Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.
Tom DiGennaro | United States
Early Friday morning, federal authorities placed Roger Stone, a longtime aide to President Trump, under arrest. The FBI took him into custody under obstruction of justice charges regarding the Russian hacking of several key Democrats’ emails during the 2016 election season. This is the first criminal case Mueller’s special investigation has brought in months. Without a doubt, the investigation is at this point just grasping at straws.
Roger Stone has been a personal confidant of Trump. At one point, he was a formal advisor during the presidential campaign. Despite this, he has not officially been a part of the administration since 2015.
The Mueller investigation did not charge Stone with conspiring with WikiLeaks or Russian officials. Rather, his indictment alleges making false statements to Congress about his involvement with wiki-leaks.
One must certainly question how it is a crime to (allegedly) seek out information on when WikiLeaks plans on publicizing material. One must also certainly question how it is not a crime to be “extremely careless” with classified emails as Secretary of State and deleting classified government emails related to Benghazi.
Grasping at Straws over Roger Stone
Failed attempts to indict President Trump have included going after Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, and countless others. Even before Robert Mueller began his crusade, former FBI Director James Comey, who cleared Hillary Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing, was grasping at the same straws. This attack on Stone simply for knowing about a WikiLeaks release of information (which the American public should have been aware of, anyway) is not even in the ballpark of colluding with Russian hackers or officials. However, Democrats, the FBI, and mainstream media would have you believe otherwise.
Will Mueller try to use Roger Stone as a government witness against President Trump? Will these charges stick? And will President Trump ever be indicted on related charges? Impeached? Are these charges anything but an absurd attempt to stir up more conflict for the sake of conflict?
As of right now, it appears the answer to each of these is a fervent no.
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Glenn Verasco | Thailand
I am embarrassed to say that my most recent post was back on September 24th of this year. To put that in perspective, this was in the midst of the Kavanaugh confirmation fiasco and more than a month before midterm elections.
I have some legit reasons for being less able to publish recently, but I’m not here to make excuses. Instead, in an attempt to reignite my creative flame, I will indulge in a stream-of-conscious-like list of opinions on happenings in current events, politics, and news.
Based on my own perception through the lens of social media, there seems to be an increase in climate-related articles and op-eds pouring out of the web. This is likely due to the Trump administration’s supposed disregarding of a federal climate report as well as recent revelations of the international community’s astounding failure to curb carbon emissions (they are once again on the rise).
As an avid snorkeler and explorer of the natural world, I have a special interest in the environment and the life that abounds within it. However, being a nature lover does not make me an environmentalist. I firmly believe that the well-being of the individuals who comprise mankind vastly outweighs environmental conservation and that those who wish to preserve the natural world ought to bear the burden of doing so, rather than using legislation and the brute force of the state to shift the cost onto others.
I am also a glutton for logic, or perhaps, something of a logic addict. I do not mean to say that I am the most logical person in the world (as the simulation of logic, being just as satisfying as the real thing, is bound to fool me more than once in a while), but that I depend on logic to feel content.
Being interested in nature without being an environmentalist and being a logic glutton or addict has resulted in my opinion on climate change and climate policy culminating as follows:
- Climate Change will probably cause some problems in the future, but the solutions proposed in mainstream politics are impossible (in terms of political will [see France’s anti-gas tax riots]), ineffective (in terms of mitigating temperature rise), or worse than simply allowing Climate Change to take its toll (in terms of economics and quality of human life [this would not be a reason cited by an environmentalist, which I am not]).
- The best way to deal with Climate Change is to have faith in supply-side economics (which is creating a vastly underappreciated utopia). As I laid out in a post about two years ago, maximizing economic growth and innovation via deregulation and decentralization of government is the best way to continue humanity’s miraculous rise from poverty and despair, which will, in turn, allow more people the luxury of being able to care for and nurture the environment in addition to providing abundant and reliable resources to alleviate the damage caused by Climate Change in the future (oddly enough, Jordan Peterson laid out my ideas quite eloquently during a recent appearance at Cambridge University… has he been reading my blog?).
