The Globe and Mail’s stinking agenda, Congo section

Posted October 21st, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International by MarkOttawa

In a story he clearly worked hard to create, ace agenda-ist Geoffrey York in Johannesburg singles out Canada for not helping the UN peacekeeping force with helicopters.  What about the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden etc., etc., etc.? Then there’s Portugal, eh?  None of them seems to want to anwer the call either:

UN’s plea for helicopters in Congo going unheard

Struggling to contain a horrifying epidemic of mass rapes and murders, United Nations peacekeepers in Congo say they desperately need one thing above all: helicopters. But more than 50 countries – including Canada – have failed to help…

The Foreign Affairs Department said in a statement Tuesday that Canada deplores the violence against civilians, particularly the ongoing sexual violence against women and children, and continues to strongly support efforts to strengthen the rule of law to promote accountability for such crimes.

Canada carefully considers any formal requests from the UN to provide support to specific peace operations on a case-by-case basis, it added. Unfortunately, Canada was not in a position to support this particular request due to other operational commitments, it said…

In 2008, the UN Security Council authorized an additional 18 helicopters to be deployed to Congo. More than 50 countries, including Canada, were contacted by senior UN officials to see whether they could provide helicopters, according to a UN official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Only two countries – Bangladesh and Uruguay – answered the call. They provided three helicopters, leaving the UN with a shortfall of 15 aircraft. That shortfall will increase dramatically as one of the biggest contributors, India, has already withdrawn nine helicopters since June and is set to withdraw another 10 by early next year…

As for “other operational commitments” see Task Force SILVER DART, engaged in another mission mandated by the UN Security Council:

Why ain’t that commitment to the UN good enough for Mr York? I mean the CF are pretty stretched, and the Air Force’s support for the force in Afstan is getting rather more difficult (imagine how easy it would be also to support a few choppers in the heart of darkness).

Meanwhile the NY Times has aimed its Congo fire at the right target–the UN itself:

UN Peacekeeping: The Gray Lady’s outrage


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“Slow and progressive success in Afghanistan”–plus that UNSC seat

Posted October 18th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

Media round-up from the Conference of Defence Associations.


“A diplomatic game worth losing”

Posted October 15th, 2010 in Canada, International by MarkOttawa

Further to,

The UN Security Council, Canada–and the curse of the EU…

Canada Too “Pro-Zionist”? [Adrian]

some choice words from Andrew Coyne (bless him) in Maclean’s:

Ah, but this is Canada, where it’s All. About. Us. If Portugal were selected over Canada, it can’t possibly be a reflection of Portugal’s merits, but only Canada’s defects. Plainly, the UN’s 192 member states intended to send a message to the Harper government, being as obsessed with Canadian foreign policy debates as most Canadians aren’t…

I don’t know what’s worse: the sort of self-absorption that believes the world revolves entirely around oneself, or the sort of adolescent insecurity whose self-esteem depends on being elected class prefect by the likes of Iran and Uzbekistan…

One of about maybe five decent journalists in Canada (OK, ten maybe if one tries really hard), read on.


The UN Security Council, Canada–and the curse of the EU…

Posted October 14th, 2010 in Canada, International by MarkOttawa

…or, taking the “O” out of WEOG. I wrote earlier about our failure to win a seat:

Hardly a shocker when one thinks that we were up against two EU countries undoubtedly supported by all the members (did the UK support a fellow Commonwealth member? hah!) and with the rather significant lobbying of all those members, and EU representatives abroad, for them…

Now David Frum excellently amplifies the EU problem for Canada and others in the WEOG; the deck is stacked:

The temporary Security Council seats are assigned to regional blocs. Five seats become available January 1, 2011. One of those seats is assigned to the African bloc. One is assigned to the Asian and Arab bloc, one to the Latin American and Caribbean bloc, and two to the bloc to which Canada belongs: Western Europe and Others [WEOG].

Each of those regional blocs caucuses separately to determine whom it will nominate to fill its assigned seat.

The Africans nominated one candidate, South Africa, and it was duly elected. The Asians nominated one candidate, India, which was likewise duly elected. The Latin American and Caribbean group nominated one candidate, Colombia, again duly elected.

