'Killing: the dead elephant in the living room
July 21, 2004 2:11 AM   Subscribe

'Enemy Contact. Kill 'em, Kill 'em'. The Price of Valor. Invisible Casualties. The Psychological Effects of Combat. The Psychological Consequences of Killing: Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress. Soldiers, Self-Defense, and Killing in War - (PDF). Psychological and Psychosocial Consequences of Combat and Deployment with Special Emphasis on the Gulf War. Military Leaders’ Obligation to Justify Killing in War. And, from last year, come The Killer Elite, From Hell to Baghdad - The Killer Elite Part II, and The Battle for Bagdhad - The Killer Elite Part III--Evan Wright's Rolling Stone articles recently published as Generation Kill. They are well worth re-reading in this context.
posted by y2karl (51 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Since Vietnam, the Army has not had to dwell on how soldiers are affected by the killing they do. The first Gulf War was very short, and the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo were largely fought from long range, with airpower and artillery, which rendered the killing abstract. In the current Iraq war, though, soldiers are killing with small arms on battlefields the length of a city block. Exactly how many Iraqis American forces have killed is not known—as General Tommy Franks said, “We don’t do body counts”—but everyone agrees that the numbers are substantial. Major Peter Kilner, a former West Point philosophy instructor who went to Iraq last year as part of a team writing the official history of the war, believes that most infantrymen there have “looked down the barrel and shot at people, and many have killed.” American firepower is overwhelming, Kilner said. He ran into a former student in Iraq who told him, “There’s just too much killing. They shoot, we return fire, and they’re all dead.” Even some of the most grievously wounded Iraq-war veterans seem more disturbed by the killing they did than they are by their own injuries. I spent a week in December among amputees at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., and was struck by how easily they could tell the stories of the horrible things that had happened to them. They could talk about having their arms or legs blown off in vivid detail, and even joke about it, but, as soon as the subject changed to the killing they’d done, a pall would settle over them.

Kilner and a number of observers inside and outside the Army worry that the high rate of closeup killing in Iraq has the potential to traumatize a new generation of veterans. Worse, they say, the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs avoid thinking or talking about it. Although both organizations have produced reams of studies on every other aspect of combat trauma—grief, survivor’s guilt, fear, and so on—the aftereffects of taking an enemy’s life are almost never studied. “The blind spot in the scholarship is glaring,” said MacNair, whose book “Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing” is devoted, in part, to soldiers. “I kept thinking there must be a huge amount of research on this that I’m missing, but I never found it.” Lieutenant Colonel Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, an Army psychiatrist based in Bethesda, has called killing “the dead elephant in the living room that nobody wants to talk about.”

A regular soldier can serve years in the Army and hardly ever hear the word “kill” outside bayonet practice, a vestigial relic of the days before the use of assault rifles. (No American soldier has participated in an organized bayonet charge since the Korean War.) Army manuals and drill sergeants speak of “suppressing enemy fire,” “engaging targets,” and “attritting” the enemy. “We attempt to instill reaction,” said Captain Tim Dunnigan, who trains infantry in the woods of Fort Benning, Georgia. “Hear a pop, hit the ground, return fire. Act instinctually.” Captain Jason Kostal, a twenty-eight-year-old former commander at Fort Benning’s sniper school, says that, even in a unit whose motto is “One Shot One Kill,” explicit discussion of the subject is avoided. “We don’t talk about ‘Engage this person,’‘Engage this guy.’ It’s always ‘Engage that target,’” he said. “You’re not thinking, I wonder if that guy has three kids.”

posted by y2karl at 2:13 AM on July 21, 2004


Good post.
See also the Channel 4 - Learning to Kill micro-website which examines some of the same issues, and offers links to books like this.
posted by seanyboy at 3:16 AM on July 21, 2004


.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:50 AM on July 21, 2004


On a related note to madamejujujive's comment:

US casualty rate high since handover

Nearly as many US soldiers lost their lives in Iraq in the first half of July as in all of June, even as Iraqi insurgents seem to have shifted focus from attacking US targets to aiming instead at Iraqi security forces and government officials. The relatively high rate of US military casualties has dimmed hope that the handover of power to the Iraqi government would help stabilize the country and reduce pressure on US soldiers.

June was substantially less violent for US and coalition troops than the two preceding months, fueling hopes that US casualties were on the downswing. However, military officials and defense specialists are increasingly concerned that the guerrilla war could last for years and the number of dead could climb into the thousands. Since the June 28 handover of power, the 160,000 coalition forces have averaged more than two deaths a day, among the highest rate of losses since the war began 15 months ago. By Saturday, 36 US soldiers had died this month, compared with 42 last month, according to a Globe analysis of official statistics.

The casualties have yet to reach the level they were in April, the bloodiest month of the US-led occupation, when 135 American soldiers died, or May, when 80 Americans died, many of them during a three-week offensive in the southern cities of Karbala, Najaf, and Al Kut against armed followers of a leading Shia cleric.

But this month marks an upsurge in the pace and sophistication of the attacks against US and coalition troops, even as more Iraqi security forces, government ministers, and civilians have also become targets. By Friday, more than 10,000 coalition soldiers had been wounded. In all, 893 Americans have died since the war began in March 2003, most of them in hostile action.


And, again, back on the topic, from the third link above:

Among soldiers and Marines from combat units involved in the early stages of the war in Iraq:

Nine in 10 had been attacked or ambushed and had been fired upon.

More than half had killed an enemy fighter.

Eighty-six percent knew someone who had been killed or seriously injured.

Almost all had seen death, and half had handled the dead.

Most saw ill or injured women or children they could not help.

Twenty-eight percent of Marines had killed a civilian.

The combat experience is defined by gore and fear as much as it can be by honor and bravery. For many of its casualties, the wounds are hidden in their minds and emotions and spirits, not obvious on their bodies. Indeed, the study that documented the experiences listed above is a sobering prediction that the war in Iraq will return to our shores many thousands of soldiers and Marines with significant psychological problems. The study of the effect of combat on troops' mental health, conducted by Army doctors, appeared in the July 1 New England Journal of Medicine.

