The Turning PointI originally forecast in May 2003 that the Saturn transit over the Suns of the United States and its President was very likely to bring a heavy of dose of emotional and political reality to the intensely ideological Bush Administration. As I wrote in an essay entitled “It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn” (www.hpleft.com/050303.html):
“Saturn is a planet that astrologers associate with the need to accommodate the demands of physical reality, and with testing the theoretical and material foundations of all human activity. Beginning in the fall of 2003, and throughout 2004, transiting Saturn will be conjunct the natal Suns of both President Bush (born July 6, 1946, 7:26 am, New Haven, CT) and the United States of America (July 4, 1776, rectified time of 9:37 am, Philadelphia, PA). This passage of Saturn over the natal Sun of a person, corporation or nation, typically brings a period of intense struggle, resulting in either a hard-earned victory, and the assumption of even greater responsibilities – or in failure, and a need to take stock of errors and change direction.”
I added later in that same article:
“The time period for the onset of these events could begin as early as Saturn's entry into the tropical sign of Cancer on June 4th, 2003, but are more likely to occur within the period from July 20, 2003 though the end of 2004. The last week of October 2003 and first week of November 2003 could bring a decisive turning point for the Bush Administration, and the nation."
We saw the emergence of just such a decisive turning point last week when the Bush Administration announced that they were abandoning their original ambitious plan to have a ratified Iraq constitution in place before returning control of the embattled nation to its people. The deal announced last week with the Iraq Governing Council would now return control of the country to a transitional government as early as June 2004. As of that time, United States troops would only remain in Iraq at the specific request of the new Iraqi Government.
This abrupt reversal of policy was apparently fueled by an internal CIA report warning of a potential sea change with regard to the attitude of the Iraqi people. As the New York Times' Douglas Jehr wrote in that newspaper's November 13th edition:
”A bleak top-secret report by the Central Intelligence Agency suggests that the situation in Iraq is approaching a crucial turning point [my emphasis], with ordinary Iraqis losing faith in American-led occupation forces and in the United States-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.”
“The report, sent to Washington on Monday by the C.I.A.'s Baghdad station chief, suggests that the situation is creating a more fertile environment for the anti-American insurgency. Officials said the report was adding to the sense of urgency behind the administration's reappraisal of its policies in Iraq. “
The larger questions raised by this dramatic reversal of United States policy include one that I imagine Iraqis are asking themselves at the moment: is the United States planning an early exit from Iraq, and very specifically, an exit timed to coincide with the final leg of President Bush's re-election campaign? And, if so, will the resulting government be capable of holding off the mélange of Baath Party dead-enders, common criminals, and Islamic terrorists that have come together to resist the United States occupation?
On the surface, the Bush Administration is to be commended for recognizing the obvious error of their ways, and electing to return sovereignty to the Iraqi people sooner rather than later – in the process, ideally creating the type of scenario where many once reluctant international partners might now choose to lend a hand in building a new Iraq. Recognizing mistakes is the most appropriate response to a Saturn-induced crisis. If altruistic “course correction” is their primary motivation here, then this Bush Administration maneuver begins on good ground.
However, if 2004 electoral considerations are more prominent in their minds, one suspects that the President will encounter conditions in June 2004 to be less than ideal for the kind of large scale withdrawal that would convince Americans that the worst is over in Iraq. For instance, in my opinion, it is possible that the current Baathist threat has dramatically suppressed any expression of Shiite desires for hegemony in a new Iraq. The specter of Saddam Hussein's possible return at the end of a successful Baathist insurgency must hang over the Shiite community like the proverbial Sword of Damocles. Once that specter has been exorcised, and the difficult business of writing a constitution begun, it is entirely possible that the kind of sectarian reprisals that were originally feared, but have yet to manifest, might begin.
When speaking to that point, it is worrisome to discover that June 2004 will mark the final conjunction of transiting Saturn with the United States Sun, and the only physical conjunction between the planet and the Sun of George W. Bush – suggesting that this moment is likely to mark the real climax in any test of: a) United States policy in the region; b) United States leadership around the world; c) the Bush Presidency. The most recent historical comparison is anything but reassuring. At this same point in the Saturn cycle twenty-nine years earlier (in April 1975), when Saturn formed its last conjunction with the United States Sun, the Nixon Administration's "Vietnamization" strategy failed. The army of South Vietnam collapsed, and American embassy and military officials found themselves scurrying to catch the last helicopter ride out of Saigon.
That said, it is also worth noting that during the cycle that climaxed fifty-eight years earlier, in 1945, Saturn's single exact conjunction with United States Sun marked not only its final emergence as a mature superpower, but the very day that it became a signatory to the United Nations Charter. Hence, the passage of Saturn over the United States Sun does not inevitably bring either abject failure or enhanced stature and responsibility, but only those fruits that reflect the sum of everything that has happened previously in the cycle. Thus, if President Bush and the Nation find themselves at that moment knee deep in a crisis of historic proportions, to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, it may be truly said that the fault is not our stars, but in ourselves.
Matthew Carnicelli © 2003. All rights reserved.
Originally published November 19, 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
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