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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:02 pm 
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I resolved this year to read all fifteen volumes of Samuel Eliot Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II.

Starting with Volume I and ending with Volume XV.

Finally starting with Volume I. I may just post kind of a "live blog" of my thoughts.

Feel free to react/comment.

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 Post subject: Volume I - Introduction
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:01 pm 
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Or, "Why Arms Control Treaties are for Suckers"

Just reading this introduction leaves my mind boggled at the stupidity.

Just looking at this, I can imagine how Donald Trump would have reacted had he been alive then. We got taken to the cleaners.

These treaties were bad deals from the get go. We literally let our military atrophy, while Japan was building up. We didn't even fortify the forward bases we would need in the event of war.

Did Japan abide by those treaties? Noooo...

Remind you of anything today? Can you say Russia violating the INF Treaty while America scrapped how many B-52Gs?

History repeats itself...

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:24 pm 
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clancyphile wrote:
I resolved this year to read all fifteen volumes of Samuel Eliot Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II.

Starting with Volume I and ending with Volume XV.

Finally starting with Volume I. I may just post kind of a "live blog" of my thoughts.

Feel free to react/comment.



Oddly enough, Volume I is sitting on my bookshelf and holds place of honor in the "on deck" circle. I have about 150 pages of a fairly good book about various beverages throughout history.

When Theodore sent out the info about the series was half price, I sent the link to my mom.

Lo and behold, Christmas Day, there it was, right under the tree. Mom went all out and even wrapped every single book individually, rather than just wrapping the box.

Gotta love that.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:10 pm 
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clancyphile wrote:
Or, "Why Arms Control Treaties are for Suckers"

Just reading this introduction leaves my mind boggled at the stupidity.

Just looking at this, I can imagine how Donald Trump would have reacted had he been alive then. We got taken to the cleaners.

These treaties were bad deals from the get go. We literally let our military atrophy, while Japan was building up. We didn't even fortify the forward bases we would need in the event of war.

Did Japan abide by those treaties? Noooo...

Remind you of anything today? Can you say Russia violating the INF Treaty while America scrapped how many B-52Gs?

History repeats itself...


All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.

As long as Progressive Liberals exist.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:43 pm 
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clancyphile wrote:
Or, "Why Arms Control Treaties are for Suckers"

Just reading this introduction leaves my mind boggled at the stupidity.

Just looking at this, I can imagine how Donald Trump would have reacted had he been alive then. We got taken to the cleaners.

These treaties were bad deals from the get go. We literally let our military atrophy, while Japan was building up. We didn't even fortify the forward bases we would need in the event of war.

Did Japan abide by those treaties? Noooo...

Remind you of anything today? Can you say Russia violating the INF Treaty while America scrapped how many B-52Gs?

History repeats itself...

Japan did abide by the Treaty, though - Mogami came in hugely over Treaty weight, but that was incompetence rather than malice; and they didn't fortify the Mandates or start building new battleships until after they'd (entirely legally!) withdrawn from the Treaty system. And the decision by the US government not to build up to Treaty limits can't really be laid at the Treaty's feet, either: the Treaty was merely the isolationists' excuse, their true motive was parsimony. This isn't to say that the Treaties were a good idea: not only did they artificially keep Japan in a competitive position when the naval arms race restarted in earnest in the 30s, they simultaneously enraged Japanese nationalists who thought Japanese naval strength should have been coequal with the USN and RN. It's just not for the reasons you've stated.

The B-52Gs were well past due for retirement by the time they were scrapped. The crime wasn't taking them out of the fleet, the crime was not having a replacement ready a decade or two before - and the roots of that failure go clear back to the Eisenhower administration, and have nothing to do with INF or any other arms control treaty.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:13 pm 
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clancyphile wrote:
Or, "Why Arms Control Treaties are for Suckers"

Just reading this introduction leaves my mind boggled at the stupidity.

Just looking at this, I can imagine how Donald Trump would have reacted had he been alive then. We got taken to the cleaners.

