As the clock winds down on the Bush administration, there is one remaining question left unansweredone more opportunity for George W. Bush to leave his mark and plunge the nation into an even deeper pit than the one he has already dug for us: Iran.
Listed as one of the three original Axis of Evil nations in Bushs now infamous 2002 State of the Union speech, Iran has been the focus of bellicose rhetoric from the administration for quite some time now. There can be little doubt that if Iraq had gone more smoothly, American troops would now be quartered in Teheran as well as Baghdad. But even though the quagmire on the Euphrates would seem to argue against effective intervention in Iran, there are still almost 15 months remaining to the Bush regime, and the problems it can create are numerous.
There is precedent within the family itself for starting things which they dont have time to finishin December of 1992, George W. Bushs father sent troops into Somalia during the period between his November election defeat by Bill Clinton and the latters January 1993 inauguration. When Clinton was forced to withdraw forces a year later under less than auspicious circumstances, that humiliating defeat was laid at his door, and most Americans forgot it was a lame duck Bush that got us involved in Somalia in the first place.
Bush has been trying to sell this war to the American people for several years, since the "re-election" of 2004. Aided in this PR offensive by the improbable rantings of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bush has done his best to constellate fear of Iran, but a skeptical, war-weary public has been unwilling to take the administrations claims at face value. Arguments that the Iranians were pursuing nuclear weaponry, so similar to the charges made against Saddam Husseins Iraq, failed to sufficiently scare a jaded populace into support for yet another armed conflict. The administration countered by allegations that Iranian-made IEDs were being used against American troops in Iraq, hampering our efforts there, still with little effect.
In September, Senate Republicans prevailed upon a sufficient number of spineless Democrats to pass a nonbinding resolution declaring Irans Revolutionary Guard, an elite military force, to be a terrorist organization, the first time ever that an officially recognized body of a foreign government has been so designated. In mid-October, Bush warned of World War III at a White House Press Conference, if Irans nuclear aspirations were not squelched.
Is Iran a threat? Just how powerful is Ahmadinejad, and what role does he play in Irans policy decisions?
In December of this year, the modern Iranian state, born 1 April 1979 with the overthrow of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi by forces of the Ayatollah Khomeni, will come of age astrologically. Saturn makes its retrograde station at 8 Virgo on December 19, exactly conjoined Irans natal Saturn, inaugurating the Return which signals Irans maturation as a fully-fledged astrological adult. Saturn return periods often reiterate and revisit the circumstances of the nativity, and the Iranian Revolution of 1979 sparked the hostage crisis, when Iranian anger at US support for their bloody dictator, and our granting him temporary asylum for medical treatment, boiled over in acts of aggression against US embassy personnel. Will this Saturn return see a return to the open hostility between these nations, perhaps even an escalation into armed military conflict?
Iran is uniquely poised to irritate the US. Eris, a newly discovered minor planet in the Kuiper Belt which is named for the Greek goddess of strife and discord (learn more about Eris here), is positioned at 15 Aries in the natal chart for the Islamic Republic, directly opposed the US Saturn, a Black Hole and a Quasar, at 14, 13 and 15 Libra respectively. Irans Eris also squares the US Sun at 13 Cancer. This fractious, carping, burr-under-the-saddle relationship is currently further exacerbated by George W. Bushs Sun conjunct the USs own at 13 Cancer. He reinforces and magnifies the national tendency to view Iran as an unwanted irritant, and his administration is never very far away from desiring a useful casus belli which would grant an excuse to intervene. Bushs Moon at 16 Libra is opposed by Irans Eris, making this a very personal, very visceral conflict for him.
Irans own Sun at 11 Aries is conjunct its Eris and makes all the same aspects to the US; conjoined the Quasar at 10 Aries, this Sun is aggressive and militant, but also open to communication and persuasion, and has difficulty obscuring its intentions and policies. The Quasar casts a penetrating light upon the regime, throwing its contours into bold relief on the international stage, a possible explanation of the forthright, if execrable, anti-Israeli, anti-Western sentiments expressed quite openly by its president.
Irans Moon, representing its people, lies at 6 Gemini, conjunct the Maser at 7, an apt image of a state founded in revolution. The populace is volatile and easily provoked, difficult to control, and can turn on its masters in a heartbeat. That 6 Gemini degree fits snugly on the US Uranus/Descendant at 8 Gemini, showing a strong potential for the relationship between the two states (Descendant) becoming agitated (Uranus), but also allowing for the possibility that we can facilitate increased freedoms (also Uranus) for the Iranian people (Moon) in partnership and peaceful interaction (Descendant). Irans Moon is tightly squared to the nations Saturn at 8 Virgo retrograde, conjunct the Black Holes at 6 and 9 Virgo; the regime (Saturn) sits heavily on the populace (Moon), performing a restrictive, coercive function.
Mercury at 27 Pisces is conjunct Mars at 25 Pisces and the Black Hole at 28, the source of both the rebellious students and young people (Mercury) who formed the core of the Iranian Revolution (Mars), as well as the violent (Mars) rhetoric (Mercury) which its leaders still espouse. There is a basic dichotomy, however, between what is said and what is meant; with Mercury on a Black Hole, words take on their own meaning, and are used to obfuscate rather than clarify, to rabble rouse and agitate, but without clear intent to manifest. The words do have a global impact, however, with Mercury squared the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, but it is difficult to penetrate the reality behind them. Mercury/Mars has also manifested in the killing of thousands in the nearly decade-long war with Iraq (1980-88), with so many boy-soldiers, 16 and under, sent to their deaths in human wave attacks with little more than outdated arms and a blessing for martyrdom.
