Last night, the UK Parliament voted in favour of bombing ISIS in Syria (10.16pm, December 2, London.). And in so doing they showed what democracy is about. There were passionate, well-argued speeches on both sides — but not by either leader. Both Cameron and Corbyn seemed lightweight and political in comparison to Alec Salmond, David Davis and Caroline Lucas against the airstrikes, Margaret Beckett and Dan Jarvis for the strikes, and above all shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, in favour of air-strikes and against his own leader’s position. Benn put the government to shame, and made a coherent, impassioned moral case for intervention.
In some ways, this vote won’t make that much difference: Britain is already bombing ISIS in Iraq and Britain’s contribution is relatively small. In other words, this is a vote for an extension of military action that’s already taking place. However, as a symbolic gesture it was important, and the debate itself was important because so many lives are at stake.
There are strong arguments against air strikes. Doubtless strikes will not win the war. Doubtless innocents will be killed. Doubtless other means need to be better explored, such as cutting off money and arms supplies. And without doubt, the Prime Minister’s reasoning was muddled, mealy-mouthed and — as usual for David Cameron — just not serious enough for the occasion.
What is more, Western interventions in the Middle East have had disastrous consequences — not just in the past 20 years but since at least the 1880s.
Yet the argument in favour is also strong. A genocide is taking place. Innocents are already being tortured, raped, enslaved and slaughtered. Our allies, the French, have directly asked for our help. There is a “clear and present” danger to British citizens from ISIS. The UN has passed a mandate asking nations to use all means necessary to “eradicate the safe haven they have established in Iraq and Syria”. ISIS has declared war on the West.
When it came to the time, the Moon came into aspect with the Saturn-Neptune square. MPs voted with their hearts not their heads. Both sides were trying to find a way to combine compassion and practicality, the overwhelming emotional need to act.
If you are a pacifist, of course, you believe no war is just. But if you believe that war is sometimes justified, then ought this to be one of those times? If Britain turns away when France asks for her help, then who are our allies? If we turn away from the Yazidis, the Christians and the Muslims being slaughtered, raped and orphaned by ISIS, then where is our compassion? If we ignore the testimonies of the millions of people fleeing the region, then what is the quality of our mercy?
The failure to intervene in Rwanda cost many, many lives. Without intervention in Bosnia, how many more people would have died in concentration camps? Without military intervention by Britain, Sierra Leone might still be a horror show.
On the other hand, interventions in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq have made bad situations worse. Who can forget the pictures of Abu Ghraib and Guatanamo? Would we be in this position at all, asking these questions without the disastrous Iraqi War?
In the UK chart, Mars, the planet of war, has just crossed into the first house. The country has buckled on its armour, and done what it does best — have a heated debate (Mars in Libra).
December looks like a battleground. Mars last night started a journey from raging Lilith — an exact conjunction took place during the debate — to square Pluto, the planet of annihilation on December 6 — to oppose Uranus, the planet of war in the air, on December 11.
Mars in Libra is a time when enemies come out into the open, when allies join together to go to war. It’s the warrior in the sign of negotiation and peace. Libra is the sign of debate, and last night the debate was a sharp, pointed and fierce. Normal roles go topsy. Pacifists go to war and soldiers negotiate. The militancy of the anti-war campaigners in this country is a case in point. For more on Mars in Libra, click here.
This is a position in which Mars is awkward (or special), but he will soon be made more comfortable by the arrival of Venus into Scorpio on December 5, which will put the two planets in mutual reception. They will strengthen each other. Venus, the planet of harmony and balance, will be in Scorpio, one of Mars’s own signs. There may be a shedding of any attempt at diplomacy, or the diplomacy will become hidden.
The most important planet to look at in a time of war may be Pallas Athena, the asteroid of strategy. She is closing in on Pluto, and will conjoin the Dark Lord on December 11, the same day as the opposition from Mars to Uranus — and also the New Moon in fiery Sagittarius, the only astrological sign that bears arms. Pallas, we hope, brings wisdom and far-sightedness to the equation, but will she be eclipsed by Pluto’s rage, or will she temper it?
I don’t think any of this looks good. What is more, Mercury, the messenger and planet of flight, is also involved, racing from Sagittarius into the arms of Pluto on December 19. Mercury is often a trigger that brings sleeping giants to life.
I have written about these energies on a personal level for the horoscopes and endeavoured to highlight the positive aspects this holiday season — and there are some. But on the whole, I don’t like the look of December. It looks volatile, explosive and dangerous.