The conclusion: One in six combat veterans reported moderate or severe problems with depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. One in six. Some experts expect that rate to rise as more troops come home and try to readjust to civilian life. And some worry that the growing numbers of citizen soldiers, members of the National Guard and Reserves, are at special risk.


And don't forget:

President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended
posted by y2karl at 6:15 AM on July 21, 2004


Karl - Thanks, very much, for all the work that went into this post. It'll be a cold day in hell before Americans ever get such a concentrated dose of reality from US mass media.
posted by troutfishing at 6:33 AM on July 21, 2004 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the excellent post--I'll take some time later to look at the links in more detail.
posted by Prospero at 6:43 AM on July 21, 2004


"The suicide rate in Iraq was 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers. That compares with 12.8 for the Army overall."

...and they're calling up the (67 yr old) reserves to deal with the aftermath
posted by m@ at 7:26 AM on July 21, 2004


I would recommend to anyone interested in this subject a book by Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning - a very brutal and beautiful book by a 15-year veteran war correspondant, full of first hand accounts of his experiences in Central America, the Balkans, the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as historical context going back to the Iliad, expanding on the notion that the first casualty of war is always the truth.

Hedges, besides being part of a Pulitzer prize winning team, is possibly best known for having his microphone cut while attempting to give a graduation speech at a liberal arts college last year. (transcript here)
posted by dinsdale at 8:01 AM on July 21, 2004


This post -- while it contains some tangents -- actually gets the main point about the rightness or wrongness of the war. The issue is not WMDs, or how many U.S. casualties there are, or whether or not you think Saddam was a killer, Haliburton is getting rich, or president Bush is a smirking frat boy you'd like to kick in the teeth (as I've heard people say). The question is whether it is ever morally acceptable to kill another human being. I personally believe killing is wrong under any circumstances. Including war. Including if a guy is raping your sister. Killing in war or in response to aggression is (as they tell adolescents in dissuasion of suicide) a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There is no moral logic to killing if you believe in eternal life. Interestingly, this war is being carried out in large part by professing Christians. Amazing.
posted by Faze at 8:46 AM on July 21, 2004


Faze - isn't that called "cognitive dissonance" ? - Or would it be more like "moral dissonance" or "spiritual dissonance" ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:57 AM on July 21, 2004


The question is whether it is ever morally acceptable to kill another human being.

If your answer is no, that's the only question. If, like most of us, you say yes, than a whole bunch of other questions follow.

I'm against the death penalty, I'm against wars of conquest, I'm mostly against this war, but I'd rather kill someone who was trying to kill me or my loved ones than let him succeed (which would in fact be a "permanent problem.") I don't think you're stance is wrong, mind you, I just prefer mine.
posted by callmejay at 8:58 AM on July 21, 2004


The question is whether it is ever morally acceptable to kill another human being.

Is it moral then, for the other human being to kill you? Because, newsflash: those are the only two choices in a war.
posted by hama7 at 10:48 AM on July 21, 2004


ohmygod you sound so sexy when you talk tough, hamas

thanks for the post, karl, good work as usual
posted by matteo at 11:03 AM on July 21, 2004


This is a double post.
posted by Witty at 11:08 AM on July 21, 2004



Is it moral then, for the other human being to kill you? Because, newsflash: those are the only two choices in a war.


I guess that depends on whether you follow what jesus says on the subject or not.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:46 PM on July 21, 2004


I'm not a pacifist nor a peacenik.

This particular war I'm against, but yes, I think violence is sometimes justified in order to prevent further violence. Like police apprehending criminals, using force to stop wars of conquest, to defend your home, to defend your country. Figuring out the exact when where and how is for sharper minds than mine. Without being willing to defend them, ideals have no meaning. But I do believe there are times when to do nothing is the greater wrong.

That said, I still respect pacifists. Their ideals are noble and their hearts are usually in the right place, even if I believe often they are ineffective.
posted by jonmc at 5:02 PM on July 21, 2004


violence may sometimes be justified, but count me in with the group of people who believe we should be working for a civilization in which it's never necessary.

i don't know if that makes me a pacifist or a peacenik, but either way, i certainly ain't fighting no rich man's wars.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:09 PM on July 21, 2004


Probably wouldn't be a bad idea to look at another ... series ... of ... links ... that ... show ... what ... happens ... when ... war ... is avoided, and a blind eye turned by the world.

Don't mean to spoil the peace party with an equally "concentrated dose of reality", but really ... desiring peace is obvious. Wanting to work towards it is admirable. Proving that war is hell is not difficult. Arguing to avoid it is natural ... unless you're one of the 100,000 that will be slaughtered by whomever the next decade's dicator of the day is - in which case, you'll be praying to whatever god you believe in that someone in the world has the balls not to turn the other way.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:38 PM on July 21, 2004


Arguing to avoid it is natural ... unless you're one of the 100,000 that will be slaughtered by whomever the next decade's dicator of the day is - in which case, you'll be praying to whatever god you believe in that someone in the world has the balls not to turn the other way.

Maybe if someone didn't have his brains in his balls, he could see the situation in a reasonable light. The war was not a humanitarian intervention.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2004 -

War in Iraq: Not a Humanitarian Intervention
In sum, the invasion of Iraq failed to meet the test for a humanitarian intervention. Most important, the killing in Iraq at the time was not of the exceptional nature that would justify such intervention. In addition, intervention was not the last reasonable option to stop Iraqi atrocities. Intervention was not motivated primarily by humanitarian concerns. It was not conducted in a way that maximized compliance with international humanitarian law. It was not approved by the Security Council. And while at the time it was launched it was reasonable to believe that the Iraqi people would be better off, it was not designed or carried out with the needs of Iraqis foremost in mind.
Iraq didn't have any WMD or even any serious WMD programs.

Iraq didn't have any serious relationship with al-Qaeda.

There were no mass killings happening at the time of invasion or for more than a decade prior. What mass killings there were--and so far only 5,000 bodies have been recovered since the invasion--happened in the 1980s when there was a war with Iran in progress and then again, with what massacres that happened in 1991 after Bush 41 called for uprisings and then refused to support the ones that arose. There were no mass killings conducted after 1991.