Irans current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (born 28 October 1956), feeds into his nations weakest points. With Eris at 9 Aries he reinforces the aggressive, confrontational tendencies of the nations 11 Aries Sun. On the Quasar, his vituperation and anger are highlighted, made obvious to all, and he becomes a mouthpiece for the discontented elements of the nation. His Uranus at 6 Leo acts as a spur to Irans Moon at 6 Gemini, stirring up the populace and presenting an erratic, volatile face to the world. His Sun at 5 Scorpio, conjoined both a Quasar and a Black Hole, opposes the nations Chiron and a Maser at 7 Taurus, both on the Midheaven, heightening Irans reputation as a maverick regime.
That Sun is conjunct Saturn at 1 Scorpio and squared the 6 Leo UranusAhmadinejad is a natural leader, but a strict disciplinarian, and one with a streak of recklessness, a desire to both impose his will on others absolutely (Saturn) and to be completely free of restrictions himself (Uranus). He is erratic and changeable, swift to anger and seemingly uncontrolled, a loose cannon (Uranus), but in reality, possessed of considerable self-discipline and a born tactician (Saturn). His comments may seem unnecessarily provocative and controversial, but they have a very specific purpose in motivating and manipulating the Iranian people, and lionizing himself to the Arab street.
Ahmadinejads Mercury at 25 Libra forms a T-Square with the US Mercury/Pluto opposition at 24 Cancer and 27 Capricorn. His pronouncements and opinions are at odds with our own, and they evoke the temptation to use our national power to devastating effect. His Jupiter at 23 Virgo opposes Irans Mars at 25 Pisces and squares the US Mars at 21 Gemini, inflating the USs aggression and warlike tendencies and exacerbating the natural conflict between the two countries, as represented by their Mars placements in square to each other. This T-Square converts into a Grand Cross with the addition of the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, propelling the conflict onto the world stage, perhaps even eliciting, as George W. Bush recently mooted, World War III.
Ahmadinejads Mars at 15 Pisces has been transited by Uranus over the past year, with a direct station at 14 Pisces in conjunction about to come in November. This has heated up his rhetoric, and caused more sensationalism surrounding his utterances. His recent invitation to speak at New Yorks Columbia University, a controversial decision which caused much comment in conservative circles, is a case in point. Touted by University representatives as the free exchange of ideas (Uranus), the Iranian president was met with a barrage of abuse in a harshly worded introduction (Mars). Ahmadinejad took the opportunity to distance himself slightly from his prior stance as a Holocaust denier, softening his skepticism to merely questioning the number of deaths. But any ground he may have gained in that verbal sidestep was lost when he averred in the same speech that Iran has no homosexuals, a patently absurd statement which elicited laughter from his audience.
The source of Ahmadinejads bizarre revisionism lies in that Mercury, which at 25 Libra also closely opposes the Black Holes at 24 and 26 Aries. Black Hole Mercury has a decided point of view which it defends vehemently, regardless of any factual data to the contrary. Ahmadinejad chooses what reality to believe, independent of verification, and then promulgates it. The square to a Pulsar at 26 Capricorn ensures that his words receive widespread media attention, aided also by a close sextile to the Galactic Center.
Formerly Mayor of Tehran, where he made a name for himself in conservative circles by rolling back popular reforms, Ahmadinejad is roughly halfway through his first term, which began in August 2005. Although he is the highest ranking elected official in Iran, Ahmadinejads power is quite circumscribed. The actual head of government and commander in chief of the armed forces is the religious leader of the country, designated the Supreme Leader, currently the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who determines all foreign and domestic policy, leaving Ahmadinejad with a largely ceremonial role. As such, his volatile rhetoric, although convenient for Western regimes intent upon provoking a crisis with the oil-rich nation, is not of as great a consequence as has been supposed. One would think the Bush administration is familiar with this fact, and thus the importance they place on his statements is disingenuous at best.
Although this issue of Iran has been pending for several years, recently the rhetoric has been ratcheted up, with the administration and its supporters driving hard for the hoop, seeking to force a confrontation before Bush leaves office. Fox News runs highly exaggerated reports about Irans potential nuclear capacity and the dire ramifications to be expected of it; even liberal mainstream media outlets are rife with speculation about the administrations intent. GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani has acquired a coterie of neocon advisors such as Norman Podhoretz, raising the specter of a neocon revival in the White House should the former New York mayor win his partys nomination and the 2008 election.
Technically, in the absence of a direct attack from Iran, Congress needs to authorize military intervention before the president can act. But Bush has shown himself contemptuous of congressional authority before, and there is no guarantee that even a Democrat-led legislature will not grant his request. The 2002 Iraq War authorization may lend a gloss to certain preemptive actions on the grounds of Irans meddling with Iraqi affairs, at least enough to give the administration the legalistic wiggle room to ride out the controversy which military strikes would evoke, running out the clock until the expiry of Bushs term in office. If Congress cannot draw a hard line and enforce it, World War III may well be Bushs lasting legacy to the American people.