China Pushes Back at America

China Pushes Back at America

KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images

As the U.S. steps up its involvement in the Pacific, so does China.

North Korea is testing rockets designed to hit American soil. The announcement, which was delivered on January 24, confirms that North Korea is not just developing rocket technology to launch satellites. This is hardly an astounding revelation. But why the sudden aggressiveness right now?

China and Japan are locked in a territorial dispute over some small, yet crucial islands in the East China Sea. This is not a new problem, but this time there is more on the line than just a few islands. President Obama’s “Pacific pivot” demands that America make its presence felt more in the Asia-Pacific region. American treaties with Japan state that the United States must come to Japan’s aid if there is a conflict. America is expected to support the Japanese should the dispute escalate. Obama’s Pacific strategy also entails rallying other Asian nations against the growing power of China.

China is well aware of the subtle push by the United States to gain more influence and simultaneously slow the rate at which the Chinese economy and military are domineering the East.

One of the tools China uses to push back at America is North Korea.

North Korea relies heavily on its big neighbor. China supplies more than two thirds of North Korea’s food and more than half of its energy. Without the aid of China, North Korea would be crushed under international sanctions. North Korea has no choice but to dance to China’s tune.

The recent actions of North Korea point directly to Chinese influence.

China has no need to directly confront the U.S. It can afford to wait and watch as the U.S. tries to show a strong face against the aggression from North Korea—a country that America has little actual leverage over. And as America is shown to be impotent, it will lose its ability to unite the various Pacific powers against China. Japan doesn’t get along with Taiwan, Taiwan doesn’t get along with South Korea, South Korea doesn’t like Japan—and if America is perceived to be weak, there is nothing holding them together. One by one, each nation will be pulled under China’s influence. And America will be the big loser.

Years of failure on the North Korea issue risk undermining America’s operations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Yet ironically, as America’s Pacific strategy of uniting the various Asian powers against China is failing, the Bible predicts that many of these nations will put aside their differences and rally together for strength. “Despite its many national, religious and political differences, Asia will ultimately be welded together into a common power bloc,” the Plain Truth wrote back in April 1968. In biblical terms, the resulting conglomeration is known as the kings of the east. Read Russia and China in Prophecy for more on this rising power bloc. Continue to watch as China expands its influence to control the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Guttenberg—Playing It Cool

Guttenberg—Playing It Cool

MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

Germany’s once most popular politician, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, shuns the limelight while maintaining a keen eye on European politics.

It’s hard for Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to stay clear of the headlines.

Although for the past two years he has sought a low profile, seeking very little media attention of his own volition, it seems that any public move he makes has the press all over him like a rash.

The challenge here is that with so many self interests seeking to play the Guttenberg card, it’s difficult to deduce the reality behind the sensationalism to which the mainstream media are so prone when chasing down a high-profile personality for their own petty ends.

Guttenberg’s leftist enemies, though in the minority of those who maintain continuing interest in his prospects for a return to political leadership in Germany, are the loudest voices decrying that prospect. All that their baying for his blood does is signify that to them he remains a continuing threat to their own moribund politics. If they weren’t worried about any prospect of Guttenberg’s political comeback, they wouldn’t be still trying to can him two years down the track following his voluntary resignation from political office.

On the other hand, that the Guttenberg fan base remains intact was clearly seen at the reaction in Germany to the cancellation of his recent invitation to speak at Dartmouth University.

An earlier organized walkout by a minority of students at Yale, which occurred during an address being given by Guttenberg at that institution, now added to by the Dartmouth cancellation, may steer the ex- German defense minister away from accepting similar invitations from academia in the future.

On the other hand, when Guttenberg attends and addresses groups of more balanced intellect, he appears to have a willing audience. This is especially so in the foreign-policy arena, his arena of choice.

Mid-winter is the time for the highest-profile conferences of global movers and shakers. Preceding the Davos economic conference, the Munich Security Conference and the closed-door meeting of the Bilderbergers, all held during winter in Europe, the Alpine Symposium, held annually in Switzerland, receives a lesser billing with the press, yet is by no means less popular with high-profile participants.

Held in Interlaken on January 15-16 this year, the conference featured Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg in a lecture on his favorite subject—the geopolitics of Europe.

Speaking to a sellout crowd, Guttenberg chose his words carefully, yet still managed to show his disdain for the manner in which European politics are being conducted.