Noticing a pattern?

But the Western European and others group nominated not the requisite two candidates, but instead three: Germany and Portugal, as well as Canada. By nominating three, the Western European and Others bloc forfeited its right of decision. That looks like an unwise act. Why did it happen?

The answer has nothing to do with Kyoto or Israel, and everything to do with the internal politics of the European Union. It’s the European Union countries that dominate the Western bloc. Increasingly, the EU countries have been negotiating these UN nominations among themselves first. They decide that they want Germany and Portugal — and then they muscle their way through the rest of the bloc onto the UN floor.

This phenomenon creates two serious structural problems.

  • European Union bloc voting gives the EU unintended clout within the Security Council. Remember, Eastern Europe is also a bloc, and it gets one seat on the Security Council, currently held by Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnia-Herzegovina is not yet a EU member, but it would dearly like to be, and so would other members of the Eastern European group. The EU can pressure EU applicants into complying with EU wishes, even against a supposed EU ally like Canada [in addition there is the amazing fact that B-H is not fully independent and is in some ways an EU protectorate, latest here].
  • Bloc voting by the EU within the Western bloc seriously disadvantages the “others”: Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (Israel is an affiliate member of the Western group, and also, by the way, one of two countries in the UN ineligible for Security Council membership. The other is Kiribati, but Kiribati’s exclusion is almost certainly only temporary: It only joined the UN in 1999, after all.)…

Will any of our major media other than the National Post mention the above realities? Hah!

Publius truly puts it all into, er, perspective:

As you can expect the Portuguese responded to this triumph with complete indifference. When I checked the major Lisbon newspaper’s site, Tuesday afternoon, the main headline was about – shocker – a Portuguese soccer victory. Bankrupt they may nearly be, but hell if they don’t have their priorities straight. Old wise people, they understand only too well that what Cristiano Ronaldo does on the pitch, contributes far more to global happiness than anything UN Security Council has ever done.

Canada, which is a much younger country than Portugal, has responded to its defeat at the UN with all the composure of a teenage girl being rejected for cheerleader…


Canada Too “Pro-Zionist”?

Posted October 13th, 2010 in International by Adrian MacNair

It isn’t difficult to guess how much this guy likes the idea of Israeli-loving Canada on the security council.

“Experts are blaming Canada’s failure to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council”, reads the beginning of this CBC article. But no experts [plural] are presented in the copy that follows, save Paul Heinbecker, Canada’s former ambassador to the UN and, a salient point if there is one to find, a “leading critic of the government’s foreign policy.”

Heinbecker blames four things on Canada’s failure to gain a seat on the security council: decreased African aid, its support of Israel, and its stance on climate change and peacekeeping. He asserts these things are unpopular with the international community.

It’s certainly in line with the Liberal party talking points that Canada has lost its way in the international community with a poor foreign policy. Decreased foreign aid to Africa may or may not be a factor. Certainly it’s arguable that our reluctance to entertain jobs-killing climate legislation has destroyed our international reputation. One need not read the press release from the Suzuki Foundation to guess what their opinion is.

What about so-called peacekeeping? It’s true that we curtailed our commitments to open-ended UN assignments involving futilely guarding refugee camps in the Congo in order to pursue a more robust counter-terrorism strategy that aligns our geopolitical interests in Central Asia. But I can’t imagine that had a significant impact on the decision either. After all, ISAF is joined by such nations as Sweden and Norway in the NATO effort in Afghanistan. One need not mention what the foreign policy impact of leaving our allies in the lurch will be down the road.

If I were to select one of Heinbecker’s four reasons as being most plausible, it would have to be our position on Israel. Certainly few nations have been so recklessly supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself against a neighbouring territory that routinely launches rocket attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

It is not with the intent of making friends and influencing people that Canada supports Israel, but because it’s the right thing to do. The popular yet craven choice would be to shun Israel in order to tap into the vast numbers of Palestinian sympathizers, not only at the United Nations but throughout the Muslim world.

