JIM HOAGLAND: Good afternoon. I'm Jim Hoagland.
I want to welcome you here to the council meeting which is a little unusual not only because of the high quality of the speakers but the number of the speakers as well and the intense audience interest that this meeting has sparked. So I want to get right to it so we can leave as much time for you to question the foreign policy advisers as possible.
My trust-but-verify cheat sheet here reminds me to ask you all to please turn off your cell phones -- verify that you've turned them off -- your BlackBerrys or other wireless devices.
Unusually, this meeting is on the record. We have -- we are being joined by 3(00) to 400 Council members, who are out of town, via telephone conference call and members of the media who are also listening in on the same conference call. And after a fairly brief conversation among the four of us up here, we'll go about 1:00 to questions from the audience. We will ask you, of course, to wait for the microphone. And particularly since there's a teleconference call involved, wait until you get it to speak. And when you speak, please stand and state your name and any affiliation.
So welcome. I'm going to keep the introductions very briefly, because I think most of you know our guests.
Mara Rudman on the left is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and she is also president of Quorum Strategies, an international strategic consulting firm. She served at the Clinton White House. She has previously been chief counsel to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. And as are all three of our members -- or our guests, rather, she's an unpaid adviser to the campaign, of course, of Senator Hillary Clinton.
Randy Scheunemann is director of foreign policy and national security for the McCain 2008 campaign. He has served as consultant to the Office of Secretary of Defense. He worked on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign and as well was a senior adviser to candidate Bob Dole in the 1996 campaign. He's served in the Senate -- he's worked in the Senate on foreign policy, arms control, national security and intelligence issues. His service on NGO boards includes the U.S. Committee on NATO, the Committee on the Present Danger and the Committee for Liberation of Iraq.
Last but certainly not least, Dr. Susan Rice is on leave as senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies in Global Economy at Brookings Institution. She has worked, of course, most prominently perhaps, in the recent past on Africa. She worked on the NSC staff, senior adviser there and was assistant secretary of State for African Affairs in the Clinton administration. Previously, she was a management consultant at McKenzie and Company. Her educational credentials include Stanford and Oxford where she was a Rhodes scholar.
My questions in this conversational part will be detailed questions, but I hope they will allow you and encourage you to talk in answering specifics about the principles and the methods that your candidate would use if he or she were to become president on these kinds of questions.
And Susan, I'll start -- I'll give you the dubious honor of having the first question on this -- (scattered laughter) -- or the first crack at the question on the NATO summit that's coming up in Bucharest in April where one of the principle issues will be NATO expansion. Would your candidate use the full force of the presidency, if he were president, at that summit, to push for membership now for Croatia, Albania and Macedonia? And would your president want to extend at this summit a military action program for Ukraine and Georgia?
SUSAN RICE: Thank you, Jim. (Laughter.)
Good afternoon, everybody.
Let me begin by making clear that Senator Obama's perspective is that NATO expansion has served our interests well, and that it is a process that ought to continue as countries come online that are ready and suited for NATO membership. So with respect to the first three countries that are on deck, obviously, there are issues to be resolved within NATO, particularly with Greece with respect to Macedonia and its name. And we would want to see that resolved cooperatively in a fashion that takes into account the sensitivities of our Greek allies.
And yet the incorporation of those countries is ultimately in our interest and one that would strengthen Europe and, I think, enhance our ability to deal with some of the pressures that we're seeing arise from Russia vis-a-vis its neighbors. So yes, those three, we would like to find a way to move forward.
With respect to Ukraine and Georgia, obviously, that's at an earlier stage. There's some difficult issues to be resolved. Senator Obama has welcomed their interest in putting forward and moving toward membership action plans. So we would want to work with our partners with deliberate speed to see if that can't be realized in a fashion that takes account of all the sensitivities.
HOAGLAND: Randy, could you perhaps -- I think we can all take a wild guess at what your answer's going to be. So could you perhaps also deepen it a little bit by talking about the sensitivities that Susan just mentioned, primarily coming from Russia? How would Senator McCain, after he's dealt with these questions at Bucharest as president, how would he deal with Russia? Would he want to, for example, resume active arms control negotiations with Moscow?
RANDY SCHEUNEMANN: Well, thank you, Jim. And it's a pleasure to be here.
On the first question, the issue of NATO enlargement, Senator McCain was in favor of enlarging NATO in 1994 when he first spoke out in favor, long before the then-Clinton administration reached its position. He is a strong believer in the value of the NATO alliance and in the value of more members in the NATO alliance. One of the greatest successes of NATO since the end of the Cold War has been its enlargement; first to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic and subsequently to the seven countries of the Vilnius round.
On Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, Senator McCain has been strongly outspoken in support for including them. They are ready. In the case of Macedonia, they've been a membership action plan for eight or nine cycles.
With respect to the Greek concerns, the United States recognizes Macedonia under its constitutional name. And he certainly hopes that there's not going to be this throwback to the 19th century style of Balkan politics, and the Greeks throw a red card on the membership of Macedonia.
On Georgia and Ukraine, Senator McCain also has been very outspoken on the need to honor their desire to be closer to the NATO alliance. He thinks it's long overdue that they be given accession to the membership action plan which is not membership, it is not a guarantee of membership, but it is in fact a way to recognize the aspirations as long as they are still valid. And in the case of Ukraine, there's been some turmoil, as everyone knows, in the political leadership but certainly in the case of Georgia which recently passed overwhelmingly a referendum supported by its people to get closer to NATO and eventually into membership.
With Russia, I don't think Senator McCain's position is secret to a lot of folks. He often likes to say when he looks into Putin's eyes, all he sees is a K, a G, and a B. (Laughter.) There is a new Russian leader, President-elect Medvedev who, interestingly, is still chairman of Gazprom and who, interestingly, this week, cut off 50 percent of Ukraine's gas supplies. Senator McCain thinks that's a real problem, and we can't deal with it by pretending it isn't a problem.
On the question of membership, and it is true, ironically, that the major objection to membership action plan for Georgia and also Ukraine is concern about a Russian reaction. And Senator McCain has said to many European leaders that NATO has a couple of principles, and one of the most important ones is no outside country has a veto on membership. That doesn't mean we ignore Russian concerns. But if we had given the Russians a veto, we wouldn't have Latvia and Lithuania and Estonia in NATO. If we given the Russians a de facto veto and leave Ukraine and Georgia in a strategic gray area, that's only going to encourage the hard-liners that seem to be ascendant in the Russian leadership. And that would be a grave mistake.
