Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Feb 2022 03:50

Y'all need to work on correcting your close quotes - the [/quote] thingie. Its making it hard to tell in your posts what you are writing and what you are quoting.
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by rcocean » 13 Feb 2022 04:19

Duplicate post.
Last edited by rcocean on 13 Feb 2022 04:31, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by rcocean » 13 Feb 2022 04:30

Wow, not sure how to delete duplicate posts.
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by rcocean » 13 Feb 2022 04:41

No, sorry I don't have the page number. I assume you could go to the index and look up FDR, or medal of honor. Its also in Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith (American Warrior Series) page 369 or thereabouts.

Ricks, in his wretched book "The Generals" mentions it in passing. Of course, its mentioned as part of some MacArthur bashing and he gets the story completely wrong. Eichelberger is represented as being a victim of Big Mac's egotism (only macarthur could wear a MOH) when in fact Eichelberger did nothing to justify a MOH, and tried use his friendship with "Pa Watson" FDR's aide to get a MOH for himself over his actions at Buna. Eichelberger by passed MacArthur, which I believe is a first. Normally its a commander officer who puts in the MOH.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Feb 2022 09:04

rcocean wrote:
13 Feb 2022 04:41
No, sorry I don't have the page number. I assume you could go to the index and look up FDR, or medal of honor. Its also in Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith (American Warrior Series) page 369 or thereabouts.
Oh, okay.
Ricks, in his wretched book "The Generals" mentions it in passing. Of course, its mentioned as part of some MacArthur bashing and he gets the story completely wrong. Eichelberger is represented as being a victim of Big Mac's egotism (only macarthur could wear a MOH) when in fact Eichelberger did nothing to justify a MOH, and tried use his friendship with "Pa Watson" FDR's aide to get a MOH for himself over his actions at Buna. Eichelberger by passed MacArthur, which I believe is a first. Normally its a commander officer who puts in the MOH.
Why is Ricks book "wretched"? Because he "bashes" MacArthur? That doesn't seem to be much of a basis for criticism. Stephen Taafe alludes to the same, without detailing the byzantine attempts Byers and Rogers made to circumvent MacArthur, so is Taafe's work "wretched" as well?

Eichelberger did exactly what MacArthur set him to do at Buna; succeed or die trying. He then got backwatered by MacArthur, who blocked Marshall's attempts to free him for other commands. Eventually, a frustrated Eichelberger did ask his wife to reach out to "Pa" Watson, not for a MOH, but rather for release from the purgatory of the SWPA.

BTW, there is no requirement that a MOH recommendation be made by a "commanding officer", but it does require a recommendation by a direct observer of the events deemed to merit the award and the award process normally requires considerable documentation from witnesses. That is actually why MacArthur could not actually recommend Eichelberger for such an award, since he was not present to witness the acts meriting it. Byers and Rogers were though and did make such a recommendation. What was irregular was MacArthur squashing the recommendation, whether merited or not he was obligated to pass the recommendation to the Chief of Staff, with or without endorsement. The CoS would then pass it to the Secretary of War, with or without endorsement, and then on to the President, with or without endorsement. The modern process also requires an extensive investigation, which was less formalized in World War II, but basic requirement that an awards recommendation must be acted upon has always held true.

Of course there are always machinations, but even MacArthur's MOH recommendation was technically made by a direct observer, Sutherland, even though the citation was probably written by Marshall. Of course, sauce that is good for the goose is good for the gander, any irregularity in a recommendation for Eichelberger could be no more irregular than MacArthur's recommendation. :lol:
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EKB » 13 Feb 2022 09:20

daveshoup2MD wrote:
11 Feb 2022 20:54
if there was anyone who should have known the risks of poorly supported defenses of distant outposts against overwhelming enemy forces by 1941-42, it should have been Churchill
You have it backwards. Japan should have balked before Churchill. There was good reason to believe that Japan had bit off more than it could chew. Never mind the Japanese conquest of Manchuria and French Indochina; the staggering scale of land warfare in China dwarfed that of the Pacific islands.

As Japan failed to exploit all critical mistakes made by the Allies in 1942, the occupation of Malaya and Burma only added to the strain on Japan's over-stretched resources. That puts another gaping hole in your what-iffery about the British base in Singapore.

daveshoup2MD wrote:
11 Feb 2022 20:54
... between Norway, the 2nd BEF, British Somaliland, Greece, and Crete, he had plenty of experience with evacuations, didn't he?
Churchill managed his personal life badly, but he was probably a better leader than any Prime Minister who followed. Some of his successors were/are clowns and one could say the same about the United States. Speaking of evacuations, Afghanistan should have been abandoned twenty years ago instead of wasting $2.5 trillion.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by LAstry » 13 Feb 2022 20:30

I agress that Black Hole of US Aid to Afghanistan should have been abandoned 20 years ago...and yes Japan won over the UK but they had gone too far....twoo much territory...simply could nt defend it........