The Mueller Probe
The three branches of the United States federal government are as follows: executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch mainly deals with government personnel and international relations, the legislative branch makes the laws, and the judicial branch settles disputes.
There is no FBI or Robert Mueller branch of government, and, regardless of how anti-Libertarian Trump’s policies are, I am growing sick and tired of unelected, extra-constitutional bureaucrats trying to run the show in Washington. The FBI and their special counsel are subordinate to the president whether you like the president or not.
I am undecided on how exactly to feel about Robert Mueller. Dan Bongino is in the midst of presenting a compelling case against the entire Russia-gate operation, essentially calling it a red herring being used to undermine Trump and, possibly more malevolently, cover up illegal intelligence activity directed against the Trump campaign during the Obama administration. I have not read Bongino’s book, so I am sticking with compelling for now.
#TheResistance (which includes the whole of the mainstream media as far as I can tell) has been telling me for about two years that Mueller and the gang are inches away from bringing the Trump presidency crashing to the ground. Watergate will look like jaywalking, by comparison, they say. But as so-called bombshell after so-called bombshell fades into oblivion, the little confidence I had in this stale fairy tale has completely evaporated.
Mueller needs to sign his book deal and find a new hobby.
Climate Change, Mueller, and Media
There’s a bit of a tie-in between the Mueller probe and Climate Change, which the media has brought about.
After the aforementioned federal climate report was made public, major media outlets pounced on the revelation that the US economy could shrink by 10% by the end of the century. Incredibly important information is, I suspect, intentionally (though maybe stupidly) left out of this claim. For starters, the 10% reduction is not in relation to the current economy. It’s 10% of the projected economy of 2100, which is expected to be 300% of today’s economy per capita. This means the economy of 2100 will be, as Bjorn Lomborg puts it, “a slightly smaller bonanza.” Furthermore, the report uses predictions of improbably high levels of warming. As Lomborg writes:
“[The 10% figure] assumes that temperatures will increase about 14 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. This is unlikely. The US climate assessment itself estimates that, with no significant climate action, American temperatures will increase by between 5 and 8.7 degrees. Using the high estimate of 8.7 degrees, the damage would be only half as big, at 5 percent.”
Mentioning these factors should reduce anxiety over climate change consequences and contradicts the likelihood that they will occur at all.
The main takeaway from all of this, even for those who disagree with me about climate and environmental policy, should be that it is the media, not the scientists, who are spreading hysteria about the future of the natural world.
The same is true of the Mueller probe.
Robert Mueller is not going on national television exclaiming that the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency is upon us. He is not trolling the president and his associates with hyperbolic headlines or spreading conspiracy theories on Twitter.
Mueller is, on occasion, releasing information about largely benign findings uncovered by his investigation and making no comment on what they mean in regard to the president’s future or past.
Anti-Trump media outlets like CNN and The New York Times, by politicizing issues like Climate Change and the special counsel, are tarnishing the reputations of experts in their fields, be they prosecutors or climatologists. They are replacing rational discourse with hackneyed talking points. And they are ruining any chance the public they claim to serve may have to engage with complex and important issues in an adult and civil manner.
Spencer Neale at 71 Republic compiled a list of the 37 senators who recently voted to continue the War in Yemen. All 37 are Republicans, which illustrates why Libertarians must invade the GOP or vote third party, not succumb to the lesser-of-two-evils ultimatum. Political correctness and reckless welfare spending are not worse than endless war and the bill that comes with it, so the Democrats should not be avoided any more than the Republicans. Both are plagues upon the USA.
By the way, Americans are still dying in Afghanistan. What the hell are we doing over there?
71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!
By Glenn Verasco | Thailand
As the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy theory has, via lack of evidence, all but withered away, it is time to set the record straight on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. What many dramatically refer to as an attack on our democracy or even an act of war was actually closer to a non-event that U.S. foreign policy is to blame for. Instead of fear, anger, or hostility, we should react to Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election with empathy, pity, and national self-reflection.
