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Obama And Netanyahu Meet At The White House...WASHINGTON - MAY 18:  U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (L) in the Oval Office of the White House May 18, 2009 in Washington, DC. The two leaders are expected to discuss issues related to the Palestinian peace process and a new strategy on relations with Iran. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Netanyahu v Obama – What next?

Obama And Netanyahu Meet At The White House...WASHINGTON -(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The headline over an article in Ha-aretz by Bradley Burston on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s poker game with President Obama was If Obama wins in November, is Netanyahu in trouble? That’s a question I’ve had in my own mind for quite some time and it begs another. What, really, worries Netanyahu most – the prospect (not real) of Iran posing an existential threat to Israel or the prospect (real) of a second-term Obama?

There is, Burston wrote, something new in the air, something Netanyahu does not like. What is it? “American conservatives have begun to think out loud that Barack Obama will win in November.”

In my opinion there’s a better than evens chance that in the course of a second Obama term, America would put its own best interests first, which would mean an end to unconditional American support for the Zionist state of Israel right or wrong. (As is often the case, the Gentile me and Gideon Levy are on the same page. The headline over one of his recent articles in Ha-aretz was It’s only a matter of time before U.S. tires of Israel).

There are three main reasons why I have that opinion.

The first is my belief that Obama hates being a prisoner of the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress. (I think that Max Hastings, a former editor of the Daily Telegraph and a well respected military historian, was spot on when he wrote the following in a recent article for the Daily Mail. “Privately, Obama yearns to come down hard on Netanyahu, whom he dislikes intensely. But the U.S. President does not dare to do this when his own re-election may hinge on the three per cent of American voters who are Jewish.”)

The second, and much more to the real point, is that behind closed doors there are now many in the top levels of America’s military, intelligence and foreign policy establishments who are aware that an Israel which has no interest in peace with the Palestinians, and is led by men who wants war with Iran, is an Israel that is much more of a liability than an asset for the U.S. There is also awareness in the top levels of America’s military, intelligence and foreign policy establishments that Netanyahu decided to play the Iran threat card in order to divert attention away from Israel’s on-going consolidation of its occupation of the West Bank and, in short, to have Palestine taken off the American foreign policy agenda.

The third is the insight given to me by former President Carter when my wife and I met with him and Rosalyn after they had said goodbye to the White House. “Any American president has only two windows of opportunity to break or try to break the Zionist lobby’s stranglehold on Congress on matters to do with Israel Palestine.”

The first window is during the first nine months of a president’s first term because after that the soliciting of funds for the mid-term elections begins. Presidents don’t have to worry on their own account about funds for mid-term elections, but with their approach no president can do or say anything that would offend the Zionist lobby and cost his party seats in Congress. The second window of opportunity is the last year of his second term if he has one. In that year, because he can’t run for a third term, no president has a personal need for election campaign funds or organised votes. (I imagine that incoming President Obama, briefed by Carter or not, was fully aware of these limited windows of opportunity and that was why he tried in his first nine months to get a freeze on Israel’s illegal settlement activity).

So my answer to Burston’s headline question is yes, Netanyahu could very well be in trouble if Obama wins a second term. 

A good indication of Netanyahu’s fear of a second term Obama is, I think, the mountain of money his seriously wealthy supporters in America are investing in the effort to get a Republican into the White House who will allow Netanyahu and the Zionist lobby to pull his strings.

Question: Given that he does not want Obama to have a second term, what now are Netanyahu’s options?

I can see three possibles.

One is to watch and wait and hope that there will be a downturn in the American economy between now and November that will assist a Republican presidential candidate to defeat Obama.

Another is to launch a unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear sites (never mind that Iran’s leaders have not taken a decision to go nuclear for weapons and possibly never will unless Iran is attacked).

Question: How might initiating a war with Iran assist Netanyahu to put Obama in real trouble?