MARA RUDMAN: Sure, thanks. Again, I also thank you for having me here and welcome the opportunity to be here as well.
In commenting on what you both have to say, Senator Clinton also has been a strong supporter of enlargement, also for the three from Macedonia, Croatia and Albania, is looking forward to seeing the statement come forward of where they are in terms of meeting the principles that need to be met and would very much hope that at the Bucharest meeting there could be steps forward in the direction of making sure that they've met all the principles that need to be met and, with that in mind, being able to go forward.
With respect to Ukraine and Georgia, the next steps are, as we've all been talking about, getting the necessary planning in place. I think there's some concern that the Bush administration has not been doing all the things that need to be done with respect to the diplomatic work, both with respect to the three that we want to see going forward as well as the hard work on preparations with Georgia and Ukraine.
And with respect to the relationship with Russia, I think that there is both concern, certainly, as Randy pointed out, on how President Putin was dealt with at the beginning of President Bush's administration. But also, I think there's some concern about the need to balance, recognizing that we need to be very tough on Putin and on his successor and not letting them define, for example, who's coming into NATO and who's not but at the same time recognizing that it is a country that we need to deal with and we need to deal with in a variety of different ways.
And so where I get a little bit concerned, Randy, is when you sound like you're issuing ultimatums in a variety of fronts without finding ways to be able to talk and discuss and work through our issues as well. And I get a little bit concerned when I hear you talking that way with respect to Greece and Macedonia as well. I think that requires some skilled diplomacy to work out. We absolutely need to find ways to bring Macedonia in without question. But finding the way to do that is not just by issuing the ultimatum about what can and cannot be but also working through sometimes some difficult issues that we have.
I think we've had too many ultimatums over the last seven years that haven't necessarily served us well with the rest of the world. And we need to find ways to move forward that both achieve U.S. objectives with respect to a variety of issues but also find ways to bring our friends and allies with us.
RICE: Jim, are we going to continue on Russia? Because we didn't address --
HOAGLAND: I'll give you your shot.
HOAGLAND: But I wanted to follow on what Mara was saying about what are substantial agreements with some differences with Senator McCain's position. And I think many of us wonder --
RUDMAN: And Senator Obama's.
HOAGLAND: Well, I wanted you to help sharpen the differences, since Senator Clinton has made such a point, the nature of her experience and the length of her experience. In a general election campaign, she will be facing John McCain whose experience pretty much parallels or even exceeds hers in many ways. How would she handle foreign policy and national security differently than John McCain?
RUDMAN: I appreciate that. I think there are some similarities and some differences in the nature of their experiences, obviously, and in the ways that they deal and address things as well. I think one of the first clear differences is, frankly, what I just described in when you issue ultimatums and when you seek to find common ground. I will say, again, giving credit where credit is due, Senator McCain has been someone who, on occasion, has reached out, for example, to his Senate colleagues to find some common ground. But I think that too often there's also a tendency in the international arena to issue the ultimatums a little bit too quickly.
And I think that there's some correction course that's needed for us and the rest of the world in 2009. And that's not to say that we do not need to make sure that we define the perimeters of what U.S. interests are very clearly. But there's a style and a tone and a way that we approach the world. And I believe that Senator Clinton has shown, both through her experience internationally in the amount of travel that she had done and the experiences that she's had on the ground as first lady and then in her number of years as a senator as well and her travels with the Senate Armed Services Committee, her experience in meeting and dealing with international leaders, that she both has the ability to negotiate in a variety of settings, informally and otherwise, knows when and how to seize opportunities to be able to work various angles on an issue and knows how to get things done.
HOAGLAND: Randy, I'm sure you'll want to deal with the question of the difference in style and tone in dealing with the rest of the world. But I wonder if I could ask you also specifically to address, in dealing with the difference between Senator McCain and Senator Clinton, whether or not Senator McCain thinks that it's necessary at this point to rethink the war the war on terrorism and specifically what he proposes to do about Afghanistan. Will he continue to treat Iraq as the central front in the war on terrorism? Or does he think that we need to pay more attention to Afghanistan as well?
SCHEUNEMANN: Well, let me first address what Mara said about the experience and judgment. Can I just say, please keep running those 3 a.m. phone call ads about who you want to answer the phone -- (laughter) -- because we like those.
More seriously, I never said ultimatum in my comment. And it's no secret that in the NATO ministerial that just concluded it was 25-to-1 on the Macedonia question. Yes, there's an important role for diplomacy in giving Athens a face-saving way out. But it's pretty clear this is not something where you've got to build a large consensus. A large consensus has already formed in favor of the entry of Macedonia.
On the question of -- we don't use the phrase, and haven't for some time, "the global war on terror" for a variety of reasons. What Senator McCain talks about is the transcendent struggle of the 21st century against violent and radical Islamic extremism. In his view, it's not just a question of two battlefields. We have many, many battlefields, as everyone knows, whether it's in Somalia, whether it's in the southern islands of the Philippines and many other places we're engaged with al Qaeda and its affiliates that desire to replicate what they were unfortunately able to achieve on September 11, 2001.
Afghanistan needs to be a higher priority. We hope that our European allies will do more. There has been a lot of discussion about that. There certainly was at the recent Munich security conference and there certainly will be at the Bucharest summit. There's some positive signs. But at the end of the day, Senator McCain believes we have to get Afghanistan right. Because if we don't, it's very hard to see how NATO survives as an effective military alliance with an effective collective security organization if it goes to war in Afghanistan and loses.
HOAGLAND: But other than choosing a different slogan, is it a really different approach? Or is it really more of the same but more so?
SCHEUNEMANN: Well, I don't know what you mean by more of a different approach, because you talked about Iraq and Afghanistan. We talk about those. I mean, Senator McCain's made it very clear he believes this is a long-term struggle, and it's a battle of ideas. And it's a battle where soft power and smart power will often play a much larger role than pure military power. This is by no means a military struggle. He has said, in this struggle, scholarships will often be more important than smart bombs.
HOAGLAND: Susan, would you start with Afghanistan? If you want to work your way back to Russia, we would welcome that as well.
