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Mitch SMith


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Syria: What is the core principle?

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

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

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

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

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

My question to the TED community is this:

What is the basic principle?

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

Is there any other reliable abstract to be had?


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    Sep 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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