Archive for the ‘Gates’ Category

Obama Unveils His National Security Team

December 1, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama called for “a new dawn of American leadership” on Monday as he formally introduced his national security team, led by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as his nominee for secretary of state.

“We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends,” Mr. Obama said in Chicago. “We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships.”

By David Stoud
The New York Times

The new president said he was sticking to his goal of removing American combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, which he called “the right time frame,” and that this would be accomplished with safety for the troops and security for the Iraqi people.

He introduced his team one by one, starting with Senator Clinton, his former bitter rival for the Democratic presidential nomination; then Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who will stay on, at least for a time, in the new administration; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, to be national security adviser; Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona to be secretary of homeland security: Susan E. Rice to be ambassador to the United Nations, and Eric H. Holder Jr. to be attorney general.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

President-elect Barack Obama presented his national security team at a news conference in Chicago on Monday.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/02/us/politics/02obama.html?_r=1&hp

Today’s Announcements: Obama’s Handpicked Team for a Foreign Policy Shift

December 1, 2008

When President-elect Barack Obama introduces his national security team on Monday, it will include two veteran cold warriors and a political rival whose records are all more hawkish than that of the new president who will face them in the White House Situation Room.

By David E. Sanger
The New York Times

Yet all three of his choices — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the rival turned secretary of state; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, as national security adviser, and Robert M. Gates, the current and future defense secretary — have embraced a sweeping shift of priorities and resources in the national security arena.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Barack Obama’s national security team is to include, from left, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gen. James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant.

The shift would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the incoming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states. However, it is unclear whether the financing would be shifted from the Pentagon; Mr. Obama has also committed to increasing the number of American combat troops.Whether they can make the change — one that Mr. Obama started talking about in the summer of 2007, when his candidacy was a long shot at best — “will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency,” one of his senior advisers said recently.

The adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the three have all embraced “a rebalancing of America’s national security portfolio” after a huge investment in new combat capabilities during the Bush years.

Denis McDonough, a senior Obama foreign policy adviser, cast the issue slightly differently in an interview on Sunday.

“This is not an experiment, but a pragmatic solution to a long-acknowledged problem,” he said. “During the campaign the then-senator invested a lot of time reaching out to retired military and also younger officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to draw on lessons learned. There wasn’t a meeting that didn’t include a discussion of the need to strengthen and integrate the other tools of national power to succeed against unconventional threats. It is critical to a long-term successful and sustainable national security strategy in the 21st century.” Mr. Obama’s advisers said they were already bracing themselves for the charge from the right that he is investing in social work, even though President Bush repeatedly promised such a shift, starting in a series of speeches in late 2005. But they also expect battles within the Democratic Party over questions like whether the billion dollars in aid to rebuild Afghanistan that Mr. Obama promised during the campaign should now be spent on job-creation projects at home.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/us/
politics/01policy.html?_r=1&hp

Obama’s strong-willed national security team

November 30, 2008
With Clinton as secretary of State, retired Marine Gen. James Jones Jr. as national security advisor and Gates remaining in Defense, Obama will have a choice among often starkly differing views.
By Paul Richter
The Los Angeles Times
November 30, 2008
Reporting from Washington — President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to lead an administration where strong-willed senior officials are ready to argue forcefully for differing points of view.

It appears that in two months, he’ll get his wish, and then some.

Obama’s new national security team is led by three veteran officials who have differed with each other — and with the president-elect — on the full menu of security issues, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons and Arab-Israel conflict.

The president-elect is expected on Monday to begin introducing a team that includes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whom he has chosen as secretary of State; retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., tapped to be the new national security advisor; and Robert M. Gates, who has agreed to stay on as Defense secretary.

Clinton, Gates, Jones

Carolyn Kaster / AP; Roslan Rahman / AFP/Getty Images; Dennis Cook / AP
THE TEAM: No longer a rival, Clinton and Obama hold similar positions on many issues. Gates, center, is admired by the Obama team despite significant differences over nuclear weapons policy. Jones has separated himself from the Obama playbook on a few issues, including troop withdrawal.

Their collaboration isn’t likely to be as contentious as the first-term Bush administration battles between Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney. Clinton, Gates and Jones have worked smoothly, with the only visible clashes coming between Clinton and Gates’ deputies over Iraq.