RICE: (Laughs.) It's a long way back to Russia -- how important is --
HOAGLAND: Well, let me rephrase that a little bit. Senator Obama leaves the impression that Iraq is a war that the United States can afford to downsize, at a minimum, and de-emphasize. Does he see the war in Afghanistan as one that we can afford to downsize? Or does he feel that we have to provide much more military power there? And don't you think, in retrospect, it was a mistake, at least in public perception, for him not to hold subcommittee hearings on Europe to be able to take up European contributions to NATO in Afghanistan?
RICE: Well, let me begin with his fundamental premise which was we face an exceedingly significant threat from al Qaeda and Islamic extremists, the ones that hit us on 9/11. And the way to have dealt with that problem would have been to press our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan rather than diverting our resources and attention to Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11 and indeed nothing, at that point, to do with the struggle against al Qaeda. Instead, we made a massive strategic blunder. We invaded Iraq. We've now been there in occupation for going on five years.
Every well-respected, knowledgeable counterterrorism expert that I know would tell you that that decision has exacerbated our efforts to contain and reduce al Qaeda's strength. We have created a new battleground in which al Qaeda has taken the field. Al Qaeda is resurgent and more aggressive in Afghanistan and Pakistan and, as Randy said, in many other parts of the world. And the war on terrorism is not yielding the results we need.
So Senator Obama's point of view is that, first of all, we made a massive strategic blunder, and we've got to deal with Iraq in order to be able to reconstitute and strengthen our ability to deal with a global challenge that al Qaeda and its affiliates pose. We need responsibly and gradually to reduce our military presence in Iraq.
We need to draw down to our combat brigades, we hope roughly at the pace of one to two a month. We have to calibrate that, obviously, to circumstances on the ground. But we would leave behind a residual sufficient to protect our embassy and civilians and operations there. But also --
HOAGLAND: Would you --
RICE: I'm going to get to Afghanistan.
HOAGLAND: Would you be shifting to Afghanistan?
RICE: Yes, let me continue the thought --
HOAGLAND: Fair enough.
RICE: -- because you did ask a number of questions in your so-called single question. (Laughter.)
RICE: We will leave behind a residual to deal with the embassy and civilians but also to be able to continue targeted counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in Iraq, not in the wider region as Senator Clinton has suggested, but in Iraq. And to the extent that the Iraqi parties have reached the sort of political accommodations that we all hope and believe they must and we are not, by training the Iraqi army and police, arming one side to kill the other, then the training mission can continue in some form or fashion. But we need to refocus our efforts and energies on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Senator Obama has said that we need to put an additional two combat brigades, at least, into Afghanistan. They need to be fresh and ready troops that don't come straight out of Iraq but have come from a reasonable regrouping period back at home. We need to augment the NATO mission, and that ante of additional U.S. personnel, we think, would be helpful in trying to garner additional NATO contributions and also to change the restrictions on many of our NATO allies.
But it is not sufficient to solve the challenge of Afghanistan through military means alone. He's also called for substantially increasing our assistance to Afghanistan in the development sphere to create alternatives to poppy, to invest in education and infrastructure and transportation infrastructure and to also strengthen the Afghan army and police. I mean, this is a significant and long-term challenge we face in Afghanistan, and we have to press it.
We also need a better approach to Pakistan where the status quo and the approach of the Bush administration -- I think has been, at times, embraced by Senator McCain and Senator Clinton -- has been to put all of our eggs in Musharraf's basket and to see him as the only thing between us and a worst-case scenario.
Senator Obama's view is, yes, Pakistan is an important ally and partner in the war on terrorism, but it hasn't been delivering adequately. It hasn't been performing, either on the counterterrorism side or with respect to governance. And we ought to be on the side of the Pakistani people in their quest for democracy. We ought to look at our assistance outside of counterterrorism, education, humanitarian aid in light of the extent to which the Pakistani government and military is allowing democracy to flourish. And that is critical to our long-term security and success in the global war on terrorism or whatever you choose to call it.
HOAGLAND: Did he miss an opportunity by not holding the subcommittee hearings?
RICE: No. I think this is one of those issues that has gotten a great deal of attention in political discourse. But the reality is that committee does not have principal jurisdiction over Afghanistan. It does have jurisdiction over NATO. Senator Biden as chairman of the full committee has made it very clear that issues to do with Afghanistan and NATO's role in Afghanistan, he wants to hold at the full committee level. There have been two such hearings at the full committee level over the past year. Senator Obama was at the first one and was actively involved in that. And that's the reality of what was going to happen. There were not going to be subcommittee hearings held in the European Subcommittee or even the South Asian Subcommittee because, on the major issues, Senator Biden has asked that they be and frankly insisted that they be held at the full committee level.
HOAGLAND: I wanted to shift to the question of the air war between Boeing and Airbus and the tanker contact.
As President -- Randy, I'll let you start this time. As president, would John McCain order the Pentagon to reconsider the contract with a view toward trying to find ways to make sure that those jobs stay in America, as the opponents have said that this one does not?
SCHEUNEMANN: Well, first let me say there was a report last night that Speaker Pelosi somehow alluded to this contract being awarded because of undue interference from Senator McCain, and that's absolutely outrageous and absolutely untrue.
On your question, Jim, the answer is absolutely not. I mean, Senator McCain, for years in his role as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, has fought other members of his own party, including then-Chairman Duncan Hunter on his so-called "Buy America" provisions. No one has been a stronger voice to say we need to get the best material for our troops at the best price through a competitive process. And if that includes European suppliers, our treasured NATO allies, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
And no one's presented any evidence whatsoever that this award was based on anything other than the merits. The most exhaustive analysis I've seen, which I'm sure many of you have seen, made it clear that in four of the five major categories, the Northrop/EADS was far superior to Boeing, and in one, slightly superior to Boeing. So unless some information is presented there's something wrong with the process, certainly not going to say it. And we can't be in a situation where we say it's open and fair and competitive but only if one side wins.
RICE: Senator Obama has expressed disappointment in the outcome that Boeing has not been awarded the contract. But he is not going to say anything further about it until he has the opportunity to hear from the Pentagon on its analysis and rationale for that decision. He wants to have a full understanding of exactly what factors went into play in that judgment and then, obviously, the parties will have the same ability.
