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Fw: 10 years ago ≠ How America Destroyed the Peace

----- Original Message -----
From: tim buckley <>
To: pbrooke <>
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 1:36 AM
Subject: Re: 10 years ago ≠ How America Destroyed the Peace

> Hi,
> "In order to force Iraq to join in this war, Britain and America
> relentlessly
> taged every effort by Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait on terms which would
> have permitted the government of Iraq to survive.  The crucial acts of
> sabotage occurred between August 2 and August 10, 1990.  These acts were
> entirely successful, and established a state of affairs which made war
> inevitable"
> This is a quote from pbrooke's interesting post. I have included text from
> an article by Noam Chomsky below which suggests, by contrast, that serious
> offers were still emerging from Iraq as late as two weeks before the start
> of the war. To me this rings true, I mean Saddam must have known he was
> going to get hammered in the event of war.
> (Full text at       )
> Rejection of diplomacy was explicit from the outset. New York Times chief
> diplomatic correspondent Thomas Friedman (in effect, the State Department
> voice at the Times) attributed the Administration's rejection of "a
> diplomatic track" to its concern that negotiations might "defuse the
> at the cost of "a few token gains in Kuwait" for the Iraqi dictator,
> "a Kuwaiti island or minor border adjustments" (August 22). Anything short
> of capitulation to U.S. force is unacceptable, whatever the consequences.
> Diplomatic options opened shortly after Saddam Hussein realized the nature
> of the forces arrayed against him, apparently with some surprise, though
> cannot evaluate their prospects because they were barred at once by
> Washington's rigid rejectionism. On August 12, Iraq proposed a settlement
> linking its withdrawal from Kuwait to withdrawal from other occupied Arab
> lands: Syria and Israel from Lebanon, and Israel from the territories it
> conquered in 1967. Two weeks later, about the time that Friedman warned of
> the dangers of diplomacy, the Times learned of a considerably more
> far-reaching offer from Iraq, but chose to suppress it. A similar (or
> perhaps the same) offer was leaked to the suburban New York journal
> which published it very prominently on August 29, compelling the Times to
> give it marginal and dismissive notice the next day. The Iraqi offer was
> delivered to National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft by a former
> high-ranking U.S. official on August 23. It called for Iraqi withdrawal
> Kuwait in return for the lifting of sanctions, full Iraqi control of the
> Rumailah oil field that extends about 2 miles into Kuwaiti territory over
> disputed border, and guaranteed Iraqi access to the Gulf, which involves
> status of two uninhabited islands that had been assigned by Britain to
> Kuwait in the imperial settlement, thus leaving Iraq virtually landlocked.
> Iraq also proposed negotiations on an oil agreement "satisfactory to both
> nations' national security interest," on "the stability of the gulf," and
> plans "to alleviate Iraq's economical and financial problems." There was
> mention of U.S. troop withdrawal or other preconditions. An Administration
> official who specializes in Mideast affairs described the proposal as
> "serious" and "negotiable."
> Like others, this diplomatic opportunity quickly passed. Where noted at
> in the media, the offer was dismissed on the grounds that the White House
> was not interested; surely true, and sufficient for the offer to be
> out of history, on the assumption that all must serve the whims of power.
> Iraqi proposals continued to surface, along with others. As of January 15,
> the last known example was made public on January 2, when U.S. officials
> disclosed an Iraqi offer "to withdraw from Kuwait if the United States
> pledges not to attack as soldiers are pulled out, if foreign troops leave
> the region, and if there is agreement on the Palestinian problem and on
> banning of all weapons of mass destruction in the region" (Knut Royce,
> Newsday, Jan. 3). Officials described the offer as "interesting" because
> dropped any claims to the islands in the Gulf and the Rumailah oil field,
> and "signals Iraqi interest in a negotiated settlement." A State
> Mideast expert described the proposal as a "serious prenegotiation
> position." The U.S. "immediately dismissed the proposal," Royce continues.
> It passed without mention in the Times, and was barely noted elsewhere.
> The Times did however report on the same day that Yasser Arafat, after
> consultations with Saddam Hussein, indicated that neither of them
> that the Palestinian problem be solved before Iraqi troops get out of
> Kuwait." According to Arafat, the report continues, "Mr. Hussein's
> Aug. 12, linking an Iraqi withdrawal to an Israeli withdrawal from the
> Bank and Gaza Strip, was no longer operative as a negotiating demand." All
> that is necessary is "a strong link to be guaranteed by the five permanent
> members of the Security Council that we have to solve all the problems in
> the Gulf, in the Middle East and especially the Palestinian cause."
> Two weeks before the deadline for Iraqi withdrawal, then, the possible
> contours of a diplomatic settlement appeared to be these: Iraq would
> withdraw completely from Kuwait with a U.S. pledge not to attack
> forces; foreign troops leave the region; the Security Council indicates a
> serious commitment to settle other major regional problems. Disputed
> issues would be left for later consideration. Once again, we cannot
> the prospects for settlement along these -- surely reasonable -- lines,
> because the offers were flatly rejected, and scarcely entered the media or
> public awareness. The United States and Britain maintained their
> to force alone.
> The strength of that commitment was again exhibited when France made a
> last-minute effort to avoid war on January 14, proposing that the Security
> Council call for "a rapid and massive withdrawal" from Kuwait along with a
> statement that Council members would bring their "active contribution" to
> settlement of other problems of the region, "in particular, of the
> Arab-Israeli conflict and in particular to the Palestinian problem by
> convening, at an appropriate moment, an international conference" to
> "the security, stability and development of this region of the world." The
> French proposal was supported by Belgium, a Council member, and Germany,
> Spain, Italy, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and several non-aligned nations.
> The U.S. and Britain rejected it (along with the Soviet Union,
> irrelevantly). U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering stated that the proposal
> unacceptable, because it went beyond previous U.N. resolutions on the
> invasion.
> The Ambassador's statement was technically correct. The wording of the
> proposal is drawn from a different source, namely, a Security Council
> decision of December 20, adjoined to Resolution 681, which calls on Israel
> to observe the Geneva Conventions in the occupied territories. In that
> statement the members of the Security Council called for "an international
> conference, at an appropriate time, properly structured," to help "achieve
> negotiated settlement and lasting peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict." The
> statement was excluded from the actual Resolution to prevent a U.S. veto.
> Note that there was no "linkage" to the Iraqi invasion, which was
> unmentioned.
> We do not, again, know whether the French initiative could have succeeded
> averting war. The U.S. feared that it might, and therefore blocked it, in
> accord with its zealous opposition to any form of diplomacy, and, in this
> case, its equally strong opposition to an international conference that
> might lead the way towards a political settlement of the Arab-Israeli
> conflict that the U.S. has long opposed. In this rejectionism, George Bush
> was joined by Saddam Hussein, who gave no public indication of any
> in the French proposal, though doing so might possibly have averted war.
> Best wishes,   Tim
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: pbrooke <>
> To: casi + <>
> Sent: Sunday, January 14, 2001 7:29 PM
> Subject: 10 years ago ≠ How America Destroyed the Peace
> The tenth anniversary of the launching of the Gulf Massacre on January
> has prompted a rash of reminiscence in the newspapers. Like the original
> newspaper reports, these reminiscences are mainly impressionistic,
> observations from a rather low level vantage point. There is very little
> hard information and much less attempt at political understanding.
> I therefore thought this would be a good time to circulate the following
> article, originally published in the March-April 1991 of an obscure left
> wing journal, the Labour and Trade Union Review. It gives an account (far
> from complete) of the diplomacy that led up to the massacre we are all at
> present busy celebrating, arguing that the unanimous consensus of Arab
> opinion against the occupation of Kuwait could have brought about a
> resolution, but that this possibility was sabotaged by very speedy and
> effective US intervention.
> The article also makes a distinction which I think is important between
> OsanctionsĻ and OblockadeĻ. It is the confusion between these two concepts
> that enables P.Hain to think there is some sort of parallel between his
> efforts against South Africa and his efforts against Iraq. South Africa
> subjected to trade sanctions; Iraq has been subjected to a blockade, or,
> you prefer, a siege, which is an act of war. For a parallel we may look to
> something like the Serb siege/blockade of Sarajevo, which, even though it
> occurred in a situation of outright war, is generally regarded as having
> been morally reprehensible.
> Hugh Roberts, author of the article (who has given his permission for its
> circulation), is the founder-secretary of the SOAS-based Society for
> Algerian Studies.
> How America Destroyed the Peace
>  by Hugh Roberts
> 'We had to destroy it in order to save it." (American saying, dating from
> Vietnam, where it originally referred to some hapless Vietnamese village,
> since when it has become applicable to virtually  everything.)
> In his broadcast to the nation on January 18 explaining why British forces
> had gone into action in the Gulf, John Major declared that "In the patient
> diplomacy of the last five months leaders from around the world have
> peace, and then sought it again. But unfortunately, Saddam Hussein has
> chosen war. He has rejected every attempt to reach a peaceful solution"
> Times, January 18, 1991).
> The first sentence of this statement is formally true.  Numerous 'leaders
> from around the world' had indeed sought peace and had done so repeatedly.
> They included King Hussein of Jordan, Yassir Arafat of the PLO, King
> of Morocco and President Chadli Bendjedid of Algeria, not to mention
> European leaders of the stature of ex-prime minister Edward Heath and ex
> chancellor Willy Brandt.  But this sentence is only formally true, in the
> Jesuitical sense of truth.  For it was unquestionably intended to suggest
> that the British and American leaders who were now waging war had
> sought peace.  This is the opposite of the truth.  It was they who
> consistently acted to thwart the peace-seeking initiatives of everyone
> The second sentence is quite untrue.  In uttering it, the British prime
> minister simply lied to the British people.  And he lied in the full
> knowledge that this lie would be echoed and endorsed by the leaders of the
> Labour Party.  Three days later, Gerald Kaufman declared in the House of
> Commons that "What is quite clear is that this is a war that no one
> except for Saddam has to be said that, in the end, Iraq
> rejected diplomacy."
> There had been an enormous amount of diplomacy between August 2, 1990 and
> January 15, 1991.  There was the diplomacy, in which Iraq was vigorously
> involved, which sought a peaceful solution.  And there was the
> Anglo-American diplomacy which sought to consolidate the anti-Iraq
> alliance and frustrate the efforts of the peacemakers.  What Britain and
> America have called diplomacy in respect of Iraq has been an affair of
> ultimatums issued in the full knowledge that Saddam Hussein could not
> possibly comply with them without subverting the Iraqi state, backed up by
> an economic blockade.   This, as Edward Heath has rightly pointed out, has
> been the negation of diplomacy.
> The economic blockade has been described throughout by official British
> American spokesmen as "sanctions".   In his broadcast on January 18, John
> Major declared that "We applied sanctions to make our point clear.  We
> refused to trade with Iraq." That was another lie told to the British
> people.   What Britain and America did went far beyond refusing to trade.
> Sanctions would indeed have involved a refusal to sell goods to Iraq and
> buy goods from Iraq.  Sanctions were imposed on Rhodesia and on South
> Africa.  They damaged the economies of these two countries, and exercised
> some long-term influence on the evolution of the political situation
> without bringing either country to its knees.  But what the British and
> Americans organised from early August was a full-scale land, sea and air
> blockade of Iraq to prevent any goods leaving or reaching the country. The
> Shorter Oxford Dictionary(Third revised edition, 1977) defines 'blockade'
> "the shutting up of a place, blocking of a harbour, line of coast,
> etc. by hostile forces or ships, so as to stop ingress or egress." The
> critical word in this definition is 'hostile'. Hostility implies a state
> war.  And in the conventional terminology of what is fondly referred to as
> 'International Law', an economic blockade is indeed considered to be an
> of war, a belligerent act.
> The only western government to state the truth of this last August was
> France.   France initially took the position of agreeing that UN sanctions
> should be imposed on Iraq, as they had been on South Africa, but that it
> not support a blockade.  But having, in a passing moment of integrity,
> reaffirmed this vital distinction, it allowed itself to be induced by
> Anglo-American pressure to forget all about it.
