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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: 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

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