The Big Idea: Should the U.S. 'airdrop' millions of phones into Syria?
This photo, of a rally in Syria in April, was shot with a mobile phone.
May 29th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

The Big Idea: Should the U.S. 'airdrop' millions of phones into Syria?

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Can communication tools stop a war?

That's basically the idea one CNN commenter put forward on Monday. Responding to a story about citizen journalists in Syria, who risk their lives to upload videos and photos of gruesome massacres by the government, a commenter called goingmeta had this to say:

Rather than bombing by air or invading by land or even sending in international observers, we should airdrop about 20 million video cell phones. If there are excesses and abuses, nothing would turn the tide so quickly as giving each man, woman, and child in Syria the opportunity to record them and hold the authorities accountable for their actions.

This kind of thing isn't completely without precedent. In Sudan's Nuba Mountains, as The New York Times reports, an American named Ryan Boyette has been working to arm locals not with weapons but with tools that will help them make digital recordings when bombs fall on the caves in their territory. The Times' Nicholas Kristof writes:

Ryan organized a network of 15 people to gather information and take photos and videos, documenting atrocities. He used a solar-powered laptop and a satellite phone to transmit them to the West, typically to the Enough Project, a Washington-based anti-genocide organization. He also supplied eyewitness interviews that helped the Enough Project and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative find evidence of atrocities, including eight mass graves, on satellite images. And he helped journalists understand what was going on.

The Enough Project's Satellite Sentinel Project, referenced above, also aims to monitor tank movements on the ground in Sudan, hopefully to give warning before an attack on a particular region.

All of this is relatively small-scale stuff compared to the "20 million video cell phones" suggested by the commenter, but it's still one unique example of many. There are efforts all over the world, including those from iReport, CNN's user-submitted news site, to help people document their own lives and submit that news to global media organizations.

One commenter, however, sees limits in this appraoch. It's not a shortage of technology that fuels war, the person writes:

Hold the authorities accountable? How cute. And what about when the authorities then massacre them and their families for daring to speak up? Cellphones and communication are all well and good, but unless they have a means to defend themselves then they're as good as dead.

As this article shows, there is no shortage of cellphones or brave citizen journalists in Syria. Yet as long as we refuse to arm them or even acknowledge their right to fight back, then all they'll ever do is record one grisly massacre after another.

What do you think? Are cell phones a valuable form of international conflict mitigation? Or is that view naive? Let us know in the comments section below. We may pull some of the most interesting thoughts into this post.

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Filed under: Crowdsourcing • Innovation • Internet • Smartphones • Social change
soundoff (377 Responses)
  1. In home Personal Training

    Simple Answer, Yes! We need to get the story out.

    April 6, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Reply
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  7. Ryan

    I hate to point out the obvious, but to everyone who says the US and other Western forces should intervene with their military, all that would happen is Afgahnistan all over again? We'll go in there, blow up everything we see, kill half the bad guys and half the good guy, then withdraw and leave the country without a stable government, military or infrsturcture, and leave them even more screwed than before.

    July 5, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
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  9. Frock

    The government will get these cell phones, place charges in some that will detonate once you press the button to turn them on. word of this will spread, and the people will not touch them. More fear based control, straight out of the Iranian playbook.

    June 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Reply
  10. halit özcan

    thank you

    June 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  11. h

    *** thank you

    June 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  12. haze hoffa

    first of all don't the tailban use cell phones to let off ied's? Also won't it hurt getting hit in the head with a cell phone falling from the sky? am just saying am not the smarts guy in the world but am just saying

    June 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  13. Hutchenson

    The idea of communication is a good one, but cell phones have inherent problems (power supplies, networks, reception) that could outweigh the positives. Why not drop walkie-talkies down? Let them communicate, give them the means to scan for government channels, give the people a chance to know what is happening. One of the greatest tools the Syrian government is using now is fear. If the people could build their own infrastructure of communication, they might well be able to begin fighting back.

    We need to do so much more to stop these atrocities, yes. We have a moral imperative to help those who are being abused. But guns aren't the only way battles are won. Let's make sure the Syrian people have the resources they need to protect themselves, and let's start with the ability to communicate.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:52 am | Reply
    • Robin Rochelle

      I agree with you 100%. The US with its satellite capabilities and communications expertise has been missing the boat in providing direct support for various people based revolutions over the last 20 years. Rather than the billions on weapons and survellience of the CIA and their poor performance, it we really supported democracy, we will be assisting with broadcasting what is transpiring.

      June 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  14. Jim

    SIlly idea.
    They'd have to be Sat phones to be worth the trip. (otherwise the gov't would immediately block the signal transmission)
    That's alot of expensive electronics.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:07 am | Reply
  15. tdsii

    Ok, so we drop cellphones, and they record one massacre after another. Then what? Has the government been held accountable to what we've seen already?

    May 31, 2012 at 4:49 am | Reply
  16. shagpal

    yeah, like phones can just get reception thru verizon or att no problem there. what serious idiots we have in our media, and even more gullible readers.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:26 am | Reply
  17. xwindowsjunkie

    Air dropping cell phones or sat phones is a stupid idea. There is no infrastructure to support either system. There aren't enough places with power to charge the phones. After the first week, the phones will all be inert. Assad will just have the power cut to an area, wait a few days and then roll in the tanks. Even now some of the cell phones have been recording the genocide, and the world and the UN have sat on their butts. Besides I'm sure the Russians or the Chinese have already offered to sell him jamming equipment.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:05 am | Reply
  18. Dorn Hetzel

    Maybe what's needed for these sorts of situations is a peer-to-peer "cellphone" which uses wifi, bluetooth, and any other available communications channels to forward texts and video to neighboring phones which then forward it on, etc, freeing them from the need for most cellular towers. The user of each cellphone could let stuff forward first come first served or decide what to forward and what to dump, so it would work a lot like social networks, but without actually using the Internet, per se. Then when a message or video reaches some phone which *does* have an outward connection, it can make it out to the rest of the world, or even if a phone which has received something is then physically transported to someplace with a network connection, it can upload it. A small percentage of these phone with working satellite links would help.

    May 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  19. ALLEN

    I'm a US taxpayer, and I'm sick and tired of being expected to provide financial support to the rest of the world!

    May 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Reply
    • Risky

      in part:Cellphones have eclipsed cetmupors, both desktop and laptop, as the most promising technology in emerging economies such as India, China and Africa, something that MILLEE embraced from its founding in 2004. In 2007, Businessweek writer Bruce Nussbaum reported that the One Laptop Per Child initiative should, after much fanfare, be called a failure, “Cell phones are far more popular as the means to connect to the net in much of the Third World,” wrote Nussbaum, “and cellphone-type devices rather than cute little laptops might have made much more sense.”

      July 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  20. Daniel

    If genocide was being committed in the US would Syria airdrop phones for us?

    May 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Reply
    • caw

      If stupidity existed in the US would...oh never mind.

      May 31, 2012 at 8:22 am | Reply
      • Daniel

        Unfortunately, due to people like you, it's seems like its running rampant.

        May 31, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  21. goingmeta

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves in the race to military intervention. The massacre rumors have been horrendous, and thousands have died over the last year.

    But make no mistake. If we intervene with our military, we won't be handing out daisies. We'll go in with guns and guided missiles. We'll blow the crap out of their entire infrastructure. A whole lot more people will die, perhaps tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands.

    And when its all done, there's no guarantee that we'll leave the country in a better state than its in right now.

    May 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  22. Jack

    20 million cell Phones? Your assuming that the people there know how to use them. Your assuming that there are radio towers that can transmit and receive the signals from the phones. Your assuming that the phones would have chargers with them with the correct voltage. Your assuming the people would know where to send the information. Is this really an idea?

    May 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • Nate2.0

      Give humans some credit. We built the pyramids and the great wall. I think we can handle figuring out a cell phone.

      June 5, 2012 at 1:15 am | Reply
      • Mark

        To be fair, the pyramids weren't Bluetooth-enabled, and I don't think the Great Wall can pick up wi-fi.

        June 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
      • Andrew

        I think cell phones pose a pnitoetally serious problem for schools. With camera phones and instant messaging, academic integrity becomes an issue. In addition, I have read about horror stories in which (usually) young ladies are photograghed in the locker room or rest room while changing clothes and then the pictures are shared with the world. In some instances, the student is emotionally traumatized and can ruin a high school career. We must do everything we can to pretect our students from this. I think our current policy of keeping cell phones turned off and in the student's locker is the safest bet for all involved and strict enforcement and consequences must maintained by the entire school.Andy Goodwin

        July 21, 2012 at 3:33 am |
  23. Don

    How do you stop the cellphones from falling into the government's hands?

    May 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Reply
    • TWM

      Really??? Do you think that 20 Million phones will be that easy for the Syrian govt to get ahold of all at once. I'm sure we have enough intel to know a few covert agents that have ties to the people that they could get them in without issues. Now, if the Syrian govt were to get their hands on any major number of them in the beginning, then we would know which batch and make those unusable by cutting the service to those. Don't let an enemy use your own weapon against you. Disable it! If its on a individual basis of the Syrian govt getting the phones by confiscating them from citizens or it happens over time, then there is nothing we can do. It would be frivilous to pursue action on only a few phones at a time.