Rising antisemitism disguised as criticism of Israel’s paradoxical standoff with Hamas is de riguer. How anyone can seriously expect a nation to deal with an enemy sworn to destroy it in a conscientious manner that guarantees no casualties is beyond me. But then again, the fact that Israel is one of the only legitimate democracies in the Middle East escapes a great number of people as well.

So Canada didn’t get a seat on the security council. Is the United Nations relevant enough that it’s a huge blow to our national ego? After all, security council resolutions pertaining to Afghanistan were adopted long after action had been taken against the Taliban government that was shielding al-Qaeda, which conjures up a barn door metaphor.

Ironically, the United Nations involvement in Afghanistan has not been enough to quell the antipathy toward Canada’s mission there, nor even inspire people to learn more about what Afghans actually want from the international security forces.

UN Security Council: The world needs more Canada?

Posted October 13th, 2010 in Canada, International, Uncategorized by MarkOttawa

Hardly.  We are not even mentioned in this Daily Telegraph leader:

New blood at the UN Security Council

Back home, Inimitable Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail, and a fellow “reporter”, go predictably (‘crying “humiliating” or things similar, which many will do’) hysterical on the front page:

The humiliating rejection of Canada’s bid to win a seat at the United Nations Security Council Tuesday presents Stephen Harper with a choice: acknowledge this rebuke from the global community and rethink how his government presents Canada to the world, or ignore it and accept an outsider status unique in this country’s history…

What kind of a “news” story is that? It’s a bloody editorial. And in fact the paper’s formal editorial sensibly concludes:

…If Canada’s failure to win a Security Council seat is a result of Conservative foreign policy, then it says more about the UN than it does about Canada.

Strange journalism indeed when one find duelling editorials from supposed reporters and actual editorial writers in the same paper. The Ottawa Citizen’s editorial also soundly ends:

Not worth the price

The tyrants, thugs and revolutionaries who wield power at the UN might not like Canada much these days because Canada has become one of the strongest voices against extremism, terrorism and illiberalism. A seat on the UN Security Council would have been nice, but not at the cost of betraying Canadian values.


Bad: “Softy” Lloyd supported Canada’s UN Security Council bid

Posted October 12th, 2010 in Canada, International by MarkOttawa

I’m most uncomfortable with anything supported by Mr “Soft on power, soft in head” Axworthy:

Lloyd Axworthy parks his red Liberal colours at the door when it comes to his country’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Axworthy liked what he heard in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s two speeches to the UN last month. If Canada manages win another term, the former Liberal foreign minister says, “I’d be glad to send him some of my old notes.”..

Axworthy was foreign minister when Liberal-led Canada last sat on the council a decade ago, and he’s pulling hard for his country — now led by the Harper Conservatives — to return to the powerful body…


UPDATE: Canada Fails In Its Bid For UN Security Council Seat

Hardly a shocker when one thinks that we were up against two EU countries undoubtedly supported by all the members (did the UK support a fellow Commonwealth member? hah!) and with the rather significant lobbying of all those members, and EU representatives abroad, for them.

We hardly have comparable international clout. In fact we have very little. But our pundits, politicians, and large segments of the public simply do not have the realism, or the intellectual honesty, to realize that Canada has become, inevitably, a small player on the international scene in light of how the world has changed since the 1950s–perhaps the last time had serious and sustainted influence.

Instead of crying “humiliating” or things similar, which many will do, let’s just grow up and suck it up.


UN Security Council seat: Beware what you wish for/Heinbecker vivisection Update

Update thought: Another way of putting it:

CDN Aviator: Quite. Plus a seat, had we got it, that would have caused frequent and divisive Canadian political and pundocratic, also ethno/religious, uproar about Canada’s position on all sorts of things about which we have little real interest and almost no influence.

Again, suck it up. We are not a serious internatonal player and there is no objective reason why we should be. Time we learned to live with, and handle, the truth:


UN Security Council seat: Beware what you wish for/Heinbecker vivisection Update

Posted October 5th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International by MarkOttawa

Eric Morse and Eugene Lang take a rather more, er, realistic view than the great majority of our politicians and punditry (as did former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in a certain case in which however he certainly showed no courage):

UN hot seat can be uncomfortable

“Thank God we’re not on the UN Security Council; our diplomats work all their careers to get us on the Security Council but there are times like this when you don’t want to be on it,” prime minister Jean Chrétien once said to foreign minister Bill Graham.

