WorldWatch

From the October 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Building a Euroarmy before your eyes

The Dutch Army contains three brigades, plus support staff and Special Forces. On June 12, the German Army swallowed one of those brigades. The Netherlands’ 11th Airmobile didn’t lose a battle—it voluntarily joined the German military.

This was the first time in history that one European country has handed part of its army over to another. “Never before has a state renounced this elementary and integral part of its sovereignty,” Die Welt’s Thorsten Jungholt wrote on August 7.

And this is not a one-off circumstance. Berlin is making it clear it intends to follow this pattern and to absorb more units from foreign militaries.

Jungholt’s title summed it up: “Germany Is Driving the European Army Project.”

Expanding the German Army

German generals already have their eyes on a second Dutch brigade. German Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Bruno Kasdorf wrote a letter outlining these plans. “The integration of the Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade into the [German] 1st Armored Division shall be encouraged,” he wrote (date/reference). This would leave the 13th Mechanized Brigade as the only Dutch brigade still under Dutch command.

This military merger has received little attention in the Netherlands, but consider what is happening here. This is no small experiment simply to pay lip service to the idea of multinational cooperation. This is the Netherlands signing the core of its army over to Germany.

This comes in addition to extensive training and cooperation that already goes on between German and Dutch armed forces.

Kasdorf wrote that Germany wants to employ the Dutch model to its military relationships with other nations. “The bilateral cooperation with Austria and Poland is currently gaining much momentum,” he wrote (date/reference). In Austria, this coordination comes mainly in the form of “mountain-specific” activities, he said, but the German military is considering “a more intensive … cooperation … in a form similar to the Netherlands” with Poland. Poland has agreed “to study the exchange of units/organizations,” with Germany, Kasdorf wrote.

These nations already share military training and exercises. Could we see Polish brigades joining the German Army soon? Last year Poland and Germany signed a naval agreement to train together and cooperate in the Baltic Sea. In the wake of the crisis in Ukraine, there may soon be more.

The Ultimate Goal

Hans-Peter Bartels, chairman of the German parliament’s defense committee and the recipient of Kasdorf’s letter, left no doubt as to the final goal for all this cooperation. “The hour has come, finally, for concrete steps towards a European Army,” he told Die Welt.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has a similar goal. “Today we embark on a new era of integration,” she said as the Dutch Airmobile brigade officially joined the German Army. “This cooperation will continue and even intensify. Our new partnership can also be seen as a model for Europe and its common security and defense policy.”

In his letter, Kasdorf wrote that Germany is a “driver and a pioneer” of international cooperation between armed forces.

As part of this effort, Bartels suggested that Germany may put some German soldiers under the command of other nations. This may happen, but it will have limits. Germany’s constitution, and its interpretation by the Constitutional Court, ensures that the German parliament remain in ultimate control of the German Army. Europe’s other militaries lack the same strict constitutional protection.

Bartels’s defense committee’s job is to advise and scrutinize, not to make decisions. Bartels is a member of the Social Democratic Party, not the Christian Democratic Union, which is the senior coalition partner. The ultimate decision makers in the German Defense Ministry have given no indication that they would be willing to sign over parts of the German Army to other nations.

Forced by Russia

For several years, financial pressures have been prompting Germany’s neighbors to seek military cooperation. By working together, they can achieve the same bang for fewer bucks. But Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is prompting an additional push in this direction.

“Something is sprouting in Germany,” wrote Jan Techau, director of the Carnegie Europe think tank. “As Europeans ponder the necessity of military strength after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and nato charts its course for the post-Afghanistan era, Europe’s reluctant central power is doing some serious soul-searching on its role as a military player.

“This reflective process started years ago, when former defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg started to set things straight by calling the war in Afghanistan a war and a fallen soldier a fallen soldier—things that had previously been taboo. But now, after those linguistic adaptations to reality, it seems that a more profound change is happening, one that might eventually lead to a shift in political behavior” (Real Clear World, June 18).

Germany has sent planes to help patrol the Baltic states’ airspace and supplied a ship to nato’s Baltic task force. It has also doubled to 120 the number of staff officers it has at nato’s Multinational Corps’ northeast headquarters in Szczecin, Poland. This enables the corps to “increase its level of readiness significantly,” Techau wrote. “This nato headquarters is predominantly dedicated to territorial defense—in other words, more than anything else, it looks at Russia.”

“Most importantly, Germany decided to integrate its land forces into the exercise scheme nato is currently putting together to strengthen the alliance’s troop presence on its eastern flank,” he wrote. The scheme will probably be approved in September, giving nato a constant presence in Central Europe, but without actually stationing any soldiers there permanently.

“Only months ago, Berlin would have categorically ruled out such a step,” continued Techau. “Now, Germany has put itself firmly at the center of a substantial nato compromise that is addressed, of course, at Moscow. This is not a revolution in Germany’s military posture, but it is substantial progress.”

The Germans were already working on a European army before the Ukraine crisis. Now it has new urgency—and so do its eastern neighbors.

Germany is once again a major power in the world, and now, with the consolidation of its neighboring militaries into its ranks, it is on the road to become a major military power. Its attitude toward all things military is changing—right when it is openly building a European army. Berlin is not just going along with the conglomeration of a European army. It is the driving force.

Germany is entering a new era. For seven decades it has not been a military power. For seven decades it has allied with and trusted the United States to defend it. But the Americans abandoned Eastern Europe, abandoned red lines in Syria and abandoned Ukraine. So for Berlin, trusting anyone besides a European army commanded from Berlin is no longer an option.

Thus, as Russia rises in power, Germany is looking to its own defenses, building a credible military force from the fractured armies of Europe. Before long Germany will lead a world-class military quite independent from American interests.

Germany will be able to act independently of the United States in a way that has not been possible over the past 70 years. We are witnessing the birth of a new world power.

France expands Mali military mission

France will replace its military mission in Mali with an expanded counterterrorism operation across the Sahel region, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on July 13. This will give France a substantial military presence across North Africa.

France currently has about 1,700 troops in Mali as part of Operation Serval. This will be replaced with Operation Barkhane, which will station 3,000 soldiers in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, supported by six fighter jets, three drones and 20 helicopters. One thousand soldiers will remain in Mali.

The 3,000 count does not include 2,000 French soldiers in the Central African Republic, nor does it include France’s 450-strong presence in the Ivory Coast, which will increase to 800 next year.

“[T]he deployment stands in marked contrast to the mood six or seven years ago—when François Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, felt able to plan for a significant reduction in the French military presence in West Africa,” noted bbc’s West Africa analyst, Paul Melly (May 8).

“Northern Africa is turning into a battleground with enormously important prophetic implications,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in our April 2013 edition.

It is a battleground France is taking very seriously.

“Iran has designs on being the strongest power throughout the region,” Mr. Flurry wrote, “and is extending its reach throughout North Africa. But Iran isn’t the only one interested in Africa.”

Iranian-backed radical Islamists have made huge gains in the region, but Europe is pushing back. While France’s latest deployment will not be enough to defeat the Islamists, it will make it much harder for them to expand. The fact that even in a time of austerity France is prepared to undertake an expensive military mission shows the importance Paris places on the region.

For more on the confrontation between Islam and Europe in North Africa, and why Germany will increasingly take the lead in that battle, read Mr. Flurry’s article “Watch Algeria!” (theTrumpet.com/go/10419).

Vatican calls for action against Islamic State

Senior Vatican officials called on the international community to take action against the savagery in Iraq by jihadists from the Islamic State.

A statement released by the Vatican on August 7 said Pope Francis “addresses an urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway, to act to protect those affected or threatened by violence and to provide aid, especially for the most urgent needs of the many who have been forced to flee and who depend on the solidarity of others.”

Three days later, during his Sunday homily, Francis told tens of thousands of pilgrims congregating at St. Peter’s Square that the news coming from Iraq left him “incredulous and appalled.” Calling on the international community again to “stop these crimes,” the pope decried the eviction of thousands of Iraqis, including many Christians, the starvation and deaths of many children and the kidnapping of women—“violence of every kind; destruction everywhere.”

The Vatican’s ambassador to Iraq, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, was more specific. In an August 10 interview with Vatican Radio, he praised U.S. air strikes, saying that the intervention was “something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State] could not be stopped.”

The Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, also expressed Vatican support for military action against the Islamic State. He told Vatican Radio that while reconciliation was the long-term objective, the short-term solution was “practical action” involving “effective military protection.”

Catholic Online observed that Lingua’s call to arms “is virtually unprecedented for a papal envoy in modern times, but our age is an extraordinary one, and the Islamic State has no interest in a bargaining table. Instead, the Islamic State is bent on genocide and barbarism, ruthlessly exterminating anyone who opposes them” (August 11).

Such a call, however, was not unprecedented in medieval times. The Catholic Church has a well-documented, disturbing history of military expeditions called crusades. Medieval history teaches us exactly what provokes this church to such militant acts. That history, illuminated by Bible prophecy, shows the inevitability of another Catholic “holy” war against Muslims.

Jews fear a new holocaust

“Exodus: Why Europe’s Jews are fleeing once again.” That was the dramatic cover story of the August 8 edition of Newsweek. The response to the latest war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has been so virulently anti-Semitic, especially in Europe, that news outlets around the world are taking notice.

“Never before since the Holocaust have we seen such a situation as today,” Israeli Jewish Congress President Vladimir Sloutsker warned the Israeli Knesset Immigration Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee on July 28.

Around the world, throngs of protesters have chanted anti-Semitic slogans, burned Israeli flags, and even incited destruction of Jewish-owned property and assaults on Jews.

Protests were particularly violent in Paris, where thousands have rallied and attempted to attack Jewish synagogues and shops. Germany has also seen a disturbing rise in protests. The anti-Semitic chants the protesters used “haven’t been seen since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany” after World War ii, said Micha Brumlik, senior adviser at the Berlin-Brandenburg Center of Jewish Studies. Seven decades after the end of World War ii, German youth are once again shouting, “Gas the Jews.”

“Fight together with us,” pleaded Israeli M. K. Shimon Ohayon to the foreign diplomats present at the July 28 meeting. “We ask you to stop this wheel [of] anti-Semitic hatred in Europe.”

At many of these protests, a phrase is becoming popular: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” It’s a genocidal slogan calling for the total destruction of the State of Israel, which lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is little wonder that so many Jews fear violence, a new Kristallnacht—or another holocaust.

These protests have exposed the fact that much of the hatred against Israel is really hatred for the Jews. For more on the motivation for this hatred, watch Stephen Flurry’s Trumpet Daily video “Why So Much Hatred for Jews?” at theTrumpet.com/go/11938.

Ebola going global?

The Ebola virus has killed almost as many people this year as it has since its discovery in 1976. The virus’s latest outbreak in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria is the deadliest on record, having killed 1,350 people as of August 20. Doctors say that 1,123 others are carrying the lethal virus.

At least three people are known to have carried the virus outside Africa. Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest who had been treating patients in Liberia, died on August 12, five days after being evacuated to Spain for specialized treatment. Americans Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were flown back from Liberia in early August for quarantined treatment at an Atlanta hospital. All three patients were treated with an experimental drug sanctioned by the World Health Organization (who) out of desperation. who assistant director general, Marie-Paule Kieny, told reporters: “[I]n the special circumstances of this Ebola outbreak it is ethical to offer unregistered interventions as potential treatments or prevention.”

The Ebola virus—which has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent—has an incubation period ranging anywhere from a few days to three weeks. With a major outbreak ongoing, no licensed treatment or vaccine available, no known cure, a long incubation period and an infection that spreads by contact between blood or bodily fluids, the virus threatens to spread. Experts fear it already may be taking hold beyond West Africa.

Experts say the disease traces back to bats, which are considered a delicacy in parts of West Africa. The government in Guinea has banned the consumption of bats in an attempt to stop the spread, but many refuse to adhere to health laws laid down by the state.

However, an authority greater than Guinea also forbids the eating of bats: the Bible (Leviticus 11:19). Those who break the health law the Creator provided for human benefit are suffering and putting the world at risk.

Symbolized by the fourth horseman of the apocalypse in Revelation 6:8, disease epidemics and pandemics are prophesied to occur directly before the return of Jesus Christ. While it’s unknown the extent to which this outbreak of Ebola will spread, worldwide infectious diseases are set to increase in the future.

Iran rallies Muslims against Israel

Every Muslim around the world should arm Hamas in Gaza in its fight against Israel, Iran’s supreme leader said during a prayer ceremony on July 29. “[T]he Muslim world has a duty to arm the Palestinian nation by all means,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. He called Israel a “rabid dog” and a “rapacious wolf” that has “attacked innocent people, and humanity must show a reaction. This is genocide, a catastrophe of historical scale.”

Iran is committed to destroying Israel and is now Hamas’s largest supplier of weapons and cash. Recently, however, that flow has dwindled under the strain of economic sanctions against Iran and because of ideological differences between Iran and Hamas over the Syrian civil war.

After firing almost 3,000 rockets at Israeli civilians in a month and losing some of its military hardware to Israeli counterstrikes during Operation Protective Edge, Hamas is seeking to replenish its arsenal. But the European Union and the U.S. have been adamant in their calls for Hamas’s disarmament. Khamenei characterized disarming Hamas as inhumane: “[Israelis] have been pounding innocent people day and night, and these men, women and children are defending themselves with minimum means, and now Americans and Europeans want to take even that away … so that those merciless beasts could pound without qualm.”

Though the U.S. is treating Iran like a reasonable negotiation partner, the radical goals of the Islamic state remain unchanged.

Mercosur, EU draw closer

Members of one of South America’s trade blocs, the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), agreed the last week of July on a joint proposal to negotiate a trade and cooperation agreement with the European Union.

Four of the five members of Mercosur—Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay—agreed on a tariff reduction proposal to go before the EU on August 7. The bloc now awaits the EU’s decision.

“The objective is to negotiate a comprehensive trade agreement,” the European Commission website says, “covering not only trade in industrial and agricultural goods but also services, improvement of rules on government procurement, intellectual property, customs and trade facilitation, and technical barriers to trade.”

Brussels had been pressuring Mercosur to finish negotiations and finalize a free trade agreement with the EU. This exchange of proposals was meant to occur in December 2013. South America, rich in resources, is attractive hunting ground for resource-hungry European manufacturers.

The Trumpet and its predecessor, Herbert W. Armstrong’s Plain Truth, have warned for more than 50 years that South America and Europe would join to form a powerful trading bloc. As the Plain Truth forecast in May 1962, this will have serious ramifications for America: “The United States is going to be left out in the cold as two gigantic trade blocs, Europe and Latin America, mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce.”