Trump’s Act of American Hubris 294

The United States is so far doing virtually no trade with Iran anyway. In 2017 total US exports to Iran were just 138 million dollars, and total imports a mere 63 million dollars, figures entirely insignificant to the US economy. By contrast, for the EU as a whole imports and exports to Iran were each a very much more substantial 8 billion dollars in 2017 and projected to rise to over 10 billion dollars in 2018.

There is one very significant US deal in the pipeline, for sale of Boeing aircraft, worth $18 billion dollars. It will now be cancelled.

Which brings us to the crux of the argument. Can America make its will hold? Airbus also has orders from Iran of over US$20 billion, and it is assumed those orders will be stopped too, because Airbus planes contain parts and technology licensed from the US. It is possible, but unlikely, that the US could grant a waiver to Airbus – highly unlikely because Boeing would be furious.

Now even a $20 billion order is probably in itself not quite big enough for Airbus to redevelop aircraft to be built without the US parts or technology (which constitute about 8% of the cost of an airbus). But the loss of a $20 billion order on such capricious grounds is certainly big enough for Airbus to look to future long term R & D to develop aircraft not vulnerable to US content blocking. And if Iran were to dangle the Boeing order towards Airbus too, a $38 billion order is certainly big enough for Airbus to think about what adaptations may be possible on a timescale of years not decades.

Read across from aircraft to many other industries. In seeking to impose unilateral sanctions against the express wishes of its “old” European allies, the USA is betting that it has sufficient global economic power, in alliance with its “new” Israeli and Saudi allies, to force the Europeans to bend to its will. This is plainly a very rash act of global geopolitics. It is perhaps an even more rash economic gamble.

We are yet to see the detail, but by all precedent Trump’s Iran sanctions will also sanction third country companies which trade with Iran, at the least through attacking their transactions through US financial institutions and by sanctioning their US affiliates. But at a time when US share of the world economy and world trade is steadily shrinking, this encouragement to European and Asian companies to firewall and minimise contact with the US is most unlikely to be long term beneficial to the US. In particular, in a period where it is already obvious that the years of the US dollar’s undisputed dominance as the world currency of reference are drawing to a close, the incentive to employ non-US linked means of financial transaction will add to an already highly significant global trend.

In short, if the US fails to prevent Europe and Asia’s burgeoning trade with Iran – and I think they will fail – this moment will be seen by historians as a key marker in US decline as a world power.

I have chosen not to focus on the more startling short term dangers of war in the Middle East, and the folly of encouraging Saudi Arabia and Israel in their promotion of sustained violence against Iranian interests throughout the region, as I have very written extensively on that subject. But the feeling of empowerment Trump will have given to his fellow sociopaths Netanyahu and Mohammed Bin Salman bodes very ill indeed for the world at present.

I shall be most surprised if we do not see increased US/Israeli/Saudi sponsored jihadist attacks in Syria, and in Lebanon following Hezbollah’s new national electoral victory. Hezbollah’s democratic advance has stunned and infuriated the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia but been reported very sparsely in the MSM, as it very much goes against the neo-con narrative. It does not alter the positions of President or Prime Minister, constitutionally allocated by religion, but it does increase Hezbollah’s power in the Lebanese state, and thus Iranian influence.

Iran is a difficult country to predict. I hope they will stick to the agreement and wait to see how Europe is able to adapt, before taking any rash decisions. They face, however, not only the provocation of Trump but the probability of a renewed wave of anti-Shia violence from Pakistan to Lebanon, designed to provoke Iran into reaction. These will be a tense few weeks. I do not think even Netanyahu is crazy enough to launch an early air strike on Iran itself, but I would not willingly bet my life on it.

The problem is, with Russia committed to holding a military balance in the Middle East, all of us are betting our lives on it.