The “time like this” was the run-up to the second Iraq war in the winter of 2003. It was an agonizing period in UN and Canadian relations, as the United States was pushing hard for the Security Council to endorse an imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. This was arguably the most significant issue to come before the council in decades. And Canada’s prime minister of the day wanted no part of that deliberation on this extraordinarily difficult question for Canada.

Next week, after years of lobbying in New York by Canadian diplomats, and more recent high profile interventions by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the UN General Assembly will decide whether Canada edges out Portugal for a coveted two-year seat on the council…

It has been suggested we don’t “deserve” a seat this time around. But — if “deserving” is a criterion of international politics at all — Canada’s contributions to UN missions in the Balkans, where we served for 15 years and had 1,400 troops deployed as late as 2003, and our leadership of the UN-mandated ISAF mission in Afghanistan in 2003-04, not to mention Canada’s more recent sacrifices in Kandahar [which continues to be authorized by the Security Council and hence is a UN mission], more than qualify this country for Security Council membership…

A seat on the council might mean Canada finds itself having to pronounce on — or contribute blood and treasure to — issues that it would rather avoid entirely. Imagine, for example, the political anguish in this country if we were on the council during another Arab-Israeli war. It is hard to imagine Canada would have any influence over the Security Council on a modern-day Arab-Israeli war, yet a heavy price would be paid in domestic discord.

As a Security Council member, and given that Canada was one of the architects of the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine, we would have difficulty in not supporting a council bent on invoking R2P as a justification for intervention, even if we were not prepared to commit the blood and treasure necessary to support such an intervention. This would be awkward for Canada, to say the least [see also: "There’s a responsibility to protect us from Pink Lloyd and Soft Rock"]…

Former ambassador to the UN Paul Heinbecker recently proposed a 10-point agenda that Canada should bring to the Security Council. It summarizes everything that the advocates of soft power in Canada would wish our role in the world to be. As such, it likely won’t mesh with the foreign policy agenda of the current government. But it is at least a framework [the authors are being kind; Mr Heinbecker's article is a piece of typically Canadian mush advocating a bunch of nice ideas that won't happen whatever this country might try to do]. And if you are going to go into that room with the big boys, you’d better have something to guide your thinking and voting.

Eugene Lang, former chief of staff to two Liberal ministers of national defence, is co-author of The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar. Eric Morse is a former Canadian diplomat who is now vice-chair of security studies at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto.


Does Canada deserve Mickey I.?/Bobbety’s smooth move

John Robson of the Ottawa Citizen wonders where the Mickster’s brains are at, and why we should even bother to care about winning a (temporary) seat on the UN Security Council…

Update: E.R. Campbell at does a vivid vivisection of Mr Heinbecker’s mush mentioned above (if such an action is possible).


Does Canada deserve Mickey I.?/Bobbety’s smooth move

Posted September 24th, 2010 in Canada, International by MarkOttawa

John Robson of the Ottawa Citizen wonders where the Mickster’s brains are at, and why we should even bother to care about winning a (temporary) seat on the UN Security Council:

One of the oddest stories of the week, which takes some doing, was Michael Ignatieff apparently trying to undermine Canada’s bid [more here, with video of prime miniser] for a UN Security Council seat. I know politics here doesn’t stop at the water’s edge but tries to shove the other fellow in. Still, this seems weird.

For the record, I’m not objecting because I want us to get a Security Council seat. As I subtly hinted in endorsing the suggestion back in 1999 that the UN be dismantled and hurled brick by brick into the river, I consider it a dangerous organization, less for the generally feeble things it does than for the illusions it fosters among well-meaning Westerners that there is some sort of world government committed to fair play and decency…

What he [Mr Ignatieff] said was “This is a government that for four years has basically ignored the United Nations and now is suddenly showing up saying, ‘Hey, put us on the council.’ Don’t mistake me. I know how important it is for Canada to get a seat on the Security Council but Canadians have to ask a tough question: Has this government earned that place? We’re not convinced it has.”

