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Mitch SMith

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Syria: What is the core principle?

I have a friend who is a Syrian ex-pat.
He runs a grocery store in my town and I meet him almost every day.
When the Syrian conflict started getting bad I asked him about it. He said:

"We have a saying - when elephants fight, the grass is killed".

He went on to say: "I have a brother in a town that is at risk .. I plan to go in through Turkey and get him out of there." .. He has not been able to do that yet. And he explained to me the factional power that most Syrians understand .. the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Alawi .. but there are also Druze, Coptics etc etc..

And now, the USA wants to throw bombs to destroy critical infrastructure - regardless of who gets killed in the process.

This is a subject that is so complex that no one can really know what is happening.

My question to the TED community is this:

What is the basic principle?

My friend alludes to elephants and grass .. that seems basic.

Is there any other reliable abstract to be had?

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  • Sam B

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    Sep 15 2013: The basic principle in Syria is the same like everything else in politics, it's a matter of pure interests regardless of the human cost!

    All this talk about muslims, sunnis,shiiites, civil war, sides, whatever, it's all irrelevant. Everything you read/hear/learn from the media are only superficial symptoms of a global political war that happens very deep below the surface.

    The metaphor that your friend mentioned is perfectly accurate. the battle is iterwoven between some big elephants (like the US, russia, china) and small ones (israel, iran, syria, iraq, turkey, qatar, saudi arabia), each going for his own interest at the cost of the lives of the syrian people.

    It is a shame on humanity to stand by while a mad dictator massacres 150,000 of people and demolishes half a country no matter the excuse, let alone cheap ones like not knowing the other side.

    Here is some food for thought:

    In what world does a criminal walk free just because he handed over one of his weapons? imagine this, someone shoots your family, then the police go to his place, threaten him, and then let him walk free in exchange for giving his weapon!

    Why is killing 400 kids with chemical weapons unacceptable (or acceptable as it has become) but killing them with missiles and bombs and bullets is OK?

    Why did the world frown( that's all it did) at Assad for killing 1400 people with chemical weapons, but did nothing while he killed 140,000 with conventional weapons and tanks and torture?

    Why is it so easy for people who've never been to syria and probably wouldn't even know where it is on the map to make judgments on how to let them die, basing it all on snippets of fragmented information they see on TV?
    • Sep 15 2013: i agree with u...but religious beliefs had its own effect; In more recent times, since the mid 20th century, violent conflicts along religious lines have frequently been conflated with ethnic issues; examples would include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Jews vs. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants vs. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims vs. Hindus), Sudan (Muslims vs. Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslims vs. Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea (Muslims vs. Christians), Ivory Coast (Muslims vs. Christians), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus), Philippines (Muslims vs. Christians), Iran and Iraq (Shiite vs. Sunni Muslims), and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians vs. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians) are merely a few, recent cases in point." Harris, Sam. 2006. Letter to a Christian Nation. New York: Knopf
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        Sep 16 2013: True,

        I believe that religion is the ancient method developed to unite tribes. It is social engineering on a grand scale. With one purpose: military power.
        Tribes develop their own totem - this will include all the methods by which the tribe survives (language, clothing, behavioural customs) but will also include an ideology.
        If you can infect the ideology of many tribes with a central dogma, then those tribes will develop an artificial affinity. At times of conflict, all tribesmen draw closer to the totem - if you have subverted the totem to your will - invaded the totem by a single dogma, it only takes a threat to bring them all under your control.
        The totems can co-exist only while there is no threat or competition.

        In a massively urbanised world, religion is shown to be obsolete. National totems have been tried and are also failing.

        We need to respect totemic purity, and find non-invasive method for unity at need.

        (edit: a tribe cannot exceed 200 individuals - expecting stability in larger groups is unrealistic - this is the magnitude of our challenge at this time - specially if we wish to retain our technologies)
      • Sam B

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        Sep 16 2013: I don't agree with you zakroui. religion has very little to do with the conflicts, but it is a common trend today to blame religion for whatever conflict where religion differences may exist.

        This trend is the result of the religious heritage specific to europe, where christianity was the main driver of the dark ages. however, in other parts of the world religion is a constructive force.

        The problem is NOT religion, it is PEOPLE! people find a reason for conflict no matter, what, and conflict is one of those reasons.

        Race, ethnicity, heritage, religion, political differences are all drivers of conflict, why pick religion of all those and put all the blame on it?

        And why overlook all the positive aspects of religion and notice only the negative ones?

        Remember that all the high moral values and laws of today are based on religious origins. if not for religions the stealing, killing, raping and torture would all be seen normal, as they are the normal state in nature!

        Most people forget that Hitler, Stalin and Mao were all atheists and believe in no religion, as were their regimes. and those 3 killed more people in the last century alone more than in all human history.

        In the case of SYRIA, the main subject of discussion, it has nothing to do with religion! it started because people broke the fear barrier that had been there for 40 years of Assad rule.

        However, the Assad regime is one of the most devious and treacherous in the modern world, and it portrayed it as a religion conflict, where he is the protector of the religious minorities in the country against the majority.

        Please do not be offended but most of the people here have very little knowledge about the matter, and are not in a position to make an informed opinion.
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      Sep 16 2013: There are 2 factors at play here:
      1. the strategic motives for destabilising Syria
      2. The actual mechanism by which a nation is destabilised

      The political/strategic motive is fairly easy to discern ..
      Syria has no significant resources - only geographical advantage - just who initiated the destabilisation is unclear, whoever it is - its not all that important for this topic.

      That leaves the mechanism ... we have in us the function of fight/freeze/flight. This is easily triggered by mortal-fear. And it is contagious when injected into over-crowded urban communities.
      When fight/flight is triggered, the reasoning mind is switched-off, this results in escalating irrational responses that sustain the trigger.
      With the population latched-down in irrational thinking, the nation is critically weakened, and the strategic vultures can move in to consume the nation.
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      Sep 18 2013: Sam, do you trust any of the existing visible or hidden public, corporate or governmental institutions? And in general do you believe in future for humanity? Do you have a vision how the peace will be established on the planet in this or future generations of humans?
      Thank you.
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    Sep 12 2013: As Syrian, I can tell it's hard to actually speak about a 'principle' here, at least in this stage, where the things are getting increasingly complicated. Well, it started simply as a protests against one of the worst living dictatorships in the world, inspired by the rest of the Arab spring revolutions. That was two years ago, now, the things have quite changed, the most remarkable change was, possibly, the transition from peaceful to armed resistance, and it was the main factor in driving the situation to this complicated conflict.

    People from outside of Syria mayn't realize this, but the peaceful protests vs armed resistance were one of the most controversial issues throughout the country for a long time, maybe over a year. It has began since few days after the start of the events in march 2011, however, the movement kept essentially peaceful for more than half a year, and the people continued to peacefully demonstrate in spite of all risks and security attacks. It went this way until late 2011 (until that time, there were more than 5,000 deaths by the regime's security forces), when the armed clashes began to spread, finally turning into full-scale battles by the end of the year. When this happened, it all became a big mess, so now there's thousands of armed groups with all possible affiliations and ideologies. There's many fronts, several factions, and a lot of chaos.

    Back the basic principle, I still consider, personally, that what's happening is basicly a war between a dictatorship and rebels. It's right the several factions have joined, and it 's getting more and more chaotic, but still, this how it started, and this how the majority of people in Syria are still working for. What I would consider as 'fighting elephants' is the world international community, which is using all possible ways to benefit from the situation for its own interests.

    Note: I've just realized how long this became, sorry. I meant to write only few lines but it went out of control!
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      Sep 12 2013: Many thanks Abbad.

      Your voice is what we all need to hear.

      My hope is that Assad and the factions see reality and go to the negotiation table.

      Can you see any evidence that the militias are growing tired of killing?
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        Sep 13 2013: Thank you.

        Actually, I don't think so. The regime doesn't want to abandon it, nor the rebels does, so it's just going to be a long term conflict. Which is something supported by the world's international community; to make all sides of the conflict exhausted, so the world's big powers are able to extort both sides and to obtain their interests in Syria.
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          Sep 13 2013: So .. if you are grass - be careful to grow where elephants can't tread?

          Are you in Syria now?

          I think that Assad would be a fool to think that he cannot bend in the growing storm. I don't think he is a fool.

          Why is he willing to sacrifice himself in this? What is he protecting by his death?
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        Sep 13 2013: Yes.. That would be a good advice :) just in the case you could choose where to grow.

        Actually, I am not living in Syria. My family moved to Saudi Arabia since the 1980s, when quite similar events took place in the reign of Hafez, father of Bashar, however, the difference was that there was no internet, and by default, no media coverage. All massacres and horrors happened without anyone even knowing about it.

        For the last question, I am not sure if I have a good answer. But well, it's not easy to step down from power after decades of ruling a country, this happens with every revolution. Qaddafi, for example, fought as hard as Assad to protect his throne, but the only reason he was dismissed faster was that the western powers decided to dismiss him, which isn't decided yet for Assad.
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          Sep 13 2013: Many thanks Abbad!

          Assad must bend or break. It is his time.
          But it is not just Assad - it is all he built, and all who are the stones of his building.

          I think I understand - the entire Allawi tradition will be in deep trouble - they are where elephants will tread.
          I do hope they can get out in time.

          I have a Turkish father-in-law. He says:
          "It is easy to climb from a donkey to a stallion, hard to climb from a stallion to a donkey."

          I say - you get used to it with practice ;)
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        Sep 14 2013: Thank you Mitch :)

        Indeed, he will.

        Allawis are actually already in a big trouble, and, unfortunately, it's hard to tell how would they be treated after the end of all of this.
        I hope things stays under control.
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          Sep 15 2013: Hi Abbad,

          At this stage, I think the Allawi are under the test. They will die, or run.

          In the West, the politicians enjoy torturing refugees - it gets them votes and allows them to build concentration camps.

          A tribe in exile goes through a generation of challenge. Those who survive are the most beautiful people - and the ugliest. All become strong.

          If the world had intelligence, we would prepare for the healing.
          I have met many such refugees, Chinese nationals from Vietnam, Christians from the middle east, and Latinos from El Salvador. Those who get the healing become beautiful, those who are not healed become a scourge.

          Those who have not met such people get captured by tribal vengeance and represent the weakness and sickness of their own tribes.
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        Sep 15 2013: Hi Mitch,

        The problem about refugees maybe essentially about who are the refugees. The problem is that when you build something like a refugee camp, you will have there a magnet for the worst possible people in the society; they will have nothing to fight for, nothing to believe in, they just want a routine life ruled by the disgusting tribal customs (believe or not, my cousin was almost killed in one of those camps because a woman passed by while he was taking some pics!).

        So, if people want to do healing, they better not target refugees, but maybe those who are inside Syria itself. Indeed, the need for healing is now pretty high; if you have a war anywhere in the world, you will have a shocking and apparently an infinite amount of hatred and spite suddenly invading the whole society.
        We are facing now a real challenge, it is whether we keep control, or lose it to the blind rage generated by the horrors of this bloody conflict.
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          Sep 16 2013: War is the ultimate "amygdala hijack". It puts people into permanent state of "fight/flight/freeze".
          It turns-off the prefrontal cortex where rational thought takes place.
          In effect, it turns us into lizards - because only the lizard part of the brain functions.

          Within the war or the camps, nothing can be done - all will be traumatised.
          There are 2 ways to go with un-healed trauma - a person becomes destroyed, or hyper-functional.
          The destroyed mostly do not survive.
          The hyper-functional will be great for good or for bad - depending on how much their empathy has been damaged.

          There are some therapies that can be applied in camps, but not a lot - the camps in the Baltic conflict proved this.
          The best treatment is to get the people processed out of the camps as quickly as possible - into low-competition surroundings where serious therapy can be applied.
          This rarely happens - very few understand how important the trauma-healing is, and most governments do not fund it for refugees because there's no votes in it.

          What I have observed in refugees here is that - no country can afford to neglect this - a war-survivor with un-healed trauma will infect the community with that harm. The ones who get real healing become amazing people .. there are none better.
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        Sep 17 2013: Indeed, very few people would care for the treatment of war victims, unfortunately. And the situation in the camps and other gatherings of such people makes the things worse, and the mission even harder.

        We have several psychological societies trying to work in Syria, especially within the northern territory (which is now controlled by the rebels), however, they are'nt really efficient and are highly dispersessed, while the amount of the needed work is very large.
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          Sep 17 2013: Well, the fight .. the real fight is against our own comfort.
          If we don't pay today, we pay tomorrow double.

          Yes, we are short-sighted and for that, we pay too much.

          But, it's not so hard really, one does not build the road, one only clears the way.

          First is to get people out of the camps - they need somewhere to go.

          second is to have a place to go that is not worse than where they came from - that means support.

          All countries now have unemployed people - give them something to do - give them the task of helping the displaced people while they heal. This is a national investment - to make trash into gold.

          Then, give the displaced the freedom to choose - go home, or stay. Those who have healed will choose, those not yet healed will still be helped until they can choose.

          If I was one of these, I know that I would choose loyalty to those who saved me.

          Loyalty is the true basis of wealth. so the other work is to get people to understand that. - And that's the difficult part. Our overlords do not want us to know it.

          (Edit: Thanks for helping me with this. There is an opportunity here - for me and others ..
          If you disagree with the state - be the state)
  • Sep 11 2013: There is no basic principle at work here, this isn't a science lesson, its a civil war. The situation is a horridly complex one, and some gross oversimplification may well do more to harm your understanding than helping it.

    You have more militias than you can shake a stick at duking it out with the old regime, and another militia or two supporting it. Civilians are caught in the crossfire, and occasionally even deliberately targeted and executed for various reasons (anything from the harboring of fighters, willingly or otherwise, to just plain old ethnic cleansing) by both sides of the conflict.
    The situation has gone completely FUBAR long ago, and has only deteriorated since. With the conservative estimates in over a hundred thousand dead and rising, millions of refugees, and the occasional chemical weapons attack, lets just say that its not exactly a pleasant place to live at the moment.

