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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 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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