Unfortunate Diplomatic Circumstances
In an ideal world, the Kremlin and the U.S. federal government would be mutually respectful allies, In this reality, American and Russian people would engage in commerce with each other freely. But we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a world in which both governments’ choices have inculcated Americans and Russians with different languages, cultures, values, and fears. Because of this, it may be impossible for the US and Russia to ever eliminate hostilities wholesale and create a live-and-let-live type of atmosphere.
Even so, a Washingtonian/Jeffersonian foreign policy is our best and safest bet. Instead of getting caught up in entangling alliances, we should seek to make the best of an imperfect world. To do so, we must accept countries for what they are, imperfect. Thus, we should allow people of both countries to seek roads to happiness and prosperity when they see fit.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson summed up what I believe to be the core of good foreign policy in each’s farewell and inaugural addresses respectively:
“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world…Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.” -George Washington
“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” -Thomas Jefferson
What Will This New Direction Look Like?
Instead of sanctioning Russia and allowing NATO to usurp our national interests, we should knock down any roadblocks in our trade routes that we have the power to. If Russia reciprocates, great. If they don’t, our liberal policies will serve to the betterment of all anyway. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
I empathize with the heart of neoconservative foreign policy. The way I see it, it refuses to stand idly by as major human rights violations occur. Admittedly, there is virtue in universal recognition of the individualist philosophy that our forefathers preached, and in seeking to approach foreign affairs this way.
One problem, however, with this foreign policy is that it can create a hammer-without-a-nail mindset. Though simple from the outside, many foreign conflicts are complicated internal disputes that the U.S. has no business in. Histories external to America, when avenged in real time, do not reveal their depth to our media agencies. Here again, President Washington provides wisdom:
“Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.”
Despite my awareness of the complexity of history and geopolitics (which is another way of saying my awareness of my infinite ignorance) as well as my strong non-interventionist leanings, I am still sympathetic to the notion that the U.S. must treat Russia with an exceptionally strong level of distrust. I can even rationalize our military blockading what was once the epicenter of the Soviet Union. The map I have created below shows Russia, the United States, and the countries/regions surrounding Russia that at least 5,000 US troops occupy from a top-down point of view:
Whether you support the Neoconservative tendency towards caution or the Libertarian preference for sovereignty, such an immense military presence around Russia is going to have consequences. These may include, but are not limited to, intimidating military exercises, expansion of territory via brute force, increased centralized control over the flow of information internally, and a greater focus on collecting intelligence from adversaries. It should be no surprise that the Russian government engages in all of these defensive practices.
Is U.S. Intimidation Working?
The counter to this claim could be that the consequences of the U.S. and its NATO allies easing up would be even worse. One might say that the only reason Russia has been so meek in its hostilities is due to the current robust military presence.
This is a chicken or the egg dilemma that I cannot solve, but, for the sake of argument, I will give the benefit of the doubt to the neocons and concede that western military might in some form is needed to keep Russia at bay. Accordingly, we must accept the consequences of this choice, one of which is Russian intelligence agencies seeking information and causing disruptions, i.e. their involvement in the 2016 US election.
The Myth of Trump and Russia
From what I understand, the extent of Russia’s “meddling” in the 2016 US election does not amount to much. Based on the latest indictments brought by the Mueller investigation, Russian military intelligence operatives may have tried to hack the DNC’s server to expose information about Hillary Clinton. Previous indictments allege that Russians may have purchased Facebook ads aimed at sowing discord within the American public (not simply backing Donald Trump for president, as many lazy and/or biased media outlets continue to assert).
On hacking, I am not convinced that the Russians are responsible. As the race in the Democratic Party between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was extremely divisive and contentious, it would be unsurprising to find out that various pro-Bernie members of the DNC with access to various servers decided to leak damaging documents about Clinton and her campaign. The motivation makes sense, and so do the logistics. It would have been far easier to get inside and download files at close proximity than from Russia.
An Expert Opinion
Patrick Lawrence, in a summary of a memo released by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), writes in The Nation:
“On the evening of July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes of data were downloaded from the DNC’s server. The operation took 87 seconds. This yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second.