Where to start?..

I also do not know, when he says he doesn’t think we have earned such a seat, what behavior he thinks does qualify a nation for it. (The Council’s current non-permanent members are Austria, Bosnia and Herzogovina, Brazil, Gabon, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey and Uganda. You tell me why.)..

Now listen to Mr Robson expatiating on the theme at CFRA Ottawa:

Friday, September 24, 2010
John Robson in the Morning- Sept 24
Madely in the Morning – 8:10am — Every Friday, John Robson, CFRA Commentator at Large, and Ottawa Citizen Columnist, joins Steve Madely for an hour to discuss the world’s news and his take on it. John also reveals his top 5 strange stories of the week!

Not enough Robson for you? Visit for more!
mp3 (click here to download)

Meanwhile Norman Spector spots a smooth move by Bobbety:

UN chase shows that Grits got the wrong guy


Who cares if Canada gets a (non-permanent) seat on the UN Security Council?


Afstan: Just say “no” to NATO/CIA Great Gaming, Canadian terrorist “shocker” Update/US AfPak docs Upperdate

Posted September 23rd, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

That would seem to be this government’s likely answer, unless the Liberals (odd it should have come to that) take some sort of initiative themselves to encourage the extension in some form of our Afghan mission.  By the way, Canada is saying “no” to the UN too, nice eh?  From a story by Matthew Fisher of Postmedia News:

NATO official to press feds for post-2011 help training Afghans

KABUL — NATO’s ambassador to Afghanistan is flying 11,000 kilometres to Ottawa late next week to try to convince the Harper government that the alliance badly needs military trainers to school Afghan security forces and that Canada is ideally suited to provide them after its combat mission in Kandahar ends on July 1, 2011.

“I will speak to Canada about the overall progress of the campaign and where we think the shortfalls are and where we need additional resources and rebalancing,” Mark Sedwill said in an interview Wednesday at NATO’s fortress-like headquarters in the Afghan capital.

“Any decision that Canada makes now or in the future to continue to provide input on the military or civilian side would be tremendously welcome and not only because of the political importance of Canada.

“Canada has a first-rate army and with the experience of combat on the ground in Kandahar that army has been tested and tempered in the most difficult circumstances. Canada’s skills in training, as in every other area of military competence are first rate.”

The visit to Parliament Hill by Sedwill, who has served in the region for many years as a senior British diplomat, is part of a concentrated, multi-pronged strategy by NATO and its biggest players to persuade Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the crucial importance they attach to Canada maintaining some kind of military role in Afghanistan, which is slated to drop from nearly 3,000 troops to zero next year.

In a clear sign of the high importance that NATO and the U.S. attach to recruiting more trainers from across the alliance, U.S. President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen considered ways to tackle the training shortfalls when they met last week in Washington [interview with Mr Rasmussen here, plus more on other NATO members and trainers here]…

While NATO was acutely aware of the political “sensitivity” in Ottawa of what Sedwill referred to as this “delicate issue,” he said that “I don’t regard the door closed with Canada or any other country.”..

A resolution passed by Parliament [actually just the Commons] early in 2008 stated that Canada’s military mission in Kandahar must end next summer. However, the motion left open the possibility that troops could be deployed elsewhere in Afghanistan after that date [whereas the government lies and maintains the motion requires a complete withdrawal from the whole country, more on that at the middle of this post]. The House’s defence committee has called for a debate this fall on Canada’s military role after the Kandahar mission closes.

The Liberal party formally decided several months ago that it backed Canadian troops staying on in a training role here after next year. Many Conservatives are known to be of a like mind as the Liberals, but until now the prime minister has insisted that all the troops must come home.

NATO would not make a specific demand for troops when he visits Canada’s capital, Sedwill said. But it is an open secret that NATO would like Ottawa to contribute at least several hundred military trainers to teach in Afghan army and police academies.

