Is Europe Finally Ready for an Army?

Is Europe Finally Ready for an Army?

Gary Dorning

Demands for it are getting louder than ever. Here is why we know it will happen.
From the September 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

Top leaders in Germany, France and the European Union are calling for a pan-European military. Such a military would be a truly world-shaking development. Yet many dismiss the idea because it has yet to materialize despite a long-term desire to create it.

But now, a European military seems likelier than ever. The attacks in Paris and Nice, as well as those occurring elsewhere in Europe, have left France desperate for European military help. Germany is more willing than ever to take the lead in Europe, and is remilitarizing. And Britain’s vote to leave the European Union removes Europe’s biggest obstacle to building a combined military.

This is why the calls for a united military are louder than ever. Defense reform is “a matter of urgency,” EU officials said, calling for the Union to have its own armed forces, navy and intelligence service. Poland’s former prime minister, Jarosław Kaczyński, believes Europe should have “a European army” and “a strong European president with far-reaching authority,” Spiegel reported. And Germany’s radical new vision for the future of its military includes a strong focus on European cooperation.

Terrorist Attacks

The renewed push for a European military began after the November 13 Paris attacks, when French President François Hollande invoked the EU’s self-defense clause rather than nato’s. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explained at the time: “By invoking the EU’s collective defense clause rather than turning to nato, [Hollande] was declaring that Europe is more than just a junior partner in America’s defense arrangement. Europe is its own power. It has its own foreign relations, its own interests and its own goals.

“Most people didn’t recognize the significance of France’s decision. But it is a choice that will have a terrible impact on America—as well as Britain and the Jewish state of Israel. It will significantly alter the history of these nations, and of Europe” (February 2016).

Hollande has spent most of this year drumming up support for military integration. Most importantly, he reached out to Germany. “Our two countries must agree to a budgetary effort on defense,” he said in an April 6 interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper. “And to act outside Europe. Let’s not rely on another power, even a friendly one, to do away with terrorism.”

In other words, when there’s blood in the streets, France doesn’t trust America. Other reports have also emphasized the need to do without America. A report by the French and German foreign ministers called on the EU to be “an independent and global actor” (emphasis added throughout). EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has repeatedly emphasized Europe’s need for “autonomy.”

The fear of terrorists and illegal migrants means Europe is accelerating plans for an armed border and coastguard force. A European Parliament committee approved and expedited plans for this force on May 30. “The legislative process has been fast by EU standards,” EU Observer wrote on May 31. “The Commission presented its proposal in December 2015. EU ministers rubber-stamped it in April.”

Just a year and a half ago, one source told the EU Observer that the EU border agency would open around 2030 to 2035. Suddenly, the target became the end of summer 2016. That may be too ambitious, but it demonstrates Europe’s new sense of urgency.

The border agency would mark a huge change for Europe. Under its authority, the EU could legally send soldiers into an EU country even against that country’s will. One core characteristic of an independent state is a monopoly of force within its borders, meaning the only entity that can deploy an army within its territory is its own government. EU nations are considering surrendering this aspect of sovereignty and giving politicians in Brussels the power to field foreign troops in their countries. It will be a small beginning; the border guard would only be 1,000 strong. But the principle it establishes is huge.

New Plans for an Army

Brexit is another major reason for the renewed push for a military. First, Britain’s choice to leave the EU has European leaders searching for a new vision for Europe. Second, it removes the biggest obstacle to an army—London’s opposition—from the equation.

The day after the Brexit referendum, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier published a recommendation on how to respond. “We will … move further towards political union in Europe and invite the other Europeans to join us in this endeavor,” they wrote. They outlined three areas the EU should focus on: security, immigration and the economy. The section on military and security was by far the biggest.

The two nations “recommit to a shared vision of Europe as a security union,” the report said. “Germany and France propose a European Security Compact which encompasses all aspects of security and defense dealt with at the European level and thus delivers on the EU’s promise to strengthen security for its citizens.”