    BTW, Obama is talking about attacking the old regime, not infrastructure (except maybe the old regime's military-industrial complex).
    Whether he will or won't attack is yet to be seen.
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      Sep 11 2013: Your post brings to mind one of the most frequently quoted cautions from Einstein: "Everything should be made as simple as possible but no simpler."

      It is popular to err on both sides. One is to assume everything can usefully be boiled down to one simple idea, and the other is not to look for the simplest way to understand complex problems.

      I agree that the first is the more common disposition.

      That said, it is certainly true that elephants trample the grass. In fact even kids and pets trample the grass when they walk or run across it.
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        Sep 12 2013: Hi Fritzie,

        I once read a book by DeBono "Simplicity" .. I didn't agree with him, except that he demonstrated how simple it was to make money from a book that was 1/3 blank pages .. that made me larf!

        What happens is that, in a transactional sense, things will simplify to a certain point and then split with one side getting simpler, while the other side grows more complex.
        For instance, the simplicity of using this web-interface is supported by a vast complexity.

        The basic principle, as Einstein observed, resides at the splitting point. That's what I'm after here.

        On the one hand, we have the simplistic views of Syria, and on the other hand we see enormous complexity - where is the splitting point?
        Elephants and grass is a metaphor warning of outcomes - it does not address the causal root.

        Personally, I suspect a physiological attractor at work. For instance, a few years ago a race-riot erupted on a city street I was walking on .. I had an irrational desire to join the fray. Since then, I have speculated that irrational violence might be an evolutionary tool for resolving overpopulation.
        Lately, that seems too simplistic - our population now seems more a function of usury/interest rates.
        Or perhaps usury captures the irrational attractor?
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          Sep 12 2013: I don't think that a desire to join the fray is universal. Perhaps my not being able to relate to it is gender-related.I know men who have expressed a desire to punch someone or even to be punched back. I could not understand that either.
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        Sep 12 2013: Correct.
        The only reason I didn't join the fray was because my wife dragged me off.
        Definitely gender based.

        The media image of the female warrior is a crock.

        I'll explore the usury capture dynamic a little more. Seems interesting if I can establish some causality.
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          Sep 12 2013: I do think women may walk between two people throwing punches in order to try to stop the punching.
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        Sep 12 2013: Yes - I've seen that done, but only when the woman has attachment to one, or both of the antagonists.
        What was that thing in the oxytocin paper? Under heightened oxytocin, Females can become more likely to attack? But it cites circumstance as a factor.
        My wife is high-T, but that does not make her vulnerable to the war principle - so the physiological attractor cannot be testosterone alone.
        It's the difference between the-love-of-the-fray and the protective motive.
        Male chimps are observed to get into a state and go off to exterminate a neighbouring tribe.

        If you extrapolate the male/female divergence on this subject, you can see some suggestion of associated affects - such as the oppression of women. That might be a fruitful exploration for a researcher dedicated to womens' status concerns.
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    R H 20+

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    Sep 25 2013: I understand there are many varieties of grass that are resistant to trampling. They are more 'root' driven and are not as susceptible to surface, or external, violence. I believe it is human nature to want to 'grab onto' something, and idea, a faith, an identity, to find purpose and solidity in our lives. Then, if we can get enough people to agree with that - whatever 'that' is - we create power. Power in groups gives us the reinforcement that we are 'right', and that we can assert ourselves to the death. So therefore the root, or 'core' principle, with Syria or Iran or China or the USA or the Tierra Del Fuego is self-destiny in whatever way they see fit, via the identity of the group. But then, the borders clash, and creates the fear that another group dare challenge 'our' way of life, the 'right' way, and we now instinctively want to protect those we love from this new threat, so we kill each other because we are justified in our self-preservation. Also, on top of that, it is 'un-manly' to sit at the table of compromise and solution when its the 'victors' that get the spoils - and all the girls. That's my 2-bit answer.
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      Sep 25 2013: Hi R H,

      Totally agree.

      This infers that we need to re-visit tribal dynamics.
      We should get a much deeper understanding of how the default human tribe forms and operates.

      Our modern attitude to tribal dynamics is one of ignorance - we actively atomise our families and communities, but tribes still form-up into ideologically defined borders.

      I suspect that tribe-size is a major factor governing conflict. If we had good research on tribal and inter-tribal stability, we could simplify law and perhaps, impose a tribal "anti-trust" measure to prevent any tribe, government, corporation or church from becoming a pathogenic entity.

      Your observation of Root Vs. Leaf is food for thought!
  • Sep 21 2013: Good question. Implies the obvious answer: making a kind of fetiish of preserving "Failed States" such as Syria and Iraq is a big mistake, Such states are invariably "Diverse" meaning that they have significant minorities who hate each other enough to kill, . It usually turns out that some ingenious Inperialist or Monarch thought it would be terribly clever to make a so-called Nation in such a way , so that it could always be cheaply controlled , by Foreigners.
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      Sep 23 2013: So very true. Try running a business. Controlling what happens in the process of production is exceptionally complex & often quite expensive. So some discovered how to take control and take it cheap: at the price of blood.
  • Sep 17 2013: Where was America since the conflict was in it early stage?This is ridiculous,tens of thousands have died,infrastructures have been destroyed.On whatever they are planning to do now,Syria wont get normal again.
  • Sep 17 2013: One last word then I'm done.

    Why cannot you folks see that the 2 Political Parties are 50 years ahead
    in their planning of your positions in this game, and not to be forgotten
    THEIRS?
  • Sep 17 2013: John, You fly from smart to just average.
    Obama is a stone cold killer. No more No less.
    I don't have good things to say to such people or about them.

    If 51% of voter voted for him. I didn't.
    He won the office, I have to live with it. I do not have to like him.

    I am a majority of 1, and I will remain so.
    Saves on counting.

    We've had 20 years of Bad Presidents and Rotten Government.
    I hope we get lucky, and can bring our soldiers home to jobs.
    I doubt that we will get the financing to pay for it.

    The NSA is an out of control pack of dogs.

    Go back to sleep John.
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    Sep 16 2013: Don't be grass.... be a mouse, and RUN!
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      Sep 16 2013: LOL!

      Elephants fear mice.
      What kind of mouse would a human have to be?

      (Sorry for the flippancy - my Syrian friend is just such a mouse - he felt it coming and got out while it was possible.)
  • Sep 12 2013: A brilliant man would find a way not to go to war, unfortunately the current president of the united states, is not that.

    Even though 1400 people have lost their lives, in a most horrific way, the consequences are and will be ironically that the act of war will cause even more people will die. So inevitably the cycle of retaliation and making enemies will continue, and all those that will die in the decades to come, will have died in vein.

    All for the sake of... ?
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      Sep 12 2013: I think it's a lot more than 1400 dead? .. there's over a million refugees.
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    Sep 11 2013: Syria is the threshold to Iran, Iran the threshold to scarce resources on which the dominating economical system exclusively depends on.