HOAGLAND: Could I ask both you and Mara to also go a little deeper into this question and tell me whether or not you think, as advisers to your candidates, the rather sharp language that's used about NAFTA and about foreign trade in general by the Democratic candidates has potential for hurting the United States in the broader world?
RICE: Well, I think one has to pay due attention to what Senator Obama has actually said in the aggregate on trade and on NAFTA. And let me reprise it.
First of all, he's said that we're living in a world in which trade is a reality, globalization is a reality. It can't be stopped or slowed, and it shouldn't be stopped or slowed. That on balance, it has been beneficial to the United States. And yet, where we have trade agreements that do not include binding labor and environmental standards, those need to be improved and rectified for the benefit of our workers and for the benefit of people in other parts of the world.
NAFTA he did not support at the outset for this very reason. And his view is not that it ought to be jettisoned or ended but reopened and amended to put the labor and environmental standards into the core agreements.
Having -- let me --
HOAGLAND: But what he's saying -- sorry, go ahead.
RICE: So Senator Obama's view is that, you know, we are living in a world in which trade is a reality. It can be very beneficial to us and to others. But we need to make it work for the American workers. We need to be conscious of the significant dislocations that it has caused in our country. And it's not good enough just to negotiate free trade agreements, even good ones, as important as that is, without taking care of the consequences for our workers.
He also does not believe we can have a timeout from trade, because the rest of the world is not having a timeout from trade. It will continue.
HOAGLAND: Mara, to show that chivalry is not dead, you get the last question.
RUDMAN: Thanks, I appreciate that. And I think -- and in responding, I'll need to follow up on a couple of earlier points as well that were very inaccurate statements made, perhaps not surprisingly, about Senator Clinton's position on a couple of other issues.
With respect to the NAFTA question, again, I think there has been some sharp rhetoric and some inaccurate statements all around about candidates' positions. Senator Clinton recognizes, again, that trade is reality in the world but also that there are adjustments that need to be made. And the question, I think, that you're pointing out, Jim, is, how do we deal with our friends and allies on these questions?
HOAGLAND: And in the context of the Boeing-Airbus -- if you'd come to that.
RUDMAN: Sure, I'll come back to that as well.
Again, I think on Boeing -- let me just cover that quickly -- concern about the outcome and I think the recognition that we need to see the information coming through the process on that before we go any further on those points. But yes, concern about the outcome and recognition that through all these processes we have to keep a sharp eye on U.S. jobs at the same time recognizing that we certainly need the best possible equipment available in these circumstances but with a close eye on U.S. jobs and the U.S. economy throughout all of this.
HOAGLAND: But on its face, this contract doesn't violate Senator Clinton's principles or feeling about fair play.
RUDMAN: I think at this point we need to see all the information through the process. But on the broader question of how NAFTA and trade agreements are being handled, that she has said repeatedly we need to take a fresh look. And that she's confident, though, based on how she knows how to deal, again, with friends and allies and in negotiating situations, that she can do better going forward.
To me, the bigger question is, again, in how you approach tough situations, how you approach tough issues, how you approach challenging discussions with both friends and adversaries. And not only how you do it but how, frankly, the people who are working with and for you do it. And that's where, I think, we are particularly dismayed to see what happened within the Obama campaign with their economic adviser because that was an example of just, you know, in however it played out, a perhaps lack of experience and how you communicated with a foreign government on a particularly delicate and sensitive issue.
I just want to come back to an earlier point, though. You're going to let me --
HOAGLAND: Well, actually, I'm not --
RUDMAN: No, no, no --
HOAGLAND: I'm actually going to --
RUDMAN: No, that can't go --
HOAGLAND: I'm going to stop an argument that you two have already had or your candidates have had -- (laughter) --
RUDMAN: No, no, wait --
HOAGLAND: And turn to the audience. And if anybody would, the people I call on, want to bring it up, you're free to answer their question.
RUDMAN: -- because I didn't get to say anything about Pakistan, either, Susan, so it is fair.
RICE: No, it isn't, actually.
HOAGLAND: I'm going to go to a questioner right here.
Life is not fair. (Laughter.)
QUESTIONER: Well, sometimes it is, and I'd really love to --
HOAGLAND: If you'd state your name and any affiliation.
QUESTIONER: My name is Rebecca Barnard, Goldman Sachs, formerly of Senator Biden's office.
I would just be very interested in hearing Senator Obama's response to that last point, because it has -- (laughter and applause) --
HOAGLAND: The deck was stacked!
RICE: Thank you, Rebecca. (Laughter.)
As the Canadian government has repeatedly acknowledged and has now been amply reported in the press, Austan Goolsbee said nothing to the Canadian government that he or Senator Obama have not said many times in public. And Mara, I think, in all fairness and with due respect, that needs to be clarified and acknowledged.
What he said is exactly what I just said, which is that when we revisit NAFTA, it is with the aim of putting binding labor and environmental standards into the core agreement. Anybody who wants to see the memo that the Canadian government wrote reporting on their meeting can find it on the Internet. You will find that that is exactly what Austan Goolsbee said.
You will also find that he made a general statement which was then taken out of context in the press reporting, which was that neither Senator Obama nor Senator Clinton nor the Democratic Party in general is protectionist. We want to fix certain specific agreements.
What happened was the summary paragraph of the memo is -- those of you who have seen cables know -- was not reflective of the body of the conversation and indeed, the quotations or the statements, the characterizations of Goolsbee's statement in the body of the cable. So the summary was distorted. That was what was leaked to the press. And the Canadian government has said it wasn't accurate and apologized.
And by the way, while we're talking about this, now the press is reporting that indeed not only was there a contact which we have now acknowledged and explained from Senator Obama's campaign that actually began with the Canadian government, not us, but in fact the Clinton campaign, at least that's what the reports are suggesting, initiated a contact with the Canadian embassy or government for the same purpose. I have no idea if that's true. There's been a lot of false reporting on this.
HOAGLAND: Well, maybe Mara can respond to that.
RICE: But let's be accurate.
RUDMAN: No, I think that's been completely denied by the campaign. There's no name --
RICE: Well, then, it can't be true. Okay. (Laughter.)
HOAGLAND: I'm going to go to the back of the room. Gentleman right here with his hand up, yeah.
QUESTIONER: Marco Vicenzino, Global Strategy Project.
