What I think is unreasonable is to think that there is any non-disgusting option at this point.

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Freedom can be gained by force. It's the cost and the method's-efficiency that are in question here, when considering the best course of action.

Armed rebellion would only be justified if rights were significantly violated, for example, there would be a loss of freedom of speech. As long as ideas can be freely exchanged the process that lead to rights violation can be reversed via non-violent means, through intelectual revolution.

Self defense can be done in several ways: one of them is retribution, the other is prevention. You can fight an enemy's guns or you can fight an enemy's philosophy. Investing money in changing the philosophy of your enemy is a form of self-defense, in the same way that the ARI promoting capitalism & individualism is a form of self-defense.

Investing money and resources in educating citizens of another country is altruism. Education is not a proper role of a government even when it comes to it's own citizens. In contrast, ARI is an intelectual institution so it serves a different role in society.

The primary difference between the two methods of self-defense is that in one you also provide your enemy with a value (a good philosophy), in the other you only destroy. But both are methods of self defense.

The primary difference is that one is a form of altruism and the other is not.

Why does the ARI only encourage choosing the educating strategy in internal policy, but not in external policy?

Ayn Rand books, with the permission of ARI, have been translated to many languages.

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I think the US should send in more troops. More troops, tanks, planes far more than we actually need. Blot out the sun with helicopters. Have guys on every street so the terrorists can't move without being seen. And (and this is important) buy them all brand new shiny uniforms.

Show the Iraqi insurgents than we have so much money, so much equipment, endless, endless resources. And it will break their hearts and they'll give up. It has worked for the US in the past. The reason they keep fighting is the policy of minimal footprint makes them think they have a chance.

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I think the US should send in more troops. More troops, tanks, planes far more than we actually need. Blot out the sun with helicopters. Have guys on every street so the terrorists can't move without being seen. And (and this is important) buy them all brand new shiny uniforms.

Show the Iraqi insurgents than we have so much money, so much equipment, endless, endless resources. And it will break their hearts and they'll give up. It has worked for the US in the past. The reason they keep fighting is the policy of minimal footprint makes them think they have a chance.

We simply don't have enough soldiers at the moment. Not only do we have massive commitments all over the world (and in Afghanistan) already, but we are already having to use non-regular troops. If we want to really up our military strength in Iraq we will have to do some major reshuffling of troop strengths both in the US and all over the world. I don't think the political capital exists for that unfortunately.

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1: Send a photocopy of the map of the Turkish-Iraqi border, and inform Turkey that it is inviolable. 2: Inform the Kurdish government that we will defend their right to exist as long as they remain civilized. 3: Inform the Baghdad government that military incursions across the Kurdistan border will not be tolerated. 4: Inform the Baghdad government that we will not tolerate Iraq becoming a staging ground for terrorist attacks against the civilized world. 5: Remove all US troops from Iraq. 6: Mean it.

May as well end the thread; there's the answer right there.

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I'm amazed that no one has mentioned oil. Unless and until someone invents the equivalent of the fabled electrostatic motor, we need oil for survival. Surely that must be considered in choosing whether to use force against the threat of closure, seizure by hostile forces, destruction, or even mismanagement of the oil supply in that region. Assuming that the establishment of order by means of setting up a stable government is necessary to the oil supply, it can't be considered altruism, can it?

Edited by Seeker
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The answer to what to do about Iraq may just be take out Iran.

Glenn Beck, of CNN, had a couple of great shows on this week, which exposed the Islamic culture in the Middle East. They showed how muslims in those countries are teaching hate and spreading anti-Western, anti-Semitic propaganda, including through the vehicle of children’s cartoons. They showed the president of Iran, uncensored, spouting anti-Western, anti-American and anti-Israeli propaganda. It was really great to see honest journalism for a change. And you read right, it was on CNN.

On a show two days later Beck had as a guest Benjamin Netanyahu to continue the topic of the prior show. Netanyahu said Iran is the key. They're the ones who are spreading the fanaticism and financing it, and if they get a nuke, this will only make the Islamacists all that more emboldened all around the world. If Iran is dealt with, by which I believe he meant taken out, the rest would fall like a house of cards. Iraq was a diversion, in his opinion.

Beck apparently had to work hard to get these two shows on CNN and his neck was on the line. Well, apparently his ratings went through the roof, which shows you how people are starved for real journalism.

Netanyahu has always been the clearest and most incisive of the world leaders on this issue, and it was great to see him single out Iran.

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Are the environmentalists' laws not the moral equivalent of bandits having stolen our domestic oil supplies? The survival of capitalists, i.e. those actually living, is the moral imperative. We need oil from somewhere. If we can't get our oil domestically because it was stolen by bandits in our midst, then our only possible action is to get it from foreign lands - and that justifies military intervention to secure the supplies, does it not?

Edited by Seeker
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