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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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  • Sep 12 2013: Q: What is Common to All Violence? The fact that your friend views himself as a Syrian and you consider yourself to be American points the way. At some point we stop playing in the branches of right and wrong, good and evil, should and should not, and see the very Root.
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      Sep 12 2013: Thanks Scott,
      Good points.
      The us/them problem has been curious to me for a long time.
      I think neuroscience can deliver some answers to it.
      There seems to be evidence that Human males have physiological triggers to violence - and that these triggers have some evolutionary purpose .. the problem is that they can be hijacked. ("unleash the dogs of war").

      My own observations lead me to believe that tribes cannot be stable beyond 200 members. If this principle is recognised, then laws designed to maintain the peace could be targeted to govern inter-tribal relations. But it would require a radical re-write of jurisprudence and political economy.

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