The more you know about Sarumon, the more sympathetic to his situation you become. He is the first picked to go, and the first to arrive in Middle-earth. He journeys to the east with Aratar and Pollombo, and those two don’t return (not much is said about the blue wizards, but honestly I get the feeling they kind of flake out altogether — a very real danger with volunteers who get to bring their friends along).I guess it just goes to show that no one likes a "letter of the law" guy. Wizard or no. Read the rest at The Black Gate.
But Sarumon’s always second fiddle. Right from the start Varda makes it clear that he’s not in charge, and later when the White Council is formed, Galadriel doesn’t want him in control of that august body either. And he learns that that weenie Gandalf (who comes to Middle-earth one hundred years later) gets one of the three rings of power the day he freaking lands. Ugh! The humiliation! You’d retreat to the fastness of your ancient tower, too.
Sarumon’s activities are not well defined, but there are hints that he tangles with ring wraiths, and he is in the thick of it when the White Council goes to Dol Guldur to deal with the Necromancer. After Dol Guldur, he withdraws a bit, but even then he is still working on the Sauron problem, and his solution is as awful as it is cunning. You have to keep in mind, he’s come to Middle-earth, he fights the good fight (for over a thousand years), stress causes his hair to turn from black to white, he gets the keys to Orthanc, and he discovers the palantir. And after Dol Guldur is where the Big Plan starts.
And here is the tragedy of it all, as Sauron and Sarumon were co-workers back in the day, they have a remarkably similar ‘corporate culture’, and a pretty similar worldview — and this is why the wise don’t really want Sarumon in charge — because his answer to Sauron will be to become Sauron, Ring or no.
Sauron, of course, knows all this, and that’s why it is so easy for him, via the palantir, to pluck at Sarumon’s pride and ensure that, like the gung-ho fireman, he overestimates his own abilities and underestimates the situation, and his teammates have to burn valuable time and resources bailing him out.
And since Sarumon can’t force Men or Elves to fight his Big War, he comes up with the idea of the half-orcs/Urik-hai. The injunction by the gods? Doesn’t say shit about orcs, does it? Hell no it doesn’t! So, really, it was only a matter of time before Saruman realized that he could raise an army of his own orcs to take on Sauron’s. Give him another hundred years and he won’t need the damn Men or the Elves. It really has a whole Stalin vs. Hitler vibe, doesn’t it?