Czars and Emperors

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Czars and Emperors

If the U.S. vanished from Asia, consider the heavy-handed rulers who would fill the power void.
From the January 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Washington is a warmonger, say a multiplying number of voices from weaker Asian nations that are joining in the chorus from China and Russia. They say the United States behaves imperialistically in their region so they want the Americans to pack up and leave the Eastern Hemisphere.

“The United States … is an empire in all but name, and … American ‘national security’ interests have an inevitably imperial cast,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s most powerful newspaper, wrote on Nov. 3, 2013.

A few years ago, Uzbek President Islam Karimov accused America of trying to “hijack stability” from Central Asia.

A little before that, a Taiwanese senior official criticized an economic deal Washington struck with Taipei by saying, “This is U.S. imperialism.”

Such statements are not uncommon. These voices are about to get their wish.

Despite the modern rhetoric, the United States is not warmongering. But if America were to vanish from the Asian dynamic, those who would fill the power vacuum would jolt the region’s collective memory into remembrance of what warmongering really means.

A Different Manner of Leadership

Consider Russia.

In The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote about the other holocaust of the 20th century: The imprisonment, debasement and usually murder of tens of millions of innocent Soviets by their own government during the reigns of Stalin and other leaders.

Beyond just documenting the savagery of the Russians in power during this dark era, Solzhenitsyn also pointed out how unrepentant his nation had been for its atrocities. “[B]y 1966, eighty-six thousand Nazi criminals had been convicted in West Germany. … During the same period, in our own country … about ten men have been convicted. … Why is Germany allowed to punish its evildoers and Russia is not? What kind of disastrous path lies ahead of us if we do not have the chance to purge ourselves of the putrification rotting inside our body?”

Solzhenitsyn rejected the notion that this savagery resulted from an anomalously dark chapter in Russian history that was the product of Stalin’s rule. He showed instead that the barbarism began before and ended after Stalin, and that the diseased spirit lived on among many Russians.

One of those in whom it remains is President Vladimir Putin. Today Putin sits at the helm of Russia’s fsb security agency, which the Guardian recently called an “immensely powerful modern-day kgb.” The kgb was the direct successor of the Cheka security agency—the system under which all those millions were brutalized and murdered. Putin joined the kgb in 1975 and rose quickly through its ranks by becoming a master of its power culture. Putin’s fsb was spawned from the same corrosive Cheka/kgb system. The fsb even continues to operate from the same Lubyanka building in central Moscow, the basement of which was home to countless violent Soviet-era detainments and interrogations.

In a clear sign of his long-term goals, Putin said in 2005 that the demise of the Soviet Union—the system responsible for the deaths of those innocent millions—“was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Another clear sign came in 2008 when Putin invaded the former Soviet nation of Georgia to yank a couple of its Russia-friendly states back into Moscow’s power.

Putin isn’t the only Russian who looks back on Soviet history through that rosy lens. Pravda, one of Russia’s most influential news sources, wrote in November that the Russian Revolution 70 years earlier “was for the first time bringing backward societies into the front line of industrial development, guaranteeing housing for free, free public utilities, free or heavily subsidized communications, subsidized public transportation, free primary and secondary education, free higher education, free health care, free dental treatment, zero unemployment, safety on the streets, security of the state, social mobility, indexed pensions, guaranteed basic foodstuffs, leisure time activities, free sports facilities, free cultural facilities.”

The publication makes no mention of the fact that the state turning its citizens into its wards came at the cost of murdering millions of them.

If the U.S. exited the global stage, we could expect Putin to rapidly accelerate and intensify his efforts to undo that unequalled “geopolitical catastrophe.” We could expect Pravda readers and the bulk of Russians to rally behind him. Russia would immediately announce sovereignty over the wayward satellite states that were once in the Soviet fold (those at least that haven’t been assimilated into the European Union). In such a scenario, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia and pretty much any “-stan” nation to the north of Iran would be smart to go ahead and hoist the Russian flag over their capital buildings if they wanted to minimize the casualties.

In the Footsteps of the 20th Century’s Deadliest Dictator?

Which tyrant is responsible for the murder of the most people in the 20th century? It was not Hitler, Tojo or Stalin. It was Mao Tse-tung.

The Chinese Communist dictator summarized his leadership philosophy with a phrase that sounds like it’s lifted straight out of a mafia movie: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” And Chairman Mao lived by that creed. Under his reign, between 65 and 75 million Chinese were murdered—starved, tortured, bullied to suicide, or executed as traitors.

Yet here is the most remarkable fact: For China’s ruling Communist Party, Mao remains the most honored figure today. His face is on every single bill in the Chinese currency; his portrait hangs on the gate of the Forbidden City on Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing; and, as npr reported in 2011, the official verdict among modern Chinese is that Mao was 70 percent right and 30 percent wrong in his rule.

In March of 2013, Xi Jinping—the son of one of Chairman Mao’s high-ranking officers—achieved his lifelong goal of becoming president of the People’s Republic of China. Early in his presidency, Xi paid his respects at Mao’s old residences, and said, “The color of our red country will never change.” By emphasizing political continuity and by tapping into his father’s revolutionary legacy, Xi is boosting the Communist Party’s legitimacy—and thus his own.

The leitmotif of his presidency so far has been to restore Communist Party control over all aspects of society. A key aspect of this drive has been suppressing dissent. Mr. Xi “has sprouted rhetoric reminiscent of Mao Tse-tung,” the Christian Science Monitor reported. “State Security officers round up human rights lawyers and social activists in an unusually harsh crackdown, and propaganda moguls squelch public debate of awkward issues” (July 26, 2013).

Consider this suppression of dissent alongside China’s ongoing iron-fisted rule of Tibet, the “Great Firewall of China,” and Xi’s recent signal of his intent to exert total control over China’s mammoth state-owned companies. Clearly, the Maoist spirit is very much alive in Beijing. Despite his shameless barbarity against the Chinese people, Chairman Mao is the patron saint of Xi Jinping’s China.

Mr. Xi’s evocation of Mao and his ideological assault on democratic values has disappointed some of China’s liberal intellectuals who fear an intensification of the Communist Party’s authoritarianism. But the dissenting voices are growing quieter.

The mantra of modern Chinese leaders, media and educators is that China’s history makes it special, and that its people are heirs to a civilization nobler and more ancient than any other in the world. The lion’s share of Chinese people believe it; they see their nation’s place in the world as superior to all others. In Mao’s China and the Cold War, Cornell University Prof. Jian Chen discusses China’s self-given nickname: “[T]he term ‘Central Kingdom’ … implies that China is superior to any other people and nation ‘under the heaven’ and that it thus occupies a ‘central’ position in the known universe.”

A growing number of Chinese openly acknowledge that their “Central Kingdom” is working to realize its ancient dreams of global hegemony. If circumstances were right, most would be willing to throw their support behind Mr. Xi to achieve this goal.

With the U.S. out of Asia, China would throw its weight—and its 1.35 billion people—even more firmly behind efforts to establish regional and then global dominance. It would immediately announce its sovereignty over the Southeast Asian states and its island neighbors. The charade of Taiwan’s independence would come to an abrupt halt. And China would push into India and the rest of Middle Asia.

Land of the Rising Sun

Japan is notorious not only for wartime savagery, but also for failing to express much remorse for pitilessly invading its neighbors and for rewriting history to downplay the crimes.

In the Massacre of Nanking, China, for example, Japanese troops murdered over 200,000 Chinese civilians. The cruelty was known among the military’s highest officers, including the chief commander of the invasion, Emperor Hirohito’s uncle. These atrocities were committed with the royal stamp of approval for the purpose of burning fear into the hearts of those living in the cities and nations Japan planned to invade next.

Postwar Tokyo has apologized for instigating aggressive wars, but the apologies have been regularly undercut by revisionist statements from top politicians, especially Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. And Abe and those other politicians are wildly popular among the Japanese people.

As America says sayonara to Asia, expect Tokyo to quickly complete its return to full-fledged militarism with an added nuclear component, and to work aggressively toward establishing a new global order in the image of Japan.

Putin, Xi and Abe each harbor deep-rooted nationalism. All three seem to gaze back on violent chapters in their nations’ history in a way that suggests a dark component in their leadership ambitions. In America’s absence, it wouldn’t take long for the peoples of Asia to see a widespread return to authoritarianism, and to see powerful countries dominating weaker ones with unrestrained force because they can. And these nations are immensely more powerful today than they were during the 20th century. Just as with previous generations, the current leaders of Russia, China and Japan understand that this is how wars must be fought if they are to be of any lasting benefit for a powerful nation.

A Group of Asian ‘Kings’

The scenario of an America-free Asia will not remain hypothetical for much longer. We can already see tectonic geopolitical shifts that are rapidly turning it into a reality.

Beyond that, Bible prophecy confirms that the time will soon be here when the U.S. will be removed from the picture and Asian nations will rise up powerfully. Scripture makes plain that rather than go it alone, several Asian juggernauts will pool their resources, consolidate their power and form a military force of proportions the world has never seen.

Analysts occasionally make mention of the biblical word Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16, but it is rare to hear talk of the kings of the East discussed a few verses earlier in the chapter. And, though the details of how this Eastern superpower will form in the end time are still unknown, prophecy is unmistakably clear about the fact that it will happen.

Maybe Tokyo would be able to persuade nations like South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines or India to form an alliance with Japan to counter the China-Russia axis. An alliance between Japan and nations like Korea and Taiwan is difficult to imagine, though, given the intense loathing those countries still harbor toward Tokyo because of the savagery they suffered at its hands during times of invasion. It is also possible that Russia and Japan could band together in an effort to counter China. But the strong implication of Bible prophecy is that even if some kind of Japan-led counter-alliance were formed, it would not be long before it joined China and Russia. Back in World War ii, Japan was the only industrialized nation in Asia, so it was able to chart its own course. This time around, that advantage is removed.

It is significant that while Bible prophecy describes other end-time power blocs as being united under one leader or one lead nation (e.g. “king of the north,” “king of the south”), the Eastern bloc is called the kings—plural—of the East. This implies that the powerful Eastern nations will retain their individual identity and sovereignty. They will be cooperating tightly with one another militarily and economically, but will not be unified under one “king” the way Europe will.

Asian Axis Frightens Europe

Revelation 9:16 shows that the combined armies of these “kings of the east” will number a jaw-dropping 200 million soldiers. The jaw drops even further when we consider how many people were on the planet in a.d. 90 when God inspired the Apostle John to record that prophecy (Revelation 1:1). Population estimates calculated by author John Tanton show that at that time there would have been only a little over 150 million total people alive. That is convincing evidence that this prophecy came from the mind of an Almighty God who truly is able to foretell the future (e.g. Isaiah 55:11)—and that it is for our day!

Where could an army this gargantuan come from but an alliance of populous Asian nations? Depending on which countries you include, it is not difficult to reach combined populations of 2.5 to 4 billion people. Under extraordinary circumstances such as those in these end-time prophecies, it is not difficult to imagine one in 10 or 20 people going to war.

Threatened by this imposing military machine to its north and east, the mighty European forces will attack (Revelation 9:1-12). The Eastern hordes will counterattack (verses 13-21). These colossal clashes will lead to the bloodiest pages in mankind’s strife-ridden history!

The violence and suffering will appear to be humanity’s final chapter. But the Bible makes plain that it is actually only the last page of the prologue of mankind’s exciting future!

Prophecies show that this nuclear World War iii will be abruptly interrupted by the return of Jesus Christ. Though these combined armies will try to fight Christ, He will squelch the violence—and then force upon the Asians, Europeans and all men the peace that has always eluded us. At that time, chapter one of real life can finally begin.

The Bible is clear that the decline of American influence in Asia and the concomitant rise of the Oriental nations is another key step toward Christ’s glorious return!