The Global Village

 

Poor Morale at Department of State—Ho Hum

By David T. Jones on December 4, 2017

poor_moral.jpgWashington, DC - In recent media stories, there has been a flurry of excitement among the fluttering class prompted by a State Department spokesman’s comment that morale is poor at State.
The announcement is as dramatic as “The sun rose in the east this morning” or “It was really hot and humid in Washington this summer.”
Drawing on 50 years of experience with State, both on active duty and as a retired officer, I can say that there has never/never been a period when one could say that morale at State was good, let alone excellent. 

Angela Merkel and the German election

By The Hon. David Kilgour on September 18, 2017

Kilgour_David_bw.jpgAngela Merkel’s re-election as Germany’s chancellor for the fourth time on September 24 is important for Germans, Europeans and many democratic nations around the world, partly because of regional and other international misfeasance by Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Strobe Talbott, President Bill Clinton’s leading adviser on Russia, observes, “Chancellor Merkel is the most steadfast custodian of the concept of the liberal West going back 70 years ... that makes her Putin’s No. 1 target.”
Merkel is the widely-recognized leader of Europe and defender of besieged universal values and democracy internationally. Putin is a contemporary would-be Russian czar, who wants to fracture Europe and democratic governance wherever possible. 

À la recherche de la Ménora du Temple de Jérusalem

By David Bensoussan on September 10, 2017

menora.jpgL’un des monuments les plus visités au forum à Rome est l’arc de triomphe de l’empereur Titus consacré par son frère Domitien pour marquer la prise de Jérusalem en l’an 70. On y trouve l’inscription : « Dédié par le Sénat et le peuple de Rome à Titus Vespasien Auguste, fils de Vespasien. » 

Le butin pris au Temple de Jérusalem dont la Menora ou candélabre à sept branches y figure sur un bas-relief. Tout comme l’Arche de la loi contenant les tablettes des Dix commandements, la Ménora était conservée dans le Saint des Saints dans le Temple de Salomon.

Statuary rape

By David T. Jones on September 10, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC ~ The current  search for “feet of clay” throughout the United States is curious almost beyond puzzlement. We are self axle-wrapping over what statue should be permitted to commemorate whom and what.

And not just statues and memorials associated with the Civil War Confederacy “losers” but other historical figures who don’t fit 2017 parameters for veneration.  These range from George Washington (slave holder); Thomas Jefferson (slave holder; alleged sexual relations with a slave); Benjamin Franklin (owned slaves); Teddy Roosevelt (violent expansionist); Woodrow Wilson (ignored racism and promoted segregation—and didn’t “keep us out of war” as he promised).

Puzzling over hacking

By David T. Jones on August 2, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC ~ For an extended period now, Washington and President Trump’s administration have been wrapped around the axle over Russian “hacking” of Democrat-associated e-mails and Moscow’s alleged concurrent effort to assist the Trump campaign win the election.
The effort to “get to the bottom of it” does not seem anywhere near to reaching any bottom.  Indeed, it has metastasized into investigations by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller that appear to be casting their investigatory nets in ever-widening directions, ensnaring President Trump’s son and son-in-law as well as assorted odds-and-ends deal-makers/fixers/lawyers of one nationality or another.

"BREXIT" after the British election

By The Hon. David Kilgour on June 26, 2017

Kilgour_David_bw.jpgEmmanuel Macron, president of France, is correct about Britain’s post-election Brexit realities. At a joint news conference with Prime MinisterTheresa May in Paris last week, he said the UK decision to leave the EU could be reversed: “As the negotiations go on, it will be more and more difficult to go backwards...”
May knows she must respect the positions on Brexit of other parties, given her failure to secure a majority and the loss of 13 MPs. She is also under pressure from Brexiters on her own backbenches who could topple her as prime minister if she fails to deliver on their expectations.  The world, however, knows that she and David Cameron - with good reasons -supported "Remain" in last year’s national referendum.

