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Sanctions Can Work in Burma (by David Cortright)

posted by God's Politics

International solidarity and support for the Burmese democracy movement is growing, as evidenced in the imposition of new economic sanctions against the military regime. The European Union and the U.S. government have announced additional measures to isolate the dictators. The democracy movement has supported the imposition of these international sanctions as an effective means of pressuring the Burmese government, as I explain in a recent NPR interview.

David Cortright
David Cortright
is a board member of Sojourners/Call to Renewal. He is research fellow at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and president of the Fourth Freedom Forum.



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kevin s.

posted October 1, 2007 at 7:17 pm


I hope they can.



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moderatelad

posted October 2, 2007 at 8:46 am


Mr Cortright -
What are you willing to do if sanctions do not work and the killing persists. We have proof that several countries in the world are willing to subvert sanctions for the almighty Franc.
What is your next step if sanctions do not work?
Blessings -
.
kevin – I hope they do too. Pray that your Dad is OK.



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Paul Martin

posted October 2, 2007 at 12:15 pm


Unfortunately, from everything I’ve heard/read, their military government has been heavily sanctioned by the west for years to no effect, so a few more actions like freezing the assets of fourteen of their leaders in the US – supposing, to begin with, that by now they even have much by way of assets that are still under US control – isn’t going to have an effect.
China is their biggest trading partner and could have an impact, but the notion that the Chinese government is about to take a stand for political freedom abroad sounds remote to say the least.
In brief, the Burmese people sound like they’re in a terrible position. The military has eliminated all organized opposition except for the unarmed monks, who they’re perfectly willing to imprison, torture and murder as they see fit.
Paul – originalfaith.com



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Mike Grello

posted October 2, 2007 at 12:34 pm


Paul Martin said:
“China is their biggest trading partner and could have an impact, but the notion that the Chinese government is about to take a stand for political freedom abroad sounds remote to say the least.”
Bush has imposed greater sanctions; which is at least as ironic, given the dwindling of freedom in America, so anything is possible.



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jonabark

posted October 2, 2007 at 4:00 pm


One of the potentially most effective possibilities is a serious and unequivocal demand that China stop supporting the Myanmar junta and allow elections, or the US and others will boycott the olympics.



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joekc

posted October 2, 2007 at 4:44 pm


I wonder how the thousands of already-murdered monks and others in Burma would answer the forthright assertion that sanctions can work in Burma?



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justintime

posted October 2, 2007 at 4:46 pm


Demanding something from China is a non starter.
Remember what happened when China’s air force hijacked one of our spy planes?
Boycotting the Olympics didn’t work when Jimmy Carter tried it on the Soviet Union after they invaded Afghanistan.
The only folks that got hurt by that were the US athletes.
Boycotting the Olympics won’t work with China either.
After all China owns America.
I don’t think the Bush administration has any global political capital left.
No one trusts them.
The United Nations might be able to shame China into supporting total sanctions of the Myanmar junta.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted October 2, 2007 at 5:36 pm


So far as I’m aware, sanctions have never hurt any one but the common people of any country they’ve ever been applied to. The Fearless Leader and his coterie still get their steaks and cigars and brandy, and the military leaders– granted they’re usually the same people, and the troops are more than adequately cared for. I’m against the kind of sanctions we’ve the way we’ve always applied them on general principles.



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splinterlog

posted October 2, 2007 at 5:40 pm


Well the Chinese govt could impose effective sanctions but the reality is that they are highly unlikely to do so. Even a democratic state like India has remained largely silent on the issue while the people in the country have expressed their support for the movement. Burma has some natural gas reserves but unfortunately not enough oil to merit any neocon support for its democratic movement. Hence I think that, like Darfur, support from the Washington will largely consist of lip service.
It’s easy to feel cynical but I’d urge you to forget about governments for a second and start with yourself. What am I doing? What are you doing to support the movement? Write to your Congress representative, your senator, the Burmese Embassy. Get any associations you belong to to do the same. Look for people who might have friends or relatives in Burma and find out what can be done for support in practical terms.