As for the war on terror, here is Kevin Drum:
After all, here is Bush's record since 9/11:

By dedicating too few troops to Afghanistan in 2002, he allowed Osama bin Laden and much of al-Qaeda to escape. They are still on the run, and al-Qaeda is by all accounts larger and more dangerous now than they were on 9/11.

In the past three years he has done nothing to reform an intelligence community that is widely agreed to be fatally broken.

Postwar planning for Iraq was criminally negligent. The result has been chaos, troop overstretch, a violent and growing insurgency, and an increasingly safe haven for terrorist camps.

He has refused to negotiate with North Korea, despite their clear desire to do a deal. As a result, North Korea is close to being able to mass produce atomic weapons.

Domestic security is a joke. Bush has shown little interest in funding serious port security, hardening of chemical and nuclear plants, or improving local police and fire response.
posted by y2karl at 8:05 PM on July 21, 2004


i don't know if that makes me a pacifist or a peacenik, but either way, i certainly ain't fighting no rich man's wars.

Nor am I, mrgrimm. We ain't as far apart as you might imagine. But I still respect the role of the soldier and the cop in a democracy. I've given (and am still giving) serious thought to putting my money where my mouth is and joining the NYPD. So maybe that's where my sensitivity to criticism of law enforcement personell and veterans comes from. But, I'm with you on the despicable actions of politicians.
posted by jonmc at 8:21 PM on July 21, 2004


Good and Bad Genocide
Suharto's overthrow of the Sukarno government in 1965-66 turned Indonesia from Cold War "neutralism" to fervent anti-Communism, and wiped out the Indonesian Communist Party--exterminating a sizable part of its mass base in the process, in widespread massacres that claimed at least 500,000 and perhaps more than a million victims. The U.S. establishment's enthusiasm for the coup-cum-mass murder was ecstatic... "almost everyone is pleased by the changes being wrought," New York Times columnist C.L. Sulzberger commented.

Suharto quickly transformed Indonesia into an "investors' paradise," only slightly qualified by the steep bribery charge for entry. Investors flocked in to exploit the timber, mineral and oil resources, as well as the cheap, repressed labor, often in joint ventures with Suharto family members and cronies. Investor enthusiasm for this favorable climate of investment was expressed in political support and even in public advertisements; e.g., the full page ad in the New York Times (9/24/92) by Chevron and Texaco entitled "Indonesia: A Model for Economic Development."

The U.S. support and investment did not slacken when Suharto's army invaded and occupied East Timor in 1975, which resulted in an estimated 200,000 deaths in a population of only 700,000. Combined with the 500,000-1,000,000+ slaughtered within Indonesia in 1965-66, the double genocide would seem to put Suharto in at least the same class of mass murderer as Pol Pot.
MidasMulligan is no doubt, at this very moment, in an apopleptic fury at the million Suharto double genocide's stain besmirching capitalism's good name.

Genocide in the 20th Century: Indonesia
posted by y2karl at 8:32 PM on July 21, 2004 [1 favorite]


I've given (and am still giving) serious thought to putting my money where my mouth is and joining the NYPD.

- madam , there appear to be two smiths mp3's on your ipod , would you mind stepping into the car for a second ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:35 PM on July 21, 2004


Regardless of whether or not the war is justified, it is criminal to not give proper care to the soldiers who have suffered psychological trauma as a result of fighting the war.
posted by homunculus at 8:37 PM on July 21, 2004


The idea of a lack of morality to killing is interesting, but flawed. "Morality" might be the key word, here, giving it a religious context; that is, God forbids us to kill, therefore we mustn't. But that is the only real absolute.

However, that is not universally the case, either among the religious or the non-religious. It is also not an absolute among those who prefer not to kill. If it is a "choice" between one man and a million people, few would opt to not kill that one man.

The word "kill", itself, is flawed in this context, because it also assumes intent or motive, or more appropriately, *bad* intent or motive, as opposed to something like abortion or euthanasia, or even the police gunning down a machine-gunning serial killer in a public building.

Last but hardly least is the assumption that every human life is equal, or at least valuable enough to preserve. But seriously, in a world population of over 6 billion people, the most numerous mammal on this planet, transcending even the rat or mouse, there is nothing approaching equality. There are those who would, if they could, destroy the entire world in a nuclear fire. But not just their motive, their intent is enough to kill them. What if they have the resources to buy the parts, or the weapons themselves? What if they have used similar horrific weapons in the past? And finally, what if they state, openly, that when they get such weapons, they will use them to kill perhaps millions of people?

Is it permissible to kill them then?

"Every 100 years. All new people."
posted by kablam at 8:43 PM on July 21, 2004


Maybe if someone didn't have his brains in his balls, he could see the situation in a reasonable light.

MidasMulligan is no doubt, at this very moment, in an apopleptic fury at the million Suharto double genocide's stain besmirching capitalism's good name.

That's y2k for ya' ... peaceloving if you agree with him, vicious, petty, bitter and demeaning if you don't. Yeppers ... that's the road to a better planet alright. Way to walk it like you talk it.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:43 PM on July 21, 2004


There's a difference between anger and violence, Midas. I don't like pettiness either, but let's acknowledge that fact, what do you say?
posted by jonmc at 8:55 PM on July 21, 2004


"The word "kill", itself, is flawed in this context, because it also assumes intent or motive, or more appropriately, *bad* intent or motive, as opposed to something like abortion or euthanasia" (kablam)
posted by troutfishing at 8:58 PM on July 21, 2004


Ego and thin skin. I display a bolt of cloth and you say it's a bespoke suit. You take a general statement suited to and aimed at any number of officials in the current administration and claim it as your very own. By playing the victim, the conversation becomes all about you and you get to make an unambiguous smear. Nice work.
posted by y2karl at 9:02 PM on July 21, 2004


jonmc, in light of your remarks regarding law enforcement:

One vital, age old aspect of this “purification ritual”, can and has been, reintroduced since Vietnam and that is the “debriefing,” conducted every night around the campfire. The introduction of 24-hour combat for months on end in World War I created an environment in which it became impossible for the soldier to perpetuate this ancient, nightly ritual. Throughout the 20th Century the opportunity to conduct a daily processing of combat experiences disappeared from the battlefield. The group critical incident debriefing is not a new occurrence on the battlefield. The absence of this daily debriefing is what is new, and now we are reintroducing this ancient process, with a degree of systematic, scientific expertise that has never occurred before.

