Did Germany Just Destroy the Euro?

Did Germany Just Destroy the Euro?

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The German Constitutional Court has made a huge European financial crisis inevitable.

For months we’ve been waiting for the German Constitutional Court’s ruling on the European Central Bank as the next game-changer for Europe. And we weren’t disappointed. Its ruling is of huge importance—to the entire global economy.

By the summer of 2012, things were looking desperate for the euro. Greece, Ireland and then Portugal had been forced to ask the EU for a bailout. Then it was the big boys’ turn: Spain and Italy were next. It was so expensive for them to borrow money that neither could keep going for long. But a bailout of these nations would be hugely expensive. There seemed no way for the euro to survive.

Into the breach stepped the new head of the European Central Bank (ecb), Mario Draghi, wielding what has somehow become known as a “big bazooka.” If a government had trouble borrowing the money it needed to keep going, he promised to print an unlimited amount of money and lend it (in a convoluted way) to the troubled government, in a process called Outright Monetary Transactions (omt).

Draghi hoped that this “bazooka” would never need to be used. If investors believed that the ecb would never allow a government to go bankrupt, then they would lend money more easily.

It worked. The euro crisis peaked in the autumn of 2012. It has still been simmering away, never actually solved, but Draghi’s move averted the immediate danger. Until last Friday.

On that date the German Constitutional Court, based in Karlsruhe, issued a ruling that will make it very hard for Draghi to use his bazooka.

Before we get to the actual ruling, we must understand what is at stake.

At the heart of the court’s ruling are two key questions about the future of Europe: who pays and who controls.

Compare the situation in Europe to the one in the United States. As America recovers from its financial crisis, neither of these questions is a big deal. Americans share a loyalty to the same nation. They pay their taxes into the same pot. The Kentuckians are not up in arms because they don’t think the New Hampshirites are paying their fair share and the Michiganders are not accusing the Wisconsinites of lording it over them. The blame game is still played (i.e. it’s all the fault of the 1 percenters) but it’s not split along geographic borders.

In Europe, these questions are standing in the way of a solution to the euro crisis. The Germans don’t want to pay, as they say it’s the Greeks’ fault. The Greeks protest their innocence, and insist that Germany actually owes them money from World War ii. And it goes round and round.

Draghi’s bazooka—if ever used—would get around this problem by making everyone, including Germany, pay, but by doing it quietly. Financial laws have been broken in Europe, just as they have in America, and no amount of economic trickery can eliminate the penalty for breaking those laws. Draghi’s maneuvers can only change who pays, and how much.

Many at the very top of Germany’s government were happy with Draghi’s move. After all, Germany will incur some substantial losses from its euro membership whatever happens—either through more bailouts or collapsing exports to southern Europe. But Draghi’s way of doing things was more subtle, and if it all went wrong, the European Central Bank, not the government, would get the blame.

But last Friday’s ruling put a stop to all that. The Constitutional Court said it considers omt “incompatible with primary law.”

The way the court made the ruling, however, has thrown up a lot of confusion. After saying it was sure omt was illegal, it referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ecj).

Many saw that as cause for rejoicing. The ecj is run by judges who don’t worry about tiresome details like what the law actually says. To them, it’s all about what they, in their infinite wisdom, think is best. Hence their decision last year that even though the Lisbon Treaty states that Britain is exempt from the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, it actually isn’t.

The ecj should have no trouble in ignoring EU law and ruling Draghi’s actions legal. But Germany’s Constitutional Court does not consider the ecj a higher court. It’s essentially said, We think omt is illegal, but the ecj is the court directly responsible for EU law, so we’ll consider its opinion.

If the ecj says that everything is fine, that will trigger a showdown with Germany’s top court, and the ecj will almost certainly be overruled. It might be much safer for ecj to rubber stamp the court’s decision.

Even in the months that it takes the ecj to consider the matter, Draghi’s bazooka seems disabled. “The German court has parked a tank on the lawn of the ecb,” the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard quoted an anonymous “expert closely involved with the case.”

“The bank’s nuclear weapon is no longer operational, but you could say they bought 18 months of eurozone calm, so the omt served its purpose,” continued the expert.

“If you look back to all the previous German Constitutional Court cases on the euro, the answer was always a variant of ‘Yes, but.’ This ruling was the legal equivalent of ‘No, no, no,’” writes Financial Times columnist Wolfgang Münchau—though noting that the referral to the ecj made it a little more complicated than a straightforward “No.”

Münchau also writes that it seems impossible for the omt to be used. Even if Germany doesn’t take part in it—which in itself would be a big deal—the government would still have to give its approval. If that happened, it would be challenged at the Constitutional Court, at which point “the court would then either eat its words or trigger a crisis,” he concludes. “I cannot see how it could be triggered in practice given such explicit condemnation by Germany’s highest court.”

Spiegel Online notes that the ramifications could spread even further: “In truth, it is nothing less than a final reckoning with the crisis-management strategy pursued by the ecb.”

“The German justices insist that the German constitution sets limits on the ecb’s strategy in the crisis,” Spiegel continues. “And that could have consequences that go far beyond the jurisdiction of the court in Karlsruhe. In a worst-case scenario, the Constitutional Court could forbid Berlin from contributing to efforts to save the euro or even force Germany to leave the currency zone entirely.”

The court ruled that Draghi’s bazooka is, in its opinion, as “ultra vires act.” “Measures taken by European institutions that are not covered by treaties occur ‘ultra vires,’ meaning they violate the sovereignty of EU member states,” explains Spiegel. “By extension, that means that if the German government and parliament do not protect the country from the multibillion euro policies of the ecb, then the Constitutional Court must step in—even by way of a verdict which could force Berlin to withdraw from the eurozone.”

Spiegel speculates that the court’s decision to send the case to ecj could simply be a way of advertising its preeminence:

The Karlsruhe justices feel stronger than ever. For the first time, they dared to do what they had been threatening to do for years: They branded a European decision as ultra vires and thus found it to be inconsistent with the German constitution. Sending this finding to a European court has far-reaching implications for the court’s reputation and authority: “The ruling will now be translated into the 23 other official EU languages and sent to all EU member states,” one Constitutional Court insider noted with gratification.

The court’s ruling indicates that it would strike down any similar method the ecb may try and use to mitigate the immediate pain of a financial crisis—such as quantitative easing.

The ruling means that there will be no quiet, subtle pilfering of German taxpayers’ money to help indebted European countries. If southern Europeans want German cash, they’re going to have to ask for it up front.

That’s not as easy as quietly printing the cash and lending it to indebted governments. The Germans won’t hand it over without a stiff price: German control over how that money is spent, which will translate into German control over the whole of the eurozone. Even then, most in Germany would be unhappy.

The final result will have to be something that looks a lot more like the United States, with a more central government, so the transfer of money is less obvious and less contentious. But because Germany is putting up the lion’s share of the money, it will retain overall control.

Even then, the union will be much more fractious than America. European nations have centuries of separate history; they cannot become American-like states, certainly not overnight. But the only way to make a common currency work is to create that kind of union.

The road to the United States of Europe will not be smooth. The German court’s ruling will probably be forgotten, until the next crisis. At that point, investors will not have the confidence they once had in Draghi’s bazooka—and its confidence-boosting was always its greatest strength. The ecb’s attempts to create some kind of fudge that prevents an economic emergency has been thwarted by the German Constitutional Court.

A full-blown crisis is now inevitable, and that crisis will force Europe to unite like never before.

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Assad the Fearless

Assad the Fearless


Why isn’t Assad living up to his disarmament commitments?

No one emitted gasps of astonishment when Syrian President Bashar Assad missed the second deadline for the removal of his vast stockpile of chemical weapons. February 5 was supposed to be a momentous day: The last shipments of Assad’s deadly arsenal would be loaded onto ships in the port of Latakia to be taken out to sea for safe disposal. As many anticipated, this didn’t happen.

Instead, February 5 quietly slipped by, and Assad went on, not-so-quietly, with his civil war. No surprises there. After all, the dictator has shown repeated contempt for any meaningful steps toward ending the war through peaceful avenues. The weapons act as a strong deterrent for foreign intervention. Giving up regime-preserving weapons certainly isn’t in Assad’s interests.