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ds0490

posted October 2, 2007 at 6:40 pm


Perhaps it is time to do a little boycotting of our own, for it seems that there are still American companies doing business with Myanmar. (Note, Moderatelad, it isn’t just the Franc that folks will chase with despotic regimes.)
http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/dirty_list/dirty_list.html
A few of the more notable companies:
- Chevron
- Daewoo International Corporation
- Fodor’s/Random House (supporting tourism to Myanmar)
- NYK Shipping (Crystal Cruises)
- Rolls-Royce (aircraft maintenance division)
- Siemens
- Suzuki
- Swift
“Burma itself is like a huge prison with the military dictatorship holding the keys and locking us away from freedom. We would like to call on all of you to help us open the door of our prison. Economic sanctions are good and necessary for the fast democratisation of Burma. We would like the European Community, the United States and the rest of the world to be aware that sanctions do help the movement for democracy in Burma and …unilateral sanctions are better than no sanctions at all.” – Ang San Suu Kyi



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squeaky

posted October 2, 2007 at 6:54 pm


Justintime-you are right that boycotting the Olympics won’t affect China UNLESS more nations than the US participate in the boycott. If a substantial number of nations, especially those who make up the bulk of the attending athletes, enact a boycott, then China would definitely feel the effect. Carter’s boycott would have worked, too, had other nation’s participated. So, the question becomes does the world care more for our beloved sports and the money it makes than it does for the lives of these defenseless monks?



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jurisnaturalist

posted October 2, 2007 at 7:13 pm


Let’s see…
One bad government is hurting their subjects, so we ought to encourage another bad government to impose economic sanctions which will hurt those same innocent subjects even more. Or maybe have the second bad government send their bad troops in to stop the violence and replace it with a different oppressive regime.
Why not support and advocate the work of groups like Lutheran Family Services who have been rescuing Burmeese and bringing them to live peacefully and work productively in the US for years.
If we don’t work to rescue the innocent out, we are only advocating more crossfire for innocents to get caught within.
Nathanael Snow



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N.M. Rod

posted October 2, 2007 at 7:35 pm


The devil’s bargain we’ve made with China is becoming clearer in its implications.
The China we’ve helped make a financial colossus is the sponsor of Burma’s repressive totalitarian regime. Ditto for Darfur.
We looked away when genocide was committed in Tibet.
We gave “most-favored nation” trading status to China after the Tien Amin Square massacre, vaulting China to the manufacturing center of the world. Christian evangelists even weighed in on the side of the amoral financial sector, with even Jack Abramoff getting into the lobbying act.
Now, we’re so weak that any sanctions just allow China an even freer hand to take up the slack and give it even more control.
Our good jobs that used to offer our own families benefits like health care are gone – to China.
What can we do? We have to oppose this evil, but we are increasingly in the same position as the hapless victims. We could have acted effectively once, but our greed (or that of our Wall Street elites) caused us to trade our inheritance of freedom for a mess of pottage.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 2, 2007 at 10:29 pm


“Christian evangelists even weighed in on the side of the amoral financial sector, with even Jack Abramoff getting into the lobbying act.
“.
Have not heard about Jack Abraham since those in the glass house learned about Norman Yung Yuen Hsu. Well at least here In America they are not killing the Evangelcials and imprisoning them , just your comments get a little old because the it promotes the same fear that causes my brothers and sisters in China to be persecuted for .



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kevin s.

posted October 2, 2007 at 11:14 pm


We should be boycotting the Chinese Olympics anyway. It’s a complicated issue, because the 800 pound gorilla in the room is that everyone hopes China becomes an economic power so that they don’t become another kind of power.
Nonetheless, we can’t simply turn a blind eye toward the atrocities this nation condones and perpetrates. This instance represents an opportunity to leverage international support to hurt China where it matters most…. Their pride. If a number of nations boycott their precious Olympics, they will be forced to make a decision one way or the other.



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justintime

posted October 2, 2007 at 11:35 pm


squeaky is right, it would take a substantial number of nations threatening a boycott of the Olympics for China to join a trade boycott against the Myanmar junta.
One nation would have to take the lead and then hope others would join in solidarity.
If no other nations join in, the leader ends up holding the bag, like Carter did over Afghanistan.
As I remember, there was also an American grain boycott against the Soviets.
The Soviets found other sources for grain and American farmers got hurt for some time after the Olympics were over.
And the Soviets stayed in Afghanistan for ten years before realizing what a big mistake they made.
Perhaps global solidarity behind a total boycott of the Myanmar junta would force them to compromise.
Transnational corporations would have to be shamed into joining nations in threatening a boycott of the junta, as suggested by ds0490.
But it seems the junta has already committed and is well under way exterminating all resistance.
Recent reports are the UN is getting nowhere negotiating with the junta.
Economic boycotts take time to have any effect at all.
And the situation in Myanmar is urgent!
If all attempts to negotiate end in failure would armed intervention be justified?



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JamesMartin

posted October 3, 2007 at 5:46 am


I would hope that this issue could be one that would unite liberals and conservatives. Thank you for the list of companies ds0490. Pressuring them would be a good starting point. I think that China’s role in supporting that regime has been aptly pointed out too.
Peace.



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Moderatelad

posted October 3, 2007 at 8:02 am


Posted by: squeaky | October 2, 2007 6:54 PM
Correct – boycotting is stupid and only bennefits those countries that will win medals because the US is not there. Carter’s boycott was totaly ineffective at best.
Blessigs -
.



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Moderatelad

posted October 3, 2007 at 8:09 am


Posted by: ds0490 | October 2, 2007 6:40 PM
Fine – I will not plan a vacation there and I will try to only fly on planes that do not have RR engines.
Now – what are you willing to do if these sanctions are ineffective? At some point you need to do something decisive that will bring them to their knees in a short period of time so that the oppressed in that country are not slowly starved to death in the process.
Blessing -
.



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Moderatelad

posted October 3, 2007 at 8:15 am


Posted by: jurisnaturalist | October 2, 2007 7:13 PM
So your idea is to displace over 50% of a countries nationals to the US and take care of them here. Did you ever think that they love their country and would like the same freedoms there as we have here. If conditions had been better in Sweden my forefathers would have never left and they oftened talked about the ‘old country’ with such fondness that you knew they missed the country they were born in.
How long would it take us to rescue all of them and will they be better off here than in their country free and living the life they desire.
Blessings -
.



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squeaky

posted October 3, 2007 at 10:43 am


Innocents will suffer if the response is military. So here’s our choice:
1. Sanctions that support a peaceful protest which will result in innocents suffering as the government crashes down on them
2. Military crack down which will result in innocents suffering as they get caught in the cross-fire (it may even result in a response from China that we DON’T want).
Maybe we should ask the monks what they would prefer. How committed are they to their peaceful protest? If they are committed, would not a military response undermine what they are trying to do? I can see how they might find that extremely troubling.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 3, 2007 at 1:04 pm


“Christian evangelists even weighed in on the side of the amoral financial sector, with even Jack Abramoff getting into the lobbying act.”
“…your comments get a little old because the it promotes the same fear that causes my brothers and sisters in China to be persecuted for.”
Dear friend,
China is an authoritarian and totalitarian state that has taken a different direction in pursuit of materialistic communism than it did when it persecuted financial gain. Its vast commercial success has proven to be very enabling to the expensive domination aims of its rulers – which are completely contrary to Christianity.
Unfortunately the tepid and hedonistic Christianity in this country has become knee-jerk in its reflex of defining capitalism as one of the three persons of the Holy Spirit, and thus has its perceptions dulled as to how both communism and capitalism are most often both thoroughly materialistic and hostile to the Holy Spirit. (I guess that’s the person who’s been displaced.)
In the ensuing years of American equivocations of conscience (what you expect without the Spirit to guide?) since Tien Amin Square and Most Favored Nation trade, China has not, whether the arguments were made by Jack Abramoff, Franklin Graham, Bill Clinton or the Bushes, become more open and tolerant of religion as they falsely prophesied. Quite the opposite. Our capitalists, including formerly self-righteous entities like Google and Cisco, have become profitable collaborators, selling the totalitarians the rope to hang our co-religionists with – and eventually us. At least that is their aim.
If we acted with loving Christian conscience, in a similar manner to the non-violence and loving one’s enemies that Tibetan Buddhists did
in the face of Chinese genocide, but without our supporting them, we could achieve so much more.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 3, 2007 at 1:11 pm


Oops, that’s “one of the three persons of the Godhead” NOT of the “Holy Spirit.”
When an argument is somewhat audacious, it can be distracting from proof-reading!



