Broken Will—Broken Soldiers

Broken Will—Broken Soldiers

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Why is morale in the U.S. military so low? Why are suicides among servicemen so high? The state of the armed forces is a telling measure of the state of the nation.
From the April 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Good soldiers win wars. During World War ii, America’s soldiers proved themselves winners—the best in the world in skill, personal sacrifice and valor. Using sophisticated and superior weaponry, American soldiers played a large part in making the United States the world’s only superpower.

Considering the stunning victories of World War ii, it is embarrassing to recognize that America has not won a major conflict since 1945: Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq. U.S. troops deployed to fight in foreign, inhospitable places and climates returned home not as victors, but depending on the conflict, as escapees from draws, failed nation builders, pistol-whipped policemen, flawed security forces, or beaten-down counterinsurgents.

Yet, we cannot lay the blame on our fighting men and women. In general, their mission was not defense. They were fighting to stop the spread of communism, to protect American economic and political interests. For example, most agree that Operation Desert Storm was less about freeing the people of Kuwait and more about keeping the Middle East oil supply out of Saddam Hussein’s hands.

Good soldiers win wars. Has this tragic history of entangling United States troops in no-win armed conflicts had a cumulative negative effect on our soldiers and our military morale?

The Suicide Surge

American soldiers, at home and abroad, are simultaneously fighting and losing a different kind of war. The battlefield is not in some far-off place, it is inside their heads. Almost daily, the enemy warring inside them is shouting, “Victory!”

In 2012, more soldiers died from suicide than in combat.

The number of suicides among the ranks of America’s finest has more than doubled since 9/11. According to unofficial Pentagon data from January, 349 soldiers took their own lives in 2012—nearly one every day. More than half of the suicides came in the Army—182 total. Forty-eight marines, 59 airman and 60 sailors also killed themselves. This number is 118 percent higher than the 160 suicides that occurred in 2001, making last year the Pentagon’s highest annual self-inflicted death toll ever. Only 310 soldiers died in combat in Afghanistan last year.

This is the third time in four years that the number of military suicides has surpassed the number of combat deaths.

Alarmingly, military suicide numbers are likely to go even higher in 2013. In September 2012, Dr. Susan Blumenthal reported that military experts say they do not fully understand “the reasons for the rising suicide rates.” Although suicide is a personal, complex issue with hidden facets, when suicide numbers spike in a common population of people, it should be much easier to locate the reasons for the suicides.

Using practical wisdom based on years of experience dealing with the problems of people from all occupations, educator Herbert W. Armstrong taught that there is a cause for every effect. Often people cannot find a cause for their problems, because they do not want to find the cause. There is a cause for so many military personnel destroying themselves. And there is a solution to stop this enemy ravaging our troops.

America’s Broken Will

In January 2007, America’s leadership announced a new strategy for Iraq. The White House initially called it “the New Way Forward.” It is better known as the “surge.” The announcement—full of promise—assured the American public that the new effort in Iraq would be different. The surge would succeed in securing Baghdad where previous operations did not. The success of the surge would depend on the army infantry soldiers of the 2-16, nicknamed the Rangers. The Rangers were optimistic, young (average age: 19), well-trained fighters. Their immediate commander was the proven, capable, sometimes controversial Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich. The commander invited author David Finkel to chronicle the efforts of the 2-16 in Iraq. Finkel lived on the ground for eight months with the regiment in Iraq and wrote about what the 2-16 and he experienced in his book The Good Soldiers.

Just before deploying to Iraq, Kauzlarich told Finkel, “We are America. I mean, we have all of the resources. We have a very intelligent population. If we decide, just like we did in World War ii, if we all said, ‘This is our focus, this is our priority, and we’re going to win it, we’re going to do everything that we have to do to win it,’ then we’d win it. This nation can do anything that it wants to do. The question is, does America have the will?” (emphasis added).

How Kauzlarich and his crack troops were commanded to fight the war in Iraq answers the question. The strategy to secure Baghdad also gives us one very good insight as to why so many soldiers are committing suicide.

Just before the 2-16 deployed, the Army released FM 3-24—Counterinsurgency. The book provided an update to the 20-year-old guidelines for waging war according to the counterinsurgency (coin) doctrine first used in Vietnam. Its lead author was Lt. Gen. David Petraeus. This book was to be Kauzlarich’s field manual for conducting operations in Baghdad. It was also a perfect example of America’s broken will to win wars.

Kauzlarich’s assistant, Maj. Brent Cummings, told Finkel, “Remember, we are an infantry battalion. Our task and purpose is to close with and destroy the enemy. We are the only force designed for this. Armor stands off and they kill from a distance. Aviation kills from a distance. The infantry goes in and kills with his hands, if necessary.” FM 3-24 took a radically different approach.

Counterinsurgency Doctrine

“It was 282 pages of lessons, all urging soldiers to ‘focus on the population, its needs, and its security’ as the best way to defeat the enemy, rather than by killing their way to victory. Control the population, win the war. Win the people, win the war. To the soldiers of the 2-16, this was an interesting turn of events,” writes Finkel.

“The manual got even more interesting under the section called ‘Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency,’ which sounded suspiciously Zen-like. ‘Sometimes, the more force is used, the less effective it is.’ ‘Some of the best weapons for counterinsurgents do not shoot.’ ‘Sometimes, the more you protect your force, the less secure you may be.’” Major Cummings confided to Finkel that he doubted that Kauzlarich wanted to fight a war that way.

Cummings recognized that counterinsurgency is about being political, handshaking and drinking chai tea. “He’s a soldier. All he is is a soldier. He is an instrument of war, and he’s looking for that fight,” he said of Colonel Kauzlarich. He was frustrated by the counterinsurgency doctrine because he could not be the leader up front giving the order—Follow me, men!—because counterinsurgency didn’t work like that. In 19 years as an Army officer, Kauzlarich had not lost one soldier under his direct command. This was not to be the case in Baghdad. Yet, like a good soldier, Kauzlarich dedicated himself to follow General Petraeus’s coin principles. He morphed into a statesman/soldier.

Fighting EFPs

The 2-16 inhabited one of the most deplorable sections of Baghdad. The people lived in abject poverty. The sewer system didn’t function; raw sewage ran in the streets. Mounds of rotting garbage were everywhere. The air smelled bad and was full of dust and smoky pollution. Kauzlarich set his goal to fix it all.

However, one of the things that got in his way were hidden bombs—improvised explosive devices (ieds). The most lethal ied is the explosively formed penetrator (efp). This is a special, shaped charge designed to penetrate armor. It is made to deform a metal plate into a slug or rod shape and accelerate it toward a target. efps easily penetrate Army Humvees, severing limbs and taking lives. Death or injury by efp is horribly gruesome. Soldiers considered locating severed limbs the worst part of cleanup after an ied attack.

coin doctrine requires U.S. troops to take off their armor, get away from their vehicles, and “Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population.” This philosophy contributed to a dramatic increase in arm and leg amputations, genital injuries and the loss of multiple limbs from ied blasts.

Only eight weeks into the new strategy in Baghdad, Colonel Kauzlarich lost his first soldier to an ied attack. He would lose 13 more before his tour in Iraq was complete. The effect of the counterinsurgency operations in Iraq took its toll on soldier morale. As the surge continued, large numbers of soldiers went for private counseling with their chaplains. Thoughts of suicide began to affect several of the 2-16. Others obtained prescriptions for anti-depressants and sleeping pills from medics.

Colonel Kauzlarich and Major Cummings also experienced negative effects. “Sometimes Kauzlarich and Cummings would wonder what exactly the Iraqis hated about them,” wrote Finkel. “What were they doing, other than trying to secure some Iraqi neighborhoods? What made people want to kill them for handing out candy and soccer balls and delivering tankers of drinking water to them, and building a sewer system for them, and fixing their gas stations, and never being aggressive except for rounding up the killers among them?” Kauzlarich and Cummings lived with the reality that, even with all of their hard effort and the tragic loss of young soldiers, the “surge” was not winning the hearts of the Iraqis.

Afghanistan—Same Story

Counterinsurgency has not been effective in Afghanistan either. America’s strategy for counterinsurgency simply will not work. In fact, the nation’s enemies view its policy of counterinsurgency as the strategy of cowards and use it to take full military advantage against U.S. fighting troops.

The deaths and maiming of American soldiers make news headlines. Pleas are constantly made for help for disabled soldiers. Yet what is being done to help the soldiers on the verge of committing suicide? We need deep thinking and analysis to understand the effect our poor military operations have on our troops and to solve the growing problem of military suicide.

“I know this place is not only getting to me, I can see it in other people also. Guys that were funny and goofy when we first got here are different now; some are barely talking, and others are just constantly negative about everything,” soldier and author Bryan Wood wrote in his journal on March 17, 2003, while serving in Kabul. “Guys that were friends now seem to hate each other. We all do our jobs every day, and we do them better than could ever be asked of anyone, but it is taking its toll on everyone.”

He published his compelling, often heart-rending journal in his book, Unspoken Abandonment. He describes in graphic detail not only what happened to him as a soldier, but also what life was like for the Afghan people. The hardest thing for him was to return home and rebuild a civilian life. He had great difficulty putting his experiences in Afghanistan behind him.

Good soldiers win wars. “My life in Afghanistan can be summed up in one word: ‘misery,’” Wood wrote on March 27, 2003. “My job here is to sit in a tiny wooden box, hoping that I don’t get shot or blown up. Then I go out on patrol in the city and hope I don’t get shot or blown up. Then I go out on missions to the middle of nowhere, hoping I don’t get shot or blown up.

“It is starting to become like second nature, when a car slows down or stops near me on the street or under my OP [observation post] at night, I take a breath and pray it does not explode,” Wood wrote. The thought of having his arms and legs scattered in the streets of Baghdad struck terror in him. Observing how young children were treated made him emotionally and physically sick. On the same day, he also wrote, “We are strictly forbidden from interfering in ‘legal matters’ in Afghanistan, and I am supposed to just pretend I do not see what is happening. Some child, practically still a baby, is being driven off to be raped by a pedophile, and I just have to say, ‘Hey look, it is almost time for breakfast.’”

Wood became so disgusted with his tour of duty, he stopped writing his journal on April 12, 2003. Just prior, he wrote, “I just honestly feel as though the only certainty in Afghanistan is that tomorrow has nothing good to offer. It gets so depressing when you realize you have nothing good to look forward to. The only thing I have to look forward to is finishing this deployment and going home, but that is months and months away.” This entry is a good description of what counterinsurgency does to our soldiers.

Learning the Lesson of History

coin doctrine approaches war from an ivory tower, a place where such theories thrive untested and without hurting anyone,” wrote syndicated columnist Diana West. “On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, however, the results have been catastrophic. Tens of thousands of young Americans answered their country’s call and were told to accept more ‘risk’ and less ‘protection.’ Many lost lives, limbs and pieces of their brains as a result of serving under a military command structure and government in thrall to a leftist ideology that argues, in defiance of human history, that cultures, beliefs and peoples are all the same, or want to be” (Nov. 15, 2012). Many of our young soldiers have returned home knowing that coin doesn’t work. Isn’t it time that America’s military and political leaders face the facts? The history is there for all to study.

The war in Afghanistan began in October 2001 with the launching of Operation Enduring Freedom. While it made good headway at first, Taliban resistance rose sharply in 2006. The war continues today, with nato forces battling terrorists on a number of fronts across Afghanistan. It is the United States’ second-longest war. As of February 20 this year, there have been 3,257 coalition deaths during Enduring Freedom.

