Patterico's Pontifications


Obama’s Views on Pakistan

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:15 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Barack Obama was interviewed by Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe “as his plane neared Paris, one of the last stops on his trip.” This was the first question and answer in the online article:

Wolffe: Based on what you’ve seen and heard on this trip, is there anything that has led you to review any policy, tweak things, rethink anything?

Obama: Our success in Afghanistan is going to be deeply dependent not just on getting more troops there, which we need, but also some sustained high-level engagement with Pakistan—something that I discussed before but I think is significantly more urgent than even I had imagined. Basically there doesn’t appear to be any pressure at all being placed on Al Qaeda, on these training camps, these safe havens, in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas].”

I almost agree with Barack Obama … but it would be more accurate to say that Obama and I both agree with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who said this in a July 11, 2008, BBC article:

“There are clearly more foreign fighters in the Fata (Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas) than have been there in the past,” Adm Mullen was quoted by news agency Associated Press as saying. “There’s a clear problem on the border,” he added.

The chief of the US military made the comments on Thursday in Kabul. He is on a six-day visit to the region.

Adm Mullen said the new government in Pakistan was working its way through figuring out how to deal with the extremist challenge.

There’s clearly not enough pressure being brought to bear, particularly on the Pakistan side of the border. There’s more freedom there,” AP quoted him as saying.”

This was Admiral Mullen’s second visit this year to Pakistan.

I wonder what liberals will think when they find out Obama’s talking points are straight out of the mouth of Bush’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?


36 Responses to “Obama’s Views on Pakistan”

  1. I don’t think Mullen advocated having US forces conduct military operations — uninvited — within Pakistan’s borders, something that Obama has said he would do.

    Icy Truth (9cedd0)

  2. Obama still advocating the military invasion of Pakistan? I didn’t see Wolfe give anything but softballs to Obama, he certainly did not bring up Obama’s stupid call for invading an allied country. And when Wolfe mentions the AIPAC speech, he never brings up that Obama can’t figure out whether or not he is for an undivided Jerusalem as Isreal’s capital or not – something that Obama took both sides on and denied changing position on, all in a matter of days.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. when they find out

    How, exactly, would they find out? One of your difficulties, DRJ, is that your ability to glean informative and relevant information from various sources, and then form an opinion based on their factual content clouds your ability to simply feel the loving excellence that our new dear leader exudes during his inclusive and hopeful oratory.

    It’s like asking an elderly North Korean about the relevance of the internet.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  4. Obama: Our success in Afghanistan is going to be deeply dependent not just on getting more troops there, which we need, but also some sustained high-level engagement with Pakistan—something that I discussed before but I think is significantly more urgent than even I had imagined.

    Does he really believe we’re not already doing that, or does he just think you might be dumb enough to believe that?

    Pablo (99243e)

  5. Pablo, both I think. I’ve seen little reason to believe he’s paid any attention to the work that’s actually been done to date.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  6. DRJ, the morning papers will not do the research you’ve done. This guarantees the golden one’s crown will remain as shiny as a chocolate coin.

    Vermont Neighbor (31ccb6)

  7. I don’t think Obama is sensitive enough to the tightrope that we must walk with respect to Pakistan (which is ironic, considering that Obama’s whole foreign policy schtick is about how much more attuned he will be to the rest of the world than Bush has been). Musharraf is no one’s idea of a 100% ally, but he operates with heavy constraints placed upon him, namely the fact that a large segment of his military are sympathetic to al Qaeda. If he pushes too far he faces the real possibility of a coup.

    Is anyone else reminded of the campaign 16 years ago when Bill Clinton flayed the Bush 41 Administration over it’s outreach to China, only to maintain essentially the same policy once he was inaugurated? Sorry to be cynical, but I think that foreign policy is largely set by the permanent State Department bureaucracy in Washington, not by individual administrations. Bush 43 was one of the first Presidents since Reagan to push back against them, and look where it has gotten him.