      May 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • goingmeta

      If it was done as part of the UN observer program, Syria's compliance could be mandatory. They would not be allowed to intercept the "observer phones" and any attempt to persecute people with an observer phone would presumably be recorded or reported in other ways.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • hank thomas

      won't have to worry if the phones are on the AT&T network

      May 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  24. Dangerbird

    !Warning" Texting while running from tanks is not recommended! Additional data charges may apply.

    May 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  25. drewstone

    well i guess we found a solution of what to do with the $1Billion worth of RIM devices!!!!

    May 30, 2012 at 10:56 am | Reply
    • TWM

      Blackberry and Palm both paved the way for all of these other "smart phones" back in the day. Show some respect. If it keeps them in business by doing so, then they should send their phones over there. Liquidate enough inventory to support this and charge it to the UN or use it as a tax write off. Blackberry would be the only phones to be able to take that kind of punishment. IPhone's screens crack and scratch too easy...they are junk. Android phones...well, they are user friendly if you like to tweet or get on facebook. At least with BB you still have a touch screen, a seperate functioning keyboard from the touch screen, and trackball/trackpad. Redundancy at its best. If it breaks one way there are still more ways to communicate...and in the Syrian peoples interest that would be best.

      May 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Reply
      • g

        noooo blackberry reliability is horrible.

        May 31, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  26. Chris

    I agree with the earlier comment, concerning the proposed "cell phone drop" – Yes, the more reports that come in, the better, but if they can't defend themselves, then they will all soon be extinct – ARM THEM – GIVE THEM THE DIGNITY

    May 30, 2012 at 9:19 am | Reply
    • Mike

      Aren't we in massive amounts of debt? Who's going to pay for the cell phones or weapons? I don't recall anyone supplying the American militia with arms when we declared out independence. Let them get weapons on their own, so they can stand on their own. No sense getting them used to handouts already.

      May 30, 2012 at 9:25 am | Reply
      • toosilly

        France assisted the American Revolution. Granted the huge cost of the war did a number on the French economy and ran up its debt...

        May 30, 2012 at 10:03 am |
      • RGG

        France, The Netherlands, Russia (Catherine the Great secretly) all helped extensively. Loans, massive weapons sales, gunpowder, outright donations, ships, and soldiers on the ground all helped the 13 American Colonies gain their independence. Read your high school history book.

        May 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
      • Sarge

        wow, mike! you hit it right on, brother. let the little people throw stones if they want to be free!!!!!!! who cares if they are going up against rocket launchers, grenades, tanks and automatic weapons.

        if they want to be free, they will throw that stone and stand proudly against the wall awaitin' their execution.

        by the way, if you did not catch the sarcasm, then you are a double idiot.


        May 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
      • Jim

        Without France the US would have been throwing rocks at the English

        May 31, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Sarge

      chris, chris, chris. don't be silly. don't you see that if we give them these phones we are supporters of the people. how else could we generate "a million" news stories without having to pay a "real reporter"? think how much we could save.

      then when the indignant syrian government slays those civlian (i.e. unpaid reporters) we generate more news to air and our ratings go up.

      you just don't see the big picture.


      May 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  27. FauxNews

    I doubt this will catch the CIA impersonationg Syrian troops.

    May 30, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply
    • Henri

      Iphones only!!

      May 30, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
  28. Marc

    Whether we help them or not they'll hate us for it anyway so why waste our soldiers and money on it? Let the REST of the UN nations decide to do something without the US leading it, then we can send a few soldiers. We shouldn't bother with the middle east anymore. No soldiers, no weapons, no aid, no food... Nothing.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:03 am | Reply
    • Mario

      Agree completely, can't we stop policing the world? It's about time we worry about ourselves and stop worrying about the middle east. The middle east will never have peace, and all they'll do is continue to fight. They've been doing it that way for thousands of years, just let them kill eachother, why should we care?

      May 30, 2012 at 8:44 am | Reply
      • Sarahy

        Cris,A agree with you there. However, banning cell phnoes does not mean that students will actually stop bringing them to class and to school. Cells are here to stay, so we might as well use them to our benefit too.I've heard about cell phone's role in fights, however, I don't think that the solution to large fights, or fighting can come from limiting specific behaviors. I often wonder why we have such large secondary schools. Kids get lost in the mix, and relationships that matter are hard to foster. My graduating class was 640 students, and the school I'm currently at has about 60 this year in our 12th grade. In total our k-12 school has about 750 students. No I know that I'm at an international private school in Europe, and that is very different than the US is. However, I think that schools that look more like mine could become more common in the US given some effort. We would see a huge drop in violence and, I believe from what I've read, a higher GPA and lower drop out rates

        August 22, 2012 at 4:18 am |
  29. cct

    so what? drop all the phones you want. The world will just roll over in bed. No new wars in an election year. sorry,but true.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:21 am | Reply
    • Raed

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      July 21, 2012 at 12:59 am | Reply
  30. krehator

    No. Don't get involved. They will just hate us later.

    May 30, 2012 at 3:28 am | Reply
    • Marika

      I actually wish we didn't have all this teohgclony because when I talk with my mom about when she grew up in the 70's it seems so fun! Instead of becoming fat and lazy kids they played outside! Yes I do think it's possible to have a good life w/o teohgclony. Well I have a brain freeze and cant think anymore! L0L!:)

      July 21, 2012 at 3:27 am | Reply
  31. JustAnotherCommenter123

    Dropping phones is a good idea, but I think another thing we should be looking into is offering asylum to people. Have multiple nations agree to take refugees on, set up camps that can minister to their basic needs, and set up pick-up points that the Syrian government agrees to. This would be tricky considering Syria's military is acting so violently, but if it meant getting rid of "rebels" they might allow it. The nations could protect innocent bystanders like women and children until the fighting is over.

    May 30, 2012 at 3:02 am | Reply
    • krehator

      Until they end up in the hands of terrorists for making IED's.

      Let us not forget that Syria is a breeding ground for terrorism.

      May 30, 2012 at 3:30 am | Reply
  32. Hank Epanky

    Drop Skittles , taste the rainbow ! Skittles always makes the world better , seen it on TV .

    May 30, 2012 at 1:30 am | Reply


      May 30, 2012 at 2:16 am | Reply
  33. Joe

    A few thousand phones dropped in styrofoam to the ground and two or three COWs (portable Cell On Wheels towers) in a few SAC (or non military civilian) planes loitering overhead should do the job.

    May 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  34. Miss Demolition

    ummm, first ask Dick Cheney and Dubya to devise another brilliant plan for handling Syria after the war ends in three weeks. They wuz sew brillyunt in I-rack

    May 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Reply
    • TWM

      Just tell Dick Cheney that they are taking him on a "Hunting Trip" and get him near the Syrian officials that are making the decisions to do this to the innocent civilians. Another "hunting accident" might happen.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:28 am | Reply
  35. Mmyesss

    Airdrop iPhones.. They're pretty much useless

    May 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Reply
    • Miss Demolition

      they break if you drop them and you can't read their screens outdoors... not to mention you'd have to include instructions so Syrian's don't 'hold them the wrong way'.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Reply
      • Must be holding it wrong

        when i got a Nokia 900 at AT&T, TWO people came into the store with iPhones that had broken screens. Now that's legendary quality...

        May 29, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  36. Haleene Williams

    I think maybe 100,000 phones, with satellite feed. We only have so many news rooms, and it would be cheaper then just one bomb, not to mention saving lives of innocent children.
    It works here. You Tube would only need to show it. It would go viral in an hour with the people behind it.
    What starts there spreads here, and we are being tested right now. Do we run and say go ahead and take us over, or do we grow a pair and help now, before they spread like the fungus they are..

    May 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  37. Dennis

    Of course not! Millions of phones only need dozens of cell towers; easy enough for the government to destroy. Air drop all our liberals over there instead.

    May 29, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Reply
    • Zooni

      Yes many liberals are elite fighters, while GOP supporters are fat out of shape, low IQ coach potatoes.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Reply
      • JustNo

        Nothing worse than a potato with a whistle.

        May 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  38. Dixie Normus

    Yeah, if by "millions of phones" you mean "millions of bombs".

    May 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  39. Paul

    Sure, it might work as well as taking photographs of police violating American’s rights in the US Does. All Assad will do is what the others as the US president has suggested, Kill, Kill, Kill that is the right of all governments against Citizens anywhere it does not approve of.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  40. HughMungus

    Let me guess ... All they need to activate the phone is to sign a 2 year contract on a smart phone plan.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • bonefishbf3

      I see what you did there. Awesome.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Reply
    • goingmeta

      Actually, thats not an insignificant comment. If the phones could be made economically feasible, then it becomes a much more realistic project.

      In my opinion, saving several trillion dollars of Defense expenditures and thousands of lives automatically makes it economically feasible to drop a few million dollars worth of cell phones as part of a UN observation mission, but if it can be shown that someone also makes money from it, then it's an even easier decision.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:05 am | Reply
  41. ken

    And how would the cell phones communicate? They need a *cell* network. Guess who controls that?
    Where would the accounts come from? What a dumb idea.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Reply
    • TomGI

      It's for the cameras not for the talking, genius. The pics can be the downfall of the king of Syria.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
      • Guest

        did you read the comment?

