An Open Letter to Sean Hannity

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Dear Sean:

It really ticks
me off royally when you and your allegedly conservative talk-radio
colleagues dismiss all critics of the Iraq War as liberals who are
interested in nothing more than winning back the presidency and/or
who hate America. There may be liberal war critics out there who
are primarily concerned about putting Hillary or Obama or Edwards
or any Democrat in the White House, or who hate America, but you
know full well that there are many Americans with impressive conservative/libertarian
credentials who consider the war to be not only a blunder but downright

For several
months, I've considered calling you to take you to task for misleading
the listeners who consider you to be such a great American. But
I used to listen to you regularly and still listen to you occasionally,
and I know how you treat callers or guests with whom you disagree.
My intention was to put you on the spot by simply naming a number
of prominent conservative opponents of the war and to ask you to
explain to your listeners why you don't acknowledge these folks
and their arguments. But I knew that you'd simply talk over me and
accuse me of being a liberal, an accusation that to you and your
"great American" listeners is enough to discredit anything
the person so labeled says. So I considered presenting my anything-but-liberal
pedigree first, but I've heard you talk over many callers and guests
who have tried to resist your dismissal of them as liberals. So
I decided to cope with my frustration through an open letter to
you, as I once did with one to your pompous colleague, Rush Limbaugh.

You'll probably
never see this letter, but that's all right, because though I'm
writing it to you, it's really aimed at your listeners, and some
of them will have it brought to their attention by friends who aren't
as impressed by your rants as your listeners are. Even if I had
called you, I was going to try to avoid arguing with you, as tempted
as I'm sure I would have been to do so. No, I'm not afraid to argue
with you, because I don't think you're that sharp. It's just that
I know your position on the war, I consider it to be simplistic,
and I also know that I'm not going to change your constipated mind,
so why should I argue with you on your court playing by your rules?

Sean, you've
had George Will on your show a number of times, and you apparently
consider him to be conservative. Yet the following comments he made
to the libertarian Cato Institute don't seem in sync with the prevailing
Bush-bunch assumption going into the war that the Iraqis were just
chafing for liberty and that a western-style democracy would be
established in Iraq in a matter of months.

Tony Blair
— a good American — gave a speech about values to a joint session
of Congress three months after Baghdad fell. He said that our
values are not Western values, they are values shared by ordinary
people everywhere. False. The world is full of ordinary people
who do not define freedom as we do, who do not value it as we
do, who prefer piety, ethnic purity, religious solidarity, military
glory, or the security of despotism. There are still all kinds
of competing values in the world, and liberty has to be fought
for and argued for and defined. It is a learned and acquired taste.

Isn't George
skating on thin ice here? Doesn't he seem to be questioning the
administration and talk-radio-conservative mantra about all those
purple-fingered Iraqi voters with their new constitution being good
to go if it weren't for those foreign terrorists causing problems?
Is George a closet liberal, Sean?

And then there's
your buddy Pat Buchanan, who you have on your show rather often.
I subscribe to his The American Conservative magazine and
regularly read his columns on the Internet. Pat seems to think that
he's conservative, yet he's adamantly opposed to the Iraq war and
so are all of those who write about it in his magazine. According
to Pat, the war in Iraq "was not thought through. It was not
only mismanaged, it was an historical strategic blunder to begin
with." And in a recent issue of The American Conservative,
he noted that if we buy Bush's claim that we're "fighting
for the right of Islamic peoples u2018to speak, and worship, and live
in liberty,'" we're caught in a dilemma. "Devout Muslims
in Islamic lands do not believe people should be free to blaspheme
or insult the Prophet. They do not believe all religions are equal
or should be treated equally. They do not believe Christians should
be free to preach in their lands. The punishment for those who do,
and for those who convert from Islam in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia
as well as Iran, is death." He goes on to note that wherever
free elections have been held in the Middle East Islamists have
won over Western secularism and asks: "Should U.S. soldiers
die for democracy in the Islamic world, when democracy may produce
victory for the political progeny of the Muslim Brotherhood? Is
that worth the lives of America's young?"

