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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Why are Muslims so angry? (Page 3)

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Author Topic: Why are Muslims so angry?
Dan_Frank
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BB, if it helps: follow the relationships of the relevant governments.

In the modern day, that's the US, Canadian, and Afghani governments.

Back then, we can look at the British, French, and German governments.

In both cases, who was allied with whom? How might it have had an effect on how each government viewed foreign involvement in the conflict?

I mean, we don't even need to address the changes in international law, which wouldn't help your case. And we don't need to give any legitimacy to the fledgling Americans.

Even handing you all that (quite a lot, I think, since the difference between the American revolutionaries and Afghani rebels is pretty stark), the interactions are pretty clear, I think. No?

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BlackBlade
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I not playing dumb, and I could just be tired. But I'm *not* seeing a whole lot of differences between American revolutionaries and Afghani rebels. At least insofar as their relationships to the British/UN troops.
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Dogbreath
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BlackBlade, I don't think you're dumb at all, but I really, really think you're completely missing the point of what we're saying. And that is frustrating, because it's an extremely simple point.

Let me try again.

The U.S. government doesn't charge Afghan rebels with murder because we don't have the authority to do so. (or rather we do, but choose not to exercise it) They do commit crimes against us, but they do so in their own country, and we allow their country's government to prosecute them. (And they often *are* charged with murder by the Afghan government)

The U.S. government *does* charge citizens of other countries (say Canada, or Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan) with murder when they commit said murder in Afghanistan, because it's a deliberate attack against the U.S. government in a country that is not their own. That makes it terrorism, not insurrection.* And we treat it as such. With Omar's extradition, we have now gone on to extradite all these terrorists of western origin back to their home countries. We're still holding on to several hundred from middle eastern and eastern countries, for various security and political reasons.

Again, I think you're getting confused by thinking I'm making an ethical argument. (which is why you're making the comparisons to the Revolutionary War, a war in which none of the participating countries had a comparable legal or intel situation) I'm not. I'm making a legal one, and interesting enough, describing the present legal situation as it's viewed by the Department of Defense. Thanks to my specific job field, I actually have quite a bit of first hand experience with this, and have a decent layman's understanding of how it actually works. Which isn't to say there's not something about it I'm misunderstanding, but you've given me several indications which make me believe you are at best skimming my posts. (or perhaps radically misunderstanding them)

If there's something that I'm saying that doesn't make sense, let me know and I'll try my best to explain it in a different way.

*And yes, if you want to apply today's geopolitical situation to the Revolutionary war, you might consider Lafayette a terrorist. Though I don't know if he blew up schools or killed women and children. *shrug* Legally, though, he had the full support and at least tacit approval of his government (right? I'm no history buff), and he could be seen more of a 3rd party belligerent than a Canadian who obviously had no support from his government in attacking Americans. By which I mean, if hostilities existed between the U.S. and Canada, and the Canadian government paid Omar to kill U.S. troops and approved of his actions, I sincerely doubt he'd be charged with murder.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I not playing dumb, and I could just be tired. But I'm *not* seeing a whole lot of differences between American revolutionaries and Afghani rebels. At least insofar as their relationships to the British/UN troops.

Dogbreath basically nailed it with this line:

quote:
Originally posted by Dogbreath:
Legally, though, he had the full support and at least tacit approval of his government (right? I'm no history buff), and he could be seen more of a 3rd party belligerent than a Canadian who obviously had no support from his government in attacking Americans. By which I mean, if hostilities existed between the U.S. and Canada, and the Canadian government paid Omar to kill U.S. troops and approved of his actions, I sincerely doubt he'd be charged with murder.

Look at the relationship between France and Britain back then, vs. the relationship between Canada and the US.

The French government backed the revolutionaries to stymie Britain. Canada isn't opposing us. They aren't sending troops into Afghanistan to work against us.

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Destineer
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Obviously the law concerning all these things is royally F-ed up these days, so the legal argument isn't of much interest to me. What the US says is legal, in its prosecution of the GWOT, has almost no relationship with what ought to be legal.

quote:
Look at the relationship between France and Britain back then, vs. the relationship between Canada and the US.

