The World’s Next Superpower
Major global players are quickly adjusting to life in a post-American world. Three years ago we forecasted who would fill the leadership void left by the U.S.
The 100-year period from 1815 until World War i began in 1914 was one of Europe’s greatest periods of peace ever. But consider what happened during those years: France invaded Spain; Russia fought Turkey; various German states fought with Denmark, Austria and France; Britain and Turkey fought Russia; and Greece fought Turkey. Those are just the “highlights”—and they don’t include the numerous internal conflicts, uprisings, declarations of independence and other political unrest that occurred. Even Switzerland had a civil war.
That is what “peace” in Europe looked like before the latter half of the 20th century.
Europe’s history since World War ii has been unprecedented. The continent that had held the world’s most advanced and deadly armies for hundreds of years was suddenly playing third fiddle to two superpowers: America and the Soviet Union. In that environment, the United States made a simple bargain with Western Europe: You no longer need to maintain a world-class army; instead, we will protect you. This deal helped bring an extraordinary level of stability and tranquility to a part of the world that has repeatedly convulsed with astonishing violence and destruction throughout its history.
Now, however, this unusual era is coming to an end. As we head into the post-American era, it is Europe that is picking up the mantle of “leader of the free world.” Even now, Europe is stepping out of America’s shadow and responding to threats in North Africa. And it is the only possible candidate to succeed America as the financial leader of the world.
“And it’s about time, too,” is a common reaction to this situation—especially in Europe. After all, today, Europe is viewed as the world’s soft power. Much of the world sees Europe the same way Europe tends to view itself: as the sophisticated elder statesman. According to this view, Europe, with its centuries of experience, takes the prudent course of action while the American cowboy blunders on ahead, destabilizing the world as he goes.
Others, however, take a different view: that Europe is a spent force, a continent of wimps, afraid of real action and doomed to demographic decline—incapable of effectively carrying on where America has left off.
Could Europe Really Succeed America?
The fact is, Europe is already preparing for the post-American world. In recent months it has finally begun to get serious about sorting out its own military.
In May, an official EU agency that analyzes defense and security issues published a landmark report. The basic premise was: America is not going to protect us any more; how do we now defend ourselves?
In October, the EU’s foreign minister, Catherine Ashton, said America’s retreat from the continent “means that Europe must assume greater responsibility for its own security and that of its neighborhood.”
As it watches America withdraw, Berlin is now beginning to take the lead in reforming Europe’s military. It has called for restructuring nato around clusters of European militaries that work together. Although summits focusing on common security and defense tend to flop, Germany appears increasingly determined to weld Europe’s militaries together, with or without the EU. It is already integrating parts of its neighbors’ militaries into its own (article, page 26).
With such practices in place, the landscape of international intervention is beginning to shift. When terrorists began to run amok in Mali, Europe took the lead in dealing with them. Islamists have taken over the Central African Republic, and it is France that is sending troops into its former colony (article, page 27).
What if the events in the Balkans during the 1990s had happened today? America wouldn’t get involved. Europe is having to take care of these situations on its own.
Or nearly on its own. France has deployed roughly 4,500 soldiers to Mali—not a huge number. It borrowed transport planes from the British, Danes, Belgians and Canadians, but that still wasn’t enough to ferry the French troops in. Ultimately, it still had to get help from America.
This is why Germany is pushing so hard for “islands of cooperation.” Europe has a few key weaknesses, especially in logistics, that mean it currently struggles to stage a military mission without American help. Getting several nations to work together on a European transport fleet, for example, is the quickest solution.
A New Economic System
Europe is getting ready to take over the political and military reins that Washington is dropping. But the Continent is perhaps even better positioned to take over economic leadership.
Which currency could replace the failing dollar as the new global reserve currency? The only answer: whichever currency is being used by Germany.
China couldn’t do it—its entire economic policy is fundamentally incompatible with its currency being the world’s reserve. What else is the world going to use? Japan’s yen, backed by a debt nearly 2½ times the size of its economy and a radical money-printing program? The Russian ruble? The Saudi riyal?
The euro is a mess right now, but there is no better candidate to replace the dollar.
China is already looking for a dollar replacement. As Xinhua, China’s official news agency, recently headlined, “U.S. Fiscal Failure Warrants a De-Americanized World” (Oct. 13, 2013).
Europe invented its single currency with exactly that goal in mind. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing deplored the “exorbitant privilege” that currency-reserve status gave America. The euro was Europe’s plan to grab that privilege for itself.
At present, the euro is in disarray mainly because it gets one thing fundamentally—and deliberately—wrong: A common currency cannot work without a robust political union. Once the Europeans overcome that hurdle, the reserve currency privilege is theirs for the taking.
The economies of northern Europe, especially Germany, are fundamentally strong. The Bundesbank has a long-standing reputation as a trustworthy and responsible central bank. It would be the last central bank anyone would expect to print money and devalue a currency. In banking, reliability is everything. Either by itself or through the European Central Bank (ecb), the Bundesbank could easily take the Federal Reserve’s spot as the world’s central bank.
All this puts Europe at the center of the post-American financial system. It will become the dominant economic power. Already the EU has a larger gross domestic product than the U.S. With America out of the picture, Europe would account for one third of the world’s total economic output. The EU’s combined gdp is twice that of China—and bigger than China’s, Russia’s and Japan’s combined.
Who’s Afraid of the EU?
These political, military and economic possibilities all lead us to an important question: So what? After all, who’s afraid of the EU?
That very question is actually another reason why Europe will rise to preeminence as America declines. The world trusts Europe. The Europeans are reputed to be the great consensus builders. Government by committee goes nowhere fast and threatens no one. As a continent full of democracies that have not had to use major military power for 70 years, Europe is home to the world’s good guys—or at least the world’s non-threatening guys. This perception works to the Europeans’ advantage.
But this charitable view ignores two supremely important points that do give rise to legitimate concern about what a world dominated by Europe will look like.
The first of these is history. True, Europe has been peaceful in the American-dominated world of the second half of the 20th century, but going back to World War ii and before, its past loudly trumpets that this is an extreme exception. With America out of the way, all the factors that have kept Europe at peace will be gone. And for the first time in 70 years, Europe will have unmitigated authorization to conduct itself as a major military power.
There are many for whom the idea of Europe reverting to militaristic type is unthinkable. They believe the world today, particularly Europe, has become far too civilized—perhaps even complacent and lethargic—for such a thing to occur.
This is a common delusion. Throughout history mankind has believed that we have solved war forever. Before Napoleon, professional armies were said to have made war so destructive that it had become obsolete. Before World War i, global commerce, international agreements and an increase in culture and sophistication supposedly meant war was history. Afterward, World War i was said to have been “the war to end all wars.”
In his book on the First World War titled The World Crisis, Winston Churchill warned about those who proclaimed that “[c]ivilization has climbed above such perils.” They argued that “[t]he interdependence of nations in trade and traffic, the sense of public law, the Hague Convention, Liberal principles, the Labour Party, high finance, Christian charity, common sense have rendered such nightmares impossible.
“Are you quite sure?” asked Churchill. “It would be a pity to be wrong. Such a mistake could only be made once—once for all” (emphasis added). Today, statesmen give almost an identical list of reasons why war between major powers is antiquated: globalization, nuclear weapons, etc. But after America is gone, Europe will be a military power in an altogether new world.
The Picture in Prophecy
The second major reason we should be concerned about the rise of Europe comes from Bible prophecy. It clearly warns about Europe’s military and economic power—exactly the two areas where we see Europe preparing to succeed the U.S.
One of the most chilling warnings in Scripture, repeated in several passages, concerns the end-time nations descended from the ancient tribes of Israel. These prophecies depict not just the fall of these nations, but the captivity of a great number of their citizens following a military defeat. Hosea 8:9; 9:3; 10:6; 11:11; Micah 5:6; 7:12; Zechariah 10:11, and other passages all show Israel taken captive by Assyria. This is not speaking of what happened historically, when the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria in 721 b.c. All these books were written long after that captivity had occurred. They refer to a captivity to take place yet in the future.
Which modern nation is descended from ancient Assyria? Germany. (To prove this, request our free reprint article “The Remarkable Identity of the German People.”)
The Bible’s warnings about a European power don’t rest solely on proof that Germany is modern Assyria, however. Daniel 2 and 7 describe a succession of world-ruling empires. The final empire is plainly the Roman Empire. These prophecies state that this empire will remain on the scene, in one form or another, until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The fulfillment of this prophecy is corroborated by history: Sure enough, European powers have consistently resurrected that resilient Roman Empire.
Another proof is in Daniel 11. Here is a prophecy of Middle Eastern history so accurate that skeptics insist it must have been written after the events it describes. It prophesied that Alexander the Great’s empire would split into four parts (verse 4). The chapter describes world events before the return of Christ in terms of this split. One of these powers is called the king of the north, the other the king of the south.
Who is the modern king of the north? Anciently it was Syria, which was swallowed up by Rome, the ancient counterpart to modern Europe.
With that background in place, this, then, is the real reason for concern over the rise of Europe after America: The Bible foretells that it is about to go on a rampage.
Look at this extraordinary sequence of events prophesied in Daniel 11: It all starts with a Middle Eastern power “pushing” at Europe (verse 40). Without America’s protection, by this time Europe has been forced to build its own military and responds quickly. In a broad sense, this power is already pushing at Europe through the spread of radical Islam, and Europe is already responding. But Daniel is describing the violent culmination of that offensive.
But Europe doesn’t stop there. Now a military power with a major presence in the Middle East, it keeps going. Verse 41 states that it enters “the glorious land”—the same Promised Land that the Israelites inhabited anciently, currently inhabited by the Jews. This is a shocking, nation-destroying double cross of the modern Jewish state, which had naively trusted Europe to broker peace in America’s absence.
Hosea 5:5-7 prophesy that Britain, America and Israel will all fall within a month—meaning that when Israel falls, Britain and America must fall at about the same time.
Before these bold, blitzkrieg military conquests, Europe, as the new leader of the world’s financial system, enforces a blockade of America. What’s left of the broken American economy is completely destroyed. Deuteronomy 28:52 prophesies of this economic siege. Isaiah 23 implies that China cooperates in it. (For more information on this particular prophecy, request our free book Isaiah’s End-Time Vision.)
Daniel 11:44 describes the German-led Europe seeing the nations of Asia amassing power. In a recent lecture, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry speculated that this prophecy could refer to Europe recognizing that Asian powers are about to conquer America. Rather than allow that—which would leave Europe flanked in both hemispheres by an Asian alliance—Europe makes the first move.
However it happens, prophecy is clear about a European conquest of the Anglo-American world. “In this fearful, awesome atomic age, World War iii will start with nuclear devastation unleashed on London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, without warning!” wrote Herbert W. Armstrong in The United States and Britain in Prophecy. Numerous scriptures describe the total destruction of our cities in nuclear fire (Isaiah 1:7 and Jeremiah 34:22, for example). Isaiah 6:11, as well as several scriptures in Jeremiah, warn of cities left “without inhabitant”—something that only became possible on a large scale with the advent of the nuclear bomb and the radiation it brings. Jeremiah 9:12 warns that “the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through.” That is what Britain and America will look like after this attack.
The ruined city of London will be a tourist attraction, where visitors from across Europe will come to marvel at what “the Lord [has done] unto this great city” (Jeremiah 22:7-8).
Now we enter the real post-American world—when the nation is literally no more. What does this world look like?
The European Power at Its Peak
Revelation 18 foretells that Europe will become incredibly prosperous at the head of the new economic system. It says that “the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Revelation 18:3). Verses 12 and 13 give a long list of its riches. At the end of the list is the most disturbing item: “slaves and souls of men.”
This is talking primarily about the captives from America, Britain and Israel.
Joel 3:3 describes the plight of these slaves. Their lives are so cheap that a male slave is traded for a trip to a prostitute, and a female slave is swapped for a bottle of wine.
This is forced labor on a massive scale—millions of people. Ezekiel 5 tells us that a mind-stretching one third of Britain and America’s current population will go into captivity (request our free booklet on Ezekiel for more information). That’s around 125 million slaves!
By this point, nuclear war will have wrecked the world’s climate. Crops will fail (Habakkuk 3:17). Famine and diseases will be common. But the leaders of Europe will be living the high life. They will own the greater part of the world’s wealth, sitting atop the largest slave empire the world has ever known.
These leaders preside over a cruel dictatorship. The book of Revelation reveals that all those who do not accept the mark of the beast are put to death (Revelation 13:14-17). (Request our booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? for a biblical explanation of just what that mark is.) It is a medieval empire that holds the power of life and death over its citizens and intrudes into every aspect of their lives. For those living under its rule, it will be a dystopian nightmare. For its slaves, it will be much worse.
It is also a militaristic empire. It wiped out the Islamist power and then annihilated America. It is well aware of the prospect of another war and is arming itself accordingly. It has put on such an impressive display of raw power that the people of the world will ask, “Who is able to make war with the beast?” (Revelation 13:4).
The armed might of this empire may well come from something other than tanks, planes and aircraft carriers. These were the weapons of the last war. The Europeans may use new, more fearsome means of destruction.
The post-American world is dark indeed. But it gets worse. Revelation 9:16 describes a massive Asian army assembling to oppose this European beast power; Europe then launches a preemptive attack. The result is a war that engulfs the world for an entire year—and threatens to wipe out all life on the planet! (Matthew 24:21-22). (Read more in “Czars and Emperors,” page 14.)
Why is the time of European hegemony so terrible? Is it because the Europeans are fundamentally bad people—doomed to wreck the Earth as soon as they take charge?
No. To understand why all this happens, we need to see the spiritual reality behind these events.
Why It All Must Happen
The 2½-year period of Europe’s mightiest conquests is the time of Satan’s wrath (Revelation 12:12). He is the spiritual power that will empower and lead this great military empire (Revelation 13:11). His demons will stir the nations to go to war (Revelation 16:16) and enslave each other.
God allows this to happen to punish rebellious and sinful mankind so people they will finally listen to Him and He can bless them.
The whole world is currently deceived by Satan the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9). But God does not grant Satan unrestricted power over the Earth. For instance, God promised Abraham that his descendants would become great (America and Britain are among those descendants), and Satan was not been permitted to prevent that.
But after those promises to Abraham were fulfilled, modern Israel’s retention of those blessings was contingent upon its obedience to God. The nations of Israel have undeniably rebelled, so the blessings are drying up. Right now we are entering a period when Satan will be allowed almost unrestricted control over the Earth—a means that God is using to help mankind repent and thus prepare for the glorious future He has in store.
It is Satan the devil, then, who is the real cause of the suffering and misery that takes place during the time of Europe’s rule. But shortly after this time is over, the devil will be completely removed from the Earth, and mankind will finally accept God’s teachings on how to live a happy and abundant life.
Once that time comes, the Bible states that the European peoples will be of great benefit to the world. Isaiah 19:24 says that Israel, Egypt and Assyria—modern Germany—will work together, and those three will be “a blessing in the midst of the land.” Germany will once again be a major world power—only this time, it will be to the benefit of the whole world!