One of my
favorite contributors to The American Conservative, Andrew
J. Bacevich, would have answered Pat's question with a resounding
NO! even before he recently lost his Army lieutenant son in Iraq.
Bacevich, himself a retired Army colonel who now is a professor
of international relations and director of Boston University's Center
of International Relations is the author of The
New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War
You probably haven't heard of this book, Sean, because I suspect
that it's not on the neocon/warmonger reading list. But the blurb
on the inside of the dustcover pretty well sums up Bacevich's argument,
and it's short enough to not tax your attention span.

In this provocative
book, Andrew Bacevich warns of a new and dangerous obsession that
has taken hold of so many Americans, conservatives and liberals
alike. It is the marriage of militarism to utopian ideology —
of unprecedented military power wed to a blind faith in the universality
of American values.

This perilous
union, Bacevich argues, commits Americans to a futile enterprise,
turning the United States into a crusader state with a self-proclaimed
mission of driving history to its final destination: the world-wide
embrace of the American way of life. This mindset invites endless
war and the ever-deepening militarization of U.S. policy. It promises
not to perfect but to pervert American ideals and to accelerate
the hollowing out of American democracy. As it alienates others,
it will leave the United States increasingly isolated. It will
end in bankruptcy, moral as well as economic, and in abject failure.

And Sean,
even your late friend the outspoken Colonel David Hackworth (USA
retired) believed that going to war with Iraq had nothing to do
with combating terrorism and was a blunder. In one of his columns,
he wrote:

So, fighting
Iraq bears not the slightest resemblance to our triumphant World
War II march across Europe. Almost the entire Arab world views
us not as liberators occupying that bludgeoned country solely
to pull Iraqis up by their sandal straps, but as Crusaders who've
returned to finish the dirty work the Christian world started
a thousand years ago. Deep in the hearts of most Arabs, we're
just the latest wave of infidels who are into violating their
sacred land.

Are you beginning
to see a pattern here, Sean? Are George Will, Pat Buchanan, Andrew
Bacevich, and the late David Hackworth liberals and/or America haters
because they've pointed out that other peoples aren't like us and
don't appreciate the attempts by our government to make them like
us? And is former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips a
liberal for writing in his American
Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and
Borrowed Money in the 21 Century
that while the attack on
Iraq was "at bottom about access to oil and U.S. global supremacy,"
it also had other intentions. "One was to fold oil objectives
into the global war against terror. A second was to cement the U.S.
dollar's hegemonic role in global oil sales — and thus in the world
economy. A third was to keep the invasion's purpose broad enough
to allow the biblically minded Christian right to see it, at least
partially, as a destruction of the new Babylon, on the road to Armageddon
and redemption."

I can just
hear you — "Phillips is just an establishment Republican, not
a real conservative." Okay, then how about columnist Paul Craig
Roberts, the assistant secretary of the treasury under your idol
Ronald Reagan, and a strong constitutionalist?

The evil
that America has brought to Iraq transcends the tens [more likely
hundreds] of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been killed
and maimed in the conflict. The evil goes beyond the destruction
of ancient historical artifacts and the civilian infrastructure
of a secular state and the decimation of lives, careers, and families
of millions of Iraqis. The violence and killing that Bush brought
to Iraq has spread antagonism between Sunni and Shiite throughout
the Middle East with potentially draconian consequences. Bush's
war has turned Muslim hearts and minds against America and made
terrorism an acceptable means to resist American hegemony. With
his mindless war, Bush has created more terrorism than the world
has ever seen.

Funny, Sean,
how someone like you who is always talking about evil fails to see
the evil done by our own government in our name in Iraq and elsewhere.

Here's another
interesting comment from Roberts for you to mull over:

public opinion is being manipulated. In the name of protecting
u2018American freedom and democracy,' the Bush regime rides roughshod
over both as it ignores both the public and Congress and proceeds
with a catastrophic policy supported by no one but the Bush Regime
and a cabal of power-mad neoconservatives.

Nothing can
stop the Regime except the immediate impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
This is America's last chance.


