WorldWatch

From the January 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Unifying Europe’s military—through the back door

For decades Europe has relied on America for its defense. Now that the U.S. no longer wants the job, Europe has to improve its military at the same time that nations face pressure to cut their budgets.

The solution: Join forces. Nations like France and Poland have suggested this for years, but the movement for a combined European military now has a new champion: Germany.

Berlin put forward a plan to rebuild nato around several core nations at a meeting of nato defense ministers on Oct. 22, 2013. It received broad support and could be adopted at a nato meeting in 2014.

In some ways, the biggest news here is simply that Germany is pushing nato to reform. “Perhaps the strangest thing about the proposal is its origin,” wrote the Atlantic Council of Canada, an independent think tank focusing on nato. Germany has never really been a leader within nato. The think tank concluded, “This may just be the dawn of a new era for Germany in nato, which, were it to commit itself more fully to the alliance, would go a long way toward reinvigorating the alliance.”

The plan itself is also significant. It would divide Europe’s military into clusters. Individual nations would no longer have to maintain all parts of a balanced military, but would be free to specialize. Yet each combined cluster would possess all the necessary resources for a complete military.

Each cluster would be built around a “framework nation”—one of Europe’s larger militaries—which would lead the cluster and provide a broad, balanced military as a foundation for other nations to build on. These framework nations would probably include France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.

A similar system already works in Afghanistan. Germany runs the northern command and leads other nations, like the Netherlands. Germany’s plan would take such cooperation to the next level, with nations pooling their military resources and jointly developing new weapons and technology.

The plan is strikingly similar to one put forward earlier in October by the Konrad Adenaur Foundation (kaf), a think tank closely associated with Germany’s Christian Democratic Union. It called for Europe to form “islands” of defense cooperation. The Trumpet also reported on Germany’s push for similar structures back in August 2013.

Rather than cede control of their militaries to the EU, nations could instead share aspects of the military with two or three neighboring nations, gradually getting accustomed to the loss of sovereignty until they later give it over to a larger European entity, suggested the kaf.

The report made several specific recommendations, the most striking being that Germany should act as the “lead nation of a common air force with the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.” It also suggested working with France and Poland to buy two joint-support ships, as well as working with the Netherlands and Denmark to upgrade some frigates.

For years, Germany has tried to stay away from anything that could look like military leadership. Now, pushed by the United States, Berlin is beginning to take the lead to improve Europe’s military, both abroad and at home.

Germany invades Obsidia!

While Germany is pushing for a European military with new enthusiasm, it is also improving its own military. In early October 2013, 3,500 Bundeswehr soldiers using 700 air and ground military vehicles, with the aid of surveillance drones and elite special forces units, successfully invaded Obsidia.

Obsidia is a fictitious name of the city that served as a target for German forces during their most recent military exercise. German-Foreign-Policy.com wrote that the exercise “was aimed at training prospective general and admiral staff officers from the German Armed Forces Staff College and Army officer cadets” (Oct. 17, 2013).

The scope of Operation Obsidia was vast and complex, and went beyond just the “house by house” invasion by Bundeswehr soldiers. Prior to the invasion, human spies, various surveillance vehicles and even drones gathered vital strategic intelligence, which was then used to coordinate the ground assault. During the invasion, troops also practiced exercises in crowd and riot control.

Lt. Gen. Bruno Kasdord, inspector general of the Bundeswehr and a participant in Operation Obsidia, said German officers must be educated in the full “spectrum” of warfare so they can “be prepared for the challenges of the future.”

North Africa’s policeman

Europe is increasing its control over the Mediterranean Sea through a new “big brother” surveillance program. The European Parliament approved the program for the Mediterranean Sea on Oct. 10, 2013, after an overcrowded boat full of migrants sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa, killing 359. The new program, eurosur, was marketed as the solution to the tragedy, but it has actually been in planning for several years.