“These statistics are matters of record and essential to disproving the hack theory. No Internet service provider, such as a hacker would have had to use in mid-2016, was capable of downloading data at this speed. Compounding this contradiction, Guccifer claimed to have run his hack from Romania, which, for numerous reasons technically called delivery overheads, would slow down the speed of a hack even further from maximum achievable speeds.
“What is the maximum achievable speed? Forensicator recently ran a test download of a comparable data volume (and using a server speed not available in 2016) 40 miles from his computer via a server 20 miles away and came up with a speed of 11.8 megabytes per second—half what the DNC operation would need, were it a hack.”
This forensic evidence, combined with Occam’s Razor, makes it difficult for me to accept the accusation of Russian hacking at all, no matter how many US intelligence agencies say otherwise. I am not saying that the Seth Rich conspiracy theory is likely to be true, but I find it equally as persuasive as the Russian hacking theory.
Accusation Without Proper Evidence
The indictments of the Russian operatives accused of hacking the DNC server will not result in extradition or trial, so the accusations will never be tested in a court of law. And some of the most fundamental pillars of reason, liberty, and the Bill of Rights dictate that we cannot accept claims ad verecundiam. In fact, it is assertions from those in power, like the FBI and NSA, we must cast the most doubt upon.
The indicted Russians are not guilty until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It would be nice to have a civil libertarian organization like the ACLU actively reminding us of these things, but identity politics and Trump hatred have resulted in many such groups losing their way.
Beyond all this, the documents released by Wikileaks provided the public with more truthful information, which is most certainly a positive development for the democratic process. For those who purport to care about an informed public determining their destinies via the vote, it would be quite hypocritical to claim otherwise.
Hypocrisy at Home
Even if it were irrefutably the Russians who hacked the DNC server, the US has no moral high ground when it comes to intervening in foreign elections (or intervening militarily for that matter). The map below highlights the nations that have faced election interference from the US since the end of WWII (a total of at least 80 instances):
Bringing these facts to light in the current climate can result in accusations of treason as Senator Rand Paul has been subjected to. While this is to be expected when it comes to warmongering neoconservatives, hearing it from self-described liberals has a chilling effect. This sort of with-us-or-against-us, pseudo-patriotism is far more reminiscent of nazism than the enforcement of immigration law is.
Did Russia Have Any Significance?
To once again be extremely generous to the opposition, let’s accept three premises:
1) That the U.S. must take extreme measures to contain Russia
2) That Russia directly hacked the DNC server at least partially as a means of promoting Trump’s campaign
3) That the U.S. does not have to practice what it preaches in terms of respecting the right to self-determination of foreign peoples
Even with all of this accepted as fact, there continues to be zero proof that Russian “meddling” changed anyone’s vote. And there are monstrous hurdles one must overcome to prove the positive claim that Russia successfully influenced the 2016 election.
The first is that the amount of money Russia allegedly spent on influencing the election is a drop in a bucket at the bottom of a massive sea of campaign financing and media coverage. Unbiased America illustrates the incredible disparity between Russian spending and non-Russia spending. The foreign nation accounts for about 0.1% of the total money spent on the election.
And even without juxtaposing the amounts spent to influence the election, there is no scientific proof that campaign contact or advertisements can persuade voters in the first place. In a study published by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in 2017, researchers concluded that “the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates’ choices in general elections is zero.” In other words, if you are looking to alter someone’s vote, it is going to take more than slogans, attack ads, and memes to do so.
How did Trump Really Win?
I imagine that the way to get voters on your side is to stump for policies they prefer and to create some kind of unified identity. Trump ran on making America great again, draining the swamp, defeating the establishment, protectionist economic policy, restricting immigration, non-interventionism, and lowering taxes without lowering welfare spending. I imagine this formula is what put him over the top, not these crude supposedly Russian-made memes:
To sum up, any genuine hysteria over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election is misguided. There is no reason to believe Russia affected the US election in any way of their own volition, nor that they broke any laws. Freedom of speech is a human right, not one reserved for everyone except those who have some distant connection to the Russian government. Human nature and far greater influences impeded any attempts to impact the election. And Russian meddling in U.S. affairs is a small price to pay for containing them (or, rather, bullying and threatening them).