I doubt if
you ever read Charley Reese's column, Sean, but he's another strong
constitutionalist and he made an interesting observation about a
speech Bush made at West Point. "He didn't talk about world
terrorism. He talked about reshaping the Middle East, a fool's errand
if there ever was one. Our precious people are not dying for peace
and freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are dying for corporate
profits and to make the Middle East a safer place for Israel. The
only people who are dying for freedom are the Iraqis and the Afghans
who want to free their countries of our presence." Yeah, I
know, to you and your simpleminded ilk anyone who comes close to
criticizing Israel is an anti-Semite, another label like "liberal"
that allows you to stigmatize your opponents and avoid rationally
examining their arguments.

Funny how you
guys get so understandably rankled when you're accused of being
racists for justifiably criticizing the NAACP, or Jesse Jackson,
or affirmative action, but are so ready to label anyone anti-Semitic
who justifiably criticizes Israel, our political establishment's
relationship with that country, or even neoconservatives. So here's
another such comment from another strong constitutionalist, columnist
and former National Review editor Joe Sobran:

No matter
how much you love the Zionist state, it's absurd to say it represents
u2018our vital interests' [as did Republican Senator John Warner of
Virginia]. The opposite is more nearly true. We are embroiled
in endless futile wars in the Middle East because our government
supports Israel — a state based entirely on what in this country
would be flagrantly illegal racial and religious discrimination
— no matter what it does. It's hard to say which is the worst
feature of American policy in the Middle East, its shameless venality
and hypocrisy or its sheer irrationality. It would make sense
only if huge oil reserves were discovered under Tel Aviv.

Not being in
his head, I don't know if Sobran is an anti-Semite or not — but
I doubt that he is. I DO KNOW THAT I'M NOT AN ANTI-SEMITE,
however, and I agree with his comments. I thought that I'd better
capitalize and bold type my disclaimer, because I know that you
and your faithful are as good at selective reading as are the liberals
you always criticize. Probably still won't do any good, though.
There was a time when I was a great admirer of Israel. I saw it
as a spunky little country whose people had learned from the Holocaust
that it doesn't pay to be meek or weak. But then a few years back,
I was listening to Benjamin Netanyahu explain why a certain policy
in the Middle East would benefit the United States, when it dawned
on me that the policy he was pushing might well benefit Israel but
it wouldn't do anything good for the United States. I've become
ever more distrustful of Israel and its American neocon and theocon
supporters since then.

Sean, I could
go on giving examples of people you ignore on the political right
who never approved of the war or who have changed their minds about
approving of it. I've never heard you dwell on Bill Buckley's defection.
A number of the original war opponents on the right have been listed
by neocon David Frum in his National Review article "Unpatriotic
Conservatives." Those on Frum's list that I've already mentioned
include Buchanan, Reese, and Sobran, and, with the exception of
columnist Robert Novak, most of the rest have links to the paleoconservative
Rockford Institute and its magazine, Chronicles, or to Lew
Rockwell and his libertarian blog.

I recently heard your fire-breathing, chicken-hawk, and I might
add, obnoxious, buddy, Mark Levin interview Novak about his recently
released autobiography. Though Novak was one of the conservatives
Frum accused of being an unpatriotic America hater for opposing
the Iraq War, and he acknowledges his opposition to that war in
his autobiography, that fearless interviewer Levin, who regularly
accuses opponents of the war of being liberal America haters, didn't
say a thing about the war and had nothing but praise for Novak.
This, even though Novak, whose heritage is Jewish, has lamented
in writing that "the hatred toward the United States today
by the terrorists is an extension of hatred of Israel," and
that "the United States and Israel are brought ever closer
in a way that cannot improve long-term U.S. policy objectives."