But Obama will have some clear choices among their views, which differ in nuance in some cases and more starkly in others. Obama appears to be determined to keep them in line; advisors say he believes the Pentagon has become too strong in the Bush years, and he wants to reassert White House control.

Some American supporters of Israel have already been buzzing over the potential for conflict between Clinton and Jones on Arab-Israeli issues.

Jones, an admired former Marine commandant and supreme allied commander of NATO, was appointed last November as a Bush administration envoy charged with trying to improve the often dysfunctional Palestinian security forces. As part of that assignment, he drafted a report that caused a stir in Israel by criticizing the Israeli Defense Forces’ activities in the Palestinian territories.

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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-na-security30-2008nov30,0,7160819.story

U.S. Military Adjusts Toward Confidence in Obama

November 30, 2008

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went unarmed into his first meeting with the new commander in chief — no aides, no PowerPoint presentation, no briefing books. Summoned nine days ago to President-elect Barack Obama‘s Chicago transition office, Mullen showed up with just a pad, a pen and a desire to take the measure of his incoming boss. 

 

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 30, 2008; Page A01

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen speaks with The Associated ... 
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen speaks with The Associated Press during an interview at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

There was little talk of exiting Iraq or beefing up the U.S. force in Afghanistan; the one-on-one, 45-minute conversation ranged from the personal to the philosophical. Mullen came away with what he wanted: a view of the next president as a non-ideological pragmatist who was willing to both listen and lead. After the meeting, the chairman “felt very good, very positive,” according to Mullen spokesman Capt. John Kirby.

As Obama prepares to announce his national security team tomorrow, he faces a military that has long mistrusted Democrats and is particularly wary of a young, intellectual leader with no experience in uniform, who once called Iraq a “dumb” war. Military leaders have all heard his pledge to withdraw most combat forces from Iraq within 16 months — sooner than commanders on the ground have recommended — and his implied criticism of the Afghanistan war effort during the Bush administration.

But so far, Obama appears to be going out of his way to reassure them that he will do nothing rash and will seek their advice, even while making clear that he may not always take it. He has demonstrated an ability to speak the lingo, talk about “mission plans” and “tasking,” and to differentiate between strategy and tactics, a distinction Republican nominee John McCain accused him of misunderstanding during the campaign.

Obama has been careful to separate his criticism of Bush policy from his praise of the military’s valor and performance, while Michelle Obama‘s public expressions of concern for military families have gone over well. But most important, according to several senior officers and civilian Pentagon officials who would speak about their incoming leader only on the condition of anonymity, is the expectation of renewed respect for the chain of command and greater realism about U.S. military goals and capabilities, which many found lacking during the Bush years.

“Open and serious debate versus ideological certitude will be a great relief to the military leaders,” said retired Maj. Gen. William L. Nash of the Council on Foreign Relations. Senior officers are aware that few in their ranks voiced misgivings over the Iraq war, but they counter that they were not encouraged to do so by the Bush White House or the Pentagon under Donald H. Rumsfeld.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/29
/AR2008112901912.html?hpid=topnews

National Security Pick: From a Marine to a Mediator

November 29, 2008

James L. Jones, a retired four-star general, was among a mostly Republican crowd watching a presidential debate in October when Barack Obama casually mentioned that he got a lot of his advice on foreign policy from General Jones.

By Helene Cooper
The New York Times

 

“Explain yourself!” some of the Republicans demanded, as General Jones later recalled it.

He did not. A 6-foot-5 Marine Corps commandant with the looks of John Wayne, General Jones is not given to talking about his political bent, be it Republican or Democrat. And yet, he is Mr. Obama’s choice for national security adviser, a job that will make him the main foreign policy sounding board and sage to a president with relatively little foreign policy experience.

The selection of General Jones will elevate another foreign policy moderate to a team that will include Robert M. Gates, a carry-over from the Bush administration, as defense secretary and Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. By bringing a military man to the White House, Mr. Obama may be trying to cement an early bond with military leaders who regard him with some uneasiness, particularly over his call for rapid troop reductions in Iraq.

But General Jones will also be expected to mediate between rivals, particularly in dealing with Mr. Gates, who has his own power base at the Pentagon, and with Mrs. Clinton, who has told friends that she does not expect the national security adviser to stand between her and the president.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/us/politics/
29jones.html?_r=1&hp

In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. ... 
In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, chairman of the Iraqi Security Forces Independent Assessment Commission, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Jones, 64, is expected to be announced by Obama next week as part of the president-elect’s national security team, along with Robert Gates as secretary of defense and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.(AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

Gates agrees to stay on at defense post

November 26, 2008

By Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has agreed to remain at his post if asked by President-elect Barack Obama, sources close to the defense chief told The Washington Times.

Mr. Obama has also settled on the Republican defense secretary as his choice for the post, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Gates has won bipartisan praise on Capitol Hill for the reduction of violence in Iraq and for his overall management of the Pentagon.

He would be in a position to help lead a smooth transition between administrations at a time when the United States is preparing to withdraw forces from Iraq and send additional troops to battle a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

His selection would also allow the incoming president to concentrate on the financial crisis without having to worry about upheaval at the Pentagon.

Mr. Obama reportedly made the decision to ask Mr. Gates to stay for at least the first year. The announcement was expected after the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It’s a done deal,” ABC reported Tuesday, citing a source close to the decision-making process.

Officials in the Obama transition team said they could not immediately confirm the reports.

Gates

Gates

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http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/26/gates-a
grees-to-stay-on-at-defense-post-if-asked/

Poland Won’t Lobby Obama on Missile Defense

November 20, 2008

Poland’s foreign minister said yesterday that his country will wait for the Obama administration to make up its mind on basing missile defense interceptors in his country and will not lobby to have the project proceed.

Saying that the Warsaw government had agreed “out of friendship” to the Bush administration proposal to establish a U.S. base for 10 interceptor missiles in Poland, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski added: “We will tread carefully and wait until the new administration makes its decision.”

By Walter Pincus
The Washington Post
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The controversial European basing plan, which also involves placing a U.S. radar unit in the Czech Republic, is to be part of a broader missile defense system that the Bush administration has said is designed to intercept Iranian missiles aimed either at U.S. or European targets. Russia has voiced strong objections to the plan.

Sikorski’s remarks, made during an appearance at the Atlantic Council of the United States, a bipartisan foreign policy organization, reflect the modification of a statement posted Nov. 8 on the Web site of Polish President Lech Kaczynski. The statement said that during Kaczynski’s conversation congratulating Barack Obama, the president-elect said that “the missile defense project would continue.”
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
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9/AR2008111903737.html

Russia and The West: How To Reverse Escalation of Tension and Confrontation?

November 18, 2008

Barely one hour after Barack Obama’s victory speech, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to deploy missiles in Russia’s westernmost region of Kaliningrad that could attack U.S. military targets in Poland. The targets are limited, small in number and do not yet really exist: They will exist if and when the United States completes the ballistic missile defense system it plans to place in Poland, along with a sophisticated radar component in the Czech Republic.

The reaction in Europe and the United States ranged from outrage in Poland to serious concern at NATO headquarters and disappointment in the White House. Russia claims it has been backed into a corner by U.S. erosion of key cornerstones of European and global security and by aggressive moves to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into areas that affect Russia’s vital security interests.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Chinese President ... 
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Chinese President Hu Jintao shake hands during a bilateral meeting after the G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy in Washington November 15, 2008.REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Vladimir Rodionov

How did we arrive at this point? Russia sees new threats from NATO and the United States, and they see new threats from Russia. And even where they see common dangers — as in the case of potential and actual missile threats from Asia and the Middle East — they cannot find common ground on how to deal with them. How do we reverse this steady escalation of tension and confrontation?

By Greg Austin
UPI

Related:
Russia’s Medvedev Learned PR Skills from Hitler, Chavez, Khrushchev and Putin?

Russia’s Putin and the Great Deception

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Outside_View_Russias_new_start_–_Part_1/UPI-371
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Russia’s Putin and the Great Deception

November 16, 2008

Vladimir Putin is a world-class master at getting what he wants.  Now he seems poised to return to the presidency of Russia for another term in a few years and he seems to have convinced many, by deception, that missile defenses in Europe are a threat to Russia.

Conceived way back during the Ronald Reagan presidency and often derisively called “Star Wars” or the missile shield, U.S. missile defense is no threat to Russia or anyone else.  Like a defensive basketball or football player, missile defense is designed and used to block destructive attacking missiles from reaching their goals.

Russia has manipulated the world media for almost two decades to create the illusion that missile defense is some threat to Russians.  In fact, no missile defense missile has the capability of harming Russia or Russians: the “kill mechanism” of a missile defense interceptor is the kinetic energy or crashing into the attacking missile.  The missile defense missile has no warhead — unlike intercontinental ballistic missiles that can carry 10 or so nuclear warheads, each capable of annihilating millions of people and entire cities.

The U.S. missile defense effort for Europe has been a long and painstaking discussion going back two decades.  Along with thousands of others, I participated myself in these discussions, forums and conferences, in the early 1990s, on two levels: first as co-chairman of a NATO study (one of several) to determine the efficacy and implications of a European missile defense to stop missiles like those being developed by Iran targeted on Europe; and then on U.S. government missions to Moscow to show with credible evidence that a U.S. missile defense was no threat to Russia — or anybody.

By the middle 1990s, the Russians seemed to agree that U.S. missile defenses, even in Europe, were no threat to Russia or Russians.

In 2002, the United States, after years of notification to Russia and discussions with Russia, withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty which had been made with the Soviet Union.  This action was necessary to permit testing of U.S. missile defenses — which had targets and interceptors that could have posed an international legal discussion vis-a-vis the treaty.

Then an interesting thing happened.  Vladimir Putin in Russia decided that he wanted a resurgent Russia with renewed superpower status, like that enjoyed during the Cold War Soviet era.  As Russia developed its oil reserves, exports gave him the financial clout he needed despite an aging and creaky military machine.  But an expert at media and public manipulation, Putin went to work to achieve his goals and to stifle U.S. objectives on many fronts.

Putin Medvedev
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Above: Vladimir Putin speaks with his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in parliament May 8, 2008. Putin brought Medvedev from the post of Charman of Gazprom, Russia’s oil giant, to become his chief of staff and later preident.  Now Medvedev has proposed a longer term for Russia’s president and it is no secret that Putin wants to come back as President of Russia.  Photo: Sergei Chirikov AFP/Getty Images

The suave, handsome and articulate Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev are also quick to reveal clumsy bluster and intimidation — which is what the recent threat to move Iskander missiles closer to Poland seems to have been.

Russia also attacked neighbors in Georgia and South Ossetia — quickly turning ignored intimidation into acts of war.

Russia continues a very aggressive trade relationship with Iran, which continues to develop more capable ballistic missiles, nuclear technology (with Russian help) and sends verbal assaults at least weekly at Israel and the U.S. (“Israel should be wiped from the map,” said Iran’s President Ahmadinejad).

Efforts to slow or stop Iran’s nuclear development in the United Nations are routinely thwarted by Russia and China.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Now a global media tired of George W. Bush and enamored by Barack Obama has absolutely no time for the truth of the missile defense situation.  This weekend Agence France-Presse (AFP) wrote a photograph caption on a picture of French President Sarkozy and Russian President Medvedev which read, “Sarkozy urged Russia and the United States to stop threatening each other with missiles and missile shields.” (see below)

The fact is that U.S. missile defense threatens nobody — with missiles incabale of landing on Russian targets and without warheads.  The U.S. has even offered Russia the opportunity to place Russian inspectors at U.S. missile defense sites, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year to ensure no sneaky bad guys alter these defensive systems for attack.  The difficulty of converting a missile defense system for attack is, well, like secretly and quickly rerouting the Space Shuttle from a mission to the International Space Station and then attempting a manned landing on Mars.  Russia knows this is a crazy notion — but many in the media and others have swallowed this brainless Russian borscht.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) speaks with President of ... 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) speaks with President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, before the Europe-Russia finance reform summit in Nice southern France. Sarkozy urged Russia and the United States to stop threatening each other with missiles and missile shields Friday and called for talks on Europe’s future security. (AFP/Valery Hache)
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NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called the Russian remarks on moving missiles in Europe unsolicited, unnecessary and unhelpful.

Russia has also said that a missile defense system in Europe will “negate” its thousands of nuclear armed missiles.  But the European missile defense system is only intended to have 10 interceptors — which would be easily and quickly overwhelmed by a Russian attack.

Russia's "Iskander" missile system on display ... 
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.(AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)

Threating people in Europe with nuclear destruction is a gossly over the top Russian act of instigation and intimidation — and it makes no sense in the post-Cold War world.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ribert Gates said the threat from Russia, made just after the U.S. election of President-elect Barack Obama, was “hardly the welcome a new American administration deserves. Such provocative remarks are unnecessary and misguided.”

“Quite frankly I’m not clear what the missiles would be for in Kaliningrad, after all the only real emerging threat on Russia’s periphery is in Iran and I don’t think the Iskander missile has the range to get there from Kaliningrad,” Gates added. “Why they would threaten to point missiles at European nations seems quite puzzling to me.”
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Medevev and supposedly Putin have now backed away from their threat to move Iskander missiles but they have created an incredible fog of lies in the air — which many in the international media and elsewhere have swollowed.

U.S. missile defense, and the European effort with Poland and the Czech Republic, is no threat to Russia or anybody else.  It is a system to bat down incoming nuclear warheads from long-range missiles, like those Iran continues to test.

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Related:
In Russia’s Putin-Medvedev shuffle, Putin is the lead dancer
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Russia’s Medvedev Learned PR Skills from Hitler, Chavez, Khrushchev and Putin?
.
Poland, Czech Republic Ask U.S. To Keep Missile Defense Plans; Telling France, Sarkozy, Medvedev to “Bugger Off”

An Iranian surface-to-surface missile lifts off from a launch ... 
An Iranian surface-to-surface missile lifts off from a launch platform during a test firing at an undisclosed location in the Iranian desert in this image released to Fars News by the military November 12, 2008.  Iran says these missiles can now reach Israel and into Europe.REUTERS/FARS NEWS

Gates At Pentagon Calls Russia “Misguided” On Missiles

November 13, 2008

Russia has been aware of and in on U.S. missile defense planning since at least 1991 when I participated with them during a trip to Moscow.  Secretary of Defense Gates is right to say this Tom Foolery from Medvedev and Putin has gone on too long….

John E. Carey

Russia's Prime minister Vladimir Putin seen in the Kremlin ... 
Russia’s Prime minister Vladimir Putin seen in the Kremlin in Moscow in this November 5, 2008 photo.REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin

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Russian threats to position missiles near Poland to counter a U.S. missile defense plan in Europe are misguided, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday, suggesting that Moscow‘s latest aggressive rhetoric harkens back to the old Cold War era.

Unleashing his own pointed criticism, Gates said that Russia’s missile threat appears aimed at Europe. And he dismissed as not credible Russia‘s latest offer to forego its missile plan if the U.S. would agree not to deploy a defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer

Speaking at the close of a meeting of NATO defense ministers here, Gates and other officials also signaled that it is inevitable that Ukraine will join the international alliance, although there are hurdles and opposition both from within the new struggling democracy and other allied nations.

The meeting was set largely to deal with the Ukraine’s membership effort — a move that Russia opposes and sees as part of an unsettling westward shift of former Soviet republics in the region. But overshadowing the meeting were the escalating tensions with Russia in the region as Moscow tries to reassert itself.

An Iranian surface-to-surface missile lifts off from a launch ... 
An Iranian surface-to-surface missile lifts off from a launch platform during a test firing at an undisclosed location in the Iranian desert in this image released to Fars News by the military November 12, 2008.REUTERS/FARS NEWS

The latest missile threat from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came under fire from NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who called the remarks unsolicited, unnecessary and unhelpful.

And Gates said the threat, made just after the U.S. election of President-elect Barack Obama, was “hardly the welcome a new American administration deserves. Such provocative remarks are unnecessary and misguided.”

“Quite frankly I’m not clear what the missiles would be for in Kaliningrad, after all the only real emerging threat on Russia’s periphery is in Iran and I don’t think the Iskander missile has the range to get there from Kaliningrad,” snapped Gates, adding. “Why they would threaten to point missiles at European nations seems quite puzzling to me.”

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates listens to the media during ...
US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates listens to the media during the Informal High-Level NATO-Ukraine Consultations in Tallinn November 13, 2008.REUTERS/Ints Kalnins (ESTONIA)

He said a key reason for his attendance at the meeting was to show U.S. support for Eastern European countries that are looking to align themselves with the West. Those nations, he said, are understandably on edge in the wake of Russia’s incursion into Georgia in August.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081113/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/
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