The United States: Neglecting Its Back Door

Distracted by the war on terror, America overlooks a threat that is much closer to home.
From the May 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Grenada, March 3, 2005

Having just landed on this lush green island, we witness firsthand the remnants of devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan last October. Many a roofline is still marked out by a blue tarpaulin awaiting reconstruction. Yet the drive from the airport to our hotel reveals a bustling pace in this Caribbean nation of 89,000 people.

Our Grenadian representative detours en route to the hotel to take us to a picturesque bayside setting for a welcome breakfast. Under an open veranda, with the water lazily lapping the shore close by, tropical fruits are served by a cheerful staff. Small birds dart from table to table sampling leftovers. The setting is sub-tropical, the atmosphere one of ease—an atmosphere that belies the aggression of nations to the north and east which have their eyes on not only this island nation, but the whole Caribbean basin and the continent of South America.

Up for Grabs 

The Caribbean and Latin America are up for grabs. The Americans, this region’s top trading partners, are finding increasingly that the second stringer in Caribbean-Latino trade, the European Union, is stealing a march on them, with China aggressively biting at their heels and Russia tagging along as a third contender in the competition for increased trade.

In moves reminiscent of old colonial times, these nations are vying for the much-needed raw materials that this region still has in abundance, not the least of which is oil. They offer capital investment in the infrastructure of developing nations in exchange for low-cost manufactured goods, the very products of the developing country’s raw materials.

With the U.S. administration distracted by the war on terror, it seems that a vast gap yawns in America’s foreign policy toward its closest neighbors. But, more importantly, those nations investing in the development of the Caribbean and Latin America are gaining a strategic toehold at America’s back door.

If, as Sir Winston Churchill opined, the Mediterranean is Europe’s “soft underbelly,” then the Caribbean basin is that of the U.S., South America being the conduit. This being the case, one would think that the U.S. would be doing all in its power to consolidate a defensive profile south of the border. Instead, it is blindly permitting a sworn enemy to get a foot into its very own back door.

Sino-Latino Trade Diplomacy 

In a recent report on China’s penetration of the Caribbean, the Associated Press noted that China and the United States “once were mortal enemies.” So who blinked? It had to be the U.S., for China still maintains that the U.S. is its primary enemy. But despite revelations of the leaking of vitally strategic information to the Chinese under the previous presidential administration, plus clear evidence that the current arms buildup in China is designed to undermine and eventually challenge American power, it’s as though Washington is in denial as to the true long-term intentions of its “former” enemy.

Professor Francis Fukuyama stated, in a Wall Street Journal article, “The exigencies of Iraq and the war on terrorism must not blind us to the fact that China’s rise will likely be the biggest geopolitical development of this generation” (March 1).

If we are to truly put this, then, into perspective, what does China’s dramatic hike in Caribbean and Latin America trade and investment mean? Simply, what appears as a mere foot in America’s back door now will inevitably lead to the entrenchment of China’s rapidly increasing naval and military strength in America’s own backyard in the not-too-distant future!

But the Chinese are supremely long-term thinkers, thus trade and diplomacy precede the weightier matters of the security and defense of their increasing foreign investments.

In the process of recovery from their economic collapse of the late 1990s, Latin American countries struck out in active diplomacy to improve relations in economy and trade with the European Union and Asia, particularly with the rapidly developing market in China, all to the detriment of ties with the U.S. The result was a surge of more than 50 percent in Sino-Latino trade in 2004 compared to 2003.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that, according to Chinese experts, “China and Latin America ties have entered [the] ‘best period in history’” (Dec. 27, 2004). This comment followed the November 2004 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (apec) leaders’ meeting, convened in Chile, which served to greatly strengthen trade links between Asian and Latino countries. Coupled with Chinese President Hu Jintao’s 12-day visit to Latin America which preceded the apec meeting, this all resulted in substantial contracts being either considered or signed between China and the leading South American nations Chile, Argentina and Brazil in addition to Cuba.

In the process of the Chinese president leading an entourage of 150 Chinese businessmen through these countries, China confirmed a total of more than $430 billion in investments in addition to sealing a number of long-term supply contracts, guaranteeing China much-needed raw materials to feed its rapid economic expansion. In all, over 400 deals were struck. This builds on China’s $994 million investment in the Latino mining sector during 2004 and contributes to Latin America becoming the most popular destination for Chinese investors last year.

During Mr. Hu’s Latin America trade tour, two nations, Brazil and Argentina, decided to recognize China as a market economy, joining 20 other nations that have already taken this step. (China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 as a “non-market” economy, leaving it open to the imposition of trade barriers.) This recognition means that China’s trade relations with Brazil and Argentina may now be free from the imposition of anti-dumping penalties against low-cost Chinese goods. This is quite a concession, considering the fact that the dumping of cheap Chinese goods in Latin America in the 1990s contributed to the collapse of certain industries. Obviously the governments of these countries consider that the benefits of such recognition outweigh the risk. As far as China is concerned, one China watcher at the Washington-based National War College observed, “They are setting the stage for longer-term ties …” (Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 19, 2004).

