Welcome to the April 2022 edition of the Cosmic Weather Forecast by Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry. This weekend we all enjoy the energy of triple spring Spiritual Festivals. This Friday, April 15, we celebrate the Jewish Feast of Passover. Saturday is the Pink LIbra Full Moon and the Aries Solar Festival, and Sunday, April 17, we celebrate Easter.
Cherry, dogwood, redbud, pear and magnolia trees are all in full bloom here in Winston Salem, and the rest of the trees display an intense, vibrant chartreuse color palette. Our car is covered in golden pollen. Beauty abounds!
Global News -- Big Screen View
America's Pluto Return, which dominates our country's stars in 2022, continues to present radical challenges to the status quo, as the Planet of the Lord of the Underworld in the sign of Capricorn, ruling big government, big business and big money enters into incendiary aspects with various planetary bodies this month.
This Full Moon the Sun at 26°45’ Aries shines opposite the Full Moon at 26°45’ Libra, and both luminaries square the Dark Lord Pluto in Capricorn at 28°33’ Capricorn. This Cardinal T-Square presents a multidimensional existential crisis on a global scale. A long simmering global political, cultural and economic cold war has erupted into a military conflict between Russia and its former territory of the Ukraine.
Now that conflict is escalating, refugees and casualties are mounting, and despite a slow start to the invasion and American and European imposition of economic sanctions, Russia is moving forward with a complex military strategy that appears unclear to Western observers, but which increasingly demands further response.
The result so far is that Russia succeeded in surrounding major cities in the North, including the capital, Kyiv, but did not capture the capital. Russian casualties are significant, estimated by NATO to be between 7,000 and 15,000 soldiers dead and twice as many wounded. For comparison, Russia reported 14,400 killed through 10 years of war in Afghanistan. This cannot be considered a successful shock and awe maneuver.
Zach Rudisin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Today's small regional Eurasian conflict is also a proxy war between America and Russia, and threatens to pull NATO, China, and many other countries into a rapidly escalating economic and military confrontation with the potential to reconfigure the entire global financial system and even to trigger nuclear war.
The potent Cardinal outer planet T-Square in the sky alerts us that this month there is a dramatic large scale, high stakes power struggle being enacted on the world stage. Several major players with radically different agendas struggle for dominance in the early stages of a battle royal that has the potential to alter the global balance of power for years to come in a variety of ways.
The stakes are high, and the old rules of the game have been tossed overboard. Some aspects of this Titanic struggle are visible but much of the maneuvering remains in the shadows, in the realm of Hades, hidden from the basilisk gaze of the global media panopticon.
For America, currently in the midst of a national Pluto return, Russia's invasion of Ukraine represents an existential threat that feels as though it must be met with all the weapons available to assure the maintenance of the current global order, and of America's self-image as world leader and global custodian of liberal democratic values. But a measured response is essential. The history of the Twentieth Century indicates that there's a surprisingly easy path from seemingly trivial military conflicts to World War.
During its Pluto return, America will most probably undergo a complete restructuring of its values, political system, and its place in the world order. Yet the pressures forcing this restructuring remain unconscious to most people, being Plutonic in nature. Pressures rise from the deepest, darkest levels of the collective consciousness. Changes are imposed from above by powerful plutocrats who manipulate the country's political system to increase their own personal power and profit at the expense of the country as a whole. In addition America's Pluto Return restructuring will most likely also be in response to unexpected, immense pressures applied by America's rivals on the global stage.
The old unipolar world order, built upon dollar diplomacy and unquestioned US global military dominance is under direct assault for the first time this century. During the first twenty years of the 21st century America declared a Global War on Terror and spent trillions of dollars on bloody invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
In neither case did America succeed in establishing regimes allied with the United States. The Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan. Iraq has been destabilized by the long war with America, and a weak Iraqi government, split into warring factions, cannot govern effectively. "Iran, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, Israel, and Turkey each play out their conﬂicts on Iraqi territory, destabilizing Iraq and the broader Middle East," according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War.
America also engaged in a futile proxy war with Russia in Syria, which failed in its goal to unseat Syria's Russia backed leader Basher Assad, but did succeed in dismembering the country at great human cost.
These are not military victories, they are ignominious defeats.
The Global War on Terror so far has caused the deaths of 897,000 to 929,000 people, including over 364,000 civilians, and cost $8 trillion, without a single victory in sight for the United States. Meanwhile, China and Russia have forged a deep partnership, upgraded their armed forces, and deployed new non-nuclear tactical military technologies that perform much better on the battlefield than America's incredible expensive, but no longer first class weaponry.
This apparent decline in American power emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to engage in successful military adventures in Georgia and the Crimea, and to launch the current invasion of Ukraine, perhaps underestimating the scale and difficulty of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
His Ukraine war has led to a strengthening of the NATO alliance. Germany has renounced its dependence on Russian oil and natural gas, stopped the Nord 2 pipeline from opening, and doubled its defense budget. Norway and Sweden seem on the verge of joining NATO.
On the other hand, India has agreed to buy oil and gas from Russia in roubles, bypassing the dollar based hydrocarbon trading system enacted over fifty years ago. Other non-NATO countries, such as the Arab oil producing states, have been refusing to take phone calls from President Joe Biden.
It appears that the United States, Russia, China, the European Union and assorted other wildcard actors, such as India, Iran and the oil producing Gulf states are all being drawn deeper into a fast escalating military and economic battle in the Ukraine that appears to be creating a new 21st Century world dis-order.
