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?

  • 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)
      • 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

    • +1
    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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    Lejan .

    • +1
    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.
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      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.
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      Tao P

      • 0
      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..."
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          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..
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      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.
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          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.
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      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.
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      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.
  • Sep 17 2013: Mitch. Non evidenced based theories just haven't ever worked.

    Keynesianism doesn’t work, never has worked, and never will work.
    Summers, Obama, and the FED's Bernanke and Geithner, with
    q1,q2,q3, currency wars that never had a chance of being successful.
    No nation has ever won a currency war.

    Without a clear understanding of why Keynesianism cannot work
    Summers, Obama, and the FED's Bernanke and Geithner, all were
    doomed to pursuing the impossible.

    So we the people of America suffer through these idiot's messes.
    And we listen to Obama smooth the distress with his soft spoken lies.

    Face facts. the Bank's robbed us all, not a criminal act,
    instead -- Much like Plutarch wrote 2,000 years ago.
    An act of Congress suggested by Henry Paulson, who was the
    best Shakespearian actor on the stage. Now a wealthy man
    beyond imagination, and the scope of law.

    Bank's today enjoy bank robbery investigative services of the FBI,
    a 1920-30's late replacement for the Pinkerton Detective Agency,
    who were barred from employment by both the United States and
    the District of Columbia. Services, which in my mind suggests
    insanity without boundaries.

    Something I no doubt have had a lifetime to mull over.
    Also note the last 5 years of Goldman Sach's public-relation ads.
    their $500 million dollars for new business start-ups a mere drop in
    the bucket.

    I apologize for being so offensive, but the charade never stops.
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      Sep 18 2013: It gets on my nerves too .. we are far from alone.

      Keynes methods were temporary at best - it is designed to plug the economic gap when people are dumped into exile. It is supposed to prevent exiles forming-up into insurgencies. But it does not produce sustainable value-production - you can't do Keynes without a follow-up plan - something that builds real functioning families and towns - sustainable value production.
      The machines replaced slavery - but the system that produced slavery has not caught-up .. those displaced by the machines are still considered slaves, but now they are useless slaves. Where is the plan for them? If there is no plan, are we ready to accept the plans they make for themselves?
      Where does the national unity come from? Can we learn anything from Syria about how to not screw the pooch?
      • Sep 18 2013: Mitch, here is the Syrian's real problem, and the world's. 9/18/2013
        Today, In response to the FISA Judge's lame excuse -- the following law-suit.

        VICTIMS
        All Americans, and Worldwide all citizens of all nations.
        -- vs --

        CO-CONSPIRATORS -- The United States Congress, and Staff,
        Highly Paid FISA Judges and Staff, NSA and Staff, 5 Living Presidents and
        Staff, Private Contractors and Employees, and John Does 1 through
        850,000 United States Employees who hold Top Secret and Cryptographic
        Clearances.

        THE CHARGES.
        1. Lying to Americans, Nation's Governments World-Wide and their citizens.

        2. Spying for up to 45 years of Victim's personal Intellectual Property,
        including, but not limited to Victim's written and spoken words.

        3. Surveillances for up to 45 years of Victim's personal Intellectual Property,
        including, but not limited to Victim's written and spoken words.

        4. Collection for up to 45 years of Victim's personal Intellectual Property,
        including, but not limited to Victim's written and spoken words.

        5. Theft by Deception for up to 45 years of Victim's personal Intellectual Property, including, but not limited to Victim's written and spoken words.

        6. Purchase and/or Sale for up to 45 years of Victim's personal Intellectual Property, including, but not limited to Victim's written and spoken words.
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          Sep 19 2013: Surveillance has a lot of factors we can follow.

          Firstly, the Echelon system was known to be operating for years - it was part of the cold-war thing then got subsumed into the war-on-a-word-in-the-dictionary.
          If you go to war with a language, the battleground is words - in order to win, the military must take the ground .. and that's what they are doing.

          From another angle, once all the land real-estate is used up as property (as it is), then there is nowhere to expand. So you declare intellect as real-estate and start owning that too.

          "Intellectual property" is the bid to capture our minds - our attention, our observations, our thoughts, our innovation, our personal aspirations - and sell it. For money - or some other form of advantage - either way, we lose it.
  • Sep 17 2013: Mitch, again no reply button, but here it is.

    Your use of labels is interesting, a bit confusing also.
    If your comfortable great. Because you are right.

    The wild west had law and order.
    Today that has morphed into enforcement and order.

    Laws and Justice must be purchased, and are.

    A sad thing to watch, but I wouldn't have missed this show
    for all the tea in China.

    My one regret, -- I might not live to see the final act.
    ...It will be a dozy... Coming soon to theatres near you...
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      Sep 17 2013: Yeah,

      The rot goes right into the words we use .. so you gotta re-define words. before talking - otherwise no one has a clue what you are trying to give.

      Laws and justice turn into excuses and justifications if you let them.

      I've found out a few things that might help my friends.

      1. We are fools to believe that we can have a single global community-of-man. People are tribal .. it's not rational, but there are physical limitations to how many people you can live with. And those limits are simply the size of our brains - big, but not big enough for that. So what do you do? . I'd suggest we get real about our limitations.

      2. Most what we were raised to believe is crap. So we just got along as best we could with what everyone else believed - we had no choice. But now we do.

      3. There is a small window of enlightenment given us by .. the wild .. the internet - until it gets screwed-down like every other wild thing. We get a chance to understand that screwing down the wild screws everything - and we can get some kind of manual going so that the young learn first how to recognise a "screwer" - and stop them from doing the old tricks .. and this is old - this goes back maybe 10 thousand years. It's a lot to take-on, but if you get out of the mud, you can run faster than anyone.

      Glad you are feeling the wind . .nice isn't it?
  • Sep 17 2013: Mitch, I didn't see a reply button on your last comment.
    but I wanted to add something.

    The ISPs, (my daughter runs one) have towers and services and get
    nailed with the FBI types and other things we never hear about.

    A very few years ago.
    The US Gov't and 4 or 5 other EU partners decided to control the Search Engines,
    and have hired most of them. They are even today getting inroads into free-ware
    constructors.

    I believe for 45 years the US Gov't has allowed us to develop the web, while they,
    like China, and several other nations have copied and developed their mirror-like web.

    I haven't looked back past 1968, but a really good researcher could verify this is true.

    ===
    Mitch, your on the right track about changes in the work force.

    Our system of Commerce is broken.
    Congress developed rules for Corporations. They provided a Carrot to motivate
    Corporate obedience. It is called Limited Liability.

    Congress overlooked the marketability of Corporation themselves.
    Every day 24/7/365 other nations solicit Corporations to move from one local
    in the United States to another location in the other nation. These solicitors
    have Carrots too.

    As Americans became glutted with industry, grown because of WARS that had
    to be fed, other nations picked at the edges. ..While glutted, the Americans
    could let it happen. But, when the WARS ended, the other nations still picked.
    Bringing soldiers home, meant no jobs to offer, industry slowing down, and
    pick, pick, pick. ..A misguided Supreme Court allowed Unions to collectively
    bargain for wages and benefits, price increases followed, recession, and pick,
    pick, pick. ..A misguided US Gov't want back to WARS. 57+ Armed Conflicts
    since WW2, and pick, pick, pick.
    We end up today, No Real Jobs, and No Change We Can Count On...

    And next year.... Like the British Pound Sterling 1965, The US Dollar, Kaput.
    Other Nation's Trade Deals don't include the US.
    Scary...
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      Sep 17 2013: Hi Frank,

      I largely agree. But the economic story is not exactly as you have presented it .. although it's pretty much what I believed only 2 years ago.
      With the ISPs and corporations, Well, I was a senior manager in a large ISP for a while. The really big ones re like medium-size countries. Very interesting dynamics, but they are all subject to a certain amount of state capture - most of them were started by public funds by the governments, and are pretty much traded between nations right now. What the "state" is now, is not like the state was for my father and his father.

      Here's the thing: all the job-losses break down as 60% technological displacement, 30% off-shoring and 10% for fringe reasons.

      With political economy, well, The plan was that off-shoring would prime the system so that people in disadvantaged countries would build a middle class, their wages would rise while ours stagnated until there was global parity - global abundance would be shared and off-shoring would reverse. The jobs would come back. But we didn't count on technology. Technology exiles people from the money economy - and only Keynesian welfare measures hold-up the money economy - the exiles do not produce into the value system. What they do is form street-gangs. Tribes. They have to - or die. So we make them criminals and begin the industry of their incarceration, and ultimate extermination.
      That is how money-economy works. It has done that in all civilisations that do money.
      In the past, those civilisations exhaust the resources that support them and collapse, you then get a period of loose feudalism, and then it all starts up again - the value built-up by generations of community are trashed and converted into money again, and then it crashes again.

      I'd like us to progress into a modern tribalism - humans form into tribes by default, so let them do it. Within a tribe, there is no need for money, government or law (law is replaced by custom). But there is a need for inter-tribal law
      • Sep 17 2013: Mitch,
        I could argue with something like this, but It just gets George W. messy...

        Instead, Let you and I look back in history --- Take a trip, a short one.
        2,000 years ago.
        Plutarch, in writing, "On Morals," two thousand years ago, described market
        bubbles in the near-ancient world and how the lending industry came to
        periodically bankrupt (bank corrupt) nearly everyone in order to create
        exorbitant wealth for themselves, simply as result of their own avarice and
        greed. He was writing on why no one should allow themselves to get into debt
        through borrowing, but to live threadbare if need be, and to sell what you
        have and live roughly, rather than see a money lender. People have always
        sought to live beyond their means. And sooner or later, many are found that
        they do not have sufficient funds to pay the piper.
        ===
        Today's Headline --- Not too long ago.

        As Worries Ebb, Small Investors Propel Markets

        Millions of people all but abandoned the market after the 2008 financial
        crisis, but now individual investors are pouring more money than they have
        in years into stock mutual funds. The flood, prompted by fading economic
        threats and better news on housing and jobs.....
        ===
        What we tend to forget --
        The people who abandoned the market were broke !!!
        ..periodically bankrupt (bank corrupt)....

        The new Small Investors are different people...
        We call them Fodder. (aka: new cannon fodder)
        Wall Street Mafioso's will reap them too.
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          Sep 18 2013: Hi Frank, I think you nailed that one!
          There sure is a lot that needs fixing.

          Lending at interest is always a disaster.

          I'm with Plutarch - one drops into what Marx called the "ancient" economic model.
          It's solitary and politically precarious, but the simplicity compensates. And, with all the leaches off your back, you don't need to work so many hours and have a lot more time for TED ;) (we could discuss cognitive capture :)

          The nation-state has a big problem when it gets unbalanced distribution of surplus. The danger of inflating the military is that the energy goes out of natural family and community values. Our capacity to invest locally gets hijacked.

          So what's going on there? Our families and towns start to wilt.

          With debt .. well that's promises - .. a terrible thing happens when one makes too many promises, .. you lose faith in yourself because the weight of the future becomes to heavy to bear.

          I think people are beginning to notice that their promises have been elicited by fraud and deception. I can see a time when the western nations are going to have to sit down and sort-out exactly what promises are credible and throw away the rest .. a kind of calculated "jubilee".

          Personally, I have found that any promise beyond intent is a lie. The future is unknowable. We cannot do more than our best, and we cannot be at our best all the time.