The program establishes drones and satellites to watch the Mediterranean, aided by offshore sensors and other intelligence equipment. Spiegel Online called it “precisely the kind of monitoring apparatus America’s nsa intelligence service might dream up.” Spiegel titled its article, “EU Plans Big Brother System in Mediterranean” (Oct. 11, 2013).

Officials estimate the program will cost €244 million (us$311 million), but the Heinrich Böll Foundation claims this is hugely underestimated: It puts the figure at €874 million ($1.19 billion). Given the EU’s history of massively underestimating the cost of important projects, the latter figure is more likely to be correct. The lower figure, however, makes the scheme easier to sell to the public.

Mass immigration from Africa has also been used to sell the project to the public. But immigration is not truly what this is about. The EU is extending its control over the Mediterranean Sea and into North Africa.

Another program, thinly disguised as an anti-immigration effort, is eubam Libya. This group’s stated aim is to help Libya manage its border and train its customs officials. When up to full strength, it will have 111 EU staff, 54 local staff members and 54 bodyguards. While it will help prevent would-be emigrants from leaving Libya illegally, the EU Observer says its real purpose is to serve as “an EU intelligence asset.”

In April 2011, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry warned that Iran was trying to gain power over the Mediterranean and Red seas. In that article, he wrote that “Germany and the Vatican probably see Iran’s strategy better than any power outside the Middle East.” He warned that Europe would prepare to confront Iran. Two years later, he warned that “Northern Africa is turning into a battleground with enormously important prophetic implications.” He described how Europe and Iran were quietly vying for control of the region and the resources it contains.

Now we see the EU creating a new surveillance plan for the Mediterranean and EU intelligence-gathering initiatives sprouting in Libya. We see France fighting in Mali and preparing to deploy more troops to the Central African Republic (sidebar). Europe is awake to the threat radical Islam poses to the vital trade networks and resources in and around the Mediterranean. It also sees that it can no longer depend on the U.S. to contain that threat, so the EU is dealing with it personally. Expect such initiatives to grow in number and in scope.

Securing the Central African Republic

As the Central African Republic (car) faces an Islamic takeover, France plans to send more troops in and is pushing for UN intervention in its former colony.

Since the Islamic Seleka rebels took over car in March, conditions have deteriorated rapidly, with Muslims and Christians fighting each other. Only 15 percent of the country’s population is Muslim, but Seleka took control in March, putting President Michel Djotodia into power. (The man he replaced, François Bozizé, came to power in a coup in 2003, but went on to win presidential elections and even received military support from France.)

The Seleka rebels include many fighters from Chad and Sudan. Sudan has links to Chad’s rebel groups, making it the major foreign power behind the takeover. President Djotodia ordered the disbanding of the Seleka groups in September, but only after absorbing many of their fighters into the army.

France now fears that the Central African Republic could become a terrorist breeding ground, allowing radical Islam a safe haven in the heart of Africa. Sudan is currently Iran’s most important African partner. Iran’s Islamists could easily cross the border into the car and set up shop there, giving them easy access to oil and other resource-rich parts of Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

France wants to turn the African Union mission in the country into a UN peacekeeping force, supported by French troops. With troops deployed in Mali, France doesn’t want another war on its hands, so it is trying to get its African allies to do as much of the work as possible. It already has 450 soldiers in the country to protect the airport, and reports indicate Paris plans to nearly double this number.

Is the president purging the military of dissenters?

When President Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately fired Gen. David McKiernan. The president wanted “fresh thinking” and “fresh eyes” on Afghanistan. It was the first time a top general had been fired during wartime in more than 50 years.

McKiernan’s replacement, Stanley McChrystal, lasted a bit more than a year. He was fired for making disparaging comments, including that President Obama wasn’t really that interested or “engaged” in the war in Afghanistan.

Since then, President Obama has terminated close to 200 high-ranking military officers. This year alone, nine generals and flag officers have been fired or have been pressured to resign. World Net Daily calls this purge of top military brass an “extraordinary number.” This amounts to a major eradication of the leadership of the U.S. military.

