WORLDWATCH

From the August 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

Israel’s new defense minister

On May 18, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to expand and stabilize his coalition government of right-wing and religious parties resulted in a new coalition partner for his party and a new defense minister for his nation. The deal increased the coalition government’s majority in the Knesset from one seat to six and replaced defense minister Moshe Ya’alon with Avigdor Lieberman.

Back-room negotiations prior to the deal indicated that Ya’alon would have become the foreign minister as consolation, but he preemptively resigned on May 20, warning that Israel was being taken over by “dangerous and extreme elements.”

Lieberman is known for his blunt rhetoric and “ultranationalist” ideology. He has repeatedly voiced skepticism about pursuing peace with the Palestinians, and he believes Israel was not decisive enough during the 50-day Gaza war in the summer of 2014. Lieberman has talked openly about toppling the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and assassinating Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip.

The mainstream press was very critical of the appointment. A Baltimore Sun editorial called Lieberman “Netanyahu’s loose cannon,” whose appointment “erased virtually any chance of peace with the Palestinians.” U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Israel’s new coalition “raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be heading in and what kind of policies it may adopt.”

After the appointment, Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Hezbollah terrorist group, called on Arabs to wage a “comprehensive resistance” against Israel. He told Palestinians, “Your only way to end the occupation is resistance.” He also assured, “Iran will go on with supporting the Palestinian resistance.”

A Palestinian jihadi group called Ajnad Beit al-Maqdis seemingly responded to Nasrallah’s call when it fired a rocket at Israel and ominously said, “We announce our responsibility for targeting the Nahal Oz military base with a missile.”

Lieberman’s appointment could be symbolic of Israel’s dire straits and its intention to continue fighting against Arab aggression. While Lieberman is not new to Israeli politics, he has never held the nation’s second-most powerful office.

Zechariah 14:2 prophesies that Israel will lose half of Jerusalem. That prophecy implies that Israel will not surrender Arab-dominated East Jerusalem peacefully. It also implies, as is already the case, a hawkish, right-wing government in Israel.

Iran taking control of Iraq

In the battle of Fallujah, Iraq, starting in May, the United States, Iran and Iraq have collaborated in one form or another to fight against the Islamic State. That battle has proved to be “the latest example of how Washington has looked the other way as Iran deepened its military involvement in Iraq over the past two years,” Reuters wrote (June 2).

To lead the fight for Fallujah, Iran has mobilized thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shiite militia members under its own Quds Force commander, Gen. Qassem Suleimani.

“[T]he battle over Fallujah highlights Iran’s growing military and political influence over Iraq,” Reuters wrote. “If there is one regional player that gained the most from America’s gamble in Iraq, it is Iran. With its invasion in 2003, the United States ousted Tehran’s sworn enemy, Saddam Hussein, from power. Then Washington helped install a Shiite government for the first time in Iraq’s modern history. As U.S. troops became mired in fighting an insurgency and containing a civil war, Iran extended its influence over all of Iraq’s major Shiite factions. Today, the Iranian regime is comfortable taking a lead role in shaping the military operations of its Iraqi allies. There is no one to restrain Tehran …” (ibid).

Regarding Baghdad’s last-minute change of plan to target Fallujah instead of Mosul, a former U.S. commander with extensive experience in Iraq said, “Tehran has more influence on [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s] focus, whether on Fallujah or anywhere else, than Moscow, Washington and Ankara combined.”

Columnist Caroline Glick wrote that the Islamic State “is the only thing checking Iran’s westward advance. Ironically, the monstrous group also facilitates it. [The Islamic State] is so demonic that for Americans and other Westerners, empowering Iranian-controlled forces that fight [the Islamic State] seems a small price to pay to rid the world of the fanatical scourge” (June 2).

Iran has seized this opportunity to increase its control in Iraq. The facts on the ground prove it. So too does the graffiti scrawled by Iraqi militants on one of Fallujah’s many battered walls: “Thank you, Iran.” To learn how Iran’s growing influence in Iraq was prophesied in the Bible, request a free copy of The King of the South.

China decries ‘provocative’ U.S., cements power

China said on June 1 that it may impose an air defense identification zone (adiz) in the South China Sea if the United States continues conducting what Beijing labels “provocative moves.”

The South China Morning Post quoted a source close to the People’s Liberation Army as saying, “If the U.S. military keeps making provocative moves to challenge China’s sovereignty in the region, it will give Beijing a good opportunity to declare an adiz in the South China Sea” (June 1).

An adiz is an extension of a country’s territorial airspace, providing it with an early warning system to detect and respond to unidentified and possibly hostile aircraft.

In November 2013, Beijing dropped a bombshell by announcing that it had established an adiz in the East China Sea, which included the Senkaku Islands—uninhabited territory controlled by Japan but claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing. Many experts denounced this adiz, calling it confrontational. The Trumpet said, “Beijing’s main motivation for setting up the adiz was to further expose the U.S. as an unreliable ally.”

If China attempts another adiz in the South China Sea, its motives would again be to showcase its power and to test America’s response. It would allow Beijing another chance to display U.S. weakness to the world.

Hiroshima and America’s dangerous amnesia

May 27, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave what he called a “wholehearted welcome” to Mr. Obama when he toured the memorial of the world’s first atomic bomb attack.

“Mr. Obama’s predecessors had good reasons to avoid Hiroshima,” the New York Times wrote May 25. “None wanted to be seen by American voters as apologizing for a decision that many historians even today believe, on balance, saved lives.”

The president’s speech struck an apologetic tone, saying that the bombing shows “how easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause.”

