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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: Innocent, non-combatant, non-threatening citizens should not be poison gassed by their leader. Somebody needs to stop the atrocity. Remember Jim Jones, Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc.?
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      Sep 12 2013: By stopping the atrocity,somebody is engaging an atrocity too.If we intervene in Syria, the attacks we make will definitely target at those innocent,non-combatant people. Dont forget the innocent Iraqis ,Pakistanis our troops have killed. That's no difference to Assad's killing. Mull it over.
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        Sep 12 2013: Mulled it over. Still believe the USA should crush the head of the serpent which is killing the innocent. You are not free to redefine the word "atrocity" , which is rooted in evil, to fit your argument. The USA has no evil intent in standing up for the defenseless victims of Assad's cowardly lunacy. Yes there is unfortunate collateral damage in knocking out a bully and that is an undeniable truth. The alternative is to stand by and watch the slaughter of innocents, knowing you could stop it anytime. Which result would you choose to live with? Give war a chance George. Peace will come when the dragon is slain, not before.
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          Sep 13 2013: Imagine,if you are the few innocent who will be killed by American intervention,would you be willing to see US troop in your country,targeting you and your beloved ones?
      • Sep 12 2013: Killing some people now as collateral damage when targeting Assad may well save lives in the long run by shortening the war.

        Effectively, kill a few now to save a lot later.
        As cold as that logic may sound, its still valid. By the brutal standards of war you can't really expect anything better. A soft heart and a soft touch will actually do more damage than a violent one in this particular scenario.
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      Sep 12 2013: Hi Edward,
      I think we have to be careful of our media.
      The reports I get from my Syrian friend are at odds with what we see in the media. (including social media and youtube)

      For instance, did you know that major rebel cells had negotiated with Assad to avoid built-up areas as arenas of conflict?

      It is plain that the fires of war are being fanned by opportunistic elements - the USA is definitely one of them.

      Most Syrians do not believe Assad is stupid enough to deploy chemical weapons.
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        Sep 12 2013: Point taken sir. If Assad has not deployed chemical weapons on his own "subjects"; if all the photos I have seen in the NY Times and the Washington Post and Fox News are manufactured propaganda; if the first-hand, eyewitness reports I have seen are fraudulent; if the entire spectrum of American media is deliberately participating in a hoax designed to whip Americans into a blood frenzy; then the USA needs to back-off and let the Syrian people fight their civil war. However, if gas bombs have been used then we need to take swift and sure action to stop it, no matter who is doing the gassing.
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          Sep 13 2013: It's definitely a challenge ..
          The fog of war will not permit any truth to pass.
          We cannot know - and therefore act only in ignorance.

          You might recall that the eyewitness reports of the Iraqi atrocities in Kuwait were false.
          That the Bay of Tonkin incident was false .. and the list goes on.

          We must be very cautious of media.
          And in absence of the truth, one can only operate from policy .. but is policy accurate enough for such decisions as who do I kill? When that "who" is not a threat to you, and is on the other side of the planet?

          In this thread, I am looking for fundamentals - reliable abstracts useful to us all.

          Policy .. where does it come from? Is it Ideology?

          War is, after all, one of the 4 horsemen. If it is offered to us as a gift - best we look in that horse's mouth.

          You have offered the fundamentals of policy and ideology 2 of the teeth in that mouth - I think that is important.

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