In the North Africa region, three top commanders at the time of the Benghazi attack have been dismissed: U.S. Army Gen. Carter Ham, who headed the United States African Command; Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette, commander of the aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea; and Maj. Gen. Ralph Baker, who commanded the Joint Task Force-Horn in Djibouti, Africa.

Several of the other six generals and flag officers fired were allegedly critical of other Obama policies such as military cuts, the removal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and America’s new policy on Iran. Others were allegedly fired for sexual misconduct, or adultery—dismissal for which has been increasingly rare since President Bill Clinton’s affair.

What angers many observers even more is that while so many of America’s military leaders are being fired, the Obama administration has failed to hold a single Obama administration official accountable for a string of scandals: the Benghazi cover-up; the Fast and Furious scandal; the fbi admitting it uses surveillance drones over U.S. soil; the Justice Department secretly seizing the records of more than 20 Associated Press phone lines; the Justice Department illegally monitoring the phone lines and e-mails of Fox News reporter James Rosen; the Internal Revenue Service targeting the president’s political adversaries; the National Security Agency conducting illegal, covert telephone and online surveillance programs on U.S. citizens, violating the Fourth Amendment; the nsa spying on America’s allies to the point of tapping the phones of heads of state. Additional revelations that the irs targeted President Obama’s political adversaries add credence to the charges that a military purge could be occurring.

The atmosphere within the senior ranks is becoming so bad that retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady says members no longer feel prepared to fight or have the desire to win.

The National Journal reported November 1 that low morale isn’t the only problem. Resentment is so high that some soldiers have reportedly considered—but dismissed—trying to “take out the president” and stage a coup.

Something deadly dangerous is happening in America. The Obama administration is showing itself extremely intolerant of dissent. And the president has made it clear that he will use the full force of government to attack opposition groups that defy his agenda.

In this poisonous climate, the United States military is being gutted and reshaped. To learn the full breadth of the conspiracy underway against the U.S., request your free copy of America Under Attack.

Why is Saudi Arabia getting so bold?

On Oct. 17, 2013, Saudi Arabia was offered a highly coveted seat on the United Nations Security Council for the first time in its history. But the next day the Saudis rejected the offer. It was widely viewed as a slap at the United States, considered one of its strongest Western allies. What was Saudi Arabia so upset about, and why was it suddenly so bold?

The rise of Iran is Saudi Arabia’s most pressing concern. The Saudis have watched anxiously as Iran, a bitter enemy, has evaded punishment even while continuing to forge its nuclear program, fund terrorism and aggressively expand its influence throughout the region.

Now, they fear the United States is giving its blessing to the whole appalling process. There are signs America is giving in to Iran—its weakening resolve, its declining interest in the Middle East, its fading sense of responsibility to protect Israel.

An American reconciliation with Iran truly is a game-changer for Saudi Arabia. It absolutely shreds the U.S.-Saudi alliance. You can be sure the Saudis have been seeking other options. But what options do they have? This is a compelling question when viewed in light of biblical prophecy.

As the Trumpet has tracked for some time, Germany is preparing itself to confront Iran. An alliance with Saudi Arabia is a key component in these preparations.

In a recent article, Gerald Flurry revealed Germany’s “whirlwind” strategy for attacking Iran. “Germany has surrounded Iran and radical Islam,” he wrote. “Soon that whirlwind is going to start rotating and whirling against the king of the south [an Iranian-led, radical Islamic alliance] like a well-armed—probably nuclear-armed—vortex!” (July 2013).

Bible prophecy also specifically forecasts a German-Saudi alliance. The Trumpet has forecast this union for years. You can read about it in Mr. Flurry’s article “A Mysterious Alliance” (thetrumpet.com/go/784).

Nations throughout the Middle East are having to recalibrate their thinking based on the probability of a U.S.-Iran reconciliation. This represents a transformative alienation of “moderate” Arab states like Saudi Arabia that are united against Iran. And it is exactly these states that Germany is going after.