          With Syria, who benefits from national interests? Even if energy security is won, our families and home towns won't see much of it while they are being blood-sucked by wealth-concentrators such as banks and military empires. And man, military empires are no more stable than economic empires .. and they have more guns.
  • Sep 17 2013: Nobody wants war right? But, war per se, has not been proposed. Funny thing is that when anybody talks about this subject, it's always framed in those terms, and like, we're going to bomb Syria in general. This is diverting from the real matter at hand, which frankly so is to ask about core principles, which I'm sure exist, and abstracts...forget about abstracts; the matter at hand is: will the world stand by while multitudes of innocent civilians get slaughtered in a power hungry genocide by the Assad regime, looks like it. I happen to have been watching this revolution unfold from the beginning about 2 1/2 years ago, when the student protesters were open fired upon. Usually you can tell when a video is honest and shot by an activist covering the war. What I have seen is the targeting of children, journalists, and the unrestrained murder of anyone trying to get in Assad's way, including his own troops. Yes, all of the activist videos are on YouTube and show a disgusting and embarrassing situation that the free world is allowing to continue. We are talking about surgical strikes guided by the US military and the Free Syrian Army. The FSA was the citizen's response to Assad's brutality and receives nothing but suspicion and empty promises. The are trying to save their families, but now other groups have joined in to muddle the crisis. We know where Assad is, that's the head of the snake. Syrians under the control of the regime are afraid to take any opposing action because they and their families would be eliminated. We're all standing by and letting this happen. Don't take you eye off of the ball. Assad uses all means at his disposal to commit genocide and spread fear. Also, Putin kills babies!
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      Sep 17 2013: Hi Harry,

      Forget abstracts?

      You are attempting to stop people understanding.

      There is a major abstract that you yourself have fallen victim to:
      The attraction of conflict - all males have this, there is a desire to join the fray - it needs no excuse, but will use one if it can.

      War developed and exists in Syria - to let ourselves become entrapped by our own irrational urges will do nothing but increase and spread the conflict.

      I do not believe the humanitarian excuse.
      I think we must be aware of our motives - gain the wisdom and be equipped for a better result.
  • Sep 16 2013: The Syrian Rebel's organization, the one fighting the
    Syrian government.

    How many commenters can name the Syrian Rebel's organization?

    How many commenters can name which Rebel organizations are
    associated with which Terrorist organizations?

    How many commenters can name the Rebel organization Leaders?

    How many commenters have seen the pictures of the Cluster Bombs
    used against the Rebel organizations?

    Any takers?
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      Sep 17 2013: Hi Frank,

      You have to go to the internet for that kind of news.
      There's a lot of stuff on youtube - mostly rebel groups doing propaganda.
      But, for the most part, it's ham-fisted propaganda - I don't think western audiences are the target.

      In all cases, the media seeks to pull our chain .. one way or another.
      • Sep 17 2013: Hi Mitch, your right. The media is pulling our chain.

        Propaganda was big money in WW2. I have the collection of
        many of the cartoons made for children, that since WW2 have
        been removed by censors. You cannot eliminate so easily the
        memories. Mine are vivid. I watched as the Sunday Funnies
        changed from Terry and the Pirates into Terry and the Flying
        Tigers, and the P40's into the P57's and into the F80's and F86's.
        As a wee child, I knew it was propaganda.
        What kind of idiots do such evil mischief to wee children?

        The Internet is a great tool. The only drawback, a terrible one,
        is that it is a Library without titles. Every user is blind.

        Judgment of information found on the internet is corrupt.
        It can be no other.
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          Sep 17 2013: Most of it is pretty simple .. we know it's propaganda .. we just sense it, but we get misdirected about the real purpose of it.
          What we see is someone pressing our subconscious buttons, but we react to having our buttons pressed - not to understanding just which buttons are being pressed - where the whole power of it is.

          The purpose of all propaganda is to misdirect our attention away from the exploitation that is being worked on us.

          The big thing they don't want us to understand is that it is our agency - our effort which is being entrained and trapped to achieve their advantage.

          You will see from your own efforts, and collaboration with your family and friends what happens .. what is it we are doing?
          We are building our advantage - this is done by enlarging our potential advantage - the range of things we can do .. that's important because it is the range of things available that allows us to adapt to changing conditions .. like droughts and floods, we need a whole grab-bag of contingencies and stores to get through.

          This range of possibilities - I call it "potential agency" not all of it is useful, for instance I could choose to jump off a cliff .. but I wont, it's not my advantage to do that.
          There is another word for this store of "potential agency" - it is called "freedom".

          The aim of propaganda is to rob you of your freedom. Why do that? There's only one reason - to capture your advantage for themselves. To harness your potential whether you like it or not.

          How is this done? Here's an example:

          A law will be passed to make it illegal to jump off a cliff. Propaganda will emphasise the evil of cliffs and get your agreement to exclude all the land around cliffs to prevent cliff-jumping "criminals" committing that crime. Of course, everyone agrees - no one has anything to loose .. or do they? Well, suddenly, the law-maker (be it corporate or state) has just expropriated your access to land - and the views. So they sell it back to you in controlled ways etc
  • Sep 16 2013: Okay Ed . . . in principle we agree. As to proof however, given the unfolding of this incident in particular, there are numerous reasons why Assad would not have issued a worldwide outcry . . . including conducting his own investigation of who done it while his enemies had concluded his guilt and sought a coalition of the unwilling. Indeed, I view your response to my questions and assertions as a "negative pregnant." As we search for proof beyond a reasonable doubt, let us be intellectually firm in rejecting the views of Secretary Kerry (and those of the one that sent him), who found reasonable doubt for the finding. The core principle is that the guilty parties, and only the guilty parties, should be punished for having used CW. An important corollary is that the United States, as it appears to be doing this week, should not allow itself to be misled into a religio-civil war across the globe.
  • Sep 16 2013: Edward Long . . . I thought we had an understanding two days ago that "someone deployed" Sarin gas on innocents, but "who" that someone is . . .we do not have clarity. Now I see subsequent remarks from you again calling for a just, surgical strike . . .I assume against the Assad regime. I ask again (having laid out my case two days ago in some detail), what supports your belief that Assad done it?

    For your information, I am repeating my earlier email (to which you responded):

    Ed--I'd like to know what your thoughts are on the likelihood that the opposition done it. I view that as more likely than not. First, it makes no sense the Assad would prompt a Western intervention in war he is winning (the media ascribing this anomaly to Syrian "frustration"). Second, after all is said and done, the US Intelligence Community was unable to advance a single argument, beyond a wave of the hand, to support the proposition. This was obvious form the 4-page piece of speculation masquerading as a white paper. Third the one "fact" our establishment has produced, having to do with a "highly placed" Hezbollah functionary having a random discussion picked up by Israeli intelligence, does not address a single iota of the who, what , where, etc., and presupposes that this Hezbollah functionary is privy to Assad's thinking and actions. Compare that with the Belgian hostage released three days ago or so. http://www.usnews.com/news/newsgram/articles/2013/09/10/freed-hostages-reveal-information-on-chemical-attacks-in-syria Fourth, the statements of our leaders which leave so much to be desired as to evoke disbelief (not enough space to get into it here). Fifth--the 800-pound gorilla in the room--the "classified briefings" that loyalists such as Senator Ayotte (R/NH) are relying on to support the conclusion that makes no sense, that Assad done it or is at least responsible. And oh yes . . . how do like the conclusion, made of whole cloth: the opposition could not deliver those gas attack
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      Sep 16 2013: HI Mark,

      I think you're asking the wrong guy. Edward has a stance - it is not an uncommon stance given that his national leader has chosen it .. and, trust them or not, leadership is leadership - we have to take notice - choose unity or choose division (for better or worse).

      I asked my Syrian friend .. at least he is in contact with people there on the ground. He didn't say anything until I said "I don't believe that Assad would be stupid enough to use gas" - and he said "No - I don't believe it.".
      However, that is not to say that someone in Assad's organisation is not stupid .. or a planted provocateur. It is pretty well demonstrated that Israel has such planted people all over the middle-east - and they are not the only ones.

      So the "who deployed the gas" will never be properly known.
      Edward reacts to his chosen principle of "Gas is evil - oppose evil".

      If you have any concern for Edward, you will address his wisdom - the political reality is beyond us here in talk-space But compassion is not beyond us.

      What is it you want to say?
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      Sep 16 2013: The lethal strike must be against the actual perpetrator of the atrocity. I believe that is most likely Assad, but it is possible someone else is responsible. (It seems strange to me that Assad did not issue a worldwide outcry of protest and outrage if Sarin was used by rebels against Syrian people). Once we know beyond reasonable doubt who did it. . . prep for surgery!
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    Sep 16 2013: I don't believe there is a "core principle," Mitch. Just ugly absolutist principles of each combatant side.

    Fights are fights, and no one has ever been able to control them. The US will experience nothing but grief if we involve ourselves in the Syrians' fight.

    Apparently, by now Obama has managed - with unintended help from the Russians - to wriggle himself out of his "strike" modus. We (the US) may manage to keep out of the fight, but that doesn't help the Syrians. I personally think the only thing that would avoid a lengthy human disaster in Syria is control by an international force. Unfortunately that certainly won't happen, and Assad and his enemies will continue to battle, with more thousands of deaths, for several more years.
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      Sep 16 2013: Yes, a fight is a fight.

      We now have a lot of neuroscience about that - the amygdala is the part of the brain that initiates the fight response - it also turns-off the reasoning brain. This reveals some dynamics that are becoming more well known in the behavioural sciences.

      From the national strategic perspective - all nations must act in their own interest. If a nation-state, such as Syria, becomes critically weakened through civil war, neighbouring states have a critical interest in the outcome. Global powers will also watch for opportunities of advantage. Very, very tricky.

      The united nations was pretty much destroyed in the gulf wars - as the dominant strategic player, the USA will not allow a higher player - and does not accept global jurisdiction. It has no need to. Obama was correct to name his critical concern: credibility .. he finessed that quite nicely.

      The Syrian people are in deep trouble. Those who have not already secured haven will go through the entire process. The best we can do is to prepare for rapid action to resettle refugees and get psychiatric assistance to them. There is only a short time window to deploy psych aid to trauma victims. It has been proven that psych aid is counter productive in refugee camps - gotta get them out of there. The alternative is to exterminate them - you don't want that kind of harm spreading out through the world.
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        Sep 16 2013: Well said, Mitch. I agree.
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          Sep 16 2013: yes .. it makes me begin to feel the sorrow .. .

          I believe that sorrow must be felt - all of it.
          It comes with rage - only sorrow defeats that rage.
          Unfortunately, we are wired to do the rage before the sorrow sets-in, and that just generates more sorrow.
          Trauma is unfelt sorrow, there are limits to how much a person can take in one lump. Can take years - or never, if it just gets denied - leaving only rage.
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    Sep 15 2013: Mitch: " Hmm .. have you read "the cloud of unknowing"?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cloud_of_Unknowing

    Edit: The wiki article fails to mention the key part of that work - it is a manual of how to deal with demons."

    I don't believe in spiritual demons Mitch. do you?
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      Sep 16 2013: No.

      But I do believe in basic amygdala functions, supressed traumatic memory, stranded autobiographic selves and socio-emergent artefacts.. "morphic resonance" holds some credibility..
      The manual still works if you treat it metaphorically ;)
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        Sep 16 2013: I don't know Mitch. Sounds like you believe in demons. :)

        I guess you didn't see the smily face Mitch.

