We – has to be defined later. Yet we are trying to get a first group of authors together – from different continents, of different perspectives, ready to give their personal views, on politics, the sciences, modern life, beliefs around us. We should risk the distinctive personal point of view. What do things look like from where we just stand.
Will we develop a distinctly positivist agenda? May be without planning it. The project should be open for changing views. Where will the authors come from? Let’s rely on the snowball system. Everything attractive gains momentum as it goes.
We are positively curious about how this will develop
Olaf Simons / Andrew McKenzie-McHarg
The present Western perspective on Syria is much like the current Wikipedia article on the Syrian civil war. It is a perspective on stagnating fights, on city quarters that have been bombarded, and, of course, on refugees – they have filled camps in the neighbouring regions, and they are now reaching Europe growing numbers. We have also seen all these propaganda videos: Assad interviewed on Western TV and appearing as a civil and polite character (though we know of the human rights violations which Amnesty international has recorded) – on the other side we see ISIS fighters giving interviews – boasting of brutalities they would love to commit all around the world.
The initial picture was different: Many Westerners were in the beginning ready to support the protests against Assad – just as they had been ready to support the “Arabian Spring” or the Maidan protests in Kiev. Why should people not be able to protest against their governments whether in Cairo or in Aleppo? Why should they not be able to force a government to resign? Some Western voices had been critical of such support right from the start: A rebellion of people in the streets does not necessarily lead towards democratic governments, they kept saying. The protesters in Syria might neither be secular nor democratic, so the warning. All this might be a choice between pest and cholera in which the West would just continue to destabilise the region – so critical voices.
Where and how did you experience the beginning of the civil war – when exactly did it from protests into civil war?
What media did you use and do you use in order to stay informed? We understand that state media have remained in a state of denial, declaring that “everything is normal”. It is said that the first victim in war is truth. How did you experiences differences between “official news” and what was going on? Was foreign news more objective, closer to the experience on the ground?
To what extent have you been free to move in the last four years? Are the conflicts rather local, so that one can easily avoid them as long as they do not reach the city quarter one is living – is it a conflicts of ciities that enter the rebellion?
To what extent do you use family networks and networks of friends to stay informed? Does one skype within these networks? Does one use mobile phones?
Where do you live? What is the situation there (you can leave out names and just give information about the size of the place – if you feel that that’s sensitive)
How did everyday life change? things like the supply in shops, electricity, media access, travelling, education, university, private banking…
If you wanted to give photos of this reality what would they show?
How big is the risk to be drawn into the fights – can one avoid this?
Western intellectuals feel uneasy about what they did – and more so about what they failed to do. Some say: Its principally bad policy to interfere anywhere from outside. People have to solve their problems from within their societies. Others say, that’s an illusion; interference is always taking place. The question is whether someone protects the population of a country – and it does not matter whether this is protection against a brutal government or a brutal insurgence.
What is your perspective: Do you feel Syria has been left alone? What would have been the ideal policy?
What is your bet – what will things look like over the next four or five years?