The president refrained from mentioning the fact that Japan inarguably started the war by bombing Pearl Harbor in peacetime. His visit to Hiroshima was broadly interpreted as an endorsement of Abe’s campaign to reinterpret Japan’s constitution and lead the country away from past guilt and into a more aggressive position in the world.

Taiwan to stop submitting to China?

Newly elected Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced on June 1 that she is repealing controversial changes to the high school curriculum that had prompted protests in 2015 for being too “China-centric.” Three days later, Tsai took to Facebook to tell Chinese President Xi Jinping not to fear democracy. “[T]here’s nothing scary about democracy,” she wrote, adding that China should look to Taiwan as an example of how to have an effective but fair government.

Tsai was elected in a landslide victory on January 16 based on promises to lead Taiwan off the path of submission to China that it had been on under the previous government. It is now clear that she intends to make good on those promises. Watch to see how China responds. With influence from Taiwan’s one-time ally America waning within the region, China is unlikely to allow Taiwan to slip from its grasp.

Russia violates new arms treaty

Russia has attempted to deceive U.S. nuclear arms inspectors regarding reductions to its nuclear missile arsenal. The Washington Free Beacon reported on June 9 that, despite its claims, Moscow has not been eliminating its nuclear arsenal as required by the 2010 New start treaty.

Critical components of certain missiles were found to have been unbolted rather than cut. This means that instead of being permanently disabled, the sophisticated weaponry could be quickly re-bolted and brought online. American inspectors were also unable to verify that missiles marked for elimination had actually been destroyed.

Analysts believe the Russians are attempting this deceit because they are sure the current U.S. administration will take no serious action. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry said, “Whether it’s Russian violations of the Open Skies Treaty, the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, or multiple violations of the inf treaty, this administration has proven singularly unconcerned with arms control compliance. … Never having been made to pay a price, why wouldn’t Putin conclude that violations of the New start treaty would go unpunished as well?”

First train from India to Russia

By the end of August, the first train route from India to Russia will become operational. The first freight train will transport goods from Mumbai, transit through Iran and Azerbaijan, and arrive at its final destination in Russia. The route is part of the North-South project, which will also run through Southeast Asia. An estimated 5 million tons of cargo per year will be transported during the first stage. In the future, an estimated 10 million tons will be transported annually along the route. Collusion between Russia and India will prove to be helpful in the development of a massive Asian alliance. To learn about the Bible’s prophecies of this alliance, request a free copy of Russia and China in Prophecy.

State Department admits to lying about nuclear deal

The United States State Department admitted on June 1 that it intentionally deleted an 8-minute exchange between a Fox News journalist and then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on a video that was posted Dec. 2, 2013. During the exchange, Psaki essentially admitted that the Obama administration had lied about having secret talks with Iran.

“Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?” the reporter asked. Psaki answered: “I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. [The Iran nuclear negotiation] is a good example of that.”

Several months previously, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland emphatically stated that there had been no secret “government to government” negotiations with Iran. When Psaki contradicted that statement later that year, someone in the State Department scrubbed the confession from the record.

The video edit wasn’t discovered until recently, at which point the State Department lied, blaming the deletion on a “glitch.” After being held to account, however, the State Department came clean, admitting it was “a deliberate request to excise video.”

The State Department’s confession came just weeks after Ben Rhodes, a top aide and speech writer for President Barack Obama, told the New York Times he helped manufacture the narrative needed to garner support for the Iran deal. Part of this fictional narrative was that the White House only entered into negotiations with Iran after Hassan Rouhani became president in 2013; he was much more “moderate” than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and was ready to make a deal. The truth is, the Obama administration started negotiating with Iran long before Rouhani took office—while the hard-liner Ahmadinejad was still in office. And to garner support for the deal from Congress and the American people, they manufactured a false narrative. To paraphrase Psaki, they had to lie in order to make progress on the deal. The end justified the means.

This administration’s facile use of deliberate deceit should be deeply concerning to Americans. Sadly, most people seem to have accepted it as part of politics.

Has the Islamic State infiltrated U.S. Homeland Security?

Omar Mateen—the man who murdered 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12—held an associates degree in criminal justice and worked as a security guard for a major contractor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The company, G4S, is a British multinational security service company with U.S. operations in Florida. This has raised serious concerns that sympathizers and agents of the Islamic State have infiltrated a federal agency that was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to combat terrorism.

It is still unclear whether Mateen worked on federal contracts for his employer. He was assigned to guard the pga Village Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, according to local newspaper TC Palm.

Despite the fact that Mateen was interviewed by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation twice on suspicions that he supported jihadist groups, he held two firearms licenses, a security officer license and purchased the weapons he used in the massacre legally.

Trade agreement threatens U.S. sovereignty

Little-known negotiations are taking place that are violating America’s sovereignty. When a deal that holds force of law is finalized, the nation will lose even more sovereignty. Negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (ttip) are now underway, in total secrecy and involving only unelected Washington technocrats.

The ttip is a plan for creating a single economic market between the U.S. and the European Union. It aims to subject both countries to a single set of regulations on industrial standards, labor laws and intellectual property rights. To enforce these rules, the European Commission is insisting on an Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism. As reported by the Guardian, these mechanisms would allow megacorporations “to sue governments before secretive arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers” (Dec. 3, 2013).

Such arbitration panels would bypass domestic courts and override national legislatures, including Congress. They would subject the U.S. to the same anti-democratic, technocratic regulation currently in force on member states of the EU. Under the agreement, if Congress passes a law in violation of these new transatlantic regulations, the government must use taxpayer funds to compensate foreign corporations.

U.S. President Barack Obama met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in April to encourage the passage of this controversial trade union. While some 70 percent of the German people oppose the ttip, Obama and Merkel announced they hope for a deal by the end of this year.