Today, there is a moral, medical and a legal obligation to conduct these group debriefings. These debriefings must include all of the individuals who were involved in the critical incident, or, if that is not possible, individuals who were involved in similar incidents. Any organization that sends individuals in harms way, and especially any organization that calls upon humans to participate in the psychologically toxic realm of interpersonal aggression (which is, perhaps, the “universal human phobia”), and does not subsequently conduct a critical incident debriefing is morally, medically, and legally negligent.

Furthermore, there must be an environment wherein there are no “secrets” to be kept, since the perpetrators may well be “only as sick as their secrets.” That means, to the utmost of our ability, we create an environment of transparency and accountability in which no atrocities or criminal acts can occur, since these are the ultimate “secrets” which often cannot be confessed and must be kept at all costs. Col. Greg Belenke, a psychiatrist and head of one of the combat stress teams in the Gulf War, has definitively stated that atrocities and criminal acts are one of the surest paths to PTSD. PTSD can be thought of as “the gift that keeps on giving,” since it impacts not just the perpetrators, but also their spouses and their children in the decades to come (Belenke, 1996).

Rachel MacNair, in her research, has found that: "The item, 'There were certain things I did in the military I can't tell anybody,' was a strong indicator of the perpetration groups in just about every way I looked at it. When I compared those who were directly involved in the killing of civilians or prisoners with those who witnessed that but were not directly involved, yet did kill in other contexts (presumably more in line with traditional combat), the two items that differentiated were that one and nightmares." (R.M. MacNair, personal communication, June 15, 2000).

This means that atrocities, the intentional killing of civilians and prisoners, must be systematically rooted out from our way of war, for the price of these acts is far, far too high to let them be tolerated even to the slightest, smallest degree. This means that we enter into an era of transparency and accountability in all aspects of our law enforcement, peacekeeping, and combat operations. This also says something about that those who are called upon by their society to “go in harm’s way,” to use deadly force, and to contend with interpersonal human aggression. These individuals require psychological support just as surely as they require logistical, communications and medical support. Thus, as our society enters into the Post-Cold War era, the fields of psychiatry and psychology have much to contribute to the continuing evolution of combat, and to the evolution of our civilization.


That is from Dan Baum's The Psychological Consequences of Killing: Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress.

Were one to actually click on and read the links above, it would become instantly apparent that they are not about pacifism at all or from pacifist sources. Two are news reports and one an opinion piece on the effects this particular war's combat has had on American soldiers. Others come from members of the military current and past and, in the case of the Rand Corporation, a think tank long associated with the Pentagon. They are about killing and the effect that killing has upon those soldiers who have to kill strangers in wartime and their need to have a moral justification for committing such acts. Those writers hardly present pacifist arguments.

Evan Wright was an embedded reporter who cared for and respected the Marines about whom and whose combat expereiences he wrote.

Now as to Baum--Baum's argument is that in war or law enforcement, we can have no institutional secrets, no thin blue or olive drab lin--a sentiment with which I agree and by extension would extend to no secret prisons, no secret prisoners, no lawyerly abrogation of the Geneva Convention by the invention of the Divine Right of Presidents, no lies, no cover ups, no phony pretenses for war--to name but a few. The phrase Open Society comes to mind...
posted by y2karl at 9:30 PM on July 21, 2004


"Karl - Thanks, very much, for all the work that went into this post. It'll be a cold day in hell before Americans ever get such a concentrated dose of reality from US mass media."

Except of course that many of those links did go to US mass media... the people who originally published them.

I tell you, for ideas that claim to be censored and silenced it is amazing how much or this stuff is in the mass media every single day. And of course that little film of Moores - censored into oblivion. I mean heck, #1 on its opening weekend and publicity all over the country - those bastards and their damn muzzle!

It might be that the victim card is so overplayed in this country these days. It happens with a lot of causes. For a while every single day more and more information was saturating about "child abuse" all the while each and every one of the people doing 5 interviews a day about their book were claiming that the US never talks about it.

I wonder how many folks with best selling, mass media novels and interview tours spend all their time talking about how no one talks about their issues.
posted by soulhuntre at 11:48 PM on July 21, 2004


Midas, do you feel the US should invade N. Korea? How about Uzbekistan? Saudi Arabia? If not, why not? Does cost-benefit factor into your beliefs? Forgive me if I doubt the nobleness of your beliefs.


From Amberglow's post an article about mass graves in Iraq and the manipulation of facts to justify war.
posted by sic at 12:48 AM on July 22, 2004


Ego and thin skin. I display a bolt of cloth and you say it's a bespoke suit. You take a general statement suited to and aimed at any number of officials in the current administration and claim it as your very own. By playing the victim, the conversation becomes all about you and you get to make an unambiguous smear. Nice work.

Ego and thin skin is right. I mention an alternative perspective, and you immediately start with the personal insults. Most of your posts are meant to get attention for yourself ... and are the ultimate in victimhood - that mean Bush adminstration is screwing you, the country, in fact, the whole world. You attack people personally with really crude sentiments, and when they defend themselves, you are "smeared". Right. Its kinda fun to reflect your own behavior back atcha.

There's a difference between anger and violence, Midas. I don't like pettiness either, but let's acknowledge that fact, what do you say?

jonmc, there's obviously a difference, but they are (equally obviously) not exactly unrelated. At the personal level, the majority of violent crimes and murders are commited on people that know their attackers - anger quite often does lead directly to violence.

I do have friends that are what I'd consider genuine peace activists ... and they both talk peace and walk it. Those, however, that perpetually accuse others of being warmongers - and then turn vicious when anyone dares argue with them, are no better than those they accuse.

Midas, do you feel the US should invade N. Korea? How about Uzbekistan? Saudi Arabia? If not, why not? Does cost-benefit factor into your beliefs? Forgive me if I doubt the nobleness of your beliefs.

I've never claimed by beliefs were noble. But let's examine the nobility of your statement. I don't know whether we should invade North Korea - but, if you think we shouldn't, then what should we do about it? I notice that most responses to my posts were the usual "proofs" that war is not justified in Iraq ... the current thing everyone here seems fixated on.