    For humanitarian beliefs was no shortage lately to turn lip-service into reality, provided, that bullets are considered as lethal in passing vital organs compared to toxic gases affecting nervous systems.

    The core principle is the Petrodollar and its double standard, seeking excuses to appear to be of 'single' moral, while renouncing the need of any legal procedure... because, hey, we are the goods guys ... aren't we ... ?
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      Sep 12 2013: Yes.
      The decline of the petrodollar is causing all sorts of mayhem.
      Elephants indeed!

      But I see that as opportunistic, not a causal factor in Syria.

      Do you remember the growing S-11 anti-globalism movement? It was far more potent than Occupy ...
      Most have completely forgotten - it got overwhelmed by 9-11. That was causal.
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    Sep 25 2013: OIL...

    How did our oil get under Syria.... anyway????
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    Sep 24 2013: Hi Mitch, Thank you for bringing out this topic What is the basic Principle? let me put a Question to you, in a Company what is the biggest asset? is it patents, technology, machinery, Land, Profit etc etc that is what is happening in and around the world. The "WANTS" are getting bigger and bigger of a Individual, Group, Company, state, Parties, Govt, and Country. which is actually affecting the Real assets i.e. People and specially New Generation. Like the value of Currency has depleted the Value of Human Being is depleting. the principle of Live and allow others to live have disappeared at High authority level but still there is time Raising your opinion is the first thing we as a Citizen can do. believe in simplicity.
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      Sep 25 2013: Hi Kuldeep,

      The Pope has just re-affirmed that "money is the root of all evil".

      This is an easy thing to say.

      I would say "money is the representative of potential agency". In other words - it is power.

      Then you have to understand that there are 2 main types of value - use-value, and exchange value.
      When exchange value becomes detached from use-value, it becomes pure power.

      Power corrupts because it inflates an individual beyond functional limits - human beings are not adapted to deal with power.
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        Sep 25 2013: I agree with the statement that "when exchange value becomes detached from use-value it becomes pure power" and when recession happens the highest authority prints more money and circulate it into the system. The game goes on.
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          Sep 25 2013: Well, that's the problem with exchange value - it means only relative advantage.
          It detaches from the aggregate of use-value generated by the community. - a single human does not create much use-value, only communities can do that ..
          so the aggregate use-value is the true measure.

          When the community has sufficient use-value for all, the only thing that causes poverty is value-concentration somewhere in the community.
          This happens with any portable value when relative advantage becomes the motivator.
          In a large community, the portability of value is less - food rots and travel distance depletes stored value.
          So what is money? Money is portable advantage - it does not rot or deplete, so it inflates communities beyond stable value-sharing.
          The Keynesian solution is to pump money into the bottom-end to reduce relative advantage, but it also causes the exchange value to drift so far above aggregate use-value, that it loses reality .. mostly you will get inflation - value of money loses it's power of relative wealth, but not always.
          Inflation is not actually real - it only damages status hierarchy - when money is the measure of status, inflation only hurts the leaders.
          If the leaders are hurt, you will get social instability.

          But power hierarchy is not the only stable social model - there are other stable models that are not based on male violence. Matriarchal societies can also be very stable without the violence factor. Another way is to exterminate all the alpha males - that hasn't been tried in humans historically. Not since the last ice age.
          But it works for baboons.
          Money is not the root of all evil, male violence is the root of all evil - you always find money when a community is based on male violence. And money always produces poverty.
  • Sep 22 2013: Mitch, thank you for the links.

    Your link - "Here's a little hope: v=z.... Has been removed from youtube.
    The other link about Stress was a great one.

    I understood the game changer. "Keep your Blowgun clean!!!" Right?
    Or, perhaps, "Do eat the dirty-infected Garbage!!!" Righter?
    Hey forgive me, I am just monkeying around here.

    Mitch, if you are the Writer, and I only your lowly reader, should I stress?
    ===
    I see that I am at least 30 years older than you. WoW That's real Stressful.
    Ok, Ok, So, I am not the best stand up comic.... I will now cease and desist.
    ===
    ProPublica has arrived on scene.
    Right at the time we are invaded by the NSA.
    A ploy perhaps to keep in the back of our minds.
    They claim they are taking a position of Investigative Reporting.
    We will see.
    ===
    NY Times and ProPublica say --
    Google and others claim they are fighting back against the NSA
    by inventing technologies to Thwart and Blunt the NSA's uglies.
    But I wonder how much is Hyperbole.
    ===
    The US Congress isn't showing the alarm necessary to correct
    45 years and $Trillions of Dollars secretly building this massive
    number of 150 collection sites Worldwide with now over 700 servers.

    Sites that include Syria, who purchased from Microsoft Surveillance
    Programs (like Tunisia did), to spy on their citizens. What Syria and
    the other nations weren't told, was that embedded within were NSA
    chips to collect all their data.

    Stupid is as Stupid does.
    ===
    It is truly amazing how many Senators and Representatives in the
    US Congress have been re-elected for 20-30+ years.

    Houston, we have a problem...
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      Sep 24 2013: Hi Frank,

      Damn - youtube is politically edited!!??

      Colour me - not-surprised ;) .. it's a kind of light-grey ;)

      There are cracks - this stuff keeps moving, and you only need the search-logic.

      Search Lierre Keith:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLRr3yBZj-k

      Personally, I dispute her claims of archaeological diet - but her core messages are worth looking at - she has impact - just as Frida Kahlo and Germaine Greer .. we ignore women at our peril.

      Lierre got subtracted because she advocates active assertion. But the critical mass of that is close.

      I would only say - don't get blood on your hands - that is for others.
      • Sep 24 2013: Mitch,

        While watching the UN speeches I came across this gem by a blogger.

        "Americans have this disastrous idea that only America is allowed to break all the rules
        and do horrible things. We often put that idea into practice with invasions, bombing,
        assassinations, and war crimes like torture.

        No wonder everyone wants the bomb.
        It's the only way to keep America from ruining your country."
        ===
        My kind of thoughts exactly.
        • thumb
          Sep 25 2013: I don't wand the USA to end up like Syria.
          Pressing people closer and closer to mob-catharsis is not a sound strategy.
          You are lucky to have seen only "Occupy" .. that's just a whisker off total mob-rule.

          There are lots of stories about how peaceful communities suddenly turned to rapacious plundering. The "veneer of civilisation" will phase change into nightmare past a certain threshold.
          Some do not seem to understand that. Either that, or they hold the irrational assumption that they are immune from it.
  • Sep 20 2013: I give love to these people in hope that they can find the courage and strength to look past their 3 dimensional world and create a new reality for themselves that they can thrive in, and be proud of. I have my own things to fix in my own world, they have theirs. Its up to the individual to fix their own shit my friend. i have nothing to do with syria. thus what they get from I is Love. And love is always enough, and it does more than you know.
    • thumb
      Sep 21 2013: Thanks for contributing Justin.

      I agree that each has their own survival to take care of. But we are humans - it doesn't happen for us alone.

      We seem to have a different ideas of what "love" is. That's OK. No one can really define it.
    • thumb
      Sep 22 2013: 'you can't be neutral on a moving train'.