Sino-Caribbean Action Plan 

Linking with the dynamic push by China into Latin American trade, the Chinese government also proposed in 2004 that a China-Caribbean economic and trade forum be established. In February this year, the first ministerial meeting of the China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum opened in Jamaica. Trade agreements totaling $50 million were signed during the two-day forum.

Adding a broader political perspective, Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong urged the representatives gathered at the forum to ensure that the developing countries work hand in hand. Coming hard on the heels of similar rhetoric vented in Latin America, commentators theorized that this hinted at China’s desire to form a solid bloc of developing nations in resistance to U.S. dominance.

Trade between China and the Caribbean nations leaped by 42.5 percent in 2004 compared with the previous year. Akin to Latin America, China is intent on importing raw materials and agricultural products of benefit to its burgeoning economy. In return, it exports finished products, chemical goods and pharmaceuticals to the Caribbean.

During the forum, Chinese businessmen inked agreements to the value of us$50 million. Chinese representatives and those from 11 Caribbean countries also signed an action plan for bilateral economic and trade cooperation. This is designed to consummate friendly relations between China and the Caribbean that have developed via Beijing’s dollar diplomacy approach.

With their long-term strategy in mind of working to contain U.S. hegemony and increase their own power, the Chinese have, for decades, worked at building relations with the island nations next to America via numerous small projects—building roads, digging wells, erecting bridges and developing fisheries. This way they gain the trust of the beneficiary nation and create a climate for both investment in key strategic industries and entrenchment in militarily strategic locations at the appropriate time. That time has now arrived with the launching of the bilateral Caribbean/China action plan.

Oil and Seaports 

One factor overrides all others in China’s trade diplomacy with the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean: its huge and increasing thirst for oil.

According to the U.S. Energy Department, China has accounted for 40 percent of global growth in the demand for oil over the past four years. Currently consuming 5.56 million barrels a day, China’s oil needs are projected to rise to 20.4 million barrels per day by the year 2025.

The unsettled nature of the Middle Eastern oil-producing region unsettles China’s sense of security as to its needed supplies of energy. This has fueled its interest in investment in the oil industry globally in order to diversify its sources of supply. Coupled with this is the need to ensure regular delivery from reliable sources. This has motivated China, on the one hand, to increase investment in the oil industry within Latin America and the Caribbean to hedge against the possibility of disruption to supply from the volatile Middle East, and on the other, to invest aggressively in port facilities and shipping to gain control over delivery.

Venezuela has been the first country of choice for Chinese investment in oil in this region, much to the chagrin of the U.S., which depends heavily on the same source. Venezuelan preference for Chinese involvement in the exploitation of its oil reserves to the disfavoring of the U.S. is leading to a diplomatic problem between America and Hugo Chavez’s regime. In addition, the Caribbean basin nations and other Latin American countries are being considered by China for increasing investment in the development of oil reserves.

Added to this, for years China has been buying up the world’s most strategic sea gateways, establishing control over a vast network of seaports from Panama to Rotterdam, from Hong Kong to Freeport in the Bahamas, from Suez to the Straits of Malacca. This is based on its “string of pearls” strategy of establishing strategic bases around the world through which to channel precious energy supplies. In other strategic locations, where facilities are either non-existent or inadequate, China is building huge port facilities for trade and naval use. A quick look at a global map will soon reveal just how strategic the Caribbean and Latin America are as components of a global string of seaways and sea gates. The fact that Panama and Freeport, which virtually control seaway access to America’s back door—its “soft underbelly”—are both now controlled by China, should keep Washington’s naval and defense strategists awake at night. Yet, other short-term distractions take precedence. The reports are being prepared by strategic thinkers, but this is all largely after the horse has already bolted.

One demonstration of how important these sea lanes are to China is Beijing’s increasing military presence in these areas. This should also have the U.S. concerned. The Kyodo News Service observed, “The commander of U.S. forces in Latin America told Congress … the United States must carefully watch China’s increasing economic and military presence in the region. … [Southern Command Commander Gen. Bantz] Craddock … said Chinese national-level defense officials made 20 visits to Latin American and Caribbean nations in 2004, while defense ministers and chiefs from nine countries in the region visited China” (March 9).

Sleeping Giant 

Given China’s interest in Latin America and the Caribbean, one might think that this region is facing a takeover bid by the Chinese. But we can confidently predict that will not be the case. There is a sleeping giant already within this region and it hails back to the region’s Spanish colonial roots. A European, Roman Catholic heritage within the establishment in Latin America and some of the island nations of the Caribbean awaits a stimulus to awaken it to action. This heritage runs deep. Its current protector is the European Union. The heritage is religious, Roman and imperial. It is the legacy of the old Roman Empire. This influence is far stronger than the comparatively late, yet not insignificant, economic influence currently being exerted by China within this region.

The EU is the largest investor in Latin America and is second only to the U.S. in volume of trade. With a heritage exceeding 2,000 years, this resurrecting Roman Empire in the guise of the EU is, like China, long-term in its thinking. Unlike its American and British associates, it has both an eye to and a memory for history.

