Update: NATO Cannot Defend Baltic States

Update: NATO Cannot Defend Baltic States

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison

A Russian invasion could shatter the alliance.

Nato will be unable to defend Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania if Russia invades, German news magazine Spiegel reported on May 19, citing German government sources and leaked nato documents.

German defense and foreign ministry officials told Spiegel it would take nato six months to put together a response. “We wouldn’t even show up in time for the Russians’ victory celebration,” one German official said.

German mep Elmar Brok, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (cdu) and head of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs spelled it out plainly: “At present, the alliance could not protect the Baltic countries with conventional military means,” he said.

nato documents express a similar concern. “Russia’s ability to undertake significant military action with little warning presents a wider threat to the maintenance of security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area,” states a draft copy of a restricted internal nato assessment, according to Spiegel. “Russia can pose a local or regional military threat at short notice at a place of its choosing. This is both destabilizing and threatening for those allies bordering or in close proximity to Russia.”

“Six months ago, such words would have been inconceivable in a nato document,” Spiegel writes. “But the crisis in Crimea and now in eastern Ukraine has called many certainties into question.”

Off record, the concerns of nato officials range beyond the Baltics, and even Europe. Spiegel reports that these officials saw weaknesses in a whole range of nato troops. “Fighting mines and submarines has been neglected” they report. “Pilots hardly train for aerial combat,” they continue. These nato officials see weakness from “the armored corps and the infantry” to air defenses. nato has given up practicing and preparing for large scale warfare, instead training for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.

Meanwhile Russia has worked hard to upgrade its military, conducting mass military exercises and ensuring its pilots are constantly practicing. The Russians “now have capabilities and systems once again that cannot simply be brushed aside,” Spiegel quotes Western experts as saying.

Click here to read how the Ukraine Crisis is reshaping Europe.

Spiegel worries that this weakness could destroy the alliance. If they are unable to respond to a Russian invasion of a Baltic country, “the alliance could disintegrate … because it would be breaking the very promise that justifies its existence,” it writes.

Spiegel compares the anxiety in Europe’s defense departments to the climax of the euro crisis in 2012. An invasion of a Baltic state is by no means the most likely outcome of the crisis, just as the total collapse of the euro and Europe’s economy was not the most likely event back then. However, it is a significant enough risk for countries to work on contingency plans and examine how prepared they are.

This is one of the most important trends coming out of the Ukraine crisis. Europe is being forced to fundamentally reevaluate its defense and security. Even long-time arrangements like nato are being questioned. To see where this will lead, read Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s May-June cover article, “The Crimean Crisis Is Reshaping Europe!

The ‘Tragically Historic Date’ Overshadowing Britain’s Elections

Herbert W. Armstrong warned Britain more than four decades ago about the ominous outcome of seeking membership in the European Union.

Russia and China Drive Nails Into Dollar’s Coffin

Russia and China Drive Nails Into Dollar’s Coffin

ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s second-largest financial institution, vtb, signed an agreement with the Bank of China on May 20 agreeing to bypass the U.S. dollar and instead pay each other in their domestic currencies. The deal was signed in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who remarked that this was a “new historic landmark” in the $100 billion of annual trade between the two Asian powerhouse countries.

The agreement comes amidst separate reports saying Russia is dumping record amounts of U.S. treasury holdings. Between October 2013 and March of this year, Moscow’s holdings of United States treasuries fell by almost $50 billion—almost a third. Over half of that happened in March after Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia.

Official foreign holdings at the Fed experience the largest drop on record.

Then, on May 22, China announced it has halted dollar transactions with most Afghan commercial banks.

Moscow and Beijing have long desired to break the dominance of the U.S. greenback in international trade. Analysts say Washington’s punitive response to Russia’s recent aggression into eastern Ukraine—however weak it has been—is injecting new vigor into that desire. “The Ukraine crisis … may well provide the catalyst for that to start happening,” said Chris Weafer, founding partner of Macro-Advisory in Moscow.

Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, said, “China sees the dominance of the dollar in international trade transactions as a remnant of American global dominance, which they hope to overthrow in the years ahead. This is a small step in that direction.”

China sees the dominance of the dollar in international trade transactions as a remnant of American global dominance, which they hope to overthrow in the years ahead.
Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College
The expansionist governments in Moscow and Beijing aim to help each other while simultaneously inflicting harm upon their common enemy, the United States. Russia and China are also rapidly waking up to the fact that U.S. debt is around $17.5 trillion and leaders in Washington have not been able to effectively stem its growth.

The decision of vtb and the Bank of China to begin trading in their own currencies, Moscow’s record dollar dumping, and China’s move to halt dollar trade with Afghan banks all represent nails in the coffin of the greenback. Since the U.S. has not been able to get its financial house in order, the rush of nations to abandon the greenback will gain momentum rapidly in the months and years ahead. From its earliest editions, the Trumpet has warned that the age of the dollar is coming to an end—and has explained that the greenback’s collapse is a precursor to the downfall of the United States.

To understand the significance of this trend, read our article “Russia’s Euros-for-Oil Plan Threatens Dollar’s Reserve Currency Status.”

Homeless: Tent Cities on the Rise as Foreclosure Crisis Returns

Homeless: Tent Cities on the Rise as Foreclosure Crisis Returns

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Criminalizing homelessness isn’t the way to solve it.

The state of New Jersey, along with Camden county and city, began evicting squatters from five tent cities in Camden on May 13. Meanwhile, the number of people losing their homes to foreclosures is skyrocketing again, despite popular belief that the housing crisis is over.

Hazmat teams, tractors and forklifts began demolishing and cleaning up the Camden encampments last week. It may be a blessing to nearby communities, but with city shelters at capacity, many of these homeless will be forced to move—probably to set up camp in someone else’s backyard.

In Portland, Oregon, “Dignity Village,” an encampment set up by homeless people, is now 14 years old.

Despite the demolitions in Camden and elsewhere, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty says that following the 2007 economic downturn and supposed recovery, the number of tent cities popping up in the United States is on the rise again.

According to the center, there are at least 100 large encampments across the U.S., some multiple years old like Dignity Village. Some encampments are orderly, with mayor-like officials, curfews and strict regulations on joining the community. Others are trash-strewn, lawless and filled with everything from human waste to drug paraphernalia.

Tent city distribution in the United States

The 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (ahar) to Congress says that as of January 2013, over 600,000 homeless people live in the U.S. That year-old assessment indicates the number of homeless has declined by 9 percent since 2007. In contrast, the National Center for Homeless Education, which is funded by the Department of Education, says there were 1.2 million homeless children in America in 2013.

America has changed a lot over the years.

In 1964, a group of researchers famously roamed New York City and found only one homeless man in all four of its major parks (Making Room: The Economics of Homelessness). There were just a few hundred homeless in the whole city. In Chicago, the numbers were so low that researchers decided it wasn’t worth doing a survey to quantify it. Then something changed. During the 1970s, for the first time homeless women began appearing on the streets in significant numbers. Throughout the 1980s, numbers of unsheltered homeless in New York were skyrocketing. By 1990, one survey estimated that over 10,400 lived on the street (ibid).

Today, it is hard to know how many street dwellers occupy New York’s parks and abandoned buildings. The city’s hope survey says there are only 3,180, but the survey has been criticized for massive underreporting and for using statistical methods that purport to show the number of homeless decreasing even though the number physically counted in the survey is actually increasing. The hope survey also purported that the number of unsheltered homeless continued to drop throughout the Great Recession, which saw millions of Americans lose their jobs and then their homes to foreclosure. What is known is that, today, approximately 53,000 homeless people sleep in city shelters. cnn says homelessness in New York City is at a record high, and the same can be said for much of America. This despite a massive increase in welfare programs since the 1960s.

With so many homeless people, the pressure on governments to do something about it is growing. Minimum wage protests at McDonald’s and Wendy’s show the growing frustration. President Obama pledged to push for an increase in the national minimum wage. Unfortunately, many of the efforts to fix homelessness are doomed to fail because they tend to focus on the symptoms (squatters camps, increased cost of living) rather than fixing the cause of these problems.

