In an interview with The Economist a couple of years ago, Emmanuel Macron had the following to say about the NATO alliance: “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” His reference was in response to the actions of the Trump administration at the time in its relations with the EU. Trump, the epitome of the New York real estate mogul, had been poking at the Europeans to spend more money on US weaponry. Macron’s statement was the month before the pandemic began to grip the world’s attention and before the coming supply chain shocks and US actions overseas would enshrine his statement as being one of fact rather than conjecture. The question now remains, is NATO to be removed from life support and allowed to finally meet its end, or is it to remain as the shell of American influence over Europe for the foreseeable future? We’ll have a look at the astrology of the institution here.
In the same interview, Macron went on to say the following:
“Europe stands on “the edge of a precipice”…and needs to start thinking of itself strategically as a geopolitical power; otherwise we will “no longer be in control of our destiny.”
He was correct on one count, that of standing on the edge of a precipice. But in terms of being a geopolitical power, the EU has seen its stance in that regard substantially weakened in recent years. It is increasingly ignored by Washington, with no central military of its own, still beholden to Washington’s agendas (i.e. not having true sovereignty) and divorced from the UK. The EU is increasingly being weakened from within by infighting and the leadership in Brussels is still hooked into the ‘Russian threat’ narrative and stuck in an echo chamber of its own making. And, as has recently come to light, the EU is depended to a significant degree upon Russia for its energy needs, if the supply of those needs is to be economically viable. Yes, it’s about the gas crisis in the EU. That will play a role into the future, addressed later in this post.
As a geopolitical power, the EU has a ways to go if it aims to do so without Washington’s backing. But this is by design. It is already on the outs with the UK, one of the more powerful NATO members and the only European member aside from France who has nuclear weapons. NATO is a key to understanding why the EU is weak now, and this goes back to the creation of the alliance, the purpose being to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.
The Soviet Union from the preceding quote has been replaced by the Russian Federation, and it appears that same thinking is still in effect. Brussels just sent half the Russian diplomatic contingent to NATO packing, whereupon Russia in turn has suspended its diplomatic mission to NATO in full and will suspend the diplomatic credentials for NATO diplomats working in Russia.
Basically, Russia will be ignoring NATO and will speak directly to the United States on matters of military importance, seeing the EU NATO contingent as irrelevant. The Russians are out of Europe as a threat basis, this time by choice. Lord Ismay would be happy, the European business community, not so much. The manoeuvre by Brussels was an effort to show it still had some relevance. The Russians gave their answer, the result of more brain death from Brussels. Where is all this leading?
The chart for NATO was discussed in a previous post on this blog, so we will not go over the chart again here. Instead, we want to look ahead in reference to recent events, which go to show NATO’s increasing irrelevance to Europeans, despite the proclamations we see coming out of NATO headquarters in Europe. Certain events over the past few years stand out:
- Trump’s alleged statements about the EU’s need to pony up with more spending (meaning ‘Buy more US weapons!’) and threatening to take the US out of the organization otherwise. But then, the liberal media in the US always brings up the ‘Russian threat’.
- The unilateral decision by the Trump administration to assassinate Soleimani. There was no consultation beforehand with other NATO members.
- The attack on the US base after the Soleimani assassination. There was no talk of an Art-5 reprisal invoked.
- The draw-down of US troops from Syria in 2019, again without consulting EU NATO partners.
- The pull-out from Afghanistan, where again there was no consultation by Washington with NATO partners beforehand.
- The recent AUKUS deal, which has side-lined France in favour of an Anglo pact.
- Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program after Erdogan purchased the S-400 system from Russia.
- Russia’s recent suspension of its NATO diplomatic mission
- A statement of support from the Biden administration for the creation of a pan-EU army
What do we see from NATO’s transits and directions then, and what of the future? The chart with current transits and directions is below (bigger). There are certain key indicators we are looking for:
The immediate standout is the transit of Saturn over the NATO IC, showing a re-evaluation of priorities related to the alliance. The last time Saturn crossed the IC was in 1992, when Bush Sr. and Yeltsin announced the end of the Cold War. NATO should have been pronounced dead and buried then. The Warsaw Pact had been dissolved in July of the previous year.
The Saturn transit over the NATO IC before 1992 was in 1962, the first such transit, encompassing the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Washington acted unilaterally against the interests of some NATO partners then, too, the Turks being the most upset because they had US nuclear-tipped missiles on their shores. It was seen as a betrayal by the Turks, removing a large deterrent against Soviet designs on the region. We can probably expect another similar event next year, with a repeat of the 60-year Chinese astrological cycle.
These Saturn transits over the NATO IC have marked significant milestones. The first one in 1962 saw moves toward the denuclearization of Europe and détente aimed at nuclear arms control. Nuclear missiles were removed from Turkey and Italy. The 2nd such transit saw the decision, taken in Washington but supported by certain European states, to expand NATO eastward. That was also the period where the EU was taking shape, to be ‘born’ the following year. We notice most EU states are also members of NATO. NATO was a part of that process, too. Now, at the present transit, NATO finds itself increasingly at odds with the realities of both Washington and Russia, and to a degree with the UK, too. Times have changed, and quickly.
Russia cannot be defeated with conventional weapons now. Yet, it has also grown past the revolutionary period, where it sought to spread its ideals across the world, those of a communist world order. Russia threatens no one militarily. It is turning its back on the EU instead of threatening and is focusing on its eastern regions, has a strong de facto military alliance with China and is seen diplomatically as a trusted partner across the world by a growing number of nations. According to Russian FM Lavrov, relations with NATO are not ‘catastrophic’. They are simply non-existent.
For all the propaganda we hear in the West about the Russians, Russia simply wants to do business on a win-win basis with any nation who seeks to do likewise. EU business leaders know this very well, and most Europeans see Russia in a more positive than a negative light.
The US on the other hand is now seen to be non-agreement-capable, as aggressive and as a threat to world peace by a growing number of nations. It is also in a rapid state of decline, has turned its focus onto China, thus leaving the EU hanging and dubious of Washington’s intentions. Europe has no functional united armed forces outside of NATO, is ill-prepared to fight any major wars, as is the same with the US and UK by themselves, is facing formidable financial troubles and is increasingly disunited as a bloc. And with the US sending its ‘molecules of freedom’ to Asia instead if Europe (as was promised to the EU) and without energy reserves of its own, where will the EU turn for its energy needs?
The EU is still on the outs with Iran, and the US controls Iraq. The Saudis and the Russians are signing defense deals. Energy supply to the EU is anything but assured. Russia is a natural partner in energy security for the EU. Yet, Brussels balks at it. One can probably put that down to the Baltic States and Poland, along with a healthy dollop of pressure from Uncle Sam. But it is not very smart and shows a lack of vision and even education. The points here are born out in the directions to the NATO chart.
The current directions to the NATO chart were covered in the NATO/AUKUS post. Venus is ruler of the 7th and 12th houses – partnerships (7th) and self-sabotage (12th) in this case, pointing to separations and disappointments. With the Saturn transit over the IC, what is to be done? Well, it appears the only thing to be done is to double down on the ‘threats’ posed by Russia.
Atlanticist thinking on the matter is that EU and US cooperation militarily should be strengthened, as was recently directed at EU leaders by the German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Jen Stoltenberg went further and was adamant that NATO should be the world’s policeman and should be involved in ‘pushing back’ against China. Perhaps he doesn’t remember what the ‘NA’ in NATO means. Perhaps NATO should be re-acronymed to ‘WTO’. Oh, but that is already a thing.
As to the background of Kramp-Karrenbauer, she obtained degrees in politics and law, after deciding not to become a schoolteacher. She is a career politician and apparently has no military experience. But hers is the kind of thinking one typically sees regarding military matters regarding Russia in the EU halls of power. When it comes to the crunch, though, most EU states are not going to have any part of sending armed forces to the coast of China or the Indo-Pacific. They may give lip service and token forces to that effect, but that will be as far as it goes.
China is Germany’s biggest trading partner, for instance, and most EU states have good relations with China. Why mess that up when it is primarily the United States who has a problem with China? Instead, it would appear that Washington wants the EU to keep pressure on Russia. There is a recent development in that arena, which will be addressed here, but first there is something else for the EU to consider if they are talking war with Russia.
If you want to know the truth about the Russian military and their capabilities one cannot go past the web pages (in English) of the Andreis – Raevsky and Martyanov. They are Russian expats living in the US, with first-hand knowledge of the Russian military and their weaponry, having served in the military themselves. Another one to follow is Patrick Armstrong, also ex-military. There are others we could cite, too, but those three give a good starting point in understanding what a war with Russia would entail for Europe.
So with all the preceding in mind, the question arises – are the military thinkers in the EU such as Kramp-Karrenbauer just stupid, or ignorant, perhaps deluded, or is something else at play when they talk about strengthening military ties with the US against ‘Russian aggression’? And then, who is the true aggressor in Europe?
One of the key linchpins in NATO strategy regarding Russia is Turkey, a NATO member and which has the 2nd-most powerful military in the NATO bloc. Without Turkey, the logistics of a war against Russia would be well-nigh impossible. But Washington’s relationship with the Turks has soured in recent years, in what amounts to a defense decoupling. And NATO’s biggest mistake – at least the one that started it all – was Washington’s attempted coup against Erdogan on 15 July 2016. That attempted coup still leaves a sour taste with the Turks. Soon after that event Erdogan started making arrangements to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system, and now with plans for another one on the way.
The coup attempt was blamed on the movement of Fethullah Gülen, labelled the Fethullah Terror Organisation, or FETÖ, which is still seen as a threat in Turkey:
“FETÖ is still not over,” Aslan, now a senior adviser to Erdogan, told the state-run Anadolu news agency. “[If] it ends someone else takes over, we mustn’t stop fighting. Today it’s FETÖ, tomorrow it becomes another organisation. You have to be careful.”