        May 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
      • Bob

        Why not just drop cameras?

        May 30, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  42. blaze562

    They want the new Iphone with the 4g network or Ipads

    May 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  43. Chris

    I would only support this idea if it was part of a multi-pronged strategy. I agree that ultimately what is needed is a diplomatic solution (which seems less and less likely as the minutes go by), but more likely military involvement, whether it be the U.S. and/or NATO (and Russia and China, as well...{won't hold my breath on that) attacking from the air and/or arming the resistance. The cell phone plan seems like a good idea (at least in theory), but only in rounding on a much broader plan.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Reply

    The phone idea is a diversion. Al-Assad would send thousands of his minions to confiscate the phones. Perhaps a better way to scare him to death would be to bomb the power plants that feed electricity to Damascus. Without electricity, the dictator would have to face millions of angry citizens. UN could authorize such limited action to bring this criminal to his senses!

    May 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Reply
    • Sarge

      uhm, there are already thousands of civilians mad at the government, which is how this got started.


      May 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  45. history major

    This is a religious war between two or more islamic sects at this point. The group supporting the president and the ones the president's co-religionist thugs are killing. There can be no rational resolution until someone can figure out how to make muslims stop hating each other to death. We have barely come out of the era where christians killed each other over doctrinal differences, and if a lot of the fundamentalist evangelicals had their way we would be back there. If everyone could admit that there is no one true god, we people might stop hating each other. Until then, we should stay out because we can't fix it ever. Look at Ireland. How many hundreds of years and it is still barely peaceful yet.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Reply
    • mcp123

      Which is why religion should be either taxed out of existence or simply banned.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  46. ich

    I support the idea. It would prove to be a valuable experiment and, if it worked, would change the game entirely.
    It's not like our current methods are proving to work any better, if at all...

    Look at the effects ease of communication had in the Arab Spring.
    God forbid we spend our money on things that could actually help people.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  47. warex1234

    by the way cnn, you totally screwed the syrian people by publisjing that arti,le, now if the govermentg does do that with tghe phones the syrian goverment knows about it....great reporting yet again.......

    May 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
    • JustNo

      How long do you think dropping 20 million phones would have stayed a secret without the article?

      May 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Reply
  48. w5cdt

    Like the Syrian government wouldn't shut down all MTSO's associated with all cellular service providers in Syria?
    Get a clue. Now that the press has blasted this all over the planet it is guaranteed to FAIL.

    Perhaps covertly in small numbers this would have worked. But not now. Nice going guys. Duh.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • ich

      Kind of hard to blame that on terrorism.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Reply
      • Alex

        Well, Russians and Chinese seem to think otherwise :)

        May 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • MG

      They are not talking about cellular phones, these would be Satelite phones like
      When you think have outsmarted everyone, stop and think some more.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Reply
    • Sankirth

      Yes, we did state in the description of BrickJoke that we would run ctlculaaions on the phone to make money for us, and that this was the reason that we could offer the app for free without advertisements. I agree that using people's phones without their consent would be highly unethical, and I'm pretty sure I speak for everyone at CodePoKE when I say that we would never do so.

      August 22, 2012 at 12:18 am | Reply
  49. Alex

    Assad's government has been insisting that armed terrorist groups have been committing all the atrocities. The opposition claimed them on the govt'. Russia and China vetoed U.N. resolutions because they wanted facts and were not convinced that Assad committed atrocities against his own people. By giving out the cell phones, there is a good chance we will see who is responsible for the atrocities, and this will help Russia and China to make up their minds. Of course, there are large costs associated (including human lives), but the initiative seems to address the root of the problem and bring closer the resolution of the crisis.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  50. warex1234

    Cnn simply amazes me...wish I was the fly on the wall in the board room........hey guys what a good piece about syria? Sir what about ending the war with cell phones......
    Realyy cnn? Cell phones? Why stop there why not send iphones? I am sure Suri could talk them thru...I can see it now....,
    Siri what do I do they are bombing us? (In siris voice)"Find a low coverd area, bend over and kiss your a*# goodbye.)

