Perspectives on Syria

by Michael Warden


A distinguishing feature of anthroposophy is that recognises that both good and evil exist in the spiritual realm, and that the latter exists explicitly to make authentic freedom possible. As Rudolf Steiner himself said “In order that on the one hand, what is good and right can come about, the possibility must be given to err from the right path and for poison to have its effect” … “there can be no pursuit of the light-filled spiritual life without the resistance that has to be permitted, without the possibility of resistance expressly for life´s higher spiritual levels”.

Evil will therefore exist and we will all be challenged to respond to that reality, which begins with the will to know about it.

Anthroposophy has thus always taken an active interest in understanding the spiritual impulses which lie behind world events, based on an approach which it calls ¨historical symptomology”. Such approach is about cultivating a synthesising vision, able to see apparently separate events (whether close or far apart in time) as symptomatic of a single, often unseen, impulse. In a world where the gravity of events continues to gather, and the mainstream media is ever more inclined to present isolated events as if they had no cause or context, and almost always with bias and ulterior motive, the cultivation of such cognition on an individual level is increasingly urgent.

Back in the 19th century, Nietszche declared public opinion to be “a soap bubble inflated by the press” and since then the situation has become progressively worse. Today, when imperialistic powers, posing as ´democracy´ wish to intervene and take control of other nations, those nations and their leaders are demonised in the press, and most of the world´s population still believes what they read.

This article is about the some ´unsanctioned´ perspectives about what is happening in Syria, and why. Before going fully into that theme, let´s note a comment on the nature of ´modern democracy´ made by Rudolf Steiner in 1917, and another made a little later by Joseph Pulitzer, about the true role of the press, sadly so decadent today:

Rudolf Steiner: “The structure of democracy are such that invariably a few people are pulling the strings, while the rest are pulled along… it is interesting to note that [Francis Delaisi] wrote an excellent statement to the effect that big capitalism has succeeded in making of democracy the most wonderful, most effective, most flexible instrument for the exploitation of society as whole” . (This is in fact not a statement against democracy but only an assertion that our present institutions only masquerade as such. Naturally, it is also does not imply that some form of communism would be preferable to capitalism. Both have failed us equally. An outline of what true democracy might look like is touched upon in the article ´Re-enlivening Society´, and described more fully in Rudolf Steiner´s seminal book ´The Threefold Social Order´).

To continue Steiner´s quote:

“Normally, says Delaisi, we imagine that men of finance are opponents of democracy – a fundamental error; they are, rather, its leaders and conscious promoters. Because this – namely democracy – forms the screen behind which they hide their method of exploitation which holds fearful and bloody sway over the whole of humanity. This will not be recognised if one lives continually in the fatuously mistaken view that nations are fighting one another: if one always lets oneself be hypnotised by the European and American press statements about relations of some kind that are supposed to exist between nations in the events of the present day. Everything that is said about the antagonism and conflicting interest of the nations is there in order to draw a veil over the true reasons”.

Thence to Joseph Pulitzer:

“There is no crime, no sleight of hand, no trick, no swindle, no vice, that does not depend on secrecy. Bring those secrets of the light of day, describe them, make them ridiculous before everybody´s eyes. And sooner or later public opinion will send them packing. Making things known is perhaps not enough – but it is the only means without which all the others will fail”.


Beyond all the ´on message´ pictures painted by the mainstream about present events in Syria, there remain some independent voices willing to look for deeper causes and connections. A general context for the relationship between Western powers and the middle east is given by Noam Chomsky, back in 2011;

“The US and its allies will do anything it can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. The reason is very simple; across the region, the overwhelming majority of the population regards the United States as the main threat to their interests. Opposition to US policy is so high that a considerable majority think the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons. In Egypt, the most important country, that´s 80% - similar figures elsewhere. There are some in the region who regard Iran as a threat; about 10% . Well plainly the US and its allies are not going to want governments which are responsive to the will of the people; if that happens, not only will the US not control the region, but it´ll be thrown out… That´s obviously an intolerable result. In the case of Wikileaks, there was an interesting aside on this; the revelations from Wikileaks that got the most publicity – headlines, euphoric commentary and so on – were that the Arabs support US policy on Iran. Now, they were quoting comments of Arab dictators; yes, they claim to support US policy on Iran. There was no mention of the Arab population, because it doesn´t matter. If the dictators support us, and the population is under control, then what´s the problem”?