These treaties were bad deals from the get go. We literally let our military atrophy, while Japan was building up. We didn't even fortify the forward bases we would need in the event of war.

Did Japan abide by those treaties? Noooo...

Remind you of anything today? Can you say Russia violating the INF Treaty while America scrapped how many B-52Gs?

History repeats itself...

Which edition do you have? This is critical with USNOWW2. The books have been revised several times as new information becomes available with nw data first finding its way into amendments in book XV and then being incorporated into the main text with a new bunch of Chapter XV amendments. Basically the later the better.

It sounds to me as if you have an early edition Volume I with the original forward. This is really painfully embarrassing and was one of the first things to be replaced. I do agree that arms control treaties are useless but this intro is not a good way to support it.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:51 pm 
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I may just post kind of a "live blog" of my thoughts.


No. Just . . . don't.

Morison is inaccurate in many aspects. His orders of battle are frequently wrong. His coverage of the Battle of the Atlantic is very inaccurate. He wasn't read in on the breaking of the German naval codes and even if he had been, he couldn't have revealed it. So he makes it look like the Battle of the Atlantic was won due to high-frequency direction finding and the sheer luck of putting ASW aircraft in the right place at the right time. Finally, his portrayal of some officers is suspect (his portrayal of Fletcher is essentially a character assassination, IMO. It took John Lundstrom three books - The First Team, The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign and Black Shoe Carrier Admiral - to correct that.

Writing anything based on inaccurate or biased material is idiocy, IMO.

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Or, "Why Arms Control Treaties are for Suckers"

Just reading this introduction leaves my mind boggled at the stupidity.


Actually, the Washington Conference wasn't a bad deal for the US.

The Japanese had occupied Vladivostok (along with the US) during the Allied intervention in Russia at the end of the war. After we left, Japan stayed. The Japanese also remained in Tsingtao after the war by trying to claim that they had taken over the German lease on the province. Both of these actions threatened to start a war in the Far East that could drag other countries in over time.

The WNC got Japan out of Russia and China, dissolved the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, prevented fortification of Japan's Pacific island bases and got them to accept a naval ratio that made it doubtful that they could protect the home islands in the event of a war with either the US or Great Britain. All for the cost of 13 of the 16 battleships and battlecruisers that were under construction at that time (ok, eleven with the CV conversions). And most of those wouldn't have been completed in the post-war drawdown, anyhow.

Continuation of the building holiday with the 1930 London Treaty might be a subject for debate.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:54 am 
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Philistine wrote:
And the decision by the US government not to build up to Treaty limits can't really be laid at the Treaty's feet, either: the Treaty was merely the isolationists' excuse, their true motive was parsimony.


This!

Furthermore I like to point to D.K. Brown who says the treaties were beneficial to the RN because they defined the strenght of the navy. The army and RAF didn't have such a yardstick and suffered much more from budget cuts.


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they simultaneously enraged Japanese nationalists who thought Japanese naval strength should have been coequal with the USN and RN.


They could not have afforded it in the first place. If I remember "The Imperial Japanese Navy" right Japan went pretty much bankrupt in an effort to reach 70% of the USN's treaty strenght.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:02 am 
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The neatest description I read of the WNC was that in the end, everybody who mattered, got the Navy they could live with and could afford. If a country didn't get a Navy they could live with at a price they could afford, that was evidence that they didn't matter.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:55 am 
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M.Becker wrote:
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... they simultaneously enraged Japanese nationalists who thought Japanese naval strength should have been coequal with the USN and RN.


They could not have afforded it in the first place. If I remember "The Imperial Japanese Navy" right Japan went pretty much bankrupt in an effort to reach 70% of the USN's treaty strenght.

Yes, absolutely - hence the prior clause about artificial competitiveness. The Japanese delegation to Washington wanted 70%, and believed they needed 70%. They eventually accepted 60% (with some additional clauses) instead, because that was the best deal on the table and they knew the alternative to making a deal was much less than 60% if/when the US got serious about participating in a naval arms race.