    JVW (6a7c34)

  8. Speaking as one of them, liberals will be fine with it. A long stated criticism from the left has been that Iraq has distracted from the more important mission of wiping out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the rest of Central Asia and making it a central policy to remake Afghanistan, by taking away resources and attention and turning Afghanistan into a footnote of the current military policy.

    And if you want to get cynical about it, this is a perfect stance for Obama to adopt even if he acknowledges it comes directly from the current Chairman. You say he won’t listen to the generals? He is here. And what this general is implying is that the Administration, Dept. of State, DoD, etc. is clearly failing to do the obvious thing and pressure Pakistan. Obama can say unlike Bush he agrees with the Chairman on the current military assessment and will finally go after Al Qaeda at its source.

    Liberals are always happy to embrace people in the Bush Administration who can be seen as dissenters (often to the point they miss why in fact there might be dissent for reasons other than liberal viewpoints and often forgetting why they might have distrusted that person in the first place). A sitting Chairman of the JCoS who seems to be implying that the current administration is screwing up something as important as Al Qaeda is someone liberals will be pleased to see Obama agree with.

    Aplomb (b6fba6)

  9. August 1, 2007 – Obama says: “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act,” Mr. Obama said, “we will.”

    Now he says: “there doesn’t appear to be any pressure at all being placed on Al Qaeda”

    — Obama, who lately has been very fond of claiming no change in his initial positions on the issues, sounds similar here … minus the unilateral military action statement; doesn’t mean he’s changed his mind on that.

    Icy Truth (9cedd0)

  10. > And what this general is implying is that the Administration, Dept. of State, DoD, etc. is clearly failing to do the obvious thing and pressure Pakistan.

    It is refreshing to see “obvious” and “Pakistan” used in the same sentence. Perhaps.

    When it comes to policy in our (U.S.) national interest, there is very little about Pakistan that fits that word.

    Warlords, poppies, grinding poverty, radical Islam, Taliban, weapons bazaars, tribal cultures, revenge, torching girls’ schools, suicide bombing, al Qaeda, corrupt police, fractured security forces, bribery, no reliable tax base, foreign aid sinkhole, smuggling, death sentences for apostates, banditry…

    By the way, was that paragraph referring to Pak, or to Afghanistan?

    Suggest a visit to the Long War Journal, which has informative posts and good links to other sources about South Asia.

    AMac (7a6c31)

  11. Aplomb #8 – I agree with AMac, in that Pakistan could go any number of ways with added pressure. It’s my opinion that should Musharraf fall and the radicals obtain unfettered access to the nuclear materials (they most likely have some access – it’s not Turkey where the military is anti-fundamentalist), we will have ourselves a limited nuclear strike – not an exchange mind you, but a strike.

    This is a sticky situation and cannot be abandoned in the middle. Would you support the escalation of hostilities if our ally becomes an enemy?

    Apogee (366e8b)

  12. Obama also appears to be ignorant of just how much “pressure” has been put on Pakistan by the Bush administration’s historic raprochement with India.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. Aplomb #8,

    I disagree with your statement that Adm. Mullen is a Bush dissenter and the facts don’t support your conclusion. In fact, the facts show that the Bush Administration is exerting high-level pressure on Pakistani leaders to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the FATA.

    Adm. Mullen is the top-ranking officer in the US military and the officer Bush chose to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Mullen has been in Pakistan pressuring the Pakistanis to do more in the FATA. He was there for 6 days on this visit and he’s been there twice this year. Pakistani news sources have reported that Adm. Mullen pressured Pakistan to allow hot pursuit of terrorists crossing over between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but so far Pakistani leaders have resisted despite intensifying US pressure.

    In addition, Defense Secretary Gates made a point of publicly supporting Adm. Mullen’s statements about the need for cross-border military actions:

    “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has not ruled out the US air strikes, drones attacks and covert special missions in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas.

    “We will take defensive actions. We have taken defensive actions when fired upon from places right across the border. Generally, that’s been in counter artillery,” Gates said.”

