The Iraq attack twenty years ago was an arrogant folly of gargantuan proportions which set in motion a cascading avalanche of ruinous effects across the Middle East and beyond. With no American plan for rebuilding after the defenestration of Saddam, the country fell prey to chaos, conflict, corruption and sectarianism. Iran was emboldened, the Islamic State’s violence moved into the vacuum and the disintegration of Syria followed. Millions were displaced and it sounded the death knell for the notion of western intervention as a force for good.
One Iraqi said: ‘We have a saying that captures the devastation of our country: ‘Saddam has gone, but 1,000 more Saddams have replaced him.’
IS-led terror attacks fuelled the resurgence of populism and ethnonationalism in Europe, leading for example to Brexit where immigration was a central theme. Donald Trump ran for president on an anti-immigration, anti-Muslim platform.
Putin used the same pretext of ‘pre-emption’ as GW Bush et al had done in invading a country that had no plans to attack anyone.
Baghdad is safe and prosperous now but the state remains weak. Money laundering flourishes and Iraq remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
The attack went ahead on 20 March 2003 on the basis of false intelligence with questionable legality and in the face of strong public opposition in the UK where two million marched in a stop-the-war protest a month before, which Tony Blair blithely ignored.
The attack was launched at 5.30 am on a Saturn in Gemini opposition Pluto in Sagittarius, which is the aspect most connected to war and deprivation. Pluto was almost exactly on the midheaven at the start in Baghdad and both squared onto a Pisces Mercury Sun. There was also an Air Grand Trine of Saturn on the IC trine an 8th house Moon trine a 12th house Venus = emotionally cold – formed into a Kite by Saturn opposition Pluto making power-hungry and destructive Pluto the leading planet. The Air influence may also connect to the aerial bombardment. Uranus was at zero degrees Pisces. No Earth signs hints at a lack of practicality and realism.
What struck me at the time was the difference between the US view – relocated to Washington, DC, the attack had a grandstanding ‘shock and awe’ Sun in the performing/entertaining 5th with overtones of financial interests (and costs). Whereas set in London it suggested hard work with little appreciation from a 6th house Saturn and powerlessness with Pluto in the 12th – and was hardly the UK’s finest hour politically or militarily.
When it kicked off tr Neptune in Aquarius was squaring the UK’s 8th house Mars, which suggests failure. And the UK’s Pluto, both natal and Solar Arc was being rattled.
The previous Total Solar Eclipse of December 2002 had a Sagittarius New Moon conjunct Pluto and Neptune on the Ascendant set for Bagdad; and the following Lunar Eclipse of May 2003 was even more descriptive with Uranus on the Midheaven and Pluto on the Descendant.
GW Bush, 6 July 1946 7.26 am New Haven, CT, had the transiting Saturn opposition Pluto sitting directly on top of his Gemini North Node conjunct Uranus with his SA Saturn square his North Node – so a destiny-changing moment for him leading to impulsive decisions. Tr Neptune was just over the devastating/confusing opposition to his 1st house Pluto as he was struggling to cope with the fallout from 9/11.
Tony Blair, 6 May 1953 6.10am Edinburgh, intent on striding the world stage playing with the big boys, had a friendly relationship chart with GWB with a composite Sun Venus trine Neptune, so overtones of illusion and delusion as well. But more significantly there is a Jupiter Pluto conjunction, hinting at misplaced over-confidence in the partnership leading to a rules-don’t-apply-to-us folie a deux. Transiting Neptune was moving in square to that Jupiter Pluto and midpoints across the invasion and in the disastrous aftermath.
On Blair’s own chart tr Neptune was conjunct his 10th house Moon undermining his political reputation; and tr Saturn was moving downhill through his less successful, banana-skin-strewn First Quadrant.
Iraq itself has two charts, both of which work well.
23 August 1921 6am Baghdad – had the panicky-failure tr Neptune exactly opposition its Mars; tr Saturn opposition Pluto in hard aspect to its Jupiter Saturn conjunction; the SA Moon and SA South Node conjunct the Pluto – which is descriptive of the collapse. Tr Uranus at zero Pisces was also heading to hard aspect the Descendant and Midheaven for a complete re-set of direction and relationships.
14 July 1958 4am Baghdad – tr Uranus was exactly opposition the Pluto for an almighty disruption. The tr Saturn opposition Pluto was colliding with the Iraq Saturn in Sagittarius opposition Moon Venus in Gemini; and tr Neptune was moving across the Iraq Uranus Mercury during and immediately after.
It was terrifying to watch at the time and even more chilling to reflect on the knock on effects worldwide in later years.