But truth seldom matters to True Believers, and the Japanese nationalists of the 20s-40s certainly qualify as that. They wanted full parity, and were determined to take anything less as a grave insult; over the next few years, they used the moderates' acceptance of 60% at Washington in their successful campaign to seize the levers of power.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:17 pm 
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I'd highly recommend getting the current USNI editions. They're missing a few maps, but the introductions are by current naval historians, and are a good update on things Morison didn't know. Unfortunately, you just missed the 50% off sale that they did over Christmas. I got sets for my dad and grandfather.

Re the Intro to Volume I, it's pretty much as FU says. Interesting as an insight into thought at the time, but very bad history.

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Quote:
I may just post kind of a "live blog" of my thoughts.


No. Just . . . don't.

I disagree most strongly. Morison is a fantastic writer, and the books hold up pretty well in retrospect, so long as you keep his limitations in mind. Yes, he had some weird grudge against Fletcher, and that doesn't reflect well on him. He didn't know about Ultra until fairly late in the game, and couldn't say what he did know. I'd like a cite on his OoBs being badly wrong, as opposed to having the sort of minor errors that you get in any work of history. I usually use his books as the first stop when I'm doing research for a post on a subject they cover.

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Writing anything based on inaccurate or biased material is idiocy, IMO.

When dealing with history, it's completely impossible to find anything that is completely accurate and totally unbiased. I'm more than willing to forgive Morison his errors given how well he writes and the sheer scope of the work.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:43 pm 
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Craiglxviii wrote:
clancyphile wrote:
Or, "Why Arms Control Treaties are for Suckers"

Just reading this introduction leaves my mind boggled at the stupidity.

Just looking at this, I can imagine how Donald Trump would have reacted had he been alive then. We got taken to the cleaners.

These treaties were bad deals from the get go. We literally let our military atrophy, while Japan was building up. We didn't even fortify the forward bases we would need in the event of war.

Did Japan abide by those treaties? Noooo...

Remind you of anything today? Can you say Russia violating the INF Treaty while America scrapped how many B-52Gs?

History repeats itself...


All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.



AND SOMEBODY TURN OFF THAT FRAKKING MUSIC!

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:41 pm 
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Byron, I may have come off a bit more harshly than intended. It was getting late, so I typed quickly, I was perhaps a bit too brief.

When I write something, I never use just one source unless its absolutely unavoidable. By avoiding just one source, I try to eliminate inaccuracy or bias. That said, if I had to use Morison as a sole source I'd probably write a disclaimer, depending on the subject.

I don't dislike his writing and I have the entire set. I consider his work to be a beginning, a starting point for further research. So when I write something I may start with Morison and then check him against other, more recent books and online resources. However, I do not consider him to the first and last word on a subject. What clancyphile was proposing sounds like the complete opposite of what I try to do. To me that just seems, well, somewhat irresponsible.

Regarding to OoB errors: The first time I encountered this was about 5 or 6 years ago. I binge read several books on the Solomon Islands campaign and while reading one of them I pulled out Morison to check something. After finding what I was looking for I started comparing the OoBs. The major ships matched in both books, but down at the DD and DE level there were some differences. It may be that he and his researchers were looking at planning papers for these operations and that some of the ships were later unavailable.

While reading about Okinawa, the raids on Japan and the ordeal of the Franklin, I checked another book (I think it was Polmar's Aircraft Carriers) against Morison. Then I checked an online source (I think it was Task Forces List). None of them are in complete agreement on which task groups certain carriers were in (unless some carriers changed Task Groups two or more times in a week).

Regarding Fletcher: Lundstrom writes (in BSCA) that both Morison and the Naval War College made several attempts to meet and discuss the battles of Coral Sea and Midway. In each instance, Fletcher declined, citing the loss of his papers when Yorktown sank (personally, I think he should have made the attempt anyway). Perhaps Morison felt snubbed the rejection. Maybe he just happened upon people with an ax to grind. Either way, its a good example of why historical figures should try to write their own account of events, rather than let others write it for them.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:42 pm 
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Brutus wrote:
Byron, I may have come off a bit more harshly than intended. It was getting late, so I typed quickly, I was perhaps a bit too brief.