    Finally, during Adm. Mullen’s last visit to Pakistan, it was announced that Pakistan PM Yousaf Raza Gilani will travel to Washington to meet with President Bush tomorrow, July 28, 2008. It has been reported that the FATA and related matters, presumably including hot pursuit, are on the agenda. Gilani will also meet with VP Cheney and Secretary of State Rice.

    Frankly, it sounds to me like Adm. Mullen, Secretary Gates, and President Bush are on the same page here and the Newsweek quote tells me Obama is happy to tag along with their strategy.

    DRJ (de3993)

  14. By the way, the Pakistani government just announced that the notorious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has been placed under civilian government control. As noted in the link, the ISI “played a major role in the creation of the Taliban movement which took control of Afghanistan in the 1990s and harboured al-Qaida until it was forced from power by US-led forces.”

    DRJ (de3993)

  15. How is Afghanistan more important than Iraq? There are currently no forces in Afghanistan that threaten anyone other than the Afghan people and the dope smokers around the world. No oil and we can do without the rugs. Any build up in Afghanistan will simply be to pour more ‘revenge’ on Osama or is that Obama, and unlike Russia we will not be fighting the Afghan people. Can anyone prove Osama isn’t already dead and rotten? AQ will open up Pakistan to attack by ‘NATO’ (who is in charge of the war in Afghanistan, democrats keep forgetting that fact) by attacking people in the only country they now have as a safe haven. Pakistan will soon have enough and allow cross border attacks to save their own people.

    Scrapiron (c36902)

  16. I am left wondering why Sen. Obama thinks that increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan–in effect a surge–is good because more troops will help control violence, whereas he thought more troops in Iraq–the Surge–was bad and would increase violence. In short he is advocating a surge in one country where he decried it in another to the point where even now, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, he has a hard time crediting it with any part of the improvement there. Were I a cynical person I would say that he is all for increasing the troops in Afghanistan, not because he cares about Afghanistan, but as a means of trying to say that putting more troops in Iraq was bad because we would have a hard time coming up with enough troops to send to Afghanistan. Since I am somewhat cynical I don’t think Sen. Obama cares about either Afghanistan or Iraq or what happens to the citizens of either country, and is only using both as a means to advance his candidacy. If he truly cared about Afghanistan he would have held hearings on it and been more outspoken as to what he thought would solve the problem long before now.

    And I could point out that there is no military solution for Afghanistan, something Sen. Obama and his fellow liberals frequently say about Iraq. Also, I didn’t notice Sen. Obama mentioning any plans to improve condition in Afghanistan to where the citizens of that country would reject bin Laden and his philosophy. In all honesty, neither has Pres. Bush advanced such plans. The problem still remains that peace will only come to that troubled country when its citizens see that their government is actually helping them improve their lot in life. Only then will they rally behind that government and turn against violence.

    Of course holding such hearings might have brought out that invading Pakistan would likely have brought about a coup so it was not possible to invade that country to go after bin Laden sooner unless we were willing to risk having Musharraf overthrown, something which would have made many Democrats–with their screams over Tora Bora–look rather foolish and needed to be avoided at all costs. I’m not sure that such action is even possible today without grave risk of a coup, but perhaps Pakistan has now reached the conclusion that something has to be done.

    To comment directly on your question of what will the liberals think when they learn Sen. Obama’s words are what one of Pres. Bush’s appointees is saying, first they will try to deny it by spinning what both the general and Sen. Obama have said. If that doesn’t work, they will try to ignore it. As a last resort there will be an acceptance as long as they believe that it is something that Pres. Bush was against. Should it ever be proved that Pres. Bush may have been for it, but did not do it because of sound reasons such as a coup, their brains may explode.

    Now I know I should not paint with such a broad brush and that there are many liberals who are honestly seeking ways to help solve the various problems of the world and I admire them, but the unfortunate fact is that many of their fellows are so badly affected with BDS that they have lost all ability to reason. It is unfortunate for those reasonable liberals that the members of their community–who have attracted attention and have seized the reins of power on their side–are the ones that are unbalanced. I also suspect that most liberals would be surprised to learn of the many very liberal positions I personally hold.