        I've known you long enough to understand how you think, to a small degree. No, I'm not trying to discredit you. I know you don't believe in ghosts.

        But, we know there are really no ghosts in the machines.... don't we? We need to call it what it is, code that serves more than the purpose we designed, yielding unintended results. Perhaps that is how ET will come to be. :)
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          Sep 16 2013: I believe that people are smart - but only in the narrow range of where we are looking.
          Outside our gaze, we are dumber than slugs.
          And there are those with stakes in what we don't look at.
          Beyond that there are artefacts of methods - "ghosts" in our machines that exist simply because of the signal-to-noise ratio that cannot be escaped by self-interested perception.

          Call it socio-emergent artefacts, or call it spiritual demons - it does not matter unless you are trying to play ethics to discredit someone.

          Are you trying to discredit me?

          Sorry bud - wrong guy.
  • Sep 15 2013: Good metaphor, but rather than pondering about what the core principle would be, we should see the things really going on in the world. Russia is finally agreed to destroy Syrians' formidable chemical weapons and that reduces the possibility of US using bombs in this situation.
    Things have been going little too careful and there surely are some pros and cons.
    Whether America or Russia does something about this situation, it’s a fact that Syrians have been suffering from deadly attacks.
    Decisions have been made peacefully(i guess), but
    it’s still a problem that a situation like this has no certain answer. Should we need decisiveness? Or should we need more carefulness? I have no idea. But indecisiveness is enough for people like me. .
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      Sep 16 2013: HI Elizabeth.

      I think that it's important for people to understand this - from the on-the-ground reality to the high-up strategic reactions of superpowers.
      The media tells only stories - most of them false.
      The fundamental principles of behaviour in conflict are the only tools we can trust.
      And conflict is poised to erupt everywhere - we need to get this done.
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      Sep 16 2013: Thank you Elizabeth. You stated the core principle of the Syrian crisis. . . "it’s a fact that Syrians have been suffering from deadly attacks." ( I assume by the word "deadly" you mean Sarin gas).
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    Sep 15 2013: Does the US really "want" to bomb Syria, or was the threat of bombing a tactic to force the international community into a debate about the Syria civil war.
    The US and others have reportedly spent $1billion in aid on the displaced population in Syria, some 7 million people. That's unsustainable.
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      Sep 15 2013: Well, one has to be a bit careful of retrospective analysis.
      But on the balance, you can safely assume that leaders put a lot of thought into tactics and contingencies.
      So long as one remembers that no one fully knows the future. Some will be planned, some will be accidental.
      The displacement is on my mind too .. Assad must know that he is lost. If he has any respect for his own people, he will be finding ways to get them out of the final genocide. As many as possible.
      From the start, we saw the enraged chimpanzees exterminating whole families. It's just male-chimp behaviour.
      From there-on-down, it is all a delaying tactic, and the creatures of carrion become the media event.
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      Sep 15 2013: There is no point in dropping a rock in the pond if you don't watch the ripples.
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    Sep 14 2013: It's interesting to note that since my comments about Russia, there have been many Russian, Yandex based aliases trying to join my forum. :)
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      Sep 15 2013: Yes,
      TED is extremely public.
      I appreciate your observation!
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    Sep 14 2013: It is a bit strange Mitch. It reminds me of the times when I've stood around in a group of people who were taking about me as if I wasn't even there. I try to offer some advice but they just ignore me.

    I guess the Syrian people are in that same sort of quandary. They listen and exclaim from time to time but the rest of the powers that be talk amounst each other like Syrai is not even part of the discussion.

    But then again. What about all those young kids (400 or so) who were killed by the Syrian government, as if they didn't have a say so in their own lives?

    Are we really treating the Syrian population as if they are innocent of the crimes committed by their government? It reminds me of the time when General Eisenhower and Patton rounded up the local population in the areas where the atrocities committed against the Jews were committed and making them see the damage done during their time of self-proclaimed innocence due to ignorant.

    Sure, we can hand off to the Russian solution but I think we should take a lead from two Generals and make the president of Syria and his cabinet, personally attend each and every grave of those kids and apologize through their prayers to their god(s) for their stupid actions.
    I think an eye-for-an-eye is old fashion in a modern society, especially if it has the potential to scatter chemical weapons and cause even more destruction and kill more kids. We become just like them with each child that dies.

    We need to stop and ask ourselves: "Do we want to be like them?"
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      Sep 15 2013: Hi John,

      It's all food for thought ..

      I am reminded of how vultures circle a wounded animal.

      Or how lions and hyenas joust for carrion rights. Many a time, the lion makes the kill, but the hyenas get the meat.

      From another angle, I find it fascinating how quickly any notion of legal due process is abandoned when the demon of vengeance enters our hearts.

      In absence of true knowledge, talk of innocence and guilt seems to be the height of hubris - we are captured by something far less than "nobility" or "honour". That in itself is instructive. The bloodlust seems almost sexual - it needs no truth, only an excuse. This is one thing that "leaders" will know .. the "rules" if you like.
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        Sep 15 2013: Demons can be removed by contacting your local Catholic preist. :)

        I think money is as good an influence as it gets really. Blood lust tends to be on an individual basis. It's hard for me to imagine a whole army of blood lusters, especially in a modern setting (base on my personal experience).
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    Sep 14 2013: Here is another fundamental (thanks Edward):

    There is a problem with media and communication.
    If a member of our herd is hurt by a predator or by another in the herd, then we are wired to take vengeance on the harmer - the predator or the aberrant member. This sorts-out the conflict pretty quick, might succeed, might fail, but it is over and done very quickly.
    There are some closely spaced dynamics at work - shock-->sorrow-->vengeance-->mourning-->healing.
    When a harm-event comes to us via media or communication, the primary thing communicated is the shock and vengeance - we are less available to the actual sorrow, mourning or healing.

    With the bias to vengeance built-into our communication and media, we become vulnerable to escalation of vengeance - this causes harm which escalates until all within the communicated range are personally touched by harm in order for the sorrow/mourning necessary to heal.
    In this way, harm radiates and re-radiates through our media - and may keep harm active for a very long time .. perhaps forever.

    I don't think it is wise to allow global media to press our vengeance buttons.

    One must ask - why is communication biased against sorrow/mourning/healing?
    Is it a problem in our culture? Are we unable to properly feel our true sorrow? Or is it just the nature of comms?
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      Sep 14 2013: I suggest you have conflated vengeance and threat management. If someone is using poison gas against innocent victims the effort to stop it is not fueled by vengeance so much as by a desire to halt the evildoing. Good, decent people enjoy living in peace. Given a choice they would never use coercion or military power to impose their will on others. But, when peace is disturbed and evil acts out it is necessary to identify and eliminate the threat. Seeking the restoration of decency, respect, and freedom is not an act of vengeance, but a display of courage and a conviction to face real and present danger. Gassing Syrian people is a real and present atrocity against Mankind and is the core principle of this debate. The ethics of Media is not the problem. The ethics of those who ordered and executed the deployment of Sarin gas is the core problem. God help the people of Syria.
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        Sep 14 2013: Edward if they used poison gas they knew the consequences of their actions. They weighed this in comparison to their dire needs at the time. Sadly, the pro-gassers won the argument. It did halt the rebel surge, momentarily and the ensuing controversy added even more time for them to recoup their forces and set up a new battle strategy. It has the hallmarks of Russian military strategists behind it. They knew what our response would be and they won.

        Going in there and destroying some infrastructure will do two things. It will go against their plans and introduce our presence, especially in the form of air power into the conflagration. This will give world forces an edge due to presence and not work well with the Russian/Syrian plans. They lose the gamble.


        Once the modern world becomes an on sight presence, the goals of both rebels and Syrian government become secondary to the world demands. My question is, why is the modern world powers reluctant to take a strong stance on this type of problem in that region of the world. It seems to me that our presence would bring a halt to this type of destructive conflict.

        What do the modern civilized powers have to gain by letting these destructive conflict continue?

        And Yes, God help the Syrian people.
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          Sep 14 2013: Right on John. I thought we (the USA) were doing a good job of staying out of it on an above board level, but when the Sarin was deployed that changed things. Our message to maniacal dictators must be clear and consistent with regard to chemical and biological weaponry. . . do it and you'll be sorry! Let's use our formidable, superior power to stop it, what harm can come from stopping violence by a judicious, surgical application of payback violence?
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        Sep 15 2013: Interesting responses.

        Many thanks for your contribution!
  • Sep 14 2013: the main thing is shall we kill thousands to save thousands, shall we destroy the already crumbling infrastructure of syria to save thousands, shall we let america be the judge and jury of other leaders, shall we let collective leadership invested in such organisations as the united nations be trampled by the powerful
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      Sep 14 2013: Hi Prof Mpiya,

      Yes, those who walk under the banner of "the rule of law" seem too ready to crap on their own flag. Doesn't make much sense.

      What is your understanding of how vengeance works?
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      Sep 14 2013: Prof. It is not just the Americans who are being judge and Jury. If we did not restrain some of our allies, France for one, they would already be over there bombing the place. If you are going to point fingers point it at yourself also.

      South Africa's primary concern is that business go on as usual. They have no concern for the 400 children that were killed by the Syrian gas attack. Being on the other side of the argument only assures that the conflict will continue. As long as South Africa is making money, they really don't care how many children are dying.

      Don't point your finger at us as if we are some sort of barbarians who care little about the death of children.

      A smart man once said: "All that is necessary for evil to win is that good men do nothing." That is the position of South Africa - do nothing.
  • Sep 13 2013: Legan. Don't you remember the hoax about the existence of those weapons in Iraq? Was it a hoax that Sadam gassed thousands of Kurds? Was it a hoax by the UN when they stated that the trail of these weapons of mass destruction, as they are now regarded, lead more than once to the Syrian border? A simple goggle search I did a couple of years ago revealed that information.
  • Sep 13 2013: Edward, that we can agree on --
    May God help the people of Syria.

    I think I represent the "Let's Change The World" school.
    I do not wish to participate in vigilante actions.
    I do not see "signs" and cries for "American's Save Us" .

    More "Yankee go Home" and "Stay Out", and "Leave Us Alone".
    ===
    Edward, America Hosts the United Nations. Our place on the
    Security Council gives us control of many situations. But it does
    not make us Gods. We do not make the Rules. We cannot go
    down the road of Lies and Deceptions once again.
  • Sep 13 2013: Mike, Please consider this, just give it some thought.

    Obama was recently caught in a Lie about the NSA. On national TV,
    -- the Jay Leno show.
    Embarrassing and quickly hidden, hopefully to be forgotten.

    The Directors of the DNI, NSA, and DHS recently were before congress,
    giving "inaccurate statements" to the body of government that has oversight.
    My understanding of "inaccurate statements" under oath, is that they lied.

    Remember these were, and still are today, President Obama's closest advisors.
    People that must provide Truthful Information, unlike those mistakes of the past.
    Otherwise innocent people die. Lots of them did diein the past.
    American's, sons and daughters.

    There are 850,000 US Gov't employees who have Top Secret clearances.
    Does that also allow them to lie to congress? ..To fellow Americans?
    To ignore their oaths to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

    "Houston, we have a problem."
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      Sep 14 2013: yes,

      Who was it said: "Power must keep secrets"?

      Barry and David cite power as the core principle of the Syrian conflict - indeed, all wars.