Nonetheless, the missed deadline is significant because the United States still trusts Assad to follow through on his promise!

Assad has proven that he couldn’t care less for the removal of his chemical weapons. He blew off his first deadline, December 31, when he was supposed to give up approximately 700 tons of his most toxic chemicals. But 2014 rolled around, and the trucks failed to roll in. Still, many in the international community crossed their fingers and hoped for the best.

As of February 5, Syria had successfully delivered a measly 4 percent of its disclosed chemical weapons. The last shipment came on January 27. From a declared stockpile of roughly 1,300 metric tons of chemicals, Syria has delivered two shipments—approximately 52 metric tons.

The Syrian government has until June 30 to completely remove its stockpiles, but its reluctance to comply puts these plans in jeopardy. Since Syria failed to meet its first two deadlines, how can it be expected to reach the June deadline?

The Assad administration has said that it has faced challenges with clearing roads leading to the seaside, but these claims have been refuted by the U.S. and UN, which say Assad has all he needs to get the chemicals transported.

One nation that should be placing far more pressure on Syria—instead of meekly taking a dictator at his word—is the United States. After all, it was the U.S. that was on the verge of an attack against Syria before Russia swooped in to clinch a deal to disarm Assad. When the U.S. backed down, Washington undoubtedly lost face in the eyes of the international community. With that in mind, you would think the U.S. would be ever more insistent to see real results stem from the disarmament deal. The U.S. took a severe blow to its prestige in order to “buy time” for Assad to agree to disarm.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is happy to remain in the backseat. The U.S. State Department has apparently asked Russia to see if more can be done to hasten the work. What a stark reminder of the weak will of the American superpower! Not only did President Obama politely back down from talks on striking at Assad after he gassed Syrian civilians—killing hundreds—but now the U.S. fears even raising its voice as Assad goes about his bloody business.

It’s true that there have been no reports of Assad using his chemical weapons since the attack on Aug. 21, 2013, but Syrians are still dying by the thousands. Over 130,000 have died so far in the constant bloodshed between Assad’s army and the increasingly radical rebel groups.

Assad has taken a liking to “barrel bombing” of late. A barrel bomb is simply a container filled with explosives and shards of metal. Helicopters drop these crude explosive devices onto rebel-held communities.

Assad isn’t changing his ways, nor is he getting rid of his chemicals. Even if these chemicals are removed, there is a strong possibility that Assad didn’t fully reveal his stockpile to UN authorities. An article from London’s Sunday Times reported: “The Israelis believe that some of the weaponry, mainly chemical warheads for missiles and artillery shells, is now concealed deep in the Alawite enclave—in west Syria and along the coast around Latakia up to the Turkish border.”

So Assad still has most of his declared chemicals plus those he could be hiding, negotiations are failing, and both sides seem fated to fight it out until every building has been leveled and every enemy killed. During the last week of negotiations, over a thousand people were killed in Syria, but barely a peep came from the White House.

The facts and figures of the civil war in Syria should horrify us. They should shock our governments into action. But right now, Syrians are waging a brutal war as the world just stands by. This complete lack of progress is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Read Isaiah 3:1-3. This passage speaks of a leadership void that would plague the modern nations of Israel and Judah. It speaks of the “mighty man,” the “man of war,” and “the captain of fifty.” These are men of action! America is no longer a power with leadership capable of enacting and enforcing changes on the world scene. Look at the disarming of Syria. How quickly would that disarming be completed if Assad truly feared those telling him to disarm!

Disarming and the achievement of peace in Syria seems hopeless under such circumstances, and rightly so! Man has nearly 6,000 years of proof behind him showing that he cannot find a way to peace on his own. But there is still hope.

Isaiah 2:4 speaks of disarmament that will work! Notice: “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” This shows us that under the rule of Jesus Christ disarmament and peace will be achieved! That is the future ahead of us. When Christ returns, the world will experience peace as it has never known before.