The French government backed the revolutionaries to stymie Britain. Canada isn't opposing us. They aren't sending troops into Afghanistan to work against us.

Dan, what would you say about the case of foreign nationals fighting in the Spanish Civil War?

quote:
I don't know, would it? What was the policy of the Spanish government at the time? Again, this isn't "reasoning" (that I'm doing anyway), it's "this is how things are, as far as I know." I don't really get how you're not understanding that.
Well, apparently the way things are, the law says Khadr goes to prison for murder. No one is arguing that. The question is whether he should be labeled a murderer.

[ October 04, 2012, 12:44 PM: Message edited by: Destineer ]

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Mucus
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To clarify, is the idea that the dividing line between murder and not-murder, government support?

i.e. If Omar Khadr was a Pakistani citizen send into Afghanistan with the support of the Pakistani government, that would be not murder. However, since he was a Canadian and acted of his own accord, that is murder?

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Dogbreath
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Yeah, that's pretty much it.

Destineer: Sure. But then, if you're talking about the way things *should* be, you shouldn't be making broad statements of "this is the way things are." (which is why I entered this thread in the first place)

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BlackBlade
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Dogbreath: Again, I just missed your post, then read it, wasn't convinced, replied, and went to bed. Since you are making a legal argument not an ethical one, I better get where you are coming from. I still think our framework for dividing terrorists from combat troops is scuffy.

Lafeyette actually did not have approval to go when he did, and in fact the king had to denounce his actions, though obviously no punitive measures were taken.

From where I'm standing a foreigner assisting the other side becomes a combatent, he runs the risk of bring killed by our military and so if captured is a prisoner, not a criminal.

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Dogbreath
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What should we do with those prisoners? The foreign fighters, I mean.
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Rakeesh
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[quote]From where I'm standing a foreigner assisting the other side becomes a combatent, he runs the risk of bring killed by our military and so if captured is a prisoner, not a criminal. [/quite]

Does the type of assistance factor into this evaluation? I think most of us would agree that at the very least, there is a case to be made for the idea that a Saudi Arabian who travels to Afghanistan and joins the opposition there, and then proceeds to ambush a military convoy or patrol, should be considered a soldier, a combatant.

All well and good. But what of the Saudi Arabian who travels to Afghanistan and joins a group of fighters who attempt to massacre a pilgrimage or purge a neighborhood on sectarian grounds? Who executes a local girl who tries to go to school, and then gets drawn into a firefight with America forces who respond to alarms about the would-be massacre?

Shall we treat him the same as the first Saudi Arabian? Both of these scenarios happen. Ethically, morally, should we treat these two any differently?

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Dogbreath
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In the case of the Canadian in question, he was assisting a local bombmaker (who had supplied the materials to blow up a mosque, iirc), and ambushed and killed soldiers who were questioning villagers about the location of the said bombmaker.

Again, what should we do with these foreign nationals? Right now we hold them at Guantanamo Bay for anywhere between 6 months to 10 years. Should we just extradite them immediately? In the case of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, they'd probably get an official wrist slap and an unofficial hero's welcome. In other countries, they would probably be executed. Should we kill them when we've finished interrogating them? Should we try them in U.S. Courts for murder? Or War Crimes? But how can we do that if we're not at war with their country? How exactly do we handle this process?

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Destineer
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What did we do with captured Cambodian fighters who crossed into Vietnam during that war? Seems like there must have been some.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
quote:
Look at the relationship between France and Britain back then, vs. the relationship between Canada and the US.

The French government backed the revolutionaries to stymie Britain. Canada isn't opposing us. They aren't sending troops into Afghanistan to work against us.

Dan, what would you say about the case of foreign nationals fighting in the Spanish Civil War?

I'm not sure.

The factions don't map super well to modern-day Afganistan as far as I can tell, but I'm also not exactly up on my Spanish Civil War history. There were the revolutionaries and the loyalists, and revolutionaries got support from... Hitler? And I think the loyalists were supported by the Soviet Union.