This development aligns remarkably with the prophecy of Psalm 83.

Saudi Arabia’s very public rebuke of America is likely a strong indication of the confidence it has gained in its new European ally. It is hard to imagine the Saudis being so bold—if not for the support they are receiving from Germany.

Don’t underrate al Shabaab

Ever since the four-day siege of Kenya’s Westgate Mall in September, Iranian-backed and al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab has continued making disturbing headlines internationally.

On Oct. 5, 2013, the terrorist group proved formidable enough to repel an elite team of U.S. Navy seals. In an attempt to capture the terrorist Ikrima—the go-between for al Shabaab commanders and various al Qaeda terrorist cells—the seals invaded al Shabaab’s fortification in Barawe, a Somali port city that the group controls almost entirely and from which it earns annual trade revenue of about $25 million. The seals underestimated al Shabaab’s capabilities and were overwhelmed by the militants’ counteroffensive.

Al Shabaab is believed to be tied to the explosion that went off in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on October 13. This was a premature detonation of what would have been a makeshift, yet deadly, suicide bomb. It only killed its operators—two Somali men who were in Ethiopia illegally. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility and claimed that the intended target was the soccer World Cup qualifier between Ethiopia and Nigeria, held the next day.

In the midst of it all, al Shabaab Islamists have used the media to post video advertisements for recruiting militants, particularly from the United States and Britain. They produce an online magazine that boasts of their suicidal exploits and explains their jihadist manifesto.

The Horn of Africa, specifically Ethiopia, is prophesied to ally with an Iranian-led, Islamic king of the south, and al Shabaab may contribute significantly to that end. As Islamic terror continues to grow across Africa and the Middle East, expect Europe’s uneasiness to grow with it, until radical Islam is snuffed out in a prophesied “whirlwind” attack.

No prize for you

The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership is the biggest annual award in the world. Established in 2007, it rewards former African heads of state who were democratically elected, demonstrated exceptional leadership, exited office according to legally mandated term limits, and have left office within the last three years. The prize money is $5 million paid over 10 years and a $200,000 annual pension thereafter.

Sadly, however, Africa has no leaders worthy of the prize. On Oct. 14, 2013, the foundation announced that it found no head of state who qualified.

It was the fourth time in the award’s seven years that a worthy leader has not been found.

The foundation also presented its 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which uses 94 indicators to measure the quality of governance in African countries. The index showed an overall deterioration in safety and the rule of law. “[I]f this deterioration is not turned around,” the foundation noted, “it could signal an era where, despite fewer regional conflicts, we will see an increase in domestic social unrest across Africa.”

Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” The people of Africa are suffering under a lot of corrupt rulership—as are people most everywhere else in the world. The Bible prophesies that this situation will change soon, however, when “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

Typhoon levels the Philippines

Philippine officials believe as many as 4,000 people have died and 1,600 are missing after one of the most powerful typhoons ever to make landfall struck the Philippines. “I don’t believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way—every single building, every single house,” said U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy after taking a helicopter flight over Tacloban, the largest city in Leyte province.

The superstorm hit on Nov. 8, 2013, with 147 mph winds and a 20-foot wall of seawater. It was likely the deadliest natural disaster in the Philippines’ history. Authorities had evacuated some 800,000 citizens ahead of the storm, but the death toll still soared because many evacuation centers were not able to withstand the water surges and winds. Many who had taken refuge in these buildings drowned or were swept away. Relief efforts were hampered by the logistical challenges of reaching thousands of victims spread across hundreds of devastated islands. For days after the storm passed, stunned survivors picked through the rubble of their homes, searched for loved ones, pleaded for food and wondered why such devastation was unleashed upon their nation. “I have no house, I have no clothes. I don’t know how I will restart my life, I am so confused,” an unidentified woman told reporters on the scene.

Why is so much violent weather assailing the world? Those personally affected by the incomprehensible carnage need answers. You need answers. These answers can be found in our free booklet Why ‘Natural’ Disasters.

Moscow puts Soviet squeeze on neighbor nations

It’s a rough time to be a former Soviet country. Russian President Vladimir Putin sees many of these nations giving in to Europe’s economic overtures, so in a push to draw them back into Moscow’s sphere, he is reverting to some strong-arm countermeasures. The trend is evident in Russia’s recent dealings with Lithuania, Ukraine, Armenia and impoverished Moldova.

In October, the Kremlin banned Lithuania’s milk and other dairy products, and temporarily doubled up customs inspections on all of its other exports. In August, Moscow abruptly halted all Ukrainian imports crossing the Russian border for tedious customs examinations. The Kremlin removed the cumbersome restrictions after a week, but one of Putin’s aides said that they might be permanently reinstated if Ukraine enters trade deals with the EU. Such a decision, according to the aide, would be “suicidal” for Ukraine.

Armenia has long heavily depended on Moscow for security. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan was apparently reminded of this fact during a September meeting with Putin. He emerged from the talks announcing that his nation would ditch years’ worth of efforts it had made toward joining the EU’s Eastern Partnership program, and instead join the Eurasian Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Then there’s Moldova. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin recently said it would be “a grave mistake” for Moldova to try to build warmer ties with Europe. The impoverished nation is completely reliant on Russian gas for heat, and Rogozin threatened to cut off that supply, adding, “We hope that you will not freeze.” Russian authorities then outlawed Moldovan wine, one of the nation’s chief exports, and said they may ban apples and other produce as well. Rumors have circulated that tens of thousands of Moldovans who hold jobs in Russia may be kicked out, devastating the financial lives of myriad Moldovan families.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Western world rejoiced, heralding the event as a victory for liberty, a triumph for democracy, and evidence of the supremacy of capitalism over socialism. Vladimir Putin called it the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” The aftermath of the collapse presented hardships, not just for Russia, but also for several of the former Soviet states that initially rejoiced at the union’s demise. Those countries without energy to export suffered a colossal decline in standard of living, followed by a period of economic stagnation. The strain was enough to nudge some of these nations back into Russia’s arms. The most notable reconciliation was the establishment of the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan trade union. In April 2012, Putin called the creation of this union the most meaningful geopolitical event in Asia since the Soviet Union broke up.

Putin intends the partnership among these three countries to be a permanent feature within the sphere of the former Soviet Union. For former Soviet states, it is an alternative to the European Union, and Putin is bent on absorbing other nations into the fold.

Under Putin’s reign, as evidenced by the squeeze currently underway, Moscow is working to recreate the geography of the Soviet Union and to reassert Russia’s influence in the region. The goal of reversing the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” underpins almost every facet of the Kremlin’s foreign policy. Putin recently called the reestablishment of the Soviet empire “inevitable.” Bible prophecy corroborates this view—though the Asian bloc that is prophesied to congeal will be quite different from the Soviet Union, primarily in that it will include China and other East Asian nations. To understand more, request our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.

China plans to rebuild British landmark

The Crystal Palace, a symbol of Great Britain’s power in the early- to mid-1900s, was once the largest glass structure ever built. In 1936, the massive glass edifice was destroyed due to a fire. Now, builders are planning to reconstruct the Crystal Palace, but they’re not British builders.

Chinese investment firm Zhong Rong Group is planning to fund the project to reconstruct this icon of Britain’s former greatness. Ni Zhaoxing, chairman of Zhong Rong, says he desires to “rebuild the splendid glory of the past.”

It is a sad day for Great Britain when a foreign nation rebuilds a structure that once showcased the British Empire’s splendor and ingenuity. The Crystal Palace project displays just how powerful and dominant China has become. While many nations are struggling to finance basic infrastructure, China is going into another country to build a nearly $1 billion tourist attraction.