Allison, G (1969) Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis

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Reference: Allison, Graham T. 1969. “Conceptual Models and the

Reference: Allison, Graham T. 1969. “Conceptual Models and the

Cuban Missile Crisis.” The American Political Science Review 63,

Cuban Missile Crisis.” The American Political Science Review 63,

3:689-718

3:689-718

Case study: October 1962 - 13 days when

Case study: October 1962 - 13 days when

almost 300 million humans

almost 300 million humans

would have died

would have died

Analysts think the governmental and military problems in terms

Analysts think the governmental and military problems in terms

of

of

largely implicit conceptual models

largely implicit conceptual models

1. In terms of the

1. In terms of the

Rational Policy Model (Model I)

Rational Policy Model (Model I)

To use this model, the outputs are categorized as acts and choices, not outputs To use this model, the outputs are categorized as acts and choices, not outputs

Unified national governments  Unified national governments  They do what is best for the nation  They do what is best for the nation  Model I must be balanced with ideas of  Model I must be balanced with ideas of 

Monoliths are black boxes Monoliths are black boxes Large acts are consequence of

Large acts are consequence of conflicting smaller actions at various levels ofconflicting smaller actions at various levels of bureaucracy

bureaucracy

How it applies to the Cuban crisis How it applies to the Cuban crisis

The soviets were deciding to increase their missiles at the same time they were  The soviets were deciding to increase their missiles at the same time they were  befriending America 

befriending America 

The analyst assume that the actor is the government and the decisions are rationally The analyst assume that the actor is the government and the decisions are rationally calculated

calculated

Analytic paradigm  Analytic paradigm 

I Policy as national choice I Policy as national choice II Organizing concepts II Organizing concepts

National actor - The nation  National actor - The nation 

The problem - Strategic problem  The problem - Strategic problem 

Static selection - The solution choose by the nation  Static selection - The solution choose by the nation  Action as a rational choice 

Action as a rational choice  Goals and objectives  Goals and objectives  Options  Options  Consequences  Consequences  Choice  Choice 

Choice - Highest rank  Choice - Highest rank  III Dominant inference pattern III Dominant inference pattern

Nation has ends and optimal means  Nation has ends and optimal means  IV General propositions

IV General propositions

Value- maximizing behavior  Value- maximizing behavior  Relevant values and objectives  Relevant values and objectives 

Perceived alternative courses of action  Perceived alternative courses of action 

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Net valuation of each set of consequences  Net valuation of each set of consequences 

Increase of cost or reduction of probability of attaining consequences reduces the  Increase of cost or reduction of probability of attaining consequences reduces the  likelihood of that alternative being chosen 

likelihood of that alternative being chosen 

A decrease in cost or an increase in probability of attaining desired consequences, A decrease in cost or an increase in probability of attaining desired consequences, increases the likelihood of that action being chosen 

increases the likelihood of that action being chosen  V Specific propositions

V Specific propositions Deterrence 

Deterrence 

Stable balance reduces the possibility of an attack  Stable balance reduces the possibility of an attack  Stable balance increases probability of limited war  Stable balance increases probability of limited war  Soviet Force Posture 

Soviet Force Posture 

Assuming that they were going to strike first  Assuming that they were going to strike first  The US Blockade of Cuba: A first Cut 

The US Blockade of Cuba: A first Cut 

Six major categories of action were considered Six major categories of action were considered

Do nothing  Do nothing 

Diplomatic pressures  Diplomatic pressures  Secret approach to Castro  Secret approach to Castro  Invasion 

Invasion 

Surgical air strike ("Pearl Harbor in reverse") Surgical air strike ("Pearl Harbor in reverse") Blockade  Blockade  More attractive  More attractive  Middle course  Middle course 

The only real option  The only real option 

The blockade was the only real option! The blockade was the only real option!