The report called for “a permanent civil-military chain of command,” adding that “if needed, EU member states should consider establishing standing maritime forces or acquiring EU-owned capabilities in other key areas.” It also called for the “creation of a European response capability; establishment of a European civil protection corps,” and the “creation of a European platform for intelligence cooperation.” This is a call for an EU military force, an EU navy, and the beginnings of what German-
Foreign-Policy.com calls a European fbi.

On June 28, Mogherini published a much-anticipated paper called “A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy.” This too called for a superstate. Europe needs to be “a true union,” she wrote. “We need a stronger Europe.”

After Brexit, the EU is divided on where to go. But defense cooperation is one of the few things everyone agrees on.

In an article titled “Brexit Aftershocks: An Inside Look at the EU’s Raging Power Struggle,” Spiegel Online described a Europe divided between insiders in Brussels who want “more Europe” and nation-states that want “less Europe.” However, it noted: “Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland’s national-conservative Law and Justice party, which currently holds power in the country, doesn’t want ‘less Europe’ in all areas. When it comes to foreign and security policy, he would even like to see the EU play a more robust role. Kaczyński is in favor of the establishment of a European army and would like to see a strong European president with far-reaching authority. It is a demand that many governments in Eastern and Central Europe agree with” (July 1).

It’s hard to imagine anything “more Europe” than a strong president and a European army. These nations are not opposed to “more Europe,” but rather “more Brussels.”

What Germany Wants

On July 13, Germany presented its long-term vision for its military. The latest white paper on defense announced the nation’s willingness to play a leading role in the world, even militarily. “Germany has shown that it is willing to take responsibility in security policy,” wrote Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in the paper. “We have also shown that we are prepared to take the lead.”

Germany “has a responsibility to actively participate in shaping the global order,” the paper states.

It too calls for a European military. Germany “is striving to achieve the long-term goal of a common European Security and Defense Union,” it states. “[W]e are aiming to establish a permanent civil-military operational headquarters in the medium term.”

When presenting the paper, von der Leyen noted that Britain had “paralyzed” these kinds of efforts in the past. The two key official German and EU papers mentioned earlier were due for publication before the Brexit referendum. Both were delayed until after the vote. Few things could turn Brits against the EU faster than calls for military union, and the timing suggests the papers were deliberately withheld until after the vote to prevent this. Yet Britain rejected Europe anyway.

Berlin’s white paper calls for Germany to allow European citizens to join the German Army. It notes that this “would not only offer potential for wide-ranging integration and regeneration and thus strengthen the personnel base of the Bundeswehr, it would also send out a strong signal for a European approach.”

Germany is also undertaking its own efforts to create a multinational army. Huge portions of the Dutch military are being merged with the German Army in a process that many want to see rolled out across the whole Continent. Two of the Netherlands’ three combat brigades have officially begun the process of joining the Bundeswehr.

The 11th Airmobile Brigade came under German command in 2014. On March 17 this year, the 43rd Mechanized Brigade officially became part of the German 1st Armored Division. The Dutch Army now has under its command only the 13th Mechanized Brigade, plus special forces, support and headquarters staff.

The two nations are extending this partnership to the sea. They will share the Dutch Navy’s most expensive ship, the amphibious-landing and troop-carrying Karel Doorman. It can transport and land troops and heavy equipment and has space for helicopters. The German sea battalion—about 800 soldiers specializing in naval protection, mine-clearance and boarding—will be absorbed into the Dutch Navy. A German air defense unit may also join a Dutch unit.

The German sea battalion is under Dutch command, so this cooperation goes both ways to a certain extent—though it is clear Germany is the senior partner. The Dutch are handing over the heart of their army to Germany, while Germany gives up only one unit. Even so, the German troops commanded by the Netherlands will be unable to deploy without the approval of the German parliament. Germany’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the German military can only be deployed with the permission of the Bundestag. This applies to German units stationed in other forces.

“In all previous collaborations, it was agreed that troop operations continue to be subject to checks by the national institutions and procedures,” wrote Sächsische Zeitung. “The sea battalion of the German Navy could be involved, for example, only after approval of the Bundestag on a foreign deployment of the Dutch Navy” (April 2; Trumpet translation throughout).

These deals help Germany quickly expand its military while the Dutch cut costs. Germany sees this unprecedented cooperation as only the start. It has begun preparations for similar arrangements with Poland. The Czech Republic also wants one of its armored brigades absorbed into the German Army.

Von der Leyen said in February that Germany “will set up a multinational panzer division next year.” Die Welt explained, “This should create a unit with up to 20,000 active soldiers, which should be operational by 2021—which would be the nucleus of a European army” (March 17).

Von der Leyen said the Dutch-German cooperation was a “prime example for the building of a European Defense Union.” The German press sees this too. “Laboratory for an EU Army” was the title for Die Welt’s article on this subject. It had another titled “How von der Leyen Is Driving the European Army.”

Die Welt wrote, “Von der Leyen and [Dutch Defense Minister Jeanine] Hennis-Plasschaert were in Amsterdam playing the role of pioneers on their way to an EU army” (February 4).

Germany has made no secret that a European army is the ultimate goal of this cooperation. This strategy would naturally make Germany the lead nation of a European army.

“The nation that benefits the most from France rejecting America is Germany,” Mr. Flurry wrote after the Paris attacks. “Germany has dominated the EU for years. France’s move will bring the European armies together in a way that the EU founders only dreamed of” (op cit).

Germany is the top nation France has turned to. An EU military will need Germany’s blessing and Germany’s cash. “Collaborating on defense budgets, with each nation contributing based on economic size, would mean that Germany would be both the leading economic and military power in Europe,” wrote George Friedman for Geopolitical Futures. “Within the EU, Germany is first among equals. Creating a substantial military force would cement that” (April 8).

The French have been reluctant to give Germany that much power. But after suffering their third major terrorist attack in 18 months, they are growing desperate.

Exactly as Forecast

Herbert W. Armstrong warned of this military union for decades. In May 1953, he wrote that “10 powerful European nations will combine their forces.” In August 1978, he warned: “The Europeans are far more disturbed about their safety in relying on United States military power to protect them than Americans realize! …

Europeans want their own united military power! They know that a political union of Europe would produce a third major world power, as strong as either the U.S. or the ussr—possibly stronger!”

But Mr. Armstrong also saw that this unification would not come easily. “The nations of Europe have been striving to become reunited,” he wrote in the January 1979 Plain Truth. “They desire a common currency, a single combined military force, a single united government. They have made a start in the Common Market. They are now working toward a common currency. Yet, on a purely political basis, they have been totally unable to unite.” Mr. Armstrong went on to explain that it would only be through the Vatican, “uniting church and state once again,” as has happened repeatedly in history, that a united Europe will be achieved.

On the military level, there is no sign yet that the really hard questions have been addressed, like who will pay for an EU military headquarters, how it will be structured, and who will be in command.

But Europeans are under great pressure. Major crises are driving this push for a European military. That is why it must be taken seriously, despite all past failed rhetoric. Terrorist attacks, the migrant crisis, Russia’s increasing aggression—none of these are going away. If Europe’s efforts stall, one or more of these forces will push Europe again toward its prophesied destiny: a superstate whose individual nations lose sovereignty but gain the power projection of a 21st-century superpower.

American leaders are happy to help in this project. But distrust of America is at the core of this push for militarization. Europe has not been able to project power outside of the Continent without U.S. help since the Suez Crisis in 1956. If you exclude Britain’s involvement, Europe itself hasn’t projected power since World War ii. The arrival of an independent military force will be one of the most radical developments in decades. At the same time, Germany is emerging as a clear leader in this drive to form an army.

