I Ching reading: What should Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) do in Response to the Turkish Attack?

I threw hexagram 37 (The Family) with the fifth line changing, into hexagram 22 (Grace).

The Family is about the structure of the Confucian family. In this political inquiry, the nation is seen as the family. The nation’s leader’s responsibility is to protect the family.

Though the nation might be Rojava, I think I should read the nation as Syria, and that the head of the nation is Bashir al-Assad.

The changing line says “As a king, he approaches his family. Fear not. Good fortune.” This emphasizes the role of the Assad as the key person of this inquiry.

A rebellious portion of Syria has been attacked by an outside force, and the duty of the father is to protect the family. Rojava should (and has) sought the protection of the Syrian state, and the Syrian state should protect Rojava from the Turkish army and militias.

Rojava asked for protection from Assad on October 13th, to defend Kobani and Manjib. A few Syrian soldiers have already been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The commentary on the fifth line says “the whole family can trust him (the father) because love governs their intercourse.” Rojava can only hope that Assad will treat them as family members rather than as rebels.

Hexagram 22 (Grace) is a distinctly unpowerful hexagram, that can represent the heightened feelings of art. The commentary says that it only represents ornament, not fundamental things. Rojava has almost no power in this situation, and depends entirely upon Assad and Syria. It depends on Syria to stop a Turkish attack, and depends on Syria afterwards to not oppress it. Given the nature of the world, where the strong take what they want, Rojava’s will certainly disappear as a state, and may suffer under re-imposed Syrian rule.

I Ching Reading: Will Trump be Impeached?

I got hexagram 32 (Duration) with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines changing. The resultant hexagram is 2 (The Receptive.)

I could answer my inquiry without looking at my copy of the I Ching translation by Richard Wilhelm. Hexagram 32 has three firm lines and three yielding lines. In the reading, all of the firm lines change to yielding lines, creating a hexagram of only yielding lines. All of the firmness implied by an impeachment inquiry will dissipate, leaving only yielding reception.

But let’s go into the details. In my earlier inquiry about Trump, I also got hexagram 32 with the 2nd line changing. The I Ching is rather insistently telling me that nothing substantive has changed since my last inquiry. Readers may want to consult that reading too.

Duration is an image of marriage, of the dynamic process that keeps a family together and moving forward. Trump is head of the national family, and impeachment threats are essentially a family disagreement, where the children complain about the father’s actions. The hexagram says that since families are dynamic, Trump will remain the head, though he may change the way he leads the family.

The changing second line is the same as the previous reading. Please read my extended explanation of it there.

The changing third lines warns the inquirer that inconsistent meets with humiliation. This probably doesn’t apply to Trump, who is one of the most consistent characters, like it or not, that politics has seen in a while. So it must apply to the Democrats. They are warned that they must understand why they are looking at impeaching, and to maintain their character.

The changing fourth line says “No game in the field,” meaning the hunt will fail because there isn’t any game in the forest. It seems like a blunt warning that Trump’s Ukrainian conversation isn’t sufficient for impeachment in the people’s eyes.

The I Ching’s conclusion is that Trump will remain president, that the Democrats will have a hard time staying firm and united and that the justification for impeachment is insufficient.

My reading of the situation, clarified by the I Ching, is that when Trump threatened Zelensky in the phone call, Trump’s aides immediately realized that Trump had overstepped. They tried to cover up the conversation, but it was too late. Too many people had heard the conversation, and rumors began to spread through the government. One intelligence officer heard the rumor, and also the rumors of the coverup, and decided to become a whistle blower.

As part of their attempt to cover up Trump’s error, his aides asked for a ruling from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, which said that executive privilege overruled the whistle blower statue. The Office’s opinions are secret; the Office also wrote the torture memos that allowed torture after 9/11, but the memos were never publicly announced.

Congress saw that the administration has violated the letter of the whistle blower law, and had justified it with questionable logic about executive privilege. When they asked for the detailed logic, they were refused. The situation was clearly executive overreach. The House voted unanimously to ask for the complaint. On Tuesday, Sept 24, the Senate unanimously agreed. Both were non-binding resolutions, so had no power of law, but they warned the administration that Republicans wouldn’t accept such overreach either.

On Wednesday, Sept 25, Trump’s aides then made a wise decision — they provided Congress with the substantive text of the conversation and with the whistle blower’s complaint. They have not (at present) disclosed the whistle blower’s name or the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion; both are protected by law, and Trump’s aides acted correctly in not disclosing them. The material showed exactly what Trump did, and was a personal humiliation. However, it took all the wind out of the impeachment inquiry. Trump’s actions weren’t bad enough, and they weren’t covered up enough, for the people to become angry enough to force Trump out. Everyone understood that Trump’s mistakes were due to his well-known ignorance of law, and of his obsession with conspiracies. Though damaging, it didn’t show anything new about Trump.

Then on Friday, Sept 27, Democrats announced they were launching an impeachment inquiry. This puzzled me. Democrats had already gotten the information they wanted, and it was quite damaging. The public indignation Democrats seemed to expect was strictly partisan. I felt that impeachment wasn’t a viable threat, and was a mistake.

Today I see it a little differently. Impeachment is not weapon that Congress can use at this time, but is a viable threat not to overreach again.

In the end, Congress demonstrated that it has a whip hand, but Trump’s power had not been seriously threatened. It was just a family argument, and the wheels on the bus will keep turning.

I Ching Reading: Will the Attack on Saudi Arabia’s Oil Refinery Cause War in the Next Three Months?

I threw hexagram 51 (The Arousing; Shock and Thunder) with the first two lines changing. The resultant hexagram is 40 (Deliverance).

Hexagram 51 consists of the same trigram doubled; the trigram is Thunder and represents the eldest brother.

This is a horrid hexagram to receive. It means that the subject (Saudi Arabia) will receive shock after shock, until it figures out what to do. It’s like being in a tank, under artillery fire, facing a minefield. If you do nothing, you will be decimated; if you do something, you will likely be decimated. So Saudi Arabia has to do something immediately, even as it suffers.

Saudi Arabia’s first shock was that it was attacked so successfully. It’s missile defenses didn’t detect the attack. It wasn’t able to stop it at all. Then the world didn’t rise to it’s defense, like the world rose to the defense of Kuwait when Iraq invaded it. Trump immediately threatened revenge, but when he’d thought about it, he backed off. Saudi Arabia has depended on its U.S. ally for decades, and now its ally has abandoned it in its hour of need. Shock after shock.

The effective leader of Saudia Arabia is its crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, a young man of 34, who is the perfect example of this trigram. He took power with storm and thunder, seizing many of the richest people in the kingdom and jailing them in a high end hotel until they agreed to give him the money they’d gotten as bribes. MBS has been very active: isolating Qatar, changing the status of women in the kingdom, creating a new economic plan to wean Saudi dependence on oil, prosecuting a war in Yemen.

At the same time, the U.S. is exerting maximal pressure on Iran by preventing other countries from paying Iran for its oil. The U.S. has effectively declared war on Iran, but Iran isn’t strong enough to fight the U.S directly. Instead, Iran has in limited ways — shooting down a U.S. drone, attacking oil tankers, seizing a British ship — to let the U.S. know that it could really hurt it if it chose. Trump has ignored these provocations.

The attack on the refinery is the most serious provocation yet. Iran’s ally in Yemen, the Houthis, immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but there were too many missiles in a too-coordinated attack for them to have pulled it off. The Saudi claimed the missiles came directly from Iran, but haven’t been able to prove it yet. The Iranians have again proved masterful at provocations that the U.S. is able to ignore, though Saudia Arabia can’t.

The first changing line seems contradictory. A sudden shock is followed by laughter, with the stipulation of “Good fortune.” The maneuvering is over; the issue is in the open: Iran launched a sneak attack on Saudi Arabia. The Saudis can call on their subjects’ loyalty, but Iran can’t. Saudia Arabia has right on its side. That is the good fortune.

The second changing line says that now there is real danger, and that Saudi Arabia will lose its treasures. It should not try to pursue its treasure, because they will be returned in the end.

I once got this hexagram and changing line when I was about to sign over software copyrights to my partners. Within a year, they gave me back the copyrights at minimal cost. That’s the kind of weird mojo that happens with this hexagram.

Saudi Arabia can’t do anything now. Though on paper they have an air force that is twice the size of Iran’s, Saudi Arabia never expected to use it; it is probably filled with aristocratic pilots who don’t want to risk their lives in a real fight. An air attack on Iran would probably be a debacle. Saudi Arabia expected the U.S. to fight on its behalf. All Saudi Arabia can do now is play defense, and accept the humiliation of not being able to avenge the attack.

The resulting hexagram 40 says exactly what has happened: “movement goes out of the sphere of danger.” The lower trigram of thunder becomes the trigam of water flowing swiftly through a gorge.

As long as MBS doesn’t attack, he will get deliverance. The hexagram suggests that Iran will be injured, but doesn’t specify how.

So there won’t be war in the Middle East in the next three months. Saudi Arabia is too weak to strike, and the U.S. won’t. Trump will wait for an even more serious Iranian provocation.

Fun and games, folks. Be ready for anything.

I Ching Readings: Why?

The ancient Chinese used the Book of Changes as a part of governance. The important men in the government regularly consulted the I Ching when faced with a difficult decision. Much of the I Ching is taken up with question of when to impose punishments, how to build group consensus, and when to keep quiet. It’s a rule book for survival in a large organization.We Americans don’t use for those purposes.

When I ran a software business, I regularly consulted the I Ching to understand forces that weren’t visible to me.

The most common use in the U.S. is for internal reflection. A person throws an I Ching in the morning, and then meditates on it throughout the day, seeing how it interacts with their daily life. The reading doesn’t have a query, a question a reader brings to the I Ching. A Guide to the I Ching by Carol Anthony is a good guide for interpreting it that way.

In the series of readings I’ll publish here, I’ll deal with the big political and economics issues of the day, seeing if the I Ching has anything to say about it.

I hope you enjoy them, and learn a little about the I Ching.

I Ching Reading: How will the Trade War between the U.S. and China go?

I threw hexagram 21 (Biting Through). The first line changes, and the resulting hexagram is 35 (Progress).

The judgement of Biting Through give a very direct answer to the query. “It is favorable that justice be administered.” The trade war is an attempt by the U.S. to get China to obey the trade rules it agreed to decades ago. China has consistently flouted the trade rules, for example, by not paying copyright holders, and by not fully opening its economy to the world. The simplest example is that the renminbi is not fully convertible.

The image of the hexagram is a mouth with an obstruction between the teeth. The hexagram is about energetically biting through the obstruction. One line from Wilhelm gives the flavor: “Recourse to law and penalties overcomes the disturbances of harmonious social life caused by criminals and slanderers.” Ouch.

The changing first line says, “If a sentence is imposed the first time a man attempts to do wrong, the penalty is a mild one.” Trade sanctions levied to get the trade partner to follow rules is a mild penalty. It hurts both China and the U.S. mildly. It’s really just a warning.

Generally, time goes from the first to the last line of the hexagram, so a changing first line suggests that the trade war will end soon, and that after that, easy, rapid progress will be made.

I Ching Reading: Will there be a Recession in the U.S. in the Next Nine Month?

I threw hexagram 53 (Development or Gradual Progress) with no changing lines.

Gradual Progress is exactly what it sounds like. The U.S. economy will develop, making gradual progress. It will do all this things it needs to do to continue to grow.

Since there are no changing lines, Development will continue for the next nine months. Since I asked only about the next nine months, the reading deals with exactly that period.

I Ching Reading: How Will Brexit End Up?

I threw hexagram 48 — The Well — with the third line changing. The changed hexagram is 29 — the Abysmal.

The image of the Well is of the well that is at the center of every village. The village couldn’t exist without it’s well. It’s a symbol of fundamentals of collective life, and of how human communities rely on nature.

With Brexit, it reminds us that the fundamentals don’t change. Even with a disorderly Brexit, UK citizens will buy food and medicine from Europe and other place, and the UK will export goods. There will be moments of confusion and added expense, but life will continue.

What’s interesting in this reading is the changing line. It’s a very long inscription:

The well is cleaned, but no one drinks from it. This is my heart’s sorrow, for one might draw from it. If the king were clear-minded, good fortune might be enjoyed in common.

Wilhelm says, “An able man is available… but no use is made of him.”

There are many people in the UK able to lead it through an orderly leaving of the EU, but none of them are the actual leaders. Instead, the UK has people like May, Johnson and Corbyn. The Brexit mess is a failure of leadership.

Because of its poor leaders, the UK faces the Abysmal, where danger is doubled. The danger is probably not the immediate danger of famine or plague, but the problem of finding good leaders who can clean up the mess. At this moment, it looks grim.