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294 thoughts on “Trump’s Act of American Hubris

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  • giyane

    Islamists believe Israel will be destroyed by an army that will march from Khorasan, through Iran, and attack it.
    Hence the use of Khorasan by the Zionists as a name for fake jihadist groups.
    Obviously if prophetic predictions exist you have to take them seriously , even if you don’t believe in your own prophet or the last prophet, peace be upon all of them.
    The Saudis have spent zillions on getting their mits on Damascus , but the prophecy doesn’t say it will be ruthless greedy headchoppers in power when Jesus pbuh arrives there. Hence the need for May and trump to talk hot air on the Syrian narrative, to cool the Saudis down.
    Going back to iran, yes , is it possible to prevent a true prophecy of Islam anyway. Might the Zionists not do better to repent a little bit and mend their evil ways. I know that would waste 30 years of continuous destruction of Muslim countries. Finger or no finger in the proverbial dyke, a true prophecy is going to happen IMHO.

    • snickid

      “Islamists believe Israel will be destroyed by an army that will march from Khorasan, through Iran, and attack it.”

      No, they don’t. Such a belief has no sanction in Islamic tradition – which took shape over a thousand years before Israel even existed. Some Islamists may believe this – but its a bit like saying “bricklayers believe the world is flat”, on the basis that some bricklayers somewhere may believe this.

  • George

    Here’s the BBC version:

    From the opening:

    “Israel’s military says Iranian forces have fired rockets at its positions in the occupied Golan Heights. It said some 20 rockets were fired by Revolutionary Guards. It said “no hits were located” on Israeli territory. It is one of the biggest attacks against Israel from Syria in decades.”

    Note how seamlessly we go from “Israel’s military says….” and “It said….” (twice) to “It IS one of the biggest attacks against Israel from Syria in decades”.

  • Sharp Ears

    Mr Murdoch’s take on affairs today – t’other way round – It was the Iranians wot dunnit.
    ◆Iranian forces have fired rockets at Israeli bases in the Golan Heights, prompting retaliation in the first hostilities since President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal
    ◆ What if Trump is right to withdraw? Our columnist Iain Martin asks that you park your scepticism and consider whether a disruptive approach to Iran might just work

    and in the same edition today, one of his scribblers, Mr David Morris Aaronovitch, has another one of his acidic swipes at Jeremy Corbyn. A long preamble before he puts the boot in. Many of the +110 commenters agree with him needless to say. One reminded the readers that As was once a member of the Communist Party.

    May 10 2018 The Times
    Corbynite time bomb ticking under Labour
    Hardline candidates have swept to power in an echo of the ‘loony left’ era that kept the party out of power for 18 years
    When I was a boy I used to enjoy elections. There was something about the numbers and the constituency names that romanced me. The punditry, however, was often pointless. “No government two years into its term of office has ever done so well/badly as this, and if this trend continues then we would expect to see . . .” and so on.’ Paywall

    • SO.

      The propaganda to paint the Iranians as aggressor is in full swing.

      Less than an hour after trump wiped the Iran deal Israel launched an air assault against an iranian position within syria trying to get a response.

      When the Iranians *didn’t* respond they moved armor and artillery to the golan heights yesterday and hit them with aircraft again. (3 missiles reported, 2 downed) then they followed up with artillery and tank fire it seems hitting syrian army positions and the syrians gave orders to respond last night/early this morning. (Videos of BM-21 grads are about)

      Israel then escalated with a planned response and launched an all out missile attack on syrian and iranian assets. (the rebels took the opportunity handed to them too) whilst blaming iran.

      Syrian anti air were active almost continuously for about 3 hours. I suspect israel didn’t believe they had that much ammo but the damage done is currently unknown as are casualties. (Israel imposed a media blackout almost immediately)

      *correction. Reports are now coming in that the Israelis didn’t even target major iranian assets. They hit the syrians instead and the russians are reporting almost half of Israels weapons failed to hit targets.

  • Doodlebug

    @George 08:35

    ‘Note how seamlessly we go from “Israel’s military says….” and “It said….” (twice) to “It IS one of the biggest attacks against Israel from Syria in decades”.’

    Note too how the concept of space-time appears to falter at the hands of journalists:

    Tuesday – Trump announces USA will renege on the nuclear ‘deal’

    Wednesday – “President Vladimir Putin hosted the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Russia on Wednesday for talks on military coordination.”