      I have the notion that power has different flavours depending on how it forms-up.
      It looks like 3 main types: power by extortion, by deception, by service.
      The power that requires secrets is the power gained through deception.
      In power by extortion, only the loyalty of the military is required.
      Power by service relies on the quality of that service.
      (are there more types?)

      I have the feeling that these methods are not so easy to mix in a single leadership.
      • Sep 16 2013: Most Americans fail to know, or when they are so informed, they fail to care,
        or even to understand that their United States of America's government,
        is the World's largest WAR Arms and Ammo manufacturer and dealer.

        What does it mean?
        It means simply that the American People Don't Care.
        The American People waste their lives being strung along by their 2 party system
        who control the content of their media with paid advertising dollars.
        Law and Order has changed since the days of the Wild West,
        Today, it is Enforcement and Order.
        Justice only Bought.

        The United State government sells $Billions of dollars of weapons to very evil people
        --e.g., for example, the Syrian Rebels in their civil war with Assad, and the Saudis.

        The United States government care not how they use these weapons,
        only that the buyers remain loyal to the U.S.

        That is why the United States government's demand, that Assad stop using chemical
        weapons, is so hypocritical,

        The United States government sells the Saudis over $600 million of U.S. manufactured
        cluster bombs. Cluster Bombs far more lethal than chemical weapons. Cluster Bombs
        that are designed to kill innocent men, women, and wee children even after war is over.
        Cluster Bombs that over 100 nations have signed a treaty to outlaw, except for the one
        nation, the United States of America's government. Their Manufacturer and Salesman.

        Unknown to most American, United States government military industrial complex
        contractors, make $100s of millions of dollars selling these Cluster Bombs.

        Cluster Bombs that 100+ nations have signed a treaty to outlaw,
        With the exception of the single manufacturer, the United States of America.

        The United States government, whom we Americans no longer control.
      • Sep 16 2013: Mitch, You are so right.

        You've won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.
        Thank you.

        The UN report was milk-toast, as it did not assign blame.
        But then the UN leadership couldn't give them any other orders.
        And they were sent home, chased out of Syria, by Obama's early Threats.
        Sounds like a Foul Ball.
        Obama thinks "timing" is everything.

        Can anyone tell us where the Cluster Bombs were found?
        Or does no one read the news?
        Come on guys, do your research before you spew.
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          Sep 17 2013: Hi Frank,

          I think it gets much worse than the arms industry.

          Noam Chomsky has some interesting things to say about all that, but he also reminds us that most western cultures have more "freedom" than they ever had.
          For instance, during the 60's we would not be allowed to discuss this so publicly.
          The trick is to not allow governments to wind back our hard won conditions.

          The internet changes everything .. it is the new wild-west. And it is being gradually turned into another television system - broadcast mass-mind-control.

          Pretty soon the ISPs will flex their muscle - they have been quietly setting up our dependency - with vast quantities of money flowing from main-street into cyber-street.
          Governments have been trying to catch-up and regain control, but without global jurisdiction, they are hamstrung.

          Keep an eye on the copyright/IP thing .. here's what I think:
          There is no new physical real estate for power to expand into, so all the growth is being directed into cyberspace.
          The free media is being dispossessed from their territory, just as the native peoples were dispossessed of the continents.
          But the internet does not generate real value (food/housing/clothing) .. so how can this be possible?
          How is it that we can all go off into cyberspace and produce nothing from it beside education and entertainment?
          It's the machines - they are doing all the production in the real-world.
          The machine dream was that machines would do the work and humans would get the leisure.
          But it's not working out - the machines are doing the jobs - and the jobless are not paid.
          As we enter the cyberspace new-world, we dispossess humanity.
          Power does not need humans so much any more. It's a worry.
          One must get a handle on the workings of power - value is badly served by money, it creates exiles, and exiles form tribes. Tribal dynanics need to be understood.
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      Sep 14 2013: Barry, please give us some credit. The NSA has being spying on us since the internet became open to the public. We are all in a data base. Our best interest should be to insure our data is correct.

      Obama, Bush, Clinton, that actor fellow, what's his name, with no memory of his entire presidency, they all new what Obama knows. It's just Obama's turn in the hot seat. Give the guy a break and don't mislead the young people.
      • Sep 16 2013: Moony, You're getting better. Thank you.

        I'm beginning to see your goal, what your writing about,
        Acceptance.

        When the Presidency was a "glad-hander" job,
        things were fine. But power seems to beget power.
        Putting the President (without experience) into charge
        of the Military, is like allowing a child to play with toys.
        Bad thing happen. Over and Over.

        If Hollywood is to be believed, 24/7 there is a guy standing
        near the President with a suitcase, and inside, the button
        to push to start WW3.
        Scary.

        Obama is indeed the "seat warmer".
        I suppose I am only jealous of him.
        He gets a new caddy and I only get a ford.

        I believe in Achievement.
        I cannot believe in Acceptance.

        I believe money needs to be removed from Politics.
        Being the only solution.
        I also understand that is impossible.

        I believe the best thing is to try until what is possible is
        Achieved.
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          Sep 17 2013: It's all about the man Frank. Where does one get experience in warfare?

          6 years at the helm can form any man into a leader, even with military matters. I agree bad things could happen with the wrong man but we haven't seen that trend with this president. He did manage to make the right call on many situations, completing the task and keeping us out of an armed conflict. He is a military strategist in his own right. Let's not forget he is at his post everyday while we take the weekends off.

          The guy with the brief case also has a weapon. If anyone steps outside of protocol, they will be shot.

          Sometimes there are limits to the terms of Achievement. While you want it, so do many others. Limited resource create a bottle neck of sorts. It's like those in need of a liver transplant. There are limited available, few get them.

          Just because you feel deserving of achievement, doesn't mean you will be successful.

          Life should be more about equanimity.
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        Sep 17 2013: It's really hard to discern real stuff in the fog.

        I don't totally agree with this guy .. but his basics are hard to knock-down.

        If you can shoot a hole in this - I'd like to know, but in the mean time, wrong or right, getting to basics like this seems worthwhile: We get lost in the side-issues .. it can be fun there, but not if it brings suffering or boredom ;) :
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPdDpWPz6m4

        (just replace the word "marx" with the words "some guy" - it helps wipe-away useless baggage.)
  • Sep 13 2013: I think David Williams got it basically right with his first question.

    If there is a core principle at work in Syria, it is the love of power.

    The USA should stay out of the Syrian mess, but the inexperienced POTUS stepped into it with his regrettable red line remark. The Russian proposal might or might not have been sincere, but it is now clear that Assad is using it to gain some advantage. Countries around the world are learning just how inept the USA can be when faced with a crisis, and the lesson they are learning will lead to more bloodshed.
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      Sep 14 2013: Hi Barry,

      Agreed.

      So what is this "power" thing?

      Although it seems to operate as a single force, there seem to be a few kinds of results depending on how it is formed.

      Power can be aggregated by extortion, trickery or service. Each case seems to constrain available outcomes - each will serve its method.
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      Sep 14 2013: I don't feel that way. I think we are doing a fine job considering the financial impact the previous wars had on us. Every since we moved away from Iraq, they've been doing a fine job of king more people than we did. I say let them go on with the slaughter of their own people. The same for the entire Middle Eastern region. Let Iran have it all and that will only leave one opponent to deal with. Iran will be so engrossed in the war to maintain their sovereignty, they will be begging us for support, explaining it is in the western worlds best interests. The Saudi's have already bought enough property around the planet to insure their monetary interests will serve them well. They are ready to get out of Dodge. Oil is a rapidly declining source of money for them.

      This whole mess is about money. The Russian's sold the bio and chemical weapons to the Syrians. Now, they realize if we go in we will find the paper trail about their entire episodes in the Middle Eastern countries. That's one of the perks you get when you take over a country. They don't want that.

      The agreement brokered is a good one: The Russians get to cover their paper trail, and they get to take their weapons back without having to pay the Syrians for them. The Syrians can get on with the extermination of members of their country. It's a good deal for everyone.

      It's all about money.
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    Sep 13 2013: Perhaps this is the root cause (core principle) of the current international standoff over Syria: "Sarin is a nerve agent, which means it interferes with the normal signaling between nerve cells. It acts in much the same way as organophosphate insecticides, block nerve endings from allowing muscles to stop contracting. Death may occur when the muscles controlling breathing become ineffective, causing asphyxiation.
    Sarin acts by inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Ordinarily, this proteins degrades acetylcholine released at the synaptic cleft. The acetylcholine activates nerve fibers that cause muscles to contract. If the neurotransmitter is not removed, the muscles don't relax. Sarin forms a covalent bond with the serine residue at the active site on the cholinesterase molecule, making it unable to bind to acetylcholine.".
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      Sep 13 2013: And this makes the difference to you in 'humanitarian killing'? No further questions if it does ...

      Syria didn't sign the Chemical Weapon Convention, so what would make 'their' collateral damage, if they would have used this weapon at all, less tolerable, than innocent children dying of leukemia in Iraq today caused by the remains of uranium depleted ammunition?

      We should finally stop to expect any 'innocent' to care for the weapon and intention who killed them. Its not on them to widen a narrowed understanding of 'humanitarian help', because they happen to be death before they get their point across, that it didn't matter what sort of weapon killed them.
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        Sep 13 2013: I am suggesting that the core principle is NOT political corruption and NOT conflicting national self-interests. Someone has deployed Sarin gas against the civilian population. That may be the core principle.
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          Lejan .

          • +1
          Sep 13 2013: And how do you know by all the given involvement of 'political corruption' and 'conflicting national self-interests,' that the information you keep repeating here and which you probably got via the media of your country, is unbiased truth?

          Don't you remember the hoax about the existence of those weapons in Iraq?
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        Sep 13 2013: Sadaam Hussein had WMD's. You accept it as a hoax. I do not. The USA provided the WMD's to him when we were allied with him against Iran. They are buried somewhere in the remote sands of Iraq. The liklihood that all the evidence of Sarin deployment is fabricated falsehood is so low that I cannot entertain it as anything more than a conspiracy theory. Are you seriously implying that no poison gas has been deployed against the Syrian civilian population? Is your disdain for the media limited to the USA, or do you also categorically condemn the French press and Al Jezerra? Please read: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/06/201364162746275230.html
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          Sep 13 2013: I listen to reporters who had been with Al Jezerra since its creation in 1996 and who were recently quitting their jobs due to their believes into independent media.

          I listen to whistle-blowers who chose their conscience over a comfortable life and future.

          I condemn any collaboration with undemocratic regimes out of national interest on resources, as it not only creates the 'ghosts of the future', but also sells integrity and any remaining morals.

          I condemn an military industrial complex which keeps seeking and creating their very markets.

          I do not join the choir to mark deviating information as 'conspiracy theory', which was considered to be 'investigative journalism' before 9/11.

          I condemn any media, which does not fulfill their only mission to inform the people in an unbiased way, to spawn the process of controversial discussions on which any democratic society should be based upon.

          If a democratic nation is teaming up with dictatorships and even delivers WMD to such countries, I am in doubt of the true intentions of those democratic nations in terms of their peaceableness.

          And if Sadaam Hussein had WMD because the USA gave it to him, why didn't the USA just say so at that time? I didn't get to hear that. No one I talked to got to hear that and on this I am not limited by the borders of my country, in case my national media screwed that one up. Many words and made up stories could have been saved those days if it was that simple... Have a look at youtube on that topic in case you doubt my words.
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          Sep 13 2013: Quote from your link:

          'The Syrian regime and the opposition have traded accusations that the other side have used chemical weapons during the two-year-long conflict.'


