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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 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.
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      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?
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        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.
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          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.
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        Sep 20 2013: Right on Mitch. So what's your opinion on American involvement in Syria ?
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          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).

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