It is a historically repetitive phenomenon that is destined to eventually override the quest by China for dominance at America’s back door. Though stalled by disagreements at present, history surely indicates and Bible prophecy certainly confirms that the great trading association envisaged by leaders in Europe and Latin America, cementing the EU and the South American trade bloc Mercosur into one giant market of 680 million people, will soon eventuate. Such an entity would pale China’s efforts to sew up trade in this region into something of no great consequence. Yes, China may have possession of the sea gates at America’s back door, but it’s who she lets through those gates that will be the big worry to the U.S.

One nation in particular has an interest in cementing that giant trade pact between the EU and Mercosur—Germany! This was made clear by a statement from German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer last November during which he stated that his country, as one report put it, “will fight to salvage a deal next year between the European Union and the four-nation South American Mercosur trade bloc aimed at building the world’s largest free-trade area. Fischer told Brazilian and German business executives … Germany and the EU had a ‘great interest’ in seeing a pact in 2005. ‘Mercosur is strategically important for Europe just as Europe is also important for the countries of Mercosur,’ Fischer said” (afx News Limited, Nov. 19, 2004; emphasis mine).

China seeks access to the raw materials and markets of Latin America and the Caribbean in return for the region importing its low-cost finished goods. But so also does an increasingly imperialist Europe, and the cultural heritage of Europa runs deep, very deep, within this region. Just check the hilltops and count the cathedrals! There’s something stronger, far stronger than even the promise of investment by the most rapidly developing nation in the world, China, that will carry the day in this heavily resourced region now up for grabs.

That strong pull is religion, traditionally depicted in prophecy as a fallen woman. It is the very thing that alone can bind a historically fractious group of nations together (as the nations of Europe and Latin America have been) when all else has failed. Inerrant Bible prophecy indicates that it is religion that binds this future great imperial power, the soon-to-be-resurrected “Holy” Roman Empire, to its colonies of old in Latin America and the Caribbean. Read it in Revelation 18. When the chips are down and the strategists roll the dice for the spoils in Latin America and the Caribbean, the power of European religious and cultural heritage will win out!

Perilous Disengagement 

U.S. detachment from the nations at its back door resulted from the distraction initiated by the 9/11 terrorist attack. “Since security became a top priority after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the United States has been widely criticized for growing distant and disengaged, and anti-Americanism has resurfaced in Latin America” (Foreign Affairs, January-February 2004). A report in the National Interest went even further, claiming that since 9/11 America was “essentially turning its back on its closest neighbors” (Fall 2003). The same article declared that “The war in Iraq widened the divide in relations between the United States and its southern neighbors, and the fallout since the end of the war has only made matters worse.”

America’s disengagement from the region of Latin America and the Caribbean is leaving its back door increasingly exposed. With its forces stretched to the breaking point, its involvement in Iraq continuing, increasing pressure to bring troops home, and the prospect of engagement in the South China Sea if China plays hardball with Taiwan, the last thing the U.S. needs is to be distracted by problems at its southern borders. Nevertheless, David Jessop, current director of the Caribbean Council, reports that China’s involvement in Latin America and the Caribbean suggests “‘the emergence of a global order in which the countries of the South begin to forge new alliances based on a very different perception of the world.’ As China deliberately engages in Latin America, this North-South tension involving the U.S. is becoming palpable” (Council on Hemispheric Affairs, February 24).

Though the strategists who advised the government at the time claimed the Panama Canal had little strategic value and had reached its “use by” date, it is becoming increasingly clear that, with the U.S. yielding up its legal sovereignty over this crucial waterway it gave up a powerful strategic advantage. “Shutting down the canal and re-routing even a portion of its traffic would virtually shut down American harbors, highways and railroads” (New American, January 24). That’s the way to shut down a whole nation: by blockading its crucial back door. And do you know what? That’s exactly what your Bible predicts will happen to America, unless it repents of its rank ungodliness!

Read it for yourself: “They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the Lord your God has given you” (Deuteronomy 28:52; New King James Version). Believe it or not, that prophecy relates very directly to the Anglo-American peoples!

Back here on the little island of Grenada, bruised and battered, its infrastructure 90 percent destroyed last year by Hurricane Ivan, life is returning to normal; the people are adapting to their lot as they engage in ongoing reconstruction. Grenada is recovering. Though property damage was great, mercifully the loss of life was minimal. But imagine the United States, a nation of over 290 million, or the United Kingdom, with over 60 million, not only with its infrastructure destroyed by nuclear war, but its population decimated—only 10 percent remaining! That’s what your Bible declares will happen to these nations if they refuse to repent of their national sins! And it will all start with a great siege! Someone will simply shut the gate and permit no trade with the English-speaking peoples! These nations will be literally starved into submission, besieged by this final resurrection of the “Holy” Roman Empire!

But there is a way for you, personally, to avoid being besieged! Write now for our free booklet The United States and Britain in Prophecy. It’s a real eye-opener. It will show you not only why this siege is inevitable, it will show you how to escape it and how to really begin living to your full potential in guaranteed peace and safety!