When I write something, I never use just one source unless its absolutely unavoidable. By avoiding just one source, I try to eliminate inaccuracy or bias. That said, if I had to use Morison as a sole source I'd probably write a disclaimer, depending on the subject.

Fair enough. I'll admit that it isn't perfect.

Quote:
I don't dislike his writing and I have the entire set. I consider his work to be a beginning, a starting point for further research. So when I write something I may start with Morison and then check him against other, more recent books and online resources. However, I do not consider him to the first and last word on a subject. What clancyphile was proposing sounds like the complete opposite of what I try to do. To me that just seems, well, somewhat irresponsible.

I think you misinterpret what he's trying to do. He's writing about his thoughts on the books, not presenting lessons derived from them as absolute fact. And yes, I usually prefer to check a second source if I'm doing something really serious. If it's something quick, I usually use him as a reasonably accurate source that's almost certain to have the information I need.

Quote:
Regarding to OoB errors: The first time I encountered this was about 5 or 6 years ago. I binge read several books on the Solomon Islands campaign and while reading one of them I pulled out Morison to check something. After finding what I was looking for I started comparing the OoBs. The major ships matched in both books, but down at the DD and DE level there were some differences. It may be that he and his researchers were looking at planning papers for these operations and that some of the ships were later unavailable.

I'm not sure this is a serious strike against him. It's a huge work, and figuring that sort of thing out is a staggering task. I've done a bit of digging through war diaries, and that was just for Iowa. The occasional error is bound to creep in. I've actually once been caught out by a similar error of his, too. It was about the size of the guns in battery Hamburg, and he and one page of Wiki said 11", while another page of wiki (confirmed from later sources) said 9.4".

Quote:
Regarding Fletcher: Lundstrom writes (in BSCA) that both Morison and the Naval War College made several attempts to meet and discuss the battles of Coral Sea and Midway. In each instance, Fletcher declined, citing the loss of his papers when Yorktown sank (personally, I think he should have made the attempt anyway). Perhaps Morison felt snubbed the rejection. Maybe he just happened upon people with an ax to grind. Either way, its a good example of why historical figures should try to write their own account of events, rather than let others write it for them.

I was aware of all that. Morison's treatment of Fletcher is the one thing I really hold against him.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:00 pm 
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Poohbah wrote:
Craiglxviii wrote:
All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.



AND SOMEBODY TURN OFF THAT FRAKKING MUSIC!
Or at least play Jimi's version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLV4_xaYynY


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:55 pm 
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Francis Urquhart wrote:
clancyphile wrote:
Or, "Why Arms Control Treaties are for Suckers"

Just reading this introduction leaves my mind boggled at the stupidity.

Just looking at this, I can imagine how Donald Trump would have reacted had he been alive then. We got taken to the cleaners.

These treaties were bad deals from the get go. We literally let our military atrophy, while Japan was building up. We didn't even fortify the forward bases we would need in the event of war.

Did Japan abide by those treaties? Noooo...

Remind you of anything today? Can you say Russia violating the INF Treaty while America scrapped how many B-52Gs?

History repeats itself...

Which edition do you have? This is critical with USNOWW2. The books have been revised several times as new information becomes available with nw data first finding its way into amendments in book XV and then being incorporated into the main text with a new bunch of Chapter XV amendments. Basically the later the better.

It sounds to me as if you have an early edition Volume I with the original forward. This is really painfully embarrassing and was one of the first things to be replaced. I do agree that arms control treaties are useless but this intro is not a good way to support it.


The edition I have was published in 2001 by Castle Books. I got the series from the Military Book Club. It was a favorite read of mine in college on weekends.

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 Post subject: Volume I - Chapter I
PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:15 pm 
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My gut level reaction: The United States and UK were not ready for fighting a war in which trans-Atlantic convoys would be crucial, but the Germans were, in some respects, far less ready to do so.