          So whom you gonna bomb now?


          As a good parent, this is the time to take both of your children aside and to calm them down so they can become friends again. You should not believe one child over the other without knowing the truth, even though you know this will be frustrating to one of them.

          This parent isn't the USA. This parent was the United Nations if it was organized fair and wisely, which it isn't.
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          Sep 14 2013: Edward, some of Lejan's comments come from the heart. I'm sure of it. His distaste for destruction and death is striking.

          Lejan. The weapons that were sold to Iraq were done so during a different time and the dangers were weighed against another enemy of Democracy, one that has ceased to exist. We cannot weigh into this argument the misdeed of the past. The US is an evolving nation we learn from our mistakes. We are not setting up dictators to keep the sheep in line in the Middle East. Why? Because the sheep have become educated and are capable of managing their own affairs. But it was not so in the past.

          I ran is one of those nations that have taken their own affairs into their hands but the hate for the west is so strong it spills over into their relationship with their own neighbors -Israel for one. There was a war between Iraq and Iran with much lose of life. That had nothing to do with the Americans. It was a war for domination of a region.

          The conflict in Syria is also a regional thing but we can't let it spill out onto the rest of the region and the world. If they want to fight about who rules Syria, so be it but they must follow the rules like every other nation or the world has the right to intervene. Also, if Hezbollah and other Terrorist networks want to get into the fry, it is open for others to do so.

          It has come to this. it is not our doing. It has evolved to the point the rest of the world must get involved.
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        Sep 14 2013: It's not about right or wrong. It's about who's in charge of the planet. As time goes by, it will just get more consolidated towards western democracy. We don't want Middle Eastern countries dictating how we will live our lives and who we will worship or how we will treat our women. We have our own methods and laws and they will serve them just as well as they serve us.

        The Syrians have been killing children around the world through their Terrorist networks long before the Western countries entered the arena. There are no innocent leaders in the Middle Eastern region. They all have blood on their hands.

        Before the world finds peace, someone has to take charge and make everyone follow the same set of rules. The question is simple, who's rules do you want to follow? Assad's? I don't think so.
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          Lejan .

          • +1
          Sep 14 2013: It is what we make out of it. It is about what we consider right or wrong today. Its on the people, its on all of us to choose for this to happen. Day by day.
    • Sep 13 2013: Ed--I'd like to know what your thoughts are on the likelihood that the opposition done it. I view that as more likely than not. First, it makes no sense the Assad would prompt a Western intervention in war he is winning (the media ascribing this anomaly to Syrian "frustration"). Second, after all is said and done, the US Intelligence Community was unable to advance a single argument, beyond a wave of the hand, to support the proposition. This was obvious form the 4-page piece of speculation masquerading as a white paper. Third the one "fact" our establishment has produced, having to do with a "highly placed" Hezbollah functionary having a random discussion picked up by Israeli intelligence, does not address a single iota of the who, what , where, etc., and presupposes that this Hezbollah functionary is privy to Assad's thinking and actions. Compare that with the Belgian hostage released three days ago or so. http://www.usnews.com/news/newsgram/articles/2013/09/10/freed-hostages-reveal-information-on-chemical-attacks-in-syria Fourth, the statements of our leaders which leave so much to be desired as to evoke disbelief (not enough space to get into it here). Fifth--the 800-pound gorilla in the room--the "classified briefings" that loyalists such as Senator Ayotte (R/NH) are relying on to support the conclusion that makes no sense, that Assad done it or is at least responsible. And oh yes . . . how do like the conclusion, made of whole cloth: the opposition could not deliver those gas attacks?
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        Sep 13 2013: Someone has deployed Sarin gas against the civilian population.
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          Sep 14 2013: Yes and to imply that the Rebels would kill their own children, wives and old people is insane.

          It's a ploy.
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      Sep 14 2013: Hi Edward,

      Death by violence is a terrible thing.
      The intensity of that violence makes it worse. Sarin is particularly bad - it is indiscriminate and cruel, so the excuse of self-defence or revenge is not available to excuse the violator.

      I have asked myself - why? Why is it so bad? Do we mourn for cows?

      When I look at it, the dead are dead - but the violence of their death still remains with the living - why .. and how?

      There are a few reasons for our outrage: our empathy makes us feel the pain of the victims, and the very act of indiscriminate violation destroys our trust of other people and makes us fear each other - it is a betrayal of community.
      But so is war itself.

      If Sarin is the betrayal of community, then war is the betrayal of humanity.

      This is the root of "harm" It is not the suffering of the dead - it is the fear and trauma that remain with the living. "Harm" goes out to walk in the world - persisting and growing person-to-person and parent to child.

      To me, it seems, that our first priority is the healing of the harm. Part of that is the prevention of harm-bringers. A healed person does not spread harm.

      Even a cow can kill, but only humans can heal the immortal pain of killing.
      Before we bring more death, we should bring more healing.
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        Sep 14 2013: Evil triumphs where good people do nothing. Of course peace is preferable,but there are those who prefer turmoil and domination of others. Such people must be opposed and they only respond to what they understand... violent force. I'll drink to a peaceful world, but I have seen enough to know peace comes at a price. Evil people despise peace. It is folly to deny that death is part and parcel of human existence. Sometimes good people have to violently oppose evil people in order to have peace and freedom. You may wish otherwise, but it is just so. War is Hell.
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          Sep 14 2013: Hi Edward,

          I am suspicious of the language of violence and division.

          Also, I said nothing of peace - I spoke of healing.

          The problem of bringing violence is that you become a violator. This is the catch-22 that prevents good people from resorting to the methods they themselves oppose.

          In dichotomies such as good/evil one gets captured by the dichotomy and can see only 2 opposing forces - one misses forces that come from the side.
          For instance, the underlying meanings of attack/defence, peace/war, violation/forbearance ..

          all these are crossed by nurture/neglect.

          I would say that evil triumphs when nurture is neglected.

          Your first statement is a call to bloody arms - it is the method by which your own violence has been inflamed. This is what the devil does.
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        Sep 14 2013: Evil scoffs and laughs at nurturing. You want to nurture the folks who gassed Syrian citizens? Are you deliberately ignoring the whole of human history? You are seriously mistaken to claim the ones who stand forcibly against evil are doing the devil's work. If you live in a free country it is because some folks stood against evil on your behalf. The devil's work is seen in those who condemn the forcible defense of what is right and good. The human drama is a dichotomy of good and evil. God is good. Satan is evil. Fantasize otherwise if you like, but so it has been since the Garden of Eden was lost, and so it will be until the LORD returns to usher in peace by annihilating evil and establishing a new Heaven and a new Earth. The core principle in the current Syria crisis is good versus evil.
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          Sep 14 2013: To me, evil is that which causes harm.
          So what is "harm".

          "Harm", to me, is the refusal to feel the sorrow that comes to us. It leads us to vengeance and the creation of more harm.
          Vengeance is a stain that spreads to bring sorrow to everyone - and sorrow is the only cure of harm.

          Best to just feel it, and stop it from spreading.

          (edit: I thank you for leading me back to this .. from my own sorrow, I have known it for a long time, but memory fades.)
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        Sep 14 2013: RE: "To me evil is that which causes harm." To be pedantic about definitions may I say accidental, unintentional harm is neither good or evil. The key differentiator is intent. Evil is the unprovoked act purposefully intended to inflict damage (harm) on others. Harming an aggressor to stop the attack is not evil. Also, if unintentional and without premeditation a harmful act is not evil. Evil is not simply defined as the root cause of harm. Evil consists of (1) a harmful act (2) perpetrated with purpose and malice of forethought for (3) no justifiable reason. Imagine how perfectly wonderful it would be to live in a world where there is no knowledge of Good and Evil!
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          Sep 15 2013: Good points.

          let me see what I find in my life.

          My father died peacefully - no harm in that. He died with a signed note pinned to his chest "not to be revived".
          There was no harm because I had re-admitted him to the family. Prior to that I had exiled him to prevent his abuse from killing my mother. He spent 10 years in exile, alone and abandoned in a trailer park with no one to abuse except his neighbours - most of them abusers. A school of self-healing.. the hard way.
          Why was he an abuser? He was an abuser because his parents were abusers.
          I readmitted him by way of my marriage - the joining of families. Having tasted the full bitterness of his exile, I gave him opportunity to repent. Which he did. within 4 years, he had made his peace will all those he had harmed, pinned the sign on his shirt and turned-off the oxygen.

          Yes, hard action is often necessary - but only to secure healing.

          The rule of law seems destroyed in the USA. Why, for instance do you imagine that due process was invented?
          It is exactly levelled at those who think that ideology covers the harm in their hearts.
          The failure to feel the healing wisdom of sorrow.
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        Sep 14 2013: There will be plenty of time for healing when the cause of the wounds is done away with. The problem is Mitch, we can't use words against hardware. It's fight the fight or be killed. I'm sure you understand this.

        I know is sounds nice to be on the side of the benevolent society but they are only allowed to exist because someone stood up and fought for their right to exist.

        Freedom cost blood, sweat and tears. Just ask the Libyan people. They paid enough of it for their right to rule their own country. Let's hope the paid enough. There is nothing more moving than seeing a biology teacher with a machine gun in his hand, leading his class into a battle for the sake of freedom, while the benevolent society sits on the side lines with their hands covering their eyes, mouth and ears.

        Freedom is like a product on the shelves you can steal it or pay for it. Either way, it belongs to you if you manage to take it into your possession. Words can be moving, but they seldom move a product from the shelf, into your possession, without an exchange of some other commodity. As I said, the product -freedom- usually has a high cost associated with it.
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          Sep 15 2013: Having a lot of experience in merchandising, I can assure you, words move everything from the shelves.
          I can even see the words that have been injected into this discourse via marketing.
          We are all vulnerable to that - but when one becomes aware of it, one can begin to remove them.
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        Sep 15 2013: RE: "Good points. Let me see what I find. . . " You chose to stand against the abuse and protect your Mom. Right choice! Good on ya! That was an act of goodness which helped even your Dad. Same core principle as Syria today. Those who can stand against the merchants of harm must do so. Good versus evil. God help the people of Syria.
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          Sep 15 2013: Yes. one must be hard when life demands it.

          But the trap is that if one is hard for the image of "strength". When one does that .. well, that's just psychopathy. It's not particularly strong.

          What like about you Edward is that, even though both of us are constrained by our past .. you have that space to listen beyond it.

          Man .. that gives me hope..
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    Sep 13 2013: I think I have an important fundamental:

    Leaders are not part of the tribe they lead - they are of the tribe of leaders.

    So if, for instance, your "nation" has 350 million "citizens", that represents:
    1.75 million tribes .. which generates:
    8.75 thousand warlords .. which generates
    43.75 emperors .. lest call them 51 "states".

    Each emperor (in this scenario) must manage 8 or 9 warlords.

    The "national president" manages 43 - 51 emperors.

    Let's look at the global stat:

    7 billion people creates an extra level. But it constrains stable tribe-size to about 25 people.

    The global uber-uber-emperor must manage the same number of uber-emperors - about 25 of them.

    This is about 1/8 of human capacity.

    But there are 5 levels of political power - each level has no membership in the one above ..