The More Chilling Issue
What should be of far greater concern to all Americans are reactions to the Trump-Russia narrative by individuals, the media, and especially the US government. Sanctions against Russia will harm the Russian people and strengthen its government. Already suffering from a lackluster economy, sanctions will further thin out their opportunities. On a global scale, sanctions and other barriers to trade create an invisible domino effect that hits sectors of economic activity around the world too. Growing economic anxiety and economic hostility from NATO combined with a global media that paint Trump as Russia’s lapdog will inevitably guide the Russian people deeper into the protecting arms of Vladimir Putin.
Many members of the public and in Congress have called for increased regulation of the internet and social media as a way to prevent Russia from “meddling” in future elections, a dangerous undermining of free speech and expression no American should tolerate.
Instead of making peace and harmony with Russia more difficult, we should accept the minor consequences of containing Russia or leave NATO and let Russia be. The men who fought off a bullying foreign nation to found the United States of America would have preferred the latter option.
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By Joshua D. Glawson | United States
With growing tensions in the world, falling economic markets, militaries expanding, a rise of the number of refugees, instability in the Middle East, European and EU frustrations, the US’ interventionist foreign policy, Russia’s unpredictable expansionist attitude, and now the bittering of US-Russia relations, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the world is entering a new Cold War. I will provide evidence for and against the idea that the US and Russia are entering such a predicament. It is my position that we are neither in a new Cold War nor the same Cold War, rather we are headed into the direction of an all-out world conflict.
The anxiety between Russia and the US have expedited since the Russian Federation annexed Crimea invading Ukraine in 2014. Already, there were accusations by the US prior to this invasion that Russia had been committing acts of cyber attacks around the world, which former US President Obama had addressed. Once Russia marched into Ukraine, the world was aware of the unpredictability of Russian President Putin and his expansionist foreign policy. Many scholars and writers have been maintaining a careful eye on the intensifying circumstances and have duly noted the evidence of US and Russian aggression.
As stated by US political scientist, Robert Legvold, the possible second Cold War began during the Ukraine crisis of 2013. While Andrew Kuchins, an American political scientist and Kremlinologist, believes the term of a “Cold War” is unsuited for the current conflict. Yet, Kuchins also believes it may actually be more dangerous than the first Cold War. From the Kremlin’s perspective, it is the US that first upended previous norms of communication and peace, when in 2002, former President George W. Bush withdrew the US from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which was a Cold War treaty limiting possible nuclear warfare. Due to the lessening of treaties and agreements, it is perpetually leading US-Russia relations to an impasse. According to John Sawers, a former MI6 chief, believes the world is entering an era that was possibly more dangerous than the Cold War, as we do not have a focus on a strategic relationship between Moscow and Washington.
According to Dr. Aurel Braun, professor of international relations and political science at the University of Toronto, “The Cold War was an orderly competition; there were rules to the game. Now the rules aren’t there, and there is a lot more unpredictability. Russia is no longer a superpower, so in that way, it may not be worse,” Braun said. “Before, the countries had different and competing ideologies, and they wanted to expand those across the world, so there was also constant tension and a threat of nuclear war.” So, “In that sense, no, this is not the Cold War. But we should not dismiss it.”
In early April 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that relations between the two nations have never been worse than they are today. “The situation is worse compared to the classical Cold War since some sort of rules were in force at that time and some decency was in place.” On the other hand, according to Ivan Kurilla, a historian at the European University at St. Petersburg, Russia, “If you look for similarities with what is happening, it is not the Cold War that can explain events but Russia’s first revolutionary regime which regularly assassinated opponents abroad.” He went on to say that Russia’s President, Vladimir V. Putin, had no interest in spreading a new ideology and fomenting world revolution, unlike the early Bolsheviks, but that Russia under Mr. Putin had “become a revolutionary regime in terms of international relations.”