    “Netanyahu arrived in Russia after Syrian state-run media said Israeli warplanes had targeted a military outpost near Damascus overnight. (i.e., Tuesday night)

    Thursday –

    “Israel and Iran lurched closer to an all out war in Syria on Thursday after Iranian forces allegedly fired rockets into the Golan Heights and Israel responded with some of its heaviest airstrikes in years.

    “The exchange of fire…came just one day after Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear agreement and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran.” (So Israel responds to an alleged attack by Iran on Wednesday).

    But wait…

    “Israel said the Quds Force, the expeditionary wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, carried out the attack at around 12.10am on Thursday.”


    “Israel said it had informed Russia, Syria’s ally, of the strikes before carrying out the attack. The Israeli and Russian militaries have a “deconfliction channel” designed to stop the two sides from accidentally attacking each other in the crowded skies above Syria.”

    So Israel fired just after midnight, having previously alerted Russia. (But hadn’t Israel already struck near Damascus on Tuesday night?)

    The Guardian again: “Netanyahu said before his trip to Moscow that “in light of what is currently happening in Syria, it is necessary to ensure continued coordination” between the Russian and Syria militaries.”

    Note the motive for the visit announced before the visit. ‘Bibi’ went to Moscow to give some forewarning. But Israel had already bombarded targets at Damascus and Iran’s alleged proxy attack on the Golan heights had yet to happen!!

    What price a premonition?

  • Tatyana

    May 8
    Trump pulls out of Iran nuclear deal. Saudi and Israeli support the decision. Europe, Russia, China and even Obama don’t support.
    The same night Israel hits south of Damascus, Syria with missiles, 2 of which were downed. I’ve mentioned it here

    May 9
    Netanyahu visits Russia to celebrate the Victory Day, goes to military parade, brings flowers and everithing of the kind. Regarding all western leaders ignored the invitation, I suppose Netanyahu wants something from Putin.

    Night May 9 – morning May 10
    Iran hits Israelis in Golan Heights (Syrian territory occupied by Israel) and gets hit back.
    This is correct timeline.
    Also we can see who is interested in USA military presence in the Middle East – as long as US is there, so Israel will keep Golan Heights. If they pull out, so Russia may help Syria to take it back.

    • N_

      I suppose Netanyahu wants something from Putin.

      The big question is whether he got it.

      Are you sure western leaders received an invitation to attend the VE Day commemoration in Moscow? I noticed Aleksandar Vucic in Red Square, although of course Serbia is not in the West. Given his great height, he was hard to miss! What other foreign leaders attended, other than Netanyahu and Vucic?

      • Tatyana

        I’m not sure any foreign leaders were invited personally, at least, it is not mentioned in russian news. No mentions of others visiting, except Netanyahu and Vucic.
        There’s an opinion, Vucic is preparing his people to give up Kosovo and push responsibility on Putin, to announce something like ‘Putin advised Kosovo goes independant, there’s nothing to do’. Up to this time Russia vetoes resolutions on Kosovo.

      • Tatyana

        hmm… Putin discussed Syria and Iran with Russian Security Counsil on May 9.
        My guess is Netanyahu came to Russia to make sure we will not hit them back when Israel hits Iran in Syria. That’s why Security Ciunsil consultation – Putin can’t alone make desicions on any military moves.

        Russia claimed we will just offer military help to legitime government of Syria, we are not party in the war. It was backed by russian reaction on FUKUS strike after Douma, and now it is backed by today’s russian reaction on Israeli strike – we didn’t hit back.
        I don’t know if western media cover Kazakhstan proccess to peaceful political settling of Syrian question. Last year we managed to gather all the parties, including opposition, in Astana for negotiations. Russia, Iran, Turkey, Assad, armed ‘moderate rebels, Stefan de Mistura, USA ambassador to Kazakhstan.
        So, we are like moving them to peace? It is very good news.

        Bad news – those who want Assad to go away use any pretext to strike Syrian army and to weaken his supporters. They choose very nasty means for it, I can say!

  • alasdairB

    “The Law of Unintended Consequences”
    America’s withdrawal from the Iran agreement sparks an understandable demand for an alternative & more secure supply of oil with Brent crude being the immediate beneficiary now trading at a 4 year high
    of US$70.70 pb.
    A windfall for HM Treasury but unlikely to be shared with Scotland .