Coming more specifically to Syria within that context, Madeliene Hoffman, director of New Jersey Peace Action, said on returning from an on-the-ground visit: “we heard over and over again, this is not a civil war, this is not President Assad against his own people, this is President Assad and the Syrian people, in unity, against outside forces , mercenary forces… funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Turkey, and underneath it, Israel. And these outside mercenary forces are the ones that are terrorising the Syrian people and attempting to divide them”.

British war correspondent and middle east scholar Robert Fisk offers a slightly different view in saying that the conflict did indeed begin as an internal one when displaced Syrian agricultural workers took up arms against the government, and the government, which he describes as ´brutal and dictatorial´ responded with excessive force. He also says however, what began as an internal problem was rapidly became internationalised, as foreign powers used it to take up their agendas. Yet he also makes some very powerful observations which suggest that the nature of those international participations may not be as we are led to believe in the mainstream media: “Turkey is helping ISIS, and pretending it´s not helping ISIS… Israel, which bombs the Syrian forces, but will not and does not bomb ISIS…”

Regarding the emergence of ISIS in the first place, he says it “has a lot to do with the invasion of Iraq in 2002 /2003”. And regarding Europe´s role in the situation, he says “Europe´s role in the Middle East since the Secret Sykes-Picot Agreement, (after WW1) which effectively divided up the Middle East people under our rule, without asking them… I don´t see why there is or should be a role for Europe… we need to change the way we look at the Middle East. The people of the Middle East have never asked for democracy. For them democracy is synonymous with the countries in the West which supported the dictators which tortured them, and imprisoned them, and oppressed them”.

Independent documentary maker John Pilger, observes that: “The French, the British, the Americans and the Turks have all supplied those who have kept ISIS going”. And that “Syria´s main crime is that it is independent and it stands against Israel dominating that part of the world… there is no question that if there was an election tomorrow, all those minorities that look to this government in Damascus, for all its violations of human rights, and nobody doubts those, look to it as a protector – because the alternative is ISIS”.

Regarding the origin of ISIS and the false claims of Western governments to be fighting it, he says “(Western media) suppresses comment about what should be patently obvious to anybody, that it is the west that has created this monster. The propaganda is even more lethal because it comes from sources which have credibility. Read Mark Curtis´s extraordinary book, about this alliance between imperial western governments and the creation of Muslim fanatiscism - while doing that, demanding that the one government which could stand up to them, that´s in Damascus, be overthrown”.

Clearly, something is not as it is generally represented in the mainstream media. David Haggith, reporting on, with regard to the new round of Wikileaks leaked emails in October 2016, sets out a perspective on what may be behind all this: “Exposure of Hillary Clinton’s emails makes it clear that US intrusion in the Syrian Civil War is really all about Iran and Israel. Both the US and Russia want to defeat ISIS, but only the US wants to make sure Syria’s President Bashar Assad is overthrown. The United States ulterior motive of regime change is the reason it is ineffective against ISIS — because it wants ISIS to do its dirty work. Documents exposed recently by Wikileaks show that Hillary’s advice to the president to enter the US into Libya’s Civil War came with a clear and intentional connection to topple the Assad regime. In one document labeled “CONFIDENTIAL,” Sidney Blumenthal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and long-time confidante to Hillary Clinton, wrote the following to Hillary: “Likely the most important event that could alter the Syrian equation would be the fall of Qaddafi, providing an example of a successful rebellion”. (Wikileaks)

Prior to the fall of Qaddafi, Clinton was being advised to overthrow Qaddafi in order to effect change in Syria. Blumenthal then quotes an article by David W. Lesch: One game-changer [in Syria] could be the fall of Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya…. If Gadhafi falls ...there will be another model for regime change: that of limited but targeted military support from the West combined with an identifiable rebellion… it would give the Syrian regime something to really think about…. The Syrian regime does not want, nor can it probably survive, long-term international pressure or isolation, but it is used to sanctions…. Success for the rebels in Libya might change that.

The next document obtained by Wikileaks in its acquisition of Clinton’s emails is not advice to Hillary but subsequent advice from Hillary’s state department to the White House: “Negotiations to limit Iran’s nuclear program will not solve Israel’s security dilemma. Nor will they stop Iran from improving the crucial part of any nuclear weapons program…. Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war may not seem connected, but they are….. It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel’s security … through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel’s leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests….” Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly...”

This explains why US efforts against ISIS have appeared ineffective. The US has an ulterior motive that is at odds with destroying ISIS. ISIS is useful to the US for the time being because ISIS wants to destroy Bashar Assad as badly as the US does… the US appears to be running a strategy that is willing to use ISIS where it can to be successful in deposing Assad… it’s hard to justify a war directly against Assad, but if ISIS does it, it is completely easy later on to justify a war against ISIS…. that conflict of interests explains why Russia has repeatedly ridiculed the US… Operating with mixed motives makes Obama appear inept compared to Putin, whose two motives of protecting Assad and killing ISIS are not in conflict with each other… The US would be a safer place and the world a better place if the US stopped trying to reform the world in its image — a grand globalist goal it scarcely can afford any longer.

Elsewhere the October 2016 email leaks acknowledge allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar “providing financial and logistic support to ISIL”, show Hilary Clinton suggesting that the US “must return to plans to provide… equipment”, and reveal that in 2012, 400 tons of weapons were dispatched by J Christopher Stephens who reported directly to Clinton, from Benghazi, Libya, via Turkey – despite the fact that while under oath in early-2013 Senate testimony, Clinton denied any personal knowledge of weapons shipments from Benghazi to other countries).

John Pilger again: “Putin seems to be one of the most serious people that is involved in the Middle East, he pointed out that the long lines of trucks stealing Syria´s oil, ISIS trucks, haven´t been bombed, haven´t been intercepted, during the so-called western war against ISIS. The Western war against ISIS has been a farce”.


President Bashar al Assad is not a model 21st century democratic leader. But if one looks at independent reports, it seems he is also not the evil monster the media leads us to believe, and that he does in fact have the support of the Syrian population: Steven Sahiounie, reported in February 2016:

“It may be surprising to some that the Syrian people still support Pres. Bashar al Assad. The western media has gone to great lengths to portray him as an evil dictator. However, Syrian residents are not affected by western media, and have a different view of their leader... Syrians see Pres. Assad as a reformer. They have witnessed numerous laws passed for their benefit, and a constant focus on anti-corruption measures. They witnessed the abolition of the one-party rule, and now over 30 political parties are registered. They watched him call for a new constitution to be drafted, and it was ratified in 2012.

In the June 3, 2014 Presidential election millions of Syrians participated at over 9,600 polling stations across the country. Tens of thousands inundated the Syrian embassy in Lebanon to vote and thousands more came from around the world to vote in Syria because their host countries denied them the right to vote at the local Syrian diplomatic mission. Syrians abroad voted in 36 Syrian Embassies around the world… Voting in Beirut needed to be extended by a full day... Insurgents increased their shelling of civilian areas in Damascus and Aleppo but otherwise the election was conducted peacefully and without attacks on voting stations. There was a large international observers delegation dispersed around the country. The Higher Judicial Committee of the Constitutional Court reported the results: 15,840, 575 were eligible to vote, both inside Syria and outside. 442,108 ballots were disqualified, for irregularities. (3.8%). 11,634,412 voted (73.4%). Results of the election were presented by the Speaker of the Parliament: Dr. Bashar al Assad received: 10,319,723 votes, 88.7% of the vote. Dr. Hassan al Nouri received: 500,272 votes, 4.3% of the vote. Mr. Maher Hajjar received: 372,301 votes, 3.2% of the vote”.

Ron Paul, former US congressman / presidential candidate: said in October 2015: “The US regime change policy for Syria has been a catastrophe. More than 200,000 killed and an entire country reduced to rubble at least partly because President Obama decided that “Assad has lost his legitimacy.” How is it that the president of a country 6,000 miles away has the authority to decide whether another leader belongs in office or not? What if Rouhani in Iran decided that Obama had lost his legitimacy for killing a number of American citizens by drone without charge or trial? Would we accept that”?

In April 2016 there were new elections in Syria – and most people in the West remained entirely oblivious to that fact, because it was barely mentioned in our media. However, independent British activist / journalist Vanessa Bealey, on the ground in Syria, reported: “Yesterday Parliamentary elections were held in Syria. 7000 polling booths were opened across the country. 11, 341 candidates were proposed from across Syria with 250 to be elected to Parliament, including a number of female candidates… contrary to spurious claims from western governments and media, efforts were made to open the voting to all Syrian civilians including those who have fled terrorists held areas.. (Assad) and his wife Asma headed for the polling booths with no security in sight”.

In September 2016, Bealey again reported, on the ground, a picture of relations between Assad and his people very different from that in the regular media: “90% of the internally displaced people, the people that have been driven out of their towns and villages by the terrorist invasion, have gone into government-held areas for protection…. the government has sent doctors from West Aleppo, paying their salaries, into East Aleppo, to treat, not only terrorists, but the civilians that are being held by the terrorists. Those that have stopped them coming in are the terrorists, the so-called ´rebels´ or ´opposition´, as they are described in the Western media”.


The chemical weapons attack in Damascus in 2011 had repeatedly been reported as an atrocity on the part of President Assad. In 2013 however, Professor Michel Chossudovsky reported that: “Secretary General Ban Ki Moon insinuated without overtly pointing his finger at the Syrian government”... “(he) does not mention is that the 1988 (gas) attack was supported by the CIA as confirmed by the release of previously classified documents). Nowhere in the UN Mission’s report is there any mention of who was behind the (2011) chemical attacks. The UN Mission was instructed not to make any statements in this regard”.

Chossudovsky went on to say later in a report jointly authored by himself and others: “UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon submitted the findings of the UN chemical weapons inspection team dispatched to Syria last month... the report has been used as justification for the US and UK’s allegations that the attack originated from the Syrian government, but it does not in fact reach this conclusion... . Now, new evidence is emerging that the attacks were used and manipulated by the terrorists in order to provoke the US and its allies into armed intervention in Syria. This evidence suggests that the videos used by the US and its allies to conclude what happened in Ghouta were in fact carefully stage managed to portray a narrative that would pin the blame for the attacks on Assad”

Meanwhile, a Christian nun Mother Agnes Miriam, made a detailed analysis of 13 of videos relating to the chemical attack of 2011 and concluded that “If the studied footages were edited and published to exhibit pieces of evidence to accuse the Syrian State of perpetrating the chemical attacks on East Ghouta, our discoveries incriminate the editors and actors of forged facts through a lethal manipulation …”

And investigative reporter Robert Parry declared that “United Nations investigators encountered evidence that alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian military were staged by jihadist rebels and their supporters, but still decided to blame the government”.


In October 2016, Reuters correspondent Suleiman Al-Khalidi reported that: “Russian warplanes… battered rebel-held areas in and around Aleppo on Saturday, and rebels and aid workers accused them of destroying one of the city’s main hospitals and killing at least two patients”.

Western governments have referred to such reports as the evidence of Russian war crimes. At the British Tory Party Conference, also in October 2016, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that in Syria, Russia is “committing what are patently war crimes – bombing hospitals, when they know they are hospitals and nothing but hospitals”.

And yet independent journalist Vanessa Bealey, on the ground this time specifically in Aleppo, reported “there are three main hospitals in east Aleppo… they are all occupied by terrorists. The top floors are being used as sniping towers. The Al Kutz hospital which has been in the news recently, which by the way was destroyed according to all mainstream media, it was reduced to a smoldering heap according to their reports, is now suddenly rebuilt in the last few months and is now top of the agenda again in the propaganda. Al Kutz hospital is a terrorist triage centre, which was set up by the terrorists. It was visited on the 12th August, prior to our visit, by Sheikh Abdullah Muhaysini, Riyadh-educated chief trainer of suicide bombers, funder and armer of terrorists...”

In such context, it seems a monstrous hypocrisy for Western governments to refer so vehemently to ´Russian war crimes´, when there is no doubt at all that tens of thousands, at least, of civilians were killed by allied forces in Iraq.

When, worse, as John Pilger reported in his 1992 book ´Distant Voices´ (page 2), on news footage in which: “Driven by allied soldiers, the bulldozers were pushing thousands of bodies into mass graves. Many of the bodies were crushed, as if they had been run over. The memories reached back to similar scenes at Belsen, Dachau and Auschwitz...”

Meanwhile in the same month as the Reuter report and Boris Johnson´s comment, that is October 2016, Dr Marcus Papadopoulos, editor the British ´Politics First´ magazine declared in an interview that “The Russian military campaign in Syria, which began over a year ago, is being carried out in accordance with international law… the Syrian government, led by President Assad, the only legitimate authority in Syria, in line with the UN Charter and international law in general, called for assistance… the US-led coalition is Syria… is not acting legally, and the Russian military campaign has helped the Syrian army to liberate much of Syrian territory which was held by Islamist terrorists..” He also stated that “British MPs are “deluded, uninformed and quite frankly biased when it comes to the conflict in Syria”

Final comments on the present situation:

John Pilger, February 2016: “Unfortunately, because there is really no freedom of information in the mainstream… you haven´t heard that ISIS in on the verge of defeat in Syria (Iraq is a different question).. the Syrian army has effectively defeated ISIS, backed by Russia, backed by Hezbollah, backed by Iran”… “Top of the wish list is there has to be a concerted effort, clearly, to stop the destruction of Syria, the FINAL destruction of Syria”

Dr Paul Craig-Roberts, former member of the Reagan administration, former associate editor of the New York Times who seems now to have become something of a whistle-blower, speaking out against America´s constant armed interventions in August 2016: “No one asked.. why the Russians and Syrians could clear ISIL out of most of Syria in a couple of months, but Washington has been struggling for several years to clear ISIL out of Iraq. Is it possible that Washington did not want to clear ISIL out of Iraq because Washington intended to use ISIL to clear Assad out of Syria”? And: “By faithful vassalage to Washington, Europe is bringing death and destruction to the world”“

What is perhaps most shocking in all this is not merely the subterfuge which is behind an effectively mis-represented situation in a middle eastern country, but the extent to which the international media colludes, both consciously and unconsciously, and the extent to which the great majority, even of educated professionals, and even whilst declaring that ´the newspapers are full of lies, still have their perceptions of world events shaped by those sources. That is, a great many believe that Assad is an unelected dictator, that he used chemical weapons against his own people, and that Western governments are doing what they can to defeat ISIS.

And even ´joining up some dots´ regarding Syria is only a small beginning in seeing what ´lies behind´ the stories as we are given them (typically for instance, stories about the problem of finding humanitarian ways of responding to the wave of Syrian refugees coming to Europe, frequently reported as if that problem had no cause).

In fact, comparable ´external´ motives will be found behind the ´internal´ problems in Ukraine, and Yemen, and even the long series of military coups in Thailand.

Paradoxically however, whilst the problem of media distortion is reaching quite staggering levels, simultaneously the scope of information available via the internet, for those willing to spend some time searching and carefully examining sources and origins, is equally unprecedented. The continuation of that internet freedom however is something that cannot be taken for granted. There have been two pieces of American legislation already (SOPA and ACTA), circa 2011, 2012, which threatened to effectively close it down. Like the American ´Patriot Act´, they purported to be associated with values virtually everybody would support (SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act) while really driving at very different objectives. SOPA and ACTA were in the end stopped by massive campaigning by those awake to what was happening. But is is not likely to be the last attempt.

There is also, at the same time, a strong ´counter movement´ arising; the biggest protest movements in history against the Iraq war, the development the 15th May movement in Spain, the Occupy movement world- wide, the striking tendency of all of those in the direction of non-violence, the heroic efforts of whistle blowers and truth campaigners - often at great personal risk – from Pilger and Fisk, to Chossudovsky and Craig-Roberts, to Assange and Manning and Snowden, and many many others. This polarization of trends is something I will take up further in a forthcoming article to be entitled ´2020: A Critical Juncture´.

To conclude for now, I return to the theme of Rudolf Steiner´s ´Historical Symptomology´. Ultimately, that approach calls on us to go beyond the inter-relating of external events as has been done to modest degree here, and see into the spiritual forces at work behind the worldly scheming. That is a challenge taken up by anthroposophical writer Heinz Pfeifer, in his book ´The Brotherhood of the Shadows´ (The Wellspring is the sole UK distributor for the English version of this book, translated from German by UK anthroposophist Graham Ricketts.). Pfeifer documents in scholarly fashion a quite astonishing history of interconnected global agendas and anti-democratic institutions, spanning over centuries. Yet he also goes to considerable lengths to stress that such things are ultimately not about ´wicked people´, but about very specific spiritual agencies and agendas which are behind much that is unfolding in the world. Perhaps most importantly he stresses, as indeed did Steiner, that ´merely´ becoming conscious of truth, and ´thinking the truth together´ (Wherever two or more are gathered in my name…) has a healing function for the world. From the preface: “Wakeful and insightful individuals fulfil through their cognitive efforts, a corrective or healing function as a contribution to the goals of mankind´s evolution”.

We also recommend:

  • At an esoteric level, Rudolf Steiner´s series, Karmic Relationships Vol 1 - 8 which trace both great spiritual impulses, for good and ill, which have spread in the world, and the role in those events of the evolving spirits of certain historical individualities as they move from incarnation to incarnation.
  • At a more mundane level, The Wikileaks Files, an analysis of several hundred of the more important leaked emails, up to mid-2015 when the book was published.