> By mounting a blockade on Iraq last August, Britain and America, under the
> UN cover, made war on Iraq.  This was an extraordinary thing to do.  Iraq
> had not gone to war with either Britain or America, and had no intention
> doing so. It suddenly found itself on the receiving end of a major act of
> war by the strongest military powers in the world.  It reacted by making
> strenuous proposals for a peaceful settlement, and when these were
> by interning enemy aliens, as is normal in time of war, and was roundly
> denounced for taking 'hostages' in consequence.
> The interning of enemy aliens was the only hostile action undertaken by
> towards Britain and America and the other members of the military alliance
> ranged against it before January 16.  And it was 'hostile' only in the
> technical sense of the word.  In substance it was unquestionably an
> defensive act, only taken on August 16, that is a full fortnight after
> all-out economic warfare had been launched against Iraq, eight days after
> American and British troops had begun arriving on its doorstep in
> preparation for a possible military campaign against it, and four days
> Iraq's proposals for a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement had been
> rejected out of hand by President Bush.
> In such circumstances there was every reason for the Iraqi government to
> fear that British and American and other western nationals in Iraq might
> become the target of spontaneous acts of violence from ordinary Iraqis, as
> Egyptian migrant workers in Iraq had already become, and that western
> nationals in Kuwait might be involved in embarrassing and possibly
> disastrous incidents with Iraqi troops there unless taken into protective
> custody without further delay.  It should be noted that western nationals
> had had a fortnight to get out of both Iraq and Kuwait by this stage, and
> had been deliberately discouraged by their own governments from doing so.
> On the day of Major's broadcast, Douglas Hurd stated that "we have now
> joined in the war which Saddam Hussein started on August 2, 1990" (The
> Times, January 18, 1990).  There can be no doubt that British public
> has sincerely believed in the truth of this statement, and that its
> for the war has been in large part premised on this belief.  Had Douglas
> Hurd said that "Saddam Hussein has now been forced to join in the war
> we declared on him on August 2, 1990" the British people might have viewed
> the business of killing a hundred thousand Iraqis in a different light.
> In order to force Iraq to join in this war, Britain and America
> sabotaged every effort by Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait on terms which
> have permitted the government of Iraq to survive.  The crucial acts of
> sabotage occurred between August 2 and August 10, 1990.  These acts were
> entirely successful, and established a state of affairs which made war
> inevitable.
> The entire Arab world was united in condemnation of the Iraqi invasion of
> Kuwait.  While many Arab governments agreed that Iraq had substantial
> grievances against Kuwait, they could not accept that these justified the
> use of force by one Arab state against another.   Their own self-interest
> states required them to ensure that the invasion was reversed, and there
> be little doubt that they would have united to ensure this, had they been
> given time to do so.
> The first Arab state to condemn the invasion was Algeria, which did so on
> August 2. At a meeting of the council of ministers of the Arab League on
> August 3, a resolution was carried with a two-thirds majority.  This was
> three parts:
> (i) condemning the invasion;
> (ii) convoking an extraordinary Arab summit to find an Arab solution to
> crisis;
> (iii) rejecting any foreign intervention, whether direct or indirect, in
> Arab affairs.
> The second and third parts of this resolution were proposed by Algeria,
> which clearly had a shrewd idea of what was in the offing.  The fourteen
> countries which supported this resolution were Algeria, Bahrein, Djibouti,
> Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia,
> Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.  It is important to note that the
> major Arab states which subsequently joined the US-led military alliance
> against Iraq ≠ Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Syria ≠ all supported this
> resolution.
> At this stage in the crisis the situation was wide open.  The Arab world
> united in condemning Iraq and there was every prospect of the Arab League
> organising effective pressure to persuade it to withdraw.  For its part,
> Iraq had not yet dug itself into an impossible position.  It had not
> Kuwait, and was making clear to Arab and western governments that it was
> willing to withdraw without further ado if given satisfaction on its
> dispute and financial claims.  What then happened was a massive escalation
> of the crisis engineered wholly and entirely by the United States, which
> split the Arab world down the middle, destroyed the credibility and
> influence of the Arab League and scotched all chance of a peaceful
> settlement. On August 4 Saddam Hussein was supposed to go to Jeddah in
> Arabia to negotiate a settlement with King Fahd, as had been arranged by
> King Hussein of Jordan in talks in Baghdad on August 2 and 3. Saddam was
> confident that a deal was possible with Fahd that Baghdad radio announced
> that Iraq was ready to pull out of Kuwait by August 5. But a crucial
> participant in the planned Jeddah mini-summit was Egypt's President Hosni
> Mubarak.   Saddam and King Hussein both believed they had secured
> agreement to the summit.  But in the event Mubarak decided not to go to
> Jeddah after all.   According to Pierre Salinger, once President Kennedy's
> Press Secretary and now ABC News' chief foreign correspondent, Mubarak
> changed his mind under American pressure.
