Documenting the Impact of Cosmic Gravity, Part IIIn Part I of this essay, I outlined what I felt were the key mundane manifestations of the Fall 2003 phase, or “acute phase”, of the phenomenon that astrologers describe as “the Saturn cycle”. As I initially wrote in August 2003, in “A Viewer’s Guide to a Gathering Storm” (www.hpleft.com/082103.html):
“This crisis will have two primary phases. The first phase, which I'll describe as the “acute phase”, should peak around the last week of October and the first week of November (plus or minus a week or so on either end). The time period for the second phrase, which I am describing as the “diffuse phase” will extend from the immediate aftermath of that period through 2004, and possibly through June of 2005.”
Documenting the Diffuse Phase
As I described in the previous paragraph, the “diffuse phase” of the Saturn cycle can be thought of as have commenced in late November 2003. But its impact should have been most powerfully observed, and experienced by the participants, around the time when Saturn formed: one, its final conjunction with the natal U.S. Sun; two, its only physical conjunction with George W. Bush’s natal Sun (since Saturn’s movement, as measured in zodiacal longitude, stopped just minutes short of the President’s Sun when it stationed in October 2003); and three, during the twelve month period that began with the 2004 birthdays of the nation and the Commander-in-Chief.
Transiting Saturn arrived at the exact position of the United States Sun on/around (depending on the specific chart for the United States that one uses) June 9th. It arrived at the position of Dubya’s Sun on June 15th.
Quite a number of developments have emerged during this specific period that fit the specific expectations laid out in my original forecast. As we observed with the October 2003 conjunction, there may be other important developments happening off-stage, so to speak, (as with the Abu Ghraib sex scandal) that we may not learn about until much later. In Part II of this essay, I will explore the developments that are specifically related to Iraq and the United Nations.
The View from Moscow
Let me begin with a fascinating incident that, on the surface, might be interpreted as supporting President Bush’s actions with regard to Iraq. In response to a reporter’s question during an appearance in Kazakhstan, on June 18th, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin stated:
"After Sept. 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, the Russian special services ... received information that officials from Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States and outside it against the U.S. military and other interests."
Putin’s statement ostensibly supports the Bush Administration contention that Saddam Hussein represented an urgent threat to the security of the United States of America.
But, curiously, Putin did not stop there, but continued:
“Despite that information ... Russia's position on Iraq remains unchanged.”
“There are procedures for use of force envisaged by the international law in international affairs," he said. "And these procedures have not been observed in this case. One thing is information that the regime of Hussein prepared terrorist acts. But we did not have information that it was involved in some terrorist acts."
For context, let me reprise a phrase from my Donald Rumsfeld article that was quoted in Part I of this essay:
“…Saturn has everything to do with long-term planning, with the development of coherent, sensible policies and methodologies…”
We can speculate on Putin’s motives, as many reporters and commentators have done. I’ll not do that here. I’m more interested in the larger message, seen through the astrological lens, that the cosmos appears to be delivering to both the President and the nation. This message speaks directly to the impact of the United States’ actions in Iraq on international stability – and the necessity in a nuclear age, even an age with only one “superpower”, for sensible, coherent policies and methodologies to govern the resolution of knotty disputes. For confirmation, we need only review Putin’s specific explanation:
“There are procedures for use of force envisaged by the international law in international affairs," he said. "And these procedures have not been observed…”
And who better but a Russian President to make this point. The United States knew that the Soviet Union had long-standing plans for attack against American interests, and against the American homeland itself. Their nuclear missiles were physically targeted to hit our cities. Our missiles were targeted to hit theirs. Could there be any greater threat? Yet we never directly went to war with each other, and most people would conclude that the world is a much better place because of it. How much more dire of a threat could Hussein’s Iraq have possibly represented after 9/11 than did the original evil empire, the Soviet Union, or Mao’s China, during the Cold War? What would the world be like if less powerful nations came to routinely fear a United States invasion solely on the basis of a subjectively perceived threat to our security or hegemony? The word that comes to mind for me is chaotic – and the dimension of cosmic mind that Saturn represents abhors chaos.
Iraqi Sovereignty Regained
The Bush Administration returned nominal control of Iraq to a provisional government on June 28, 2004, two days ahead of schedule. In doing so, the Administration attempted to address one of the key perceived critiques (especially in the Muslim world) of its invasion – specifically, that it had territorial and economic ambitions in Iraq. In doing so at this time, it was specifically fulfilling a commitment made at the time of the “acute crisis” phase of the Saturn cycle, as detailed in my piece, "The Turning Point" (www.hpleft.com/111903.html). Saturn specifically relates to the importance of keeping agreements (which often constitute the only objective basis for evaluating the relationship between parties with divergent interests, be they individuals or nations). Hence, in my opinion, the Bush Administration here deserves credit for holding to the stated timetable.