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 13 Feb 2022 20:38

EKB wrote:
13 Feb 2022 09:20
daveshoup2MD wrote:
11 Feb 2022 20:54
if there was anyone who should have known the risks of poorly supported defenses of distant outposts against overwhelming enemy forces by 1941-42, it should have been Churchill
You have it backwards. Japan should have balked before Churchill. There was good reason to believe that Japan had bit off more than it could chew. Never mind the Japanese conquest of Manchuria and French Indochina; the staggering scale of land warfare in China dwarfed that of the Pacific islands.

As Japan failed to exploit all critical mistakes made by the Allies in 1942, the occupation of Malaya and Burma only added to the strain on Japan's over-stretched resources. That puts another gaping hole in your what-iffery about the British base in Singapore.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
11 Feb 2022 20:54
... between Norway, the 2nd BEF, British Somaliland, Greece, and Crete, he had plenty of experience with evacuations, didn't he?
The issue - when it comes to considering the OP, as in "Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya" - is that the Japanese - just like the Germans and the Italians - posed a threat to Britain (or, in this case, Britain's colonies in SEA), not the other way around.

Again, Churchill had a pattern of underestimating his nation's enemies, as witness the long list of evacuations carried out when he was in senior positions of leadership - which, as stated - is part of "Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya" ... nothing "what-iffy" about it. Historical reality is that the inability to acknowledge the enemy's capabilities often leads to defeat.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 13 Feb 2022 22:13, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by rcocean » 13 Feb 2022 21:59

Eichelberger did exactly what MacArthur set him to do at Buna; succeed or die trying. He then got backwatered by MacArthur, who blocked Marshall's attempts to free him for other commands. Eventually, a frustrated Eichelberger did ask his wife to reach out to "Pa" Watson, not for a MOH, but rather for release from the purgatory of the SWPA.
"Free him"? "Backwater command"? Yes, I'm sure Eichelberger wanted to play in "The big leagues" with his old pal Ike, but there was a war going on in the Pacific, that needed good Corps/Army commanders too. Why should MacArthur have approved a transfer when he needed Eichelberger in SWPA? And going behind your commanding officers back to get a transfer for personal glory wasn't considered ethical behavior in WW2. Eichelberger ended up fighting significant battles in the Philippines as Sixth army commander. Later, after the war he was offered Deputy Chief of staff and turned it down because MacArthur wanted his C-o-S to stay in Japan. He didn't pretty well for himself, despite fighting in a "Backwater".

What was irregular was MacArthur squashing the recommendation, whether merited or not he was obligated to pass the recommendation to the Chief of Staff, with or without endorsement. The CoS would then pass it to the Secretary of War, with or without endorsement, and then on to the President, with or without endorsement. The modern process also requires an extensive investigation, which was less formalized in World War II, but basic requirement that an awards recommendation must be acted upon has always held true.
What evidence is there that MacArthur refused to pass the First MOH Recommendation to Marshall? Where is it written that a MOH recommnendation by General's COS must be passed on by a theater commander to the Secetary of War and the Army chief of staff?
From reading Rodgers "The Bitter years" what happened is that MacArthur Disapproved Eichelbergers first MOH request for Buna, and then later Eichelberger's COS resubmitted the Request sans the diapproval directly to the Pentagon. Eichelberger also talked to Eleanor Roosevelt about it when she visited Austrialia. Later, MacArthur was suprised to find a Aug 1943 a radiogram from Marshall asking for approval for Eichelberger's MOH request, when he had already disapproved the first one!

When makes this so absurd is that Eichelberger did nothing in Buna to deserve a MOH. MacArthur didn't ask for a MOH, and treated it as an award for ALL the defenders at Bataan and understood it was awarded by Marshall for propaganda purposes. Eichelberger WAS brave at Buna. But only to the extend it was needed to get the job done. It was NOT "above and beyond the call of duty".

Eichelberger is a great example of how you can get a positive historical reputation by writing detailed letters and diary and living a long time after the war, when the people you were dealing with did neither. We know a lot about Eichelberger's side of things, very little about what Kruger, Sutherland or MacArthur thought about Eichelberger.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 13 Feb 2022 22:16

rcocean wrote:
13 Feb 2022 21:59
Eichelberger did exactly what MacArthur set him to do at Buna; succeed or die trying. He then got backwatered by MacArthur, who blocked Marshall's attempts to free him for other commands. Eventually, a frustrated Eichelberger did ask his wife to reach out to "Pa" Watson, not for a MOH, but rather for release from the purgatory of the SWPA.
"Free him"? "Backwater command"? Yes, I'm sure Eichelberger wanted to play in "The big leagues" with his old pal Ike, but there was a war going on in the Pacific, that needed good Corps/Army commanders too. Why should MacArthur have approved a transfer when he needed Eichelberger in SWPA? And going behind your commanding officers back to get a transfer for personal glory wasn't considered ethical behavior in WW2. Eichelberger ended up fighting significant battles in the Philippines as Sixth army commander. Later, after the war he was offered Deputy Chief of staff and turned it down because MacArthur wanted his C-o-S to stay in Japan. He didn't pretty well for himself, despite fighting in a "Backwater".

What was irregular was MacArthur squashing the recommendation, whether merited or not he was obligated to pass the recommendation to the Chief of Staff, with or without endorsement. The CoS would then pass it to the Secretary of War, with or without endorsement, and then on to the President, with or without endorsement. The modern process also requires an extensive investigation, which was less formalized in World War II, but basic requirement that an awards recommendation must be acted upon has always held true.
What evidence is there that MacArthur refused to pass the First MOH Recommendation to Marshall? Where is it written that a MOH recommnendation by General's COS must be passed on by a theater commander to the Secetary of War and the Army chief of staff?
From reading Rodgers "The Bitter years" what happened is that MacArthur Disapproved Eichelbergers first MOH request for Buna, and then later Eichelberger's COS resubmitted the Request sans the diapproval directly to the Pentagon. Eichelberger also talked to Eleanor Roosevelt about it when she visited Austrialia. Later, MacArthur was suprised to find a Aug 1943 a radiogram from Marshall asking for approval for Eichelberger's MOH request, when he had already disapproved the first one!

When makes this so absurd is that Eichelberger did nothing in Buna to deserve a MOH. MacArthur didn't ask for a MOH, and treated it as an award for ALL the defenders at Bataan and understood it was awarded by Marshall for propaganda purposes. Eichelberger WAS brave at Buna. But only to the extend it was needed to get the job done. It was NOT "above and beyond the call of duty".

Eichelberger is a great example of how you can get a positive historical reputation by writing detailed letters and diary and living a long time after the war, when the people you were dealing with did neither. We know a lot about Eichelberger's side of things, very little about what Kruger, Sutherland or MacArthur thought about Eichelberger.
Um, no, actually ... Walter Krueger commanded the 6th Army; Robert Eichelberger the 8th Army. :roll:

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Feb 2022 22:42

rcocean wrote:
13 Feb 2022 21:59
"Free him"? "Backwater command"? Yes, I'm sure Eichelberger wanted to play in "The big leagues" with his old pal Ike, but there was a war going on in the Pacific, that needed good Corps/Army commanders too.
Seriously? From 22 January 1943 to 22 April 1944, Eichelberger had no combat assignment in the SWPA. That is why Marshall tried to get MacArthur to release him for reassignment in April 1943. What "war [was] going on in the Pacific, that needed good Corps/Army commanders" that required Eichelberger's presence?

BTW, no, it wasn't Ike that requested him, it was Marshall.
Why should MacArthur have approved a transfer when he needed Eichelberger in SWPA?
What did he need him for?
And going behind your commanding officers back to get a transfer for personal glory wasn't considered ethical behavior in WW2.
Nonsense. MacArthur refused to release him for reassignment; Eichelberger used a backdoor connection in an attempt to get out from under MacArthur. "Transfer for personal glory" is solely your spin, without evidence that I can find to back it up.
Eichelberger ended up fighting significant battles in the Philippines as Sixth army commander. Later, after the war he was offered Deputy Chief of staff and turned it down because MacArthur wanted his C-o-S to stay in Japan. He didn't pretty well for himself, despite fighting in a "Backwater".
Sure, in December 1944...now we're talking almost two years after the end of the Buna Campaign.