Sean, our former
representative from southwestern Indiana, Republican John Hostettler,
was one of six members of the House to vote against war with Iraq.
If people hereabouts heard you call him a liberal, you'd be inundated
with lawsuits brought by folks you caused to hurt themselves laughing.
And then there's Ron Paul, another of that six who, as you know
and much to your chagrin, is now running for president on the Republican
side. You try to ignore him as much as possible, but he's the only
person in the race on either side who has integrity, principles,
and is a strict constructionist and original intenter concerning
the Constitution. He also takes seriously the philosophies of the
Founders that, as I pointed out in my open letter to Rush, you so-called
conservatives ignore. George Washington: "The great rule of
conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our
commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection
as possible" (emphasis added). Thomas Jefferson: "Peace,
commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling
alliances with none" (emphasis added). John Quincy Adams:
"America . . . goes not abroad seeking monsters to destroy."
I know, you don't think that Paul has a chance, and you may be right
— but you don't know why. He has the whole establishment against

As far as the
war and its disastrous impact on our Bill of Rights go, you and
your talk-radio so-called conservatives are nothing but useful idiots
for the establishment. You all uncritically support wars anyplace
the neocons tell the bumbler in the White House to start them, and
any police-state method implemented in the name of security, but
then you all get upset with that same bumbler when he and many on
the Hill, including liberals, refuse to clamp down on illegal immigration
and to protect our national sovereignty. Do you ever stop to wonder
how the guy you think is so right when it comes to war and measures
impacting the rights of ordinary Americans can be so wrong when
it comes to protecting our own borders and sovereignty? Might there
be some connection between his foreign and domestic policies? The
following comments by blogger Steven LaTulippe,
like Paul a physician and former Air Force officer, might give you
something to think about. That should be a new experience for you.

When evaluating
his [Paul's] chances, it's important to accept one fact about
contemporary America. This is not a democracy, and certainly not
a constitutional republic. America is actually a carefully concealed
oligarchy. A few thousand people, mostly in government, finance,
and the military-industrial complex, run this country for their
own purposes. By manipulating the two-party system, influencing
the mainstream media, and controlling the flow of campaign finance
money, this oligarchy works to secure the nomination of its preferred
candidates (Democratic and Republican alike), thus giving a u2018choice'
between Puppet A and Marionette B.

Unlike the
establishment's candidates, Ron Paul is a freelancer running on
three specific ideas:

    1. The federal
      government must function within the strict guidelines of the
    2. America
      should deconstruct its empire, withdraw our troops from around
      the world and reestablish a foreign policy based on nonintervention.
    3. America
      should abolish the Federal Reserve Bank, eliminate fiat currency
      and return to hard money.

This is not
a political agenda. This is not a party platform. It is a revolution.
The entire ruling oligarchy would be swept away if these ideas
were ever implemented. Every sentence, every word, every jot and
tittle of this agenda is unacceptable, repellent and hateful to
America's ruling elite.

Did you understand
any of that, Sean? Who benefits from both open borders and the war?
Not the American people. The various factions of our establishment
aren't concerned about us or our country; they're interested in
cheap labor (Indian, Chinese, Mexican, or any other), oil and other
natural resources, manipulating our currency, selling expensive
weapons systems, or implementing Utopian domestic or international
agendas, etc., and maintaining social control through police-state
methods and/or social engineering, primarily in order to acquire
money/power for themselves and, in some cases, secondarily, for
selected allies, associates, or clients.

As you may
have guessed, I'm a supporter of Ron Paul, the non-establishment
candidate, whether he has a chance or not. He's the only politician
to come down the pike in my nearly 74 years who I can truthfully
say I support without qualification. I'm tired of choosing between
Puppet A and Marionette B. I'm ashamed (with qualification) to admit
that I voted for Bush II twice. The qualification is that my votes
actually were against Al Gore and John Kerry from the liberal side
of the establishment who I still think would have been worse than
W, both domestically and internationally — though in my mind, the
gap between them and him has narrowed considerably. I hoped
— silly me — that W and his side of the establishment meant it when
they promised not to engage in the nation building so dear to the
hearts of the Clinton bunch. And, though I had no faith that he
would appoint Supreme Court justices to my liking, I knew
that neither Gore nor Kerry would do so. Even after he and his neocons
had launched their criminal war with Iraq, I pinched my nose real
tight and voted for Bush again. I didn't see the Kerry side being
any better on the Middle East, was still concerned about the Supreme
Court, and knew that if Kerry won he'd push to extend or make permanent
the idiotic and unconstitutional Clinton "assault weapon"
ban. I'm a no-compromise supporter of the Second Amendment-guaranteed
right to keep and bear arms as the teeth of the Bill of Rights.
It's not a guarantee of sportsmen's rights. And since I've written
many critiques of the gun-prohibitionist movement, a number of which
can be found on the Internet, you can check my claims yourself if
you think that I'm just some liberal not willing to admit it.

I despised
the Clinton Administration, with its meddling in the Balkans and
elsewhere, coziness with the UN, massacre of American citizens at
Waco, and attack on the right to keep and bear arms and general
trashing of the Constitution even without the excuse of 9-11.
And I never thought that the day would come that the Republican
side of the establishment wouldn't provide me with a viable lesser
evil to Hillary Clinton if she became the Democratic candidate for
president. It has come. I won't vote for any of the collection
of establishment fools, fascists, and socialists that the major
parties are offering up this time. I can no longer find any
lesser evils among the establishment candidates, and I won't make
the mistake of voting for a warmonger again.

I suspect
that you've never heard of Smedley Darlington Butler, even though
you're a worshipper of military heroes and Butler was certainly
a military hero. So I'll tell you a little about him drawing on
a guest column I wrote for our local newspaper, the Evansville
Courier & Press. In 1898 at 16, Butler lied about his age
so that he could join the Marines, get a commission as a second
lieutenant, and fight in the Spanish-American War. He was brevetted
captain during the Boxer Rebellion before he turned nineteen, and
became the Corps' youngest major general when he was 48, retiring
at that rank in 1931. He was one of only 19 people to win two Medals
of Honor, and one of only 20 to receive the Marine Corps Brevet
Medal that was awarded to Marine officers before they were eligible
to receive the Medal of Honor. Pretty impressive, huh?

But when Butler
looked back on his career, he not only didn't like what he saw,
he wrote and spoke about what he didn't like, which I suspect is
why you haven't heard about him. In War is a Racket, his
1935 book, Butler wrote: "For a great many years as a soldier,
I had a suspicion that war was a racket. Not until I retired to
civil life did I fully realize it." He defined a racket as
"something that is not what it seems to the majority of people.
Only a small u2018inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted
for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.
Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

In a 1935
magazine article, Butler wrote:

I spent 33
years and four months in active military service, and during that
period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for
Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was
a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico,
and especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914.
I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City
Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half
a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.
I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House
of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican
Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make
Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China
in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

And Butler
made it clear that it was the guys who were propagandized into fighting
them, particularly those who don't come back or who come back maimed
or psychologically damaged, who foot the bill for wars. He wrote
about them eloquently. You regularly help propagandize guys into
fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sean.

Butler was
a Republican candidate for the Senate in 1932 and a popular
speaker through the 1930s. He spoke to veterans and pacifists, communists
and church groups. He believed "in the adequate defense of
the coastline, and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to
fight, then we'll fight." He believed that our army shouldn't
leave the country, that our navy shouldn't go more than 200 miles
beyond our shores, and that our military planes shouldn't go beyond
500 miles for patrol purposes. I suspect that he might extend those
limits, if he were still around, to compensate for today's advanced
air and sea technology, but I doubt that he would change his overall
position. He wrote: "I wouldn't go to war again as I have done
to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only
two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes
and the other is the Bill of Rights" (emphasis added).
BRAVO!!!! An admirer wrote that Butler "demonstrated that true
patriotism does not mean blind allegiance to government policies
with which one does not agree." I would add that while he was
often a hero when he was in the military, he became a patriot after
he left it, but you and your useful idiot colleagues might find
it difficult to understand that, Sean. For you guys, criticizing
Bush and his neocons is the same as hating America.