But what about Pol Pot? Idi Amin? Ne Win? Stalin? What about North Korea? What would you do? Is it "noble" to do nothing? I've seen all manner of posts here painting pictures of what life is "really" like in Iraq right now - posts meant to prove that the Bush administration has made things worse, and claiming that the "mainstream media" doesn't give "the people" the "truth". We also know, however, that the "mainstream media" (i.e., CNN) was delibrately censoring most of the cruelties commited by the Hussain regime.

Where are the explorations of what life is like right now in North Korea? (Boy oh boy, talk about the mainstream media being "silent".) What should the world's nations do about the few "dear leaders" that have always popped up in the world, and will continue to? As much as people would like to think diplomacy will work, it simply does not with these men.

You think war is not noble ... is it noble to turn a blind eye to a nation when thousands, tens of thousands (and occasionally hundreds of thousands) are killed, and the remainder live in horror and fear? Should we ignore it, hope it'll go away? Figure that if the citizens of the country don't take action themselves, its their own problem?
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:08 AM on July 22, 2004


Most of your posts are meant to get attention for yourself ... and are the ultimate in victimhood - that mean Bush adminstration is screwing you, the country, in fact, the whole world.

Oh, right. Whatever.

The links above still concern the psychological effects of killing in combat.
posted by y2karl at 6:53 AM on July 22, 2004


The links above still concern the psychological effects of killing in combat.

And mine contain the effects of refusing to engage in combat when it is called for. I doubt anyone would argue that combat is harsh, and that those who engage in it are deeply affected by it. My point is that while war is hell ... sometimes the alternative is to condemn people to an even worse hell.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:36 AM on July 22, 2004


My point is that while war is hell ... sometimes the alternative is to condemn people to an even worse hell.

Midas, nowhere does Karl deny the possibilty of that being true. He more or less leaves the question open. This conversation is not about the rightness or wrongness if various wars, but the effect wars have on those who fight them and what is and/or should be done about that effect.
posted by jonmc at 7:59 AM on July 22, 2004


My point is that while war is hell ... sometimes the alternative is to condemn people to an even worse hell.

And my response to your rhetorical straw man derail was A) the war in Iraq can not be justified on humanitarian grounds because the thousands dead had been dead for over a decade--there were no mass killings going on at the time of the invasion or in the years immideiately preceding--and B) unless there's good genocide and bad genocide--Suharto=good genocide and Pol Pot=bad genocide--you cherry picked your examples, omitting, first, the genocide in Indonesia after the coup in 1965 and, secondly, the genocide in East Timor following the Indonesian invasion in 1973. Drama queen--He hurted me with his snarky remarks !--histrionics aside, genocide is genocide, and, as Human Rights Watch noted above,

the killing in Iraq at the time was not of the exceptional nature that would justify such intervention. In addition, intervention was not the last reasonable option to stop Iraqi atrocities. Intervention was not motivated primarily by humanitarian concerns. It was not conducted in a way that maximized compliance with international humanitarian law. It was not approved by the Security Council. And while at the time it was launched it was reasonable to believe that the Iraqi people would be better off, it was not designed or carried out with the needs of Iraqis foremost in mind.

As for the suggestion that only military means can resolve the confrontation with North Korea, a state known to possess nuclear weapons, well... who can take such a bellicose screed seriously ?
posted by y2karl at 9:02 AM on July 22, 2004


As for the suggestion that only military means can resolve the confrontation with North Korea, a state known to possess nuclear weapons, well... who can take such a bellicose screed seriously ?

Well, as an experienced generator of bellicose screeds, you'd certainly know.

I notice that no one has come up with an alternative however ... or rather, that the alternative is "lets just keep talking". I am perfectly fine if someone says, "War is horrible, and there is no justification for waging it, ever. And if that means entire populations live in hell under dictators, then so be it". But while this is often implied, folks that hold to it rarely have the courage to state it openly (even to themselves).

And I love the "it was not approved by the Security Council" bit above in relation to Iraq. The Security Council was never going to approve removing Hussain. The largest oil company in France had billions of dolars of potential oil contracts - signed with Hussain - that would become meaningless once he was no longer in power. And that leaves aside the ongoing investigation into the "oil for food" program, run by the UN.

The line: "And while at the time it was launched it was reasonable to believe that the Iraqi people would be better off, it was not designed or carried out with the needs of Iraqis foremost in mind."

It wasn't reasonable to assume that leaving Hussain in power would leave the Iraqi people better off (the outright massacres had stopped because those who openly opposed Hussain had fled, or were dead ... his rule was absolute). However, it is also clear that the UN's refusal to take action was also not motivated by "the best interests of the Iraqi people" ... but by political and economic interests as crass and selfish as anything the Bush administration has been accused of.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:51 AM on July 22, 2004


I've never claimed by beliefs were noble. But let's examine the nobility of your statement. I don't know whether we should invade North Korea - but, if you think we shouldn't, then what should we do about it?

Have you even considered a diplomatic solution? Is War or indifference the only possible positions on the N. Korea issue (as well as any of the situations that you cite)? How about not referring to N. Korea as part of the "Axis of Evil" before we even get started? Sometimes I think that there is a kind of a priori acceptance that it is useless to negotiate with these "monsters" so either you get jazzed up for war or you ignore the situation. This is a mistake. Granted, these men from Saddam on down are disgusting characters, but are they responsible for MORE worldwide mayhem than LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes? I don't think so. So both ends of the negotiating table will be inhabited by horrible people. It is always a better solution than war.
posted by sic at 10:57 AM on July 22, 2004


I notice that no one has come up with an alternative however ... or rather, that the alternative is "lets just keep talking".

As I suspected, this, to you, is a laughable alternative.
posted by sic at 11:00 AM on July 22, 2004


"And I love the "it was not approved by the Security Council" bit above in relation to Iraq. The Security Council was never going to approve removing Hussain."

When the UN decides against the left it is a body corrupted by powerful nations and corporations. When it decides in favor of the left it is the unarguable voice of the human will on Earth and to defy it is an ethical impossibility.