However, contradictory to Kurilla, in March of 2018, a former Russian spy was poisoned while in the UK, as apparently it was an attempted murder and the immediate accusations were pointing to Russia as the culprit. Russia fervently denied all allegations to the incident. Nevertheless, the international response was a devastating blow to Russian relations with not only the UK, but also the US, and the West in general. Immediate action was taken, President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the United States that very month, adding to a growing cascade of similar actions taken by Western allies. Poland, Italy, Denmark, France, and Germany were among 14 EU member nations announcing plans to expel Russians from their respective countries in solidarity with Britain, which expelled 23 Russian diplomats after the poisoning. Canada also said it would expel 4. In addition, Poland and Germany stated that they, too, would expel some Russian diplomats.
Russia consistently adheres to the principle of reciprocity, and the Kremlin declared that it would assess the damage to its diplomat corps overseas and that Russia would respond with expulsions of Western diplomats. The Russian Parliament added with the deputy head of its foreign affairs committee, Aleksei Chepa, telling the Interfax news agency that Russia would not bow to the West’s diplomatic war tactics. Russia, Chepa said, “Will not allow itself to be beaten up, the harder they try to intimidate us, the tougher our response will be.”
An additional blow to Russia’s reputation and credibility, adding fuel to the tumultuous fire building between Russia and the US, twelve Russians have been indicted for supposedly hacking the Democratic Party’s servers and emails while also jeopardizing voter information in the US. For years, Russia has been accused of cyber attacks and cyber terrorism, and this has been one of the most significant of those accusations. Although after Trump met with Putin and they discussed the circumstances and situation of the hacking, Putin denied the allegations, and for now Trump has accepted his answer. Nevertheless, the trial against the twelve will carry on.
Although the evidence for a current Cold War is piling up, there are some key differences between the former Cold War and the escalating tensions currently straining US and Russian relations. One of those factor differences is that the Cold War consisted of the two world leading powers with significantly more polarity than the current state of being. The bipolar split between the US and former USSR was not only caused by the nuclear arms race but also in philosophical ideology as each felt their universal values were superior. The US was pressing for global Liberal Capitalism, while the USSR was pushing for Marxism-Leninism type Communism. True Capitalism focuses on the natural rights of the individual with a government protecting the negative rights of that individual. While the Marxism-Leninism form of Communism, on the other hand, attempts a top-level down approach of positive rights theory, claiming that elites can scientifically approach society for complete control with the greatest equal outcome for all.
With the arms race, innate philosophical differences, and both the USSR and the US expanding militarily while assisting other like-minded countries, the Cold War led to creating global bipolarity with proxy wars and spillover into other countries, and plenty of political blowback to boot. Although the current status of the world military climate is building into separate countries adhering to ideologies of nationalism, we do not see as great of a number of countries joining in opposition of one another based on ideological claims. The monster of Communism is not as overtly displayed in the world today. Rather, we are seeing hybrids of Communism in the form of Democratic Socialism and mixed economies utilizing both Capitalistic individualism and free trade, with Communistic welfare, regulations, and control. These ideologies are creating more conflict and polarization within countries rather than States in direct opposition and conflict. So, these are signs of contentions and escalating tensions, but not the same as the Cold War between the US and USSR.
Overall, the world is seeing a rise in expansionism and nationalism, while also conflicts are arising between countries. This does not mean that we are in a new Cold War or even a continuation of the first. Rather, this is evidence of escalating global conflict more likened to that of an actual World War than a Cold War. To prevent such a terrifying occurrence as WWIII, communication needs to be restored between countries, and expansionism needs to cease in order to not press other countries towards retaliation. Many fear the possibility of a political power vacuum if global control is voluntarily ended by the US; but, equally, the building of confrontational militaries and contentious communication will surely push for resentment and all-out war. Let us pursue communication, trade, and peace, with treaties and agreements, and see where that takes us instead.
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