NATO and the Transatlantic Relationship

By The Hon. David Kilgour on June 11, 2017

Kilgour_David_bw.jpgWhen 12 democratic governments seeking to check Soviet expansion formed NATO by treaty in 1949, it seems unlikely that any of their political leaders thought they would today number 28 and become the most successful defensive military alliance in history.
Post-1952 American President Dwight D. Eisenhower noted at the time, “We are engaged in a war of great ideologies. This is not just a casual argument between slightly different philosophies. This is light against dark, freedom against slavery…”.
The initiative represented a major turning point for the United States. Unprecedented in peacetime, Washington was entering a permanent alliance linking it to Western Europe in both a military and political sense.

THE SIX DAY WAR—ICONIC MILESTONE

By David T. Jones on June 7, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC ~ Four times in the 75 years of my life, Israel has had to fight its Arab neighbors:  1948, for the creation of the country; 1956, to restore freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal; 1967, in pre-emptive strikes against Arabs on the verge of their own attacks; and 1973, beating back a surprise Egyptian attack across the Suez Canal that was initially successful.
Each time there was the basic appreciation that Israel could not afford to lose a single war or “never again” would be implemented to catastrophic effect.
It is the 1967 “Six Day War,” now in its 50-year commemoration starting on 5 June, that has proved the most enduring and consequential.

"Masada shall not fall again! Metzadah shuv lo tipol!" The legacy of the bold and the brave

By Beryl Wajsman on June 4, 2017

nation_in_making.jpgThis week we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Israel's victory in 1967's Six Day War. A war pre-meditatively planned and instigated by frontline Arab states whose leaders promised to "drive the Jews into the sea!" It was a victory for the frontline nation in the family of the free, a precursor of the time of terror we live in today, but more than all that, it affirmed President John F. Kennedy's creed that with, "Resolve and courage, the bold and the brave can assure the survival and success of liberty."
In the weeks leading up to the War - a war that took place just 22 years after the liberation of the death camps of the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews - Arab states flaunted international law and the international community responded with submission and impotent silence.

Le négationnisme de Marine le Pen et la responsabilité de la France

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on April 28, 2017

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJerusalem - Le président Rivlin a eu raison de condamner le négationnisme de Marine le Pen au moment même où les Français s’apprêtent à voter au deuxième tour de la présidentielle. C’était son devoir d’alerter et de remettre les pendules de l’Histoire à l’heure de la vérité.
Certes, rares sont les déclarations prononcées par un dirigeant officiel israélien contre un candidat à une élection dans un pays étranger, mais comment ne pas sursauter et se révolter contre les tentations de blanchir le gouvernement de Vichy dirigé par Pétain.
Ce maréchal, vainqueur de Verdun, l’homme providentiel de l’époque, et ses collaborateurs,ont agi volontairement et ont offert aux Allemands une aide importante, la plus considérable et la plus précieuse de tous les pays de l’Europe occupée.

Two Minutes to Midnight

By Robert Presser on April 23, 2017

Presser_Robert_new.jpgSince 1947, The Chicago-based Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has maintained a Doomsday Clock indicating how close they feel the world is to a global nuclear war.  Now the clock is set to two and a half minutes to midnight, to which it has been creeping closer over the past 26 years since a recent low of 17 minutes, recorded following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  I think that the clock does not reflect the current danger represented by the twin threats of the Syrian civil war and persistent belligerence from North Korea.  There are more dangerous factors involved than at any other time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the atomic scientists need to get together and tick the clock 30 seconds closer than their most recent setting of January 26th, 2017.

RUSSIA: SET/RESET/RESET AGAIN

By David T. Jones on April 23, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - The United States has a “Russia problem.”  (And to be sure, Russia has a “United States problem.”)
This is not “Cold War II”—much as media always in search of a conflict to which they can attach a tag line might prefer.  The “Soviet Red Army” of the 1980s that we feared for a generation would crash through the Fulda Gap headed to the Rhine—where we would have to fight outnumbered and win for the West’s survival—hasn’t existed since 1989.
To be sure, Russia remains the only country whose nuclear strikes could comprehensively destroy the United States--at the cost of its own annihilation.  But despite this disconcerting reality, we “trust the Russians” to continue to act in sane self-control over their forces.