    Given that hierarchical levels each inject adaptive delay - What does that mean for the adaptive range of the species?

    Can we afford such deep hierarchies in our governance structures?

    Can it be said that a nation is extremely sensitive to the population it serves?
    What happens when a single child is born that causes the whole tower to become unstable?

    Would it not be better to have no tower in the first place? A political economics that has tribes, conventions and no warlords? A network model?
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      Sep 13 2013: As you live in Australia, you might want to examine carefully whether your preferred model of same-size mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive tribes fits Australia well. Reliable model building may be more feasible by starting closer to home.

      If it fits for the data with which you are intimately familiar, that would be the first interesting finding and a prerequisite, I would think, for trying to see if it fits a different place you know less well. There are questions to ask about other countries if you want to get beyond assumptions that may be more convenient than descriptive.

      There are so many misconceptions about social organization, values, and everything else about places where we do not ourselves live.

      I know this is a great interest of yours and I am trying only to offer a methodological suggestion.
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        Sep 14 2013: Thanks Fritzie,

        I have the beginnings of the model coded up in netlogo.
        The numbers I give here are speculative - it's just dividing 200 up and down and looking at possible structures that emerge.
        The number 200 is a gross approximation, but serves the purpose: + or - 100 still yields the same structure. What is missing is entropic context - it assumes the same entropic potential across the board. That context will constrain the number. As you know, I like to bring all my analysis back to entropic gradient - I think this defines the limits of a "self" - and if a self exceeds those limits it will split - applies to bacteria, slime-mould, humans or tribes.

        Australia is a good place to start - the native peoples did, in fact, form such non-hierarchical relationships between tribes of about the size I suggest. They were not exactly peaceful, but nothing like the violence that was brought to them from England.

        So yes - it's hypothetical .. it suggests a dynamic that might be missing from other methods of dealing with political reality (if there is such a thing ;).

        I only use the number 200 because that is what Desmond Morris estimated to be the largest human tribe-size at the advent of agriculture. He argued that agriculture halted default evolution.
        It certainly modified the ecological evolutionary vector. I haven't seen any papers on the genetics before/after agriculture, and the Younger dryas must also be part of the mix.

        Nevertheless, the initial hypothesis does seem to be casting a structural shadow worth following-up.

        I appreciate your advice.
        The challenge with a netlogo model is that, if the agents get too complex it crashes the system before you get large enough stats for analysis. SO far it does a lot of boom/bust before it tunes to follow seasonal entropy .. all of it non-linear.
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          Sep 14 2013: I wasn't thinking in terms of simulation modeling on a computer and the limitations on that. I was thinking about rough fit of the model to actual structures.

          Otherwise the conclusions are just artifacts driven by assumptions.
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        Sep 14 2013: True.

        Might take a few days :)
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        Sep 14 2013: Bit of a glitch in the data:
        There are multiple aggregation schemas in the existing data.
        For instance, I can look at established town populations.
        Or I can look at religious domination aggregations,
        Or I can look at commercial operation aggregations
        Or I can look at organised association aggregations

        They all have formalized breakpoints in organisational hierarchy.

        The problem is that my hypothesis challenges the formal breakpoints.

        It is necessarily inductive - there is no formal data available to make deductive conclusions.

        If I follow the inductive, I would say that, in the formal political boundaries, the USA has a fairly good tribal balance, but that Australia is supporting an under-utilized hierarchy (too many states).

        But on top of that, the internet changes everything - tribes are formed that have no geographic constraint.

        I will have to live with my artefacts and record how they behave.
        Will take more than a few days. But if the concept takes hold, induction will do its work and prove itself(or not) over a few generations.

        But not to despair - I have a good track record in the inductive.
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          Sep 14 2013: I thought what you are doing looks more like a deductve formulation in the sense that you are making deductions for societies at any time from tribal organization and then running simulations without matching up with rigorous contemporary observation..

          Once you have done your work, I expect you will place it into the Netlogo modeling commons so anyone can look at it and see whether to them it seems to simulate something that approximates how things operate where they are?

          Maybe a year ago, we had a participant who used to pose questions like "what will happen the day ____ happens?" He had an image of something he thought was realistically imminent in the United States and wanted to play out his scenario.

          The problem was, his assumption from half the world away was not close to a realistic scenario, even as it matched something that seemed valid to him based on his assumptions and biases about America and Americans based on what his media conveyed to him and the information he gathered selectively from sources he chose to believe.

          I am hoping your model will be something that can be tuned to real situations and therefore have some predictive power.
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        Sep 15 2013: Hi Fritzie,

        What I am trying to do, in this case, is to determine - if formalisation of tribal dynamics can be improved - by identifying a computational factor that may have been missed. ("Computational" in the Wolfram sense - cellular automata). The hypothesis is that tribe-size is a fundamental aspect of the self-organising principles of community/society.

        If an observation can be made in that space, we would be able to improve much of political economic thinking. The paradigms of communism, socialism, capitalism, democracy, anarchism etc will all atrophy and give rise to the next evolutionary period.

        There is a problem with the rigour - I am not funded.

        Of course, the netlogo models will pass to public domain for review.
        I have one early model that looks at resource stratification affects on simple individual behaviour. It is over-abstract, but fun because I use music as one of the graphs (ran out of graph-space) - I can send it if you give me an email contact. It's not published because there's a long way to go, and the code is a bit unstructured. But I'm happy with the musical graph ;)
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          Sep 15 2013: I have a cellular automata enthusiast around here. I have to steer him to netlogo to take a look.
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        Sep 15 2013: Cool!

        netlogo is made for that stuff - it is also brilliant in doing neuron/synapse models.

        btw - have you noticed the formation of attractors in this discussion?
        I'm finding it quite instructive! Ideology is revealed nakedly.

        Local minima! WooHoo!
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          Sep 15 2013: "Wool-loo" may be a local term where you are, or perhaps I have run into my typical lack of familiarity with modern slang. Please define for me.

          Of course I know what a local minimum is.
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        Sep 16 2013: It always gives me a joy when I observe things form-up.
        I suppose it's the nero-peptides etc .. hate to guess what mix.

        The chemistry of "aha" .. yes, I know it's also the chemistry of confirmation bias ;)
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      Sep 14 2013: You forget that each leader and warlord has to follow the same set of rules. They can't just make them up as they go, well, in Iraq and Afghanistan maybe, but not in most western, democratic nations.

      Even in Australia, they have rules that all leaders have to obey.
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        Sep 15 2013: Yes, this is part of the principle I wish to examine - the affects of formalisation. I suspect that formalisation is anti-evolutionary, and this is a time where we need to enhance our adaptability rather than constrain it.
        Just as Abbad is almost certainly screwed - along with his entire tribe, so too will be all the reeds who do not bend in this wind.

        What we forget is that human social organisation is self-organising - we tend to wreck it when we force extraneous structures on it.
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          Sep 15 2013: I think we have experimented enough with the evolutionary process of man's ability to get along and we, perhaps need to formalize our relationship. We are not that complicated, really.
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        Sep 15 2013: Hey John, gotta share this:

        With all the contributions here, once I get over my own amygdala responses I have found this:

        All policy is the description of a local minimum. Although it begins as a more-or-less accurate formalisation of reality, reality moves on - and policy becomes obsolete.

        It's not that policy is bad, but that blind acceptance of it prevents accurate perception of reality.

        A realistic policy dynamic will recognise and honour its own failure to evolve. It evolves through failure.
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          Sep 15 2013: That's why you should always used both eyes when making policy.
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        Sep 15 2013: It takes a special kind of silence to actually see what those 2 eyes are showing us.
        I think that is called "surrender" in some philosophies.

        I only engage in this discussion because I have a Syrian friend. My friend's issues are my issues.

        You will know this - when we accept our people - we become what we are supposed to be.
        I will tell my friend what I have learned. I hope it helps his brother.
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          Sep 15 2013: It is interesting how we all have friends from the Middle Eastern countries. I wonder how it is we have so many enemies that want to destroy us and our other Middle Eastern Friends. Or is it My Friends enemy is my friend -in the case of Israel and Lebanon.

          It's interesting, when you read the History of Syria, that they found so much interest in invading their neighbors and assassinating their leaders (Lebanon, Jordan, etc.)

          I think the Syrians have proven themselves to be disappointing as neighbors. I wouldn't want them living next to me. :)

          Maybe if the Syrians were to accept their neighbors, they might become the people they are suppose to be.
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        Sep 16 2013: Hi John,

        That's a slippery-slope .. if I were to denounce the Syrians for their leaders, I would have long since campaigned for the extermination of all Americans.

        I get the feeling that all social organisations larger than 200 individuals will produce mentally-damaged leaders.
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        Sep 16 2013: Hey John,

        It is in my self interest to influence my environment in very specific ways:

        1. towards peace
        2. away from boredom.

        we are not here to be bored or to suffer - we are here to have fun. The higher the quality of that fun the better.

        I have had huge fun in this life - and it's only limited by those barriers placed in my way that prevent the party going further - and you know what, finding ways to wreck those barriers is huge fun!

        Cop this - this guy is having fun:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP7L8bw5QF4

        It is in my interest to encourage massive revolution - but I will warn everyone that - all those who get blood on their hands are not having fun. So find the way to get that done .. and the fun will never end.

        My interests? Great company along the way ;)
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          Sep 17 2013: Sometimes it's Real and sometimes it's fun, but it's not always real fun Mitch.

          No matter how much fun we are having we have to sit on the toilet sometimes. We have to rinse the dirt off our bodies, brush our teeth and comb our hair. House keeping is as real as having fun. And probably, more important.
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          Sep 17 2013: If I grow some corn and sell it to people who dig up gold out of the ground, are they exploiting me?

          I seek their business. They trade me gold for corn. That's capitalism "Trade".
          But, I can't eat gold so I keep some corn for myself.

          If this were the only business that existed, the gold diggers would soon die off because of hard times limiting the corn crop.

          What we call value, changes with the environment. A man with a pocket full of gold, who is hungry, walking through a field of corn could die of starvation if it were not for the good will of the farmer. The farmer is more a valued class of individual in this respect. The gold digger is of little value.

          Marx was a cool guy but a lousy house keeper.

          Exploitation can only occur during times of hardship, during times of limited resources or productivity. It's active in a political climate, more so than a communal arrangement. The politics of ownership and price fixing determine who gets the beer license.
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        Sep 17 2013: I'm gradually getting some clarity on all that.
        It certainly can be fun doing the mundane maintenance parts. In fact, when you do it right, the world joins in .. in surprising ways, it becomes the great company I mentioned.

        That's one of the things I've been hunting for - what is our disconnection, our barrier to life's reality?
        I have found one bit of it - we get lost in our autobiographical selves .. it's amazingly fundamental - and ancient. We are living in stories .. fictions.
        It all depends on where your attention, your identity resides.
        Most of our stories are miss-directions - sending us off into the past and future - there is no fun in those places.
        It's been going on for millennia, so it's not easy to remember.
        The instability of over-heated tribal congregation seems to be the fatal departure from fun into suffering and boredom.
        A stable tribe requires no leader, no money, no law. Our totems are corrupted by religions and ideologies - all designed to extract military potential and servitude from the tribe - for the benefit of strangers.

        it's pretty basic - and a thing that requires massive revolution.
        But the funny bit is that the revolution is only very slight .. not much needs to change, and only strangers will resist it.
        If it is done right, it will take them by surprise.
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          Sep 17 2013: What you need is a village of artists, with a strong, open-minded sense of self.