    May 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply
    • MG

      CNN is not interested in ending the war, after all they are a media outlet, CNN is running low on good video and reporters in Syria. Cell Phones to Syria would be a band aide on a hemorrhaging wound, it would deliver better stories about the atrocities but won't stop the Assad Regime from Killing more.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  51. Mike Miller

    Thanks to their friends the Russians, the Syrians have very strong anti-aircraft defenses. As someone who flew on combat missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, I certainly wouldn't want to fly a transport aircraft over Syria.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Reply
    • Zooni

      Why would anyone need to use planes when there are thousands of refuges leaving the country. I doubt anyone is manning the borders and if they where, they would be easy prey.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  52. Nick Meier

    Well you could give them cell phones, but that would over crowd the servers and the government would continue to kill them

    You could give them weapons, but then the government would say they are trying to over run them and kill them.

    So basically anything you do will be an excuse for the government to 'vanquish the rebellion.' Not much else you could do but go in. The Syrian government doesn't feel like they are doing anything wrong, and they have been killing people, so logically (and legally) they should be taken out of rule. BUT NO ONE WILL DO ANYTHING, just like in EVERY other genocide in all of history. The best thing would be to go in and take them out becuase they are being abusive, but who's going to do that. The US won't support that (because they don't want anymore war), so the Security Council will deny it so we will end up with... NOTHING WHAT A SURPRISE. So basically, we need to do something, but no one will do anything, so we are screwed until someone (some country) is kind enough to do this.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  53. Ray

    The person that came up with this should be fired. Are you kidding??? Cell phones are not going to end a war. Why would we risk American lives to drop phones that can not stop a war and we have no way of garunteeing that they even get to people. The only people who like this plan is the cell company that they would be purchased from.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  54. Valkyrie612

    Believing that individuals with cell phones can stop the slaughter of innocent civilians is naive at best.

    What would be the response to thousands of cell phone videos of continued violence in Syria? Answer: The governments of the world with the power to stop the violence would do what was necessary with or without the added cell phone evidence. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes violence to stop violence. Ironic, isn't it? Then again, maybe the world will get lucky with economic sanctions...Which would only serve to hurt the people of Syria, leading to more unrest, and more excuse for the Syrian government to continue with the violence.

    I think this is a time for the UN to grow some fangs, and go in to Syria with the world's backing and stop the Syrian government's slaughter of civiians by fighting fire with fire. Horribly sad and tragic solution, yes! But, history tells us this is the only way to ensure the violence stops....before every civilian in Syria is killed.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Reply



      May 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  55. DC Observer

    If you sent the phones directly to the Syrian President – and sent them in one by one strapped to a cruise missle, then, yes, the war would end.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Reply

    Gee could a cell phone drop end the war -HUMMM

    Not sure, but I do know that if CNN went dark and could not report on TV or Internet the bickering and polarization in this country would go down A LOT

    May 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  57. Paul

    OK assuming you got the 20 million Phones of the right type and frequency. What about the SIM cards that with them. Who is going to authenticate them on the Syrian Mobile network? The Syrian Gov? The Syrian regime are going to laugh this one out of the ball park. Even if we suppose they somehow are magically authenticated then what about the sudden network load? The regeim can easily bar these phones as well by setting access class restrictions so that only phones with the right level of access are allowed. Its not going to work.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
    • Paul

      CNN at least consult a Cell Phone Netwrok expert before posting utterly stupid suggestions like this. It just makes you guys look like a bunch of country bumpkins rather than serious reporters. Good Grief! does nothing for the suffering of the people in Syria either.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  58. Nobody Important

    The cell phone thing is ridiculous. The gov't controls the cell networks. Won't work. Plus, even less than 10,000 activated, transmitting cell phones would probably shut down the networks by over capacity.

    If we do anything, then we should send in those dudes who took out bin laden and be done with it.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply


      May 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  59. Erol

    Yes! Yes! Make sure there is internet connection...The People will do the rest!

    May 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  60. Kevin Konicek

    No. Cell phones will not win the war. We already know what is going on there! Every time a massacre is reported, Hama, Ramadan Massacre, Houla and Hams. These are not made up events, these actually happen..BUT as long as Russia has veto power in the UN and continues to sell Arms to the Syrian government nothing will change outside of direct US/Coalition military intervention. People will continue to die. The next global conflict is starting to shape.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  61. t3chsupport

    It's a very interesting idea, but it could be done.

    For one, I know I'm not the only person in the US who has a few extra, somewhat older cell phones laying around in a junk drawer that still work perfectly fine (if we could just find the damn charger!), and have decent cameras in them. I'd donate mine.

    Then there would be the question of who would support the network, and for how long?

    And another – would it really help? If they all have the ability to report, then we simply have a lot of people able to report. We'd have reports of atrocities carried out by the rebels as well as atrocities carried out by the government forces, and still wouldn't be able to really separate fact from fiction, because we'd have no way of vetting any of it.