The present day global financial and political system, forged by the United States in the aftermath of World War II and upgraded after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, lacks stability. It has become like a chair that has only three legs. The Cardinal T-Square in the sky symbolizes the instability in current arrangements, and the need to take action in the face of an existential crisis.
The main challenge in the situation is that we must be extremely careful in choosing what course of action to take. The current geopolitical crisis requires diplomacy and discernment.
America will need to perform a delicate balancing act to avoid escalation on both sides leading to a catastrophic global economic crisis and a devastating wider Eurasian war featuring weapons of mass destruction, especially if the Ukraine war drags on for years with no clear winner, and that lose-lose scenario is quite possible.
Ed Schipul from Houston, TX, US, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
As of today, there is a high probability of a long term realignment in geopolitical relations as the world moves away from the current system, a unipolar world dominated by America, to a multipolar world with competing regional power players. This new world will feature the end of globalization, the creation of well defined rival blocs of allied economies existing in more or less walled gardens, and economic warfare waged through sanctions and counter sanctions, trade wars, and currency wars.
Militarily we can expect a constant state of simmering cold war that features numerous conventional military conflicts in the form of proxy wars, resource wars, ethnic cleansing, civil wars, and counterinsurgencies breaking out sporadically in Eurasia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Any and all of these conflicts will have the potential for escalation into a global conflict involving nuclear armed powers in a multipolar world of regional power centers competing for scarce resources in a time of ongoing global climate catastrophe.
What are the limits of American power in the 21st Century? The political debate in America today centers on whether the war in Ukraine is seen as a defensive war by an embattled small state against a quasi-fascist aggressor state, or as a proxy war between Russia and the West, and specifically the American Empire.
Those who see the Ukraine war as a pure war of aggression by Russia favor escalating American involvement at any cost, based on humanitarian concerns. Those who see the Ukraine war as a proxy war with Russia favor a more moderated approach, emphasizing diplomacy over military adventurism.
The argument that America can and should punish Russia and re-establish a free Ukraine assumes no limits to American power except our own willingness to engage with Russia militarily, even at the risk of nuclear war. Perhaps this is a false assumption.
Can America and NATO really expect to defeat a nuclear armed Russia in its own backyard when American forces were unable to defeat the Afghani Taliban or successfully occupy a third rate military power like Iraq?
The true choice is perhaps whether we are willing to engage in diplomacy with the Russians, as we did even during the Cuban Missile Crisis at the height of the Cold War, when the world was on the verge of all out nuclear Armageddon, or whether we pursue a purely military option.
Perhaps as part of America's Pluto Return initiation, it's time for a long national conversation about America's role in the world. Is America the world's policeman, the ultimate sole arbiter of acceptable behavior? Should America aspire to maintain its empire of hundreds of military bases and numerous wars of choice designed to discipline smaller countries when they run afoul of American political and cultural norms?
Should America plan to continue to exploit the world's resources at gunpoint as we have done for so long? Or is there a way for America to become a better global citizen? Can we join in a global attempt to find consensus on important questions, like war and peace and the current environmental catastrophe unfolding all around us? Can we behave as a leader among peers rather than as an Imperial sovereign?
The stars ask us -- What is the proper response for the parties involved, and for us as individuals? To answer that question, we must take a look at the history and context for the present conflict in the Ukraine and attempt to understand the motives and the goals of the major players.
History of Ukraine and Current State of Ukraine War
Raphaël Thiémard from Belgium., CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Taking a broader perspective, the Big Screen View shows that the war over the Ukraine is actually the culmination of a long history of confrontation between the United States and Russia about the future of Ukraine. This epic confrontation emerged as a hot button issue in the aftermath of the Twentieth Century's Cold War, but has continued to simmer and indeed, to escalate in many ways, until we have reached the present moment of crisis.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and was complete by December 25, 1991, when the hammer and sickle flag was lowered over Moscow and replaced by the white, blue and red flag of the Russian federation. But this was not the end of the Cold War, after all. It was merely the beginning of a new phase of the conflict.
In 1992, Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz crafted the official US policy statement on post Cold War American strategic objectives worldwide.
"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival," Wolfowitz declared. "This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia."
"The grand imperial strategy adopted at the time and followed ever since had to do with the United States advancing geopolitically into the terrain of the former Soviet Union as well as what had been the Soviet sphere of influence," explains Professor John Bellamy Foster in this month's issue of Monthly Review. "The idea was to prevent Russia from reemerging as a great power. This process of U.S./NATO geopolitical expansion commenced immediately, visible in all the U.S./NATO wars in Asia, Africa, and Europe that have taken place in the last three decades.
". . .The United States began the process of enlarging NATO by moving it further and further East to encompass all of the former Warsaw Pact countries as well as parts of the former USSR," Bellamy continues. "Bill Clinton in his 1996 election campaign made the enlargement of NATO part of his platform. Washington started to implement that in 1997, eventually adding 15 additional countries to NATO, doubling its size and creating a 30-nation Atlantic Alliance targeting Russia, while also giving NATO a more global interventionist role, as in Yugoslavia, Syria, and Libya."