          There are many blogs around that support this type of mind-set and they are very informative and interesting. Still, they tend to get lost in their own life-stories. I guess it's a human thing to be individual in thought and communal in need. Getting lost along the way, venturing from the straight path, it's all part of the fun of exploration.

          I agree. A revolution that simply changes hands is a wast of time.

          Speaking of being taken by surprise, have you ever wondered what the world would be like if the Athenians had lost the battle of Marathon?
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        Sep 17 2013: I enjoy hearing people's life-stories.
        .. it's particularly good when they render it in poetic form. Specially when people talk about their parents.
        I know the stories are embellished and skewed, but I'm gregarious.

        Yes, the artisans are fun. They tell great stories too.
        Last year I drove to a festival with a pair of bagpipe makers. It was like a day with the elves or damn hobbits .. gods or something.

        The individual/communal is a thing that has occupied my curiosity for quite a while now.
        "Self" seems to be layered in a shell structure - always questing outwards, from protein to cell to organism to animal to communal - and beyond.
        With the communal, the experiments are still reaching for the stability required for a defined layer beyond the hunter/gatherer tribe.

        Had Marathon fallen? Now there's an interesting thought-experiment. The details are far too complex to trace .. I think the city-state was inevitable ..
        hmm .. seems the most significant turning point was the Younger Dryas. This was the last time that humans got pushed to the wall - they came out of their Eurasian enclaves with some serious trauma. We celebrate agriculture, but it caused tribal instability that is still playing out.

        I suppose it would help humanity to realise what all the fuss is about.
        The industrial revolution certainly caused the decline of slavery, and even that is incomplete.
        The mechanisms of elite tribe formation needs resolving - and I think the world is sorting through that now. Syria may be an example of that as the Allawites are being displaced.
        Perhaps if we can recognise that elites are simply tribes, we could grapple with it in a more cognitive way?

        (edit: you know, I don't think that anything can change without an adjustment at the protein level - the DNA has to change, but it needs a clear signal to do so. Currently there is not enough stability for any clear adaptive pathway. A political signal might do it)
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          Sep 18 2013: "With the communal, the experiments are still reaching for the stability required for a defined layer beyond the hunter/gatherer tribe."

          Yes I agree. To get stability we have to start over and let the technology go. I don't like that idea of letting it go.

          So, how about Monks and Monasteries? Do you think they present a degree of stability in the pursuit of life on a communal level?

          How about quiting the reproduction process? Would we finally find peace?
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        Sep 18 2013: We've drifted way beyond the Syrian question .. or have we?
        WHen seeking fundamentals, it can go way deep.

        Reproduction .. that is a fundamental of life. And as you suggest, life may be expressed at the super-organism level. So what that infers is the role of specialisation - can the superorganism afford individuals that specialise beyond their own self-reproduction?

        Absolutely everything about life has a balance of specialisation - in neural science it's called "potentiation" and you can observe it from gene expression to neuron connections - and it happens in a step-wise manner.

        I call it a balance of specialisation - because every specialisation is done at the expense of versatility - adaptation at the expense of adaptability: A turtle(highly adapted) cannot fly, but humans(highly adaptable) can fly.

        A lot of our technology relies on un-balanced specialisation, I think it calls for trimming, not elimination. This idea is the true heart of the Luddite movement - most just assume they were against all technology - machine smashing loonies, but they were not. They saw the unbalanced nature of specialisation - they were opposed to the hidden exploit of industrial class stratification. The over-skilled are trapped in their specialty,
        Obsolescence creates social exile.
        Re-skilling becomes more difficult with the depth of specialisation
        Acceleration of obsolescence makes the frequency of re-skilling exceed human capacity
        Fundamental skills create unaccountable priesthoods.

        So use the 200-member-tribe yardstick: how many specialist skills can a stable tribe sustain?
        Can tribes themselves specialise without creating elites?
        If a tribe was constrained to create it's own reproductive value, then elites could not form.
        One really has to ask "which technologies are worth keeping?"

        I don't like priesthoods - they are always beyond audit and are almost corrupt-by-definition.

        We have amassed a vast body of knowledge - I think it should be preserved.
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          Sep 18 2013: In the military the squad is the basic form of grouping with a platoon being the simple village group. A platoon of soldiers can generate a lot of muscle power in addition to it's firepower.

          A whole company can build and maintain a village. The only elites are the company officers.Who must, at all times maintain the moral and respect of their men.

          While officers are trained, it doesn't take long for any enlisted man to master the techniques to replace an officer. The Sargent is, in most respects, a direct officer replacement, under battlefield conditions, within the platoon grouping.

          In the military structure, elitism is due, in part, to a mastery of skill, experience, and training. Money can't buy you a place in that village.

          We need to militarize the whole civilian population before it is too late. :) That way we get rid of fake elitism.
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          Sep 18 2013: Syria is pushing the idea the Rebels gassed their own people. What is your take on that?

          I've looked around for some evidence but I can't find anything on the internet.
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        Sep 18 2013: Yes - the art of Ninjitsu is the art of what works - nothing else.
        The highest skilled Ninja never sees battle - all battles are won in advance.
        Battles are caused by the inept.

        The military are a subsidised tribal group. It would be an interesting thing to see if a platoon could run a self-contained, self sufficient village - and if it did, whether it would have any time left over for warfare.

        To Syria then.

        Syria represents the result of an over-burdening elite. When the means of reproduction are denied to the populace, it will eat the elite or starve - no choice in the matter. The trigger supplied by the "Arab spring" was largely spurred by food shortages .. These countries are not poor by aggregate, but have large elite burdens - the food shortages were the evidence of over-subsidy of specialist tribes (elites).

        I think the USA would be well advised to look at the parallels demonstrated here - USA is resilient because it is a big farm coast-to-coast, but that resilience is being pushed.
        I note that Australia is not far behind - it is not a big farm, it's marginal.
        We just elected the most extreme elite government in our history.
        One spark and up she goes. And it will spread just as it did in the middle east.

        The fundamental underpinning the Syrian conflict seems to be tribal specialisation. Exploitive specialist tribes have over-stepped the resilience of the inter-tribal network.

        The remediation seems to be a re-organisation of political units to reflect proven military organisational metrics - plus a comprehensive set of laws to govern inter-tribal trade and crisis management. Tribal units must be constrained to provide their own means of reproduction, with appeal to the tribal network when the means is constrained by external aggression or environmental crisis.

        The resulting global structure would be necessarily without hierarchy - with the constraint of self-sufficiency preventing power elites from developing exploitation skills.

        Food for thought.
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        Sep 18 2013: OK - I'll conclude this with some observations:
        (this is really hard to not get captured by the detail - so I'll make some over-simplified statements - happy to do the detail for anyone interested - my contact is in my profile)

        1. Externalities can no longer be excluded from corporate responsibility.
        2. Within corporations, the intangible benefit of business cases must take equal status to the tangible.
        3. It's the environment stupid.
        4. tribal exploitation is done by syphoning the surplus via the totem - purify your totem.

        That's it - and I know what's going to go down in the next few years - I am not going to say, because I want it to happen - those who are watching know what I mean. The fuse is burning.

        (edit: John - The Russians are watching? That's only the tip of it - and all these watchers .. they are humans ;)
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          Sep 18 2013: The Russian's are always watching. :)

          I think the surplus thing is overrated. Surplus implies that which is left over after everyone is well fed. If it is surplus people wouldn't be hungry. Exploitation occurs when you take the food off the table as well. Over working a population is the killer. That combined with low wages.

          We need more information about the investigation of the Gas attack. Not with standing the fact Syria is a nation of Assassins, We should have a fair trial on this issue. What if we were to learn the Rebels gassed their own people? How would that affect our feelings about the current conflict in that nation? Would we withdraw our aid from the Rebels?

          This is one issue where we need absolute transparency.
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        Sep 19 2013: Hi John,

        I have seen a few reports of the rebel gas involvement - one asserts that it happened because they were supplied it without any info on handling it, and it went off while they were moving it. There is some evidence of rebels training on chem-weapon deployment using mortars.
        The evidence of Assad deploying it is from a spurious bit of Mossad intelligence.
        But I can't believe any of it - the media is thoroughly gamed when it concerns ongoing war events. This is one reason why we have trials before convictions - there has been no trial, and there can be no trial while ever the war continues - so you nailed that one. To act as executioner is to destroy your own claim for justice .. so much for the rule-of-law.

        Surplus is fundamental. What happens is that the system extracts the surplus whether there is one or not. That's where the poverty is forced to happen. If you are a job-slave, more than half the effort you do is surplus - to ensure the reproduction of the "job" and put profits into the pocket of the boss.
        If you are being paid a poverty wage, your surplus is already taken, and absolutely takes food off your table. This is the essential heart and black soul of capitalism - those who think they are doing OK have not yet seen how badly they have been robbed.
        When I was doing business cases, the labour component had to return 10 times the amount paid in wages - after tax, working-conditions, direct operating expenses, raw materials, and maintenance. A good project amortises one-off investment cost in one year, maximum 3, after which the 10-to-1 generation of surplus is on-going.
        Part of that surplus is dedicated to future growth, some goes to management pay-increases and some goes to share-holders. None of it is earmarked for workers beyond a small training budget.
        The desperation of the worker is ensured by removing his surplus, and therefore his capacity to choose.
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        Sep 19 2013: I'll go on a bit more about surplus.
        The really horrific part of surplus-harvesting is that it is done in advance - by contract.
        Labour and trade contracts tie-in the worker, or the poor country.
        They are tied-in to promise their existing surplus as if there will always be the same, or more.
        When anything happens to reduce the actual surplus, it comes out of the health and infrastructure of the contracted. Contract law favours the rich.

        There is one saving grace to job-slavery - the investment dedicated to productivity increases - mandated by the employer's profit motive - means that the labour hours produce a lot more surplus than the individual can do alone.
        And some of that that increased surplus finds its way back to the workers in negotiated wage increase, and through additional value filtering through the economy.
        But skill demand will constrain wage negotiation - and as the technology improves, the skill requirement declines - therefore reducing the demand for human skill - therefore reduced wages.

        There is another booger-bear - profit needs somewhere to go. The managers and directors can only consume so much and have to deploy their plunder somewhere - and that requires expansion. Right now, there's no profitable expansion to be had apart from gambling and buying politicians.
        So that means that you don't need workers - so you just throw them away.

        There's another aspect of surplus that no one seems to look at - it's the most important one:
        Most human surplus is derived by groups conducting real-time networked task adaptation - think of a hunting team or a planting/harvesting team - each participant takes roles on-the-fly so that the whole task is done a lot quicker and at minimal expenditure.
        This is the inherent social surplus that got us genetlically selected in the first place.
        SO, for humans, surplus and adaptive specialisation-balance are everything.

        We formalise and reduce this social surplus at our peril.
  • Sep 13 2013: And now, ... regardless of who gets killed in the process.
    Syrian children in school, write essays like: --
    "What I'm going to be, if I grow up?"

    That seems basic to me.
  • Sep 13 2013: The Core principle.
    To stay out of your neighbor's fight.

    Obama's remark --
    "70 years of America being the world's Policeman",
    has left dead or maimed far too many innocent, men,
    women, wee children, and babies.

    These bloody deaths are not always Collateral Damages.
    Not an accomplishment anyone can be proud of...