This is a question regarding NAFTA again. I don't mean to follow up on it, but I think it's quite serious. Mexicans and Canadians, they disagree with many elements of NAFTA that didn't serve their interests. Now, what prevents them, once you reopen NAFTA for our own needs, what makes you think we'll prevent them from wanting to reopen it? And what precedent do you think that sets with other allies in regard to existing agreements?
HOAGLAND: Mara, you want to go briefly? And Randy wants in on this, too.
RUDMAN: Do you want Randy to go first?
HOAGLAND: Why not?
SCHEUNEMANN: I'd be happy to go first on NAFTA. You know, when you talk about reopening an agreement that was passed over a decade ago with strong bipartisan support with our two largest trading partners, one of whom is forward deployed in Afghanistan and taking higher levels of casualties than at any time since the Korean War, for unilateral reasons to demand, to give an ultimatum, if you will, that either -- either -- you change, Canada, in this case, your labor and environmental standards or we will withdraw from the treaty, which is the position that both candidates have taken, is not only protectionist, it's unilateralist. And I thought one thing the two campaigns agreed on was the era of cowboy diplomacy was over. (Laughter and applause.)
RUDMAN: No one said this isn't a challenge. But I also don't think that it's been delivered. You disputed my words earlier, Randy. I would dispute yours here. I don't think we're talking about it in terms of ultimatums. I don't think this is -- if you think this is the cowboy diplomacy that we've seen in the last seven years, not anything close.
It is tough discussions, without question. You're absolutely right in the sense that going down this road means that we have to be able to recognize that anyone -- when we're talking about opening agreements, other sides will certainly have their issues to raise as well. Which is why if you're going down this road, you better make sure that the person that's leading you down this road has the ability to know how to get the job done. And if they're going to start in these negotiations that they're very good at knowing both how to find common ground, how to stand ground and that they have a proven track record in being able to accomplish this type of thing.
HOAGLAND: Susan, do you briefly want to respond?
HOAGLAND: Thank you very much.
QUESTIONER: Jim Moody, Merrill Lynch.
I just returned from Pakistan as an election observer. And as you know, both Musharraf's candidates and the mullahs were resoundingly defeated. You've mentioned Pakistan, so would you drill down some more on what we should do going forward, given this totally new and somewhat unexpected situation?
RUDMAN: Do you want --
HOAGLAND: It was directed to Susan, I believe.
QUESTIONER: (Off mike.)
HOAGLAND: Yeah, I think Susan was last talking about it. So if you wanted to expand a little bit on it.
RICE: Well, I'll give them an opportunity. But let me just say the election does present us with a new opportunity to strengthen our and demonstrate our support for the democratic forces within Pakistan. It provides also a number of challenges. But the reality is unless and until the United States is viewed by the people of Pakistan as supportive of their democratic aspirations, our long-term interests in the context of the war on terrorism will be undermined.
So we will have a new and difficult challenge in working with what will be, at least in the short term, a potentially divided government. And we, obviously, also need to continue cooperation with all elements of that government in the counterterrorism challenge and intensify it.
But the bottom line is if we can be supportive of democracy and its deepening in Pakistan and at the same time step up our investments in education and in civil society and in the critical social sector which is necessary, in addition to the counterterrorism, counterinsurgency military challenge in the most vulnerable parts of the country, then we'll be potentially in a position to see some real gains in Pakistan.
RUDMAN: Sure, thanks. This also gives me an opportunity, I didn't get a chance to respond earlier to the question on terrorism. And I'm sure Susan inadvertently lumped Senator Clinton in with Senator McCain in a position on Pakistan that was inaccurate. So I want to have the opportunity to clarify that.
Senator Clinton more than a year ago called for a special envoy to be appointed to deal with both Pakistan and Afghanistan, very concerned that President Bush wasn't paying sufficient attention to what was going on in Pakistan, was looking much too closely at Musharraf as the full force of where we were putting everything in Pakistan and that that was a mistake. And she saw that coming some time ago as opposed to looking at our interests in supporting the people of Pakistan. So in that sense, very pleased at the results of the election. And I commend you for going over as an election observer. I think that's a critically important task.
She supports Senator Biden who has put forward a proposal for increased economic aid. But in addition to that, talking about a democracy dividend of putting in an additional amount of economic assistance for democracy-related programs, several months, or perhaps a year hence from now, in addition to the increased economic aid that Senator Biden is talking about, as one important means forward.
While our military assistance to Pakistan is important for a number of reasons, looking with some greater scrutiny at that military assistance going forward as well; again, not talking about cutting it off but scrutinizing more carefully where and how it goes and in which way as we go forward. Not necessarily the blank-check approach that the Bush administration has taken to date. As well as, again, I think, the continued call for the special envoy on the Pakistan-Afghanistan issues at the same time and with continued and ongoing scrutiny on the sensitivities of the Pakistan-India relationship since that drives, at the same time, so much of what is going on in the region as a constant backdrop.
And so with an overall concern that the amount of time and attention that President Bush and the Bush administration has been focusing on Iraq has been to the detriment of all that's been going on in Pakistan. And this is showing the results of it, and so that needs to shift as well.
HOAGLAND: I believe all three candidates have made it clear that they would deny sanctuary, if necessary, through U.S. action, to the Taliban and to al Qaeda into Pakistan.
Randy, I wonder if you could take on the question by looking at Colombia's recent border raid into Ecuador, which is also taken in the name of acting against terrorists who have sanctuary. Does Senator McCain endorse that action? If he does, how do we prevent -- how do we bolster international law strongly enough to prevent all countries from pursuing whoever they want to across international borders? And I wonder if all three of you could talk about the Colombia incident in that light.
SCHEUNEMANN: Sure. Let me just very briefly address Pakistan. I mean, I think it is clear that however flawed the electoral and democratic process was, it's turned out a result that reflects the will of the Pakistani people, and that is a very good thing. But we should also be realistic. I mean, Nawaz Sharif has been in power before. The Pakistani Peoples Party has been in power before. They weren't particularly noted for either good governance or effective counterterrorism in their regimes, so we should be realistic about thinking that all of a sudden, things are going to be easier on the counterterrorism front.
