Syriana? Part 1


This article was first published in New View magazine No.69 Oct – Dec 2013

The movie “Syriana” (director Stephen Gaghan; producer and lead actor George Clooney) came out in Dec. 2005. The complex, realistic, tense and dramatic multi-layered account of oil politics, terrorism and the CIA in the Middle East made for a fascinating story which also had at its heart personal transformation. I remember being intrigued by the film’s title “Syriana” – because Syria did not feature in the movie at all. The action began in Iran and also took in Lebanon, but no other Middle Eastern countries were featured apart from an unnamed Gulf State. Israel, Iraq and Saudi Arabia were entirely absent. There was no reference at all to Syria. But I did not look into the question of the name of the film until this year when the war in Syria reached an ever more critical condition. According to the film’s publicity materials, “Syriana” was “a very real term used by Washington think-tanks to describe a hypothetical reshaping of the Middle East.  Director Stephen Gaghan said he saw Syriana as “a great word that could stand for man’s perpetual hope of remaking any geographic region to suit his own needs.”(1) That seems to be a very contemporary ethical theme that relates to identity – the need of people today to remake nature, either geographical/ecological or their own bodily nature to suit their own needs, according to how they define themselves. This two-part article will explore some deeper background factors in the Syrian catastrophe, behind the issue of the use of ‘chemical weapons’ in the Ghouta suburban area of Damascus on 21st August 2013, the concrete facts of which have yet to be established at the time of writing.

Are we reacting to this current chemical weapons attack crisis in terms of crime and punishment? If so, are we certain about the facts of the crime and the identity of the murderer? Are we satisfied about the nature of the evidence? After all, in so many other aspects of our modern life we insist on valid evidence. Are we holding to the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’? It seems to many that the evidence in this case is in doubt and that it is not even paid serious attention, although in this case the consequences of ‘punishment’ will very likely result in numerous deaths. It is possible that the Syrian crisis may provoke a serious confrontation between America and Russia. Indeed, the war in Syria has been described as a proxy war between “the West” (mainly US,UK and their Arab friends) who are opposed to Iran (Syria’s ally) vs Russia and China (Iran’s supporters). If we think of the West and the East as ‘proxies’ for male and female in the human soul respectively, then we can also begin to relate to what is going on in the Middle East through our own soul life. We come into this earthly life through our mothers, the female element, which can be the East (sunrise), where earthly life begins. We leave it and return to the spiritual world through the West (sunset), through our fathers, the male element; this is especially the case in warfare, but it is also the case in the sense that old people’s bodies have become more ‘male’ i.e. hardened, linear, angular, mineral; the flowing, curvaceous watery life-giving element in them has dried-out. It may have been retained in their mental and emotional life but in their physical life it has not; it cannot be, otherwise we would continue to live physically forever. In European esoteric thought, these two poles of East and West, female and male, were symbolised by the archangels Gabriel, bearing the lily, and the armoured Michael, bearing his sword and/or scales. They stood at the respective portals of birth and death. In general, we can see in history how before Christ, in the continent of Eurasia, the Asian part was in the ascendant in terms of socio-cultural development. The name ‘Asia’ most likely comes from the Akkadian word asu(m) (rising  – of the sun). But after Christ there was a gradual shift westwards, so that by 1600 Europe (the West) was beginning to take over the ascendancy. The word ‘Europe’ most likely stems from the Akkadian word erebu(m) (setting of the sun). This implies that in the long history of Eurasia, the pole of the female sensibility was long in the ascendant, whereas more recently the pole has shifted to the male sensibility. What is meant here is not male and female bodies but more in the sense of male and female psychology. When we see clashes in history between East and West, are we not actually looking at disharmonies between the male and female elements in the human soul and/or the struggle to find a balance between them, because not every conflict denotes an irreconcilable struggle. It can often be that conflicting parties in a personal relationship or in a war between peoples are in fact seeking to find a right relationship to each other.

In the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002 General Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO during the 1999 War on Yugoslavia and US Presidential candidate in 2004, testified before Congress that some 10 days after 9/11, he had been told by a general in the Pentagon that the decision had been made to go to war against Iraq. He said he saw the same man a few weeks later and asked him: “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” the answer was: “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He was then told by this general how the Secretary of Defence’s office (Donald Rumsfeld) had passed down a memo stating that “we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” (2)

All but two of those seven countries have been or are in the process of being ‘dealt with’ since 2003. Iraq was invaded and occupied; Gadaffi was overthrown in Libya; Sudan was broken up and a new pro-Western state, South Sudan, was created; after two decades of struggle between the USA, local warlords, Ethiopia, and Islamic fundamentalist groups, Somalia has been brought under pro-western control. Lebanon was attacked by Israel in 2006 and now the pro-Iranian Hizbollah militant movement in Lebanon has been drawn into the Syrian maelstrom; Syria itself is embroiled in a deadly insurgency and may face US attack. There have been signs of an impending American or Israeli attack on Iran for years now.   Following a speech in June 2006 in Tel Aviv, Israel, by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice about “redrawing the Middle East”,  a map appeared in that same month in an article in the US Armed Forces Journal which showed a future, much-changed Middle East. It was included in an article written by Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters of the Pentagon’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence. Ralph Peters admits that his propositions are “draconian” in nature, but he insists that they are necessary pains for the people of the Middle East. This view of necessary pain and suffering is in startling parallel to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s belief that the devastation of Lebanon by the Israeli military was a necessary pain or “birth pang” in order to create the “New Middle East” that Washington, London, and Tel Aviv envision.(3) We can see from this map that a major change is the emergence of an independent Kurdistan, which would gain territory at the expense of Turkey, Iran, Iraq – and Syria.(4)

But the major change for Syria would be the complete loss of its seaboard to Lebanon and this presumably, would only result from the overthrow of the current Syrian regime, led since 1970 by the Assad family, who belong to the Alawite sect of Sh’ite Islam. This loss of the seaboard would of be great significance to Russia, which would then lose its only warm water overseas naval bases at Latakia and Tartus. For centuries the Russians dreamed of being able to project naval power into the Mediterranean (more on that later), and for centuries the British and their successors the Americans have sought to block this aspiration.

When that map appeared in 2006, Iraq was still in its post-war convulsions, the result of the American-led invasion  of 2003 which, as is widely recognised today, had been brought about under false pretensions by the Neo-Con administration of George W. Bush. The thinking behind the Iraq War had been driven by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and many of the PNAC members were strongly pro-Israeli. Indeed, much of the design in that map In 2006 seemed to echo the main lines of a strategy laid out in an article which had appeared in 1982 in Kivunim  (Directions), the journal of the  World Zionist Organization’s Department of Information.(5) The article “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980′s,” was authored by Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist  formerly attached to the Foreign Ministry of Israel. The article argued that increased security for Israel and the country’s transformation into a regional power could be achieved through the break-up of Arab states “into a mosaic of ethnic and confessional groupings that could be more easily manipulated” (p. 107): in other words, the old Roman technique of divide et impera. This came to be known as the Oded Yinon Plan, or just the Yinon Plan. The Yinon Plan (1982) stated that:

…the entire region is built like a house of cards, unable to withstand its severe problems…we suddenly face immense opportunities for transforming the situation thoroughly and this we must do in the coming decade, otherwise we shall not survive as a state….. Egypt, in its present domestic political picture, is already a corpse, all the more so if we take into account the growing Moslem-Christian rift.  Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions is the political aim of Israel in the Nineteen Eighties on its Western front…. Libya, Sudan or even the more distant states will not continue to exist in their present form and will join the downfall and dissolution of Egypt.  This timetable was not achieved in the 1980s, but it has been underway since 2001 and especially since the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011.

Yinon goes on:

Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbour, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today.

It is important to realise that in the background of world events there are often blueprints and designs that have been conceived and drawn up by certain elites, and which guide their actions in a general way over decades, though they may have to work around  temporary contingencies. At the end of World War One, in Europe the multi-ethnic Habsburg empire was broken up by the victorious Allies and parcelled out into small states along mono-ethnic lines in accordance with US President Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination as laid out in his ’14 Points’ doctrine. As it happened, each of these new states consisted of majorities and minorities, and the former tended to oppress the latter at least as badly as was ever the case under the Habsburgs. The multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire was taken away from the Turks and divided up along similar lines, often creating states with even larger minorities than in Europe. These states still exist. The Yinon Plan projected their future destruction and breakdown along even narrower ethnic and religious lines. We have been witnessing something like this since the Iraq War of 2003. The Yinon Plan is part of a much greater process that goes far beyond Israel and seeks to break down sovereign multi-ethnic states into mono-ethnic or mono-religious states as far as possible and then to re-combine these mono-ethnic states into notionally independent states that are in fact mere ‘provinces’ within regional economic blocs under the indirect control of the western powers. Such blocs are the Transatlantic Free Trade Area now under construction between N. America and the EU in the West, and in the East, the construction of the Trans-Pacific Partnership between western Pacific seaboard countries and the nations of Australasia and East Asia. The USA is driving the construction of these two mega-economic blocs which it intends to  control. The construction of the EU out of the European Economic Community (1957) was the model for these developments.