Though many nations support Europe’s efforts to expand its military power, biblical prophecy shows that this trend is one of the most dangerous happening in the world today.

A Radical Shift in German Policy

A Radical Shift in German Policy

JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

From the September 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

In recent years, Germany has experienced a radical transformation in how it publicly views its military.

In May 2010, German President Horst Köhler said that “a country of our size needs to be aware that … military deployment, too, is necessary if we are to protect our interests such as ensuring free-trade routes or preventing regional instabilities.” At that time, the idea that Germany would use its army to protect its economic interests was so controversial that he was forced to resign.

Just six years later, Germany using its army to protect its interests abroad is official government policy, and there is no outcry. Germany’s defense white paper published on July 13 shows how dramatically the nation’s attitude toward its military has changed. The paper lists “countering security threats … to our free and safe world trade and supply routes” as being part of the mission of the German military, almost exactly the same statement that brought down a German president six years ago. The paper is filled with such calls.

This white paper is the latest in a series of important statements from a newly self-confident Germany.

“This is the time of a new Germany,” said Jan Techau, director of the Carnegie Europe think tank, in response to a leaked draft of the paper. “This is probably the first time a German defense white paper is something like important.”

“The 2016 white paper marks a major shift for the country,” wrote Deutsche Welle July 13.

The paper describes the sober state of the world. “Germany is facing challenges that are unprecedented in their nature and scope,” it states. “The international order, which was established after World War ii … is undergoing profound changes.”

“The renaissance of traditional power politics, which involves the use of military means to pursue national interests and entails considerable armaments efforts, elevates the risk of violent interstate conflict—even in Europe and its neighborhood,” it says.

In this environment, Berlin is coming around to the idea that Germany needs to start projecting its power.

“Germany’s economic and political weight means that it is our duty to take on responsibility for Europe’s security in association with our European and transatlantic partners,” writes German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the start of the paper. “Germany has shown that it is willing to take responsibility in security policy,” writes Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in the paper. “We have also shown that we are prepared to take the lead.”

“Germany is prepared to provide a substantial, decisive and early stimulus to the international debate, to accept responsibility, and to assume leadership,” states the paper. It also repeats Germany’s request for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, indicating the importance of the role Germany sees itself playing.

To play this role, Germany needs to spend more on its military. The paper called on Germany to increase its annual defense spending from €36 billion to €60 billion (us$40 billion to $66 billion). Of course calling for more spending is much easier than actually spending more, but Germany’s defense budget is already rising for the first time since the end of the Cold War.

The paper also calls for a removal of the cap on the number of soldiers, noting that “the Bundeswehr must have the personnel it needs to perform national and collective defense as well as international crisis management missions in an agile, robust and sustainable manner.”

The paper says that the army will be more active in the future. The military will help the UN by “increasing our contributions of equipment and personnel to and assuming leadership responsibility in UN missions (civilian, police and military).” It also states that the German military is prepared to deploy overseas “from observer missions and humanitarian operations to robust peace enforcement” (emphasis added throughout).

The paper emphasizes the need for “strengthening the Bundeswehr’s place in society.” “National security is not only a task of the state, but increasingly a joint task of the state, industry, the scientific community and society,” it states. It also notes that German soldiers will need “not only a rational but also an emotional foundation for their demanding mission.”

In 1945, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill declared, “It is our inflexible purpose to destroy German militarism ….” They warned of the repeated “resurgence of German militarism.” This was a problem that went back further than Nazism. Even before World War i, Germany was a highly militarized state. The army played a central role in society.

This was supposed to have been destroyed for all time. But now the German military will play a great role in the world and within German society itself. Most people are convinced that enough time has gone by that there is no cause for alarm.

After World War ii, Germany was placed in a special category. Though America encouraged West Germany to rearm just a few years after the war was over, the nation’s legacy of igniting two world wars and ravaging entire nations demanded that certain limits be placed on it.