      Justin, while I agree with you that if everyone cleaned up their own house first, we would be a lot better off, but I disagree that you or I have nothing to do with Syria. You are an American, and you are also America. Part of your 'house' is the extended actions of the government which you do have an influence on, the myth that you have no influence is just that, a myth.
  • Sep 20 2013: to Mitch, No reply button. "And good luck to us all!"

    You've touched on a problem just beneath the surface.
    While Hillary was doing her jig, her CIA private contractors were also.
    They operated without the law. Any law. Iraq took their gun permits
    and refused to renew their visas. So they work elsewhere. They may
    be coming home soon, mixed in with returning soldiers. Scary.

    Yes the poor Syrian refugees are a problem to feed, job, and care for.
    But better refugee than dead or maimed.

    USA Bully Politics have to stop. Obama is not a Monarch, he is an
    elected official. He had better start remembering what the job is.

    Can you imagine if Kerry had won when he ran. Oh my God.
    • thumb
      Sep 20 2013: yeah ..

      But on the bright side - if the guys come home - there's work for them - for their families and their towns.

      If things actually work the way we were taught, then the solution for Syria is to get all the SYrians out, and do a big house-swap, put Americans in the Syrian houses, and Syrians in the American houses.

      That way, the land of Syria will have access to state-of-the-art land-remediation and infrastructure-building.
      America would get the strategic pipeline access to The Mediterranean and Eurasia via Turkey and Syrians would get access to cultural improvements like education and technology. Sure, Syria would become a state of America, but having all Americans there would guarantee full border-control and regional stability.

      But that won't happen - you can afford it, but that's not really how it works - regardless what we were taught - no one Is really in control.
      • Sep 20 2013: Mitch, Your logic is a bit out there... lol

        In my dream I see Obama pulling back. Asking the Pope for guidance.

        The Staff members 300 strong for each member of congress, the administration,
        and the supreme court, suddenly turn in their Top Secret Clearances and tell
        their bosses that they will no longer participate in secrets and lies.

        Each member of congress, and the administration, and the supreme court,
        finding themselves overawed by their employees, decide, one and all, to
        obey the dictates of their oaths of office.

        The Clouds of the Catholic Heavens split apart. God looks down and says --
        Looks like a Military Coup to me.
        That General Keith Alexander is a nut-case, and needs to be damned.

        The Catholic Devil smiles... Chalk one up for the home team.

        The Syrians return home -
    • thumb
      Sep 21 2013: It's interesting times.

      I have one Syrian friend here in my home-town, but with the internet, I have a ton of American friends.
      Everyone is watching America with a microscope .. hoping.
      The signs of fascism are worrisome. Worse still are the signs that the majority have traded physical reality for a mickey-mouse story - all paid-off in trivial comforts.
      I'm not a Catholic, but it's told that Catholicism only began taking the gospels seriously in the 1960's with "Vatican-2". I do know that the Emperor Constantine re-wrote Christianity way back - and that St Paul was a Pharisee who fell off a horse and saw the light. These days we call it brain damage. But it makes me wonder - if St Paul could be cured of psychopathy by head-trauma, maybe we could make a pill for it.

      The mechanisms of war are something else .. once the fear goes over a certain threshold, men turn into maniacs - and they stay that way while ever they are surrounded by other fear-induced maniacs - until they all kill each other.
      I don't want to see that happen in America, or in my own country, but the risk of it is getting higher all the time. Treating people like trash is guaranteed to get us there.
      If elite tribes think they have it all sewn-up and can hide behind guarded walls, well .. the guards are humans too.
      • Sep 21 2013: The US Military is spoiled by the never-ending budgets.

        Back in the Day...
        the US Budget for our Military was ONE PERCENT.
        the US was on the GOLD STANDARD, a member of a unique club.
        the US enjoyed isolationism.
        the US voters ruled.
        the US government employees worked for the people.
        the US war on drugs and Just Say No.

        Now
        the US Budget for our Military is UNACCOUNTABLE. covert and top secret.
        the US is on the FED's welfare dole. a member of a criminal conspiracy.
        the US and the world endures NSA surveillances.
        the US Paid Media & Polls rule.
        the US 850,000 top secret government employees cannot tell who they work for.
        the US war on drugs is lost. it's a feel good society.

        Do you get the feeling we have been Morphed...?
        We aren't in Kansas anymore...

        "Houston, we have a problem..."
        • thumb
          Sep 21 2013: Yes - we got bigger fish to fry than the pretend economy of money

          Here's a little hope:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMfjP19M6Ns

          AS a 70's teenager, this is a hard pill to swallow.

          But, as another article of hope - actually exposing myself to TED has helped me dispel a lot of fantasy that was once my bedrock religion.
          Hard for an aging alpha-male.

          This one still blows me away - if you can detect the game-changer in it:
          (sorry if you already know it .. it's BIG)
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYG0ZuTv5rs

          As for prohibition .. it creates negative industry - it stops nothing.
  • Sep 19 2013: Bryan, You're not reasoning... Not at all.
    Please consider.
    We cannot assume from history, facts not occurred, that would have.

    Canada, is one example whose position seems not to be changed all that much
    over the years. And they were also subjects of the King. Little mention is made
    by historians. But then, "Local" History is written by Winners of Wars.

    You didn't read my comment correctly Bryan.
    Remember I only labeled those who did as "fools". Not that they shouldn't do.

    Bryan, everyone who revolts has a motive. Those who do not participate also have a motive.

    You have a motive for writing as you do. Nothing wrong with having a motive.
    What is your motive?
    Hopefully not "just" to disagree.
  • Sep 19 2013: Send these people your love. That is all they need from us.
    • thumb
      Sep 20 2013: I think most are ready to begrudge some love for the innocent.

      They might also need food.

      And some help with refugee processing.

      Here's how love and prayer works:
      It aligns you to the channel of nurture. When the actual energy arrives to do that nurture, prayers and love simply channel it through .. "make straight the way".
      In and of itself, love does nothing. It is only the road.

      It is what comes down the road that is important - that means physical action - monetary donations, food-aid, physical haven for refugees. In YOUR backyard.

      And when it comes to your backyard, you will find that psychiatric healing will be necessary to prevent the fire of war burning a hole in your lawn.

      That takes a lot of nurture.
  • Sep 19 2013: The basic principle? Stomp around and look big and macho, of course. Obama is having problems with his domestic agenda, so he wants to start yet another foreign war to drum up support. It's what US presidents do.
  • Sep 19 2013: Mitch, some of your ideas get fuzzy...

    The NSA problem is 45 years old. Needs to be stopped today.
    And talking about it does nothing to stop it.

    The NSA isn't going to be stopped by talk.
    More is needed. And needed right now.

    The Congress managed to take a Month's vacation
    when they needed to be working and take action.

    Then the week before they were scheduled to return
    Obama pulled his Syria stunt. Anything to gain time.

    The UN had to pull their investigators out of Syria
    on Saturday 8/31/13 before their work was complete,
    because Obama had threatened immediate action.

    Somehow, the fishy smell got a lot smellier.

    All the while the NSA (and others) kept their paper
    shredders working 24/7.
    Public Relations peoples are getting paid overtime.
    • thumb
      Sep 19 2013: Hi Frank - you really gotta use the reply button - it's hard to keep the thread rolling otherwise.
      When the thread gets long, you just hunt for the most recent reply button in the comments above.

      NSA/Echelon is vulnerable right now - There are a ton of petitions to sign, I can send some links if you like. Then you can also directly lobby your congress rep.

      The fact that Syria is being used as a smokescreen is simple opportunism - Syria was going down anyway, just finesse in timing. It's tactical, The strategic part is which winners have been chosen to pick Syria's corpse. Looking like 2 contingencies - baiting Iran and feeding Israel. I don't think Iran is fooled.
      The problem is that no one really wants Syria not even the Syrians - it has nothing but access to the Mediterranean.
      All those places going to be total desert soon anyway - from Iran through to Morocco.

      The real issue becomes - what to do with all the displaced people.
      Many in the world recognise the need to end population growth - it is at screaming-point-red-alert status.
      Just how we manage the cull is critical to the world we end up with for the next 10,000 years.
      • Sep 19 2013: Mitch, I will try to do better....

        Mitch, links always are appreciated. Lejan sent me some good one.
        Not conspiracy theories. Hell, we don't need no stinkin conspiracies...
        We have the real thing right in front of us.

        "All those places going to be total desert soon anyway - from Iran through to Morocco"
        I hope you are referring to Global Warming.

        No one is going to nuke anyone. The handwriting is on the wall. It's getting HOT.
        The problem of warming are hard enough to solve without Bully Politics.
        You need to be aware that the area is working diligently to solve water problems.
        Those people know the clock is running.

        The real issue becomes - what to do with the religious nuts.
        So far everyone tip-toes around the issue.
        Sooner or Later it will come to a head.

        I think the USA should get the hell away from the area.
        This is a problem for Europe, not for the USA.

        Obama is dragging his feet moving the troops out of Afghanistan.
        For 2 reasons.
        1. No jobs for the troops to come home to.
        2. No new War to use them on.
        Iraq surprised Obama when they threw his troops out completely.

        During the Bush administration the USA had their Armies on both borders of Iran.
        Soon Nada !!! ...Time to pack up and leave.

        When Afghanistan troops are gone, the USA will be left only the Missiles
        in the UAE pointed at Iran, and a naked Navy. Great for flinging Cruise
        Missiles, hard to defend. Navy ships sink fast, and,fixed targets get nailed.
        The World of WAR, Armies, and Navies, is changing very very quickly..
    • thumb
      Sep 20 2013: Thanks for your engagement Frank .. real passion is worth more than gold!

      Climate change is the absolute bedrock driver for all life on Earth - not just humans.

      The desertification of the South Mediterranean is not just atmospheric temperature rise, it is also 10,000 years of deforestation.

      I once regarded war as a behavioural mechanism evolved to prevent overpopulation, but when you look at the trend-line, wars haven't made much of a dint in the graph. Not even WWI and WWII. The last significant role for war was the Great Kahn .. and when you read the history, he was a unifier of the tribes, he didn't want to - he had to - because the unification of China made it a military necessity. He just did it better than they did - and wiped out 2/3 of them. He had a huge advantage - his tribes were already stable, and he used the lightest touch of law to achieve the unification and not wreck the tribal stability. That is a function of tribe-size. It is structural.

      We have a single driver that produces political/military sophistication - scarcity. But scarcity has been corrupted - usually it is just plain old climate-shift, but we have a secondary force causing artificial scarcity - that is capitalism .. it has the sole purpose of concentrating wealth by inducing scarcity. This locks us into perpetual war. At one time, it spurred the development of abundance, but that role is now past, a new approach is necessary.

      All that understood, the forces at work may be way beyond humans. The windows of opportunity started closing in the 70's when the climate issue was revealed.
      Back then it seemed like a no-brainer, but the promise of comfort through winning the money game overcame it. We forgot that the money game is a lottery, for every winner there is no limit to the number of losers.
      When faced with the choice "Big party now or little parties forever", most choose the big one. What do you do about that?
  • Sep 19 2013: Obama better consider that the US military might be the best
    and still lose a WAR. The Viet Nam WAR wasn't a WIN.
    Not only did they Kick our Butts, but they did it to the French
    before us.

    The Syrians might have more allies appear overnight than Obama
    figured on fighting.

    Our nation is tired of continuous WARS. Non-stop Arguments.
    KILLING.

    Our Government is obsessed with WAR. ...They are INSANE...
    • Sep 19 2013: Viet Nam: US involvement started by a Democrat president with a massive social agenda...
      • Sep 19 2013: Syria: US involvement started by a Democrat president with a massive surveillance
        agenda...

        Ask the Germans, the Brazilians, the Tunisians, and spied upon peoples of other nations,
        The United States Military leases 150 sites from nations throughout the world, and a world-
        wide spy network of Diplomats using over 700 servers, and a partnership with the mirror organizations in the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

        45 years they have let this ugly thing grow.
        The United States government has 850,000 employees with Top-Secret Clearances.
        Secrets and Lies.

        The last 5 presidents, including Obama, promised Transparency in Government.
        They just didn't say which Government.

        I fear US Army's NSA domestic intelligence,
        which as history reminds us,
        one nation used their own brand, and it quickly became a
        quasi-Federal Bureau of Investigation.
        It's name in 1933 was "Gestopo".

        As we know only too well, History Repeats.
        • thumb
          Sep 19 2013: Couldn't agree more.

          It is a behavioural pattern.

          Other symptoms are over-specialisation and deep hierarchical structures causing factions: priesthoods and warlords.

          Right now I'm working on another angle that might, potentially de-rail the structural problem - it has to do with the management of the commons .. This will play-out as the topic evolves .. I look forward to making a draft conclusion. From there we can knock the fluff off it and walk away with some insight.
  • Sep 19 2013: Mitch, you are right.
    Governments work well, until they don't.

    Like when people get fat and lazy, and do not monitor their government
    ugly things occur. -- ...Like Lobbies who get our congress to make wee
    changes each year and end up deregulating banks, who then can
    invest (tax-deferred savings) at 40 to 1 into leveraged HIGH RISK
    investments containing the small print that says.... SUCKER !!!...

    My disclaimer -- This may be a bit fetched, but not far..
    Or, when our CIA trains Rebel (Terrorists?), gives them weapons,
    and watches them lose, so our US President can use Armed Aggression
    against the same Syrian Government that the Rebels fight.
    There used to be a name for that... Called, a Second Front.
    • thumb
      Sep 19 2013: There are levels to our world - political dynamics sits in the middle somewhere.

      At the base you get things like this:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLRr3yBZj-k

      While I agree with much of what the speaker presents, I don't believe she really understands the primary drivers.

      We don't really have a population size problem - we have a population structure problem.
      If the structure is addressed, then the size will find its stable balance.

      The structure problem is directly identified by you - governments. This occurs at the middle part of reality, it is an effect, not a cause.