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America Pushed Germany to Remilitarize

America Pushed Germany to Remilitarize

Joerg Koch/Getty Images

America’s global retreat is pushing Germany to radically change its role in the world.

January 2014 was one of the most pivotal months in Germany’s post-war history. The nation’s top leaders lined up to proclaim a dramatic shift in foreign policy. Germany’s post-World War ii period of restraint is over. Germany’s history, proclaimed its president, should no longer be an excuse for German inaction. The German military should act like any other: It should be prepared to get involved in foreign conflicts just like France, Britain and America.

The Trumpet has covered the danger of this shift here and here. But why is it happening right now?

The answer is obvious, except apparently to America’s top diplomat: America is in retreat, pushing Europe and Germany to take its place.

America constantly urges Europe and Germany to do more. At the Munich Security Conference last year, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged Europe to resist “the ever present temptation to back away from commitments on defense spending.”

“Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world,” Biden said. Almost every time nato gets together, America pushes Europe for more military commitments. For example, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, “I believe that European nations can, and should, do more, to match America’s commitment,” at a speech in Brussels in September.

American President Barack Obama has even called specifically for Germany to step up. In 2011, he awarded German Chancellor Angela Merkel the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Don’t hide behind your history, said the president. Act in accordance with your importance,” reported the German weekly Die Zeit at the time. “The world today does not fear a strong Germany,” Der Tagesspiegel recorded Obama as saying. “It is, rather, disappointed when Germany is too reserved.”

Europe and Germany are getting the message. For around a year now, leaders and think tanks in Europe have focused on the decline of America as one of the biggest global changes that the EU has to adapt to.

In October, EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton said that America’s “renewed emphasis” on Asia “means that Europe must assume greater responsibility for its own security and that of its neighborhood.”

Around the same time, the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (swp), a think tank that advises the German parliament on military and security matters, produced a paper titled “New Power New Responsibility—elements of a German foreign and security policy for a changing world.” In the introduction, they note that “the United States—conscious of its reduced resources—is sending clear signals that their engagement in the world will be more selective in future, and that its expectations of partners will be correspondingly higher. This means that Europe, and Germany in particular, will have to take on a lot more tasks and responsibilities.”

These are just two examples. They’re not rare. Almost every time a European think tank or leader talks about the future of European security it is always predicated on this fact—the U.S. is reducing its influence in the world, and it wants Europe to pick up the slack.

As Germany’s leaders unveiled their new vision for Germany at the Munich Security Conference this year, they also referenced America’s role in pushing them to act. “At this very moment, the world’s only superpower is reconsidering the scale and form of its global engagement,” German President Joachim Gauck noted. This was the first of two reasons he listed that meant Germany can no longer “simply carry on as before”—the second reason being Europe’s “navel gazing.” In other words, America’s retreat from the world is the number one reason why Germany needs become more militaristic, according to Mr. Gauck.

What was America’s response to this? The U.S. wants to make sure Germany follows through on its promised changes. “Leading, I say respectfully, does not mean meeting in Munich for good discussions,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. “It means committing resources even in a difficult time.”

Yet, quite bizarrely, when asked if the U.S. was withdrawing from the world, Kerry said that the idea “is flat wrong and it is belied by every single fact of what we are doing everywhere in the world.”

“I can’t think of a place in the world that we are retreating, not one,” he said.

Yet it is this retreat that has forced Germany to change its strategy. America, in its weakness, actually wants Germany to forget about its history and become a military power once more. America built up Germany and stopped its Nazi hunting in order to create an enemy for Russia. Now it’s taking the process even further—pushing a German-led Europe to be its replacement, while it bows out of global affairs.

How will this end? We answered exactly that question in the January issue of the Trumpet magazine, when we looked at the world without America. For a thorough examination of what the world will look like with Europe taking America’s place, read “The World’s Next Superpower.”

Central African Republic—The Definition of Catastrophe

Central African Republic—The Definition of Catastrophe


It’s more than just another African problem.

The Central African Republic is engulfed in religious war.

Almost 1 million people have fled from car in the past 10 months, according to the UN Refugee Agency. For a country of about 4.6 million, that’s about a fifth of the population fleeing a nation as vast as France.