The grand prize in the US strategy to encircle Russia with militarized allies was always to include the Ukraine in the Western alliance. In 1997 in his book entitled Grand Chessboard, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had served as Jimmy Carter's national security advisor, identified the Ukraine as the "geopolitical pivot" which was the crucial chess piece in the ongoing US effort to restrict Russia to a role as a minor regional power, albeit one with the largest arsenal of nuclear warheads on the planet.
Brzezinski believed that if the West could bring the Ukraine into NATO this would be decisive move in the Eurasian geopolitical chess game that could lead to the dismembering of Russia and the final liquidation of America's greatest enemy.
Brzezinski argued that once Ukraine entered NATO, the West would be in such close proximity to Moscow that it would be possible to initiate a decapitation missile strike against Moscow, and that the world's most powerful nuclear armed military machine would then have a 1200 mile border with Russia, including the pathways Hitler used to invade the USSR in World War II. Brzezinski believed that this would effectively give the West control of all of Eurasia west of China and reduce Russia to a third rate power.
Kightlinger, Jack E., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
At one time the "breadbasket of Europe", the Ukraine was the most important food producing region of the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the USSR, the Ukraine has remained completely dependent on highly subsidized Russian fuel and fertilizer to support its agricultural sector.
Since the eighteenth century, Russia has seen the Crimean region and southeastern Ukraine as critical assets, because they are vital to Russian naval control of the Black Sea, the destination of most of Russia's rivers, and the most important Russian maritime outlet to global waters, and thus global trade.
The Eastern and Southern areas of the Ukraine are predominantly Russian speaking areas, where the bulk of Ukrainian coal reserves are located. Numerous polls of the people in this part of the Ukraine show large numbers who want to rejoin the Russian Federation. This area of the country has been a site of civil war since 2014, when an anti-Russian, Ukrainian nationalist government was installed following a coup.
It is not surprising that in the last few weeks, the Russian armed forces have begun to pivot their attention from Kyiv, the northern capital of Ukraine, to the southern and eastern regions of the country. As of today, the vast bulk of the Ukrainian army is in danger of being encircled in this crucial region of the country by Russian forces. This is an extremely dangerous situation, given the strategic importance of this region for both the United States and the Russian Federation.
In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that the struggle to disarm and neutralize Ukraine, while incidentally returning Southeastern regions to Russian control, is an existential struggle for his country. There is no easy way for Putin to back away from pursuit of his goals in this war. Nor will he. The Russian war aims are still unclear, but appear to be designed to capture the Southeastern part of the Ukraine, in alignment with historical Russian strategic priorities, and to thwart US and NATO attempts at encirclement.
As of Wednesday morning, April 13, "Speaking at a news conference at a newly built spaceport in Russia’s Far East, Mr. Putin said that Ukraine’s negotiating position at the talks, last held in Istanbul two weeks ago, was unacceptable. He pledged that Russia’s “military operation will continue until its full completion,” as reported in The New York Times.
"But the operation’s goals, he said, centered on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists have been fighting since 2014," The NYTimes report continues. "It was the first time that Mr. Putin himself had effectively defined a more limited aim for the war, focusing on control of the Donbas — and not all of Ukraine, which Mr. Putin and his subordinates have said should not even be an independent country."
The Russian pivot to the Southeast could lead to the near-term de facto breakup of the Ukraine. The Russians are targeting key cities Kramakorsk and Khartov, north of Mariupol and Donetsk, and if they succeed in taking them, they will virtually secure control of the Southeast.
Veteran journalist and policy advisor John Helmer, who has specialized in Russian affairs for decades reports that "The Russian plan, according to the [Russian allied Ukrainian] Donbass leadership, is to reform the Ukraine into 'a loose confederation in which the controlling regions will be the eastern Russian-speaking, Orthodox regions of Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye, Kherson, Nikolaev, Mariupol, and Odessa. They will be run by newly installed administrations and locally recruited security forces, both controlled by Russia. Dniepropetrovsk, Poltava and Kremenchuk are likely to be part of this federal alliance, which will be strong enough to win the next Ukrainian presidential election, replacing Vladimir Zelensky.' Zelensky’s term is scheduled to end in March 2024. It is likely to end sooner."
"The future for Kiev in this new federal polity is still undecided, the sources acknowledge."
"According to the [Russian allied Ukrainian] Donbass leadership, the future of Galicia in the west is to become 'a mini-federation of competing ethnic national groups – Catholic Ukrainians, Hungarians, Slovakians, Poles, Romanians, and others. Landlocked, without exportable resources except refugees, mercenaries, and girls, blocked by Belarus to the north and Russia to the east, the Galician gun platform which the US and Canada have created around Lvov will be stripped of its political power in Kiev. Their heavy arms, fuel stocks and command centres destroyed, they will be motivated to turn their ideologies and their personal weapons on each other. Between them and the east, this Russian plan for the demilitarization of the country will prevent the return of mass threats and NATO bases east of the Dnieper River.'"
Of course, it's one thing to have a great plan, as the Russians obviously do. And as Mike Tyson famously said when asked if he was afraid of Evander Holyfield and his boxing strategy prior to their fight, "“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” . . .So stay tuned.
National Research University Higher School of Economics; Foreign policy adviser to the Presidential Administration, Russia
Chatham House, London, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sergei Karaganov, top foreign policy advisor to Vladimir Putin, is the creator of the Karaganov Doctrine, which lays out the basic framework for Russian global political and military strategy in the 21st Century. The Russians see their invasion of Ukraine as a humanitarian intervention, similar to NATO's Yugoslav war. Karaganov sees Russia as the defender of the civil rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine and the Baltic countries, and believes that they are being oppressed by current governments who are supportive of the West. He is the architect of Russia's increasingly deep and broad partnership with China. These two foreign policy elements are the key supports for Russia's Ukrainian war.