More democracy aid, more development aid, special envoy, all these things make sense. But there are some very strong institutional and political impediments to greater -- and cultural and historical impediments to greater cooperation that are going to make it a very challenging relationship with any Pakistani government, whether it's headed by Musharraf or whether it's headed by Sharif or the PPP.
On Colombia, Senator McCain is very forthright in speaking out on behalf of one of our strongest allies in the hemisphere, President Uribe. He has clearly put up with cross-border sanctuaries for far too long with FARC and in the course of hot pursuit, going after FARC which is a terrorist organization which has killed thousands of Colombians, which has held Americans hostage, which has held French citizens hostage. Uribe was absolutely right in doing what he did. If the government of Ecuador was not able to control its own border and to allow terrorists to operate at will in Colombia, certainly President Uribe was within his rights. And frankly, there's been not a lot of support from either of the Democratic candidates for that action.
And finally, on Colombia, another point. You know, the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement has the new labor and environmental packages that the Democrats demanded. And yet, that's stalled, it has gone absolutely nowhere. When we talk about helping countries and we talk about using smart power and soft power, free trade is one of the best means. And I would certainly hope we could see rapid movement, as Senator McCain has called for, on the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement.
HOAGLAND: Susan, justified border aid, Colombia free trade.
RICE: Yeah, I'm puzzled by Randy's statement that we haven't been clear on that. Yes, I mean, Senator Obama issued a statement in which he was very clear that Colombia has the right to defend itself, and that was an act of self-defense. So I don't think there's a difference on the substance of that. He's also gone on in a subsequent statement to express real concern about Venezuela's buildup on the border and the threatening posture that that poses. And so the entirety of that region is now of significant concern.
And the United States, while certainly not doing much good by its longstanding policy of demonizing Chavez, here is a case where the actions of the Venezuelan government and Chavez really do need a sharp check. So I don't think we have a substantive difference on that. I'll let Mara speak for herself.
On the free trade agreement, Senator Obama has supported, for example, the Peru agreement which he does think incorporates the labor and environmental standards adequately. He has concerns about the Colombian agreement, largely due to human rights and other issues. So, you know, we're not prepared to be exactly in the same place as Senator McCain on that at this stage.
RUDMAN: On the specifics on this, I think that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama are in very similar positions. Senator Clinton also -- Randy, you must have just missed the statements that she put out as well on exactly this issue. So she's spoken out very strongly with respect to what happened on the Colombia border.
With respect to Venezuela and Chavez, I think that among the major concerns there is the U.S. dependence, frankly, on foreign oil and the need to develop a much stronger strategic energy plan overall. And Senator Clinton has put out a number of points on that along with a very forceful energy plan which she put out some months ago.
HOAGLAND: We haven't touched yet on the Middle East. And I suspect I have a Middle East question right here.
QUESTIONER: Thanks, Jim. Actually, it's about --
HOAGLAND: Identify yourself.
QUESTIONER: Shibley Talhami from the University of Maryland and Brookings.
The question is to Randy, and it is about the Middle East, but it's about the terrorism issue. I think you've defined Senator McCain's position as seeing that the biggest threat in the 21st century is what you called Islamic extremism. Now, this is a very different position from what I hear from the Democratic side where it's al Qaeda and its allies. First of all, what is Islamic extremism? And second, what makes it the most important priority of the 21st century when we have all of the trade and economic issues that we face globally -- the rise of China, the Russia issue, the nuclear proliferations. The last time we've looked, since 9/11, we've had about a few hundred people -- I think it's about 300 people -- who were actually killed as a consequence of direct actions of al Qaeda and it's -- outside of Iraq, obviously. So what makes that the top priority for the 21st century for the United States of America?
SCHEUNEMANN: Well, Shibley, you left out two words. I did not say Islamic extremism, neither did Senator McCain. He says violent and radical Islamic extremism. So what is violent and radical Islamic extremism? Al Qaeda and its affiliates. I don't think that's a terribly complicated answer to the question.
What makes it such an important threat? It makes it such an important threat because right now al Qaeda and its affiliates are a distinct minority within the vast majority of Muslims who wish for the same things for their family and for their countries that the rest of the world wishes for. But if they are able to take over a country and grant -- get safe haven, as they had for a time in the failed state of Afghanistan, and if they are able to plan and conduct operations the way they were on September 11th, and if, heaven forbid, they're able to get their hands on not just airliners but chemical, biological, radiological or, the worst, nuclear weapons, it would be an absolute security catastrophe for the U.S. and our allies because I think they have made it very clear, both through their statements and their actions, they would be willing to use them.
That is why Senator McCain believes dealing with that threat is the transcendent security threat. It doesn't mean there aren't other important threats. And you mentioned them, and I'm sure we'll get to more. But that, in a nutshell, is Senator McCain's position.
HOAGLAND: Let me go to the back of the room.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. I'm Mike Haltzel from Johns Hopkins SAIS.
I'd like to ask all three of the representatives of the candidates to comment on U.S. plans for a missile defense in Europe. And in doing so, I'd appreciate if you'd touch upon cost, technical feasibility, ramifications for relations with our allies and with Russia -- possible cooperation with Russia -- and their site in Azerbaijan. And last but not least, whether or not being in favor of this system directed against Iran essentially buys into the, I would call it, neocon theory that conventional deterrence doesn't work against a theocratic Islamic state in Iran. Thank you.
HOAGLAND: Susan, would you like to start?
RICE: Well, Senator Obama's view is that the Bush administration botched its handling of this important issue by not consulting in advance sufficiently with our allies in NATO and Europe and not having a dialogue with the Russians before moving forward. He is supportive of missile defense to the extent that it can be made to be effective and it can be proven to be effective, which to date, it is not, and can be accomplished in a manner that is cost efficient.
We say that knowing that missile defense only potentially protects us against certain aspects of the nuclear or missile challenge; that the more likely way for us to be attacked is through much more unconventional means -- smuggling, coming in on a cargo ship. And missile defense, obviously, doesn't deal with that challenge.
With respect to our European partners, we have time, as we work to ensure that the system can be effective, to smooth over the ruffled feathers that the Bush administration has left by its inartful handling of the diplomacy on this. He certainly would be open to exploring with the Russians ways to implement missile defense in Europe that allows for some cooperation and collaboration to the extent that that might be possible. But Russia will not have a veto over missile defense in Europe.
HOAGLAND: Do you think Bush should have done more to explore the Russian offer of cooperation from the Russian radar site?