Such an assignment would not involve the far more dangerous work of mentoring Afghan forces in the field [emphasis added]. It would also cost a tiny fraction of the current combat mission…

…the number of Canadian casualties has dipped sharply this year [emphasis added, how come that has not been more widely reported?] as its task force’s area of operations has shrunk to two, still very dangerous districts to the west of Kandahar City, after a huge influx of U.S. troops into the south of the country [more on current American operations here].

One wonders whether Prime Minister will have the political courage to stand up for Afghanistan–and Canada. Earlier:

Afstan: Even the Toronto Star seems open to keeping some Canadian troops

Afstan flash: One and half cheers for Peter MacKay/Dipper Update

Meanwhile back at the front in Afstan:

Afghanistan security ‘deteriorating:’ Feds

OTTAWA — Afghanistan’s security situation is “deteriorating,” with a rise in insurgent violence and intimidation of civilians, according to a new report on the war by the Harper government [report available here].

The latest quarterly report by the government, which covers the period from April 1 to June 30, also notes the assassination of several Afghan officials and an “early escalation of the fighting season.”

“This quarter was marked by a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, with increasing insurgent violence and intimidation targeting civilians, the assassination of several officials from Afghan government institutions and civil society, and an early escalation of the fighting season,” states the report, referring to the security situation as “increasingly volatile.”..

Despite the increasing violence, the report notes that Canada has made progress on a number of fronts. For example, the report notes that Afghan National Army forces have doubled in the dangerous Zhari district of Kandahar province, although the ANA’s overall capacity remained “unchanged,” according to the report.

Among other signs of progress, workers cleared 52,000 cubic metres of silt as part of the refurbishment of the Dahla Dam in Kandahar province, one of Canada’s “signature” reconstruction projects.

Three schools were refurbished with the help of Canadian Forces, bringing the number of refurbished schools to 19. More than 390,000 children in Kandahar received vaccinations for polio through a Canadian program…

Update: While on the covert front the CIA is even more active than generally thought (and doing some Great Gaming):

Paramilitary force is key for CIA

On an Afghan ridge 7,800 feet above sea level, about four miles from Pakistan, stands a mud-brick fortress nicknamed the Alamo. It is officially dubbed Firebase Lilley, and it is a nerve center in the covert war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The CIA has relied on Lilley, part of a constellation of agency bases across Afghanistan, as a hub to train and deploy a well-armed 3,000-member Afghan paramilitary force collectively known as Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams. In addition to being used for surveillance, raids and combat operations in Afghanistan, the teams are crucial to the United States’ secret war in Pakistan, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The existence of the teams is disclosed in “Obama’s Wars,” a forthcoming book by longtime Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward [more here]…

A U.S. official familiar with the operations, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described the teams as “one of the best Afghan fighting forces,” adding that they have made “major contributions to stability and security.”

The official said that the teams’ primary mission is to improve security in Afghanistan and that they do not engage in “lethal action” when crossing into Pakistan. Their cross-border missions are “designed exclusively for intelligence collection,” the official said…

Then there’s this from Norman Spector (keep up the good work, a weekly must-read on Fridays), wonder what details the CIA has today–and is sharing with us:

A shocker for Canadians in Bob Woodward’s book

…we can expect pressure to leave some troops in Afghanistan to increase significantly between now and the NATO meeting in November. But, for Canadians, there’s also, according to the New York Times, a real shocker in the Woodward book – one that should be factored into the debate on Afghanistan as well as other national debates:

“A 2009 President’s Daily Brief and another highly restricted report, Mr. Woodward writes, ‘said that at least 20 al-Qaeda converts with American, Canadian or European passports were being trained in Pakistani safe havens to return to their homelands to commit high-profile acts of terrorism.’

‘They included half a dozen from the United Kingdom, several Canadians, some Germans and three Americans,’ the book continues. ‘None of their names was known’.”

Upperdate: Some very interesting US diplomatic documents from 2001-6 relating to the Pakistani role and situation are quoted in this article at Foreign Policy’s “AfPak Channel”:

Taliban strategy comes full circle


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