Recently, Karaganov explained why Russia sees the Ukrainian conflict as an existential crisis. Russia feels threatened by encirclement and sees itself as the victim of an unjust post-Cold War settlement, which he compares to the Treaty of Versailles, which imposed Draconian conditions on Germany after World War I. Germany had to pay onerous reparations to the victors and was subject to humiliating concessions. By the 1930s Germany developed what is known as the Weimar Syndrome, which describes post World War I German feelings of victimization and deep thirst for revenge which led directly to the rise of Hitler and World War II.
“The rupture is due to the West’s refusal to end the Cold War de facto or de jure in the quarter-century since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Karaganov wrote in the daily Izvestia, according toThe New York Times. “In that time, the West has consistently sought to expand its zone of military, economic and political influence through NATO and the E.U. Russian interests and objections were flatly ignored. Russia was treated like a defeated power, though we did not see ourselves as defeated. A softer version of the Treaty of Versailles was imposed on the country. There was no outright annexation of territory or formal reparations like Germany faced after World War I, but Russia was told in no uncertain terms that it would play a modest role in the world. This policy was bound to engender a form of Weimar syndrome in a great nation whose dignity and interests had been trampled.”
Russia's aggression in the Ukraine and Russian rhetoric of humiliation and revenge have created a sense of near panic in America and in America's NATO partners in Europe. American politicians and intelligentsia are all too eager to see a rising Russian adventurism and militarism as the 21st Century iteration of Nazi Germany. This overly emotional response does not allow for the penetrating discernment and supple diplomacy that will be needed throughout this crisis, and during the entirety of America's Pluto Return over the next several years.
The stakes in the Ukraine war are sky high for both sides in the conflict. As the military confrontation deepens a web of American and Russian alliances could suck all the world's great powers into this existential struggle, a much more dangerous version of the Twentieth Century Cold War, with the potential to morph from a relatively civilized geo-strategic chess game into a no holds barred Battle Royale -- a Third World War which could be waged in the last resort with tactical or even strategic nuclear weapons.
Russia and its partner, China seek to modify the existing American crafted world order, rein in America's ability to project power around the world militarily, reset the terms of the current, dollar based global financial and economic system, replace unfettered free trade with mercantilist managed trade between rival blocs of nations, and yet somehow avoid precipitating a World War.
Needless to say American and NATO leaders see this as an existential threat. Western leaders are even more disturbed by Putin's willingness to invoke nuclear warfare if he feels sufficiently threatened.
Just days after the Russian invasion began, in late February, Putin declared that “no one should have any doubts that a direct attack on our country will lead to the destruction and horrible consequences for any potential aggressor.” Putin emphasized that Russia is “one of the most potent nuclear powers and also has a certain edge in a range of state-of-the-art weapons.”
Doomsday clock, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, positioned at 2 minutes to midnight
Ryanicus Girraficus, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Over the last twenty years Russia has developed "a new generation of long-range air- and sea-launched cruise missiles, as well as modern short-range ballistic and cruise missiles and precision-guided gravity bombs," as reported recently in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. "Theoretically, the cruise missiles could carry nuclear warheads, but their envisioned role is primarily conventional. Additionally, Russia’s GLONASS satellite constellation now enables precision targeting and communications across the globe. Russia has also begun developing a global strike capability, analogous to the US Prompt Global Strike initiative, in the form of a new intercontinental ballistic missile that the military has said is primarily intended to carry conventional warheads."
Russia has begun using hypersonic missiles in the Ukraine since the invasion, and is the first country to do so. These missiles cannot be tracked by radar because of their speed. The Russian jet fighter based Kinzhal missiles used in Ukraine travel 10 times the speed of sound and can strike targets on the ground up to 1200 miles away. There is no defense against these missiles with current technology. The United States is still in the R&D stage of development of hypersonic missile technologies.
Mil.ru, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Putin's threat was in response to a statement NATO issued on February 24 declaring that “[W]e have held consultations under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty,” the statement noted. “We have decided, in line with our defensive planning to protect all Allies, to take additional steps to further strengthen deterrence and defense across the Alliance.”
Shortly thereafter, "NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expanded on the initial NATO statement, declaring that NATO was committed to protecting and defending all its allies, including Ukraine," explains Scott Ritter "a former United States Marine Corps intelligence officer who served with the United Nations implementing arms control treaties, with General Norman Schwarzkopf in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq, overseeing the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as a United Nations weapons inspector, from 1991 to 1998", according to Wikipedia.
"Three things about this [NATO] statement stood out," Ritter continues. "First, by invoking Article IV, NATO was positioning itself for potential offensive military action; its previous military interventions against Serbia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2004, and Libya in 2011, were all done under Article IV of the NATO Charter. Seen in this light, the premise that NATO is an exclusively defensive organization, committed to the promise of collective self-defense, is baseless."
"Second, while Article V (collective defense) protections only extend to actual NATO members, which Ukraine is not, Article IV allows the umbrella of NATO protection to be extended to those non-NATO members whom the alliance views as an ally, a category Stoltenberg clearly placed Ukraine in."
British troops exercise in Estonia as part of the NATO's eFP (Enhanced Forward Presence) MOD, 2017
LCpl Craig Williams, OGL v1.0OGL v1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
"Finally, Stoltenberg’s anointing of Ukraine as a NATO ally came at the same time he announced the activation and deployment of NATO’s 40,000-strong Response Force, some of which would be deployed to NATO’s eastern flank, abutting Ukraine. The activation of the Response Force is unprecedented in the history of NATO, a fact that underscores the seriousness to which a nation like Russia might attach to the action," Ritter concludes.
Vladimir Putin has not been specific about what kinds of actions would trigger a nuclear retaliation by Russia, but the Russian President "has warned Nato countries that deploying weapons or soldiers to Ukraine would cross a 'red line' for Russia and trigger a strong response, including a potential deployment of Russian missiles targeting Europe," according to a recent article in The Guardian.
Naturally, NATO and America would respond, possibly with nuclear weapons, if Russia attacks European targets.
Now that the Russians have pivoted from attacking areas around the northern capital of Kyiv, a tactic which much of the Western news media characterizes as the Russianas "giving up", Russian forces appear to be attempting to encircle 100,000 Ukrainian troops in the southeastern part of the country. The Southeast of Ukraine, as we already noted, is the most strategically important part of the country, as far as Russia is concerned, and Putin's remarks this week indicate this region is the most important focus for Russia's current military strategy. The relative absence of large cities in that area allows Russian tanks greater maneuverability in battlefield conditions, and give Russian military forces greater latitude in using large scale bombardments without inflicting massive civilian casualties.
In short, the stage is set for a much more dramatic second act of this unfolding global crisis, with both sides threatening military escalation that could trigger nuclear retaliation.
Nuclear explosion, August 2020
Burnt Pineapple Productions, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Among a vast segment of Western politicians and opinion makers, the response to the Ukraine war so far has been to welcome a wider war, to counsel escalation of the conflict, and to welcome a no holds barred confrontation with Russia, even if that risks nuclear war.
Of course, American leaders have wanted to bring Ukraine into NATO since 1992, and believe that this will allow them to completely dominate Russia for the forseeable future. In addition, many have said that Russia cannot win a long, protracted war in the Ukraine, especially when hobbled by American financial sanctions. They believe it will be a quagmire, like Afghanistan was for Russia, then for America. So in many ways, a long drawn out proxy war in the Ukraine would be ideal for those American leaders who want to cripple Russia once and for all.
President Joe Biden set the tone with his remarks about Putin on a recent trip to Poland. “For god’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said, seeming to call for regime change in Russia. This was a remarkable statement from one major nuclear power to the leadership of another major nuclear power. Even during the Cold War, there was no rhetoric about removing leaders of rival powers, with the exception of numerous American plans to kill Fidel Castro. That was the exception that proved the rule. Now we are in much more dangerous territory.
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta delivers remarks during a farewell tribute and award ceremony
honoring former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Feb. 14, 2013.
Staff Sgt. Sun Vega, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“We are engaged in a conflict here. It’s a proxy war with Russia, whether we say so or not,” said Leon Panetta, the former CIA director and defense secretary under Barack Obama. “I think the only way to basically deal with Putin right now is to double down on ourselves, which means to provide as much military aid as necessary.”
Speaking to Bloomberg News on March 17, Panetta escalated his bellicose rhetoric as he laid out the U.S. strategy: “Make no mistake about it: Diplomacy is going nowhere unless we have leverage, unless the Ukrainians have leverage, and the way you get leverage is by, frankly, going in and killing Russians. That’s what the Ukrainians have to do. We’ve got to continue the war effort. This is a power game. Putin understands power; he doesn’t really understand diplomacy very much.”
"Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Tuesday told the House Armed Services Committee on April 6 that he expects the conflict in Ukraine to last for years," Maureen Breslin reports in The Hill, the most prominent newspaper devoted to coverage of the US Congress.
“I do think this is a very protracted conflict, and I think it’s measured in years. I don’t know about decade, but at least years for sure,” Milley said while giving testimony on the defense budget request.
“This is a very extended conflict that Russia has initiated and I think that NATO, the United States, Ukraine and all of the allies and partners supporting Ukraine will be involved in this for quite some time,” he continued.
Milley said that Russia and China are both in positions to challenge the “current global order.”
“We are now facing two global powers: China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities both who intend to fundamentally change the rules-based current global order,” Milley said to the committee. “We are entering a world that is becoming more unstable and the potential for significant international conflict is increasing, not decreasing.”
Now that the US and Russia are closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s, Ohio senator Rob Portman told CNN during a visit to the Poland-Ukraine border that it's time for the US and NATO to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to thwart Russian invaders. “People are just distraught and the message they’re giving us is loud and clear, as you can imagine, which is close the skies because the skies are where the bombs are coming, whether the missile attacks or airplane attacks or the artillery,” Portman exclaimed.
Any attempt to create such a no-fly zone would require NATO aircraft to shoot down Russian jet fighters within that airspace. President Putin has said that "any movement in this direction will be considered by us as participation of the respective country in an armed conflict." In other words, NATO and Russia would officially be at war. Russia would attack NATO countries directly, and the escalating conflict would quickly involve war between the United States and Russia. A war that could involve the use of hypersonic Russian weapons against NATO countries, the use of tactical nuclear weapons, and even an all-out nuclear exchange between the warring parties.
Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), who is poised to become the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and influential Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) former head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have been prominent advocates of the no-fly zone.
President Biden has specifically ruled out establishment of a no-fly zone as that would put US and NATO forces in direct conflict with Russian fighters.
In response to President Putin's warnings that Russia might initiate first use of nuclear weapons if sufficiently threatened, "President Joe Biden is abandoning a campaign vow to alter longstanding US nuclear doctrine, and will instead embrace existing policy that reserves America's right to use nukes in a first-strike scenario," according to The Daily Mail. "Since the Cold War, American policy has allowed for first-strike use of nuclear weapons under 'extreme circumstances,' such as responding to an invasion by conventional forces, or chemical or biological attacks."
Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the Clark County Democratic Party's 2020 Kick Off
to Caucus Gala at the Tropicana Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
There has been pushback against President Biden's reversal of his campaign pledge to use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack and against the more extreme war hawks from some American policy analysts and Congressmen who counsel a prudent, measured response to Russian aggression.
“When Putin starts talking about nuclear weapons and putting his nuclear forces on a level of higher alert, it scares the you-know-what out of people,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations panel’s Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Subcommittee, as reported in The Hill, a newspaper about Congressional activities.
"Threatening Russia, a nuclear armed power, with regime change and then annunciating a nuclear weapons policy that allows for the United States’ first-strike use of nuclear weapons under 'extreme circumstances'—responding to an invasion by conventional forces, or chemical or biological attacks—suggests President Biden and his administration really are out of touch with reality," remarked Colonel Douglas McGregor, former advisor to the Secretary of Defense, in an article in The American Conservative.
Analysis of the Ukraine war can only help us dimly see the broad outlines of the conflict, and to explore possible scenarios for its development. The fog of war has enveloped the entire globe. The strategic military aims, tactics, and likely next steps of the combatants in Ukraine, and of their nuclear armed allies are presently inscrutable. Our view of the road stretching away before us is obstructed. Caution should be our watchword of the week.
This month, as the Full Moon Cardinal T-Square emerges in the sky, we are all trapped in a Plutonic Underworld, where ghosts of last century's wars and shades of apocalyptic wars to come mingle in the collective consciousness with people's hopes and fears, creating a host of astral glamours that threaten our ability to think clearly, exercise discernment, and maintain a compassionate attitude towards the world's suffering billions in all countries of the world.
Yet that is our task. We must rise to the occasion. The Full Moon Cardinal T-Square demands action. Let us then deepen our spiritual practices this week, ask for grace and guidance, and pray together that peace may somehow emerge as an option during this Dark Night of the Planetary Soul.
Looking deeply into the history of the Ukraine, and seeing how it has been a crucial pawn in the great global chess match between the United States and Russia for decades, we can now clear up some common misconceptions about Vladimir Putin and about Russia.
The Chess Players - painting by Thomas Eakins, 1881, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Thomas Eakins , CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Putin is not insane. His actions appear to be deeply rooted in Russian geostrategic concerns dating back to the eighteenth century. Putin appears to want to divide Ukraine in two, and then to install a government friendly to Russia in the southeastern part of the country, which is vital to Russian interests.
Of course that may change next week. It is also possible when he has conquered the southeast he will attempt to take over the rest of the country as well.
Russia currently has a limited advantage over Western forces in hypersonic weaponry, tactical missiles, high performance tanks, next generation fighter jets and even in battlefield communications technologies. He is obviously building on Russia's unexpected success in Syria in support of Basher Assad and taking advantage of what will probably be a short window of opportunity to assert tactical superiority over Western forces.
The United States expects to have hypersonic missiles in a couple of years, and has increased its spending on defense by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Whether this will result in production of state of the art weaponry to equal Russia and China remains to be seen.
What is clear is that Putin and Russia are rational actors, despite what you may see in the American news media or pick up on social media, which tend to portray Putin as Hitler and Russia as an insane asylum with nukes. Diplomacy is possible whenever there are rational actors. So let's hope Western leaders keep their cool and pursue diplomatic solutions.
The only military success possible for the West would be after years of bloody guerrilla warfare wearing Russia down.
The other probable scenario is escalation leading to nuclear conflict. There is no winner in a nuclear war.
Both scenarios seem to me to be lose-lose scenarios that will inevitably bleed Ukraine dry and lead to a disastrous, incomprehensively expensive arms race that would put all environmental concerns on the back burner when we have about a decade left to decarbonize our world economy. Let's not forget that the US military is the world's largest single consumer of fossil fuels.
Despite the scary news, belligerent rhetoric and doom and gloom scenarios there is good news this week, if you believe negotiation is the path to a saner, safer world. "Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told NBC News that if negotiations with Russia help prevent at least one more bloodshed, the opportunity should be seized," Newsweek reports.
"It is extremely difficult to even think about sitting down at the negotiating table with people who commit or seek justification for all these atrocities and war crimes that have caused such monstrous damage to Ukraine," [Kuleba] said. "But I understand one thing ... I must seize this opportunity whatever I feel. If I have the opportunity to save a human life, a village, a city from destruction I will take this opportunity.""President Zelensky also spoke of negotiations on Sunday, telling 60 Minutes of a possible meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, taking a shot at NATO and the international community for a 'bureaucratic' approach to diplomacy."
"That's why the way I am talking to them [the Russians] is absolutely justified," Zelensky said. I don't have any more lives to give. I don't have any more emotions. I'm no longer interested in their [NATO] diplomacy that leads to the destruction of my country."
Bitcoin (₿) is a cryptocurrency invented in 2008 by an unknown person or group of people
using the name Satoshi Nakamoto and started in 2009,
when its implementation was released as open-source software.
Jorge Franganillo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Next month, we will explore how the Ukraine War has triggered an escalating weaponization of the global financial and economic system.
We will investigate the emerging Chinese-Russian partnership as it attempts to erode the power of the US dollar based global system of free trade and finance, and trace the contours of the emerging Eurasian power block, along with the results of its overtures to unaligned nations in South Asia and the Middle East.
This all relates to the waning Uranus-Saturn square of 2022 and has implications for the introduction of innovative financial instruments that could change the nature of money itself, and enhance the ability of nations and financial tech companies to control our lives.
Don't miss it!
Cosmic Weather Forecast
This Saturday, April 16, at 2:55 PM EDT, we celebrate the Full Pink Moon occurring at 26°45’ Libra, and the Aries Solar Festival. The Moon will appear full from Friday morning through early Monday, so there will be ample opportunity to take a moon bath in the invigorating night spring air.
The Pink Moon marks the time in the Northern Hemisphere when this evergreen ground cover plant flowers. Pink phlox, or phlox subulata, grows everywhere from New England to Florida, and is a welcome addition to any garden, because pink phlox flowers are a fabulous butterfly attractor, and provide some early spring food for these pollinators.
As we have detailed above, the Sun/Moon/Pluto Cardinal T-Square is a very potent component of this week's Cosmic Weather patterns, and represents a combustible, challenging energy for individuals and for our global human civilization as a whole.
We may find ourselves feeling put upon, our boundaries violated. We may be exasperated by unexpected roadblocks thrown up in our path.
AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
We may find our empathic connection to others more a curse than a blessing. We may feel beset by disruptive, negative emotions and thought-forms, or confronted by astral glamours pervading the collective consciousness, cast by manipulative propagandists of every variety imaginable.
We may be genuinely heart broken by the pervasive social media drumbeat calling people all over the world to war.
Fortunately, there are numerous positive astrological aspects supporting us in our quest to maintain our equilibrium in all the turmoil.
The Sabian Symbol for this Libra Full Moon is: An Airplane Sails, High in the Sky, and the energy signature of this Full Moon is that of an evolved consciousness able to transcend the conflicts and pressures of life.
This is the week to celebrate the dynamic equilibrium Libra represents, the ability of our Higher Self to synthesize inner contradictions and rise above our base emotions, exercising self-discipline and discernment.
Now is the time for us to manifest Libra's innate virtues of social sensitivity, compassion, and willingness to see all sides of any dispute.
The energy of this Full Moon, lasting approximately from April 12-19, will be especially supportive of spiritual practices designed to manifest inner peace, peace in our lives and peace in the world around us.
The most important celestial energy signature softening the impact of the incendiary Cardinal T-Square this week is the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction in Pisces, which occurred this Tuesday, April 12th. As we discussed in last month's newsletter:
The Neptune-Jupiter conjunction in Pisces enhances all efforts directed toward personal and collective spiritual evolution, sensitizing us to transpersonal and transcendental aspects of our life on Earth. With Jupiter super-sizing Neptune's influence, this year could be a doorway leading us into expanded consciousness, accelerating our journey on the path of Spirit.
Adriaen van de Venne , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
As we know, Esoteric Astrology associates Pisces with the Sixth Ray of Idealism and Devotion. The energy of the Sixth Ray, associated with the current Piscean age and the spiritual leadership of Jesus Christ, whose resurrection we celebrate this Sunday, produces committed devotees of both Eastern and Western mystical traditions, in its best and highest manifestation, but it can also produce fanatical armies dedicated to ultra-nationalistic, authoritarian regimes or fundamentalist religious leaders determined to spread their narrow minded truth by the sword.
Pisces is also the sign of unconditional Love and Cosmic Wisdom. Jupiter in Pisces represents consciousness infused with Piscean Love and Wisdom, elevated by the Guru Planet Jupiter. At its very best, Jupiter in Pisces stimulates us to mirror Christ Consciousness to the best of our abilities. So this Easter Full Moon weekend is the ideal time for spiritual practices designed to connect us to the energy of Christ Consciousness.
At the moment of his Death, Christ unified his own Body of Light with the etheric body of the planet, permanently infusing the energy of transcendent Self and Cosmic Consciousness into the Earth’s aura, according to clairvoyant and Esoteric Christian spiritual teacher Rudolf Steiner. This energy, known as the Holy Spirit, was made available to all people in the world from that day forward.
Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene, collection of the Hermitage Museum
Charles de La Fosse , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
After his death, and a descent into the underworld, Jesus Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene on Easter Sunday in his immortal, subtle energy body. Thus the Resurrection of Christ, which we celebrate this Easter Sunday, is the Feast of the appearance of the Immortal Light Body of Christ walking upon the Earth. Easter is the Feast of the manifestation of Holy Spirit within the four elements of the material creation.
Esoteric Christians know of a special mantra that encodes the entirety of these Wisdom Teachings of Jesus Christ in a few syllables, a mantra that invokes the energy of the Cosmic Christ for protection, for healing, and for sharing with those in need, those who suffer, those who are in danger of death. This mantra also symbolizes the entry of the Holy Spirit into the Four Elements of Universal Creation.