One short answer is that the probable regional and global fall-out of an Israeli attack on Iran, including soaring oil prices, could bring what is being presented as a slow but sure recovery of the American economy to a swift halt. And that, most likely, would be enough to guarantee Obama’s defeat in November. (In an analysis for The National Interest, an American bi-monthly foreign policy journal, Paul Pillar, a former, very senior CIA analyst and today a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies, noted that the welfare of American consumers and workers is “not high” on the list of decision-making criteria for Netanyahu and his government).

There is, however, one thing that could cause Netanyahu not to go with this option. Quite apart from the fact that Israel’s past and present intelligence and military chiefs are divided on the wisdom of a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran, the polls are showing that a majority of Israeli Jews are opposed to Israel going it alone with an attack on Iran. They’re in favour of Iran being attacked but only if America becomes engaged and takes the lead.

And that brings us to a possible third option for Netanyahu. It is to commission a Mossad false flag operation – an attack on a vital American interest or interests for which Iran could be and would be framed.

The Zionist lobby, Obama’s Republican rivals and much if not all of the American mainstream media would promote this falsehood as fact, and that could leave Obama with no choice but to commit American military power. If he did not, his Republican challenger or challengers, assisted by the Zionist lobby and most if not all of the American mainstream media would accuse him of failing to protect America’s security interests and betraying Israel. And that, given the ignorance of American public opinion, would almost certainly be enough to guarantee Obama’s defeat.

For his own part Obama absolutely does not want war another war. He’s frightened, as he should be, of the possible/probable consequences.

Quite apart from the possible/probable economic consequences (including soaring gasoline prices in America), Obama understands completely that U.S. engagement in a new and broader regional war will ignite more anti-Americanism and play into the hands of Arab and other Muslim radicals and extremists, perhaps to the point of assisting them to become the dominant political power in the region. And that, were it to happen, would be potentially catastrophic for America’s best interests in the Arab and wider Muslim world. (Netanyahu would, of course, be quietly pleased because his Israel needs enemies).

So far as I am aware there is no well informed commentator who is prepared to make an explicit prediction about what Netanyahu will do – whether he will or will not order a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran in the closing stages of the American election. If I had to bet my life on it, I’d say he won’t; but there’s a real danger that his anti-Iran rhetoric, described in a recent Ha’aretz editorial as “a combination of wretchedness and megalomania”, may create an unstoppable momentum for war.

As my readers know, I regard Ha’aretz as the most honest newspaper in the world on the subject of what is really happening in Israel. Its view of Netanyahu was on display in a recent editorial headlined Israel must not lend itself to Netanyahu’s vulgar rhetoric on Iran. I think the whole editorial ought to be required reading not only for those who want to replace Obama as president but for all American voters. Here is the text of it (with my emphasis added).

Anyone who cares about Israel’s future could not help but feel a chill upon hearing Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech at the AIPAC conference – if not because of the gravity of the existential threat it described, then because of its sheer vulgarity and bad taste. The prime minister, as if he were no more than a surfer leaving feedback on a website, did not hesitate to crassly compare Israel today to the situation of European Jewry during the Holocaust. And to spice up his speech with one of those visual gimmicks he so loves, he even pulled out a photostat of correspondence in order to imply a comparison between U.S. President Barack Obama’s cautious approach toward attacking Iran and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s refusal to bomb the rail lines to Auschwitz.

Netanyahu sometimes seems like he is holding a debating competition with himself. Every speech is the “speech of his life” and must overshadow its predecessor, while afterward, as if they were rehashing a sporting event, he and his aides gleefully count the number of standing ovations, especially from his American listeners. And in order to wring an ovation from the end of every sentence, it seems as if all means are legitimate: kitsch (trash) and death, threats and vows, warnings and rebukes of the entire world.

This time, too, it’s not quite clear what he wanted to obtain via this inane rhetoric – a combination of wretchedness and megalomania – aside from applause. Did he want pity? To prick the conscience of the world? To terrify himself, or perhaps to inflame the Churchillian fantasy in which he lives? But one thing is clear: Aside from the fact that he deepened our feelings of victimhood, insulted the American president and narrowed the options for diplomacy, Netanyahu did not improve Israel’s situation one jot by this speech, just as he hasn’t by any of his others.