    Fritz (c9a1e9)

  17. At the LWJ, Bill Roggio has written about the latest Predator strike in Pakistan’s lawless FATA. His post includes a compilation of the recent cross-border attacks.

    Three foreign terrorist are among six killed in a targeted strike in Pakistan’s lawless tribal agency of South Waziristan. The strike in Pakistan marks the sixth targeted attack against al Qaeda and Taliban operatives inside Pakistan this year.

    On May 14, Abu Sulayman Jazairi, a senior Algerian operative for al Qaeda’s central organization, along with 13 associates, was killed in an airstrike… Jazairi is described as a senior trainer, an explosives expert, and an operational commander tasked with planning attacks on the West…

    On March 16, US forces struck at the fortified compound owned by Noorullah Wazir… in the village of Dhook Pir Bagh

    On March 12, the US military fired guided missiles from Afghanistan into a compound run by Siraj Haqqani…

    Abu Laith al Libi was killed in a US strike inside the North Waziristan tribal agency in Pakistan in late January…


    These strikes have done little to disrupt the growth of al Qaeda and the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda maintain more than 100 terror camps in North and South Waziristan alone, and are consolidating their control over the tribal areas and several settled districts in the Northwest Frontier Province.

    Useful background.

    AMac (ad7463)

  18. Pakistan is probably lost once Mushareff goes and he is going. That will make Afghanistan untenable, a detail missed by Obama because he knows nothing of logistics (they don’t teach that in community organizer school). One reason for the rapprochement with India is that both countries realize the danger of Pakistan the next few years.

    Mike K (586583)

  19. “A long stated criticism from the left has been that Iraq has distracted from the more important mission of wiping out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the rest of Central Asia and making it a central policy to remake Afghanistan, by taking away resources and attention and turning Afghanistan into a footnote of the current military policy.”

    Aplomb – And of course the criticism was wrong and merely meant to deflect attention from their opposition to the wat in Iraq. No liberals with any sense of history could seriously suggest that we should consider a Russian type strategy with respect to Afghanistan and they also ignored the fact that resources were not in fact diverted from the country. Smoke and mirrors from the left once again.

    “And what this general is implying is that the Administration, Dept. of State, DoD, etc. is clearly failing to do the obvious thing and pressure Pakistan.”

    Blatantly wrong analysis on your part as the other commenters have already pointed out.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  20. Can someone tell me why Bush wants to use counter terrorism funds for F-16’s for Pakistan. As more than one person has pointed out the planes are more about balancing tensions with India than fighting the Taliban.

    And in a related bit of Bush league business, the report is out:

    He was an experienced terrorism prosecutor and had successfully prosecuted a high-profile terrorism case for which he received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service. … The candidate’s wife was a prominent local Democrat elected official and vice-chairman of a local Democratic Party. […]

    [Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) Michael] Battle, [EOUSA Deputy Director and Cheif of Staff] Kelly, and EOUSA Deputy Director Nowacki all told us that Goodling refused to allow the candidate to be detailed to EOUSA solely on the basis of his wife’s political party affiliation. Battle said he was very upset that Goodling opposed the detail because of political reasons.

    Because EOUSA had been unable to fill the counterterrorism detail after Goodling vetoed this candidate, a current EOUSA detailee was asked to assume EOUSA’s counterterrorism portfolio. … He had no counterterrorism experience and had less than the minimum of 5 years of federal criminal prosecution experience required by the EOUSA job announcement. Battle, Nowacki, Kelly, and Voris all said they thought that he was not qualified for the position, since he had no counterterrorism experience.

    That’s your brand of patriotism.

    JAR (08d0b1)

  21. As more than one person has pointed out

    Would you mind naming a few of these people, or are they all nobodies from Kos?

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  22. Al la orden!

    “The Bush administration plans to shift nearly $230 million in aid to Pakistan from counterterrorism programs to upgrading that country’s aging F-16 attack planes, which Pakistan prizes more for their contribution to its military rivalry with India than for fighting insurgents along its Afghan border.