The Economic Struggle for Syria
Entirely in the interests of Israeli security, then, we see staked out 30 years ago in the Yinon Plan the transformation of the Middle East. But Israel’s own economic interests are also at stake here besides mere political and security issues, and in the modern epoch, since the 15th century, it has been increasingly economic interests that have been at the forefront of world affairs, as they provide the material basis of global power for would-be global hegemons such as Britain and America. It was the need to secure for the Royal Navy a safe monopoly over the newly discovered Middle Eastern oil resources, for example, that was a major factor in Britain’s participation in the First World War. In recent years, Israel too has enjoyed an unexpected energy bonanza. In 2009 and 2010, a pair of U.S.-Israeli consortiums exploring the seabed near Haifa discovered the Tamar and Leviathan fields, which collectively hold an estimated 26 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas…. once developed, [these] could satisfy Israel’s electricity needs for the next 30 years and even allow it to become a net energy exporter.(6) Israel’s desire to market some of this energy to the region might well conflict with the intentions of Syria to make the most of its own energy advantages: In 2011, Syria announced it had discovered a promising gas field in the city of Homs, which would later see some of the fiercest battles between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the rebels. Oil Minister Sufian Allawi told the state-run SANA news agency that the first wells “were in the Homs governorate and the flow rate is 400,000 cubic meters per day.”(7) Obviously, new energy-based wealth for Syria would tend to strengthen Syria as a state, which would run counter to the lines laid down in the Yinon Plan that regarded Arab states as inherently weak and advocated their destabilisation and fragmentation them.

Crossing Pipelines: Syria to Iran
But Syria is not only a gas producer; it is now in line to become a major energy transit point: Iran, Iraq and Syria signed a deal in 2010 to construct a natural gas pipeline that would bring gas from Iran’s South Pars field to Europe via Syria. This has been dubbed “the Islamic pipeline”; perhaps it ought rather to be dubbed “the Shi’ite Pipeline”, because Iran and Iraq are both predominantly Shi’ite Muslim states, while Syria’s governing Alawite sect is a sect within the Shi’ite wing of Islam. Hizbollah, the powerful pro-Iranian militant group in Lebanon, is also Shi’ite, so one sees here the emergence of a kind of corridor of economic relations between Shi’ite states, extending from the Mediterranean Sea in Lebanon and Syria through Iraq to Iran. Turkey and Qatar, both states with large Sunni majorities, stand to lose from this gas pipeline, as they have their own competing energy projects: Turkey wants to become the main conduit for oil and gas from Central Asia via the Black Sea to Europe, while Qatar, which has its own liquified natural gas for sale, is also put out by the prospect of the ‘Shi’ite pipeline’. Both countries are known to be heavily supporting the rebels in the Syrian conflict, as is Wahhabi Sunni fundamentalist Saudi Arabia, mainly for religious and thus anti-Iranian reasons. Turkey and Qatar would apparently like to see the removal of Assad and his replacement by a pro-Western regime that would allow them to drive their own pipeline interests through Syria.

How do we personally relate to these pipeline issues? Energy, of course, supports the European economy, which supports the British economy and thus our lifestyles; as long as Britain, for example, refuses to invest seriously in renewable energy, or in nuclear or in shale gas (fracking), then, as North Sea oil declines, much of Britain’s energy must also come from abroad. This means that Britain would continue to be involved in disputes in the Middle East as it has been for 100 years now.