    Americans are responsible for the Killing and Maiming
    of a Total Number of "wee children and babies" that now
    exceeds twice the number of the total deaths from 9/11.

    12 years of continuous killing. Can we stop now?
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      Sep 13 2013: There is a terrible burden for those who hold power.

      Obama is playing a transition game - half in and half out-of the petro-dollar.
      He is at great risk. And so is the USA.

      He has said the magic word "credibility" .. this is the most expensive commodity on Earth.

      Empathy and compassion are functional units of how a social animal works. If the innocent die, it presses our buttons. Specially when it is massively public - there is a falsity in it, but it is one that cannot be ignored when credibility is at issue.

      This is why Obama made the public threat to strike - it satisfies his own electorate and sends the message to the combatants that they fight at his pleasure - but not beyond it.
      I imagine he is personally relieved that online activists pressed for restraint. Otherwise, he would be compelled to kill - to capture domestic credibility at the expense of his international credibility.

      I would not like that job.

      There is a book that is worth reading: "On the manner of negotiating with Princes" by Francois De Callieres.

      Personally, I believe that such lose-lose situations result from having tribal sizes too large for stabilty - it becomes a process of managing warlords, rather than a process of achieving success for the tribe. This leaves very little space for honesty .. I think Obama is doing better than most.
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      Sep 14 2013: Your core principle is a worthy one Frank. I share it too. But, when your neighbors bullets start to fly past your children heads, it's time to enter the conflict.

      The way the world is changing, what happens over here or there affects everyone. It's time for a one world government or, at least, one set of human rights that can be applied over the board to every nation.

      The rule about gas and chemical weapons was established a long time ago.
      • Sep 16 2013: John - thank you sir.

        I agree most heartily.
      • Sep 16 2013: John,
        The rules of WARFARE are outdated.
        Technology has passed them by.

        To continue to incite the world's youths to madness is insane.
        Our nation resides at the top of this pile of madness.

        Our nation's Leadership has a mostly negative effect upon the
        health and welfare of Innocent Citizens of other nations.

        Our nation's Leadership on a scale of 1 to 10, gets no score.

        All this progress in 20+ years.
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          Sep 17 2013: Most of the young people I've met in the military are peace loving individuals. They go home to their families and enjoy contact time with their friends and neighbors. They don't sit around practicing warfare 24/7. They don't implant it in their minds as a philosophy of life.

          It's not our leadership that determines our disposition to foreign nationals. It's the people in the street, who sit around and discuss the issues and make their opinions known in blogs such as this, as they ride the bus, the train, the planes, in the office cafeteria. There are agents who sift through this mass of data and formulate reports that tell the leadership how the pulse of the nation is beating.

          When the news came out about the NSA spying on the citizens of the US. there were no protests, mad mobs in the streets or congressmen shrinking away from their compatriots, to satisfy the demands of their constituents. Most people are at ease with it because they live a transparent lifestyle and have no real fear of their government.

          I'd put president Obama around an 8 easy. I see many leaders in our nation, both in and out of Washington.
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    Sep 13 2013: @ Jaden Ye:RE: "Imagine,if you are the few innocent. . .". You imagine the strike to stop Assad from gassing his own people will result mostly in more death. Wrong. It will reduce the deaths. Doing nothing is the wrong way to deal with a homocidal tyrant bent on slaughtering innocent, helpless people.
    • Sep 13 2013: @ edward long.
      Assad's cries of "The Other Dude Did It" doesn't carry much weight.
      If what you say is true. Our Assassins must be on strike.

      WMD Tomahawk Cruise Missiles should destroy the Syrians.
      But if 200 missiles can't get the job done, the US $billion dollar
      Bombers will hammer whoever lives through the attack.
      ===
      if you prefer a spectator sport... Watch US television - Shock and Awe.
      You can watch the Syrian's be harshly punished but not hear the cries.
      The media never shows the blood until the bleeding stops..
      And it's a family show...

      I wonder what the contract terms are between the US and the media
      for selling them air time during Shock and Awe.
      Popcorn and beer sales will be up.
      Baghdad was spectacular, back in the nights of Bill Clinton...
      ===
      Should we do this more often? ..After Assad, who's next?
      ===
      If Assad were an American, he might be captured or else nailed
      with a Drone fed Hellfire missile, like someone else we once knew.
      But he isn't an American, only a target.
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        Sep 13 2013: It's a large and varied world Frank. You represent the "Let's Do Nothing" school. I represent the "Let's Stop The Mass-Murderer" school. Clearly we disgree. I do not see corrupt leaders and massive disinformation campaigns by the media as justification for abandoning innocent Syrians. You say there is no reason for the USA to get involved, just let Putin, Assad, and the UN work it out. I say there are good reasons and ethical obligations to get involved. May God help the people of Syria. I hope we can agree on that.
        • Sep 13 2013: to: edward long 100+

          Probable Consequences of America's Armed Aggression
          using the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force to prosecute a WAR
          through limited military intervention in Syria,

          Stand-off strikes (200 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles from the Sea).
          Billon Dollar pin point Bombing raids from America's Homeland,
          Aircraft Fleet support to defeat Syrian Air Force defenses,

          Intended and Unintended Consequences..
          These could take out military command centers,
          but costs are "in the billions” and will include civilian deaths.

          Intended Consequences..
          Buffer zones” on the ground for rebels and civilians would require
          the no-fly zone to provide protection.

          Unintended Consequences..
          A no-fly zone could run $1 billion per month, and puts Americans
          directly at risk of combat deaths.

          Unintended Consequences..
          It may fail to reduce the violence because Assad’s war is fought
          on the ground, anyway.

          Unintended Consequences..
          A mission to grab and secure Syria’s chemical weapons is
          a low-probability/high-risk nightmare,
          ...requiring hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and thousands
          of special operations and ground forces.
          ---costs are "in the billions” and will include civilian deaths.
          ===
          Other Consequences of America's Armed Aggression
          We have learned from the past that it is not enough to simply alter
          the balance of military power without careful consideration of what
          is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state,

          We must anticipate and be prepared for the unintended consequences
          of our action. Should the regime's institutions collapse in the absence of
          a viable opposition, we could inadvertently empower extremists or
          unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control.

          Syria could become post-invasion Iraq.
          The costs of all options on the table are high and the likely benefits small.

          May God help the people of Syria.
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        Sep 13 2013: A terrifying prospect no doubt. All the scenarios are undesireable. I think doing nothing and letting Assad and Putin work it out is the most terrifying of all. I personally prefer the Seal Team deployment for an "operation of extreme prejudice". It would be much better for everyone except Assad and/or whoever else is gassing people. I want my country to use its strength to rescue the Syrian people from further gassing. If they then want us to stay and help rid themselves of the next tyrant in line we can talk about that too. God help the Syrian people.
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        Sep 14 2013: That's the way it is in war Frank. No one is going to make you watch it on TV. You can go fishing or something.

        I know, I'm being callous but Edward has a point, and your being callous too by offering the pretense that Edward is somehow a war monger of sorts.


        Once the line is drawn, it has to be enforced. That line, is not Obama's line. It was drawn after the end of WWI.

        While we did not go and suddenly jump on Saddam Hussein because of what he did to the Kurds, we did not simply ignore it either. Eventually, He got what was coming to him, along with his family.

        Even if the world ignored what Assad did and he finally defeated the Rebels and restored order to his country, he would not be accepted as a leader in the international community. His nation would be shunned, his finances shut down and sanctions would be erected that would force Syria to replace him.

        The cold hard fact is that the US is not the real threat here. France and other nations are pulling at the bit to bomb Syria into submission and replace their regime with a more democratic one. The US is not the one the Middle East should be looking at. We just own the boats and aircraft. France is the feisty one on the world scene. You should check out many of the movies the young in France watch. They are all about commandos and heroes on the Battle Field. Most French warriors consider us as wimpy. Norway is another country you should keep your eyes on. As their finances grow and their power too, they are becoming bolder on the world scene.
  • Sep 13 2013: An underlying principle of US Foreign policy has been Woodrow Wilson's comment "To make the world safe for democracy."
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      Sep 13 2013: Yes, I've just been looking at the democratic Chilean remembrance of that "safety".

      If Wilson's comment was honestly undertaken as a policy guideline, it might be seen as an underlying principle. But it's hard to perceive given that the USA has consistently done the exact opposite.

      On the balance, I think there is an underlying principle there. 2 in fact:
      1. The peoples' overwhelming desire for political inclusion (democracy/communism - which are essentially identical)
      2. The total absence of honesty in political discourse.
  • 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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    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.
  • 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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    Sep 11 2013: Mitch, I would guess that the core principle is dependent upon which side you ask. I just read a lot of articles on the "civil war" of Syria. The only "facts" I took away was that Russia and Iran support the current regime and Saudi Arabia and Qatar support the rebels. It was suggested that the current regime was conducting ethnic cleansing against the Sunni. The article also suggested that groups that have been labeled terrorist have entered into this civil war.

    By what I read it is more of a religious war than a civil war.

    The really sad truth is that we in the US do not get unbiased reports from our media ... the reports from our leaders are biased in favor of the big political donors and the party platform.

    Another sad truth is that we demonstrated to the world (again) that we are a diplomatic failed state. I think that Kerry's blunders will make people forget the failed diplomatic reign of Hilary.

    Sorry to say that I am not well enough informed to answer your question for the reason listed above.

    Good to hear from you .... bob.
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      Sep 12 2013: Hi Bob,

      For me, at first, it was just another media object .. just another war - over there somewhere.
      But having a Syrian ex-pat to ask, one gets around much of the spin and distortion. It gets visceral.

      I note that the Syrian rebel method of dismembering victims is not reported in the west .. except when it happens on a street in London. That cannot be a coincidence. It is clear to me that there is a faction in the Syrian conflict that is acting as provocateur on the global media stage. It would be interesting to divine the motives there.
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        Sep 12 2013: Mitch, What is the symbolism or message sent when dismembering. Is a religious based thing to one of the players?

        We pretty much hear what the administration wants us to hear.
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          Sep 12 2013: ..
          NO .. it associates an amygdala-hijack to a demographic.

          It is a demonization - and it is aimed at those consuming the English/global media.

          The practice in Syria is a blank amygdala hijack to accelerate reflexive violence. a deterrent to political dialogue.

          I'd say the English were targeted in order to increase religious violence in English communities.

          The behavioural fingerprint suggests that the same player is at work. The hand is revealed if you care to look.

          In both cases, the intent is disunity - designed to weaken political will.

          To determine the motive, one needs to find the player that wants both Syria and England weakened to fall beneath some effective threshold - at which point, the underlying agenda will be consummated. May have already done-so.. I'd look to see who has gotten penetration of the English parliament. Or more acutely: who is behind that penetration. Qui bono.

          It may well be an act designed to deter English support for political dialogue in Syria - kill the peace-maker.

          For someone, war is the victory - defeat is when war stops.
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    Sep 11 2013: Who is the biggest kid in the playground?

    With recent economic growth as part of BRICS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRICS), Russia is on the brink of becoming a global super power again, and with Syria being a major ally and lo lot of negative press about Putin currently this could all be global power play with Syria as an unfortunate pawn, their war has been going on for years and only now people are considering intervention.
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      Sep 12 2013: Thanks David - I agree.

      I think the "playground" paradigm is apt.

      Do you equate "playground" with "Schoolyard"?