So what relevance to the war does it have that he was offered a position postwar?
What evidence is there that MacArthur refused to pass the First MOH Recommendation to Marshall? Where is it written that a MOH recommnendation by General's COS must be passed on by a theater commander to the Secetary of War and the Army chief of staff?
Um, that is the way MOH recommendations are made. They cannot be granted in theater since the President makes the award upon the recommendation of the Secretary of War. Chief of Staff and on down. You are aware that the MOH is not like any other medal in the U.S. military aren't you? It is not awarded like a DSC, SS, BS, or any other valor award. Since 1919 the circumstances and procedures for its award have been carefully scrutinized and required to follow both traditions and statutes. MacArthur had every right to forward the recommendation without indorsement, but by long standing tradition he had no right to squelch it.
From reading Rodgers "The Bitter years" what happened is that MacArthur Disapproved Eichelbergers first MOH request for Buna, and then later Eichelberger's COS resubmitted the Request sans the diapproval directly to the Pentagon. Eichelberger also talked to Eleanor Roosevelt about it when she visited Austrialia. Later, MacArthur was suprised to find a Aug 1943 a radiogram from Marshall asking for approval for Eichelberger's MOH request, when he had already disapproved the first one!
No, I guess you don't understand that the MOH is not like any other U.S. award. MacArthur had no more right to have "disapproved" it, with or without capitalization, than he had to "approve" it. Approval or disapproval of a recommendation for a MOH is solely in the hands of the President. The chain of command can provide indorsements, recommendations (typically to reduce the award), and so forth, but the final decision, based upon the recommendations of the chain of command, is in the hands of the President.
When makes this so absurd is that Eichelberger did nothing in Buna to deserve a MOH.
No, what is absurd is that you apparently think that is the point.
MacArthur didn't ask for a MOH, and treated it as an award for ALL the defenders at Bataan and understood it was awarded by Marshall for propaganda purposes.
It is also absurd that you think the circumstances of MacArthur's award have a bearing on Eichelberger's award.
Eichelberger WAS brave at Buna. But only to the extend it was needed to get the job done. It was NOT "above and beyond the call of duty".
Yet again, not the point.
Eichelberger is a great example of how you can get a positive historical reputation by writing detailed letters and diary and living a long time after the war, when the people you were dealing with did neither. We know a lot about Eichelberger's side of things, very little about what Kruger, Sutherland or MacArthur thought about Eichelberger.
Um, Eichelberger died three years before MacArthur, five years before Sutherland, and sic years before Krueger. Why would what Krueger said be relevant?
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 13 Feb 2022 22:58

Richard Anderson wrote:
13 Feb 2022 22:42
What evidence is there that MacArthur refused to pass the First MOH Recommendation to Marshall? Where is it written that a MOH recommnendation by General's COS must be passed on by a theater commander to the Secetary of War and the Army chief of staff?
Um, that is the way MOH recommendations are made. They cannot be granted in theater since the President makes the award upon the recommendation of the Secretary of War. Chief of Staff and on down. You are aware that the MOH is not like any other medal in the U.S. military aren't you? It is not awarded like a DSC, SS, BS, or any other valor award. Since 1919 the circumstances and procedures for its award have been carefully scrutinized and required to follow both traditions and statutes. MacArthur had every right to forward the recommendation without indorsement, but by long standing tradition he had no right to squelch it.
From reading Rodgers "The Bitter years" what happened is that MacArthur Disapproved Eichelbergers first MOH request for Buna, and then later Eichelberger's COS resubmitted the Request sans the diapproval directly to the Pentagon. Eichelberger also talked to Eleanor Roosevelt about it when she visited Austrialia. Later, MacArthur was suprised to find a Aug 1943 a radiogram from Marshall asking for approval for Eichelberger's MOH request, when he had already disapproved the first one!
No, I guess you don't understand that the MOH is not like any other U.S. award. MacArthur had no more right to have "disapproved" it, with our without capitalization, than he had to "approve" it. Approval or disapproval of a recommendation for a MOH is solely in the hands of the President. The chain of command can provide indorsements, recommendations (typically to reduce the award), and so forth, but the final decision, based upon the recommendations of the chain of command, is in the hands of the President.
And what makes the MOH process fairly easy to understand by a layperson is the amount of coverage it has received in recent years, in connection both with the SW Asia conflicts and various reviews of recommendations going back to WW II that were not awarded, because of a variety of reasons (putting it politely), some of which came to be awarded at a later date.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 16 Feb 2022 20:52

More evidence to show how hard it is to know what is just around the corner comes from the UK COS meeting on 29 November 1941 (CAB79/16/2 - available for free on line).
CAB79-16-2-COS Mtg - 29 Nov 41 - Japanese intentions - p1.JPG
CAB79-16-2-COS Mtg - 29 Nov 41 - Japanese intentions - p2.JPG
If the UK COS couldn't be sure of US intentions in late November 1941, I would argue that we shouldn't be all that surprised that they found it even more difficult to discern what strategic madness the Japanese were about to implement. :idea:

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Tom
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Feb 2022 00:17

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
16 Feb 2022 20:52
More evidence to show how hard it is to know what is just around the corner comes from the UK COS meeting on 29 November 1941 (CAB79/16/2 - available for free on line).

CAB79-16-2-COS Mtg - 29 Nov 41 - Japanese intentions - p1.JPG

CAB79-16-2-COS Mtg - 29 Nov 41 - Japanese intentions - p2.JPG

If the UK COS couldn't be sure of US intentions in late November 1941, I would argue that we shouldn't be all that surprised that they found it even more difficult to discern what strategic madness the Japanese were about to implement. :idea:

Regards

Tom
Other than the minor point that it seems a safe assumption that in late November1941, the British knew that - unlike the Japanese threat - there was no risk the US was going to attack British positions in Eastern Asia/Western Pacific, yes, the situations are exactly the same... :roll:

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 03 Mar 2022 23:02

”Tom from Cornwall” wrote: For those interested in the true complexity of the situation as it faced the British in the summer and autumn of 1941 here is evidence to show that "everybody" didn't know what Japan's strategy was going to be (obviously!):
For those interested in the true complexity of strategy rather than an unsupported claim that only one person (Tom from Cornwall) is thinking subtly while the others are not…
You’re just pretending that my statement about Japanese strategic goals isn’t in the context of declaring war on Britain and heading south. In that context, yes, it is absolutely true that everyone knew their apex goal would be the oil of Southeast Asia.
Nothing about your document says otherwise. In the case of a decision to attack Russia, then obviously that’s a context in which Japan isn’t attacking south. Developing an attack towards Yunnan is merely another operation, not the abandonment of Japan’s apex strategic goal. I frankly don’t understand why you think otherwise. Was sending Rommel to Africa an abandonment of Barbarossa as Germany’s apex 1941 goal?
”Tom from Cornwall” wrote: If we accept that "nearly everyone" knew that Britain's defenses in Malaya were weak, the British Foreign Secretary at least realised that the factor that mattered wasn't British strength alone, but rather "Allied" strength which had increased markedly over the previous 12 months.
That would be a great response if I had said, “Allied strength in the Pacific didn’t matter, only British strength did.”
That’s of course not what I said; I specifically stated that the US should have tried harder to reinforce the Malay Barrier and/or Philippines. Do you really believe that “Allied strength matters, not just British” is a complex insight?
”Tom from Cornwall” wrote: I don't know about "Allied" strategy, but certainly Churchill thought that the Japanese would at least act rationally! Was it not strategic incompetence to avoid any possibility of fighting your opponents one at a time?
That’s one factor but, as one gentleman and scholar likes to remind, strategy is complex – there’s more involved than what’s in your statement.
One layer of complexity additional to minimizing enemies is: be prepared to fight potential enemies. What if the Japanese don’t act “rationally” as you define it? What if their idea of what’s in their best interest differs from what you’ve decided is in their best interest (concededly, this question may be difficult to imagine for an empire based on denying people the right to define their own best interests)? What if they respond to incentives that you wouldn’t consider rational?
In the complex field of strategy, a statesman should be able incorporate these considerations into her deliberations. This brings us to your next point:
”Tom from Cornwall” wrote: 'The Jap situation is definitely worse & I think they are headed North...you & I have two months of respite in the Far East'
FDR and Churchill, being at least minimally competent men, would not read a statement “I think they are headed north” as “They are DEFINITELY headed north and there is no need for prudent contingency planning in case they go south.”
This is difficult to see in the literal text; one needs to add the (apparently) complex and arcane fact of statesmanship/strategy that contingency planning is a thing.
”Tom from Cornwall” wrote: it is very easy to be smart, and smug in one's smartness
Very true. It is easy to assume that only you are viewing history as complicated while others lack the capacity/willingness to do so.
It is also easy to read primary documents and be in awe of the complexity of WW2 decisions, thereafter to refuse to believe that the decisions can be gainsaid. It’s like if I saw a mechanic assemble an engine, I’d say “wow that was complex, you must know what you’re doing.” Nonetheless, the mechanic might not be very good and the engine might not run.
We don’t have a responsibility to educate ourselves sufficiently to question mechanics. In a democracy, however, we do have a responsibility to educate ourselves sufficiently to question politicians. I discharge that duty without shame and, despite your repeated claims, it’s not obvious that your analysis is on a higher level of complexity than mine.
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