The Syria-Iran pipeline connection takes us onto a much larger geopolitical stage – one on which Iran has for millennia occupied a central position between the Indian subcontinent and the Mediterranean and European regions. In terms of esoteric history as described by Rudolf Steiner and others, we can recall that there was a slow but steady movement of cultural development from East to West from very ancient times until about 1600. While today the spring equinox point is in Pisces and so we say we are now in the Age of Pisces, the epoch of the Consciousness Soul (1413-3573), in which, according to Rudolf Steiner,  the northern European Germanic peoples have a special role to play, long ago in the period 5067 – 2907 BC, the spring equinox point was in Gemini and in that time Iran was the leading culture. Since those ancient Zoroastrian times with their struggle between Ahura Mazda (light) and Ahriman (dark) Iranian culture been associated with dualism and thus with Gemini, the sign of the Twins, the heavenly and the earthly, and so perhaps it is not accidental that we find today the Iranians not only trying to set up an economic link with two other countries, to their west – Iraq and Syria, but also, to their east, they are trying to do the same with Pakistan and India. Dubbed the “Peace Pipeline”, “the IPI pipeline” (Iran-Pakistan-India) was first conceived 60 years ago but gathered impetus only in the 1990s. Iran has also sought to interest other countries, including China, in the project. US President George W. Bush pressurised India to withdraw from the project, offering it nuclear technology, and both the US and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly sought to tempt Pakistan to abandon participation in it, but the Pakistanis have resisted all such blandishments, and the Iran-Pakistan part of the project is due for completion in December 2014.

However, the IPI pipeline has to pass through the province of Balochistan, and since that 2006 map referred to earlier, which showed a ‘Free Balochistan’ carved out of Pakistan, we have seen the latest wave of the long-running Balochi “independence movement” steadily growing. There have been five such waves since the 1940s; the last ended in 1977. The most recent wave began two years before that 2006 US Armed Forces Journal map, and as negotiations for the IPI pipeline were getting serious.

afj.ralph peters_map_after

The headquarters of most of the Balochi independence groups are in London! The resource-rich Pakistani province of Balochistan has a long coast on the Indian Ocean and a major port at Gwadar (notably shown on the 2006 map; click on  above to expand) which was built by the Chinese in 2007. The Americans would prefer that the IPI pipeline does not happen and that their own companies in Turkmenistan to the north (Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, Honeywell)(8) would pipe gas from fields in that country via Afghanistan and Balochistan out through Gwadar to the West. The US thus sees it as a political and economic ‘interest’ to tighten the US economic ‘blockade’ of Iran, frustrate Iran’s pipeline projects and increase Iran’s political isolation.

America always tells the world that its desire to put pressure on Iran is because of its attempt to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Iranian regime, it says, cannot be trusted and therefore cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons; it must be stopped from developing them. We can ask, how many nations has Iran attacked since World War II? The answer is none. In the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s Iraq, prompted and armed by the West, invaded Iran, and Iran defended itself. By contrast, how many countries has the US bombed since World War II? The answer is at least 28.(9) As with Iran, the US government is now telling the world that its threatened attack on Syria is only to block the proliferation of chemical weapons. These efforts to stop nuclear and chemical weapons proliferation might seem like laudable humanitarian goals that would benefit mankind. But there is no American proposal for a general peace deal for the entire region in which Pakistani, Indian, Iranian and Israeli nuclear weapons would all be under discussion. There is no talk of this, because in order to cloak its real motives, which invariably have to do with stark goals of political or economic power, western elites invariably like to use fine-sounding, inspiring humanitarian ideals that people will be willing to vote, fight and die for. One can think of ‘defending Belgium from brutal aggression’ in 1914, defending Poland from brutal aggression in 1939, S. Korea in 1950, S. Vietnam in 1964, Kuwait in 1990/91, to name but five cases. It is hard to motivate young men to kill and die for barrels of oil or for increased profits for transnational corporations, so something more uplifting has to be presented such as “preventing genocide” (Yugoslavia 1990s) “women’s rights” (Afghanistan 2000s) and now “upholding international law” (Syria). One of America’s greatest political scientists and economists, Joseph Schumpeter, (1883-1950) wrote in 1919 in his book Imperialism and Social Classes about ancient Roman foreign policy:

There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest – why, then it was national honour that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbours …The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, it was manifestly Rome’s duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs.

Here we are again confronted in our feelings. The British and American elites have for at least two centuries seen themselves as the new Romans, the bringers of law and order, civilisation and enlightenment to an unruly world. Do we also individually recognise in ourselves the need for someone to uphold law and order in society and in the world? Or do we think individual conscience alone should suffice in the modern age? Does someone not have to do this often unpleasant and difficult work? And if it is not done, how can mankind progress? Will civilisation not be overwhelmed by the forces of selfishness and savagery? We are after all, only some 500 years on in the West from the Middle Ages, and the slave trade was abolished only 200 years ago. But: if the ‘police’ are discovered to have acted unjustly on the basis of contrived evidence and false accusations because they have their own selfish ulterior motives, are we not entitled to object?