    Certainly an intriguing idea though.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Reply
    • Ali

      I don't think that children who don't have cell poenhs are unsafe, nor do I think that kids with cell poenhs are safer. It may be more convenient though I think your orignal idea in the post is your best argument. Find a way to drop off a phone at the office or a designated area at the begining of the day, and pick it up at the end of the day. Having a cell phone in the school itself is entirely unnecessary, and you won't win the argument with the school system. Keep in mind, the same set of parents arguing that children should have their poenhs for emergency purposes would likely protest if it were ever discovered that cell poenhs were used in school inappropriately, and, as a consequence, put your child in danger.OK, so that was unclear let me give an example. A student, who is allowed to have a phone in school, arranges by phone to deal drugs in school. This enables the dealer to put your child's safety at risk. I would imagine that the school system will use this argument more effectively than you wanting to reach your child in the event of an emergency or vice versa.Better to offer a compromise. Really, don't you want her to have the phone for those times when she is NOT on school property anyway?And if all else fails, if the searches are in lockers and backpacks, get her a really small/thin phone, and have her keep it on her person instead! Maybe you will have to make special shoes with a hidden compartment. You know, like Get Smart!OR!She can hide it in a hollowed out BC pill box! The person doing the inspection would be too flustered to continue!There is a marketing idea that I should pitch to Nokia the pill phone! You can develop a whole line of them the maxi-pad phone, the condom box phone all as a roose to hide poenhs from administrators. So many teens are schruggling, just to keep cell poenhs from the teachers

      August 19, 2012 at 7:03 am | Reply
  62. Al V

    The images are already there.

    We all know what the syrian regime is doing right now.

    They are murdering families at close range. Soldiers are willfully knifing, shooting and clubbing women and children to death. The pictures are right there.

    Will more pictures suddenly make a difference? Do you need your atrocity in 1080P HD at 30fps before its 'real' to you?

    One dictator seeking missile from a B-2 can take care of this, but the real question is will anyone bother? Both Russia and China are backing Assad because they have vocal minorities that they might need to exterminate too. If they continue to assert that the UN shouldn't involve itself in 'internal matters', then they can proceed as they wish when the time comes.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    • chris

      Politics are a little more complex than a country sending a missile into the face of a dictator. And the more pictures available, the more public opinion is on our side, the more pressure certain politicians who oppose all presidential requests will have on their heads.

      You seem to be putting this into very simple terms.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  63. bob

    It's time for Russia or China or India or Saudi Arabia or Turkey to step up and do something about this. Why is it always America's problem?!?! Bring all our soldiers home and spend all the money inside the US and let other countries take a turn as the world's police force. We've done enough!

    May 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      I heard a debate on the radio about this (BBC World have your Say). It was so far from reality. They were talking about conspiracy theories and the US wanting a "proxy" war with Iran in Syria and that we (US) are itching for another fight.

      Given that talk, it's clear the moment the US goes in Syria, the US will be the "bad guy," so it's basically a no-win situation.

      Of course, most people in the US are war weary and having another Middle East war is the last thing they want. Most of us don't even want to fight Iran–just stop making Nuclear Bombs, please.

      May 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply
      • KevinP

        We don't need another war. We need to familiarize ourselves with the term "punitive action." Don't go there and set up camp for a decade and try to turn them into us. Simply hit the badguys hard enough, fast enough and long enough to cripple them. Then let the Syrian people sort out the way forward. We don't share a way of thinking with them, the cultural gap is too wide. We can't shape the ideals of the country, only the tactical situation on the ground.

        May 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Mark

      There is a need to distinguish. Previous American involvements in Middle East were not to help people, United States "was" the problem, those were Israeli created wars with baseless claims such as WMDs and AlQaeda involvement which none turned out to be true. This particular case would be the first time US would be there to help and not stir things up. So, you've not done enough as you mean it positively, you've done enough negative things in the middle east, this would be a step in the opposite direction to repair your image. Not saying that US should get involved or anything, only Saudi Arabia out of those nations you listed is Arabic – same race as Syrians. It's none of those other nations' business. Russians, Indians, Arabs, Chinese should all stay out of this. There are a bunch of Arabic countries, they should intervene and help their people.

      May 30, 2012 at 5:19 am | Reply
  64. drama

    And why is it that the U.S. needs to do this???? I get that people are being massacred. That is horrible!! I wish it wasn't the case. Is the U.S. intervention in this worth the warmongering comments we will get from yet another country in the same region? I say NO WAY. Thus the procrastination decision. What's next, Iran? Heck, let's just call it a crusade and liberate every single middle eastern country because that's what it looks like. I say we tell the Soviet Union to have at it. We can watch them flex their military muscle and the U.S. civilian population can see how a country that doesn't care so much about the human element handles a "Peacekeeping" mission.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  65. Np

    Drop the 20 million phones!! Do they know how to use them? They have enough internet capacity? However, it's a good idea – they can not possibly kill 20 million reporters. Or can they?