Netanyahu isn’t the first Israeli prime minister, especially from the right, to harp on the trauma of the Holocaust. But in contrast to Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, who at the moment of truth also displayed diplomatic and leadership abilities, Netanyahu was and remains essentially a PR man: someone for whom words and rhetoric replace reality. The spine-chilling fear is that one day, all of us – himself included, despite his caution and hesitation – will discover too late that we have become hostages to his Churchillian speech, but without a Churchillian victory.

I’ll conclude with my own favourite story about Netanyahu.

Way back in 1984 I had an appointment for lunch in New York with the Englishman I most admire, Brian (later knighted) Urquhart. He was an Undersecretary General of the UN with the responsibility for conflict management. He served four Secretary Generals and was, in fact, the world’s number one trouble-shooter. Because of his matchless grasp of international affairs and his integrity, he was respected by leaders on both sides of all the conflicts he managed. And he never pulled his punches in behind-closed doors exchanges with leaders. On one private occasion Prime Minister Begin said he should not talk with Arafat. Urquhart looked Begin in the eye and said: “Mr. Prime Minister, I am the servant of the international community, don’t you dare to tell me who I can and cannot talk to!”

When Brian arrived for lunch, he said as he was sitting down, “I’ve just met the most dangerous man in the world.”

I asked who it was.

Brian replied: “He’s just presented his credentials as Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Footnote

For those who might want to lighten the gloom with a laugh, here’s a very funny joke I received by e-mail a few days ago.

A plane left Heathrow Airport under the control of a Jewish captain. His co-pilot was Chinese. It was the first time they had flown together and an awkward silence between the two seemed to indicate a mutual dislike.

Once they reached cruising altitude, the Jewish captain activated the auto-pilot, leant back in his seat, and muttered, “I don’t like Chinese.”

“No rike Chinese?” asked the co-pilot, “why not?”

“You people bombed Pearl Harbour, that’s why!”

“No, no”, the co-pilot protested, “Chinese not bomb Peahl Hahbah. That Japanese, not Chinese.”
“Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese…doesn’t matter, you’re all alike.”

There was a few minutes of silence….

“I no rike Jews,” the co-pilot suddenly announced.

“Oh yeah, why not?” the captain asked.

“Jews sink Titanic.” the co-pilot replied.

“What? That is insane! Jews didn’t sink the Titanic!” the captain exclaimed. “It was an iceberg.”

“Iceberg, Goldberg, Greenberg, Rosenberg, nomattah…all same.”

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5 Responses to Netanyahu v Obama – What next?

  1. ariadna March 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Your belief that Obama “hates being a prisoner of the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress” is perhaps a projection, not a serious argument.
    For all we know he may just as likely feel like a pet of the Lobby, comfortable and protected as long as he behaves. You speculate that “privately, Obama yearns to come down hard on Netanyahu, whom he dislikes intensely.” Perhaps you invest “Bibi” with too much significance. He is just a person. He may go, and Livni or whoever else may take its place, but the Lobby endures. Jewish power does not reside in the Prime Minister of the moment.
    Obama may well have his dislike of Netanyahu shared by other powerful zionists as he seemed to share it with Sarkozy. Fodder for the tabloids.
    True, U.S. Presidents do not challenge the Lobby when their re-election is upon them, but neither do they do it in the second term or indeed after they step down. Carter, the most “daring” of them all is careful, for example, when he speaks of apartheid to specify he is referring to the Occupied Territories, leaving the myth of Israel’s ‘democracy’ intact.

    The fact that Israel has no interest in peace is not a secret whispered “now” by US military, intelligence and foreign policy establishment. In fact, far from being a secret revelation of recent times, this used to be talked about openly. James Baker said it out loud to the Congress in a televised testimony I well remember when he quipped that Israel does not want peace but if and when they do they should call him at… (State Dept phone number).
    Having Palestine taken off the American policy agenda is not something anyone in the American leadership fears but rather views as something devoutly to be wished. The hard-to-sustain “honest broker” act is trying and humiliating and who, really, cares about the Palestinians?