Jungfrau Zeitung reported that, “At the Alpine Summit in Interlaken, the former German defense minister explained why he now was attracted, after his plagiary scandal is almost forgotten, again on the important podiums of economy and politics. He does not speculate on holding a political office, however; of concern to him is to pass on his experience. The last two years—which he mainly spent ‘in calm and left in peace’—gave him time to occupy himself with global topics, for which so often time is lacking in the hectic everyday political life” (January 26; translation ours throughout).

Having identified the main challenges to global stability in his Interlaken speech, Guttenberg turned to Europe and his consistent theme of condemnation of European politics: “The European procedure, he explained cynically, insists on determined hesitation, of complicated processes, and people at the top ‘that are as famous as Cypriote beach volleyball players.’ This is no way to face risks and to break the head of the unpredictability of global processes” (ibid).

In a further biting criticism of EU leadership, Guttenberg declared that “This reminded him of a ‘surgical table where 27 doctors manipulate and sabotage each other’” (merkur-online.de, January 24).

As to solutions to today’s global challenges, Guttenberg somewhat understatedly suggested, “Time and substance are necessary, in order to take well-founded decisions …. He demanded courageous action and measures in the sphere of global processes instead of hasty reactions on the consequences of these developments. … And he pleaded for leaders not to face a dilemma without a demonstration of power or force, but to also bring antagonists of a conflict together and search for solutions” (op. cit.).

While not hitting his full stride in Interlaken, the former German defense minister said enough to indicate his frustration at the lack of effective political leadership in Europe, while at the same time revealing his current thinking on balancing dialogue with a show of power or force in foreign policy.

As the year matures toward the September federal elections in Germany, it will be interesting to note whether Guttenberg’s voice becomes more strident at carefully chosen forums in the foreign-policy sphere. To certain German elites, he still presents an attractive solution to not only Germany’s but to Europe’s ongoing leadership vacuum.

Why Men and Women?

From the March 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

In dismantling the traditional ways of relating to one another as men and women, society lost more than just human traditions: We arrogantly, foolishly trashed God’s design in creating men and women.

The Bible clearly states that God created humankind male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). This was not an arbitrary decision. It was done with definite purpose.

How many understand that purpose—even those who claim to get their religion from the Bible? Can they explain Genesis 1:27? Why did God even create the sexes?

The fact is, God is the source of everything that makes men men and women women. He designed the differences in physique, in emotions, in intellectual and psychological composition. But why?

Piece together all of the observable and scriptural evidence, and you can see unmistakably that God created these differences—physical, mental, emotional—to establish order, structure and strength, especially within the family. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Non-Bible believers scoff at that scripture. “Christians” who don’t like it find ways to make it mean something else. But godly men and women see simple logic and beauty in it.

For the sake of order and harmony, God created men to fulfill one role within the family and within society, and He created women to fill a different and beautifully complementary role.

This is the reality that God created and revealed to humankind. It is a vital key to individual, family and societal success! Understanding and wholeheartedly embracing the God-ordained roles for men and women brings satisfaction in your job and fulfillment in all your most important relationships—friends, dating, marriage, family. It brings peace to your home, and success to your dealings with members of the opposite sex.

Everybody wants that kind of lifebut because of the intense assault against a reality created by God, few are willing to hear the truth about what causes these effects.

Where Have Britain’s Good Men Gone?

From the March 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Britain was once known around the world not just for bad cooking, but also for reliability and decency, symbolized by one of Britain’s most recognizable icons: the bobby. With his hard blue hat and neat uniform, the British policeman had a reputation for being helpful and incorruptible.

That reputation is swiftly crumbling. A few months ago, the police were caught falsifying evidence on a huge scale. Back in 1989, nearly 100 football fans died as spectators tried to squeeze into a stadium. Now it has emerged that the police altered over a hundred witness statements to deflect blame from themselves. This wasn’t the result of one corrupt officer: It was systemic deceit by a whole regional police force.

In December, they were caught at it again. The police brought down a government minister—the chief whip—with false evidence, a lying policeman and an apparently falsified police log book. One journalist noted, “If they can frame a chief whip, they can frame anyone.”

Sadly, these wrongdoings are typical of scandals that, over the last year or so, have rocked the reputation of a number of British institutions once regarded as respectable and upright. Politicians, journalists, bankers and TV stars have been arrested recently over one sin or another. Reliability and decency are no longer core British traits.

The BBC used to be known the world over as the impartial voice of the news. Now, aside from its long-running problems with left-wing bias, it is in trouble for covering up child sex abuse.

Britain’s press has never had a particularly solid reputation. But that reputation has perhaps never sunk so low as now, after revelations about journalists hacking the phones of bereaved parents.

A trustworthy reputation used to be the most valuable asset of any British bank. Banks designed their branches like Greek temples, with wide columns and solid stone walls projecting an image of sturdy reliability. Now, however, in the wake of the banking collapse and LIBOR scandal, bankers are seen as barely better than bank robbers.

And Parliament? No one trusts politicians anymore. In 2009, the Houses of Parliament were shaken by revelations that ministers had fiddled their expenses, breaking the spirit of the rules if not the letter, to essentially steal thousands of pounds from taxpayers. So far, six have gone to jail; more could follow. Many claim that others got off more lightly than their actions deserved. New rules were put in place to stop fraud from happening again. Several politicians have already been accused of questionable practices trying to get around these laws.

Even the National Health Service, which Britain proudly put on display during the Olympics, has withered under the exposure of its inhumane standards of care in some cases.

Has corruption ever spread so far and so deep?

Isaiah 3:1-3 prophesy that God will remove strong male leadership from Israel and Judah. Today, capable leaders even on smaller scales have disappeared—upright traders, politicians, newspaper editors, police chiefs. Soncino Bible Commentary says “honorable man” refers to men who command respect. These are certainly gone today. Is there one institution left that Britain can point to with pride? The honorable man is missing from all walks of life.

This lack of honorable men is the nation’s biggest crisis. Britain could survive almost any catastrophe as long as men are decent, honest and upright. Look how stoically cities like London made it through the Blitz in World War II. But without honorable men, a crisis will cause society to fracture and collapse.

The most headline-grabbing stories today practically all trace back to Britain’s lack of honorable men. How bad would the banking crisis have been if bankers were all looking out for the best interests of their customers? The LIBOR scandal certainly would have been avoided. How much better would the nation’s finances be if everyone claiming welfare benefits put all their effort into finding a job? What if politicians set an example in being above reproach in how they spent the nation’s money?

Britain needs a revolution in character—from top to bottom. The restoration of the nation must prominently feature the restoration of the honorable man.

WorldWatch

From the March 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Europe

America’s new best friend?

British Euroskeptics have long dreamed of leaving the European Union and forming a new relationship with the Commonwealth and the United States. Unlike the EU, this alliance would benefit all involved, and would share Britain’s fundamental values: Their laws flow from the same tradition.

The problem is, America is not interested. It is more pro-European than most of Europe is.

America’s response to Britain’s Euroskepticism shows that it views Britain as a bridge to Europe, rather than an important ally in its own right. If Britain leaves the EU, its usefulness to America is over.

U.S. President Barack Obama himself is reportedly lobbying Prime Minister David Cameron to keep Britain in the EU. A State Department official, Philip H. Gordon, traveled to London on January 8 to tell Britain’s leaders that America values “a strong UK voice in a strong European Union.” America wants “an outward-looking EU with Britain in it,” he said.

The sheer hypocrisy of a nation formed because it didn’t want foreign control over its affairs telling Britain it must subordinate itself to Brussels has offended many Britons. But America’s shift in priorities has some logic: Britain doesn’t have the clout that it used to, so America is looking for an ally that does.

Washington-based foreign affairs correspondent Nile Gardiner detailed America’s growing anti-British track record in the Telegraph. In January 2011, America’s ambassador to the UK, Louis Susman, said, “I want to stress that the UK needs to remain in the EU,” and, “[L]et’s be clear: All key issues must run through Europe.” In 2010, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Brussels could claim the title of “capital of the free world” and said a strong EU is “absolutely essential to American prosperity and long-term security.”

Now, America’s support for Europe could move beyond rhetoric. Many commentators expect a new U.S.-EU trade initiative to be announced this year. Both sides see a transatlantic free-trade deal as a cost-free way to boost the economy.

European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht recently said, “Perhaps not a marriage, but certainly a closer [EU-U.S.] partnership” was in order. De Gucht is still discussing the feasibility of such a plan with U.S. authorities, but said, “I am confident we will be able to deliver it very soon.” The idea also has strong support in the U.S. President Obama, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy called for “a bold initiative to expand trade and investment” in a joint statement last year.

“2013 presents the best moment for a serious U.S. trade initiative since Mr. Obama was first elected,” wrote Edward Luce. “Most European governments, including the French and particularly the Germans and British, are also enthusiastic” (Financial Times, Dec. 23, 2012). Such a free-trade deal would not be easy; it would require many compromises that Brussels may not be willing to make. But America is strongly signaling its keenness to pursue a transatlantic free-trade partnership.

Even America’s so-called Asian pivot is pushing it toward this alliance. If America wants to focus more attention on Asia, it needs a strong, reliable partner across the Atlantic. This is why it is trying to persuade EU countries to increase defense spending rather than relying on the U.S. It seems it would even favor a strong military union in Europe.

It’s still a bit of an exaggeration to say the EU is now America’s new best friend; it’s the direction relations are heading, not a destination already reached. But they will get there. Two important trends the Trumpet has watched for years are the breakdown in relations between Britain, America and Israel, and America’s growing love for Europe—especially Europe’s leader, Germany.

America can see that its global power is diminishing. But rather than addressing the cause of it, it is trying to build up a new power in Europe. The loss of America’s power ultimately gets back to individual morality and a refusal to trust God for deliverance. It isn’t causing the U.S. to turn back to God in repentance; instead America is turning to its new European ally.

Bible prophecy reveals that this trust will be betrayed in a frightening and horrible way, but it will teach America a vital lesson. The American people will ultimately learn to trust God, not other nations, for protection.

France

Intervening in Mali

French forces hurriedly swept into Mali January 11 after the acting government in Mali came under a surprise attack by a coalition of radical Islamist rebels the day before. The rebels already controlled the greater part of Mali, and their attack prompted interim President Dioncounda Traore to call for emergency intervention. France had favored swift intervention in Mali because of its deep economic interests there. Islamic radicals are now entrenched in a part of Mali almost twice the size of Germany. France has taken the lead in Mali, but Germany is not opposing the mission as it did in Libya. It promised to provide logistical support for France, as well as medical and humanitarian aid. It also said it would speed up creating a training program for Mali’s army. German troops in Mali would be controversial at home and abroad, but Germany is doing all it can short of sending in ground troops. It’s certainly worried about Mali, but it doesn’t want to expend the political capital necessary for an invasion right now.

Germany

Staying in Afghanistan, eyeballing Syria

Germany has pledged to continue intervening in Afghanistan and Syria.

In a meeting in Kabul in December, German President Joachim Gauck told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that Germany would continue to play a major role in Afghanistan after it withdraws its combat troops in 2014. Berlin says it will provide training for Afghan security forces, and that it will also help the Afghan people with development and reconstruction.

Also in December, the Bundestag voted 461 to 86 to deploy Patriot missiles to Turkey’s border with Syria. The two missile batteries, along with 400 German soldiers, are part of a nato deployment that went operational in January and is scheduled to last for one year.

Bible prophecy indicates that Germany will become much more involved in both Afghanistan and Syria. In both places, Berlin is looking to contain Iran’s growing influence. The Bible says tension between Germany and Iran will ultimately lead to another crusade that will pit Catholic Europe against Iran and radical Islam. To learn more, request our free booklets Germany and the Holy Roman Empire and The King of the South.

France

New year, new Muslim problem

Youths in France burned 1,193 cars on the last night of 2012 in what has become a New Year’s Eve tradition. Most of the arson took place in France’s poor Muslim districts. Although the mainstream media refuses to cover it, the French are bitterly divided over the presence and expansion of Islam. Muslim violence is exacerbating this discord. Watch: These problems will continue to build until Europe rallies to Catholicism and finally confronts Islam.

Germany

An anti-Iran alliance

Germany has approved in principle the sale of up to 100 Dingo 2 armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia, Bild am Sonntag reported in December. The Dingos are mine-resistant and designed to defend their occupants against nuclear radiation, as well as biological or chemical attacks. Bild reported that Saudi Arabia plans to buy 30 vehicles for around €100 million (over us$130 million) and 70 more over the long term. This is another example of Germany’s new policy of using strategic military hardware sales to build alliances. Its weapons exports to Saudi Arabia could grow large. German media reports say Saudi Arabia wants to buy 600 to 800 German Leopard ii tanks. Germany is making a concerted effort to ally with and arm opponents of Iran, as prophesied in the Bible.

Middle East

Syria

Using WMD against rebels?

Syrian rebels claim they were attacked with poison gas on Dec. 23, 2012. Six rebels died after breathing white smoke from shells in the city of Homs, according to doctors based in Turkey who sympathize with the uprising. The Syrian American Medical Society stated that use of the gas, most likely Agent-15, was “probable.” It was not the first time the rebels claimed they had been gassed. The possibility of biological warfare is much likelier to spur international intervention against Bashar Assad’s regime. Several news outlets have reported that Syria has begun preparing its chemical weapons, including sarin gas, for use. Whether these reports are being fabricated and spread by activists eager for international intervention in Syria, or Assad did in fact use a less-effective chemical agent to test the waters, this incident could have significant repercussions. The Trumpet has long forecast that Syria would emerge from this crisis an ally of Europe, not Iran. Reports of chemical weapons could provide Western forces the pretext they need to intervene.

Hezbollah partners with drug cartels

Hezbollah may be partnering with Mexican drug cartels and raising funds for attacks in the United States. The terrorist group’s main sponsor, Iran, has been sanctioned because of its nuclear program, and it has apparently curtailed funding to its terrorist proxies, including Hezbollah, according to the Israeli military. U.S. authorities say Hezbollah operatives in Mexico are working with murderous drug cartels like Los Zetas in the northern regions along the U.S. border. Cooperating with cartels could help them reduce their dependency on Iranian funding. Hezbollah is helping the cartels produce weapons and explosives, and is training drug lords in how to build elaborate tunnels under the border to smuggle drugs, weapons and people. Hezbollah could use the tunnels to launch terrorist assaults inside the U.S.

Iran

Israel

Eritrea

Vying for influence

Eritrea, a small, economically and politically vulnerable country in East Africa, is shaping into another battleground between Israel and Iran. Eritrea has accommodated each of the rivals in different ways. Cooperating with U.S.-allied Israel helps the isolated country grow as a nation and deters aggression from neighbor Ethiopia. Meanwhile, Israel benefits from intelligence-gathering operations in Eritrea that help it monitor the Red Sea and Iran. However, Eritrea also courts Iran for military, industrial and financial support. Stratfor noted that Israel does not want to jeopardize the good relationships it has with both Eritrea and Ethiopia, so it is “less interested in expanding its presence in Eritrea than Iran. … As Israel has expanded its security cooperation with South Sudan and Kenya in recent years, Eritrea has responded by strengthening its ties with Iran.” Bible prophecy indicates that both Eritrea and Ethiopia will ultimately fall under the influence of Iran.

Egypt

Gifts for Brotherhood

Despite Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood ties and recent dictatorial actions, U.S. President Barack Obama is ensuring that America’s annual $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt continues. The aid is sent in the form of money and state-of-the-art weaponry. The current shipment is to include 200 M1-A1 Main battle tanks and a squadron of F-16s. Egypt already has the fourth-largest fleet of F-16s in the world, and is only about 100 fighter jets behind Israel. Egypt has 4,000 total tanks—almost double the number Israel has. Israel (but apparently not the U.S.) is deeply anxious about Egypt’s increasing radicalism. Should war erupt, Washington would be guilty of supplying arms to Israel’s attackers.

Bishops’ Conference stands up to Morsi

While most of the West dithered over President Morsi’s power grab in November, one institution inside Egypt spoke out forcefully: its Catholic Bishop’s Conference. Spokesman Rafik Greiche made it clear that the Catholic Church firmly opposes Morsi, his treatment of protesters and the constitution he forced through. In December he told a Catholic charity, “The European Union must make it clear to President Morsi and his government that they have to observe human rights.” Greiche also made it clear that he opposes not just Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood, but any form of “politicized” Islam. These candid statements are a sign of conflicts to come between radical Islam and a Catholic superpower.

Asia

Russia

Kazakhstan

Belarus

Deeper integration

The presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus met in Moscow on December 19, where they ordered their governments to draft a treaty on a Eurasian Economic Union. Since establishing its authority in the region in 2008’s Russo-Georgian War, Moscow has helped depose the governments in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia, which had been swept into power in color revolutions. At the same time, Russia has integrated more deeply with Belarus and Kazakhstan through the establishment of the Customs Union, the power of which December’s meeting in Moscow is bolstering. The treaty the leaders ordered is to be implemented on Jan. 1, 2015, shortly after Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are set to enter the union. Expect President Vladimir Putin to continue rallying former Soviet nations behind Moscow as he reestablishes influence in Russia’s former Soviet periphery.

Russia

China

Filling Central Asia’s power vacuum

“Western influence in Central Asia is on the verge of a major decline,” the Lignet intelligence group wrote on December 31. And who will fill the power vacuum that Western powers will leave as the nato-led International Security and Assistance Force withdraws from Afghanistan? Russia and China are aiming to.

The United States has experienced volatile relations with a string of Central Asian countries. In 2005, American troops were evicted from the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan. In 2011, Russia joined Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in agreeing that no future foreign military bases could be opened in any of their nations without the agreement from all of those countries. Then in December 2012, Kyrgyzstan said the U.S. could not use the country’s Manas base after 2014 and said U.S. troops must leave the country by then. Regional powers are gearing up to take America’s place. “Russia … is preparing to fill a Central Asian power vacuum that looks set to emerge in 2014,” the Lignet report said. Moscow has already signed a series of military assistance packages with Central Asian nations, including a $1.1 billion deal with Kyrgyzstan in November. Russia is expected to take many more such initiatives to boost its presence in the region.

China is also bolstering its influence in the area with key energy and resource projects. In the year ahead, Central Asia’s tip away from Washington and toward Moscow and Beijing will accelerate.

Russia

New silent nuclear submarine

The Russian Navy launched a powerful and nearly noiseless nuclear submarine on Dec. 29, 2012. The Vladimir Monomakh belongs to a class of ballistic missile submarine cruisers equipped with new-generation nuclear reactors. The sub is armed with 16 to 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and, according to the Russia Times, “can overcome any prospective missile defense system.” The Kremlin plans to build seven more submarines by 2020. Under the reign of President Vladimir Putin, Moscow is laboring to reestablish Russian influence and to recreate the Soviet Union, the fall of which Putin has called “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” December’s landmark submarine launch is a part of this expansionist strategy.

Russia

India

$3 billion weapons agreement

India agreed on December 24 to buy $2.9 billion worth of Russian military equipment. The agreement says India will buy kits to assemble 42 Sukhoi-30 fighter jets for $1.6 billion, and 71 Mi-17 military helicopters for $1.3 billion. Russia custom designed the jets specifically for India, and they are engineered to become the backbone of the nation’s air force. Russia and India also recently collaborated on a supersonic missile for the Sukhoi-30s, and India is rumored to be equipping this jet to deliver its nuclear weapons.

The military cooperation between Moscow and New Delhi starkly contrasts with the pattern of earlier years, when India sought to Westernize its military assets after several setbacks with Russian arms deals. New Delhi’s return to Moscow for weapons is a big economic loss for Western nations that had enjoyed India’s business.

China and Russia are the regional behemoths driving the biblically prophesied cooperation of Eastern powers, which the Trumpet has been reporting on for decades. India will likely play a role in this group. To understand more, request a free copy of Russia and China in Prophecy.

Latin America, Africa

Caribbean

Slipping from America’s grasp

The dynamics of world trade are changing. A consortium of European companies is deepening and expanding the Panama Canal in a project that may trigger a once-in-a-century shake-up of maritime commerce. Once this expansion is complete, the canal will have a third lane capable of accommodating megaships nearly three times larger than any vessel that has thus far transited the isthmus. Transoceanic freighters from China will have enhanced access to the coalfields of Colombia, the soy plantations of Brazil and the ports of the American East Coast. Transoceanic freighters from Europe will have enhanced access to the copper mines of Chile, the ports of the American West Coast and even consumers in the Orient.

While these developments sound good for world trade, the disconcerting part for Americans is that the United States is absent. A European consortium of companies is expanding the Panama Canal. A Chinese company is operating the ports on both ends of the canal. Chinese investment is expanding the Cuban merchant fleet. On top of all that, the overall percentage of trade between the largest Latin American economies—Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina—and the United States has decreased dramatically in the past decade.

According to Stratfor analyst Robert Kaplan, U.S. leadership has largely ignored Latin America, while leaders in Europe, China and other parts of the world have made big inroads. Such negligence may prove to be one of America’s great strategic blunders.

One of the lesser known battles of the Second World War was the Battle of the Caribbean. During this 1942 naval campaign, German U-boats and Italian submarines attacked coastal targets in the Antilles Islands and sank Allied ships in the Caribbean Sea. The strategy was to blockade the Panama Canal and cut off the flow of oil from Venezuela to the U.S. If Hitler could wrest control of these strategic sea gates away from Washington, a nazified Europe hoped to besiege the U.S. into a forced armistice. After months of fighting, Allied naval forces were able to drive the Axis powers from the Caribbean, but a strategic weakness was spotlighted: The U.S. economy could have been severely crippled if American ships had been denied passage through the Panama Canal Zone.

In the almost seven decades since, American influence in the Caribbean Sea has dramatically fallen. After the U.S. relinquished control of the Panama Canal Zone in 1999, one of America’s most strategic assets was left wide open to foreign control.

Germany and the EU are now dramatically increasing their involvement with Panama. Visiting Europe last October, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that his country wants to introduce the euro as legal tender alongside the U.S. dollar. Considering the influx of trade that Panama is likely to receive as the result of an expanded Panama Canal, this is a massive vote of confidence in the German-dominated economic system.

Nigeria

Foreigners step in

Nigeria is becoming the new Somalia. Like the Somali al-Shabaab terrorist militia, Nigerian Boko Haram insurgents are unleashing a wave of religiously motivated violence across the country. Like the Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, West African pirates are now terrorizing ships across the Gulf of Guinea.

Pirate attacks have increased in frequency and severity in the last three years. Analysts say this is a result of the decline in British and American power, which has handled maritime policing of the area since the 19th century; now the Nigerian coast is largely unregulated and without an adequate maritime police force. This has prompted other world powers to increase their military presence in the region.

Last August, the Chinese military had discussions with the Nigerian government to upgrade the Nigerian Navy. China has already helped Nigeria set up an ammunition assembly line, and says it wants to train and equip the Nigerian Navy to secure the Gulf of Guinea. The German military is also very involved, though Berlin has focused more on combating land-based Islamic extremists. Last August, Angela Merkel offered Nigeria’s president military training to Nigerian soldiers combating Boko Haram Islamic insurgents in order to help safeguard the passage of Nigerian oil to European and Oriental markets.

As America fades, China and Germany grow their military presence in an African nation vital to global seaborne trade.

Anglo-America

Vanishing dads

In every state in America, the proportion of families where children have both a father and a mother has dropped drastically over the past decade. Almost one in three American children now live without a father; effects include poverty, crime, drugs and other problems. Vincent DiCaro, vice president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, stated: “Deal with absent fathers and the rest follows.”

Guess who’s dumping stocks?

Despite the mild stock market rally in recent months, a handful of billionaires are swiftly and quietly dumping their American stocks. Warren Buffett, who has been a cheerleader for U.S. stocks for quite some time, is dumping shares at an alarming rate. Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway recently sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and reduced his overall stake in consumer product stocks by 21 percent. Fellow billionaire John Paulson is following suit and recently dumped 14 million shares of JPMorgan Chase. George Soros recently sold nearly all of his bank stocks, including shares of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. With the Federal Reserve Quantitative Easing program unleashing inflationary forces, it is only a matter of time until U.S. treasury bonds are practically worthless. Once inflation hits 10 percent, 10-year treasury bonds lose about half their value. Investors and billionaires recognize this reality and are putting their money elsewhere.

Sales rising for bulletproof children’s clothing

Bulletproof clothing sales are soaring in the United States. Since 20 children and six school employees were gunned down at a school in Connecticut on December 14, parents are going to extreme lengths to protect their children.

Miguel Caballero, who manufactures protective gear for high-risk situations, is gaining a lot of attention for his bulletproof vests that are attached to bulletproof backpacks. At his factory in Colombia, he demonstrates his product by blasting it with pistols and machine guns. Caballero said that since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December, interest in his products has soared.

Despite the bloody conflict that has been raging in Colombia for 50 years, Caballero says the product was “created with the American market in mind, not for the Latino market. All the designs and colors, everything, is thought out with them in mind.”

It is an amazing sign of the times when Colombia is manufacturing body armor for American children. America and other modern Israelite nations have become an example of how lawlessness can destroy even the most prosperous nations.

Pope brings church to heel

It’s hard to think of a more complete victory in the Vatican’s long-running battle with the English Catholic Church.

Catholic officials in Rome have long been frustrated by England’s liberal Catholic bishops. One of the biggest reasons for this is the liberals’ refusal to follow Rome’s strict line on homosexuality. Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, the senior Catholic leader in England, has consistently given the impression that the Catholic Church supported homosexuals forming marriage-like unions in the form of civil partnerships. In approving homosexual partnerships, Nichols has been accused of defying Vatican guidelines.

Perhaps more brazenly, Nichols has consistently supported the Soho Masses, which specifically cater to homosexual Catholics. The Catholic Herald called this “the most potentially inflammatory source of division between Rome and Westminster.” Last year, Gerhard Ludwig Müller was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s enforcer. One of Müller’s top goals was, reportedly, to end the Soho Masses.

The other big point of friction between the Vatican and the English bishops has been the bishops’ unenthusiastic welcome for Anglicans defecting to Rome. Pope Benedict xvi personally orchestrated the creation of an ordinariate to allow defecting Anglicans to retain their traditions. He even donated a quarter of a million dollars to it. But the English bishops have refused to support it. They’ve given the ordinariate no buildings to hold its church services in. The last thing English Catholics want is for the Church of England’s most conservative members and priests to cross over into the Catholic Church.

With all that in mind, you can appreciate the magnitude of the English church’s January 2 announcement: The Soho Masses will be shut down, and the building they were held in will be given to the Anglican ordinariate.

The Vatican suddenly got its way on the two issues that have frustrated it for years. The Soho Masses are gone, and, for the first time, Anglicans returning to Rome will be able to worship in their own church building—all with one stroke. It’s hard to think of a bigger sign that the Vatican is now getting its way in England.

And just a few days earlier, in his Christmas Eve message, Nichols strongly condemned the government’s plan to introduce same-sex “marriage”—thereby bringing himself back in line with the Vatican.

If this shift translates into a more welcoming attitude toward the ex-Anglican Catholics, many more may cross over into the Catholic Church.

Israeli Election: What Happened to the Swing to the Right?

Israeli Election: What Happened to the Swing to the Right?

Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hopes for a right-wing government were dashed last Thursday as the last votes were tallied for the Israeli election. The elections were forecast by many to produce a right-wing governing coalition. As the final votes were counted, it was clear that the choice of the Israeli people told a different story. The Likud-Yisrael Beitenu alliance headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu did not gain the overwhelming victory it had hoped for.

The prime minister’s alliance won the election with 31 parliamentary seats—far less than the 42 it held in the outgoing parliament. As in times past, the prime minister now has the first chance to form a government. He doesn’t have enough seats to form a majority, so he must form a coalition government.

To form the new government, the prime minister must bring in some of the smaller parties to his cause. While the new government was projected to be more right-wing than the previous government, it appears this will not be the case. The prime minister will be forced to bring in some more central parties to his coalition if he wants his new government to be functional. So who will Prime Minister Netanyahu look to for support in his new government? Chances are, Mr. Netanyahu will look to Yesh Atid, the runners-up in the election.

The success of Yesh Atid may have been the biggest surprise in the election. Yesh Atid is a relatively new party in Israel. Yet, its ascent has been quite stunning, going from 11 seats last election to 19 this time.

Yesh Atid works off a primarily centralist platform. This means its focus is domestic. It wants to focus on reforming the government, seeking affordable housing, improving what it sees as a failing educational system, and putting an end to military exemption for the ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Yesh Atid has also called for Israel to give up much of the West Bank, but retain control of Jerusalem.

The party is led by a reporter-turned-politician named Yair Lapid. He is the son of a well-known politician in Israel, Tommy Lapid. His father’s party was Shinui, which was seen as anti-religious. It battled against the powers of the ultra-Orthodox. Yair Lapid’s party today is fighting for many of the same causes.

This is where things get tricky for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Since the election, the prime minister said he hopes to form a broad-based coalition government that would focus on Israel’s domestic issues. Such issues were hardly mentioned in the election campaign. No doubt the Yesh Atid party is already having an effect on domestic policy.

While a change in domestic policy may have some benefits for Israel, a government that focuses on issues internally may not be in Israel’s best interests.

There are riots in Jordan, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syrian civil war in the north, the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt in the south, and the looming presence of a nuclear-armed Iran to the east. There is Hamas in Gaza, Fatah in the West Bank, and an increasingly liberalized government in the United States.

Israel is surrounded by enemies, and a government largely focused on domestic issues should be a cause for concern for Jews.

Regardless of what the challenges are going to be from this point forward, they are all drawing toward one conclusion. Bible prophecy foretells exactly what is going to befall the Middle East and Israel. Be aware of where the government of Israel will end up, along with the entirety of the nation, by reading Jerusalem in Prophecy.