At least many of those I speak with on the right knwo the UN is ALWAYS jsut another political body being manipulated and manipulable.
posted by soulhuntre at 11:05 AM on July 22, 2004


I notice that no one has come up with an alternative however ... or rather, that the alternative is "lets just keep talking".

It's not like there is any choice.

Well, as an experienced generator of bellicose screeds, you'd certainly know.

No, that's your department. I provide links--you provide bombastic empty rhetoric.
posted by y2karl at 11:20 AM on July 22, 2004


I notice that no one has come up with an alternative however ... or rather, that the alternative is "lets just keep talking".

It's not like there is any choice.


Oddly, I seem to remember Clinton intervening several times. With military force, and without bothering to get the UN's approval. Strangely enough, a different standard appears to apply when there's a Republican in the White House.

No, that's your department. I provide links--you provide bombastic empty rhetoric.

In many instances your links are "bombastic empty rhetoric" ... you'd just rather hide behind links than state the ideas as coming from yourself. But coming to a conclusion, and then doing Google searches to find links to serve as the mouthpiece for your conclusions does nothing but demonstrate both insecurity and cowardice.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:41 PM on July 22, 2004


In many instances your links are "bombastic empty rhetoric"

But this is not one of them. This was an excellent post.
posted by homunculus at 7:04 PM on July 22, 2004


In many instances your links are "bombastic empty rhetoric"

But this is not one of them. This was an excellent post.


It was agenda-driven, as virtually all of his posts (and links) are. It is considered "excellent" to those that agree with his agenda. To anyone else ... well, the first link was to a subscription-required LA Times piece. The second, a New Yorker piece (gosh, no particular leaning there ...). The third, an "opinion" piece. I stopped at the fourth and fifth, both of which were from a site called "Killology". (Good freaking grief ... that is supposed to be considered intellectually credible?).

Y2K posts agenda-filter links. And virtually nothing else. And he attacks - personally - those that dispute his agenda. A good half of what he posts are virtually textbook examples of the definition of the word "troll", and piss all over Matt's explicitly stated standards for FPPs. He doesn't give a crap. He gets away with it because Matt takes a hands-off attitude, but MeFi would be a much better place, and probably include a far greater diversity of voices, if a very small group of folks - with him at the front of the line - were forced to follow the standards that Matt requests, and that virtually everyone else does seem to follow.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:00 PM on July 22, 2004


In regards, Midas, to your new strawman--without UN permission, well, there was another sentence written by Human Rights Watch before the UN was ever mentioned:

Most important, the killing in Iraq at the time was not of the exceptional nature that would justify such intervention.

Mass killings happened in the Iran-Iraq War in 1980-1981 and after the failed Shia and Kurdish uprisings in 1991. As to the chemical attacks on the Kurd in the first war, the Democratically controlled Congress tried to pass a resolution condmening these war crimes but was defeated by the machinations of the Reagan administration--since we seem to be keeping score by who was in office. As for the second wave of mass killings, well, another President Bush called for these uprisings and then stood by as they happened and were crushed. Those deaths did not happen on Bill Clinton's dime.

And after 1991, there were no mass killings. Far more Iraqis have died at our hands in the last year than by Iraqi hands in any number of years prior. The humanitarian invasion alibi doesn't fly. You can not invade over what happened ten years before. Mass killing, in Human Rights Watch's eyes, has to be going on at the time to justify an invasion on hukanitarian grounds. It was not going on at the time.

If ten years after the fact retroactive invasions for genocide are justified, we should have been in Jakarta twenty years ago.

And in regards to your claims of mirroring--you don't mirror anyone. You shoot back what is said to you whether it is appropriate or not. Hence your Well, as an experienced generator of bellicose screeds, you'd certainly know.

But you are the generator of bellicose screeds: The terrorists are EVIL, Bush=Evil, writing in italics and ALL CAPS BOLD in the same continual BELLOWING tone and over the top patronizing sneers. No thinking required. Just repeat the same empty slogans and claims. I was busy creating jobs blah blah woof woof. in the classic because I said so ploy.

Miroring is a buzzword used in the human growth movement to describe a process of establishing rapport as in Matching one's behavior to that of another person, usually to establish rapport. Sometimes preparatory to leading or intervening. Unfortunately, you are not capable of establish rapport because of your perceptual filter: An attitude, bias, point of view, perspective, or set of assumptions or presuppositions about an object, person, or situation. This attitude "colors" all perceptions of the object, etc. Rather than establish rapport, which implies understandign the other well enough to speak the same language, you attempt to either ham handedly put words in their mouth--i.e. Bush hate--or embarrassingly repeat back what they have said to you. Bellicose means war like and war loving. Screed means long, boring harangue. Nine out of nine point MetaFilterians would agree that long, boring harangues are your forte--not mine.

Of course that's the thing about mirroring--it's not the same as projection:

There is a small difference between mirroring and projecting. When another's behavior "mirrors" something inside us, that means that there is a resonance and that the other is behaving in a way which reflects some of our beliefs, emotions or expectations. There is a silent resonance between us, which causes the other to mirror the some of our aspects.

"Projection" means that we are seeing things in the other's behavior, which are not there, at least not to the extent that we see them. We are subjectively interpreting and often magnifying aspects of the other's behavior so that we "project" on to his or her behavior our own beliefs, needs, fears, emotions and expectations, and guilt.


Which is what you are doing-subjectively interpeting this post according to your internalized snap judgements about what this post is about, based upon your beliefs at to who I am and why I made this post. Not being a good listener, you have no clue as to either.

I'm sorry but his brains are in his balls and suggesting you'd be in a fit of apoplexy to see holy capitalism associated with not one but two consecutive acts of genocide by the Suharto regime is not a vicious attack. It's snarky, yes, but a vicious attack it is not.

But two sarcastic remarks provided you an excuse to go full tilt into making this about me and you, the poor injured victim. vicious, petty, bitter and demeaning...

then to the attack!

Most of your posts are meant to get attention for yourself ... and are the ultimate in victimhood - that mean Bush adminstration is screwing you, the country, in fact, the whole world.

But coming to a conclusion, and then doing Google searches to find links to serve as the mouthpiece for your conclusions does nothing but demonstrate both insecurity and cowardice.