In Palo Alto, California, so many people were living in their vehicles that city leaders recently passed a ban—which has a penalty of up to six months in jail.

At least 70 cities have passed ordinances designed to push homeless people from residing within city limits. Some are under court challenge.

Other cities are taking a different approach—handing out free one-way bus tickets to homeless people. This is a good thing if the tickets take these people back to their families who can help them get back on their feet. If it is just shuffling people around the nation, buy stock in bus companies.

The rise of tent cities can be linked to several factors including a lack of education, broken families, drug abuse and mental health issues. There is an undeniable economic connection too. The high cost of housing, the rising cost of living, a poor economy and high unemployment are taking a toll. For example, in California, foreclosure rates are up 27 percent from last year. In March, completed foreclosures were up almost 6 percent from February. The stock of distressed properties is nearly three times the levels of the early 2000s.

As the OC Housing News blog reports, the situation is about to get a lot worse. Banks have let millions of people live in homes even though they were not making any mortgage payments. They did this in an effort to keep the property maintained while the banks worked through their solvency issues. Additionally, millions more “homeowners” only making partial payments in an effort to save their homes, were also allowed to stay. But now, banks are finally starting to clear up their inventory of bad loans. “The day of reckoning, though delayed, has finally arrived” (ibid).

Read Solve Your Money Troubles now!

No easy solution exists to fix homelessness. Bulldozing tent cities and criminalizing homelessness won’t fix the problem any more than mandating another increase in the minimum wage will solve poverty. Shipping people to other cities may temporarily hide the problem, but will do little to fix it.

Only by tackling the deep causes of homelessness can it be fixed.

If you are facing financial problems, read The Seven Laws of Success and Solve Your Money Troubles. If you apply the principles in these free booklets, they will change your life.

To the Class of 2014

Put away childish things.

President Kiir: South Sudan Famine a ‘Man-made Disaster’

President Kiir: South Sudan Famine a ‘Man-made Disaster’

TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images

‘I cannot deny it—facts are facts and they must be said.’

In an interview with the bbc’s Hardtalk program on Monday, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir identified the chief cause of famine in the world’s newest nation: human conflict.

It is a man-made disaster,” acknowledged Kiir, “and that is why we want the war to stop, [to] allow humanitarian access to the country.”

When South Sudan seceded from Sudan at the behest of the West in 2011, a glimmer of hope arose for the eradication of conflict and strife, which at that time had primarily been religious war between the Muslim north and the Christian south. Now, the predominantly Christian south is engulfed in an ethnic war between Kiir’s Dinka tribe and former Vice President Riek Machar’s Nuer tribe. Since it began last December, this civil war has recruited over 9,000 child soldiers, killed tens of thousands and displaced over a million residents. And with it all has come the blight of famine.

According to the humanitarian agency Oxfam, about 3.7 million South Sudanese need urgent humanitarian assistance. Of those figures, more than 200,000 are children suffering severe acute malnutrition. An estimated 7 million people out of the nation’s 10.8 million population could face starvation in the next few months.

South Sudan

As President Kiir said, “[T]he civilian population is going to face one of the worst famines that has ever been witnessed in South Sudan.” And it’s all “man-made.”

In 2005, the Trumpet published an article on the “hunger myth.” “The greatest fundamental cause of world hunger,” we explained, “far outstripping weather or any other single cause, is internal political and social unrest and conflict.” Agricultural economist Peter Rosset co-authored World Hunger: Twelve Myths, in which he noted, “The true source of world hunger is not scarcity but policy; not inevitability but politics.” At a 2002 Senate hearing on the case of hunger in North Korea, Sen. Sam Brownback said that “every famine is complicated by politics. … Politics is killing people, literally.”

Read “The Hunger Myth.” It explains, as President Salva Kiir acknowledged, that hunger and famine are mostly man-made. Understanding this is vital to comprehending the ultimate solution to famine that the world desperately needs.