    May 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply
    • TWM

      The "20 million reporters" that you mentioned is a grey area. None of these people have "press" credentials. It would be hard to describe them as "reporters" when they have no affiliation with any form of news agancy. Plus there would have to be some kind of way of letting the people know when and where the drop would be taking place... even if were only a few people to know, then it would be a logistical nightmare for them to distribute the phones to everyone without compromising the whole mission. This wouldn't be like a mass gathering where they UN or Red Cross (Red Crescent) would be giving away aid items. It would take forever to ensure the right people get equipped.

      May 30, 2012 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • xwindowsjunkie

      Destroy his air forces and his anti-aircraft batteries. Flatten all military installations, power generators and backups.
      Fly in the UAVs and kill every tank and truck moving on or off the roads. The AWACs can track tanks and armor. Keep it up till he quits killing and leaves the country. It won't stop the killing but it will give some of the misery back to Assad.
      Lets see how long he likes living in the Stone Age and how long his colonels will let him live.. Use CNN to broadcast the general plan. Let the people know we won't be putting boots on the ground. When Assad is gone and things are back to semi-normal. Let them fight each other if they like. We gave them a chance. Its their country, let them screw it up if they want. Just don't sell them the guns to do it.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:52 am | Reply
  66. stopthemadness

    I suppose US taxpayer money pays for these cellphones? It's ia cinch the money is not coming from Oboma's cheapskate wallet!

    May 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Reply
    • clword123

      recycled (used) cell phones will do it ...donated by people....

      May 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  67. stopthemadness

    Cellphone drop? Why not drop aabout a dizen nukes right on downtown Kabul and Damascus...End all the wars!!!!

    May 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  68. Lynn P.

    Nothing else is working, so why not? No one is forcing anyone over there to use them. It gives brave citizens a chance to call for help when they do not otherwise have a voice. Revealing evil all around the globe disarms dictators who will lie or blame other factions for their deeds. It is about time that crime, in all its forms, be revealed for what it is. New thought is needed. New methods to stop slaughter is required. Yes. Let's do something completely different for a change and find new ways to combat atrocities wherever they are.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  69. chuck hudson

    An airdrop is the right idea. However, six well placed "Motorola" bunker busters will have far greater effect than cell phones.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  70. GayAtheist

    This kind of thing is what religion is for.

    If they can't rely on their god to save them now, what good is their god; what good is their religion?

    The people of Syria deserve what they get.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Reply
    • Tony

      You are so gay and dumb...

      May 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  71. Robert

    Yes, communication can end wars..just as it can start them...Should the U.S. airdrop phones in Syria of course then
    -Charge for data usage
    -place tracking devices in each one
    -Send propaganda to those phones about how horrible their leaders are and how they need to support the US
    -Record all messages made on said devices

    May 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  72. Barb

    I support the cell phone idea. I also support a covert action to remove the key govt officials.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Reply
    • GayAtheist

      Good can pay extra taxes to pay for it.

      May 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Reply
      • G

        Your taxes have already paid for the ordinance and weapons, it's already expiring in warehouses, might as well use it. your curent standing army has already been paid for too. may as well use it for some good.

        May 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
      • Strahinja

        It sounds like when you made the cilnalg plan change the select plan only applied itself to the main line because the others arn't active yet. You should contact customer service and make sure the secondary lines are changed over from a basic plan to a select plan. For right now just don't choose a text package, leave it as pay per use.

        July 19, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  73. Ferit

    just bomb the s..t out of Assad. what are you waiting for?

    May 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  74. Jen

    It's a noble idea but they still have to get service through the cell company. The ruling faction can take down the towers and take care of that issue.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  75. Keith

    The vast majority of the world DOESN'T TIP. Build appropriate compensation into the price of the meal and be done with it!

    May 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  76. moses

    It is really easy for the US to end this massacre if they wanted to...CIA/Black ops or whatever you want to call it can end this really quick just by eliminating key figures in the Syrian government...or simply by assassinating the Syrian president and they can easily deny any responsibility for the attack by using local Syrian assets for execution.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Reply
    • Robert

      You don't think that someone just as bad or even worse is not waiting in the wings? The U.S. can't police everyone. Let the U.N. crap or get off the pot on this one.

      May 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  77. BOB

    May 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Reply
    • Sunil

      I downloaded Music Wizard and it lets you prieevw music and download it to in case you didn't know that so might be kinda like the music junk you had

      July 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Reply
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