In one sense, Germany was caught in a no-win scenario: To really win, they needed more than 57 U-boats (30 of which were not even capable of the long-range operations the campaign would require) at the start of hostilities with the United Kingdom.

The problem, as I see it, is a larger pre-war construction program getting Doenitz just 20 percent of what he needed (call it 230 U-boats total, of which 30 were the smaller ones, leaving him with 200 ocean-going subs) would not have been tolerated by the United Kingdom, and would have prompted either construction of more destroyers and other escorts, or it would have prompted an ultimatum and a premature conflict.

The German surface navy was small - and using it to hit merchant shipping was really the only option. Still, they'd eventually be hunted down and sunk.

So, really, when Hitler invaded Poland, he was going to lose one way or another. The exact method of loss was "to be determined."

The American neutrality patrol is also worth noting: Four old battleships, one carrier (that wasn't exactly suited for front-line duty), four heavy cruisers, and 16 destroyers. For one of my day jobs, I recalled then-SOUTHCOM commander John Kelly describing how a shortage of ships left him unable to anything other than watch drug smugglers deliver their cargos.

What do we learn from this today? I think the lesson is clear: Your Navy will be fighting any conflict with the ships it has. Furthermore, when naval construction is not kept at a sufficient level, commanders will have to make decisions as to what they can't do, and pray it doesn't come back to bite them.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:52 am 
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IIRC Doenitz expected the war to start circa 1945. When it started in 1939 the Kriegsmarine was a mere shadow of what Doenitz wanted it to be.

As clancyphile said; you fight with the navy that you have when the balloon goes up.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:16 am 
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Ionic wrote:
IIRC Doenitz expected the war to start circa 1945. When it started in 1939 the Kriegsmarine was a mere shadow of what Doenitz wanted it to be.

As clancyphile said; you fight with the navy that you have when the balloon goes up.

Raeder, not Doenitz.

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 Post subject: Re: Volume I - Chapter I
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:28 pm 
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clancyphile wrote:
My gut level reaction: The United States and UK were not ready for fighting a war in which trans-Atlantic convoys would be crucial, but the Germans were, in some respects, far less ready to do so.

In one sense, Germany was caught in a no-win scenario: To really win, they needed more than 57 U-boats (30 of which were not even capable of the long-range operations the campaign would require) at the start of hostilities with the United Kingdom.

The problem, as I see it, is a larger pre-war construction program getting Doenitz just 20 percent of what he needed (call it 230 U-boats total, of which 30 were the smaller ones, leaving him with 200 ocean-going subs) would not have been tolerated by the United Kingdom, and would have prompted either construction of more destroyers and other escorts, or it would have prompted an ultimatum and a premature conflict.

The German surface navy was small - and using it to hit merchant shipping was really the only option. Still, they'd eventually be hunted down and sunk.

So, really, when Hitler invaded Poland, he was going to lose one way or another. The exact method of loss was "to be determined."

The American neutrality patrol is also worth noting: Four old battleships, one carrier (that wasn't exactly suited for front-line duty), four heavy cruisers, and 16 destroyers. For one of my day jobs, I recalled then-SOUTHCOM commander John Kelly describing how a shortage of ships left him unable to anything other than watch drug smugglers deliver their cargos.

What do we learn from this today? I think the lesson is clear: Your Navy will be fighting any conflict with the ships it has. Furthermore, when naval construction is not kept at a sufficient level, commanders will have to make decisions as to what they can't do, and pray it doesn't come back to bite them.


The fundamental error Germany made in both World Wars was in not understanding the viewpoint of the two biggest powers in the Atlantic Basin with respect to Europe.

In the wake of the Franco-Prussian War, the US and the UK were going to become closer partners, because they shared a common interest: neither was willing to allow one power to unify Europe's productive potential under its control.

Germany building a submarine fleet that could threaten a truly effective sea-denial campaign wouldn't just have gotten the United Kingdom committed to containing Germany, it might have gotten America to do so as well, perhaps arranging a "coalition of the willing" arrangement with the UK, if not an outright alliance.

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