      The way this structure has evolved depends on a behavioural latch-up that I think got stuck on full-speed by the last ice-age when things got bad for humans. That latch-up was the descent into alpha-male abusive extremism. We assume that it is normal because we have never seen any other way - but I assure you, humans have at least one other stable mode. The speaker in the video correctly identifies the latch-up, but, being a feminist has things in either-or black-and-white gender terms. It's not exactly like that.
  • Sep 19 2013: Mitch, thank you. I do not understand your argument.

    The Syrians are having a Civil War just like Americans did.
    Killing and Maiming innocent men, women, and wee children.
    WARs are terrible things. Terrible things that Governments use
    to win arguments, to enforce their power, or replace a monarch.

    Otherwise Syrians live in peaceful communities, or in peaceful
    nomadic settings with all the same types of rules and Laws that
    regulate their own particular societies.
    There are no boogie men in these peaceful communities.

    Mitch, -- Life is just taking sides.

    Unless you live somewhere, as a serf or peon, or 1ndentured slave,
    you live a normal life, provided you obey the laws of your geographical
    government. Be it a local, state, or national government.

    If the Laws you live under, and don't want to obey, seem too harsh.
    Your choices are to either move to another local, or submit.

    Taking up arms, creating mayhem, bring no real solutions.
    • Sep 19 2013: According to you, we should have just allowed slavery to continue in the USA.
      What if the government doesn't let you move?
      What if "submit" means "lose all your property and live in the street because a government official wants your land to line his own pockets."
      • Sep 19 2013: Bryon,
        Gee guy, I don't think that was what I wrote.
        You've gotten that impression. So I had better expand.

        I believe only a fool would live as a slave to anyone.
        To build a civil war requires more tools than the average man has.
        Therefore, a late night scurry to safer ground just makes sense.

        Property and Goods mean little with a foot on your head.
        One man with honor, and the guts to fight back, could join others
        and help to create a civil war.
        Or as was done in Japan and other places, become a silent assassin.

        But I believe: Taking up arms, creating mayhem, bring no real solutions.

        I will expand.
        Other than being distinguished by duration and cost in human lives,
        national honor and economic near-collapse, Afghanistan 2001 and Iraq 2003
        two more entries in the long list of places and times the U.S. has interfered
        in the affairs of other nations, a list which includes recently --
        Mexico 1846,
        Argentina 1890,
        Chile 1891,
        Haiti 1891,
        Nicaragua 1894,
        China 1894,
        Panama 1895,
        Nicaragua 1896,
        Spanish colonies 1898,
        Nicaragua 1899,
        Panama 1901,
        Honduras 1903,
        Dominican Republic 1903,
        Korea 1904,
        Cuba 1906,
        Nicaragua 1907,
        Honduras 1907,
        Panama 1908,
        Nicaragua 1910,
        Honduras 1911,
        Cuba 1912,
        Panama 1912,
        Honduras 1912,
        Nicaragua 1912,
        Mexico 1913,
        Dominican Republic 1914,
        Haiti 1914,
        Dominican Republic 1916,
        Mexico 1916,
        Cuba 1917,
        Russia 1918,
        Panama 1918,
        Honduras 1919,
        Yugoslavia 1919,
        Guatemala 1920,
        Turkey 1922,
        China 1922,
        Mexico 1923,
        Honduras 1924,
        Panama 1925,
        China 1927,
        El Salvador 1932,
        Uruguay 1947,
        Iran 1953,
        Guatemala 1954,
        Lebanon 1958,
        Panama 1958,
        Vietnam 1960,
        Cuba 1961,
        Laos 1962,
        Iran 1963,
        Indonesia 1965,
        Dominican Republic 1965,
        Guatemala 1966,
        Cambodia 1969,
        Chile 1973,
        Lebanon 1982,
        Grenada 1983,
        Libya 1986,
        Iran 1987,
        Philippines 1989,
        Panama 1989,
        Somalia 1992,
        Yugoslavia 1992,
        Haiti 1994,
        Afghanistan 2001,
        Iraq 2003,
        Somalia 2006,
        Libya 2011.
        • Sep 19 2013: Therefore, no real solution was created by the American Revolution. The colonies should have just let themselves be taxed into oblivion and had all their rights as Englishmen stripped from them. As anyone not utterly ignorant of history knows, British administrative practices changed drastically for their colonies after they lost the American 13. The UK instituted a great deal of reform that they had hitherto refused, but that reform was due to someone taking up arms. Therefore, it was wrong of them to reform and wrong of the USA to fight for self-determination. The Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto took up arms against the Nazis. You consider them wrong. They would have died one way or another, but at least they didn't die like slaves. But, according to you, nobody must EVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES AT ALL, take up arms against an oppressive government. Instead, they must either scurry like rats or live like slaves.
          Mexico was wrong to declare independence from Spain. They should have continued to accept dictatorial royal decrees--that's your belief. Viet Nam should have continued to remain a French mercantile colony. That's what you are saying.
    • thumb
      Sep 19 2013: I am building an answer to "taking sides".
      It connects all the way down into how entropy works.

      But for now, I'm digging into the Syria question. IT's going well!

      Your observation of Imperial influence is definitely one of the primary basics.

      Another other angle is the mechanism of war itself - this seems to be imbedded in our behavioural dynamic.
      There are other angles, but we are still working on them.

      I suspect that there is a single causal vector that unifies the lot. It is in the entropic budget - and how entropic decay (consumption) is forced into turbulence by over-driven inputs.

      All of this stuff resides in our language, so talk is not wasted - getting our perceptions unified is a powerful tool.
      • Sep 19 2013: Mitch,
        Good luck on that answer.
        • thumb
          Sep 20 2013: And good luck to us all!

          A thing just happened in USA that lights the fuse of civil war - your federals just dumped a few more million people into life-or-death crisis. I suppose they expect "market forces" to resolve it .. but it won't .. food has got to come from somewhere, and tribes will form-up to get it by military means. There will be more no-go real estate than even the sub-prime caused. There's another reason to keep the troops abroad - they will be put to other more "local" uses if they go home.

          There's a real advantage to default tribalism - it tends to regulate the commons. But there's a trick to that .. I'm working on it.

          PS - watch out for the corporate militias.
  • thumb
    Sep 19 2013: Here's another fundamental about Syria:

    I asked my Syrian friend why he left, he said .. "In Syria, everyone wants to leave!"

    Apparently this is nothing new.
  • thumb
    Sep 19 2013: I would say the basic principle is closest to the object to the game Monopoly; become the wealthiest player through buying , selling, and renting property.
    • thumb
      Sep 19 2013: The rentieures are becoming a bit of a subject lately.

      I think it's about time - someone has to grow the food.
      The young, the old and the sick can't work, but we keep them.
      So they ride on the grower's back .. that's OK, he's strong and kind, and enjoys the company.
      So - who else is on the grower's back. So many he can hardly stand?

      That needs looking at.
      Let the rentieure climb on a machine, not a man.
      Then decide which machines are worth having - along with their passengers.