    • IT Bod

      Perhaps it can help fund this year’s Salisbury Open Air Theatre production.

    • Republicofscotland


      Iran is no Syria, that’s why the Israeli military apartheid regime won’t directly launch a full attack on it.

      Iran’s economy may well be flagging, but with a population of over 80 million people, and a reasonable sized military Israel knows fine well, attacking Iran full on might well lead to a Pyrrhic victory for Netanyahu.

      No, Israel would require the assistance of the US, or a coalition of other nations forces to topple Iran.

      • Trowbridge H. Ford

        The israeli attacks on Tehran et al. are next, and Israel already has US backing.

        Full scale war is in the works.

  • Barden Gridge

    Some twitter screen captures from @BBCBreaking and @BBCWorld about two hours after Israel attacked Syria:

    and from @BBCWorld some four hours after the attack started:
    (the times of the tweets are CEST – one hour ahead of BST)

    It’s a severe case of the dog that didn’t bark. Not a word about what was happening, despite the trending box on the right showing “Golan Heights” with 18k tweets after 2 hours and 31k tweets after 4 hours.
    I would think that if the attack really had been initiated by Syria/Iranian forces, it would have been “Breaking News” within minutes.

    • bj

      Why they haven’t reported it? Because they aren’t real reporters, just airheads with nice smiles and voices (they think). They need their scripts and cue cards to be composed and proofread by the gov first.

  • Doodlebug

    @Tatyana 10:27

    Apologies for the displacement of this comment. It seems the blogs ‘reply’ function is flakey at present.

    “This is correct timeline.”

    As I implied above. More to the point, ‘Bibi’ was justifying Israel’s military response to Vlad (Wednesday) before the alleged Syrian attack (Thursday morning).

  • Sean Lamb

    Tatyana “This is the correct timeline”

    May 8: Trump pulls out of Iran deal to vociferous cheer-leading from Bibi
    May 8: IDF warns Golan heights residents to go shelter
    May 9: 20 rockets are fired from somewhere in the complex jigsaw of territory in Southern Syria aimed at unknown positions. According to the IDF 16 landed in the complex jigsaw pattern of Southern Syria and 4 are allegedly intercept by Iron Dome – although going where to where and over whose territory the intercept took place is not revealed.
    May 9: Israel embarks on a nation-wide assault on Syrian territory.

    My question is only this: Why isn’t the Establishment putting more effort to make their BS seem believable anymore? Is this a sign of strength – control is so absolute they don’t even feel the need to bother now? Or a sign of weakness?

    • Tatyana

      @Sean Lamb
      I’m sorry, I can’t make out the point of your post, English is not my mother-tongue (or I’m just stupid 🙂
      But I see you don’t mention May 8 strike by Israely hit the South of Damaskus. 2 missiles were intercepted and downed, but still 2 civilians (a husband and wife) are killed. International airport of Beirut confirmed Israeli airplanes were in Lebanon airspace at the moment of the strike.
      I’ve seen it here, if you can understand (or translate) russian

      • Sean Lamb

        “I’m sorry, I can’t make out the point of your post, English is not my mother-tongue”

        Your English is excellent. I generally leave vast swathes of people across the Internet scratching their heads and unable to understand my point. So you are certainly not alone

        • Tatyana

          Thanks for the compliment about my language skills.
          I don’t know if I should be happy, though. After all, the alternative assumption is much more less pleasant 🙂

    • Hatuey

      Your purpose and question couldn’t be clearer. The answer is clear too — if reality doesn’t fit your narrative, change the reality. Might is right too, of course.

      What’s interesting is that so many people discuss false flag operations as if they are exceptional when the truth is they are absolutely the norm. I can’t think of one conflict in the last 100 years that didn’t involve some sort of false flag crap designed to sway public opinion.

  • Loony

    What do we have for entertainment today?

    Why Australia has just banned cash transactions for all amounts exceeding Au$10,000 (about £5,500).

    The Australian government trumpeted this action as being “bad news for criminal gangs, terrorists and those who are just trying to cheat on their tax or get a discount for letting someone else cheat on their tax. It’s not clever. It’s not OK. It is a crime”

    Now contrast that with the Iran deal that President Trump has been so vociferous in opposing and who has acted to cancel the entire deal – much to the chagrin of the idiot classes.