The Eurasian Balkans and ‘the Heartland’
Schumpeter was an academic, a theorist. Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928 – ) began as an academic and went on to become a practitioner of global politics at the heart of the US Carter administration in the 1970s. Co-founder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission (1973), he was a man whose views directly influenced practical foreign policy at the highest level and he is still  very influential today. In 1997, in his book The Grand Chessboard, which focused very much on what he called ‘Asia’s Balkans’, he wrote:

The traditional Balkans represented a potential geopolitical prize in the struggle for European supremacy. The Eurasian Balkans, astride the inevitably emerging transportation network meant to link more directly Eurasia’s richest and most industrious western and eastern extremities, are also geopolitically significant….the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold.

Rudolf Steiner spoke about the mismatch between real motives and surface motives in the English-speaking world in the following way:

…what constitutes the profoundest impelling forces in Western occultism is fostered by nothing more powerfully than by the development of feelings that are untrue but are sensed as in some way holy, and that can represent the people of the East and especially those of the Central countries as barbarians.(10)

We remember the British characterisation of the Germans in 1914 as ‘the Huns’ and in more recent times of the frequent comparison of opponents of the UK and US with Hitler: Saddam Hussein, Slobodan, Milosevic, Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gadaffi and now Bashar al Assad – all have been likened to Hitler and his ‘barbarism’ in an effort to motivate the peoples of Britain and America to ‘fight the good fight’ against them. Steiner went on in that same lecture to speak of ‘material occultism’ in the West – the conscious effort by secretive occultists in western countries to spread materialism for far-reaching evolutionary goals:

The potentialities of material occultism… are fostered by the attitude of mind constituting the so-called crusading temperament in America. This consists in the feeling that America is called to spread over the whole earth freedom and justice and I know not what other beautiful things. Of course, the people there believe that. What I am saying here has nothing to do with fault finding. The people believe that they are engaged in a crusade… (10)

General Eisenhower used the phrase ‘The Great Crusade’ to motivate his troops on D-Day in 1944, and President George W. Bush on 16th September 2001 said that “We haven’t seen this kind of barbarism in a long period of time….This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while”, and on 16 February 2002, speaking of Canadians, he said: “They stand with us in this incredibly important crusade to defend freedom, this campaign to do what is right for our children and our grandchildren.”

But in that same lecture Steiner insisted that the English-speaking peoples carry the main burden of the development of the modern epoch (since the 15th century), which is that the individual is to learn  to stand on his own spiritual feet, as it were, and become spiritually autonomous, free of any ‘tribal’ impulses. However, the English-speaking peoples, he says, express this individualistic impulse in an instinctive manner. It is, as it were, given to them rather than them having to struggle for it. It is not hard to understand what this means when one reflects that the home of the English-speaking peoples was originally a small island, and that, rightly or wrongly, they came to define themselves as a people beset by hostile continental enemies. However, the modern epoch is only 600 years old, not long in evolutionary terms, and that ‘standing on one’s own feet’ occurs, to begin with at least, in a self-seeking way, as it very often does with adolescents, which is why, says Steiner, politics and economics in the English-speaking world have been necessarily self-seeking, whether for the individual citizen, the individual company, individual party or individual country. This is notably the nature of Anglo-American capitalism, for example. This is not a question of blame; it has simply been the reality. We can hope that in the distant future, this sense of individuality and autonomy that has been developing since the 15th century and which Steiner referred to as the evolution of the Consciousness Soul (the self-defining individual, conscious of who he really is) will mature to something that is not self-seeking but understands its interrelationship with earthly nature, with its fellow human beings and with the spiritual world. Indeed, the seeds of that maturity are already appearing in our time in many ways, but they are still but seeds in the grand scheme of things. When we see how the fruits of Darwinist natural selection in the natural sciences are so readily applied in the English-speaking world to business, politics and the social sciences and thus only serve to amplify this instinctive self-seeking in this early phase of the development of the Consciousness Soul, then we can understand how Steiner could say:

The really important fact is that in groups in the West who keep their knowledge secret the greatest pains are taken to see that things shall develop in such a way as to insure under all circumstances the mastery of the West over the East…. the goal striven for is to establish a caste of masters in the West and a caste of economic slaves in the East, beginning with the Rhine and extending eastward all the way into Asia. This does not mean a caste of slaves in the ancient Greek sense, but a caste of economic slaves organized in a socialistic way to take up all sorts of impossibilities in the social structure that then shall not be applied among the English-speaking peoples. The essence of the matter is to make the English-speaking peoples into a population of masters of the world.(10)

Do we not refer semi-jokingly to leading businessmen today as “masters of the universe”? In Steiner’s day that caste of economic slaves was to be in Russia and Eastern Europe; today, it is further east in China, where so many of our western consumer goods are made by assembly lines of ‘economic slaves’. Supporters of our Anglo-American model of economy often justify this with the phrase “raising people out of poverty”.

You see the essence of the thing is that if no resistance is raised from the East, and by the East I mean the whole region lying from the Rhine eastward even into Asia, British world domination will develop after the destruction of the Roman-Latin French element in the way intended by those forces….lying behind the instincts.(10)

Today, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s career and his ideas, as presented in his many books, show him to be one of those elite thinkers whose thoughts (and previously, actions) are very much connected to the forces behind the scenes of western actions. In his Grand Chessboard, for example, he reveals that much of the thinking behind modern American foreign policy is actually based on British imperial policy of 100 years ago, and this is not surprising, as the two elites share the same worldview and in their speeches, statements and writings they constantly remind  the world that they do so. So, in his book (p.38) Brzezinski repeated the mantra of Britain’s imperial geostrategist Halford Mackinder, from 1904 in his groundbreaking lecture that year to the Royal Geographical Society – “The Geographical Pivot of History” -  which is often regarded, in the English-speaking world at least, as the beginning of ‘geopolitics’: “Who rules Eastern Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; who rules the World Island commands the world.” By the ‘Heartland’, Mackinder meant central Asia north and west of India, a region then largely controlled by Russia, and much of which has since been prised from Russia and made into independent states, easier for the West to pick off one by one in Brzezinski’s fragmented Eurasian Balkans. The European Balkans are the area from which power can be projected into this Heartland region. Mackinder’s mantra has guided Anglo-American strategists for 100 years. It explains why US troops are now based at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, US missiles in Deveselu, Romania, and dozens of US bases at numerous points between Kosovo and Manas, Kyrgyzstan, near the Chinese border. The energy and raw materials routes from ‘the Heartland’ to Europe have to be secured by today’s new Romans; they are the material foundation of global power.

Mackinder was part of a group of new imperialist thinkers that included the likes of Alfred Milner, Arthur Balfour, Arnold Toynbee, Lord Albert Grey, Lionel Curtis and Philip Kerr (Lord Lothian), often known as the Round Table Group, or the Rhodes-Milner Group, who advocated the metamorphosis of the 19th century ‘boots on the ground’ mode of imperial control into a new more indirect form of economic empire which would take into account the growing wave of nationalist resistance to direct imperial control.  It would enable the continued control of the vast region around the Indian Ocean and its hinterland – the Heartland: the gold and diamonds of South Africa, up through Africa to the Suez Canal, the oil of the Middle East and the vast resources of India, Central Asia and Australasia. Mackinder wrote in 1919, the year in which this group founded the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House): “If the World Island [Eurasia] be inevitably the principal seat of humanity on this globe, and if Arabia, as the passage land from Europe to the Indies and from the Northern to the Southern Heartland, be central to the World Island, then the hill citadel of Jerusalem has a strategical position with reference to world realities not differing essentially from its ideal position in the perspective of the Middle Ages, or its strategical position between Babylon and Egypt.” (11) Here we see Mackinder aware of the material concerns of the modern Consciousness Soul epoch as of the political-ideal concerns of the previous Greco-Roman epoch (747 BC – 1413 AD) and the rivalry between the two civilisation of the even earlier Egypto-Chaldean epoch (2907 – 747 BC). We recall that it was Mackinder’s imperialist colleague Lord Balfour who as Foreign Secretary in 1917 offered Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people to Lord Rothschild. “…the Suez Canal,” Mackinder noted, “carries the rich traffic between India and Europe to within striking distance of an army based on Palestine…..The Jewish national seat in Palestine will be one of the most important outcomes of the war. That is a subject on which we can now afford to speak the truth….a national home at the physical and historical centre of the world, should make the Jew ‘range’ himself.” What did this mean, that “the Jew should range himself” ? Mackinder meant that Jews should settle in one nation in the land of Palestine and embrace modern nationalism rather than being a dispersed cosmopolitan people. A further clue lies in the words that the Zionist Herbert Samuel addressed to his Cabinet colleague, Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey on 9 November 1914 in their first discussion of the possibility of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, should England win the war: “British influence ought to play a considerable part in the formation of such a state, because the geographical  situation of Palestine, and especially its proximity to Egypt, would render its goodwill to England a matter of importance to the British Empire.”(12)

Britain, the Zionists hoped, would now do for the Jews what the Persian King Cyrus the Great had once done – return them to their ancestral home. The Iranian Cyrus was thus honoured by Jews, and the influence of Iranian Zoroastrianism upon Judaism and later on Christianity as a result of the Jews’ Babylonian Exile was considerable.(13) In the 20th century, however, Israelis and Iranians have become bitter enemies. Iran is also a major sore point for the USA in its whole policy for the region, and Syria is one of Iran’s closest allies. In the relation between Syria and Iran, another mysterious element enters the picture: the Testament of Peter the Great. 

The Testament of Peter the Great. 
This was a fraudulent document released by the authorities in Napoleonic France after Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in October 1812. It had actually been written by a Polish General Micha? Sokolnicki (1760-1816) while imprisoned in Russia in 1797. Russia had swallowed a large part of Poland, which had ceased to exist as a state, so many Poles fought for France against Russia. Sokolnicki later gave his document to the French Directory, having titled it “Aperçu sur la Russie” but by 1812 it was published at Napoleon’s behest by the French Foreign Office to justify his invasion of Russia, with a new title: “Progress of the Russian Power, from Its Origin to the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century”. It became known as The Testament of Peter the Great and was passed off as the actual Last Testament of Czar Peter I (1682-1725) – his ideas for Russia’s foreign policy strategy for world domination. Despite later being exposed as not stemming from Peter at all but from Sokolnicki, the document continued to be referenced as a key element in western, especially British and French, Russophobic writings for the next 200 years, and this should be kept in mind – that it was circulated to serve western interests. The strange thing about this document is that although it definitely had nothing to do with Peter – who had visited Holland and Britain and employed a number of western advisers – it nevertheless did contain some of the leading strands of Russian foreign policy that had been followed since his death; one of the main ones was the intention to seize Constantinople for Russia and secure access to the Mediterranean for the Russian navy. In Sokolnicki’s original document there were 13 paragraphs but in the French publication of 1812 a significant extra paragraph had been added as the eighth:

He [Peter] recommends to all his successors to grasp the truth that trade with India means world trade and that he is the true ruler of the world who has exclusive control of this trade with India. Therefore, no opportunity is to be lost to make war upon Persia and hasten its degeneration in order to press forward to the Persian Gulf and via Syria, re-establish the old trade with the Levant. (14)

This clearly reflects French awareness of the importance of British control of India; it was in order to take India from the British that Napoleon had invaded Egypt in 1798. It is noteworthy that France had built up considerable commercial interests in Syria by 1914 and would acquire the League of Nations Mandate to govern Syria after World War One (1920-46). But we see here in the paragraph above also awareness of the ancient trade route from India overland via Iran to Syria and the Mediterranean. Iran is the central key here, both to India and to the Mediterranean, and it is Iran that Britain and Russia in their ‘Great Game’ for control of Eurasia, and now America in its desire to realise Mackinder’s Eurasian vision, have always striven to control, both for its geostrategic position, as intimated in the Testament, and later, due to its oil resources. So it is that we find today, entirely in the direction indicated in the Testament, the Russians friendly with Iran and Syria, which are allied with each other and with naval bases in the latter. After Indian independence in 1947 Russia usually had good relations with India too, but since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s Britain and America have sought in various ways to open up India’s huge market and draw India towards themselves, away from its previous non-aligned, independent position and especially away from Russia and China. Russia has thus  lost ground in its relations with India.