      How do you see the rentieures involvement in SYria?
      • thumb
        Sep 19 2013: The war machine is humans if you ask me. I guess the rentiers involvement is mostly on the business side of things with weapon sales, infrastructure projects, and government once and if Assad gets the boot.
        • thumb
          Sep 19 2013: In the capitalist paradigm, infrastructure means rent.
          But I don't think Syria has any value for traditional rent - no one want's to live there.
          However, corporations/nation-states will be happy to bring Syria into their operational cost base.

          Everything must boil-down to advantage. It begins with personal advantage which then gets rounded-up into various levels of social advantage. When you treat corporations and nations as community aggregates-of-advantage, it is easier to comprehend - but what is missing is the factionalising pressure that splits corporations and nations into sub-tribes. That paper-trail is very difficult to track. It's the detail - where the devil lives.
      • thumb
        Sep 20 2013: Right on Mitch. So what's your opinion on American involvement in Syria ?
        • thumb
          Sep 20 2013: My first impression was that it was best left alone to play out. But this conversation has taught me a lot - it's not that simple.

          At the national level, America has no choice. It must be involved to protect its advantage.

          In this case, America itself cannot directly invade and take Syria. It's simply not a viable project - as was demonstrated in Iraq.
          So it has to maintain advantage through choosing an invader that is least inimical to American interests - that's a game of tilt-the-table.

          Getting balance between domestic and foreign policy is tricky. America itself is deeply factionalised.

          I think that there is no such thing as America. There is an elite tribe that calls itself America, and if that tribe can be identified, we will be able to discern its advantage - it may or may not include our own advantage - personal or tribal.

          (Edit: the true tribe of America is in direct opposition to my advantage - My opinion is that it should crash and burn - but so should all over-bloated entities. That includes all nation-states, all cities, all organised religions, all corporations, all ideologies - they are all parasites).
  • Sep 18 2013: What is the basic principle?
    I showed it too you. Spread it around.
    Elephants and grass. Basic unless hidden.
  • Sep 18 2013: Mitch, "There sure is a lot that needs fixing."
    You are so right.
    Syria, needs fixing.
    But not through WAR.
    And not through BULLY politics, and SECRETS.

    Secret Negotiations are never the right way to approach a problem.

    That should be the Motto of our Department of State, and our US Government,
    and the Governments of all the other nations of the World.

    Newspapers should not report via a White House News Release.
    Unless that Released News is both Accurate and Truthful.

    If Newspapers were to take and hold the "high-ground" perhaps things might change.
    Our President needs the Media for his Lies. They have the power. They need use it.

    I know TRUTH and TRANSPARANCY is an almost impossible battle to win.
    I live for the Almost part.
    Governments can stick the Impossible part up their noses.
    • thumb
      Sep 19 2013: I think that scarcity and abundance require different social structures.
      We have global abundance right now - but we will lose it if we don't adjust our structures to deal with the abundance.

      In times of scarcity, competition is the rule.
      In times of competition, secrecy yields advantage.

      While ever war persists in Syria, they will see only scarcity there.
      All that external forces can do, if they care about Syrians at all, is to get serious negotiation to happen - just as the UN recommended.

      But with Syria mortally weakened, national interest are now in-play - and will be in play until a dominant player asserts itself. That dominant player will share a border.

      So, as it stands, I'd say it's best to pick a winner, If you are a humanitarian, you would get the innocent out of there while it plays-out.

      Obama has picked his winner, but we don't know exactly who that is yet.

      Later on, it might be a good idea to determine who it was precipitated the fall .. or if it just happened as a result of structural flaws.
  • Sep 18 2013: Mitch, I got off the subject and apologize. Delete it if you wish.
    I just cannot seem to forget the tragedy of letting Lobbies ruin our Nation.
    • thumb
      Sep 19 2013: It's all part and parcel of the over-all malaise of humanity. It seems to hace been like that as far as history goes.
      I was looking for fundamentals here - and they apply to a lot more than just Syria.
  • Sep 18 2013: Mitch, thanks - I would like to expand..
    "....unbalanced distribution of surplus. .....
    Our capacity to invest locally gets hijacked."
    This next is assuming the Military budget continued to grow unabated... And, it did.

    1960's - 1974 when several social Acts were passed. "A hodgepodge." created by Congress's.
    For States, Counties, and Towns to get monies through Government Grants, to fund new agencies,
    and to help fix social security and healthcare with retirement private savings plans for everyone,
    and health and welfare trusts to be created by any organizations. Law to pre-empt State regulation
    making the Dept.'s of Labor and IRS responsible. For several years, neither was capable of regulation.
    ===
    States, Counties, and Towns hired special Grant Writers to get monies to fund new departments that
    quickly expanded, requiring new LOCAL taxes to support them. Local citizens paid through the nose.
    Funds left the Treasury in shambles.

    Banks and Financial Institutions were allowed to take in tax deferred deposits,
    and had a 10% penalty to savings, added for early withdrawal before age 59.5.
    Banks took out FULL PAGE ADS Nationwide.

    *****It also by law prohibited Banks from making risky investments.*****
    ===
    With LOCKED UP Retirement Savings,
    Excess citizen investment CASH was GONE.
    Private Investment EVAPORATED. OVERNIGHT.
    SAFETY OF INVESTMENT WAS THE KEY.
    ===
    But wait there's More...
    The Lobbies nibbled, nibbled, nibbled.

    Corporate and Government neglected to FUND Pensions...
    Savings and Loans, and Thrifts (inexperienced Bankers) went Kaput.
    Construction's Suspended. Framed buildings rotted where they stood..
    Interest Rates to 20% and Banks weren't lending.
    Enter Ronnie on White Horse. patch, patch.
    ===
    But wait there's More...
    The Lobbies nibbled, nibbled, nibbled.
    The Banks were Deregulated.
    ===
    Bandits aka: Real Estate Brokers - Wall Street Mortgage Banks.
    Presidents Bush(s), Clinton(s), Obama.
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      Sep 19 2013: Hi Frank,

      Yes - it's a mess.

      Tying this back to Syria might be a an interesting task - I think the link is there, but it's obscure.

      All power comes from people - from the ground-up. But we lose-the-plot when our groupings get too big and our administrative structures get too deep.

      It tickles my s**t-stir nerve to say - all formal religions are tribes of middle-men, they don't really care about people. And there's a lot of them in Syria.

      I believe that once a town/tribe gets beyond about 200 people it stops functioning properly. I think it's a part of human nature, that when the threshold is exceeded, the group will factionalise and split - whether that is formalized or not, it will be true. I think that also applies to workplaces, government and corporate. It is only in the military that they understand the functional limits of groups - and it gets enforced.
      However, deep hierarchical structures allow tribe-groups to form-up above the functional boots-on-the-ground - and then all hell breaks loose as these tribes-of-middle-men start using the boots-resources to compete for dominance. The leaders above the middle-men may, or may not have the skills to manage all this mayhem, but they do it alone without any real community support - because they can't, and shouldn't trust anyone.

      Syria is a war of middlemen - just as it is everywhere. It is only a war because some tribe-of-middle-men started knocking-out the boots-groups of other middle-men.