The past week has been marred with particularly pervasive and gory sectarian violence. On February 5, just moments after a military ceremony in which interim President Catherine Samba-Panza promised to rebuild the army and restore peace, car soldiers lynched a man accused of being an ex-Muslim rebel—in broad daylight. The man was kicked, stabbed, pelted with concrete blocks, dismembered and set ablaze. Associated Press photographer Jerome Delay witnessed the atrocity and made this sobering conclusion: “We have reached the point of no return in sectarian violence.”

On January 29, the director of emergencies for Human Rights Watch, Peter Bouckaert, witnessed an “absolutely horrific scene” near the airport at the capital Bangui: A mob of Christian militia hacked at the slain bodies of two Muslim men with machetes. A throng of spectators, including children, gathered around to jeer and film this monstrosity on cell phones.

“[T]he Muslim community is [being] attacked,” observed Bouckaert. “[E]ntire Muslim communities are just being wiped off the map.” In this particular instance at the Bangui airport, French peacekeepers were also present, but ironically did nothing to stop the mayhem and restore peace. They have been accused of being too sympathetic to car Christians. (Incidentally, Chad’s contingent of African Union peacekeepers are being accused of being sympathetic to Muslim rebels.)

In a prior act of violence against car Muslims, a Christian mob spotted a Muslim-looking man in a minibus. The mob followed the bus, dragged the man out, and butchered him. The mob leader, “Mad Dog” as he called himself, then burned the victim and cannibalized him in full public view.

Most of these Christians practice a bizarre mix of Christianity and witchcraft. They are often embellished with ritualistic amulets and talismans that supposedly make them invincible and fearless. “We are bulletproof,” one of them bragged to bbc.

Over the past week, at least 75 people have been slaughtered, according to a local priest.

These incidents are retribution attacks on the Muslim community that has oppressed Christians in the Central African Republic over the past 10 months.

Since its attainment of independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic has experienced almost half a century of unstable governments, coup d’états and dictatorships. After car’s fifth “successful” coup in March 2013 by the Seleka—an alliance of Islamist militia—Michel Djotodia took over the presidency, becoming the first Muslim leader in the predominantly Christian country.

The Seleka unleashed relatively mild violence against the nation’s civilians—until September last year. Djotodia disbanded the Seleka, and the violence worsened. Ex-Seleka militants dispersed into the countryside and began a spree of looting, rape and mass executions.

As bad as these atrocities were, car’s Christians began fighting back with similar, if not worse, bloodlust. They formed a retribution group called “anti-balaka,” meaning anti-machete. The persecuted became the persecutors.

As a consequence of this catastrophe, nearly 1 million people in the Central African Republic have been internally displaced. Seventy percent of car’s children no longer go to school, making them susceptible military recruits. About half of the population (2.2 million) face starvation. The country is one of the poorest in the world, yet it’s rich in diamonds, gold, uranium, crude oil, lumber and arable land.

On January 10, Michel Djotodia (Catherine Samba-Panza’s predecessor) resigned following pressure from the international community. That same day, bbc filmed a crowd of exuberant Christians singing, “Today, we’re going to kill Muslims.” Evidently, these were not just empty words.

A full-fledged religious war is underway in the heart of Africa: Christians are killing Muslims, and Muslims are killing Christians.

It is to this environment that the EU recently deployed soldiers to try to keep peace. The UN has even flashed the green light for the EU to use force if need be. France is currently taking the lead in this Euro-army, but watch for rival Germany to increase its influence in the region. Our article, “Germany’s Africa Strategy,” explains German and French politicking that will culminate in a large-scale, German-led European intervention in North Africa and the Middle East. This conflict is prophesied in the Bible to be religious in nature.

What’s happening in Africa condemns a world that has supposedly advanced above medieval “holy” wars. It’s also an indication of how close we are to the prophesied European intervention in the region and the return of Christ to end war forever.

Watch the Central African Republic. This is its darkest hour before dawn. That dawn—the glorious reign of Jesus Christ—is imminent.