President George Bush announced the war on Iraq in March 2003, less than a year and a half after the start of operations in Afghanistan. The “new strategy” for Iraq commenced in February 2007. A surge of 30,000 U.S. soldiers hit the ground in an attempt to counter the rise in insurgent activity. The wars ran concurrently until Dec. 18, 2011, when the last soldier left Iraq and crossed the border into Kuwait. Four thousand, four hundred and eighty-seven service members died in the war, and more than 30,000 suffered debilitating injuries.

There are currently 102,000 nato troops still in Afghanistan, 68,000 of whom are U.S. troops. The majority of the international forces are scheduled to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The exact date and number of troops has not been determined.

“[O]ur troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead,” President Obama assured the nation in June 2011. “Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.” This implies that there will still be U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the 2014 deadline. Both political parties in Congress gave President Obama a standing ovation when he reiterated this deadline in his State of the Union address in February.

Broken Soldiers

It was not until 2006 that military suicides began rising. They then soared to a record 310 in 2009. Although the suicide rate leveled off for two years, it is now soaring again. Could it be that the stepped-up counterinsurgency military operations are a contributing factor to military suicide? We should not close our eyes to a clear correlation of facts.

Veterans are committing suicide at the alarming rate of one every 65 minutes. David Rudd, a military suicide researcher, says that Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress or substance abuse are killing themselves at an accelerating rate.

The history of war shows that fighting battles takes a heavy toll on all soldiers. Most soldiers return from war with mental and emotional scars that require a period of healing. The trench warfare of World War i was horrible. Storming the beaches of France at the end of World War ii was so bloody, sea waves turned red. The majority of soldiers that experienced these traumas returned home, let the scars heal, and lived productive lives. Why are so many soldiers having such difficulty now?

The self-destructive tragedy we see happening in our military is a fulfillment of a major end-time prophecy. Looking into our time, observing by vision the state of our national political leadership, our military leaders and our soldiers, the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them” (Isaiah 3:1-4).

America and Britain are the modern descendants of the ancient Israelites. God is directly intervening in American affairs and removing our strong leaders and our strong military—right before our eyes. Why? Because Americans are a rebellious and hypocritical nation. The further we get from God, the less power we have.

The sins that plague our nations also affect our fighting forces. As the 2-16 encountered more violent resistance, the strict discipline required of soldiers fell apart. “Rumors of rule-breaking were on the increase, too, and so a ‘health and welfare’ inspection was held that turned up all kinds of things that good soldiers weren’t allowed to have: packages of steroids manufactured in Iran … a ‘Vibrating Showgirl Slut’ inflatable sex doll, and a boxful of hardcore porn …” (Finkel, op. cit.). Good soldiers who win wars don’t succumb to trashy, immoral temptation (2 Timothy 2:3-4; article, page 6). It is well known that there are groups of soldiers who embrace Wicca as their religion. Embracing witchcraft is the ultimate rejection of God.

God warned our ancestors to be a fully obedient nation. If they rebelled and lived a life of sin, God said clearly that He would “break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass” (Leviticus 26:19). As a nation, we sin with impunity. We speak loftily about God, but ignore His glorious laws—the Ten Commandments. Therefore, God has broken our will to fight the enemies that eagerly desire to harm us. As a nation, we no longer have pride in our military power, and our soldiers are suffering.

Since God has broken our national will, only God can heal it. He plans to do just that! However, the excruciating lesson that widespread national rebellion brings severe punishment must be learned first.

Bible prophecy shows that as God weakens our nation, He is strengthening Assyria, or modern Germany, to rise up and wage war against us (Isaiah 10:5-6). For a short time, America, Britain and Judah (Israel) will experience God’s wrath at the hands of modern Germany, as no people before us.

Then, immediately after that, God promises, “I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and make them rejoice from their sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13). God, the mightiest warrior of the entire universe, will deliver us from those He made stronger than us (verse 11).

Even though there is some very bad news just over the horizon, our future is very bright. Although we are destined to suffer national destruction, America and Britain will be restored to a national greatness never before experienced in our history. God speed that day.

Why Does Germany Want Its Gold Back?

From the April 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

On January 16, Germany’s central bank made a startling announcement. It asked America and France to return its gold. Seven hundred and forty-three gleaming tons will be relocated to vaults in Frankfurt.

The statement by the second-biggest gold holder in the world sent a shudder through global markets. Newspapers went into speculation overdrive. Why is Germany asking for its gold back now?

It is big news, but few know what it really means. And you need to know because this announcement will eventually affect you.

Why Store Gold Elsewhere?

But first, why is Germany’s gold held in New York, London and Paris anyway? Why doesn’t it hold its own gold? According to the Bundesbank, the reason is twofold.

First, storing gold in America makes it easier to sell, or pledge, in case of an economic emergency. It is easier to trade to others who can then quickly take ownership.

The second reason is that it was deemed safer to spread Germany’s gold out during the Cold War to protect it from the Soviets. According to the Bundesbank, that is no longer a concern. That Germany feels safe enough to bring it home speaks volumes about Germany’s changing relationship with Russia.

But there is a third, unmentioned—and far more important—reason Germany doesn’t keep its gold at home.

It goes back to World War ii. When the Allies finally stopped the German death machine in 1945—for the second time in 27 years, they purposed to ensure that Germany could never again destroy world peace. Forcing Germany to store its gold overseas was the primary financial mechanism preventing Germany from ever starting another war. As analyst Byron King notes, “One way for the U.S., Britain and France to keep a leash on Germany was to keep ‘German’ gold under control outside of that country’s borders” (Daily Resource Hunter, January 22).

As long as the Allies controlled Germany’s gold, the Allies had a conqueror’s insurance policy that ensured Berlin would not again disturb the peace. Without its gold, Germany’s currency, and thus its economy, could be destroyed virtually overnight.

But now America, Britain and France appear to think that they no longer need that insurance policy.

That is a tragic mistake.

Bringing the Gold Home

Germany’s Bundesbank noted that it has already repatriated most of its gold from London. Frankfurt has retaken possession of 937 out of 1,433 tons stored across the Channel. Now it is repatriating 330 tons of gold from America, which equates to about 20 percent of its holdings in the U.S.

Interestingly, the German central bank says it will take seven years to get its gold from America. Is America still hesitating at relinquishing control over Germany?

The most important part of Germany’s announcement, though, may be that it is taking full custody of all of its gold held in Paris. All 412 tons will be transferred home—and you can be sure it won’t take seven years. It took less than three years for Germany to remove more than twice that much from Britain.

This is a sign that Germany is about to stop playing Mr. Nice Guy with France.

A big battle is raging over control of Europe’s economic destiny. Northern Europe, led by Germany, is fighting for control of the European Central Bank against a group of mostly southern nations, led by France. The outcome will impact euro exchange rates, debt markets, employment, social stability—and ultimately, which countries will even remain part of the eurozone.

“The Germans kind of feel like they’ve been overrun in this decision-making process,” says Michael C. Burda, an economist at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Bringing the gold home, he said, “is just a signal that Germany is not going to take this much longer.”

Germany is getting ready to deal emphatically, and once and for all, with France. France is about to find out who the true financial power of Europe is. And Germany is signaling to the world that the days of its apologizing for its World War ii past are over. No longer will it weakly submit to Paris’s demands.

But after Berlin silences Paris, what will its next move be?

Germany’s Next Move

Here is what Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote after Russia invaded Georgia in 2008: “I believe it is very likely Germany and Russia have already cut a deal. … The presence of a deal between these two nations is not a sign of peace. Like the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and so many others before it, it is a sign of exactly the opposite. Both of these nations are looking to secure their shared border—so they can pursue their imperialistic aims elsewhere! It is a precursor to war! That is the way they operate! And the U.S. has no clue.”

Germany has largely secured its border with Russia. Its willingness to store its gold in Frankfurt again is evidence it no longer fears Moscow like it did in the Soviet Union days. With its eastern flank now fairly secure, Germany is going after Paris for unchallenged control of Europe.

Then, once it is done subduing its only major counterweight in Europe, it will turn on America and Britain.

Germany’s old World War ii foes will soon regret turning Germany loose. The world is about to see a much stronger Bundesbank—and consequently, a more aggressive German nation. German confidence and power grows with the clink of each brick it adds to its towering stack of gold.

‘We Don’t Have a Spending Problem’

‘We Don’t Have a Spending Problem’

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How can President Obama make such a statement when America is going into debt more than a trillion dollars a year? The government’s economic policies are guaranteeing the collapse of the dollar!
From the April 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Do you know what the single greatest threat to America is? During the American presidential election campaign, President Obama said it was international terrorism. Republican candidate Mitt Romney warned it was a nuclear Iran. Other experts scream that it’s global warming. Border patrol agents say it’s Mexican drug cartels. Perhaps it’s a North Korean nuclear attack, Russia’s military resurgence, or a Chinese cyberattack.

Those threats are real. But there is a danger far greater than all of the above combined.

Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes he sees the threat. The biggest danger to America today, he says, is our debt. “From a national security perspective, it is the brutal combination of the passage of time and no solution in sight that so intensifies the crisis and the threat” (emphasis mine throughout).

Mullen says that, eventually, our debt will leave us defenseless.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told his parliament in January that America’s debt situation is nearing a crisis. “Britain has a higher state debt than the eurozone average, and I don’t even want to mention the United States of America,” he said. Earlier, he told the Bundestag that U.S. debts were a drag on the global economy, and he questioned America’s political will to deal with it.

America’s enemies can see its glaring weakness. “How long can a government with a $16 trillion foreign debt remain a world power?” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked in October.

Can anyone disagree? How America handles its debt problem may be the defining issue of the next four years.

The One Thing Washington Can Agree On

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, the economy shrank during the last quarter of 2012. It was the first contraction in gross domestic product since the official end of the recession in 2009. The news came as a shock. America was supposedly on the path to recovery.

What caused the economy to shrink? Analysts blamed a $40 billion cut to federal spending.

If a $40 billion cut to Washington’s massive spending pushes the economy into recession, there is no way lawmakers will stomach $1 trillion in cuts, which is what the country needs in order to balance the budget. They can’t agree on what to cut, and they don’t have the stomach to simultaneously raise taxes and risk an even worse contraction.

A few days after the gdp report, as if on cue, President Obama urged Congress to delay automatic spending cuts to domestic programs that were scheduled to take effect in March. Republicans signaled they would be willing, if the president postponed cuts to the military. It seems that the one thing Washington more or less agrees on is spending massive amounts of money.

America’s leaders don’t have the will to balance the budget.

America owes a record $16.7 trillion. By 2014, the debt is projected to be well above $17 trillion—and that doesn’t include tens of trillions in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security benefits that politicians have promised voters. Including all liabilities, America’s debt is over $100 trillion.

No nation in history has ever had such a gargantuan debt, let alone paid it.

What Happened to Mr. Obama?

Barack Obama used to speak out against this financial menace. In 2006, Senator Obama lambasted Republicans for raising the debt ceiling by $3.5 trillion over five years. “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” he said. “It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies.”

America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership,” he said. “Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

Senator Obama was absolutely right! America’s spending is out of control!

But what happened to President Obama? Since getting elected, he has had a complete mind change!

Back in 2006, he said, “If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies.”

Today, however, debt and deficits no longer matter to the White House. In four years, the president spent $6 trillion this country doesn’t have. He hasn’t passed a budget in almost four years. He recently lambasted Congress for not raising the debt ceiling even faster. And he has stated on national television that his 2006 comments about the danger of the debt were a mistake!

In January, President Obama made an incredible, unbelievable, almost unconscionable statement during the debt ceiling negotiations to Republican House Leader John Boehner: “We don’t have a spending problem.”

We don’t have a spending problem? At the federal level, we are borrowing more than one out of every three dollars we spend—and we don’t have a spending problem? We have promised future retirees around $100 trillion in benefits—money we don’t have—and we don’t have a spending problem? We have the biggest debt in world history—and we don’t have a spending problem?

A Supernova—and Future Black Hole

Pimco’s Bill Gross recently compared America’s debt-addicted economy to a brilliantly burning supernova. America’s debt, including personal, corporate and government debt, now stands at an astronomical $56 trillion, he says. “[I]t is a monster that requires perpetually increasing amounts of fuel, a supernova star that expands and expands, yet, in the process begins to consume itself. Each additional dollar of credit seems to create less and less heat.”

In the 1980s, it took $4 of new debt to generate $1 of real economic growth. Over the last decade, it increased to $10. Today it takes $20 to produce the same result.

“In effect, the initial magic of credit creation turns … destructive and begins to consume credit markets … as well as portions of the real economy it has created,” says Gross. The system is “running out of energy and time.”

We keep going further and further into debt, but are getting less and less bang for our buck. Eventually the whole system is going to turn into a gigantic black hole.

That’s the opinion of Gross, the manager of the largest bond investment firm in the world, with over $1 trillion in assets.

The only question, he says, is how much time we have left.

Time may be shorter than many think. In December, the Federal Reserve announced another emergency program to stimulate the economy. The Fed will create $45 billion per month to buy U.S. treasury bonds. This is in addition to the $40 billion per month it was already creating out of thin air to buy mortgages and artificially prop up the housing market. The latest money-printing measure is dubbed QE4, which follows three other emergency money-printing measures and one “Operation Twist.”

This new announcement means the Federal Reserve plans to create over $1 trillion this year. That’s enough to cover the entire borrowing needs of the U.S. government for the whole year! And the Fed said it will do it again next year. And the year after that, until there is a recovery or to infinity, whichever comes first!

Foreigners Getting Nervous

The Fed says it is printing the money to stimulate the economy, but that is only part of the reason. The primary reason it is printing money is to finance America’s debts.Because foreign nations are refusing to lend money to America!

China is America’s most important foreign lender, but during 2012, for the first time in more than a decade, it became a net seller of American debt. But it is actually worse than that. Not only did China refuse to lend America more money, it has rolled over its existing long-term loans into short-term ones. This is a huge sign that China is losing confidence in America—and in the value of the dollar.

Beijing thinks we have a spending problem.

And China isn’t the only country worried about uncontrolled American spending and how it could pull the whole world into a black hole of debt.

Germany Takes Action

On January 16, the German Bundesbank shocked the financial world by demanding that America return a large portion of German gold reserves held in America (sidebar, page 2).

The Bundesbank’s announcement came just three months after the Federal Reserve refused to conduct an audit on Germany’s gold stored in America. German leaders had to fight to even be allowed to see a portion of the gold that was said to belong to their country.

Why is Germany even storing gold overseas? The answer to that question has deeply troubling ramifications.

Bundesbank executive board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said it was because of the historical importance of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

“Gold stored in your home safe is not immediately available as collateral in case you need foreign currency,” Thiele said. “Take, for instance, the key role that the U.S. dollar plays as a reserve currency in the global financial system. The gold held with the New York Fed can, in a crisis, be pledged with the Federal Reserve Bank as collateral [for dollars].”

Now that Berlin has begun bringing its gold home, does that mean Germany no longer sees the need for having access to extra U.S. dollars?

Or does it signal something worse?

Astounding Breakdown in Trust

According to the Bundesbank, the Federal Reserve will begin returning 330 tons of Germany’s gold—but it will take seven years! That is an incredibly long time to return what is essentially just a bunch of bricks that don’t even belong to you in the first place. Why the delay? Does America actually still have the gold it says it does? Surely Germany must be getting suspicious that it does not.

Veteran gold trader Jim Sinclair said the Bundesbank’s announcement was a warning that investors should take physical delivery of their gold—that in an atmosphere of skyrocketing debt and slowing economies, counterparty risk was growing: “This sends a message about storing gold near you and taking delivery no matter who is holding it.”

According to Sinclair, the announcement signaled an astounding breakdown in trust between Germany and America. “When France did this years ago it sent panic amongst the U.S. financial leadership,” he said.

Sinclair is referring to the notorious failure of the Bretton Woods currency system in 1971. By order of President Nixon, America defaulted on its gold obligations. From then on, America used only paper currency to pay its debts. Foreign nations, led by France, balked, but they lost the battle. America went off the gold standard and onto today’s fiat, floating currency system.

Has America finally printed one too many dollars out of thin air? Has Germany finally had enough of America’s monetary shenanigans?

Think about this statement from Sinclair: “History will look back on this salvo as being the beginning of the end of the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of choice.”

The end of that status for the dollar will be a deathblow to the American economy.

A Modern-Day Gold Rush

According to Phoenix Capital Research, Germany has just fired a major warning shot at the Federal Reserve. The reason Germany has gone from just wanting to audit its gold reserves to actually removing them from the Fed’s care and reversing a policy in place for over 30 years is that it has decided it no longer trusts the Fed.

“Germany is now openly telling the Fed that it is done playing around. This will have severe consequences in the financial system” (Phoenix Capital Research, January 16).

Now factions in the Netherlands, Austria and Azerbaijan are pushing their governments to take their gold back too.

It’s beginning to look like a modern-day central bank gold rush.

For the first time in many years, central banks became net buyers of gold in 2010. Since then, bank gold-buying has accelerated. This year, central banks will purchase an estimated 550 tons of gold—up from 85 tons in 2010. In 2012, Ecuador asked its banks to repatriate one third of its gold stored overseas. Forbes reported that China imported 76 tons through its new gold center in Hong Kong—up 22 percent from a year earlier. In November, the Bank of Korea announced it had increased its gold supply by 20 percent. In November, it was reported that Brazil’s central bank had purchased 19 tons.

The last time China reported its gold holdings in 2009, they showed an increase of 500 tons to 1,161 tons. Some analysts believe China’s gold holdings have probably doubled or tripled since then—perhaps even surpassing Germany’s stash.

Why the rush out of the dollar and into gold? Do you think it has anything to do with someone’s spending problem?

While average Americans might still think U.S. government debt and, by implication, the dollar are still solid investments, Germany’s and China’s strong moves show that foreign governments are no longer buying the propaganda. Instead, they are buying gold.

They’re buying gold because they don’t trust America. America’s spending problem is destroying the dollar and destroying the credibility of its central bank.

As President Ahmadinejad summarizes: “The Americans have injected their paper wealth into the world economy, and today the aftermaths and negative effects of their pseudo-wealth have plagued them.”

The Biggest Threat to America

Ahmadinejad’s opinion is strangely in line with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. During the 2012 Democratic National Convention he said America could no longer put the debt issue off. “We have to deal with it, or it will deal with us.”

But America is not dealing with its spending problems—because as President Obama articulated in 2006—we lack the will and character to do so. We refuse to change. Instead, America is trying to cheat its way out of its deficit-spending addiction by printing money and hoping it will all work out.

It won’t.

What is the single greatest threat to America? Ourselves! Our debt is billowing. Our economy is shrinking. The dollar is in jeopardy of massive devaluation. The world sees it and is openly preparing for the end of the dollar as the reserve currency. Trust in America is at an all-time low. Our central bank’s credibility is being destroyed. America’s way of life is on the line.

And all of this is because, to put it lightly, we do have a spending problem.

Sex Is More Important Than You Think

Sex Is More Important Than You Think

gradyreese/istockphoto

Society could hardly treat it more casually. Here is why it matters.
From the April 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

A television commercial shows a woman vividly fantasizing about two workmen coming to her front door in a pornographic-inspired glorification of promiscuity. And what product are these ad executives using lust to sell? Liquid-Plumr, a drain cleaner.

Such ads are hardly unusual. The spirit of fornication, promiscuity and adultery surrounds us. And that is an understatement.

Can you go a single day without having the spirit of adultery promoted on the morning commute radio show, in magazines at the gas station, in music you overhear on your lunch break, all over your computer at work, and all evening long on television shows when you get home?

President Bill Clinton, Congressman Newt Gingrich, Gov. James McGreevey, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Sen. John Edwards, Sen. John Ensign, Gov. Mark Sanford, Congressman Anthony Weiner, Gen. David Petraeus—these men all had something in common, aside from being powerful American leaders: adultery.

The spirit of sexual promiscuity—fornication, adultery, divorce—is so powerful in our society that we can become calloused to it. Teenagers do it. Generals do it. Presidents do it. Maybe it’s not the best, but it’s not the end of the world.

When pressed on the issue, most people say they still think adultery is generally wrong. They probably think divorce is a kind of tragedy. They might even think that fornication is wrong, especially when you use that word. But a lot of people think these actions are completely fine. They call it sexual “freedom,” and they point out that people have been losing their virginity as teenagers, “hooking up” and “having affairs” for a long time now. A Gallup poll last May found that two thirds of Americans view divorce as “morally acceptable.” Fewer people think it’s morally acceptable to wear animal fur than to rip a marriage apart.

As a whole, our society views these actions, basically, as lifestyle options—and more or less normal.

That’s our view. That’s our reasoning. But what about God’s? There is a Creator God, and He has a very strong opinion on this attitude that permeates our society from drain de-clogger ads to decorated four-star generals.

To God, sex is not a casual matter. It is extremely important—far more important than most people realize.

A Law for Our Good

God created sex. He created human beings male and female, and He gave us the ability to reproduce through sexual intercourse. It is a wonderful, powerful gift. And He regulated it with a spiritual law, which He revealed in Exodus 20:14: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

This is a wonderful and positive law intended to protect our wellbeing. God loves us and wants to protect husbands and wives and children—and nations. God wants us to be happy. He wants to give us the incredible blessing of marriage, and He wants the honor and sanctity of our marriages to be protected. The Seventh Commandment does exactly that.

It is not difficult to see the problems that result from breaking it. It’s just like the traffic law that states you should not drive south on a northbound highway: If you break that law, you will likely get injured or killed in an accident. It is for your benefit and safety. Likewise, biological and gravitational laws say that we should not walk off cliffs.

Many people think of the Seventh Commandment as “restrictive” and “limiting”—but it is for our safety and wellbeing. Those who choose to break or ignore this spiritual law don’t realize they’re shoving aside something that is so good for them!

What does breaking that law do? Like driving the wrong way onto an Interstate, you might think, at first, nothing. But any aspect of breaking the Seventh Commandment is a grievous wrong that violates the marriage and family relationship. This includes the torrid romance between a married man and someone else’s wife, but it also includes premarital sex, which affects a future marriage, and all other use of sex outside of marriage.

Did Christ throw out this law? No! He expounded on it in Matthew 5:32: “[W]hosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery ….” This is talking about illicit sexual activity before marriage—fornication—that isn’t disclosed.

The scripture continues, “… and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” How much adultery is going on in the nation when people divorce and marry someone else? Christ clearly said this is adultery!

We think so much about our view and about what other people think. Think about God’s view. “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10). This is God’s view! Adultery is a capital sin demanding capital punishment. That’s how terrible and dangerous it is!

Christians don’t live under this same Old Testament administration, as Paul explained to the Corinthians. The “administration of death” has been superseded by the “ministration of the spirit,” and there is room for repentance and forgiveness. But this scripture shows God’s attitude toward sin—then and now!

Adultery in the Heart

Jesus Christ didn’t do away with this eternal law protecting marriage, He enhanced it. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery,” He said in Matthew 5. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Broaden your mind to realize the full dynamics of the spirit of the Seventh Commandment. Think about it from our Creator’s perspective. It has a far-reaching impact on us, our families and our nation!

For what purpose did God ordain marriage, family and sex? And what purpose are men pursuing when they use billboards, pop songs, and prime time television and blockbuster movies to promote the spirit of adultery and fornication? What purpose are women’s fashion designers achieving when they make clothes that attract the attention and desire of any man within viewing distance?

If you view our society like God does, you see that it is permeated with creating sexual desire outside of marriage!

The Bible is clear: God wants us to have happy, stable families. He wants our children to enjoy a strong, stable, spiritually nourishing atmosphere. Who would want to destroy that? Who would want to decimate individuals, marriages and families—and the nations built on them? Satan! And his primary tool is the trashing of the Seventh Commandment. Softly, subtly, casually—lethally.

Paul Speaks on Sex

During the Apostle Paul’s time, the city of Corinth was known for its sexual perversions and sins, much like our modern society. Paul wrote a letter to the people in God’s Church in that city addressing this subject. “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid” (1 Corinthians 6:15). Paul is talking about sex, and he uses plain language. When two come together, whether in marriage or outside of it, they become one flesh and members of one body (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5). When a man fornicates with a prostitute, he becomes part of the prostitute. But God created sex relations to be an expression of love in a holy, righteous and upright marriage relationship—to strengthen people, not to break them down.

Paul also wrote in verse 19 that our bodies are not our own. God created us—He decides what is right and wrong to do with our bodies, not ourselves!

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this in his incredible book The Missing Dimension in Sex: “All through this passage, even from the preceding chapter, the theme has been sex. These two chapters forbid and condemn the misuse of sex.” The misuse of sex is any use outside of a loving marriage relationship. Paul is really talking about righteousness or unrighteousness (1 Corinthians 6:9).

“Fornication—the sex act committed prior to marriage—is a sin and breaks the Seventh Commandment. Homosexuality is condemned in the Bible as sin—sodomites shall not inherit the Kingdom of God! Any use of sex, except as an expression of love in marriage, and also for the purpose of procreation in marriage, is a sin, and breaks the Seventh Commandment!” (ibid).

Use Sex Right!

God didn’t design the incredible creation of sex to never be used. He wants us to use our bodies the way He carefully created them to be used. That is how we “glorify God in our bodies” (verse 20). In chapter 7, Paul instructs the Corinthians that to avoid fornication, a couple should marry, should enter that blessed union created by God, and have sex in that beautiful, committed, lifelong relationship.

Did you know that God commanded husbands and wives to give these sexual energies to each other? Sex is about giving to your mate! It is a physical expression of love that God designed exclusively for husbands and wives to share with each other. Getting outside of these laws defrauds your spouse (verse 5). A wife’s body belongs to the husband and the husband’s body belongs to the wife for this purpose (verses 3-4). A person’s body doesn’t belong to himself or herself when it comes to sex. A man’s body belongs only to his wife and not to any other woman.

In Proverbs 5:20, God points out that a man’s proclivities run naturally to looking and lusting after women. God designed the female body to be beautiful and attractive to a man. Satan also knows this and uses it. His society exploits this virtual worship—and commercialization—of the voluptuous female body. But if you want to use sex the way your Creator made you to—if you want to have a strong, dynamic, exciting, joyful marriage and family and life—you have to put God’s Seventh Commandment before your own thoughts, proclivities and urges.

A man must control his eyes and thoughts. He should never let his eyes linger on a barely clad woman on television (Matthew 5:28)—his body belongs to his wife! The extent you let your mind wander or dwell on the body of another woman is the extent to which your own wife becomes less dear to you. Don’t give in a millimeter! Maintain a beautiful, wholesome, exclusive sexual relationship with your wife, and don’t allow anyone at any time in any way to supplant her as the object of your sexual interest.

Women have responsibilities to actively keep the Seventh Commandment as well. To have that beautiful marriage relationship God designed, women should not only refuse fornication and adultery, but be wary of lusting for other men in their minds. They should also dress modestly so they do not cause men to look on them with desire. Their bodies are not their own!

When a husband preserves his body for his wife, and she preserves her body just for him, the godly relationship they share enriches both of their lives beyond measure!

A wife needs to respond to her husband romantically. She should let her husband know that she needs him and wants him sexually. She should strive to keep her body alluring, and should take the initiative some of the time. God created the woman with powers of attraction for her to use within marriage to ensure the faithfulness of her husband. The wrong use of these powers by prostitutes and loose women—and the maligning of them by prudes and perverted religionists—has cast an evil and sinful light on them. But wives should use these powers within marriage. A wife should give her husband her mind, as well as her body, in these relations.

Solomon talks about loving your own spouse and going only to your spouse for this kind of love (Proverbs 5:15-17).

God watches everything we do (verse 21). He ponders what we do, what we look at and what we think.

Sex Is a Life-and-Death Matter

Unlike what celebrities, ad executives, movie directors and magazine publishers want you to believe, ignoring the Seventh Commandment ruins people. It may be pleasurable at first to speed up an off-ramp into oncoming interstate traffic. It may give you a thrill. But it always leads to disaster. It twists character. It shatters trust. It smashes lives. It chain-reacts and damages people you know and people you don’t. It leaves lifelong scars and worse.

What happens when so many of the people around us fall for the lie and indulge in premarital sex, commit fornication, commit adultery, get divorced? It puts our entire nation in harm’s way!

David Petraeus was perhaps the most honored general in America. He was relieved of his command and appointed director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was considered one of our country’s best leaders. And he committed adultery.

Director Petraeus wrote a letter to the cia workforce, saying, “After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.” Sound judgment is one of the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23). In the military, it is actually against the law to commit adultery. Why? Because the institution in charge of protecting the country knows the terrible ramifications of adultery! Not having this as a law in the nation shows poor judgment. The man making some of the most crucial judgments in the nation was brought down hard by this sin!

Petraeus was one of the most decorated and respected generals in a generation. Now he cannot effectively serve his nation at a time when he is needed most. His scandal dragged in another top general, John Allen, who might have also broken the spirit of the Seventh Commandment (yet he has been cleared of wrongdoing). He is disgracing the American nation and making a spectacle for the world to see.

This scandal has hurt America’s national security and became a distraction from some life-and-death threats facing the country, including the scandal surrounding the Benghazi terrorist attack. Meanwhile, the fbi is investigating the cia director, embroiling two federal agencies that are supposed to be protecting the nation in a mess created by two people’s lust.

Proverbs 31:3 exhorts men (specifically leaders) not to give their strength to women. General Petraeus and General Allen were leaders, practically heroes, within the military, but now their ability to serve the nation is limited. Our nation desperately needs heroes! Because of sin, our nation does not have the leadership it needs.

Sin weakens and destroys an individual’s ability to lead, serve and judge righteously. Sin brings down kings and heroes. A failure to control our sexual lusts destroys our families, which destroys our nation!

“Many people argue that character in these areas doesn’t really matter. But they have not bothered to seek God’s view,” Gerald Flurry wrote in the September 1998 Trumpet. “Character is everything. … We can see that sexual immorality leads to lying, which leads to breaking more of God’s commandments. This is how society breaks down. … Sexual immorality reveals a breakdown of the family, the foundation of any healthy and strong society. If we had enough healthy families, the immoral conduct of our leaders would shock us into taking corrective action.”

Have the actions of these generals caused us to take corrective action? No, because we do not have enough strong, law-keeping families in today’s society. “Nations fall without family character,” Mr. Flurry concluded. “And if our people don’t care about this issue, the collapse is very near!”

The New ‘Normal’?

Our society is no longer ashamed of sin. Premarital sex is now “normal.” Fornication is now “normal.” Adultery—in our minds and in our actions—is now “normal.” What is the next sexual sin that will become “normal”?

Across the country, official homosexual celebration and “gay pride” parades receive much fanfare. People dance in the streets about homosexual “marriage.” The very top of the nation endorses homosexual “marriage.” The people “declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not” (Isaiah 3:9). People are proud of their sins.

Read Proverbs 7. It’s a telling section of Scripture concerning this subject.

God’s Word is true. People don’t realize that sin destroys every single time. Promiscuity, fornication, adultery and pornography keep getting more and more accepted and more and more spread throughout society.

Believe it or not, this is not just a moral danger. It is a national security danger. In fact, this rampant sin will eventually lead to our entire nation falling!

2 Peter 2 reveals that the angels sinned and God punished them. The old world was a world of sin and God punished it. Sodom and Gomorrah were cities of sin—God punished them.

Meanwhile, Lot was vexed with the filthy way of life of the wicked and God spared him (verse 7). How do we see the sin that surrounds us? Are we vexed as Lot was? Do we see the sin as God sees it?

“Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin …” (verse 14). The nation is so engrossed in this sin it cannot stop. Like the homosexuals in Genesis 19, people are hooked on sin like heroin. Sin destroys willpower. It saps your will to live righteously.

“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). We can witness the truth in this verse on a national scale. Because of the wickedness of our nation, we see weakness!

To be as bold as a lion, we must live righteous lives! Think of the example of Joseph: He fled fornication and was able to lead and serve to benefit the entire world at the time (Genesis 39-41). He was able to make decisions as bold as a lion because of righteousness.

America is heading for destruction because of its sin. Individuals are heading for destruction in their own lives. To protect ourselves and our families, we must not be consumed by the sins of this world. The world needs an entirely new kind of leadership. The world needs righteous, godly people and strong families. It is crying out for that right leadership. It needs leaders full of righteous judgment, full of the weightier matters of the law—judgment, mercy and faith. It needs leaders who are bold as lions!

Do You Realize How Active Germany Is in the Mideast?

From the April 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Jordan—Will It Turn Radical?

About 1,000 protesters took to the streets in Jordan on Friday. Organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, protesters ranted anti-government slogans and called for Jordan’s constitution to be changed. While the protest was relatively small and non-violent, it showed that Jordan’s monarchy is still under pressure.

The 2011 Arab Spring ignited a series of revolts throughout the Middle East. The governments of countries like Egypt and Tunisia quickly gave into protester demands. Other countries like Libya and Syria descended into armed conflicts. Jordan, however, experienced neither of these upheavals.

Why has the relatively weak nation of Jordan nimbly avoided most of the radical protests and revolts that have broken out across the Middle East? The government in Amman is more open and less authoritarian than Egypt’s or Tunisia’s. It also has significant ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

As such, is Jordan about to be the next nation to fall to radical Islam?

The Trumpet says no. Why? Although it might appear that Iran and radical Islam could easily force Jordan into their camp, Bible prophecy states that they will not. The same prophecy that says Egypt will ally with Iran also states that Jordan will not.

The Trumpet has forecast this for years. For more on the history and prophecy of Jordan, read “The Last Peacemaker” and our free booklet Jordan and God’s Church in Prophecy.