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jurisnaturalist

posted October 3, 2007 at 5:05 pm


Moderatelad,
I would never advocate forcing anyone to leave their homeland. There are thousands of Burmeese refugees waiting to come to America, and even more would apply if the immigration process were not so full of politics, and if more Christians would open their homes to oppressed refugees.
But we’d rather open fire with our rifles.
Christians must stop looking to the government to achieve the gospel for them.
Nathanael Snow



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carl copas

posted October 3, 2007 at 5:31 pm


The US won’t boycott the China Olympics, for the simple fact that we owe the Chinese too much money. China has bought up billions of dollars of our debt over the past few years. That doesn’t give Beijing absolute power over the U.S., but it does dictate caution in managing relations with the folks in the Forbidden City.
A “communist” nation buying up debt from a capitalist nation!! Marx and Mao must be spinning in their graves.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 3, 2007 at 6:29 pm


So far as I’m aware, sanctions have never hurt any one but the common people of any country they’ve ever been applied to.
Sanctions eventually helped to bring down apartheid in South Africa.
Have not heard about Jack Abraham since those in the glass house learned about Norman Yung Yuen Hsu.
I just saw a TV news report about GOP “bundlers” — will you ignore those?
Maybe we should ask the monks what they would prefer. How committed are they to their peaceful protest?
With their lives, I assume.
China has not, whether the arguments were made by Jack Abramoff, Franklin Graham, Bill Clinton or the Bushes, become more open and tolerant of religion as they falsely prophesied. Quite the opposite.
And do you know what? The Chinese Christians don’t really care, because they just keep on doing what they’ve been doing. In fact, some years ago the Chinese government split up Christian cells and dispersed them into areas with no known Christians in the expectation and hope that they would lose their faith — and, of course, that tactic backfired big time, as they evangelized their new neighbors. (When I first heard that story in church and realized where the preacher was going with it, my first reaction was, You idiots!)
That gives me pause to think. The Christian’s “freedom” should not be subject to the whims of government, good or bad. We should not push for our freedoms unless all benefit — but how often do Christians complain about persecution only when the victims are Christians?



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N.M. Rod

posted October 3, 2007 at 7:37 pm


Sadly, the nominal Christian community in the West largely seems oblivious to the persecution and suffering of those in other lands. This even occurs (and perhaps especially so) when the regime is one with close financial ties with the US, which you would think at least gives us more leverage. Sometimes it even seems that our policies are especially hard on Christians.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 4, 2007 at 6:17 am


NM says this ?
Dear friend,
Me
What is that suppose to mean . as if you have any understaning of the word,
. Look up the word friend ? One blog I am a stupid bigot defending the unborn , the next I am your friend .
You
China is an authoritarian and totalitarian state that has taken a different direction in pursuit of materialistic communism than it did when it persecuted financial gain. Its vast commercial success has proven to be very enabling to the expensive domination aims of its rulers – which are completely contrary to Christianity.
me
Wow your smart ,
You
Unfortunately the tepid and hedonistic Christianity in this country has become knee-jerk in its reflex of defining capitalism as one of the three persons of the Holy Spirit, and thus has its perceptions dulled as to how both communism and capitalism are most often both thoroughly materialistic and hostile to the Holy Spirit. (I guess that’s the person who’s been displaced.)
Me
I get it , socialism is the answer , as long as we have you and those like you as our god . I guess I can live with that , obviously some will not though , you have already decreed unborn babies can not , how about patriotic old school Americans , can they linger on in your world ?
Lets see China Controling how many people can be born , you making sure we can kill those who we can convince in our culture we don’t need born , and of course , allowing freedom and human rights to exist in China is no way a fault of China , its of our country and our diplomacy . Who are you going to blame when you become King ?
You
In the ensuing years of American equivocations of conscience (what you expect without the Spirit to guide?) since Tien Amin Square and Most Favored Nation trade, China has not, whether the arguments were made by Jack Abramoff, Franklin Graham, Bill Clinton or the Bushes, become more open and tolerant of religion as they falsely prophesied.
Me
Your a nut . You make no sense but a view that puts you above the rest of the world , complaining but not advocating any solution but ridiculing of the folks unlike you who just live day to day in a very complicated world .
You
Quite the opposite. Our capitalists, including formerly self-righteous entities like Google and Cisco, have become profitable collaborators, selling the totalitarians the rope to hang our co-religionists with – and eventually us. At least that is their aim.
Me
Do you really believe this ? Ever seen the Play Bug ?
You
If we acted with loving Christian conscience, in a similar manner to the non-violence and loving one’s enemies that Tibetan Buddhists did
in the face of Chinese genocide, but without our supporting them, we could achieve so much more.
Me
What are you talking about , you have showed no love from Christ , espoused no interest but from like minded liberals who see Christians as part of the problem . As if they have any control of policies that are influenced by moveonorg and Haliburton . Right blame Christians . ,
Obvious the liberal church has plans of all Christians contributing to their church , mainly because their numbers are growing smaller , so the new church adress becomes the US Treasurery .
.
You need to take a few weeks offfrom this blog , take a look at all people instead of categorizing everyone . , For a time consider them all needing God in their life , where would you be without him , why woukld you insult another who has not your blessings? Understand that how much you want help people is equal with how willing you are to stoop for them ,
we do the best we can , have a donut , take a vacation .