This mantra was given to Jane and myself by Bishop John Rankin of the Liberal Catholic Church in the early Nineteen Eightes, when Jane and I were doing healing work with individuals infected with the HIV-AIDS virus. Bishop Rankin told us to use the mantra for our own protection and for healing others. We have found over the years that this powerful mantra can be chanted aloud when clearing spaces of detrimental energies, or when performing healings and clearings of individuals in need. You can also say the mantra silently over and over as you meditate and in this way bring your own aura into resonance with the energy field of the Cosmic Christ.
Here is the mantra.
Symbol of early 17th-century mystic Jakob Böhme, including the names "Christus",
"Iesus" (Jesus), and "Immanuel" surrounding an inverted heart containing a Tetractys
of the Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton, and at the bottom, the Pentagrammaton.
Note the Hebrew letters YHSVH, at the bottom of the heart, spelling Jeheshuah, or Jesus.
Invoke the secret name of Christ. Chant the following to yourself over and over, "Yod, Heh, Vau, Heh, Yod, Heh, Shin, Vau, Heh", pronounced "Yod, Hey, Vow, Hey, Yod, Hey, Shin, Vow, Hey". These Hebrew letters stand for JHVH or Jehovah, and JHSVH (Jeheshua or Jesus). The four letters comprising the name of Jehovah, YHVH, stand for the four elements, fire, water, air and earth. The fifth element, which is spirit, is called Shin. When you put Shin, or spirit in the middle of the four elements, into YHVH, you get YHSVH, Jeheshua, or Jesus.
Jesus indeed infused spirit into the material world through his Divine presence and ability to sacrifice everything, even his own body, for love. So chant these nine letters over and over to yourself as you meditate and breathe deeply and slowly. In this way, you can attract Christ consciousness, the spirit of Jesus, into your aura, your mind, and your heart.
Subsequent to this great spiritual victory of Jesus the Christ, on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Christ infused the material elements with the energy of Spririt.
Connecting with the Cosmic Christ while out in nature at Easter time is a powerful spiritual practice that connects us to both Spirit and Nature simultaneously.
Flat Top Mountain Meadows with Cattle, photo by Curtis Lang,
Moses Cone Park, Blowing Rock. North Carolina
At Easter, the energy of Christ Consciousness is accessible to all aspirants through meditation upon the beautiful forms of nature, through immersion in the elements of nature, through communion with the sky, the sea, the rivers, mountains, trees, and flowers and the more than human world.
Sit quietly in your garden, walk slowly and thoughtfully through a park, meditate in a forest or by a running stream, and speak directly to Christ. Begin by focusing upon your heart and saying the Mantra of the Cosmic Christ aloud or silently until your mind is still and peaceful.
Say his name, give thanks for his Blessing upon the Earth, and give thanks to the Earth for nurturing the spiritual evolution of human beings, and your own personal evolution. Feel the energy expand from your heart out into the world.
Whether or not you are a Christian, if you have faith, if you quiet your mind, and if your intent is pure, you can hear Christ speaking directly to you, and experience a moment of Unity with the Risen Christ impulse.
Ask and it shall be made known to you, make a request and it shall be granted to you, open your heart and the chains of ego will fall away. Ask for your freedom and you shall be freed. This is Christ’s Easter promise.
If you'd like to read more about the Esoteric meaning of Christ's resurrection, see our story entitled Eastertide: Uniting with the Cosmic Christ, Honoring the Divine Mother.
Curtis and Jane, Old Salem, North Carolina, Selfie
Despite the growing conflict in the world around us this year, Jane and I join with you all in celebrating the return of the light, the renewal of the seasonal wheel, and the certainty we share that as long as we live, Love rules this Creation.
We remember you in our spiritual practices daily, and we affirm that we all continue to receive the grace and guidance we require to progress on our path of Spirit. May the Loving Wisdom of Christ Consciousness and the Unconditional Nurturing Love of the Divine Mother gently, thoroughly and completely remove all obstacles to the attainment of our spiritual and material goals!
Meditation Moment: The Mighty Earth
The mighty burden of the mountains' bulk
rests, Earth, upon your shoulders; rich in torrents,
you germinate the seed with quickening power.
Our hymns of praise resounding now invoke you,
O far-flung Earth, the bright one.
Like a neighing steed you drive abroad your storm
You in your sturdy strength hold fast the forests,
clamping the trees all firmly to the ground,
when rains and lightnings issue from your clouds.
High Truth, unyielding Order, Consecration,
Ardor and Prayer and Holy Ritual
uphold the Earth; may she, the ruling Mistress
of what has been and what will come to be,
for us spread wide a limitless domain.
Impart to us those vitalizing forces
that come, O Earth, from deep within your body,
your central point, your navel; purify us wholly.
The Earth is Mother; I am son of Earth.
The Rain-giver is my father; may he shower on us
blessings! . . .
Instill in me abundantly that fragrance,
O Mother Earth, which emanates from you
and from your plants and waters, that sweet
that all celestial beings are wont to emit
and let no enemy ever wish us ill! . . .
Peaceful and fragrant, gracious to the touch,
may Earth, swollen with milk, her breasts
grant me her blessing, together with her
milk! . . .
-- Rg Veda. 5.84
Empowerment by Jane Sherry, pencil, ink and gouache on Arches paper, 2022