From Russia with Love

By Robert Presser on March 22, 2017

Presser_Robert_new.jpgDid Russian President Vladimir Putin seek to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election?  More seriously, was there collusion between elements of the Trump organization and Russian insiders to shape the campaign, and did those interventions lead to the disclosure of damaging information on Hillary Clinton at critical moments in the closing months?  FBI Director James Comey was summoned before Congress to testify and present evidence, or confirm the lack thereof so that these questions can be settled, at least on an official level.
The only bombshell of information he has provided so far was that the FBI has been investigating since July 2016 into contacts between the Russians and certain Trump campaign officials –clearly this cloud over the Trump presidency will endure for some time.

Secretary Tillerson and he State of State

By David T. Jones on March 18, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - In recent media stories, there are floods of tears (some of the crocodile nature) regarding the degree to which the U.S. Department of State and Secretary Tillerson have (not) controlled U.S. foreign policy.
To an extent, this observation is accurate.  Secretary Tillerson stands alone atop a bureaucratic pyramid of senior State Department officials of the deputy secretary, under secretary, and assistant secretary ilk that are empty.  Or at least empty of specific designees selected by Tillerson and/or President Trump.  They are filled by “acting” officials, essentially long-term civilian government employees and career Foreign Service Officers.  Their political predecessors were defenestrated or made to feel sufficiently unwelcome that with their backs up against the wall, they read the writing thereon.  

HUMAN DIGNITY, PUTIN AND THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

By The Hon. David Kilgour on March 3, 2017

Kilgour.jpgOttawa - Across the world, in many nations with differing models of governance, it appears that human dignity is under siege.
In Asia, for example, medical agents of the party-state in China are beyond any reasonable doubt removing for commercial purposes an average of 250 organs daily, mostly from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the Falun Gong, Uyghur Muslim, Tibetan Buddhist and house Christian communities.
Among the 54 nations of Africa, we find some of the world’s best-governed states, such as Botswana and Ghana, but also some, such as Zimbabwe and Angola, which are both mismanaged and corrupt and treat their citizens with thinly-veiled contempt.

Le nouveau tandem Trump-Netanyahou

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on February 23, 2017

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJerusalem- La rencontre chaleureuse de Netanyahou avec le président Trump à Washington est à la fois symbolique et significative après huit années de tensions et de relations tumultueuses inutiles avec la précédente administration américaine.

C’est ainsi que le président des Etats-Unis devrait toujours accueillir un chef d’Etat ami et un allié fidèle.  Sur ce point, Netanyahou peut en effet se réjouir et être soulagé. Enfin, il est entré à la Maison Blanche décontracté, la tête haute, et avec le sourire. Il est reçu sans contrainte, sans animosité, et obtient naturellement tous les égards.

Trump to America: "Did you love my huge, huge, first week?"

By Robert Presser on February 5, 2017

Presser_Robert_new.jpgDear Americans,

I am doing Fantastic, I know you think so.  I feel it, feel it clearly, no matter what the dishonest media is reporting. Spicer did an amazing job, totally amazing, Spicer was, standing up to the White House reporters, telling them that I had the biggest inauguration crowd ever, ever!  Period!  Way to tell’em!  Spicer and I are going to get along great, great guy, Spicer is.
Obamacare is history, I made it so on day one, everyone saw me do it.  I love executive orders, it’s just like running a business, sign the papers and make it so, but Reince tells me it is more complicated than that.  

The Holocaust: On memory and witness

By Beryl Wajsman on January 27, 2017

holocost.jpgToday, January 27th, is the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops. Perhaps for this reason, this date was chosen as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Curiously, and sadly, it took the UN sixty years to give recognition to this most seminal and apocalyptic event in human history. The organization at whose entrance are carved the words of the prophet Isaiah that, “Swords shall be beaten into plowshares and nation shall not make war against nation anymore,” got around to commemorating Holocaust remembrance only in 2005. We are not only still waiting for Isaiah’s prophecy to be realized but also for that day when those other prophetic words “Justice shall roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream…” have life breathed into them.

THE U.N., ISRAEL, OBAMA, AND KERRY

By David T. Jones on January 2, 2017

palestine.jpgWashington, DC -The Thesis: The Second Coming will arrive before peace in the Middle East. The Corollary:  Nobody ever lost money betting against peace.
For close to a generation, ever since the historic Begin-Sadat agreements leading to peace with Egypt and the Rabin-Hussein accords and the peace with Jordan, the peace process has been frozen.  It has not been for lack of trying and, indeed, following the 1994 Oslo peace accord, the ‘90s saw enormous efforts by the most skilled diplomatic professionals to bridge differences between Israelis-Palestinians-Syrians and other Middle East actors.  At times President Clinton almost assumed the role of State Department’s Middle East action officer and seemed to meet the principal players more often than any other foreign officials. 

Lessons from the American election

By Robert Presser on November 12, 2016

Presser_Robert_new.jpgI write this barely 17 hours after Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the New York Hilton, so emotions are still raw all around.  Protesters are in the streets in seven American cities, urban voters expressing their frustration at his unexpected victory.  America’s progressives should not be so surprised – the African American and Latino vote participated less than in 2008 and 2012, and working-class white men and women voted more for Trump than they did in those previous elections.  Trump won the White House with fewer votes than John McCain and Mitt Romney received, but the overall participation rate was down, which favours Republicans.  Therein lies the first lesson of national campaigns – energize your base and make sure they turn out.  

The Strangest Election

By David T. Jones on November 4, 2016

jones_david.jpgWashington,DC-It took me considerable time to appreciate just how strange this presidential election has been.

Being enough of a historian to recognize that finding something new under the sun is unlikely, I recalled the seriously dirty elections of the past and the ad hominem commentary that characterized them.Thomas Jefferson accused of having sexual intercourse with his slaves.Andrew Jackson characterized as a wild man from out of the West who would militarize the United States.  Jefferson denounced him as “one of the most unfit men I know for such a place.  He has had very little respect for laws or constitutions.  He is a dangerous man. "

Mosul will fall. Who’s in charge then?

By Robert Presser on October 24, 2016

Presser_Robert_new.jpgAfter months of threatening to move against ISIL in Mosul, 25,000 Iraqi army and Kurd militia fighters are slowly closing in, supported by US and coalition airpower and advisors.  Two years ago, Mosul collapsed as Iraqi forces fled the city when faced with a confident and insurgent ISIL force that had seized vast territories in Iraq and Syria and established Raqqa and the capital of the “Greater Syria” originally promised to the Arab armies by Lawrence of Arabia.  Two years later, Mosul is the last major Iraqi city in ISIL control and their expulsion will leave only Raqqa as their urban stronghold.  It will be a long, tough battle, brutal for the remaining 1 million civilians in the city, half of its pre-conflict population.  It may take longer and produce more casualties than expected for the Iraqis and Kurds, but after the victory who’s going to get the spoils? 

Shimon Pérès- Combattant pour la paix et éternel optimiste

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on October 2, 2016

peres.JPGL’ancien Premier ministre et Prix Nobel de la Paix est incontestablement l’homme politique qui a marqué de son empreinte l’Histoire de l’Etat Juif depuis sa proclamation par David Ben Gourion jusqu’à nos jours.
Toujours dans le peloton de tête et au carrefour du destin de son peuple, il est le dernier leader israélien né avant la Shoah.
J’ai suivi durant cinq décennies la carrière de Shimon Pérès. J’ai eu le privilège de l’accompagner dans ses voyages et de pénétrer avec lui dans les arcanes du pouvoir et des chancelleries. Personne n’en doute, Shimon Pérès est un animal politique.

