The confetti had barely been swept up in town squares all over the world after the triumph in Egypt. The American public was distracted elsewhere, trying to find a job, or keep a job. And suddenly we were in another war.
Word was buzzing around the blogosphere that a post-March 11th natural disaster was likely
(I detail these transits in my new lecture, Uranus Squared). The approach of Mars, the god of war, to the Aries point – the red-hot degree set off by Uranus on the day of the monster quake– called to mind disasters of a less natural variety: military ones. As the perigee Moon was waxing to Fullness, on March 17th the USA strong-armed the UN into passing a resolution to allow its cruise missiles to attack Libya.
Last week President Obama forewent the Constitutional nicety of waiting for Congress to declare war before sending out the Tomahawks, aircraft carriers, destroyers, nuclear submarines and F-16 bombers. He didn’t attempt the kind of long, drawn-out justifications that made Bush’s military incursions so blatantly disingenuous. Our kinder, gentler warmonger just went ahead and sent the death metal flying.
The “no-fly” zone (one of the Pentagon’s more opaque euphemisms) was declared under the banner of “humanitarian intervention,” a sentiment around which all who watched Moammar Khadafy’s hideous attacks on his own countrymen could rally. Moral imperatives are very tricky, however, when deployed geopolitically. In a military context, contingencies are as slippery and interconnected as strands of spaghetti on a plate. Try to isolate just one and you get a whole pile of them coming at you, making a big mess.
The questions begged by Washington’s morality argument are legion. Why does the mandate apply here but not to the Ivory Coast? Or to the Congo, with its thousands of rape victims and child soldiers and disappeared dissidents? Or to Uganda or Zimbabwe or the Sudan, where innocents are being murdered by dictators who are surely no less certifiably insane than in Libya? How do Washington’s moral imperatives apply to the bombing of Libya by Reagan in 1987, that killed Khadafy’s two-year-old daughter? Do they explain why the corrupt monarchs Uncle Sam is choosing to support right now – in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, where protesters are bleeding blood just as red as that of the rebels in Libya – aren’t eliciting the same degree of righteous outrage as is the madman in the caftan?
And how does the international peacekeeper argument apply to the fact that the USA is by far the biggest manufacturer and seller of armaments in the world?
Pluto is slowing down for a retrograde station on April 9th. Since the Equinox, the Sun has been triggering the Cardinal Cross in the early degrees of Aries, lighting a fire under the US Jupiter: the planet of ethics and ideology. Every one of us is having to ask ourselves: How do Right and Wrong shake out in this complex, troubled world?
Transiting Saturn is opposed to transiting Jupiter now, as well. It is not only dogmas that are breaking down; it is our most cherished ethical ideals. These transits warn us against facile moral positions. Americans in particular are being asked to look more closely at their country’s use of idealistic truisms (Jupiter) to justify policies of dominance and control (Pluto).
Would that it were as simple as good-guy-vs.-bad-guy. But this supposed white-knight crusade on the part of the US military smells rankly of unintended consequences and hidden motivations. And as the ones whose taxes are paying for it, Americans ought to be asking themselves whether this bloody expenditure is really likely to help the people of Libya. Does recent military history suggest that the intervention of a Western power into an Arab civil war will bring peace? Is this attack likely to endear the USA to that part of the world?
In 2003 Washington’s hideously cynical decision to bomb Baghdad was framed, first, as a vengeance ideology (something to do with 9/11; it was never clear exactly what), and later as an enlightened-government ideology (introducing American-style elections at the point of a bayonet). But the ideologies employed were never the point, and they showed themselves to be fungible. The warmongers used whatever sales pitch they could get to fly.
What does seem to be clear about the tragic situation in Libya is that the petro-powerbrokers would very much like to secure a foothold into a strategically critical region. The forces behind the UN resolution seem to be beefing up their own hand-picked contingent amidst the fracas, with an eye to giving the French, the Brits, and the USA (say, aren’t these the same folks who divvied up the Arab world between themselves after WWII?) control of the oil spigot to Europe. A reliable puppet state there would also allow them to keep an eye on those other pesky revolutions in the area.
Mars enters Aries on April first, making it a part of the Longest Arm of the Cross. On April 11th it squares Pluto, maximally strong from its station on April 9th. The preceding weekend anti-war protests are planned for cities across the USA. These build on the demonstrations the week after the Equinox, where students carried placards asking, Why is there no money for our schools but always money for another war?
Pluto in Capricorn oversees the breakdown of authoritative systems that are too old and corrupt to survive. During the decay process, the falsehoods at the core of these systems become increasingly obvious. They can no longer be hidden within the folds and recesses of cultural habit. Those institutions fall apart that once sheltered the Old Guard, whose well-worn power plays become clumsier and more artless. Techniques of control become threadbare. The forces of deep change are ascendant. Not cosmetic change. Rebirth-style change.
This Spring a decisive confrontation is taking place within citizens of the world. Where do we stand vis-à-vis these Earth-shattering crises? How do we want these urgent energies to be expressed?