It was middle course between inaction and attack  It was middle course between inaction and attack 

Placed on Khrushcev the burden of the next step (the ball in his court) Placed on Khrushcev the burden of the next step (the ball in his court) A naval confrontation in the Caribbean was the ideal possible war for USA A naval confrontation in the Caribbean was the ideal possible war for USA

US could explore alternatives to the use of its nuclear superiority (hence not destroying  US could explore alternatives to the use of its nuclear superiority (hence not destroying  the planet where the USA happens to have its permanent address (!))

the planet where the USA happens to have its permanent address (!)) Variants

Variants

Framework always the same: place the action within a value-maximizing framework  Framework always the same: place the action within a value-maximizing framework  The analyst proceeds predominantly with this paradigm, but acknowledge that there  The analyst proceeds predominantly with this paradigm, but acknowledge that there  is a margin for error 

is a margin for error 

2. Organizational process model (Model II)

2. Organizational process model (Model II)

To use this model, identify the relevant organizations and display its patterns of To use this model, identify the relevant organizations and display its patterns of behavior

behavior

When we apply this model to the Cuban crisis, the result is a very different  When we apply this model to the Cuban crisis, the result is a very different  explanation than in Model I 

explanation than in Model I 

The government is not only one person that knows everything. It is a conglomerate  The government is not only one person that knows everything. It is a conglomerate  of sub-organizations, alliances, etc.

of sub-organizations, alliances, etc.

Each sub-organizations has it own goals and

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On the other hand, the behavior of the complete organization is more complex than the On the other hand, the behavior of the complete organization is more complex than the behavior of its sub-sets (he calls

behavior of its sub-sets (he calls them solids)them solids) How it applies to the Cuban crisis

How it applies to the Cuban crisis Analytic paradigm 

Analytic paradigm 

I Basic unit of analysis: Policy as

I Basic unit of analysis: Policy as organizational outputorganizational output

The actual occurrences are organizational outputs. Example: The actions of men who  The actual occurrences are organizational outputs. Example: The actions of men who  are soldiers in platoons 

are soldiers in platoons 

Effective options to confront a problem: Routines for employing present physical  Effective options to confront a problem: Routines for employing present physical  capabilities 

capabilities 

Outputs structure the situation (raise the problem, provide information, make the initial  Outputs structure the situation (raise the problem, provide information, make the initial  moves)

moves)

II Organizing concepts II Organizing concepts

A. Organizational actors: A constellation of loosely allied organizations  A. Organizational actors: A constellation of loosely allied organizations  B. Factored problems and fractionated power 

B. Factored problems and fractionated power 

Power must accompany responsibility, but the organizations should not have a lot of  Power must accompany responsibility, but the organizations should not have a lot of  power 

power 

However, there is quasi-independence  However, there is quasi-independence 

C. Parochial priorities, perceptions and issues. Tendency to parochialism has  C. Parochial priorities, perceptions and issues. Tendency to parochialism has  enhancing factors: 

enhancing factors: 

Selective information available to the organization  Selective information available to the organization  Recruitment of personnel into the organization  Recruitment of personnel into the organization  Tenure of individuals 

Tenure of individuals  small group pressures  small group pressures  distribution of rewards  distribution of rewards 

D. Action as organizational output  D. Action as organizational output 

1. Goals: Constraints defining acceptable performance  1. Goals: Constraints defining acceptable performance 

Seldom formal

Seldom formal

Central among the constraints is the organization

Central among the constraints is the organization healthhealth

Constraints = mix of expectations and demands of other organizations 

Constraints = mix of expectations and demands of other organizations 

Conflict among goals is always latent 

Conflict among goals is always latent  2. Sequential attention to goals 

2. Sequential attention to goals 

In order of relevance for the i

In order of relevance for the interested organization or sub-unitnterested organization or sub-unit 3. Standard Operating Procedures 

3. Standard Operating Procedures 

Used to perform the "lower" tasks

Used to perform the "lower" tasks so the organization can then perform its so the organization can then perform its "higher" function"higher" function

Helps doing certain vital things, but sometimes make the organization look sluggish or

Helps doing certain vital things, but sometimes make the organization look sluggish or

inappropriate

inappropriate

4. Programs and Repertoires  4. Programs and Repertoires 

Large coordination is a must

Large coordination is a must

Each predicted behavior requires a program (in

Each predicted behavior requires a program (in both senses: computer and drama) -both senses: computer and drama)