RICE: Well, I think, from what I understand, they have explored it, belatedly, and may still be, on a certain level. And I think yes, that doesn't solve the problem. But looking for ways to keep Russia's temperature down on this while we go ahead and do what we need to do and are determined to do makes some sense. The fact that it may or may not prove feasible on the terms that they've offered and that we're, discussing but exploring it is worthy.
HOAGLAND: Randy, did you want to briefly --
SCHEUNEMANN: Yeah -- (inaudible) -- very kind of Russia to offer the use of facilities on the territory of another sovereign country. (Scattered laughter.) It did once happen to be part of the Soviet Union. But I think there are some in the Kremlin who have never reconciled themselves to what President Putin once called the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, the breakup of the Soviet Union.
On the point of missile defense, I was pleased to hear Susan say that Russia won't have a veto, because it shouldn't have a veto. This is a deployment on sovereign territory between the interceptors and the radars on Poland and the Czech Republic. And I don't think their feathers are too ruffled by the diplomacy. I think some other European countries argued, maybe perhaps with some justice, that it should have been more widely consulted in NATO.
But on the last part of Mike's question, he, you know, helpfully threw a label on the idea that Iran might be a different deterrence equation than others. All I would say is when you have someone like President Ahmadinejad in power who has called for the extermination of another member state of the United Nations, who believes in the return of the 12th Imam -- and this is not something to snicker at, this is something he believes. When he was mayor of Tehran, he widened the streets to make the return easier. When you have somebody that has that kind of an apocalyptic vision, I think it's only sensible -- it's not neocon, it's not realist, it's not liberal, it's conservative -- it's only sensible to think that the calculations of deterrence that served so well in the Cold War might be a little bit different when viewed from Ahmadinejad's Tehran.
RICE: Are you going to let Mara?
HOAGLAND: Sure, if she wants to.
RUDMAN: Yeah, thanks. Yeah, I appreciate that. Thank you, Susan, as well.
I agree on the pursuing missile defense on its own merits and that that's the way that we should be looking at it.
I think, Randy, you're going a little bit light, though I appreciate you acknowledging the fact, that we may have screwed this up diplomatically in Europe, I think, not just outside the Czech Republic and Poland. I think we've created some problems for those leaders within their own populations as well by how we approached the underlying equation. So I think we have a lot of diplomatic cleanup work to do in addition to that.
I tend to agree with you in terms of the concerns that Iran continues to pose. But I would phrase them differently, because I think we've done much too much to personalize where their threats come from. And the personal relation of the leadership of different countries doesn't actually advantage us in terms of taking a sharp, cold, strategic look at the threat the different countries pose.
And I think, again, that was the problem previously in Pakistan. I think what we need to look is what the underlying threats are. I think the NIA did a very good job of that most recently with Iran. I think that's the cold, clear eye that we need to keep continuing to pose. I think, for exactly that reason, we need to look at the missile defense opportunities that it poses and what we can do. I think we need to look at the R&D, make sure that it's clear and keep our actions open. But we need to have done our diplomatic homework at the same time, going forward.
HOAGLAND: Time is fleeting, and I think we'll try to squeeze in two last questions from the down here in front
If you could keep them brief, right here.
QUESTIONER: (Name and affiliation inaudible.)
If you believe that climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, and if you believe that the United States has lost its moral leadership on this issue, I think the good news for all of us in this room is that each of these -- your candidates -- supports -- believe it's a real issue and support a cap and trade system. And what I'd like to know is, what would you do differently? How do your candidates differ from the Lieberman-Warner bill? What would you do on cap and trade? How would you follow up from Bali?
HOAGLAND: Who wants to go first? Mara.
RUDMAN: I got the short straw on this one.
RUDMAN: What would we do differently? Well, first, you're in much more of a position to be able to judge me on the specifics of this, so I'm not even going to try to go into great detail beyond saying that it's clear that a new approach is needed. I will say that I know that Senator Clinton has offered a number of detailed approaches, which I'm going to say right now I'm caught in not being able to provide myself because I'm just not personally up on this. But I know that she does have, out there, plans and details on this. And I'm going to plead mea culpa on myself not being fully up on this one because that's just the most honest thing I can do right now.
HOAGLAND: Refreshing, thank you. (Laughter.)
RICE: Senator Obama views climate change as one of the most pressing challenges and most urgent challenges we need to address. He has put forward a very comprehensive and detailed plan to tackle that. It begins with capping our greenhouse gas emissions at 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050 through a cap and trade and full auction method so that those who pollute have to pay, and that the money that they pay to the government for polluting can be invested in R&D and alternative energy technologies, supporting venture efforts that can bring these technologies to scale and to market so that we can create a new green sector of our economy that's job-creating, that enhances our security and that enables us to be in a leadership position globally to deal with the climate challenge.
The other piece, obviously, is the international piece. Once we get our domestic house in order, which has to be an urgent priority, we then need to take the international stage in a very aggressive and constructive fashion; instead of being the laggard that we've been for many years on this issue, to lead in the international effort to have a post-Kyoto framework that actually restrains all of the major emitters at comparable levels so that we can actually slow and ultimately reverse, we hope, the warming of the climate.
That obviously means having China and India as part of this post-Kyoto framework. But we're not in a position to lead and to push for the inclusion of all these critical actors without us first being in a position of getting our own house in order.
HOAGLAND: Randy, how does Senator McCain come to be such a maverick on this issue in terms of Republican positions on it?
SCHEUNEMANN: Well, he took a look at the issue a number of years ago when the first cap and trade bill was introduced by Senator Lieberman himself in 2003 and realized that there was a problem. He looked at the science. And more importantly, he looks at conditions on the ground. He traveled with Senator Clinton to north of the Arctic Circle to view firsthand what was happening. He's been to Greenland. He's been to the South Pole. He's looked firsthand at what has happened. And that's the reason he became such a leader, even though it cost him a fair amount politically with some members of his own party.
On differences, I mean, I think there are two, and I'll be very brief, because we're short on time. On differences, he believes in much more of a market-based approach to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit that is so great in our economy rather than a centrally planned, government-taxed-companies approach. Second, he believes that nuclear power has to be an essential part of the solution. That it is clean, that it is safe and, as he likes to point out, it is so safe that we have nuclear-powered aircraft carriers that have gone all over the world for many, many years and never had an incident. It's unfortunate that we have not been able to build a nuclear power plant in this country for a long time. Contrast it, for example, with the successful French model which receives about 80 percent of its electric power from nuclear.