So is your hypothetical, like: What if the loyalists found a citizen of, say, the USSR, who had left the Soviet Union to join the side of the revolutionaries and had killed loyalists and other Soviets? There's still a lot wrong with this... I think the USSR provided material support, not troops, and maybe he should have killed a Soviet ally, not actual Soviets...

Anyway, the hypothetical is already confusing me. Is he guilty of murder? He went to a foreign country and then killed his countrymen, right? Sounds like it might be murder.

If we swap it so he's a Nazi who joined the loyalists and killed, like... Italians (they were allies already, right?) then it might map a little closer. I think he might still be a murderer.

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Destineer
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This one isn't a hypothetical (for once in my life). [Smile] There were many people of conscience from all over the world--US, UK, western Europe--who traveled to Spain to fight against the Spanish fascists who eventually won. Orwell, Hemingway and Auden all did this.
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Dan_Frank
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Ah, right, I think I knew that.

So, save me a trip to google: What was the US (or the UK) government's stance on the Spanish civil war?

Also, and this one I think I do know the answer to, what was the Spanish government's take on the civil war? [Wink]

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
Obviously the law concerning all these things is royally F-ed up these days, so the legal argument isn't of much interest to me. What the US says is legal, in its prosecution of the GWOT, has almost no relationship with what ought to be legal.

Oh yeah I missed this earlier.

Just wanted to add, on this note, that I'm still largely discussing things from a legalistic perspective, not a moral one.

Because, morally, I think the thing that makes people like Kadr murderers is the same thing that makes all of the Afghani "insurgents" into murderers: the tactics they condone and utilize, and the cause they fight for. It's pretty straightforward, morally.

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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
What did we do with captured Cambodian fighters who crossed into Vietnam during that war? Seems like there must have been some.

That's actually a really good question. I did a cursory search and couldn't find anything about it on Google, but my library has a large collection of history books about he Vietnam war. I'll try and look it up this weekend.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Dogbreath:
What should we do with those prisoners? The foreign fighters, I mean.

If I understand where the conversation is going, if we're going to be treating these individuals as civilians committing crimes overseas, then treat them as just that.

If an American commits crimes against humanity in Germany without the support of the US, they're subject to German law. If the German state is unable or unwilling to prosecute, then the matter can be appealed to the International Criminal Court. I see no reason to do differently in Afghanistan and as I understand it the government in Afghanistan is if anything, better adhering to due process.

ex:
quote:
Afghan officials and analysts have said the dispute is over a system of administration detention that allows extended no-trial internment for wartime prisoners. Although this is permitted under the international laws on war, some Afghan officials say it may not be legal under the Afghan constitution.

"There are concerns on the U.S. side about division in the Afghan government over internment and that it is not constitutional," said Rachel Reid, a senior policy adviser on Afghanistan for the Open Society Foundations. "The basic concern is that if they don't have internment, they will be released."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/09/10/afghanistan-bagram-prison-handover-control.html

Edit to add: If you might recall at the beginning of the Bush administration, the argument on Bush's side was that a new category should be created for "unlawful enemy combatants" that was afforded neither the protections normally given to civilians (such as criminal charges and speedy trials) or the protections for prisoners of war (generally can't be prosecuted or executed except in the case of war crimes). The other side was basically, "you have to pick one."

If we're picking "treat them as civilians", I'm pretty satisfied with that.

[ October 04, 2012, 11:02 PM: Message edited by: Mucus ]

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Jeff C.
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I know I'm jumping into this discussion somewhat late, but I've always thought of this debacle in two ways.

The first is that this is a regional war. If you live in the desert and have pretty much nothing, you tend to get pretty angry about your life. That anger has to be aimed somewhere, doesn't it? You think, well geez, we don't have anything here, not even clean water, but those guys over there, they've got everything! Man, I hate those guys.