Beyond this, however, I believe that it is still difficult to definitively address the larger theoretical questions (which is essential, since the Saturn cycle inevitably requires the testing of theoretical models) that were raised by Bush Administration’s policy toward Iraq. These questions might include the following:
1) Will the Iraqi people be inevitably better off with Hussein gone – and especially with his removal having being effected by non-Iraqi agents, in a decidedly inorganic process?
2) Did the specific manner in which the Bush Administration attempted to initially build consensus for its policy (especially in the Muslim world), and then subsequently execute the invasion and occupation, substantially increase the difficulty of accomplishing the “humanitarian good” that it now claims as the ultimate justification for its policy?
3) Are the American people, and is the world community itself, safer in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion and occupation?
Again, I don’t believe that any of these questions can be conclusively answered at this moment – but I do think that some general observations are possible.
Obviously, with regard to the first question, we still need to see how events progress in Iraq. For instance, at the present time, it appears that the Shiite majority is unlikely to give the Kurdish minority a veto over provisions of a permanent Constitution. Minus this, and in light of the fact that Kurdistan has functioned as an autonomous state for a number of years, this impasse could very well lead to an urge for secession, and possibly a bloodbath – involving not only the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis, but also Turks (since Turkey has its own sizable Kurdish minority, and fears that the creation of an independent Kurdistan would lead to domestic instability, and demands for greater autonomy, if not independence, by its Kurds). To echo a phrase from Donald Rumsfeld’s memo of October 16, 2003, we lack metrics to calculate the “good” that is produced through granting others the freedom to wage civil war, and ultimately create the kind of chaos that might incite bloodshed throughout an entire region – and potentially, an entire world – versus the generally acknowledged “evil” of despotic rule. President Bush clearly has no such doubts, and has gone on record, asserting: “liberty and freedom are God's gift to every man and woman who lives in this world." On hearing his words, however, the skeptic in me is prompted to ask the President if this were indeed uniformly true, then why did it take so many thousands of years for republican government, and other democratic models, to take hold on the planet? Is God somehow an under-achiever?
With regard to my second theoretical question, I believe the answer is somewhat more clear-cut. Most objective observers would agree with the assertion that the Bush Administration’s performance in both building support for an Iraq invasion, and in its planning and execution of the occupation, was woeful – especially considering that this was an optional war. By definition, an optional war is one that can be launched at a time of a nation’s choosing. Hence, one can logically argue (and as I hope that I’ve made clear by now, Saturn governs logic) that an Administration that launches an optional war bears a heavy burden of responsibility for carefully planning for any number of potential developments that might emerge during a campaign. The Baathist guerilla campaign, and the influx of Islamic terrorists, cannot be credibly described as an unexpected development. Will we ever be able to quantify the numbers of those unnecessarily killed or maimed – physically, emotionally, or psychologically – as a result of the Bush Administration’s inadequate preparation? Again, to echo Rummy, we lack metrics.
With regard to my final question – are the American people, and is the world community itself, safer in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion and occupation? – I’d argue that the answer is a resounding “no”. Every terrorism expert who I’ve heard (or at least those not currently on the Bush Administration’s payroll, or that of a GOP think tank) states that al-Qaeda recruitment has dramatically increased since our March 2003 invasion; and that the Administration’s contention that “we’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here” is nothing more than either political spin or wishful thinking.
One of these experts still works at the CIA. He recently took the unprecedented step of writing a scathing critique of an active Administration – published anonymously (as required by the White House) under the title, “Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror”. It is illuminating to note that this book became available for sale within a few days of transiting Saturn forming its only conjunction with the President's Sun. The synchronicity reflected in this timing would indicate to me that “Imperial Hubris” is a book worth taking quite seriously – at least with regard to the sections describing where Bush Administration policies have failed.
But, having said all this, if we assume that the liberation of Iraq was a good thing, as we all must hope it proves to be, then should the President, and his Administration, be given credit for attempting it? I don’t think so, especially in light of the increased threat the United States faces from a resurgent Al-Qaeda. As I wrote on February 8, 2004, in “Take Responsibility” (www.hpleft.com/20804.html):
“It is obvious that Bush Administration policy has only enhanced terrorist recruitment efforts, and hence made the world that much more dangerous – especially in comparison to what might have been had Bush taken Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's admonition to heart, and taken the time, and done what was necessary, to build a truly multi-lateral international coalition to hold Hussein accountable. After 9/11, and with the Congressional authorization in hand, Bush had the leverage with the United Nations to make the case that Hussein's crimes against his own people, including his ongoing diversion of precious economic resources from the UN administered “oil for food” program, warranted an indictment of his Regime at the Hague. Bush could have chosen to establish a noble and life-affirming international precedent – and sent a message to dictators and despots everywhere that the international community was no longer willing to sit idly by while innocents perished. He could have used the leverage given to him by Congress to elevate the entire debate, and establish a new line in the sand with regard to human rights around the world.”
The Bush Administration had credible diplomatic options for building international consensus that, for whatever reasons, they chose to ignore. As seen through the lens of the Saturn cycle, a superpower that acts in a fashion that actively promotes unpredictability, fear, and ultimately chaos, will eventually been seen as a threat far greater than that posed by even a despicable regime like Hussein’s. At the end of the day, in my opinion, that is the legacy that the Bush Administration will leave for posterity.
Reconciliation and Rejection at the United Nations
The Bush Administration achieved a new UN Security Council resolution on Iraq on June 8th. This resolution places the entire world on the same page with regard to Iraq's reconstruction. Some observers might frame this development as a vindication of Administration policy. Many GOP operatives tried to spin it exactly that way. However, as far as I'm concerned, two corrective points need to be made. One, considering their utterly dismissive attitude towards the need for active UN involvement in Iraq's reconstruction in late Spring 2003/Early Summer 2003, the Bush Administration's return to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza for support in the crucial transition process must be seen as a total repudiation of their previous triumphalist stance. Secondly, this new resolution will bring no additional international troops to Iraq – and thus leaves the United States military as isolated and alone as ever, if not more so. For instance, over just the past few months, Spain, Norway, and the Philippines have announced their intention to remove their contributions to the “coalition of the willing”. This increasing degree of isolation is entirely characteristic of the challenges of the Saturn cycle – which, to repeat, tests the sustainability of a nation's policies and direction.
On a related UN-front, the Bush Administration recently dropped its attempt to obtain a third consecutive waiver for U.S. peacekeeping troops who might become subject to the provisions of the International Criminal Court during their service. A few days earlier, Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General harshly criticized the Bush Administration's stance on this issue, telling reporters:
"I think in this circumstance it would be unwise to press for an exemption, and it would be even more unwise on the part of the Security Council to grant it. It would discredit the Council and the United Nations that stands for the rule of law and the primacy of the rule of law."
Now, there's a Saturnian phrase: "the rule of law and the primacy of the rule of law." Annan’s statement came in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib revelations, and is easily understood within that specific context – as is the Bush Administration’s sensible decision to drop its insistence on the exemption.
As an astrologer, I link these two UN-related developments together. I note that the United States became a signatory to the United Nations Charter on June 26, 1945, with transiting Saturn exactly conjunct the US Sun, to the day. By becoming a signatory to that charter, at specifically that moment in this cycle of national leadership and maturity, the United States was solemnly pledging itself to adhere, as best as possible, to the methodology of international law, and to the careful, methodical resolution of disputes among nations.
The Bush Administration has, at best, only given lip service to that commitment during its three years in office. For instance, the Kyoto Environmental and the International Criminal Court accords were agreed to by an Administration that won not only the Electoral College, but also a plurality of the popular vote in two consecutive elections. Upon taking office under extremely controversial circumstances, the Bush Administration brashly, and unceremoniously, walked away from the international community on these two treaties. The neo-conservatives were now in charge in the West Wing and the Pentagon, and they would show the world, and especially the ineffectual Democrats, how things were done. They weren’t even skillful in the orchestration of their withdrawal from these two agreements – which might have been more deftly accomplished, for instance, by prompting Senate votes that would have clearly resulted in both treaties’ rejection. By the time that they began their attempt to strong-arm the UN into resolving the questions about Hussein’s compliance with the terms of the cease-fire that he agreed to at the end of the ’91 Gulf War, a perception had already coalesced that the United States, under the Bush Administration, was in danger of becoming a “rogue superpower”. This perception obviously contributed to the intransigence of several Security Council (and fellow NATO) members during the latter stages of the build-up to the Iraq invasion – and the diplomatic train wreck that followed. With that diplomatic train wreck went any prayer of the United States retaining the moral high ground in the larger war of ideas – at least in the minds of many in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and especially in the Muslim world. As I described in the previous section, Saturn specifically relates to the importance of keeping agreements – which, again, often constitute the only objective basis for evaluating the relationship between parties with divergent interests. It also describes the settled principles that are thought to constitute consensus reality – which is often at odds with what passes for reality on Rupert Murdock’s FOX News or General Electric’s MSNBC.
As the emerging scandal surrounding the “Oil for Food” program has again demonstrated, the United Nations is anything but a perfect institution. It is easy to fault – and obviously is an excellent candidate for an overhaul. However, seen in the context of both the war on terror, and the solemn commitment that this nation made in 1945, it would unwise to simply dismiss it, or imagine that America could profit over the long-term by regarding it as ultimately expendable, as many conservatives so often pretend.