HOAGLAND: Knowing it will be succinct and sharp and get us out of here on time, I'll go to the distinguished gentleman on the front row.
QUESTIONER: Marvin Kalb with the Shorenstein Center at Harvard.
Let's say it's 3 in the morning -- (laughter) -- and the Israelis have just moved big-time into Gaza, which is being speculated about all over the Middle East. What do you tell the Israelis, the Palestinians? And what do you do about Hamas?
HOAGLAND: Randy, why don't you start.
SCHEUNEMANN: Sure. Well, I think the first thing Senator McCain would recognize, as he did during the war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, is that Israel has a right to defend itself. And that as long as you have terrorists and suicide bombers flowing unimpeded or as long as you have Qassam rockets flowing unimpeded from a territory, Israel has a right to defend itself.
The situation with Hamas, frankly, is untenable from an Israeli security point of view. It's just a matter of time -- as you alluded to in your question, it's just a matter of time until instead of hitting an empty house or the backyard of a house, a kindergarten is hit by a rocket. And I think that is something that all of the neighboring countries that profess to have a belief in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process need to do a much better job. The Egyptians need to do a much better job in controlling smuggling into Gaza.
But I think we all need to recognize that if we were having Qassam rockets rain down on Washington, D.C. from Rockville, we wouldn't tolerate it for very long.
HOAGLAND: Randy, in the context of Marvin's question, what I hear you saying, and I want to be sure I'm right, is that the message at 3 a.m. to the Israelis would be we're with you, and nothing else.
SCHEUNEMANN: Well, look, I'm not going to get further into a hypothetical than what I said. But I will point out what Senator McCain said repeatedly in the summer of 2006 when it wasn't a hypothetical, when in fact Israel was engaged in conflict trying to secure its northern border from rocket attacks. That he has said Israel has a right to defend itself. And he has also said more recently, in conjunction with Gaza and Hamas, that it's a shame that the only time the United Nations Security Council seems to get interested is when critics of Israel call it to attention, and it talks solely about the plight of the Palestinians who are suffering under Hamas leadership in Gaza, but it has never issued a statement condemning the unprovoked and continuing rocket attacks from Gaza onto Israel.
HOAGLAND: Susan, how would you differ, if you would?
RICE: Not much. I would add, however, that part of the message needs to be that Israel has to do what is necessary to defend itself, and we would support that. But to the extent that it is a prolong and extended occupation, it would, obviously, very much complicate another critical element that is important to Israel, important to the Palestinians and very much important to us, which is working, as the administration has been, finally, to put back together the peace process.
And obviously, your scenario, Marvin, would more than undermine that prospect. And it would be in our interest to ensure that any operation the Israelis had to take would be as limited as it could possibly be, consistent with Israel's security. And that we could move as quickly as possible back to a place where the peace process could be pursued.
RUDMAN: Yes, absolutely, Israel has a right to defend itself. But if we're only finding out about this in a 3 a.m. call, we're not doing our jobs because we, as the United States, should have been knowing about what was going on much sooner. We should have been in on the ground in terms of the peace negotiations and in what needs to go on with the players on a sustained basis. We should be there right now. We should be there, with more than Secretary Rice's sporadic visits back and forth, to help the parties continue to move forward on the peace process and be looking towards the horizon so that there is some option, so that Hamas and the extremists are not controlling the debate there and so that we're not woken up by a 3 a.m. call when there are no options left.
QUESTIONER: (Off mike commentary.)
RUDMAN: No, absolutely not.
Q (Off mike commentary.)
RUDMAN: No. That's absolutely not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is --
HOAGLAND: Mara, I don't think many of us could hear that question, so if you could tell us what question you're answering.
RUDMAN: Sorry. The question that was asked was whether I was supporting negotiations with Hamas. And I said absolutely not, not under any circumstances. What I was talking about was the role and the importance of the United States in moving forward as supportively as possible in the ways that, frankly, this administration, I think, has been late to the game in doing but is trying to do but in a more sustained way than they have been doing, to help Israel to move forward and help the Palestinian leadership of President Abbas to move towards a negotiated settlement.
HOAGLAND: To put a tail on this particular kite and to end our session, let me just ask the other side of the coin. Would Senator Clinton, as president today, be doing something different, much more than President Bush is doing in terms of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that is clearly present today and getting worse with every passing day?
RUDMAN: In terms of the humanitarian crisis, I think that the way that you address that, again, is by working with a much more sustained U.S. presence, working with the parties on the ground towards a negotiated outcome, towards the overall settlement. And you need to do everything that you can to strengthen the current Palestinian leadership that you can, which is President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayad and working with Israel as well to help the humanitarian situation in Gaza. That's how you --
HOAGLAND: But no emergency action that you can cite.
RUDMAN: Not beyond the things that I just stated.
HOAGLAND: Susan, same point.
RICE: I think, frankly, the humanitarian situation is something that needs to be of concern to the people of Israel as well as to the Palestinians. And obviously, that's ultimately Israel needs to do what is necessary to protect itself. And we support and have been supportive of the isolation of Hamas in Gaza. But we need to be mindful of the point at which the internal situation becomes even more of a threat to Israel's security than the status quo.
HOAGLAND: Last word, Randy.
SCHEUNEMANN: I mean, the problem is that it's not the current Palestinian leadership, it's current Palestinian leaderships, there's two. And Hamas is in control of Gaza. And it's fine to talk about strengthening Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority, but you're still left with the reality in a peace process, no matter how many special envoys you have, no matter how many times a secretary of State visits or however many phone calls a president makes, that Hamas is in control of Gaza. And the root cause of the humanitarian problem in Gaza is the fact that Hamas is in control of Gaza.
And I think that if the Arab countries, not just neighboring countries like Egypt, but other countries seriously want to address the plight of the Palestinian people in Gaza, they need to work seriously to undermine the fact that a terrorist organization, committed to the destruction of Israel, completely unrepentant, is in control of Gaza.
HOAGLAND: I want to thank our panel for bringing forward -- (applause) -- interesting diversions.
And thank you all as well.
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