    Part of that deal involved the US paying $1.7 billion in CASH to Iran. Part of this payment process included the chartering of an airplane to deliver $400 million of cash in various currencies

    Presumably all those people so opposed to President Trump’s withdraw from the Iran deal will be making their way to the nearest Australian embassy to oppose their banning of cash and will be ready with an explanation as to why paying $ billions in cash is a great idea and how massive piles of cash are of absolutely no use to criminals, tax dodgers and terrorists.

    • Sean Lamb

      While “criminals, tax dodgers and terrorists” is an excellent description of the Washington DC (whatever happened to draining the swamp, Michael Cohen?), the CASH payment to Iran was in fact a re-payment.

      Iran payed the US Government a large sum of money and then the US Government never delivered the goods. Iran simply used the leverage of the deal to finally get the US to acknowledge and settle the decades old debt.

  • N_

    Watch out for British newspapers reporting that Iranian missiles have hit the Golan Heights and referring to that territory as part of “Is?ael”. Officially the British government and the United Nations are supposed to recognise the territory as part of Syria and the famous UN Security Council Resolution 242 calls for the Z__nazis to withdraw from it. (Words are, of course, cheap.)

    • Keith McClary

      CBC Radio said “occupied”, although the reader seemed to choke on the word.

  • Sharp Ears

    Idiot UK Joe Public bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland with £48billion.

    Now £3.6 billion to the US for the bank’s transgressions in selling ‘risky products’.

    Now the City spivs will be wading in Royal Mail- rip off- sale- style to buy shares. Roll up! Roll up!

    RBS set for share sale after agreeing $4.9bn US penalty

    I will say it again. YCNMIU.

    PS Where are Sir Fred Goodwin, Sir George Matthewson, Sir Tom McKillop, Johnny Cameron, John Tiner and all the other crooks? Note the knighthoods.

    RBS collapse: the key players
    From Gordon Brown, the politician who instituted the ‘light touch’ regime, to Sir Fred Goodwin, the chief executive who presided over the bank’s downfall, we look at the major players

    • Charles Bostock

      ‘PS Where are Sir Fred Goodwin, Sir George Matthewson, Sir Tom McKillop, Johnny Cameron, John Tiner and all the other crooks? Note the knighthoods.’

      Fred Goodwin’s knighthood was revoked.

  • John A

    Amazing how Boris Johnson et all forever trot out ‘we support Israel’s right to defend itself’ when firstly it is Israel doing the attacking and secondly, so other country seems to be given such carte blanche to defend itself when engaged in illegal land grabbing and forever firing missiles and other materiel to attack Gaza, Lebanon, Syria etc., etc.

  • Sharp Ears

    One in the eye for BLiar and Straw from May.

    Belhaj rendition: UK apology over Libyan dissident treatment
    The UK government has apologised to a Libyan dissident and his wife after its actions contributed to their detention, transfer to Libya and his torture by Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in 2004.
    Prime Minister Theresa May said Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar had suffered “appalling treatment”.
    The government will pay Ms Boudchar, who was pregnant at the time, £500,000.
    Mr Belhaj says MI6 helped the US kidnap the couple in Thailand in 2004 to return them to Libya.
    Once there, Mr Belhaj alleges he was tortured by his Libyan jailers.
    Speaking in the Commons, Attorney General Jeremy Wright said UK actions had contributed to the couple’s capture.
    Mr Wright added that Mr Belhaj had not sought and would not receive financial compensation.
    Reading out Theresa May’s letter to the couple in Parliament, Mr Wright said: “It is clear that you were both subjected to appalling treatment and that you suffered greatly, not least to the dignity of Mrs Boudchar, who was pregnant at the time.
    “The UK government believes your accounts. Neither of you should have been treated this way. The UK government’s actions contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering. The UK government shared information about you with its international partners.”

    Dearlove was head of MI6 from 1999 until 6 May 2004.
    Scarlett succeeded him.