    Carter’s statement about an American President’s “two windows of opportunity to break the stranglehold of the Zionist lobby on Congress” strikes me as extremely naive. No action of a president can break that stranglehold. The Prime Minister of Israel gets more standing ovations than the President–ANY US president. The President would have to have the power to fire just about all the members of Congress and assume dictatorial powers to break that stranglehold.

    While Carter’s statement is naive, yours, that Netanyahu could be “in trouble” during Obama’s second term sounds amazingly naive to me. The Lobby and Netanyahu are not “afraid” of a second term for Obama–the Lobby is pouring money into his re-election as well. Some of them (definitely not all) are impatient and irritated with Obama’s dragging his feet about attacking Iran for them. Let us not confuse the circus trainer’s irritation with a poorly performing seal with the trainer’s fear and terror of an uncontrollable wild beast. Obama is a seal and a rather well-trained one. The internal politics of Israel (a state the size of a handkerchief compared to the US and a client state of the US at that) are played on the grand stage of American elections. Sometimes the far-right Israelis win (GWB), sometimes the more Labor-flavored (Clinton, Obama), but Israel and the Lobby always win.

    Under no circumstances do I see Israel attacking Iran first or alone. The commission of a false flag operation is the only idea you expressed that I agree with completely as a possibility.

  2. who_me March 24, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    i wouldn’t call the article naive, since hart has been around the block a few times, and should know better, but the joke was ok

  3. Dale Martin March 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    I am going to make a very doom and gloom prediction on the future because in all sincerity it’s what I believe is going to be. The Israeli government are a group of demented child kings, they refuse point blank to define the borders of their country which can only be seen by others in that region as an intention to continue growing ad infinitum, they have no intention of ceasing their degenerate and appalling treatment of the Palestinian people, they are absolutely committed to taking conflict with Iran to a point of head on reality and they are doing so with a level of insane fervour that I would in all sincerity liken to that of the Nazi`s in 1930`s/40`s Germany where they themselves suffered so unjustly and so greatly, yet it would appear learned nothing with regard the need for justice, humanity and decency to prevail in this world from.

    .

    The Jewish community in America amounts to no more than 2.1% of the population, they are a minority and yet in the United States they are the majority voice in the political arena. It is insane that with such a small Jewish population in America that Israel should have developed such dominant political control, but the estimated $3 billion they pump into Washington politics per year has developed into a situation where the United States government has become little more than a mirror image of the puppet regime governments it operates in many regions in the Middle East. They are bought, paid for and dancing to the tune of their political financiers Israel and to a level that in my honest opinion borders on treasonous with regard the duty they have to their own country and its people and combined interests of both.

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    The level of problems the State of Israel brings to the Middle East and the world as a result is indicative that Israel is a State that has and creates many issues. The greatest failing here is that Israel rather than being willing to look at those issues, accept its own part in them and do something positive to address them, has taken the stance of delusion in its own oppression, Israel has developed the psychosis that it`s the whole world against Israel, when in fact the problem is that Israel through this delusion has developed a situation where it is in reality Israel against the whole world. If you need any proof of this you need only look at how Israel treats its friends, the United States is its best friend and greatest ally, yet Israel’s approach to the United States is not friendly at all if you examine the relationship closely, what type of best friend buys your friendship in an effort to make you conform to their wishes and even further threatens and bullies on top of that to bring about even more conformity, that is not an act of friendship, it is an act of domination and pure self interest. Rather ironic that the greatest perceived perpetrator of that kind of “friendship” on the planet, the United States of America, is actually a recipient of it, but clear indication that the true great perpetrator of this false friendship on this planet is actually Israel.

    .