> On August 5, Yassir Arafat, who had been strenuously trying to promote
> peace negotiations, saw Saddam in Baghdad."As Arafat walked into Saddam's
> office, the Iraqi leader opened the conversation by saying: Who sabotaged
> the summit?' Arafat didn't really know then but he pushed Saddam, saying
> that an early political solution was absolutely necessary. Saddam replied
> immediately: 'Go and see the Saudis.  We are ready to discuss,' Heading
> Saudi Arabia, Arafat stopped in Cairo for another talk with Mubarak. He
> him that Saddam is ready to discuss withdrawal from Kuwait but found the
> Egyptian President very antagonistic, possibly due to increasing pressure
> from the US. When Arafat arrived in Saudi Arabia on August 7, he was told
> could not see King Fahd, who was heavily involved in discussions with US
> Defence Secretary Dick Cheyney" (Pierre Salinger, 'Faltering steps in the
> sand', The Guardian, February 4, 1991).
> Also on August 7, President Bush ordered the immediate despatch of 4,000
> American combat troops and aircraft to Saudi Arabia.
> It was only after these developments, which made clear that the American
> government was actively intervening to prevent an Arab solution and had
> already effectively suborned the Egyptian and Saudi governments to that
> that the Iraqi government declared the annexation of Kuwait, on August 8.
> This did not mean that Iraq was no longer willing to consider a
> On the contrary, it was clearly only a holding operation on Saddam's part,
> for his next move was to ask Arafat to attend the Arab League summit
> scheduled for August 9-10 in Cairo and put forward fresh proposals for a
> settlement there.
> According to some sources, a joint PLO-Libyan proposal, which
> made no reference to any wider Middle East issues, but concentrated on the
> matters at issue between Iraq and Kuwait and urged serious negotiations
> between the two parties (in line with one of the clauses in UN Security
> Council Resolution 660 which everyone except Edward Heath subsequently
> forgot about) was put forward, but its inclusion on the summit agenda was
> vetoed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, so that it was not even discussed.
> According to Salinger, Arafat's proposal was simply that five key leaders
> (whom Salinger does not specify, but who were presumably Mubarak, King
> the Emir of Kuwait, King Hussein of Jordan and Arafat himself) should go
> Baghdad to thrash out a deal which would then be submitted to the rest of
> the Arab League in Cairo for its approval. "But when Arafat ... proposed
> five-nation delegation, it was immediately vetoed by Egypt and Syria"
> (Salinger, loc.cit.).
> Instead, a very different resolution was proposed and voted.  This not
> differed from Arafat's conciliatory motion.  It also differed profoundly
> from the three-part resolution passed by the Arab League Council of
> Ministers on August 3. The new resolution
> (i) verbally reaffirmed the decisions of the Arab League Council of
> Ministers meeting of August 3 (while actually ignoring the second and
> of those decisions);
> (ii) affirmed the Arab League's obligation to respect the decisions of the
> UN Security Council contained in resolutions 660 and 662;
> (iii) condemned Iraqi aggression and resolved not to recognise the Iraqi
> decision to annex Kuwait;
> (iv) called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi troops
> from Kuwait;
> (v) affirmed Kuwaiti sovereignty and independence and called for the
> restoration of the lawful government of Kuwait;
> (vi) agreed to respond positively to the requests of Saudi Arabia and
> Gulf states to send Arab forces to their defence.
> According to Salinger, 'Arafat was stunned ... when he sat down at the
> League conference table and found before him a communique already written.
