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Thread: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Cool Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    OTTAWA—Canada's military is cranking up a public relations offensive in the face of new casualties and fresh questions about its Afghanistan mission that now is expected to stretch longer than first expected.

    To bolster support for the mission, the defence department is planning to recruit army brass, the minister of defence and frontline troops to reinforce opinion on the homefront.

    Military officials had always recognized that they would have to sell the Canadian public on the merits of its Afghan mission.

    But in the week since taking over command of the Kandahar region, the dangers have been quickly driven home. Two Canadian soldiers were killed in an armoured-vehicle accident, one was seriously wounded by a suicide bomb, and one was attacked by a man with an axe.

    In January, Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry was killed by a suicide bomber in the Kandahar area.


    Defence officials suggest that many Canadians are in the dark about the potential toll of military work in "this more dangerous world."

    "We always knew that the nature of peacekeeping/peacemaking was changing in a way that Canadians were not aware of," a defence official said yesterday.

    Now defence staff are vowing to turn up their information campaign to "do everything possible" to convince Canadians about the values of the mission.

    The offensive could kick off as early as today when Col. Steve Noonan, the former leader of the Afghanistan mission, returns to Ottawa to speak about the soldiers' work.

    That will be followed up by an "aggressive" speaking schedule for Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor. His office did not return calls yesterday.

    But the real heart of this PR offensive promises to be the soldiers themselves. As they return from their tours of duty, they'll be sent to speak to hometown radio stations, television talk shows, service clubs, "wherever we can ... to explain to Canadians what we're doing, why we're doing it and why it's having a good effect," an official said.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay conceded yesterday that top generals now say Canada's role in the war-torn country will be a "longer-term commitment than was perhaps originally intended."

    While Canada has pledged 2,000 troops to the Kandahar region for next year, MacKay made it clear that the new Conservative government thinks it might be in for the long haul.

    "We have to exhibit in a very clear way that we are committed to this mission, that we intend to finish what we started," he said.

    "Canada has to show a great deal of perseverance and resolve at this time, particularly when we have seen the dangerous nature of the mission itself.

    "As for the length of time that we will be there, that is an open question."

    Still, MacKay rejected opposition demands for a full debate on the Afghanistan mission when the House of Commons returns April 3, saying it might undermine support for the country's troops.

    "I don't believe at this point we can undermine in any way our commitment to our forces and to our men and women who are there doing extremely important and extremely dangerous work," he said.

    "Recent results have demonstrated that this is life and death. And we do not want to jeopardize, or in any way have a psychological or a real impact on the troops who are in Afghanistan," MacKay said.

    New Democrat MPs have been leading the call for a full debate when the Commons returns.

    "Canadians need to know exactly what are the terms of our engagement in Afghanistan," said NDP MP Dawn Black (New Westminster-Coquitlam).

    "We need to know exactly what it is we're participating in, what the expectations are, how long we are expected to be there. ... Debate needs to happen."

    MacKay spoke to reporters after meeting with Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov, who answered with an abrupt "no" when asked if, after Russia's experience in Afghanistan, he had advice for Canada.

    The Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1979, and withdrew in 1989 — a disastrous military experience that contributed to the victory of the Taliban.

    Lavrov went on to suggest that there were some lessons to be drawn from the unhappy Russian experience.

    "The most important lesson from the recent history of Afghanistan is that the international community should act together to help the Afghans themselves, to be united, and to concentrate on rebuilding and organizing their country," he said. "Whenever different members of the international community start using Afghanistan to play against one another, then we are in trouble."

    Lavrov was alluding to the fact that the Americans armed the Taliban in their resistance against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.

    MacKay said he had learned a great deal from Lavrov.

    "One of the very useful pieces of advice that I received ... is that it is going to take an international collaborative effort, whether it be in Iran or whether it be in Afghanistan, (or) our efforts to make a meaningful contribution in the Middle East."
    First, I would like to applaud the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line, not usually for our nation, but to help those around the world rebuild their societies and render what aid might be necessary and doing an exemplary job considering how under funded and poorly equipped they are.