But Gülen is based in the US and is considered by insiders to be a CIA asset. Otherwise, it is likely he would not be granted asylum in the US. Washington has declined to hand him over to Turkish authorities since the coup attempt. Many Turks also see CIA involvement in the coup attempt. But the coup attempt itself was more in the nature of Erdogan’s Reichstag fire, used by him to consolidate his power. The Western powers have concerns of Turkish affections drifting eastward toward Russian, China and Iran. Turkey is no longer a NATO stalwart.
On the other hand, there are reports in recent days of Turkish Bayraktar drones flying over the LDNR (Donbass region) in Ukraine and bombing a few sites, but the strikes were not competent at all. This would appear to be more about optics than truth. But with Turkish involvement in Ukraine in support of the regime in Kiev, this has echoes of the recent Ukrainian fandango earlier this year. The Turks also have plans to sell Bayraktars to Poland and Lithuania.
Then, there was the recent article in Forbes by David Axe (of dubious expertise) about American B-1 bombers rehearsing sinking Russian ships in the North Atlantic, supported by the Poles (unsurprisingly), Canadians (where live many Ukrainian expats) and Romanians. Canada has a large air wing based in Romania. This, too, is more about optics than substance, as was noted by The Saker. But all this sends a bad message to Russia, and there are now unconfirmed reports of Iskander missiles in transit along the Russian border with Ukraine, close to Kiev. The Russians take these matters quite seriously.
The Iskander is a hypersonic short range multi-use missile, ideal for establishing local no-fly zones and for shooting down Bayraktars. The Russians do not even have to set foot on Ukrainian soil to be militarily active in Ukraine. That movement of missiles, too, is probably just ‘messaging’ or may even be completely unrelated to NATO rhetoric, though the latter is doubtful. But probably the big red line for Russia’s cutting ties with the NATO crowd was the latter’s plan for a nuclear war with Russia, just revealed.
Is anything likely to come from the items just listed? Probably not, as any tensions will probably go that way of the April fandango in Ukraine and dissolve once they see the Russian resolve. But the heightened rhetoric out of EU NATO headquarters speaks more of a call for legitimacy rather than a real military threat to Russia. And Russia has just announced it is increasing gas supplies to Germany and Austria next month, showing the stupidity of the NATO-speak out of Brussels. If an attack did happen against Russia, the impotence of NATO forces in Europe would be on full display. Developments in Ukraine in recent days point to what might be the last gasp for NATO legitimacy. And the move by Putin directing Gazprom to pump more gas into the EU storage facilities may just prove to be a shrewd move, even if unintended that way.
The Saker has been following the Bayraktar developments in Ukraine, albeit with some alarm. He may be onto something. Then again, it all may just blow over. His thinking goes like this: Use EU states, as in supplying weapons and talking up capabilities to Kiev, to cause Ukrainian leaders to provoke an incident in the LDNR region that would in turn cause a direct Russian intervention in Ukraine. The result of that would be a political victory for NATO, albeit ruination for Ukraine, causing Russia to be excluded from Europe in toto, at least politically. That in turn would (they hope) cause cancellation of Russian energy exports and other business ties with Russia. Over the long term, such an outcome would be a disaster for Europe, but a great victory for Washington, thus keeping the EU firmly in the Atlanticist fold. Let ‘molecules of freedom’ ring across the gas meters in Europe!
Would the preceding scenario really work, though, and for how long if so? I would have doubts about it, looking at the EU and NATO charts over the next few years. That will be handled in a separate post, should such events just described conspire. But if so, the long term effects would be splits occurring in the EU and NATO, the revival of the American fracking industry and the emergence of distinct separate economic blocs on the European peninsula, with Northern Europe going the way of the US and the Club Med states gradually turning east.
So, will the growing and resurgent tensions in Ukraine play in Washington and NATO’s favour? NATO’s chart says no. And the Russians are too smart to play into such a chain of events. They play the long game and have many options open to them. They also know Ukraine is a trap for them. Better to sell the EU economical and dependable Russian gas to remind the EU about economic realities over ideologies. We won’t cover those issues here, but instead look at the astrology for NATO in the immediate years ahead.
When we look at the directions to NATO over the next few years, the story about its demise is there. We see the directed MC to NATO’s Mars in a couple of years, showing conflicts in headquarters, along with directed Mars to the NATO Venus, showing conflicts with allies (7th house) and self-sabotage (12th house). That will be followed the year after by a direction of Uranus to the NATO Ascendant, showing a shake-up in the organization. This is highlighted also by the transit of Saturn across from the NATO Sun along with the direction of Uranus, marking quite a difficult period and one of serious self-examination and crisis.
As to the present day, Mars is about to transit over the NATO Ascendant, showing the bellicosity out of Brussels and tough talk, but also the short duration of the same. The rhetoric will calm down over the next week or so, at least for NATO. On a final note regarding NATO’s rhetoric, we have the following classic quote:
“No one ever lost money underestimating NATO’s capacity to reach the depths of inconsequential stupidity.”
Featured pic from Financial Times