    Some members of Congress have greeted the proposal with dismay and anger, and may block the move. Lawmakers and their aides say that F-16s do not help the counterterrorism campaign and defy the administration’s urgings that Pakistan increase pressure on fighters of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in its tribal areas.

    The timing of the action caught lawmakers off guard, prompting some of them to suspect that the deal was meant to curry favor with the new Pakistani prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who will meet with President Bush in Washington next week, and to ease tensions over the 11 members of the Pakistani paramilitary forces killed in an American airstrike along the Afghan border last month.

    The financing for the F-16s would represent more than two-thirds of the $300 million that Pakistan will receive this year in American military financing for equipment and training.

    Last year, Congress specified that those funds be used for law enforcement or counterterrorism. Pakistan’s military has rarely used its current fleet of F-16s, which were built in the 1980s, for close-air support of counterterrorism missions, largely because the risks of civilian casualties would inflame anti-government sentiments in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

    State Department officials say the upgrades would greatly enhance the F-16s’ ability to strike insurgents accurately, while reducing the risk to civilians. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Congress was weighing the plan, said the timing was driven by deadlines of the American contractor, Lockheed Martin.

    JAR (08d0b1)

  23. said the timing was driven by deadlines of the American contractor, Lockheed Martin.

    EVIL CAPITALISTS !!!!!!!!!1

    JD (75f5c3)

  24. And, racist.

    JD (75f5c3)

  25. That’s your brand of patriotism.

    Since when is the hiring and firing of any purely appointed position a matter of patriotism? The replacement of US Attorneys is at the pleasure of the President, as designated through the Attorney General. And when those firings are because the Attorney’s weren’t doing their jobs (such as the one for here in SoCal who would not prosecute drug crimes below a certain ridiculous amount (100 lbs, IIRC), and the same with drugs. (Good thing that Southern California doesn’t have a problem with the smuggling of drugs and guns, then, huh?)

    Just as Janet Reno’s removal of all 93 such attorneys when she was confirmed as AG was perfectly legal….

    But you were probably too young to remember such things.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  26. Oh, the NYTimes. We all know their recent credibility…

    “All The News That’s Fit To Print If it helps Bush, it doesn’t run, and if it hurts Bush, who cares who gets killed?”

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  27. >Can someone tell me why Bush wants to use counter terrorism funds for F-16’s for Pakistan.

    Yeah, I can. Because the situation in South Asia is very complicated.

    No American could say with a straight face that F-16s fight terror (except for aerospace lobbyists, shills for Pakistan, Congresspeople with assembly plants in their district, or State Department spokespeople).

    Pakistanis are somewhat against Islamist terrorism, some more than others. As a whole, they are a lot more passionate about deterring India from attacking, and regaining “their” Kashmir, and maintaining tranquility in the settled areas, and having strategic depth to the west. And they are proud of the institution of a strong military that can stand up to India and other foreigners. Hence, F-16s.

    Because the US wants to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda and is engaged in warfare in Afghanistan, Pakistan holds some trump cards. Look at a map. Think about logisitics, food and fuel and ammo for American and NATO troops. Now think about rotating brigades to and from Afghanistan. Now think about where US warplanes and tankers are based. Now think about overflight rights for our carrier-based planes.

    Haven’t even gotten to cross-border incursions along the frontier. Or to the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

    If you were a Pakistani general or politician who wanted F-16s and the US said no, what might you do next?

    If you were President Bush/Obama/McCain and wanted to not sell F-16s to Pakistan, how would you implement that policy? How would you plan out your next move, given your Pakistani counterpart’s likely responses?

    AMac (c822c9)

  28. Refusing to hire a decorated veteran counter-terrorism prosecutor because his wife is a democrat, and forcing the hiring someone whose only qualifications were as a pary loyalist.

    “Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs, “What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?”

    You don’t serve the President you serve the government and people of the United States. I think even WLS will admit that.

    JAR (08d0b1)

  29. JAR,

    The Goodling story is way off-topic. Save it for an appropriate thread.