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justintime

posted October 4, 2007 at 8:56 am


http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20071002_chevrons_pipeline_is_the_burmese_regimes_lifeline/
Fueling the military junta that has ruled for decades are Burma’s natural gas reserves, controlled by the Burmese regime in partnership with the U.S. multinational oil giant Chevron, the French oil company Total and a Thai oil firm. Offshore natural gas facilities deliver their extracted gas to Thailand through Burma’s Yadana pipeline. The pipeline was built with slave labor, forced into servitude by the Burmese military.
The original pipeline partner, Unocal, was sued by EarthRights International for the use of slave labor. As soon as the suit was settled out of court, Chevron bought Unocal.
Chevron’s role in propping up the brutal regime in Burma is clear. According to Marco Simons, U.S. legal director at EarthRights International: “Sanctions haven’t worked because gas is the lifeline of the regime. Before Yadana went online, Burma’s regime was facing severe shortages of currency. It’s really Yadana and gas projects that kept the military regime afloat to buy arms and ammunition and pay its soldiers.”
The U.S. government has had sanctions in place against Burma since 1997. A loophole exists, though, for companies grandfathered in. Unocal’s exemption from the Burma sanctions has been passed on to its new owner, Chevron.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice must have some contacts with Chevron, after all she had a Chevron oil tanker named after her.
Maybe she could pull a few strings and stop the carnage in Burma.
But I doubt it, to her and the Bush crime syndicate, oil is more important than blood.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 4, 2007 at 10:29 am


Obvious the liberal church has plans of all Christians contributing to their church, mainly because their numbers are growing smaller, so the new church adress becomes the US Treasury.
Funny — not. You know, my own church, which belongs to a staunchly conservative denomination and rejects anything that even looks like liberalism, would support many “liberal” endeavors because people believe them to be according to Biblical truth.



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Justintime

posted October 4, 2007 at 1:25 pm


Good morning, site monitor.
Where’s my post on the connection between Chevron and the Burma junta?
It’s not spam.
It sheds some light on a possible way to end the tragedy in Burma.
Please post this important information.
Thank you.



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justintime

posted October 4, 2007 at 2:42 pm


Fueling the military junta that has ruled for decades are Burma’s natural gas reserves, controlled by the Burmese regime in partnership with the U.S. multinational oil giant Chevron, the French oil company Total and a Thai oil firm. Offshore natural gas facilities deliver their extracted gas to Thailand through Burma’s Yadana pipeline. The pipeline was built with slave labor, forced into servitude by the Burmese military.
The original pipeline partner, Unocal, was sued by EarthRights International for the use of slave labor. As soon as the suit was settled out of court, Chevron bought Unocal.
Chevron’s role in propping up the brutal regime in Burma is clear. According to Marco Simons, U.S. legal director at EarthRights International: “Sanctions haven’t worked because gas is the lifeline of the regime. Before Yadana went online, Burma’s regime was facing severe shortages of currency. It’s really Yadana and gas projects that kept the military regime afloat to buy arms and ammunition and pay its soldiers.”
The U.S. government has had sanctions in place against Burma since 1997. A loophole exists, though, for companies grandfathered in. Unocal’s exemption from the Burma sanctions has been passed on to its new owner, Chevron.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice must have some contacts with Chevron, after all she had a Chevron oil tanker named after her.
Maybe she could pull a few strings and stop the carnage in Burma.
But I doubt it, to her and the Bush crime syndicate, oil is more important than blood.



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Murfmensch

posted October 4, 2007 at 9:46 pm


While you are right to be concerned about the effects of boycotts and sanctions, they are anything but stupid if there are organizations within a country that support them and have the power to get them lifted.
In South Africa, the African National Congress had exactly this and they were able to bring the sanctions to the negotiating table. (They had other cards such as sabotage and labor strikes as well.)
Organizations have not been eliminated. The monks and Suu Ki are empowered by sanctions and other measures. Let them tell us if these measures help or not.



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