    As far as the Palestinian issue goes Israel is in full control of any and all resolution to that, only Israel can bring this to an end because the Palestinians are effectively being forced to dance the whims of the Israeli government. They are isolated, oppressed, forced to live in disgraceful standards that no human being should have forced upon them, can any of us in the west imagine a situation where the logistical supply chain of our local shops involved tunnels dug under the ground in an effort to maintain the flow of supplies, can we imagine struggling to maintain enough clean drinking water while we watch our neighbour on the hill fill swimming pool and water their green garden with automated sprinkler systems, can we imagine living in a place like Imneizil in the Hebron hills where we rely on the two solar panels there for energy and the Israeli authorities announce that they intend to demolish them because in their opinion they are illegal. As much as the Israeli government likes to see itself as oppressed it is all absolute deluded psychosis, it is they who are the oppressors and as such only the cessation of that oppression can bring the conflict to an end. The ball is absolutely and firmly in the hands of Israel in that regard, but following their systematic reduction of the Palestinian people to nothing more than bare bones they continue to unceasingly pick at what they can from those too.

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    The situation of the Palestinian people is absolute gloom, but the point where doom is now about to be added to the gloom is Iran. Israel blusters loudly with its intent to go to war with Iran regardless of the west, but the reality is that the United States is absolutely pivotal to Israel in whether this happens or not. If the United States were to state unequivocally that if Israel launches an attack it will not participate itself in any way shape or form, then Israel for once would be forced to face a reality check on just who and what they are, a reality check that is absolutely far too long overdue. The United States in pandering to Israel as far as it has is responsible for fuelling their deluded psychosis, it has provided Israel with a “my dad is bigger than your dad” mentality that has brought about in Israel the attitude of a spoilt child that can do whatever it wishes, accordingly Israel has developed nothing in the way of humility, empathy and compassion, Israel has spent all its formative years being over indulged and it understands nothing of right and wrong, nothing of fairness and equity and nothing beyond that which it wants itself, the United States effectively as the facilitating parent to Israel has failed abysmally in teaching its child to become a responsible and decent adult, it has failed to bring Israel up with the understanding that no-one can have everything they want and consideration of others is a must.

    .

    George Galloways speech on Iran at the stop the war coalitions national conference on March 3rd was a very powerful speech indeed. He is absolutely right that Iran will not be a punching bag if it is attacked. Imagine your own house and someone illegally comes along to take possession of it, myself, if I come to the realisation that I cannot ultimately overcome the force that is coming to take my house then I will burn my house to the ground because lose it I will, but I will sure as hell make certain that they do not get it either. Iran if attacked has a considerable population that will absolutely unite to resist that attack, it has a viable and far from insignificant military to respond and it has 300+ long range missiles with which to ignite large scale fires in the oil producing sites in the middle east that will burn brightly for many years to come, would they do that, well if you come to strong-arm my house illegally from me I will make sure you take possession of nothing but ashes, so yes, from my point of view I think they absolutely will.

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    In Georges speech he touched on the fact that should the worlds oil supply be shut down and that if you think you are in a recession now you sincerely have seen nothing compared to what will be if that happens. I personally think that that is an understatement in regard to the problems that would be. Everything we are is based upon oil, our financial systems, our industry, food supply, transport, we would likely see the absolute collapse of our financial and industrial infrastructure, if you want to see what happens when oil is cut off from an economy look at Cuba post 1991 end of the cold war, their oil importation reduced by half and they were absolutely devastated by it. The scary thing for me about it all is that although Cuba survived the choking of its oil supply our society is nothing like the Cuban society. We are fully fledged decadent and lazy, we buy everything off the shelf at the local supermarket and have not the faintest idea regarding survival. Economically even before peak oil came to Cuba they had been brought together as a community through economic hardship, so the transition in pulling together was not as radical for them as it would be for us,,,,, can you imagine our nokia numpty generation starting a food growing campaign,,,, which button is that you have to press on your mobile to do that then? lol Some would assume that because Cuba was suffering so much trade embargo that the problem they had was bound to be more severe than it will be for us,,,, wrong in my opinion,,,,, because oil deficit would hit the financial markets so badly in all the western countries that trade between countries would suffer too, we would be imposing peak oil instigated trade embargoes on ourselves, the reality in my honest opinion is that we are far less prepared for such an event than Cuba ever was,,,,, It will hit us far harder because we will not cope anywhere near as well in response.