Back in the
days when I was of military age, all able-bodied males were eligible
to be called up for military service. Having grown up during the
flag-waving days of WWII, and since service was expected, though
I never considered making a career of the military, I wanted to
serve and eagerly jumped at the chance to get a commission through
Southern Illinois University's Air Force ROTC program. I did nothing
heroic, but I'm quite proud of my service, because I spent most
of my active-duty years at radar stations of the North American
Air Defense Command. Those were the days, the mid-to-late '50s,
when the big concern was that the Soviets would send their bombers
over the polar route to nuke us. If they had come, it would have
been up to crews like those of which I was in charge to detect them,
and to ground control interceptor (GCI) directors like me to guide
our interceptors to their targets via radio and ground radar and
set them up on their attack vectors so that the bombers could be
shot down. Purely defensive — Butler would have approved.
I was never called upon to harm people in other parts of the world
who happened to be bugging our establishment at the time. Though
I never thought about that in those days, I often think about it
since the neocons got us stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I should
have thought about it back in Vietnam days or even before then.

Sean, you're
always saying that our troops in Iraq are fighting for our freedom.
Bull! A case could be made that American troops haven't fought for
OUR freedom since the Revolution, or with some qualification, the
War of 1812, since the British were back on our turf then. Since
then only the USSR could have done us great harm and we managed
to avoid fighting them. The Confederate States were trying to leave
the Union (as they had a right to do), not to conquer it, and the
Union fought to keep them from leaving, not to free the slaves.
Various American Indian tribes, Mexico, Spain, the Kaiser's Germany,
North Korea, North Vietnam, and Iraq weren't interested in conquering
the United States, and couldn't have done so if they had been interested,
and Islamic militants can't conquer us now. Washington, D.C. is
far more of a threat to our remaining freedoms than are Islamic
militants. And as nasty as the Nazis and Japanese imperialists were,
many folks including John Toland in Infamy:
Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath
, Thomas J. Fleming in The
New Dealers' War: FDR and the War Within World War II
, and
even his supporters like Robert Stinnett in Day
of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor
and most
recently, George Victor in The
Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable
, have convincingly
shown that Franklin D. Roosevelt, the darling of the neocons, provoked
them into fighting us when they were doing their best to avoid doing
so. Butler was right — war is a racket.

I've had my say, Sean — and got across much more than I would have
if I'd called you. If, on the basis of their rejection of the neocon
stand on Iraq you think that people like George Will, Pat Buchanan,
Andrew Bacevitch, the late David Hackworth, Kevin Phillips, Paul
Craig Roberts, Charley Reese, Joe Sobran, Robert Novak, and Ron
Paul are, or were, liberal America haters who want nothing more
than to have Democrats run the country, you're an idiot. If you
don't think that these guys and others on the right who agree with
them on Iraq are so motivated, you're misleading the listeners you
claim to be faithfully informing. If you aren't aware that such
prominent Founders as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John
Quincy Adams strongly warned against our country messing around
in the internal affairs of other nations, you're ignorant. If you
are aware that they opposed such interference in the affairs of
other nations and reject their position, you've neglected to inform
your listeners of the Founder's views and explained why it's conservative
to reject them. If you've never heard of General Butler, that's
understandable, since the militarists you worship aren't inclined
to publicize the war-is-a-racket philosophy he acquired through
hard-earned experience. If you are aware of what he wrote years
back and you can still cheerlead for what's going on in Iraq today,
you're disgusting. Many of us are on to you, Sean. You're far from
being a Great American. RON PAUL IS A GREAT AMERICAN! As
far as the war goes, you and your so-called conservative colleagues
are nothing but useful idiots to our own establishment — no faction
of which, left or right, could care less about protecting our national
sovereignty or the original intent of our Constitution — and that
establishment is a far greater threat to us and our remaining freedoms
than any Middle Eastern religious/political movement.

William R. Tonso

25, 2007

R. Tonso [send him mail]
a retired sociology professor (University of Evansville) who has
written a lot on the gun issue, both sociological and pro-Second
Amendment. His recent book, Gun
Control=People Control
, is a collection of eleven of his
essays previously published in Liberty, Reason, Chronicles,
and Gun Week.

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