Dangers In Demonization

By David T. Jones on September 26, 2016

jones_david.jpgWashington,DC - Donald Trump (Republican candidate for president) will debate Hillary Clinton (Democratic candidate for president) on Monday, 26 October.  
It may be the most watched TV show in history (100 million projected viewers) rivaling Super Bowl figures.
And most eyes will be on Trump, perhaps the most reviled major U.S. political figure in modern history.
And we all know Trump.  Bullying, bombastic, bigoted, racist, male chauvinist.  He sneers at cripples; mocks menstruating females; endorses torture; believes that “blue lives” (police) matter more than black; is hostile to immigrants of all variety, but particularly illegal immigrant Hispanics described as replete with rapists—as well as taking jobs from honest U.S. citizens.

A Republican Secretary of State – Whoever Wins

By David T. Jones on September 20, 2016

jones_david.jpgWashington,DC ~ The current focus in the United States is on the day-to-day campaign vagaries of the candidates in the presidential election and in particular the upcoming debates (one in late September and three times in October). Foreign policy will feature in the debates and the campaign, although for the moment it seems to have boiled down to loving or hating Putin and hating ISIS (but unsure how to kill it off).  There is much more in play, notably the fate of trade agreements now in effect (NAFTA) or prospective (TPP); the North Korean nuclear threat; containing/relating to China in every particular, notably Beijing’s effort to make the South China Sea a personal lake; our relationship with NATO and other allies; and if/when/where to put “boots on the ground.” Any one of these problems could become incendiary crises before election day.

Munich Massacre commemoration at Rio Games may be too little, too late

By Beryl Wajsman on August 15, 2016

Munich.jpgForty-four years after the Munich massacre, the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics were finally commemorated in an official International Olympic Committee ceremony last Thursday at the Rio Games. The ceremony was held at a memorial site in the Olympic Village. Called the Place of Mourning, the site honors the memory of the Israelis as well as four other people who were killed at Olympic Games. The others are the German policeman who was killed in a failed rescue attempt in Munich; two victims of a bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and a Georgian athlete who died in an accident at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

NATO: Myths and realities

By David T. Jones on July 31, 2016

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC ~ Sometimes it is useful to review the realities underlying myths, And this is an opportune time to clarify some of the accepted mythology around NATO.

I have spent eight plus years of my diplomatic career either at the US Mission at NATO, on the "NATO Desk" at State, or addressing arms control negotiations with the then Soviets regarding intermediate nuclear force (INF) missiles in Europe.  So I think that I have sufficient background to make these observations. Particularly in light of the current debate in the Presidential campaign on whether NATO allies are shouldering enough of their financial and military responsibilities or depending too much on the United States. And the discussion with regard to Article 5 of the Treaty needs some perspective.

After Nice, a new freedom.. Now we dare!

By Beryl Wajsman on July 15, 2016

french_flag.jpgIt has always been a matter of some frustration that after every Jihadist slaughter too many western leaders and opinion makers bent over backwards to avoid calling the enemy by its name, drawing comparisons with other brutal dogmas and stating - with open candour - that we are in a war. A new type of war certainly. But a war nonetheless.

In the aftermath of the horror in Nice, something new is becoming evident. The "none dare call it.." mentality is being replaced by a "now they dare..." resolve.

BREXIT? EVERYBODY TAKE A VALIUM

By David T. Jones on June 26, 2016

brexit.jpgWashington,DC - Following the frenzy over his Parti Quebecois victory in the 1976 Quebec provincial election, Rene Levesque was portrayed in a famous Aislin cartoon as saying, “Okay, everybody. Take a valium.”  In other words, relax.  The PQ victory was not world’s end.
Nor is “Brexit’s” victory by those Brits who want to divest themselves of links to the EU.
Essentially, the entire issue was a campaign over national philosophy disguised as an economic debate.  The existential question was whether British wanted to remain Great Britain or whether they be content to become “Britain;” a homogenized element of a 27-member European Union taking direction from a non-British majority of states.

Judge may be wrong, but Trump's attack is inadmissable

By David T. Jones on June 19, 2016

jones_david.jpgWashington,DC - Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a single category for controversy into which Donald Trump, putative Republican nominee for president, doesn’t plunge.  Or that he epitomizes the sobriquet that he opens his mouth only to change feet.
Although Trump is now engaged with critics/opponents over his comments regarding the mass killing in Orlando, Florida, other slanging matches remain unresolved albeit not (entirely) forgotten.  The penultimate high-profile contretemps was a nasty barrage of vituperation from Trump against Gonzalo P. Curiel, the federal judge trying a class action suit against Trump brought by individuals formerly enrolled in Trump University.