Because to claim you know because of your presupposed beliefs as to who I am and what I think--apart from being a classical ad hominem attack the messenger rather than discuss the links ploy--requires either telepathy or a deeper knowledge of other human beings than you have yet to demonstrate, judging from your remarks in this forum over the past few years.

You are screaming at cartoons in your own mind as far as I can tell, no matter who the person or what the topic. All little sock puppets for whom you write the lines and then devastatingly--in your own mind--refute. In ALL CAPS and italic like some bizarro Subgenius rant. I'll say one thing--it's efficient. You can keep writing the same empty sentences over and over. And they will always be as futile and unconvincing as the last ones. Because you don't listen, you just project all this bile and venom, which gets only more furious and more bitter as Bush continues to founder and sink in the polls--you will be screeching like a teapot on full boil, come October. And we will continue to laugh at your rants. So all is well.

And the conclusion of this post was what again? You have, you know, so far managed to discuss not one aspect of any link herein. Instead you chose, quite consciously, to derail the thread and make the discussion about you. And your funhouse ''mirrors''.
posted by y2karl at 8:47 PM on July 22, 2004


Oh, I missed the rant. Classic--dismiss the source and don't read a word. Attack the person instead. So, you didn't click on the last links.

I stopped at the fourth and fifth, both of which were from a site called "Killology". (Good freaking grief ... that is supposed to be considered intellectually credible?).

KILLOLOGY, (n): The scholarly study of the destructive act, just as sexology is the scholarly study of the procreative act. In particular, killology focuses on the reactions of healthy people in killing circumstances (such as police and military in combat) and the factors that enable and restrain killing in these situations. This field of study was pioneered by , in his Pulitzer-nominated book, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society.

Personal Biography Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

Civilian Education

M.Ed., Counseling Psychology, University of Texas, Austin, TX, Phi Kappa Phi, Kappa Delta Pi, 1990
BS, Columbus College, Columbus, GA, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Kappa Phi, 4.0 GPA, 1984
AA, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC, 4.0 GPA, 1977
Academic Conferences (presentations and seminars)

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Psychology and Counseling, Arkansas State University, 1994-1999
Professor of Military Science & Chair, Department of Military Science, Arkansas State University, 1994-1998
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, USMA, West Point, NY, 1991-1993
Instructor, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, USMA, West Point, NY, 1990-1991
Graduate Instructor, Dept. of Counselor Education, University of Texas at Austin, 1990
Counselor (internist), Round Rock Junior High, Austin, TX, 1989-1990
Memberships

Disabled American Veterans (life member)
Member, Board of Technical Advisors to the American Sniper Association (ASA)
Member, Board of Advisors to International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association (ILEETA)
National Tactical Officers Association (honorary life member)
Georgia Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (honorary member)
International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors
American Society of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors
Association of SWAT Personnel (honorary member)
Vietnam Veterans of America (honorary member)
The Retired Officer Association
British Army Staff College Mess (lifetime member)
Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society
Kappa Delta Pi National Education Honor Society
Honor Initiate to Order of Omega National Greek Honor Society
Honor Initiate to Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity
PADI certified open water diver
Mensa
Advisory board member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association


I think the Lt. Col's credibility far outstrips your bombast, Midas, and as far as personal attacks, those have been made by you on the slightest of pretexts--grasping at straws in order to play the hurt victim so you can get nasty and dirty and then hypocritically claim to represent the better angels of MetaFitler nature later on.

Oh, here's another CV from the links:

“Military Leaders’ Obligation to Justify Killing in War”

CPT Pete Kilner
Instructor, U.S. Military Academy


What a fool. Face it, you would not have made an appearance in this thread had it been posted by another person. Instead you brought your projected presuppostions about me and decided you knew with telepathic certainty what the post was about without even clicking on a link before you made your comments. You were addressing a y2karl sock puppet in your mind. That's making it about the person--not the topic. I don't think that is what anyone has in mind as the ideal for this place. You claim agenda because you're too smug, selfrighteous and lazy to bother to read the links, let alone think about what's in them. Agendafilter, my ass. Blowhard Derail Filter is more like it.
posted by y2karl at 9:34 PM on July 22, 2004


Excuse me, but shouldn't you guys be having your discussion about FPP behavior in MeTa?

Great post y2k.
posted by Goofyy at 12:03 AM on July 23, 2004


Oddly, I seem to remember Clinton intervening several times. With military force, and without bothering to get the UN's approval. Strangely enough, a different standard appears to apply when there's a Republican in the White House.

This is a straw man argument used by many Bush unconditionals to which I always respond: Uh, no, Clinton was another scumbag. So now we have two murderous scumbags in the White House (one after the other), oh and I mentioned in my other post, that I feel that we can add LBJ, Nixon, REAGAN and the other Bush to the list of murderous scumbags.

Now that the lame partisan "You More" "You times infinity" argument is over, can we consider international diplomacy instead of war?

I mean, Midas, as a former war hero wounded in combat, I would expect that you understand, I mean really understand the consequences of war. Right?
posted by sic at 2:05 AM on July 23, 2004


Miroring is a buzzword used in the human growth movement to describe a process of establishing rapport as in Matching one's behavior to that of another person, usually to establish rapport. Sometimes preparatory to leading or intervening. Unfortunately, you are not capable of establish rapport because of your perceptual filter: An attitude, bias, point of view, perspective, or set of assumptions or presuppositions about an object, person, or situation. This attitude "colors" all perceptions of the object, etc.

You certainly do have the knack of perfectly describing yourself whenever you try to blast away at me. Keep it up. Its fun to watch.

I mean, Midas, as a former war hero wounded in combat, I would expect that you understand, I mean really understand the consequences of war. Right?

Sure ... and as the former resident of a dictatorial regime, who obviously lived for a couple of decades under a tyrant, and had a good number of his family members killed, I would expect you understand, I mean really undetrstand, the consequences refusing to do war. Right?
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:33 PM on July 24, 2004


Oh christ, MidasMulligan, your comments here are becoming almost a parody of the imploding right wing in this country.

In fact, those comments are precisely the same tired bellicose screed about "the nobility of war" one hears from every disgusting, two-bit, cowardly tyrant who seeks to somehow justify having others fight and die.