    However the comments that we should not be debating the worth of this mission, lest it "jeopardize our troop morale", sounds suspiciously close to the "debate helps our enemies" rhetoric President George W. Bush uses. Debate is NEVER to be given up; it is the hallmark of a progressive democracy. We are not to merely bleat and shuffle along in lockstep, accepting what our government assures us is the truth without question and analysis. If this mission cannot withstand healthy debate on its usefulness or its importance, then it should not have been launched in the first place. I have no problems peacekeeping and rebuilding shattered nations and protecting our nation should the need arise but I doubt any Canadian citizen has an interest in perpetuating arrogant hegemonic attitudes or actions on behalf of another nation currently embroiled in a never ending conflict partially of their own making.
    Last edited by Grimmlok; March 7th, 2006 at 11:02 AM.
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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    Well we certainly know where you stand given your last few sentences. Agree with the rest..debate is necessary for a healthy democracy of course. Canada should be proud of the peace-keeping work being done in Afghanistan. big difference between there and Iraq, ya know. There was a legitimate reason to go into Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, where the bastard Bush and Co. lied their asses off about WMD to terrify us like sheep so he could then steal another election. Motherfucking asshole Bush*mutters crazily to self*

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    Apparently not too many Canadians are buying their argument. Most people would rather have better healthcare and education and lower taxes than fund billions of dollars worth of helicopters etc. to support Bush and his warmongering, oil profiteering pals.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    I don;t mind spending the money on our military which badly needs it, but not for the purposes PB stated. Canada earns its international cachet by peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.. ones we can barely carry out anymore because said military is so badly funded and equipped. It's a sad, pathetic state.

    Anyway, more depressing Bush-esque bullshit from Harper.. don't question, shut up, sit down, or else.

    OTTAWA — Canada won't "cut and run" from Afghanistan, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and there's no need for a House of Commons debate that could potentially sap the morale of troops overseas.

    Harper suggested today that a parliamentary vote on the mission would be a foregone conclusion anyway because his government supports it and he expects the Liberals — who made the original commitment — also support it.

    "Canadians don't cut and run at the first sign of trouble," he said. "And when we send troops into the field I expect Canadians to support those troops, in particular those who made that decision."

    He said launching a Commons debate could cast doubt on the deployment.

    "It is not the intention of this government to start to question that mission when our troops are in danger," he said.

    "To do so would not only be not in the best interests of Canada's international reputation . . . it would be a betrayal of the brave men and women we have in the field who are in danger."

    The former Liberal government signed on last year for a NATO mission in Afghanistan involving about 2,200 soldiers. The Canadians are stationed in the troubled south of the country commanding an international brigade charged with the double duty of reconstruction and hunting down insurgents.

    Harper said Canadians should be reminded why the mission is important and why Canadian troops are there.

    "I believe it is always important to explain a military mission. It is important to explain a commitment to the international community and the population of Afghanistan."

    After the Liberal government agreed to the mission last summer, then-defence minister Bill Graham made a series of speeches across the country, warning that it would be a dangerous assignment and that there would be casualties.

    Those warnings seem to have gone unheeded, though, lost in the election static. A series of incidents in Afghanistan in recent days, in which soldiers have been killed and wounded, prompted renewed calls for a formal debate and parliamentary approval for the mission.

    But Harper said the commitment is there and won't be changed.

    "We will not be in any way backtracking from an obligation which has been undertaken."

    NATO has said that rebuilding Afghanistan could take a decade, a time line that has been endorsed by Canadian generals.

    Harper said Canada hasn't made a 10-year commitment and the mission will be reassessed after two six-month rotations.

    "The exact involvement of our commitment does change every year or so . . . and we'll be reviewing those obligations at the appropriate time in the future."
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    Quote Originally Posted by pacific breeze
    Apparently not too many Canadians are buying their argument. Most people would rather have better healthcare and education and lower taxes than fund billions of dollars worth of helicopters etc. to support Bush and his warmongering, oil profiteering pals.
    In Afghanistan or Iraq?

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    Gold Member deckchick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    I don't see the need to debate this. The fact is the campaign in Afghanistan is a legal UN sanctioned action. One I am very proud to support. Yes we have had casualties, but that goes with the territory!

    I really don't understand what the point of this is, our troops are small in numbers, but HUGE in impact. To withdraw them now would be a terrible mistake. To even be discussing this is stupid.
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    Discussion is never stupid, that's what Harper and all the other hawks want people to say. Don't question, sit down, shut up.

    Considering some of the eyebrow raising things that idiot Gen. Hillier has been saying, you bet your fucking ass I want discussion. He seems to enjoy repeating Bush-style bullshit that puts anybody who questions our military missions in an unpatriotic light or as 'helping the enemy'.

    I don't swallow that garbage, Gen. Hillier. You are beholden to US, the Canadian citizen. YOU sit down and shut up until we're done determining whether we want you in a specific place or not, and don't forget your place again as an expendable asset.

    *yanks on the leash*
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    Elite Member twitchy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    Quote Originally Posted by deckchick
    I don't see the need to debate this. The fact is the campaign in Afghanistan is a legal UN sanctioned action. One I am very proud to support. Yes we have had casualties, but that goes with the territory!

    I really don't understand what the point of this is, our troops are small in numbers, but HUGE in impact. To withdraw them now would be a terrible mistake. To even be discussing this is stupid.
    Canada is working with other countries, the UN, NATO and various international organizations to provide security and development to reconstruct the country, which I support. BUT, we are there as part of "Eduring Freedom". What exactly the role of our military is in Afghanistan needs to be clarified and discussed.

    May I direct you to the official government website? http://www.canada-afghanistan.gc.ca/background-en.asp

    "Integrated into the U.S. Army task force, the 3rd Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group took part in offensive operations against the Taliban regime which had been aiding and harbouring terrorist groups."

    "CF personnel in Afghanistan, were relocated to Kandahar in the southern region of Afghanistan as part of the United States-led campaign against terrorism known as Operation ENDURING FREEDOM ( OEF )."


    This isn't the UN.

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    Gold Member deckchick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    The soldiers viewpoint

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) - Canadian soldiers expressed bewilderment, surprise and anger that people back home would question their role in Afghanistan.

    Troops interviewed in violence-plagued Kandahar this week were unanimous in support of their mission in the face of growing concerns about Canada's most perilous military deployment in decades.

    One described a near-death experience on his first full day in Afghanistan, saying it still gives him nightmares. But the experience hasn't dented his faith in the mission's goals.

    Another soldier struggled to contain his anger when told of a recent public-opinion poll that suggested most Canadians opposed the Afghan deployment.

    "I'll hold my tongue - but that burns me, really," said Cpl. Pascal Johanny of Shediac, N.B.

    "The Canadian public has always approved of Canadian missions - in Bosnia, in Kosovo, always giving their support.

    "Now we're here in one of the worst places that needs the most help, and now they don't want to support us? It's kind of odd."

    With casualties mounting, a recent Strategic Counsel poll suggested just 40 per cent of Canadians supported the mission. Just under 75 per cent of those polled agreed with calls from the NDP and some Liberals for a parliamentary debate on the deployment.

    But soldiers interviewed privately by The Canadian Press during Prime Minister Stephen Harper's three-day visit said they wanted to continue their mission.

    During one late-night interview, Cpl. Pat Halcro of Ottawa sat behind the wheel of his idle transport vehicle quietly describing the unnerving experience of bullets whistling past his head.

    Thirty hours after arriving in Kandahar, Halcro was riding atop an armoured vehicle when he saw the flash of a rocket-propelled grenade by the road.

    He says he fired at least a dozen bullets at a pair of insurgents from his assault rifle and still doesn't know whether he killed them.

    The insurgents managed to launch two grenades and fired shots in Halcro's direction before he sped off. One grenade fell wide of the vehicle and failed to detonate. Another soared overhead and exploded off the road.