But you don't do anything about, not right away, because what's the point? You don't really have enough motivation behind you. But that's when some guy comes along and gives you that motivation. He says, those guys are infidels! They're blasphemous and evil and we have to kill them, just like it says right here in our religious book. You know, the one that was written a a thousand or so years before that country even existed. Yeah, we have to kill them dead. And you know what? If we do, our afterlives will be even better than their lives are now, and they'll be the ones suffering! Think about how awesome it will be! We'll even get cake! And by cake I mean women and stuff. And also cake!

The second perspective that I've heard a lot is that it actually is religious. The Jews and the Muslims have been at odds for thousands of years (supposedly dating back to when Abraham chose one son over the other, thereby separating their offspring and forever cursing them to war against one another. That's if you believe in that, of course). Well, then America went in and uprooted the Muslims from their land after WW2 and implanted the Jewish nation into it, which automatically made us responsible for what happened to them. This event (or chain of events) caused the Muslims in that region to slowly build up some animosity and anger at the awful people from across the lake who decided to send them out into the desert. The evil Americans, who kicked them out of their homeland and implanted their evil cousins, the Jews, deserve God's wrath, so somebody ought to give it to them. At least, that's what seems to be the thought process behind the extremists.

I've had the chance to meet a few Muslims since 9/11 (partially because of my time in the military), and most of them have been fairly civil and couldn't care less about this war going on half a world away. Why? Because they are just trying to stay afloat, and because that crap honestly doesn't affect their present day lives. Not every Muslim wants to kill you, but the ones that do have a specific reasoning behind that trigger finger, and it's a dangerous one. In their eyes, we are the Other, we are the people responsible for their suffering, even if that's not necessarily true (though, certainly, even that is debatable). In their eyes, we're the monsters, just like for a lot of Americans, so are they. Every united people have to have another group to demonize, because otherwise they turn on themselves. Peace will be impossible unless we can separate the fanatics from the people who just want to survive. Whether or not we can do that---that is the questionable part.

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Destineer
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quote:
That's actually a really good question. I did a cursory search and couldn't find anything about it on Google, but my library has a large collection of history books about he Vietnam war. I'll try and look it up this weekend.
Yeah, my search came up empty too. Very interested to hear anything you find out.

quote:

So, save me a trip to google: What was the US (or the UK) government's stance on the Spanish civil war?

Both were technically neutral, but the UK at least was a de facto supporter of the fascists, because the Republican govt was perceived as too close to commie. But most of the British partisans were on the Republican side.

quote:

Because, morally, I think the thing that makes people like Kadr murderers is the same thing that makes all of the Afghani "insurgents" into murderers: the tactics they condone and utilize, and the cause they fight for. It's pretty straightforward, morally.

I essentially agree, although I think by a real full-on moral standard, a lot of US soldiers have committed murder as well in recent years (due to not fighting for a just cause). But I don't think it would be just in the present environment for the law to reflect that sort of moral culpability on the part of soldiers. So I've been looking at the argument as one about what should be legal (as opposed to what is in fact legal, which during the last two US administrations has almost always been "whatever the POTUS declares to be legal.")
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
So I've been looking at the argument as one about what should be legal

Okay, I think I get what you mean. That's roughly what I'm doing too. Not too worried about technicalities, but I am concerning myself with things like international law, which I don't normally think have a bearing on morality.

So. If the US government was neutral on the conflict and had any kind of diplomatic relationship with Spain, am I right in assuming they had a relationship with the existing Spanish government? That's the Republican/loyalist side, right? Again, I'll admit that my knowledge of this conflict is not very detailed, so feel free to correct me where I screw up.

Assuming that's true, then I'd imagine that, pending official statement by the US government, any US soldier that went there and was welcomed as a soldier by the Spanish government (i.e. the loyalists) should be treated as a soldier. If the US government allowed them to do so, and the Spanish government considered them such, it seems clear-cut to me.

It'd be a little less clear cut if they sided with the revolutionaries/fascists, unless the US had neutral relations with both sides or something? Were both sides viewed as legitimate governments?

Oh, and did both sides follow the rules of war that existed at the time?

Seems like legally they'd be called foreign soldiers, not murderers, at this point. Just intuitively thinking this, not from a highly legalistic standpoint. That's what makes sense to me.