Since you're the one who childishly brought up "walking the walk", do let us all know, MidasMulligan, since you want us to believe you're incredibly and nobly concerned about those who lived for a couple of decades under a tyrant (supported by the United States government), and had a good number of his family members killed (by that government supported by the United States), exactly when you plan to personally take up arms against either of the two governments in question. I mean, war is noble, right MM? Invading another country over trumped up "facts" is moral, right MM? A war based upon lies is ok with you, right MM? Despite our killing thousands of young Americans and Iraqis over those lies, it's just this grand, patriotic thing (especially when you don't have to personally get involved), right MM?

I mean, during your latest emotional, thin-skinned little victimized meltdown here and refusal (as usual) to constructively discuss any of the links in question, you were making strange, irrelevant, mouth noises about those who talk the talk, and walk the walk, were you not?

So, again, since you brought it up....when do we see the noble walk, since we've gotten an earful of the noble talk?

Oh, and let's see, MM. Exactly which dictators were you referring to? The Shah? Ngo Dinh Diem? Somoza? Pinochet? Zia ul-Haq? The Saudi Royal Family? General Suharto? Mobutu Sese Seko? Ferdinand Marcos? Trujillo? Or hell, forget "dictators"....how about Osama bin Blowback?

I mean, we would expect you to understand, really understand, since you've lived for a couple of decades in a country that supported those dictators and terrorists, the tragic consequences of you and yours' strangely impersonal lust for war against only those dictators that make it sticky for Hallliburton, Shell, Exxon et al to improve their bottom line. Right MM?

And despite all that, you still don't want any criticism on an important issue like war on the front page of MetaFilter (especially since that criticism goes against your poorly supported beliefs), right MM? Ducking and running from the fruits of the war you supported...the foul fruit karl ably describes above....is understandable...and plain wrong. It must be particularly harsh for you and yours, since now a clear majority of Americans (not to mention people across the world) acknowledge that the war you support so mindlessly is flat-out wrong.

Meanwhile, the sad legacy of this immoral little war can be found in the links karl posted above, by those young Americans doing the fighting for the 101st Keyboard Chickenhawk Brigade. See also 1 in 6 Iraq Veterans Is Found to Suffer Stress-Related Disorder, High Suicide Rate For Iraq War GIs, and The Hidden Victims of Iraq's War.

Posttraumatic stress disorder in particular is a disease many of these young soldiers in America, and civilians in Iraq, will live with the rest of their days. Recurring nightmares, reliving horrible events over and over, hypervigilance....

Noble war.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 5:44 PM on July 24, 2004


You certainly do have the knack of perfectly describing yourself whenever you try to blast away at me. Keep it up. Its fun to watch.

As I said--that's not mirroring. That's I know you are but what am I-ing. It's fun to watch. What's fun to watch is you turn the spit at your own self-immolation. I know you are but what am I ? Oh, that is so devastating. Uh huh. Ri-i-ight... Stick a fork in yourself--when it comes back to the snappy comeback, you are done and dumber.

Which comes as no surprise. The only person you are speaking to is yourself--otherwise you would attempt to frame your thoughts in a persuasive manner. Bellowing absurd assertions, tilting against strawmen of your own device and pouring your energy into belittling inanities is not effective rhetoric. But you would rather bellow and belittle than be heard.

Well, it has to be handed to you--another classic MidasMulligan troll. Come into a thread assuming a subtext of your own projection and try to derail it with any absurd mix of slogan and absurdity. Here the absurd argument was that the fiasco in Iraq could be justified on humanitarian grounds when any mass killings which happened there happened more than ten years in the past.

He used chemical weapons on his own people--yes, indeed--when he was a client of the US under the Reagan administration. Which administration protected Saddam against Congressional sanction after the uproar over said chemical attacks. We even sold him stocks of anthrax in those years. All this has been documented extensively.

A war of humanitarian intervention can be justified only when mass killings are under way. There had been no mass killings on the scale of what happened in the Iran-Iraq War nor Saddam's repression of th Kuirdish and Shia uprisings following his defeat in the Gulf War. There were no mass killings going on in Iraq.

There is simply no way a retroactive war of humanitarian intervention can be justified. Nor can one be justified on the theory that there might be future mass killings--in either case, the justification for war is so nebulous and vague as to make any war excusable by the nation starting it, a situation inimical to any concept of international law.

And, at any rate, we did not invade Iraq on humanitarian reasons whatsoever. The reasons were economic and political--to gain control of Iraq's oil and divvy it up to corporate friends of the administration, and to crush Israel's most potent foe as well. A group of like minded ideologues were seeking to change the balance of power in the Mideast permanently. Well, we may have changed it, yes, and permanently--to our own geopolitcal detriment. We have squandered treasure, blood and an enomous upwelling of goodwill on the part of the world towards the US following 9/11, squandered it entirely.

Now we are seen as a rogue nation, a hyperpower that can invade and destroy a country, but can not administer it or protect the citizenry for which it is responsible as the invading and occupying power--leaving not peace but chaos. And yet, as much a wretched mess as Iraq is now, you beat the war drums still.

Well. we have not the men or women nor the arms to fight another war like this one. I believe it was General Zinni who noted that we have what amounts to one combat ready brigade, thanks to the occupation. And we don't have enough troops, period, to occupy Iraq. If we fight anyone else,we will leave them in even worse shape than the Iraqis. There isn't a country in the world--including Great Britain!--that wants to see us starting another misadventure like this one.

That prisoner in the hood standing on the box at Abu Ghraib with the wires dangling from his fingers?--that's what the symbol of America will be in the MidEast for generations.

Once it was the Statue of Liberty.

So slap yourself on the back and tell yourself what a wit you are. You aren't kidding anyone. You come into a thread sneering and bellowing and then claim major injury over the lifting of an eyebrow, over mere sarcasm. And then when you get your blood up, you go into a rage. And that's are more than half your commentary here--bellowing and baiting with your pompous spouting, and playing the injured party when people naturally react to your troll tones. Then you bellow loud and louder. You really lost it here, in your stereotypical way, and that is a fact as plain as day. It's where you choose to put your energy here, more often than not. Derail. Bellow. Rinse and repeat.
posted by y2karl at 6:59 PM on July 24, 2004


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