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    My doom and gloom prediction is that so far I do not see us avoiding this. As much as I want to see us averting this I see it looming ever nearer and I see everything I just said becoming our reality in the not so distant future. I see the middle east oil fields aflame, I see the financial collapse of the worlds markets, I see the infrastructures of the west grinding to a halt, I see people’s money held in banks worth 20p in the pound and I see potential ramifications that follow being a series of events all moving toward the literal destruction of what we have and it all pivots on one small but absolutely essential occurrence,,,,, That the United States of America ceases to indulge its selfish and wayward child Israel once and for all and forces it to grow up into the responsible and decent adult it needs to become. But the parent/child relationship of the United States and Israel is about as dysfunctional as it gets, the child is absolutely dictating to the parent and that has to stop very soon before it is too late for us all.

    • ariadna March 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      Superb analysis.
      Nevertheless…
      The “one small but absolutely essential occurrence” you pin your hopes on, that “the United States of America ceases to indulge its selfish and wayward child Israel once and for all and forces it to grow up into the responsible and decent adult it needs to become,” diminishes if you posit that the parent is also a psychopath.

  4. Dale Martin March 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Then we have the concept that Iran is a dangerous and aggressive country, well lets look at the history of Iran over the last hundred years and see what it shows, are they dangerous, or as I actually believe when you look at the hard cold facts of the treatment they have received over the last 100 years from the British, USSR and American governments, just a nation that has very good reason to not trust or like any of us so called democratic western countries because of what we have done to them.

    .

    During World War 1 Irans position was one of neutrality, but it was caught in the middle of the Allied Powers and the Central Powers, very much during that time it was forced into bouncing here there and everywhere by the superpowers and was pretty much devastated and had to rebuild its military afterwards.

    Then in the Second World War In August 1941, Britain and the USSR invaded Iran and deposed Reza Shah Pahlavi in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. That came about when Britain and the USSR both saw the newly opened Trans-Iranian Railroad as a strategic route to transport supplies from the Persian Gulf to the Soviet region.

    .

    Then there was the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom and the United States under the name TPAJAX Project.

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    Then we have the Iran/Iraq war of September 1980, which started with Iraq launching a simultaneous offensive by land and air and lasted 8 years. And though I would not say that the United States sanctioned Iraq to attack Iran, they had begun to get friendly with Iraq when Five months before Iraq’s invasion, on April 14, 1980, U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski signaled the U.S.’s willingness to work with Iraq: “We see no fundamental incompatibility of interests between the United States and Iraq… we do not feel that American-Iraqi relations need to be frozen in antagonisms.” he said. Former Carter official Gary Sick denied that Washington directly encouraged Iraq’s attack, but instead let “Saddam assume there was a U.S. green light because there was no explicit red light.”

    .

    Now yes, Iran openly supports Hizbullah in Lebanon in order to influence Lebanon. Various Kurdish groups are also supported as needed in order to maintain control of its Kurdish regions, in neighbouring Afghanistan, Iran supported the Northern Alliance for over a decade against the Taliban, and nearly went to war against the Taliban in 1998 which was very much in coalition interests also.

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    When I look at the history of Iran I see very little open aggression at all, infact it would be fair to say that Britain, the USSR and the USA have all pretty much kicked it from pillar to post over the last 100 years,,,,, but what exactly has it done to them? Where I Iran, given what all the superpowers have actually done to it over the last century I would want nuclear weapons myself, because it may be the only thing that would stop the never-ending cycle of attacks and interference that it has been subjected to. I don`t believe Iran wants nuclear weapons to use as a strike weapon at all, just one that puts it on a level playing field with the countries that have continually abused it and therefore will help to stop that interference and abuse from continuing. The only time any country on this planet will willingly enter into a nuclear Armageddon is when they have taken control of and populated another planet and therefore will not be annihilated in the process.

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