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Mitch SMith


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Syria: What is the core principle?

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

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

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

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

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

My question to the TED community is this:

What is the basic principle?

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

Is there any other reliable abstract to be had?


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  • Sam B

    • +3
    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
      • thumb
        Sep 16 2013: True,

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

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

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

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

        • 0
        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.
    • thumb
      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.
    • thumb
      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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