For instance, you cannot feasibly cut taxes, then increase military spending to the degree that would be necessary for the United States to routinely operate outside of the framework of multi-lateral coalitions, while still hoping to retain any semblance of investor confidence in the nation’s long-term economic prospects. You absolutely cannot do it in modern-day America – an America where both Republicans and Democrats expect a new prescription drug benefit for Seniors, wider access to health care, and the expansion of any number of additional safety net programs. And neither can the United States any longer pretend that it owns the kind of sustainable natural resources to operate on more-or-less on permanent war footing – which is exactly what would be necessary to fulfill the neo-conservative fantasy. In short, we are in no position to simply dictate terms to the international community. As this Saturn challenge is illustrating, there is a practical limit to the degree of hegemony that even a lone superpower can exercise in the world, assuming that one thinks that this kind of hegemony is even a good idea. Different Americans may have different opinions on this subject, but my reading of the Founding Fathers’ words and intentions, not to mention the United States’ chart, suggests that de-facto world domination was far from their minds when they envisioned the ultimate flowering of the nation. Yet, at the end of the day, an old-fashioned, isolationist America might prove every bit as problematic as a radically interventionist, militarily over-extended America. So, in the end, collective institutions like the United Nations and NATO may prove the most efficient vehicles for keeping America safe and secure in the modern world.
Upon reading this, many Americans might think: "sure, that makes sense. But how can we trust these collective institutions if they abandoned us when it came to Iraq?" But did they really abandon us? Or was it that they chose not to enable an emotionally unbalanced, still-reeling America – that had already avenged 9/11 through its invasion of Afghanistan, and rout of the Taliban, but had not captured Bin Laden – and was now looking to instead depose a brutal dictator for all the wrong reasons.
The facts about 9/11 are known. Pakistan’s intelligence services trained both Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. A segment of the Saudi Royal Family, through Saudi charities, funded terrorist operations; the Wahhabi clerics inspired al-Qaeda’s and the Taliban’s twisted ideology. We have recently learned that Iran may have also aided the 9/11 conspirators. Hussein’s connection to al-Qaeda was minor. The Bush Administration’s presentation as to why regime change in Iraq was necessary at that specific moment was incoherent at best, and fictitious at worse. It was based purely on emotion, untested ideology, and testosterone-laced posturing masquerading as authentic patriotism and a vigorous defense of legitimate national interests. As Jean Chretien, the then Prime Minister of Canada, phrased his inability to stomach the illogic of Bush Administration efforts, in March 2003:
"If you start changing regimes, where do you stop, this is the problem. Who is next? Give me the list, the priorities."
"I think that if I read 1441, it's talking about disarmament of the government of Saddam Hussein. That is the resolution that we are working on. If you read it, it is not talking about a regime change".
Did the Bush Administration really expect that given their woeful diplomatic performance, both at the United Nations, and behind the scenes, that the world community was simply going to enable their ideological fantasies? Did they really think that it would buy into their new age domino theory – in the process establishing a precedent that was sure to lead to greater international chaos – particularly when the link between the 9/11 terrorists and Iraq’s possession of WMDs was entirely hypothetical? Choosing to trust their ideological hype rather than the Saturn-inspired faculty of reason that so impelled the Founding Fathers' creation of this nation, they apparently expected just that. So did a majority of the American people, many of whom had been utterly fooled by Bush Administration spin, and conservative talk radio and cable television, into believing that Iraqis were on the planes that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, or that Hussein had been behind the attack.
As a nation with what astrologers would describe as four planets in the sign of Cancer, we shouldn’t be surprised that after the shock and violation of 9/11, America withdrew into its shell – and became incredibly defensive, even reactionary. When allies like Canada and Mexico correctly found fault with our approach at the UN, we chose to attack and demean the messengers, rather than look long and hard in the mirror – and identify where our approach to creating lasting national security had gone wrong, or was being misunderstood. Let me suggest that today, three years after 9/11, with transiting Saturn conjunct our collective Sun, it is time that this nation was able to objectively evaluate its reaction, and the reaction of its Government, during this deeply traumatic period. To borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill, this was far from “our finest hour”.
Matthew Carnicelli © 2004. All rights reserved.
Originally published July 23, 2004; revised August 5, 2004.
For more on Saturn's conjunction of the United States Sun see:
Getting to Know You
Documenting the Impact of Cosmic Gravity, Part I
The Reagan Legacy
Laying Naked Neo-Conservative Incompetence
Why John Kerry Matters
The Turning Point
Saturn and the Rush to War
Rumsfeld Awakens from the Dream
A Viewer's Guide to a Gathering Storm
It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn