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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: The principle is that we must kill innocent people to punish their leaders for killing other innocent people using nonapproved methods.
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      Sep 12 2013: Have you a better way to stop Assad from gassing innocent citizens of his own nation?
      • Sep 12 2013: Yes in fact. Take away all his chemical weapons through diplomacy like Putin is pushing for, which will only enable him to massacre innocent civilians with conventional munitions like artillery fire or white phosphorus.

        Now lets see if the sarcasm manages to carry through the internet...
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          Sep 12 2013: Your comment about sarcasm missed its mark. What do you mean? You really think Putin cares about innocent Syrians being gassed? This is a monumental political opportunity for Russia to return to the stage as a world power by exposing our POTUS as the novice he is. Putin and Assad are not the friends of Syrians!
        • Sep 12 2013: Now Hadav you know phosphorus bombs are illegal according to the UN charter, only the Israeli's are allowed to use them on Palestinians.
      • Sep 12 2013: Let me start by saying you're fun to talk with, Edward.

        I guess we could stop him the same way we stopped the Shah of Iran. Oh, wait. We put that guy in power and propped him up for two or three decades despite his murderous ways. Maybe that's part of the reason Iran hates us.

        Or I guess we could stop him like we stopped Saddam Hussein. Oh, wait. We didn't put that guy in power but we were buddies with him for several decades despite his murderous ways. We did eventually depose him, killing far more Iraqis than he ever did in the process. But at least we got rid of those WMDs. Oh, wait. There weren't any.

        At least there isn't credible evidence that the Syrian rebels are murderous thugs who belong to Al Qaeda, our sworn enemy, and there's no evidence that they are killing Christians when not fighting the government. Oh, wait. There is.
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          Sep 12 2013: Zowie! What a rant! I do still have a question for you though. . . have you a better way to stop Assad from gassing innocent citizens of his own nation?
      • Sep 13 2013: No. I don't. There is also evidence that the rebels were the ones doing the gassing. But that story doesn't fit our current foreign policy goal of securing a pipeline route for our friends in Saudi Arabia. That is what the entire situation is really about.

        Since the entire situation is filled from one end to the other with liars (Obama, Putin, Assad, the rebels and the Saudis) it is impossible to tell what really happened and it is best to just stay out of it.

        If you want to intervene I will not take you seriously until I see your feet on Syrian soil with gun in hand. It is easy to advocate taking the lives of faceless masses and something much more difficult looking each of them in the face as you do it. If you really care you'll do it in person.
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          Sep 13 2013: I did once and I would again now. Just because I am too old to be part of the rescue does not mean we can ignore the innocent victims of Assad's treachery. So you don't have a better answer but you oppose using force to stop gassing civilians? That only leaves one option. . . abandoning the Syrian people by doing nothing but ranting. Poor choice.
      • Sep 13 2013: The thing I'm being cynical about is that the current proposal put on the table towards assad. Its essentially telling the world "its okay to kill all those civilians, just don't do it with chemical weapons".

        Its as if the method is somehow more important than the actual killing.
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          Sep 13 2013: There is a valid priciple that says nations ought to stay out of the civil wars of other nations. There is also a valid principle that says biological and chemical warfare shall not be used. This issue in Syria involves both principles. Our justification for getting involved in Syria's civil war is the crime against humanity Assad has committed by using poison gas against his own people. That must stop!

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