Those limits have now been cast off. Two years ago, German President Joachim Gauck declared, “The postwar generations had reasons to be distrustful—of the German state and of German society. But the time for such categorical distrust is past.

Germany’s defense paper also makes clear that Germany’s restraints should go. “Germany’s role in Europe and the world changed when Germany regained full national sovereignty,” it states. “It became clear that Germany now had the same rights, obligations and responsibilities as every other state in the international arena.”

A new Germany is now emerging—a Germany that is willing to lead, willing to deploy its forces around the world. A Germany that, for the first time since World War ii, is willing to be proud of its armed forces and to instill them with “an emotional foundation” to go and fight for the fatherland.

This is uncharted territory for postwar Germany.

Be a Smarter Supermarket Shopper

Be a Smarter Supermarket Shopper

Melissa Barreiro

When you shop at the grocery, realize that you are a target.
From the September 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

Busy consumers love supermarkets. Row upon row of perfectly presented food allow you to run in, grab what you need, and dash out. You assume you are in control of your decisions. After all, you are the one with the grocery list. But oftentimes you are being manipulated without even realizing it.

Shoppers often fall victim to supermarket manipulations that influence purchasing decisions. It’s a cunningly orchestrated sales process that lures you in, keeps you in, and seduces you into buying as many profitable products as possible—profitable to food manufacturers, not to your health.

Wanted: Impulsive Shoppers

Of the food people consume at home, an estimated 64 percent comes from the supermarket. Few shoppers think about how much their purchasing behavior is being influenced when they step into a supermarket. An abc News consumer watchdog report says the products we see, where they are displayed, and even what we smell are all designed by sophisticated, market-tested strategies with one purpose: to compel you to buy.

Notice the produce department: a stage set of shiny apples and dewy vegetables, giving that fresh-picked look and putting you in a pleasant seasonal mood. As you walk along, the savory smells of baked bread and roasted chicken waft over to your nose. The resultant olfactory overload gives you a shot of dopamine and activates the salivary glands.

Paco Underhill, consumer expert and author of What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping, believes this last tactic is important. “When you’re salivating,” he says, “you’re a much less disciplined shopper.”

As you pick up products—some that are on your list, some that are impulse buys—a song plays softly in the background. Slow, soft music has been found to slow customers down. Author Ronald Milliman revealed in a 1982 paper that soft background music caused people to walk 15 percent slower and increased sales volume by 38 percent. That’s a powerful strategy, as most consumer choices are made in-store, and 60 percent of those are impulse purchases, according to Herb Meyers, ceo of former New York corporate identity firm Gerstman+Meyers. “If you feel good through emotionally evocative music,” he said, “you’re likely to spend more.”

Priming Us for Captain Crunch

Where these tactics get dicey is in the push toward junk food. These factory-manufactured products are generally cheaper to produce, so the more junk food people buy, the more profit retailers and manufacturers make. These foods also stimulate your taste buds more than, say, broccoli, so you are more likely to keep coming back for more. To hook the consumer, retailers use two main sales strategies: lower your critical awareness, and encourage you to buy on impulse.

This consumer psychology is called subliminal priming and relies on the target (you) remaining unaware that such stimuli exists. So when you head to the dairy section for a gallon of milk, you’ll be exposed to plenty of chips, pop and other temptations along the way. Distraction is the key component to a store’s profitability, with the rationale that the longer you linger, the more you spend.

Walk down any aisle, and you’ll notice the most popular brands sitting at eye-level on shelves. Strategic product placement to maximize sales is known as a planogram model. Food companies pay big dollars to make sure Cap’n Crunch looks your child straight in the eye, pleading with him to pick the box up—and to plead with you.

Other traps, known as “end caps,” hover at the end of aisles. According to the National Retail Hardware Association, these shelves outsell similar products elsewhere by eight times. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that these shelves get stocked with too much junk: soft drinks, chocolate, confectionery and chips.

Few people notice these tactics, making them all the more powerful. Increasingly, such corporate decisions shape our patterns of purchasing and, as a result, our patterns of consumption, malnutrition and disease.

The Future of Consumer Targeting

To induce even more impulse buying, “smart shelves” soon will use sensors to determine your age and gender and target specific advertisements. Movement tracking is also coming into favor. Retailers are beginning to experiment with a variety of new camera tracking technologies that can tell when you enter a store, where you go and how you shop. Real-time imaging tracks movements and produces heat maps showing where shoppers concentrate their attention. This allows companies to determine consumer habits through behaviors and becomes another effective way to boost revenue.

Even as you leave the store, the loyalty card you used to save a few pennies gave additional key insights into what you buy. An army of experts will now data mine the information to determine how to squeeze your wallet further in the future.

Winning the War

These aggressive and even invasive methods are effective largely because shoppers are ignorant of them. We allow subliminal suggestions to nudge us toward unwise purchases and unhealthy foods.

Here are a few tips to help you become a smarter shopper:

Before heading to the market, eat something to prevent excessive or unhealthy purchases.

Make a shopping list and stick to it.

Shop only once weekly.

At the supermarket, learn to recognize the strategies that are targeting you. Stay focused on your list and avoid falling victim to persuasion and impulse. If you do, the battle between supermarket profit margins and your health will claim one less victim.

Don’t Read This Article!

Don’t Read This Article!

iStock.com/mikonos

From the September 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

How well do you know yourself? Not just your desires or interests—how well do you understand how and why you think your particular thoughts? What makes you do what you do?

Be honest. Are there ever times when you have thoughts you don’t like, or don’t understand—or, even worse, emotions you can’t explain? Do you ever feel disappointed because you keep doing things you’ve “promised” yourself you’d overcome? In your relationships, do you find yourself dealing with the same problems, making the same mistakes, time and time again?

Surely you can answer yes to at least some of these questions. They are common to the human experience.

Even the Apostle Paul, one of the most prolific biblical writers, was well acquainted with these frustrations. He wrote, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15; Revised Standard Version).

Why is this so? Sometimes it seems as if our own minds are a big puzzle.

Take another example. The headline above is plain: Don’t read this article. Yet here you are, reading it.

What makes that which is forbidden so compelling to us? Think about it. Why do books, movies or art exhibits that arouse scandal attract bigger audiences? Why does reverse psychology work—where we do something only because it is the opposite of what is expected?

Why do we naturally resist when we are told what to do? Why is it so hard to admit when we are wrong?

Can you explain these conundrums? Again—how well do you really know yourself, the inner workings of your mind?

Most people simply live with the problem; they don’t think much about it. Others, desperate for a solution, believe every promise of every self-help book, television psychiatrist or psychic, and build their lives around humanly devised plans and programs.

The Bible states the problem in terminology that is shockingly explicit—so much so that most people would reject it, even though they are living proof of its truth. “The heart [that is, the seat of intellect—the human mind] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Do you disagree? Does that seem too harsh? It takes penetrating personal honesty to recognize the truth in Jeremiah’s statement. 1 Kings 8:38 emphasizes the importance of every person knowing “the plague of his own heart.” Does that ring true in your life? Do you recognize that “plague” in your mind? If you don’t admit it, you can never change it.

The fact is, most problems in the world are caused by people who are woefully ignorant about themselves! They may be doing the best they know how—they may sincerely want to do better—but they’re stuck. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).

Why is the human mind so malignant? The Creator God designed it. Did He fashion into it deceptive intricacies? Did He make it “desperately wicked”? Most people have never even contemplated this issue.

Perhaps even more important: What can be done about it? Recognizing the problem is one thing—overcoming it is another. Are we destined to remain plagued by a self-deceitful, wicked heart?

You need answers to these questions.

We would like to offer you free copies of two booklets. The first, Human Nature—What Is It?, explains why the human mind is the way it is. The second, Repentance Toward God, will show you the first steps necessary to begin to change. It will give you the universally overlooked key to self-mastery and lasting success. Don’t delay—contact us today!

Improve Your Memory

Improve Your Memory

iStock.com/SIphotography

How to sharpen your mind and improve your quality of life
From the September 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

How good is your memory? I just read an article the other day that 37 percent of women—or wait, was it 73 percent? Like the old proverb goes, today is the yesterday, no—today is the tomorrow that you put off …. Oh, what did I come in this room for? Does this feel familiar?

Few of us have naturally great memories. Whether it’s retaining tasks or names or an important spiritual principle from the Bible, forgetfulness is frustrating and debilitating and affects your quality of life.

Memory is essential to salvation. Like any parent, God needs His children to remember what He teaches them. With something so crucial, you cannot simply say, Oops, forgot; oh well.

Maybe you never thought of this, but memory is like so many other aspects of this physical creation: God designed it to be improved, but you can do so only through diligentwork. Generally, we only recall those things we have repeatedly studied.

How much easier it would be if you could hear something just once and retain it permanently! But easier isn’t always good for you. God wants you to develop godly character. He created your mind to require consistent, daily study in order to remember and recall. He created your memory to require exercise and discipline in order to become sharp. He wants to see how hard you are willing to work in order to remember things.

Here are five points on how to improve your memory:

1) Remember by being impressed:

Whether something locks into your memory depends on the strength of the impression it makes when you encounter it. It’s like driving a nail into a board. If you tap on it lightly, it will not penetrate and fasten. Something that makes little impression on your mind will fade from your memory. Whatever you want to remember, think of ways to make it leave a stronger impression on your mind. For example, don’t read over that section of the book the same way you normally read. Stop and let the words sink in. Engage them: Ask why the writer or speaker chose to use the word “values” instead of “virtues,” for example. Take notes; allow yourself to be creative. Spend time with your notes; read them out loud to yourself; rewrite them in the form of a test—whatever it takes.

2) Remember by concentrating:

When you study, you won’t remember much if you only read casually and quickly, like you would read a novel. Studies show the act of concentrating releases hormones that set off a chain reaction of signals through memory-forming areas of the brain. When studying, eliminate distractions: Turn off the music; silence your phone; turn off your e-mail. The more you concentrate like this, the easier it becomes, and the better you will get at it. Once you are free from distraction, focus in on the words and their meaning. Actively engage the book, scripture, face, name, conversation or whatever it is you want to remember, and bring your whole mind to bear on that one thing.

3) Remember by meditating:

Think about what you study. Ask yourself how it applies to you and what lessons you should take from it. In studying the Bible, when you read a history, imagine yourself in that situation. When you read a principle of Christian living, ask yourself whether you are obeying it. When you face a decision, think about which scriptures apply to your situation. When you read prophecy, consider whether these ancient words match any modern situations you read in the news. When you have moments throughout the day, think about what you have been studying. Every now and then, resist the urge to turn on the radio as you drive to work or to pull out your phone as you stand in line. Use the time instead to concentrate on things you want to remember. The more you meditate, the more you will remember.

4) Remember by talking:

If you want to remember something, talk to others about it. Share it. A large body of research shows that thinking about or discussing an event immediately after it occurs greatly enhances retrieval ability. This practice can also convert short-term memories into a long-term, more permanent form. So talk with your spouse about what you just read or heard. Bring up the book you read at the dinner-table discussion. Discuss what you remember about the latest news over lunch with others who are interested in the same topic.