Also worth saying that it still seems pretty markedly different.

As far as I know, the Canadian government doesn't recognize Taliban insurgents as a legitimate government. The insurgents are fighting the group Canada does see as the government, right? And not following any rules of war or other UN-style international laws regarding warfare, right?

So, seems like all the hallmarks of a murderer.

If you go to Mexico and join a drug cartel and shoot up a bunch of Mexican citizens, are you a murderer or a soldier? The Mexican and America governments see you as a murderer, yeah?

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Dogbreath
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[Edit: This first paragraph is directed at Mucus, not Dan] Hopefully that's what happens, now that we're seeing some level of stability in government.

There is one point I mentioned several times that has been ignored so far, though. These foreign nationals are very, very frequently part of or sponsored by Al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups, and are often well educated and well connected young men, often college students. (this is as opposed to locals, who are usually rural agrarian, illiterate, and know little more than "I was given a gun and told to shoot") Our various intelligence agencies see them as being highly valuable intelligence sources, and in almost every single case where someone gets sent to Guantanamo, it's because they're mixed up in a whole lot more than just taking part is attacking U.S. forces.

To break it down for you (since the terms I use may be a little unfamiliar), these people, by virtue of being in Afghanistan, probably have a fairly strong working knowledge of a decent sized chunk of a terrorist organization. The names of the people he contacted, their logistics, where they convene, what aliases they use, where they sneaked over the border, what bank accounts they used to transfer funds, cell phone numbers (that one is a *HUGE* priority, since if you can track one cell phone, you can track *every* person in that group) etc. etc. etc. Whenever you read about so-and-so Al Qaeda leader being killed by a cruise missile or a SEAL team, where do you think they got that intelligence from?

Anyway, I've reached the point where I've gone as in-depth in my explanation as I feel comfortable going, for various reasons. I'll leave this discussion saying that this is a subject that I have a vast amount of personal experience with, and I've spent a good part of my career understanding both the big picture as well as the nuances of it. I have my own personal opinions on how things should work (which are quite different than the explanations I have given, and which I may post later), but as usually happens in discussions like this I'm getting pretty frustrated, mostly because it's a far more complicated and ambiguous situation than most people even begin to suspect, and because I have to use very general terms to describe what I'm talking about and always check my posts to make sure I'm not giving away any sensitive information, which is exhausting and also causes a lot of confusion, apparently.

I also realize that "if you knew what I knew, you would think this way too" is a totally ridiculous, unfair, bogus argument, which is why I can't honestly expect (or even desire) people to be convinced by it. I do urge any of you who are passionate about it to really research each of these cases we discussed and develop a stronger understanding of what happened, and why the government acted in the way it did. Even if you disagree with the government's actions (and I very, very frequently do, including everything in this thread), you need to understand what factors existed to cause these problems in the first place. For example, law isn't (or rather, shouldn't be) something to be conveniently ignored whenever a more moral or ethical choice could be made. There are a lot of people who think killing women for knowing how to read and write is a perfectly moral act.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Dogbreath:
There is one point I mentioned several times that has been ignored so far, though ... in almost every single case where someone gets sent to Guantanamo, it's because they're mixed up in a whole lot more than just taking part is attacking U.S. forces.

I'm not exactly ignoring it, I'm just not sure it's relevant. If we're using Guantanamo as shorthand for torture, then I'm opposed to it period, for civilians or for prisoners of war. If we're using Guantanamo as shorthand for indefinite detention, then indefinite detention should only be applicable to prisoners of war and we've already decided that we're talking about treating these people as civilians. If there's some other aspect of Guantanamo you wish to highlight, then it escapes me right now.
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Destineer
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Well, originally the issue came up because I was objecting to the fact that people got thrown into Guantanamo for things other than "terrorism," an in particular for attacking the troops.
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Dogbreath
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Guantanamo Bay is essentially the human part of the U.S.'s failure to handle the complexities of this war. (Don't get me started on the billions of dollars wasted on mismanaged DoD contracts...)
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