> He immediately came to the conclusion that it was written in English and
> translated into Arabic.  Four other delegates to that conference whom I
> talked to came to the same conclusion."(Salinger, loc.cit.) According to
> other sources whom I have spoken to, the communique actually was in
> This 'communique' ≠ in fact, a draft resolution ≠ was presented to the
> conference by Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  It was supported in addition by 10
> other states: Bahrein, Djibouti, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar,
> Somalia, Syria, United Arab Emirates.   This gave the resolution a
> with 12 votes out of a total of 21.
> Of these 12, only four are substantial states: Egypt, Morocco, Saudi
> and Syria, The remainder am of no mili®@Ņ`,‹fe and their
> ŖŘÍreignty in foreign affairs has long been a polite fiction.  Djibouti
> Somalia have long been notorious for voting with Egypt on virtually all
> matters; the Lebanese government is controlled by Syria; Oman is a British
> client, and Bahrein, Qatar and the UAE were in the Saudis' pocket in
> affairs.
> None of the other substantial Arab states voted for this resolution.
> and the PLO voted against; Mauritania and the Sudan expressed
> Algeria, Jordan and the Yemen abstained; Iraq and Tunisia were absent.
> American and British propaganda after August 10 repeatedly claimed that th
> entire Arab world was united in condemning Iraq and supporting the
> UN-sponsored Operation Desert Shield.  In reality, the unity which had
> existed within the Arab world on August 3 had been shattered by August 10.
> It had been shattered by the way Egypt and the Gulf states railroaded the
> Arab League summit to force through an American-inspired resolution which
> destroyed the possibility of a negotiated Arab solution in order to
> the most transparent of fig leaves for the establishment of a massive
> western military presence in the Gulf.
> On August 10 the possibility of a peaceful, negotiated, Arab solution to
> Gulf crisis was dead, killed by US pressure.  It was made clear to Iraq
> it would not be allowed to secure a negotiated withdrawal from Kuwait on
> terms which would enable the Iraqi government to survive.  It was made
> to Saddam Hussein that his main enemies in the Arab world, Syria's Hafez
> Assad, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, and the Gulf monarchies, were all aboard the
> American-led military coalition ranged against him, and that, having
> their camp, they could not possibly be expected to modify their positions.
> It was made clear that the American and British attitude was that
> called 'International Law' was going to be enforced on Iraq, despite the
> fact that numerous previous acts of aggression by other states had gone
> unpunished.
> His reaction was to put forward proposals on August 12 for a comprehensive
> settlement of all outstanding territorial conflicts in the Middle East.
> proposal took the Anglo-American position at face value.   If negotiations
> were ruled out because it was a matter of enforcing the law, let the law
> enforced properly, that is, equitably; let all transgressions be dealt
> Saddam made it clear that Iraq would agree to abide by International Law
> it was demonstrated that International Law actually existed and was being
> taken in earnest by those who claimed to be upholding it.  The way to
> demonstrate this was to make clear that International Law applied to other
> states as well as Iraq, notably Israel and Syria, to name but two.
> This proposal was immediately rejected by the United States.  From that
> moment on, the Anglo-American and UN position lacked all legal and moral
> authority in the eyes of the vast majority of the Arab and Muslim world.
> From that moment on, Iraqi diplomacy was essentially concerned to
> the double standards of the American-led alliance and weaken this alliance
> by playing the Palestinian and Islamic cards.  It had not tried to play
> either of these cards before it was made to understand that neither a
> negotiated compromise nor an equitable legal outcome were to be allowed
> From that moment on, the diplomacy of other states was essentially
> either to reassure their own public opinions that their governments were
> trying to avoid the war that was already virtually inevitable (France,
> Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, etc.) or to justify and sustain their own
> participation within the anti-Iraq alliance and extract the greatest
> advantages in cash and other benefits from staying 'on board'.
> According to Saudi military sources, between 85,000 and 100,000 Iraqis
> been killed since January 16 because the United States refused to
> countenance either a diplomatic or a legal solution to the Gulf crisis and
> acted between August 2 and August 10 last year to make both impossible.
> true number of Iraqis who have been slaughtered in the greatest act of
> western folly and murderous arrogance in living memory may well be very
> higher than this, of course.
> This is what the British Labour Party has been implicated in by Gerald
> Kaufman and Neil Kinnock.
> --
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
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