La barbarie palestinienne frappe Tel-Aviv au cœur

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on June 19, 2016

Freddy_Eytan.JPGLe massacre perpétré dans un restaurant de Tel-Aviv par deux terroristes  de la région d'Hébron aura des conséquences graves sur l’avenir des relations avec les Palestiniens. Ces terroristes vêtus de costumes cravates ont lâchement assassiné et blessé des innocents venus tranquillement diner avec des copains et des membres de leurs familles. La fusillade a été commise par deux cousins, juste après qu’ils avaient savouré le repas de la fin du jeune du Ramadan. Au moment où à Tel-Aviv on apportait des soins aux victimes dans la douleur et l’angoisse, et les sirènes des ambulances hurlaient vers les hôpitaux, à Gaza et à Hébron,ce sont des cris de joie et d’allégresse qui scandaient dans les rues, tandis que les dirigeants du Hamas criaient victoire et menaçaient, durant ce mois du Ramadan, de perpétrer des nouveaux attentats plus spectaculaires. 

Sorry, no apocalypse today or tomorrow

By David T. Jones on May 29, 2016

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - The lack of perspective among political and/or foreign policy commentators is remarkable.  One would sometimes believe that their sense of history when they awaken in the morning is limited to when they went to sleep.
Even when appreciating the imperatives of the 24-hour news cycle and the imperatives that reporters must serve the Twitter/Tweet/Social Media gods while attempting to provide stories, their absence of historical perspective ranges from amusing to pathetic.
Thus one would believe that the current U.S. presidential primary competition is somehow uniquely horrid in its political atmospherics and prospective consequences. 

The United States owes no apology to Japan

By David T. Jones on April 24, 2016

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - There is no question that Japan continues to seek a U.S. apology for having delivered atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
When Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hiroshima on 11 April 2016, he made no apology nor did he speak. His appearance, however, was a “first” by a sitting U.S. Secretary of State.  Separately, press release/documentation indicated Kerry’s strong desire (reflecting that of President Obama) for a world without war and nuclear weapons.  In 2010, then U.S. Ambassador John Roos was the first U.S. diplomat to partake in memorial ceremonies at Hiroshima.

ISIS and the post-Brussels world

By The Hon. David Kilgour on April 4, 2016

Kilgour_David_bw.jpgSince the suicide bomb tragedies in Brussels, the appeal of Senator Bernie Sanders as the next president of the United States to many across America and the world concerned about global security could diminish in favor of Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Helping Clinton’s candidacy is her “smart power” approach to world issues. Where Sanders is more focused on domestic issues, she provided a detailed policy to win“more partners and fewer adversaries” in her 2014 book, Hard Choices. She believes probably more than Sanders that determined resolve now among the 60+ member nations of the International Coalition against ISIS must prevail over fear if ISIS and global terrorism are to be defeated to a point where they no longer offer false hope to disaffected people.

La guerre contre l’islam radical européen

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on March 27, 2016

Freddy_Eytan.JPGAprès Madrid, Londres et Paris voilà que Bruxelles est frappée au cœur par le terrorisme islamiste. Nos premières pensées vont bien entendu aux victimes et nous sommes toujours solidaires avec les Européens dans leur combat contre le terrorisme, ce qui n’est pas toujours le cas de leur part. Il est difficile de retenir ses larmes en observant les images effroyables, le carnage, les blessés en détresse et la panique. La réaction,à chaud, de Frederica Mogherini était certes naturelle, mais son comportement est interprété par les djihadistes comme un signe de faiblesse. Le fait que la représentante de l’Union européenne laisse couler ses larmes prouve que l’Occident perd sa bataille et demeure impuissante face aux attentats terroristes. Soulignons que l’indignation, la sensibilité et les bons sentiments n’existent pas chez les islamistessauvages. 


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