5) Remember by repeating:

If you encounter something only once, you are likely to forget it. Go over it again and again, and you will drill it in. In fact, studies show the key to locking things in long-term memory is repetitionat precisely timed intervals. After hearing a lecture, for example, get a first quick review in as soon as possible. Within 24 hours, review it again. This one-day-after refresher is shown to boost memory back to around 95 percent of what you originally knew. Then, do it again a week later—even if only for five minutes. Each time you review and repeat what you need to learn, you make the impression in your mind a little deeper, until it is locked into your long-term memory.

Your memory is an important gift from God. A sharper memory means a higher quality of life now and in the future. So put in some work at sharpening it!

An Empire in the Making

An Empire in the Making

Getty Images

From the September 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

Hand in hand with calls for a European army are calls for Europe to get more involved overseas. European Union and German officials want more European military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa. They also want Europe to build stronger alliances with allies in the area, with both Germany and the EU unveiling plans to directly fund foreign militaries for the first time.

“It is in the interests of our citizens to invest in the resilience of states and societies to the east, stretching into Central Asia, and south down to Central Africa,” wrote EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini in her paper “A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy.”

“We want also to increase our dialogue and cooperation with third countries in North Africa, the Sahel strip, the Lake Chad Basin, West Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East,” wrote German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault in a press release June 24.

Similarly, Germany’s 2016 white paper on “German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr” advocates the German military getting more involved abroad. “Germany’s security policy horizon is global,” it states.

It calls on the nation to take “early and comprehensive action” to “eradicate the causes of conflicts.”

Both the white paper and Mogherini’s report dwell on the need for “peace building.” Making peace usually involves military force. “The EU will engage more systematically on the security dimension of these conflicts,” noted Mogherini.

“The EU must be able to respond rapidly, responsibly and decisively to crises, especially to help fight terrorism,” she continued—all overt calls for the EU to be able to field military forces abroad.

Her paper also talks about “preemptive peace building,” noting, “It has long been known that preventing conflicts is more efficient and effective than engaging with crises after they break out.”

Underscoring the military nature of “peace building,” the European Commission put forward a proposal on July 5 to use funds earmarked for “peace building” to buy weapons for foreign armies. Currently, peace-building funds are used as development aid: funding maternal health care in Syria, for example. The new rules would allow these funds to be spent on military training and weapons. EU Observer noted that “this is the first time” the EU “will pump money directly into a foreign military structure” (July 5).

Germany’s defense white paper also unveiled a new initiative for Germany to directly finance foreign militaries. It announced a new fund, to be jointly managed by the Foreign Office and Defense Ministry, to finance “civilian and military measures in crisis prevention.” In addition to cash, the German military will train and support foreign militaries.

It’s easy to dismiss reports like these as just talk. After all, the EU has been talking about a military for decades. But North Africa and the Middle East is one area where both Germany and the EU are taking concrete action already.

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

Warning of the spread of radical Muslim groups, supported by Iran, in the region, he added, “But Iran isn’t the only one interested in Africa. Germany is making strong inroads as well. Both of these powers are racing to get as much control of North Africa as they can. They will inevitably clash with each other.”

Europe is already heavily invested in the area. France has numerous strong military bases, and is involved militarily in the Central African Republic and in Mali. Germany has a major presence in Mali with hundreds of troops, as well as leadership of both the EU’s troop training mission and police training mission.

Europe is already forging closer links with militaries in the region. Paratroopers from Germany’s Rapid Forces Division participated in military exercises in Turkey for the first time in May. Since 2015, the German Special Forces Command has been participating in the United States-led “Flintlock” exercises in North Africa. This year’s exercises were conducted in Senegal, and also had a strong presence from Tunisia. The focus was to “train the trainer” according to a German officer teaching African forces to be able to more highly train their own troops.

Europe and Germany both plan to expand their relationships with certain nations in North Africa and the Middle East. Right from its first issues, the Trumpet has been warning of a clash between a European power and radical Islam led by Iran. With the Islamic State focused on carrying out attacks in Europe, and the EU responding by deepening its reach into Africa, this clash is building up right now.