    The closest call came from a bullet that whizzed so close to his head that it rattled his eardrums through his heavy communications headset.

    But Halcro says he also remembers another Afghan scene, that of an impoverished family living in the bombed-out, semi-collapsed remains of an old Soviet military barracks.

    "It's mind-boggling," Halcro said of the devastation. "We have to show the young people here that there's a better way of life than fighting. Everybody deserves an opportunity to succeed - and it's a good thing we're here."

    Shock waves rippled across the camp last week when an insurgent buried an axe in the skull of a Canadian soldier who had been chatting with children. But Halcro and other soldiers have shrugged off such attacks as the work of a few bad apples.

    Capt. Julie Roberge acknowledges she sometimes sees locals flashing the thumbs-down sign at her, or shooting menacing glances as she rides through town.

    But she describes her real enemy as ignorance. Many locals can't read newspapers and don't understand why foreigners are in their country, she said.

    That's why the public-relations graduate is helping the newly appointed provincial government with media relations. She invited the local media this week to the first-ever news conference by Kandahar Gov. Assadullah Khalid.

    Since the literacy rate is so low, Roberge urges the governor to use the radio to reach citizens.

    "A democracy without the support of its people is useless," the Quebec City resident says of her Afghan public-relations work.

    She works at a Canadian-run base in the desert near the mud huts of Kandahar, in the shadow of a craggy, dirt-coloured mountain where the charred remains of an old Soviet helicopter are still visible.

    Canadians at this base are helping the new provincial government set up its departments, and training police officers.

    Warrant Officer John MacPherson says the country needs Canada's help.

    "This is my seventh mission (abroad)," said the Montreal native. "I've seen quite a bit. I have never seen a people that are this poor. They have nothing and we're just trying to give them a better life.

    "It's going to take a long time."

    Khalid says his province and country need Canada's help after decades of war. And, he warns, countries like Canada need a stable Afghanistan.

    "I will tell Canadian people . . . if we don't do this (reconstruction) now, today in Afghanistan, tomorrow we will need to do this in Europe and in Canada," he said.

    "Ninety-nine per cent of people in Kandahar, all over Afghanistan, they are thinking about peace. They want peace, they want stability, they want reconstruction, and they are tired of war.

    "All Afghan people like peace and like your soldiers here, and they respect your soldiers. . . . We need your soldiers, and I'm proud of them."
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    No, we're American lackeys on their ridiculous hegemonic thrust into the middle east.

    I'm all for rebuilding Afghanistan, but let's do it with our own mandate or that of the UN directly instead of being lumped together with the idiots to the south who are rampaging across the globe.

    Secondly, I'm sure the soldiers feel they're doing good.. we generally do when when we go abroad but that does NOT preclude discussion on the matter, or simply shutting up about it just because some General who's gotten too big for his taxpayer funded britches says so.
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    Gold Member deckchick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy
    May I direct you to the official government website? http://www.canada-afghanistan.gc.ca/background-en.asp

    "Integrated into the U.S. Army task force, the 3rd Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group took part in offensive operations against the Taliban regime which had been aiding and harbouring terrorist groups."

    "CF personnel in Afghanistan, were relocated to Kandahar in the southern region of Afghanistan as part of the United States-led campaign against terrorism known as Operation ENDURING FREEDOM ( OEF )."

    This isn't the UN.
    If you are going to quote something, quote ALL the revelent info, so we can see the context of it.

    Operation ARCHER (up to February 2006)

    On November 29, 2005, Camp Julien, which was the Canadian base of operations in Kabul, officially closed. CF personnel in Afghanistan, were relocated to Kandahar in the southern region of Afghanistan as part of the United States-led campaign against terrorism known as Operation ENDURING FREEDOM ( OEF ).

    Canada's Operation ARCHER and its participation in OEF had two components:

    A small cadre of CF instructors involved in training the Afghan National Army in Kabul; and The deployment of the PRT (originally in August 2005), which is expected to be active until February 2007.

    Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)

    Since August 2005, a Canadian PRT has operated in Kandahar, where it is expected to remain until February 2007. The PRT brings together elements from the Canadian Forces (CF), Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in an integrated Canadian effort, also known as the All of Government approach.
    The reason for the closure of Camp Julien from what I can gather is because it was the opinion that the Afgans were really to take it over.

    Here is what we are doing now in

    OTTAWA - The closure of Camp Julien, the Canadian base of operations in Kabul, Afghanistan, will take place on November 29, with the ceremonial transfer of its land, buildings and facilities to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. At its peak, Camp Julien housed 4,000 soldiers, including 2,000 Canadians, serving with the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the U.S.-led multinational coalition deployed on Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

    The Canadian Forces (CF) mission in Afghanistan is part of Canada's contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, with the overarching goal of helping the Afghan people achieve peace by preventing their nation from relapsing into a failed state that gives terrorist and terrorist organizations a safe haven. There are significant risks involved in this mission, but CF members are fully prepared because they are well equipped, well led, and among the best trained and most experienced soldiers in the world.
    "The efforts of the international community to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan will require a sustained commitment over the long term," says Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier. "Canada will continue to do its part with its allies, and will take a leading role by assuming command of the Kandahar-based multinational brigade in Regional Command South for nine months, in March 2006."
    Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser, currently the commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Edmonton, Alberta, will command the multinational brigade from its headquarters at Kandahar Airfield. The majority of headquarters personnel will be Canadian and they will deploy for a nine-month period. At the same time, Canada will also field a battle group for two successive six-month rotations, and will deploy a new rotation for the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar. Canada has committed to maintain the PRT for at least another year.
    I guess I am dense, because I don't see what the problem is.
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    The problem is that this discussion we're having is something the General and Harper don't want happening AT ALL at a governmental level.

    ie: sit down, shut up, we'll do what we want.
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    Gold Member deckchick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok
    The problem is that this discussion we're having is something the General and Harper don't want happening AT ALL at a governmental level.

    ie: sit down, shut up, we'll do what we want.
    That is an absolute crock Grimmy. We as a country supported sending our troops to Afghanistan. Our main role over there is training & support. Why we would even contemplate leaving is beyond me. Or historical role has always been peace-keeping. While I realize the country is still "at war" it is nothing like it was in late 2001 & 2002. What Afghanistan needs now is not only military troops, but military trainers. And that is what we are doing.

    Please don't confuse Afghanistan with Iraq. Bush did that with his country and got away with it. Us Canadians will NEVER be a part of the Iraq action. They are two completely different issues, even if the news and political bullshit south of the border does repeatedly meld them together.
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    Elite Member twitchy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    Quote Originally Posted by deckchick
    If you are going to quote something, quote ALL the revelent info, so we can see the context of it.
    Screw that. I quoted the bits that were relevant to the point I was attempting to make and provided a link to the source. I'm not about to copy the entire site. You said that our military was part of a UN sanctioned mission and I was refuting that. We are part of the American forces campaign. Operation Tolerating Freedom.

    edited to say^that ought to say "operated" and not "sanctioned". I really ought not to type when I'm in a hurry. Sorry 'bout that.
    Last edited by twitchy; March 15th, 2006 at 12:35 AM.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Canadian military tries to sell importance of Afghan mission to public

    Deckchick, that does not preclude discussion of the mission in question, at any time, for any reason.

    Harper and the hawks don't want discussion AT ALL, even if a bunch of Canadians get offed, or if things go screwy. They're telling the government and citizens to sit down, shut up, and not to question the situation. Read what they've been saying, it's parallel to the language Bush uses.

    Frankly, I don't feel that our military or PM ever have the right to tell citizens or the governmental opposition not to discuss something. We control THEM, not the other way around. IF we did, that would give the powers that be carte blanche to do whatever they wanted.

    Go read what Hillier has been saying, and Harper. It's too fucking creepy.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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