    ‘Sir Richard is a signatory of the neo-Conservative Henry Jackson Society principles. He is also a “senior advisor” to the Monitor Group – a consultancy and private equity firm which has been implicated in undertaking PR work for Libya and Muammar Gaddafi.
    In April 2013, it was announced that Dearlove joined the advisory board of Ergo, an intelligence and advisory firm.

    Shame on the lot of them.

  • Node

    Israel accuses Iran of firing rockets at targets in the Golan Heights. Iran denies it. Who should we believe? Which nation has been recently been promoting war against the other? Which has a track record of firing missiles at itself and blaming others? Which lives by the motto “By deception thou shalt do war?”

    Death and destruction spreads outwards from Israel. It is a malignant cancer on the world.

  • Sharp Ears

    Ref Dearlove, Ergo, Monitor etc.

    A good FoI request to ACOBA here. Note the anodyne reply.

    The chair of ACOBA (ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS APPOINTMENTS) is Baroness Browning, ex Con MP Tiverton and Honiton, Devon.
    She records on her HoL register of interests that she is a ‘Consultant, Eden and Partners Ltd (formerly Cumberlege Connections Ltd). (NHS leadership/awareness programmes)

    Cumberlege Connections Ltd is Lady Cumberlege’s outfit. She is another Tory peer. She records one of her HoL register of interests as ‘Sole Owner, Executive Chairman, Cumberlege Connections Ltd (training in NHS and related matters)’

    Eden give training to NHS staff and members of CCGs etc on ‘how government works’ etc Handy that.
    One of the references on their website – What people say about us… ‘ I have understood the gap between how people in the NHS / business think and how politicians think much more clearly, and why rational thought and evidence doesn’t always carry the day. I have gained important insight into how politicians think and how political life is conducted which will enable me to influence on behalf of my organisation more effectively.
    – Dr Vivienne McVey, Strategy and Transformation Director, Virgin Care. ‘

    What a stink. Cumberlege and Browning were in the Lords when Lansley’s Health and Social Act 2012 was put through, leading to greater privatisation of OUR NHS. Both would have voted for it throughout its passage in Parliament. The NHS would have paid Cumberlege and Eden for staff training. There are many references from NHS personnel on the Eden website.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      While I don’t support torturing anyone, the current goons running Washington and London are helping killi innocent people all over the planet, and are threatening to kill many more.

  • Nona

    “long term beneficial to the U.S.”

    Of course, you’re talking about the Corporations, Bankers and the Elite owners, who will get high on the hog, with all that money “from the air” of computers.

    You are NOT talking about us, “peasants”- that are already suffering, getting NOTHING! WIth no jobs, home-lessand food prices being sky high, (poisoned food, already with no nutrition), gas prices skyhigh, infrastructure crumbling, poison vaccines, and the Common Core education.

    You, DARE, to be an “economist” spouting lies, with prognosis for the Rich. BUt you, Economists” are bonded with the Elite, your ery job depends on them.

  • Sharp Ears

    This below is the biographical note for the author of a Torygraph piece today under the heading-
    Why we must stand with Trump and Israel to stop Iran from creating a Shiite empire
    Julie Lenarz is a senior fellow at The Israel Project and the executive director of the Human Security Centre, an independent foreign policy think tank based in London. She tweets at @msjulielenarz

    No mention of its budget or of the funding.

  • Je

    Q) How long is a piece of string?
    A) The distance between Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • Sharp Ears

    Kim Petersen, a former co-editor of Dissident Voice writes:

    Iran, Disinformation, and “Sanctions of Mass Destruction”
    May 13th, 2018

    The United States has done it again: reneged on a signed agreement. President Donald Trump has drop kicked the Iran Nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA).

    He continues to list other presidents who have broken agreements.


    Farage had a phone in on LBC this morning, One Iranian after another came on to say Trump had acted correctly. They were all Iranian exiles living in this country!

    I don’t suppose Theresa May has booted any of these out.

    ‘Iranians in the United Kingdom, also referred to as British Iranians or British Persians, consist of people of Iranian nationality who have settled in the United Kingdom, as well as British residents and citizens of Iranian heritage.[2] According to the 2001 Census, 42,494 Iranian-born people reside in the UK.[3] This figure is thought to have risen to 86,000 by 2015, according to National Statistics estimates.’

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