    DRJ (de3993)

  30. JAR,

    On-topic, what are your thoughts on the F-16 sales you brought up? How would you advise the President?

    AMac (c822c9)

  31. I would advise the President that needs of Lockheed Martin are secondary to the needs of the nation.
    That’s basic stuff.

    As to more advanced and theoretical levels I’d have to say that no president could get elected following my advice. I’m way to the left of Obambi. I don’t have much respect for him, but he’s not a fool and that’s a big relief.

    On foreign policy in general This should impress you more than it does me.

    JAR (08d0b1)

  32. I bring up off topic issues here sometimes because this blog is more about partisan politicking than the issues of the day. Policy is secondary.
    On Pakistan Bush has backed Musharraf even against the lawyers pushing for reform. Bush has helped to weaken the rule of law in Pakistan and that has strengthened its enemies.

    I also think playing favorites regarding nukes in India and Pakistan is just stupid. Just increasing tensions.

    JAR (08d0b1)

  33. That’s basic stuff.

    Ranks right up there with “the sun rises in the east” for answering the question that was asked, too.

    As to more advanced and theoretical levels I’d have to say that no president could get elected following my advice. I’m way to the left of Obambi.

    “There is no human problem that cannot be made far worse by the addition of a government program.”

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  34. “I bring up off topic issues here sometimes because this blog is more about partisan politicking than the issues of the day. Policy is secondary.”

    JAR – I wasn’t aware that you were the owner of this blog. I thought Patterico was and as such he essentially determined the daily content with the assistance of his co-bloggers.

    If you have complaints about the content, you are certaintly free to infest other blogs with off topic ramblings or, perish the thought, even start your own blog. If you have a large family, I’m sure your readership figures will be HUGE.


    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  35. I think the best arrangement would be to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and allow it to work out its own domestic politics. The US has played God so many times in other state’s domestic affairs, and it has almost always come back to bite us.

    We need to adopt a foreign policy that respects all other states’ sovereignty, and allows for specific bilateral arrangements as needed without offsetting our overall multilateral commitments. This way, America can be the country that everyone else trusts. We can be the country that the world looks to for humanitarian assistant, economic assistant, technological assistance, and democratic leadership; rather than what we are today, feared and hated by the international community. How long can any state continue in such a way?

    What if we were spending $500 billion/year feeding, educating and healing our own citizens, and repairing our own infrastructure? It wouldn’t be long before we could start extending those benefits to the rest of the world. Who would hate us for that? No state would want to be at war with such a country.

    What other realistic choice do we have? As it stands, unless we intend to use nukes, or fight solely from the air, we can’t stand against nations such as Pakistan (or Iran) in traditional, boots on the ground combat; our military is far too small.

    The most intelligent option we have is to adopt a new foreign policy that will ensure the all the current states of the world that the US no longer intends to encroach on their sovereignty (something the greater majority certainly do not believe today). That doesn’t sound like Obama or McCain.

    Consider Senator Obama. He’s just returned from a world tour, in which he proclaimed his intention to continue the military war on terror, and to take it to the soil of one of America’s own allies. It’s ironic that Senator Obama has publicly proclaimed a unilateral policy of preemptive war, yet we still tend to associate Senator McCain with President Bush.

    Now consider Senator McCain. He’s proclaiming the need to continue the military war on terrorism as well. How long will it be before either of these candidates has the United States in direct opposition to the greater Muslim world? Both candidates are blindly assisting the efforts to radicalize moderates against the United States. In this great political campaign, what we need is a candidate that understands that the hearts and minds of over a billion Muslim people hang in the balance; not between Obama and McCain, but between moderate and radical. And US foreign policy can tip the scales. What we need is a candidate that can wage war where it can be won, at the negotiating table.

    John Maszka (b2c78b)

  36. John, you sound like a nice guy. I’m glad that you don’t live in a bad neighborhood.

    Machiavelli wrote “The Prince” a few hundred years ago, yet some of his insights are quite relevant to the way that you conceptualize international relations. You might find it interesting, or mystifying. I’m not sure which.

    AMac (c822c9)

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