-People will "dance" according to the program

People will "dance" according to the program

The number of programs is always

The number of programs is always limited (not possible to be limited (not possible to be prepared for everything)prepared for everything) 5. Uncertainty Avoidance (Negotiated environment)

5. Uncertainty Avoidance (Negotiated environment)

Budgetary splits

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Standard scenarios

Standard scenarios

6. Problem directed search  6. Problem directed search 

Focus on avoiding discomfort

Focus on avoiding discomfort

First search the neighborhood of the

First search the neighborhood of the symptom, then the neighborhood of the currentsymptom, then the neighborhood of the current

alternative

alternative

7. Organizational Learning and Change (Occur more likely in situations like:) 7. Organizational Learning and Change (Occur more likely in situations like:)

Periods of Budgetary feast (shopping sprees) or

Periods of Budgetary feast (shopping sprees) or famine (within a year everything changes)famine (within a year everything changes)

Dramatic performance failures (major disasters)

Dramatic performance failures (major disasters) E. Central coordination and control 

E. Central coordination and control 

There are advocates for both extremes  There are advocates for both extremes  Total centralization is not possible  Total centralization is not possible 

The relation depend on structural variables such as:  The relation depend on structural variables such as: 

The nature of the job

The nature of the job

The measures and information available to leaders

The measures and information available to leaders

The system of rewards and punishments for members

The system of rewards and punishments for members

The procedures by resources and humans get

The procedures by resources and humans get committedcommitted F. Decisions of Government Leaders 

F. Decisions of Government Leaders  III Dominant inference pattern

III Dominant inference pattern

The actions of today must be very much similar to actions made in the past  The actions of today must be very much similar to actions made in the past  The best explanation of an organization's behavior at t is t-1

The best explanation of an organization's behavior at t is t-1

the prediction of t+1 is t (from breakfast, you can tell what lunch is going to be!) the prediction of t+1 is t (from breakfast, you can tell what lunch is going to be!) Power of this model: uncovering the organizational routines and repertoires  Power of this model: uncovering the organizational routines and repertoires  IV General propositions

IV General propositions

A. Organizational action (Determined by routines, not leader's directions) A. Organizational action (Determined by routines, not leader's directions)

1. SOP Routines for dealing with standard situations  1. SOP Routines for dealing with standard situations 

Good for average performance

Good for average performance 2. A Program 

2. A Program 

Complex action chosen from a short li

Complex action chosen from a short list in the repertoirest in the repertoire

3. Repertoires are developed by parochial organizations, then they are frequently ill-  3. Repertoires are developed by parochial organizations, then they are frequently ill-  suited 

suited 

B. Limited flexibility and incremental change  B. Limited flexibility and incremental change 

1. Budgets change incrementally  1. Budgets change incrementally 

2. Once undertaken, an investment is not dropped easily  2. Once undertaken, an investment is not dropped easily 

C. Administrative Feasibility (Considerable gap between what leaders choose and  C. Administrative Feasibility (Considerable gap between what leaders choose and  what organizations implement)

what organizations implement)

1. Organizations are blunt instruments. Precision and coordination are not likely to  1. Organizations are blunt instruments. Precision and coordination are not likely to  succeed 

succeed 

2. Projects that demand doing things differently, are not likely to succeed  2. Projects that demand doing things differently, are not likely to succeed 

3. Leaders can expect each organization will do its "part" in terms of what it knows to  3. Leaders can expect each organization will do its "part" in terms of what it knows to  do 

do 

4. Leaders can expect incomplete and distorted information  4. Leaders can expect incomplete and distorted information 

5. If an assignment is contrary to the goals of the organization, that assignment will  5. If an assignment is contrary to the goals of the organization, that assignment will  encounter resistance 

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V. Specific Propositions V. Specific Propositions

1. Deterrence  1. Deterrence 

If the attack occurs, it will result from organizational activity  If the attack occurs, it will result from organizational activity  Alert status determine probabilities for accidental firing  Alert status determine probabilities for accidental firing 

Repertoires fix the range of effective choice open to enemies  Repertoires fix the range of effective choice open to enemies  Training in nuclear weapons is crucial 

Training in nuclear weapons is crucial  2. Soviet Force Posture 

2. Soviet Force Posture 

Determined by organizational factors (goals and processes) Determined by organizational factors (goals and processes) Review of the training and practice activities of the Soviet Union  Review of the training and practice activities of the Soviet Union  The US Blockade of Cuba: A second Cut 

The US Blockade of Cuba: A second Cut  Organizational intelligence

Organizational intelligence

October 22 1962 7 am: President Kennedy said to the Russians that they must halt  October 22 1962 7 am: President Kennedy said to the Russians that they must halt  and eliminate their clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to the world peace  and eliminate their clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to the world peace  This decision was reached after a week of critical deliberation 

This decision was reached after a week of critical deliberation 

The missiles were discovered in October 14 (it is crucial because if it were later, The missiles were discovered in October 14 (it is crucial because if it were later, more aggressive actions would have taken place)

more aggressive actions would have taken place)

They were discovered not earlier or later as a consequence of established routines  They were discovered not earlier or later as a consequence of established routines  and procedures.

and procedures.

On Set 19 there

On Set 19 there have been a meeting to consihave been a meeting to consider several factors and reports aboutder several factors and reports about

missiles

missiles

There was a 10 day delay between the suspicions and the flight to take the pictures and

There was a 10 day delay between the suspicions and the flight to take the pictures and

see if there were any

see if there were any missiles (due to two facts)missiles (due to two facts)

Many jobs won't fall into precise jurisdictions 

Many jobs won't fall into precise jurisdictions 

Vigorous organizations are imperialistic 

Vigorous organizations are imperialistic 

The CIA and the air forces engaged in discussions about how to make the flights, and

The CIA and the air forces engaged in discussions about how to make the flights, and

delayed the actual flight

delayed the actual flight

Organizational options (Quickly narrowed to two

Organizational options (Quickly narrowed to two options)options) Air strike (impossible)

Air strike (impossible)

Blockade (thus, the choice) Blockade (thus, the choice)

The choice of the blockade turned on two points  The choice of the blockade turned on two points 

Morality and tradition (US won't perpetrate a "Pearl Harbor" in reverse (A problem of  Morality and tradition (US won't perpetrate a "Pearl Harbor" in reverse (A problem of  morality)

morality)

A "Surgical" air strike was impossible (A problem of capability) A "Surgical" air strike was impossible (A problem of capability)

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Organizational implementation Organizational implementation

Types of blockade  Types of blockade 

Offensive weapons only  Offensive weapons only  Strategic goods 

Strategic goods 

The details were left to the navy  The details were left to the navy 

But then they decided to intercept the ships much closer to Cuba so the Soviets  But then they decided to intercept the ships much closer to Cuba so the Soviets  would have time to think. The navy didn't like that 

would have time to think. The navy didn't like that 

The navy was emotional, but had to say "yes, sir" to the orders

The navy was emotional, but had to say "yes, sir" to the orders

Not clear what happened, but the ships entered Cuba and seemed not to have been  Not clear what happened, but the ships entered Cuba and seemed not to have been  intercepted ! 

intercepted ! 

Suspicious started over the Navy doings

Suspicious started over the Navy doings

One day (oct 18) one ship stopped in the middle of the ocean, the government was  One day (oct 18) one ship stopped in the middle of the ocean, the government was  happy, but the Navy wasn't 

happy, but the Navy wasn't 

The government leaders were happy: "the blockage is working!"

The government leaders were happy: "the blockage is working!"

The navy was suspicious: "They are picking up submarine escort

The navy was suspicious: "They are picking up submarine escort

Finally, the Navy leader shouted to the government leader "go back to your desk, the  Finally, the Navy leader shouted to the government leader "go back to your desk, the  Navy will take care of the blockade!" 

Navy will take care of the blockade!" 

3. Bureaucratic politics model (Model III)

3. Bureaucratic politics model (Model III)

To use this model, the analyst displays the perceptions, motivations, position, power To use this model, the analyst displays the perceptions, motivations, position, power and maneuvers of the principal players

and maneuvers of the principal players Each leader pulls to his own end  Each leader pulls to his own end 

Contrast with Model I: Several actors instead of an unitary actor  Contrast with Model I: Several actors instead of an unitary actor  Power is shared 

Power is shared 

How it applies to the Cuban crisis How it applies to the Cuban crisis

Analytic paradigm  Analytic paradigm 

I Basic unit of analysis: Policy as

I Basic unit of analysis: Policy as a political outcomea political outcome

Happenings are results from compromise, coalition, competition and confusion among  Happenings are results from compromise, coalition, competition and confusion among  government officials 

government officials 

National behavior can be conceived as outcomes of wittgensteinian games  National behavior can be conceived as outcomes of wittgensteinian games  II Organizational concepts

II Organizational concepts

A. Players in Positions (men in jobs) A. Players in Positions (men in jobs)

Positions define what players may and must do  Positions define what players may and must do  Players are also people 

Players are also people 

B. Parochial Priorities Perceptions and Issues  B. Parochial Priorities Perceptions and Issues 

C. Interests, Stakes and Power (The three elements of power) C. Interests, Stakes and Power (The three elements of power)

Bargaining advantages  Bargaining advantages  Skill  Skill  Will  Will 

D. The problem and the problems  D. The problem and the problems 

Each solution to a smaller problem affects the bigger problem  Each solution to a smaller problem affects the bigger problem  E. Action channels 

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F. Actions as politics  F. Actions as politics 

The context of shared power determines the mechanisms of choice  The context of shared power determines the mechanisms of choice 

Players end up using strategies to "make the government do whet is right"  Players end up using strategies to "make the government do whet is right"  G. Streams of outcomes 

G. Streams of outcomes 

Understanding of the outcome requires that it be disaggregated  Understanding of the outcome requires that it be disaggregated  All the little streams of outcomes feed up the bigger outcome  All the little streams of outcomes feed up the bigger outcome  III Dominant inference pattern

III Dominant inference pattern

The action of the nation is the outcome of the bargainings between sub-organizations  The action of the nation is the outcome of the bargainings between sub-organizations  IV. General propositions

IV. General propositions 1. Action and intention  1. Action and intention 

Cannot presuppose intention  Cannot presuppose intention 

Sometimes the result (action) is the sum of different courses and no-one's intention  Sometimes the result (action) is the sum of different courses and no-one's intention  2. Where you stand depends on where you sit 

2. Where you stand depends on where you sit 

It is easy to predict the responses if you know the positions of the actors  It is easy to predict the responses if you know the positions of the actors  3. Chiefs and indians 

3. Chiefs and indians 

Different chiefs must build a coalition of the relevant powers  Different chiefs must build a coalition of the relevant powers  There are fights against indians (departments)

There are fights against indians (departments)

Issue looking down: Options = How to preserve my leeway until time clarifies uncertainties

Issue looking down: Options = How to preserve my leeway until time clarifies uncertainties

The issue looking sideways

The issue looking sideways is commitment: how to get others committed to my coaliis commitment: how to get others committed to my coalitiontion

The issue looking upwards is confidence: how to give the boss confidence

The issue looking upwards is confidence: how to give the boss confidence V. Specific propositions

V. Specific propositions 1. Deterrence 

1. Deterrence 

Which players can decide an attack?  Which players can decide an attack? 

Though model I, an attack is not realistic because it would be a suicide and  Though model I, an attack is not realistic because it would be a suicide and  governments don't commit suicide 

governments don't commit suicide  Questions considered 

Questions considered 

Could any member of the government sol

Could any member of the government solve his problem by attackve his problem by attack

What stream of outcomes might lead to an

What stream of outcomes might lead to an attack?attack?

How might miscalculation and

How might miscalculation and confusion generate foul-ups that yield attack as an confusion generate foul-ups that yield attack as an outcome?outcome? The US Blockade of Cuba: A third Cut 

The US Blockade of Cuba: A third Cut  The politics of discovery

The politics of discovery

Discovery of the missiles and when it happened can be explained by a series of  Discovery of the missiles and when it happened can be explained by a series of  bargaining games 

bargaining games 

Cuba was Kennedy's Achiles's heel  Cuba was Kennedy's Achiles's heel 

He was campaigning, and wanted to solve the Cuba problem soon  He was campaigning, and wanted to solve the Cuba problem soon  The politics of issues

The politics of issues

Khrushchev had caught the US "with the pants down"  Khrushchev had caught the US "with the pants down" 

Kennedy was angry with Khrushchev "He can't do that to me!"  Kennedy was angry with Khrushchev "He can't do that to me!" 

Doing nothing or taking a diplomatic approach would not solve Kennedy's problem  Doing nothing or taking a diplomatic approach would not solve Kennedy's problem  There was a lot of advising and they wanted to show the president how the russian  There was a lot of advising and they wanted to show the president how the russian  guy was provoking him 

guy was provoking him  The politics of choice

The politics of choice

Initially, the President wanted the surgical air strike  Initially, the President wanted the surgical air strike 

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McNamara's vision of holocaust  McNamara's vision of holocaust 

Robert Kennedy didn't want his brother to become a "Tojo" (another Pearl Harbor  Robert Kennedy didn't want his brother to become a "Tojo" (another Pearl Harbor  maker)

maker)

McNamara had time to convince Robert of the blockade because the President  McNamara had time to convince Robert of the blockade because the President  traveled on campaign activities. A coalition was made and they advised the  traveled on campaign activities. A coalition was made and they advised the  President 

President 

This coalition gave the President a moment to pause and consider why other guys  This coalition gave the President a moment to pause and consider why other guys  wanted the attack 

wanted the attack 

Inaccurate information was given to the President: they told him that a surgical air  Inaccurate information was given to the President: they told him that a surgical air  strike was not possible and that was false 

strike was not possible and that was false 

Further investigation: Why no-one probed this estimate during the

Further investigation: Why no-one probed this estimate during the first week?first week?

Why the so-called "experts" so conveniently made a mistake in appreciation?

Why the so-called "experts" so conveniently made a mistake in appreciation?

With a strong coalition and the President in it, the blockade was the way to go

With a strong coalition and the President in it, the blockade was the way to go

Conclusion

Conclusion

Four intended implications of the argument

Four intended implications of the argument

Formulation of alternative frames of reference and how it affects the analysis, should Formulation of alternative frames of reference and how it affects the analysis, should make the analyst more self-conscientious

make the analyst more self-conscientious

The argument implies a position on the problem of "the state of the art" The argument implies a position on the problem of "the state of the art"

Foreign and military policy problems should subject of reexamination. They are Foreign and military policy problems should subject of reexamination. They are

typically treated in Model I, but as we saw, Models II and III reveal (and demand!) large typically treated in Model I, but as we saw, Models II and III reveal (and demand!) large amounts of information

amounts of information

Model I would have concluded that Soviets were going to attack  Model I would have concluded that Soviets were going to attack 

Model II would have considered other aspects and reduced the probabilities  Model II would have considered other aspects and reduced the probabilities  returned by Model I 

returned by Model I 

Model III would suggest the political subtext and return a better understanding of  Model III would suggest the political subtext and return a better understanding of  what happened 

what happened 

The present formulation of paradigms is simply an initial step. There are many The present formulation of paradigms is simply an initial step. There are many questions open

questions open

Model I: Does a statement of reasons why a rational actor would choose an action  Model I: Does a statement of reasons why a rational actor would choose an action  constitute an explanation of the occurrence of that action? 

constitute an explanation of the occurrence of that action? 

Model II: The explanation of T in terms of T-1 is weak in a contiguous and  Model II: The explanation of T in terms of T-1 is weak in a contiguous and  changeable world 

changeable world 

Model III is fascinating, but really complex  Model III is fascinating, but really complex 

The three models are not

The three models are not

exclusive alternati

exclusive alternati

ves. They can be

ves. They can be

used at the

used at the

analyst convenience :-)

analyst convenience :-)

Model I concentrates in Market factors Model I concentrates in Market factors

Nations quit when costs outweigh the benefits  Nations quit when costs outweigh the benefits  Models II and III focus on internal mechanisms Models II and III focus on internal mechanisms

But require considerable amounts of information  But require considerable amounts of information 

Exercise for the reader: Apply these three models to the US decision of surrender in Exercise for the reader: Apply these three models to the US decision of surrender in Vietnam

Figure

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References

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