A 21st Century scenario
The final piece in this ‘Syriana puzzle’ is provided by an article in The Economist of London that appeared in December 1992 in the aftermath of the First Gulf War and the collapse of the USSR. Whereas the Testament of Peter the Great was a fake document from the past, this 1992 article was a ‘fake’ view of the future in that it was a so-called imaginary scenario of what would happen in the world by the middle of the 21st century. But once again, as with the Testament, this imaginary scenario bears a remarkable resemblance to what has actually been unfolding, in this case, since 9/11, and therefore, like the Testament, it seems to bear the imprint of insight and knowledge that emerges from unseen, if not to say ‘occult’ (i.e. hidden) directions. The 1992 Economist scenario described a military coup in Saudi Arabia that would break out in the year 2011, the effects of which would spread throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, leading to the eventual emergence of “a new Muslim entity”, a united “Muslim power” (predominantly Sunni), which would ally itself with China to attack Russia and the West over the next decades. These developments that began in 2011 would lead to a major Eurasian continental war between the West (USA & Europe) and the East (Muslim entity & China) by about 2050, the main victim of which would be Russia in the middle. According to this scenario, Russia would lose all its territory east of the Urals and would become a purely European state. (N.b. this would enable it to be drawn in the future into a European Union allied to the USA). Besides the flashpoint of 2011, the scenario specifically mentions the date 2014, when “a bungled Anglo-French expedition to Antioch failed to prevent the invasion of Turkey. The forces of the New Caliphate swept up to the Bosphorus, and in the war of the Sanjak (2016), established their first bridgehead in south-eastern Europe.” The ancient city of Antioch, whose converts were the first to be called “Christians”, is currently a ruin outside Antakya, Turkey, but it was always traditionally regarded as a Syrian city.

In the event, the Arab Spring of 2011 was sparked in Tunisia and really took off in Egypt, next door to Saudi Arabia, but nevertheless, it was indeed a military coup in effect, and this has only been underlined by the Egyptian events of 2013 and the army’s ousting of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The significant point, however, is the timing indicated – 2011 and the claim that a major anti-western radical force would emerge from the Muslim world. There are many esoteric references in this Economist article which suggest occult knowledge, and I have analysed it in detail in my book Mapping the Millennium (1998, reissued 2013). One can well ask whether the Arab Spring which got underway in 2011 is not in fact intended to destroy the old Middle Eastern states of the post-World War One era so that a new pan-Muslim radical entity can arise, based on rage and resentment against the West, rather as the Bolsheviks replaced the so-called ‘Democrats’ in the two revolutions in Russia in 1917. This new entity would supply the West with a major new eastern ‘Green’ antagonist to replace the ‘Reds’ of the Cold War – a prospect that the giant western arms manufacturers of the military-industrial complex would only welcome, not to mention those companies that can look forward to the business of reconstruction in countries that have been devastated by wars. The graph below shows only too clearly the relation between war and US corporate profits.(15)

No wars or periods of military tensions means… less profit. The Economist scenario thus envisages another East-West bipolar divide for the 21st century, as we had in the 20th century. This would enable the US and the UK, whose elites are the self-regarding inheritors of the Roman Empire, the bringers of light, civilisation, law and order (16), to consolidate ‘the West’, bound by economic ties on both sides of the Atlantic (NAFTA/EU), and allied to its partners around the Pacific (TPP) and the Indian Ocean, (notably India) in what would, in effect, be a re-run of Mackinder’s old picture of the alliance of what he called the  ‘Sea Wolves’ of the maritime periphery (British Empire & USA) against the Eurasian ‘Land Wolves’ (Russia, China, and the Muslim world). That would be a dire prospect indeed for the 21st century, and one which we can seek to fend off by first understanding the intentions of those who wish to bring it about.

Mention of Antioch in the Economist article above leads on to the more esoteric aspect of the Syrian crisis, which will be addressed in the second and final part of this article.


(3) See:  Peters was “one of the Pentagon’s foremost authors with numerous essays on strategy for military journals and U.S. foreign policy.”
(5) The World Zionist Organisation was founded 1897 in Basel and is now headquartered in Jerusalem. A Journal for Judaism and Zionism; Issue No, 14–Winter, 5742, February 1982,
the text can be read here:  
(9) William Blum, Rogue State – A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (2002), pp.93-4
(10) R. Steiner lecture 1.12.1918 in The Challenge of the Times, lect.3
(11) F.William Engdahl, A Century of War – Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, (1993) p.57
(12) R. Sanders, The High Walls of Jerusalem, (1983) p.66
(13) Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BC, ended the kingdom of Judah and exiled the king and many of the wealthy to Babylon. The Babylonian Empire subsequently fell to the Persians under Cyrus who allowed the Jews to return in 538 BC
(14) E.Grosse, Das Wirken der okkulten Logen und die Aufgabe der Mitte zwischen Ost und West, (1987) p.72
(16) “…the only alternative to American leadership is global anarchy”  – Zbigniew Brzezinski, Out of Control (1993) p.146



  1. Syriana? Part 2 | - [...] The first part of this article (in New View #69 Oct-Dec2013) outlined some of the economic and geopolitical aspects ...