Saturn and the Rush to WarThe New York Times and ABC News reported on November 6, 2003 that Saddam Hussein employed a Lebanese-American businessman in an attempt to reach an accommodation with the United States – a deal that would have satisfied its concern over Iraq's WMD program, and adverted war. The efforts of Imad Hage, Hussein's agent, were ultimately rebuffed by the Bush Administration, which elected instead to launch a full-scale invasion and occupation on March 20, 2003 – in which 398 American Serviceman have been killed and over 1,500 wounded. The invasion is also estimated to cost the American taxpayer $150 billion during the period extending from the start of war through December 2004.
I believe that this story represents a watershed moment in our understanding of Saturn's transit of the natal Suns of the United States and President Bush. In an essay entitled, “A Viewer's Guide to a Gathering Storm” (www.hpleft.com/082103.html), I wrote:
"The questions likely to be posed by Saturn to President Bush and the nation are equally profound. For instance, was an Iraq invasion that did not enjoy the strong military and financial support of the world community, and where America was not either attacked or physically threatened, an over-extension of American influence?"
If this story is accurate, we have damning evidence that legitimate United States and British concerns regarding Iraq's WMD program could have been satisfied at a miniscule cost in comparison to those of the full-scale invasion and occupation that took place. The goal of replacing the dictator of a Muslim country, in the hope of the introducing democracy to the region, and without first being able to convince the world of the need for such action, strikes me as the very definition of the phrase “over-extension of American influence”. In comparison, Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright were able to assemble a wide coalition of nations for the military action that prevented the Serbs from pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo – even if, because of Russia's historic ties to Serbia, that action had to happen outside of the auspices of the United Nations.
While Bush Administration officials and defenders will claim that the good accomplished by removing Hussein outweighs all other considerations, I believe that history will demonstrate that this rush to war was ultimately counter-productive with regard to a successful conclusion to the War on Terror, and, indeed, an overextension of American military and economic resources. Hussein obviously did not represent an imminent threat to the United States, Europe or his neighbors. The removal of his regime could have easily waited until some later date – by which time the United States could have both carefully built consensus within the international community with regard to the virtues of regime change, as well as demonstrated to the world that it had no reason to confuse compelling United States leadership with evidence of the emergence of a “rogue superpower” (to borrow a phrase from Clive Prestowitz, a former Reagan Administration trade official). Moreover, had the Bush Administration instead chosen to emphasize Hussein's obvious record of "crimes against humanity" – and even brought an actual indictment against the Hussein regime in the Hague (an approach originally advocated by Tom Andrews, of Win Without War) – rather than base its case on questionable intelligence and dubious claims of national interest, it might have retained the intellectual high-ground within the Muslim world. Clearly, an invasion in which America and its allies were truly seen as liberators would have dramatically suppressed any potential for al Queda recruitment in its aftermath.
The elements of careful preparation, deliberation, and the cultivation of emotional sobriety, are each key to weathering the likely challenges that Saturn's conjunction of the Sun of a nation, or a President, will present. The evidence that continues to emerge at this juncture strongly suggests that these elements were almost entirely foreign to the mindset of the Bush Administration.
Matthew Carnicelli © 2003. All rights reserved.
Originally published November 17, 2003.
For more on Saturn's conjunction of the United States Sun see:
Documenting the Impact of Cosmic Gravity, Part II
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
Rumsfeld Awakens from the Dream
A Viewer's Guide to a Gathering Storm
It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn