Europe Asks: Who Am I?

Europe Asks: Who Am I?

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Europe’s identity crisis as seen from its diary

Dear Diary,

These last two years have been really hard on me. Millions of refugees streamed over my coastlines and settled in various places. At first I thought it wouldn’t be that bad: This is a multicultural continent, after all. I thought I could handle it. But something was different. They were different; I could feel it. But what made them different, or what is it that differentiates me from them? I started questioning: Who and what am I?

Why are some of my people so hostile toward the refugees? Why are populists who promise to get rid of them gaining admiration? I have given them so much, so why do they sometimes attack me? Why is there a “them” and a “me” in the first place?

As these millions of refugees streamed onto this continent, I told them emphatically that they have to adapt to European values and culture. That was nicely said, but what does that mean in practical terms? What values and what culture should they adapt to?

This continent of about 50 countries has different ethnicities, languages, religions, cultures, laws, hopes, dreams and goals. So what values are the refugees supposed to adopt?

I came to realize that I forgot who I am. I forgot what unites my countries, and what differentiates me from other continents. As the refugee crisis hit, each nation wanted to do its own thing. As the famous saying goes, “A house divided against itself shall not stand.” My nations can’t stand when they are so divided. That means I must find out who I am and who my citizens are; only then can I tell the refugees what they need to adapt to. I have to learn what it is that keeps Europe together.

I pondered this very question some 60 years ago, and I thought I found the answer: economics. We all want to prosper, and that common desire, I thought, would drive my nations together as a unified continent. I thought that vision, above all else, would cause us to work as one body—a body that could compete with the giant powers of the West and East. I really believed that I found the aspiration that would give us the power, passion, zeal and excitement to overcome all obstacles, resist all opponents, conquer all enemies, and catapult us to greatness!

I quickly realized that this was an illusion.

Economics didn’t give us the unity that I hoped it would. While some of my countries managed to get together in the 1950s and ’60s, I realized that we still had too many differences. We needed common laws. The European Community was created to solve these divisions. This later grew into the European Union. Its headquarters is now in Brussels, Belgium. But the struggle between EU law and national parliaments continues. My members can’t agree on the simplest terms. They are more concerned about themselves than our common goals. That became clear in the euro crisis and now even more so in the refugee crisis.

Despite all my efforts to unite my different members together, I frequently hear murmurings against my plans for unity. Some say that the EU is a headless Frankenstein monster, an apparatus that overburdens its members and yet is unable to save Europe from disasters.

But I didn’t want to listen to them. I didn’t give up on this vision of uniting my people. I was still convinced that it would all work out. I hoped that we would all come together and solve the problems we faced.

But then the refugee crisis made even me realize that I have to be more than just an economic union. I had to find something that holds us all together despite opposition. I closely observed how my members reacted to the crisis.

One of my strongest members, Germany, started to open its borders: taking up the challenge of letting hundreds of thousands of refugees across, hoping the nations around it would work together and do the same. That didn’t happen. Other nations bluntly refused to take a certain quota of refugees. Some said, Let’s help, but they have to integrate. Others simply rejected them altogether.

I could not see any way that an agreement could be found. So I looked at the people of the individual countries, trying to find one reaction they all share.

My members tried to find ways to assimilate the refugees with our people. Different integration policies developed. A few had some success, but most failed.

Instead of peaceful integration and cooperation, I saw many refugee homes set on fire. The migrants were despised, hated, ridiculed and mocked for what they are and where they came from. Some simply hated them for their religion. If they would just give up Islam, they could live with us, they reasoned. Populists who promised to treat foreigners as foreigners gained popularity.

Terrorist attacks in France, Belgium and Germany escalated the situation. On top of that, the Cologne attacks saw hundreds of women sexually assaulted and even raped.

Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote on July 28 about the Bavarian reaction to the series of attacks in their homeland (Trumpet translation throughout):

A dark cloud of fear, anger and resentment moved over Bavaria. There is no need to scroll through the internet to get an impression of the current mood. It’s the more casual conversations at the bakery and on the street where the hatred toward refugees, blacks and politics in general wells over. An Islamic assassination or a killing spree—nobody here holds to such fine distinctions.

A general hatred for all foreigners seems to be growing. It is not the refugees themselves who are hated; the hatred is directed against Islam. The Christian Social Union (csu), which rules more than 50 percent of the parliament in Bavaria, came out with the slogan “Germany must remain Germany.”

Tagesspiegel commented on the csu’s new agenda: “What stands out is not only the rejection of Islamism but also of Islam, as well as the summoning of the Christian culture.” The csu clearly names the differences between the refugees and me. They are Islamic and I am Christian. Hence, the csu favors all immigrants who share that Christian culture.

Is that the answer to my question? Are all my members able to identify with that Christian culture? Is that the answer to what and who I am?

The Charlemagne Prize

I am reminded of a prize given out every year to remember the great works that Charlemagne did for Europe. He was the first to unite much of Europe under one leadership—a dream I still have today. Charlemagne had even bigger challenges than I have today, and yet he found a way to bring unity. How he did this is remarkable, and I believe that I can still learn from it.

The refugee crisis seems to be the perfect disaster I needed to wake up and show me my weaknesses. By being presented with what I am not, I am starting to learn again who I am.

Charlemagne helped to affirm Europe’s Christian identity. He tried to convert every nation he conquered to Catholicism. That way he knew that they would stay loyal to the Holy Roman Empire he sought to establish.

Although there were still different ethnicities and nationalities, there was one identity: Christianity. Everything else was an enemy. That is what united my countries anciently and can unite us again.

But do I have to tell these refugees that if they want to live here they have to convert to Christianity? What about the millions of other Muslims and religious entities that already live here? Do they have to change too? And what’s next? Do I then try to convert the whole world, attempting to make it a better place?

I am Europe after all. I may have temporarily suffered a crisis of identity, but I am starting to remember who I am.

To learn about the identity Europe lost, read “The Spirit of Charlemagne Is Alive in Europe.”

Aleppo Is What Happens When U.S. Intervention Is ‘Unbelievably Small’

Aleppo Is What Happens When U.S. Intervention Is ‘Unbelievably Small’

Jawad al Rifai/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on December 15, 2016.

This week, after four years of intense fighting, Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria—with the full backing of Russia and Iran—finally crushed the rebel resistance in eastern Aleppo. In doing so, the Syrian Army crossed every imaginable “red line.” There were cold-blooded mass killings of men and boys and barbaric atrocities aimed at women and children. “Are you truly incapable of shame?” America’s UN ambassador pointedly asked the leaders of Syria, Russia and Iran. Stephen Flurry discusses this and more on today’s Trumpet Daily Radio Show.

Listen to or download Trumpet Daily Radio Show on:

http://app.stitcher.com/browse/feed/68064/details

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trumpet-daily-radio-show/id1003885427

http://kpcg.fm/shows/trumpet-daily-radio-show

Japan Increases Its Military Spending Again

Japan Increases Its Military Spending Again

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The Land of the Rising Sun is rising again.

Seventy-five years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japan—a nation that was to “forever renounce war as a sovereign right”—now boasts a military that “might be even stronger” than it was in World War ii. And it is set to grow bigger still.

Japan’s defense budget for 2017 is expected to hit a record high of $44.6 billion. This will mark the fifth year in a row that Japan’s defense spending has increased. The budget includes plans to develop land-to-sea missiles; upgrade Japanese missile destroyers with American-developed, Aegis-advanced radar systems; and construct a new type of submarine. The increase is part of a five-year plan by the Japanese government to increase military spending by 0.8 percent each year until 2018.

Japan is currently in the top-10 list of the most powerful militaries in the world. While its pacifist Constitution—imposed after the Second World War—forbids Japan to wage war offensively, it has been free to build up a self-defense force. Japan has been able to establish one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world, thanks to America bearing the primary burden of defending the nation. John T. Kuehn, a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, told cnn, “Pilot for pilot, ship for ship, Japan can stand toe to toe with anybody.”

As time goes on, the stigma of waging war is quickly fading from Japan’s memory. Numerous attempts in the past few years have sought to reinterpret Japan’s pacifist Constitution. Its leaders seem eager to use Japanese forces abroad. In late November, the nation took an unprecedented step in expanding the use of the Japan Self-Defense Force: It assigned 350 soldiers to South Sudan as part of a United Nations peacekeeping taskforce with permission to use force. This is the first time since World War ii that Japanese soldiers are being allowed to fight on foreign soil.

All this comes at a time when Japan feels increasingly threatened by a nuclear-armed North Korea and a belligerent China. To help counter that threat, Japan signed an intelligence-sharing deal with South Korea on November 23. This pact allows the two nations to share key information about threats from North Korea without United States involvement. For years, the U.S. has encouraged these two nations to make this deal to help stymie North Korean aggression.

The deal is an unprecedented move, considering the history of the two nations. Many in South Korea dislike Japan because of the history between the two. Japan ruled over South Korea from the early part of the 20th century to the end of World War ii. During that time, it committed numerous atrocities against the South Korean people.

The Japan-South Korea deal was first scheduled to be made in 2012, but it was postponed because South Koreans were opposed to working with Japan. Four years later, it appears times have changed. While it still faced opposition in South Korea, the deal was able to pass.

Although the U.S. praised the deal, China condemned it. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun expressed “serious concern” about the deal: “We will make all necessary preparations, earnestly perform our duties and fulfill our mission, resolutely protect the country’s security interests, and resolutely protect regional peace and stability.”

To China, which is currently locked in territorial disputes with Japan, the agreement has the makings of a military alliance that could counter its regional goals. Both Japan and South Korea are allied with the United States, and China views the deal as a step toward a new, unified power bloc that would prevent it from taking an even more aggressive posture.

However, this deal, together with the increased military spending, could be signs of a splintering relationship between Japan and the United States. President-elect Donald Trump singled out Japan as a nation that needed to pay more for America’s defense aid or prepare to lose America’s military backing. A burying of the hatchet between Japan and South Korea could be an indication that Japan is looking to form its own alliances because it feels that it cannot rely on the United States as it has been in the past.

Aside from Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, there are other signs that America is planning to downsize its presence in Japan. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on December 6 that the U.S. planned to return some of the land used by its military base in Okinawa to the Japanese government by the end of the year. It will be the largest land return by the U.S. to Japan since 1972.

The Trumpet has long forecast that Japan would rise from its ignominious defeat in World War ii to become part of a military power bloc now forming in Asia. This increase in military spending is leading to an arms race, and arms races often lead to war. Be sure to watch for Japan to continue on its path of increased military spending.

As we wrote in Russia and China in Prophecy, “Unable to fix its own deflationary economic spiral, might Japan try to revive its economy by taking a more independent approach to security in East Asia? Any separation from the U.S. would require Japan to crank up its defense spending. This could be just what Japan needs to mend its economic sickness.”

As Japan rises, so does its militarism. Today, Japan is seen as America’s ally; 75 years ago, it was a mortal enemy. That may seem like a long time, but can America be sure that Japan has exorcised its militaristic demons? To understand where this trend of militarization is leading Japan, be sure to read “Why We Watch Japan’s March Toward Militarism.”

Galileo and Europe’s Superpower Ambitions

Galileo and Europe’s Superpower Ambitions

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Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on December 14, 2016.

Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system will launch tomorrow, officially entering initial operating capacity. With the launch, Europe joins America and Russia as the only powers with their own global satellite navigation system. In today’s show, Trumpet writer Richard Palmer explores how the project reveals Europe’s dreams of becoming a superpower, and how it badly wants to end its reliance on the United States. Also on today’s show, Europe’s economic crisis once again threatens to boil over. Can Europe make it through 2017 without experiencing a cataclysmic crisis? Such a crisis would force Europe to complete its journey to a superstate.

Listen to or download Trumpet Daily Radio Show on:

http://app.stitcher.com/browse/feed/68064/details

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trumpet-daily-radio-show/id1003885427

http://kpcg.fm/shows/trumpet-daily-radio-show

When the Debt Storm Bursts It Will Be Too Late

When the Debt Storm Bursts It Will Be Too Late

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With the Federal Reserve raising rates, will the economy sink beneath the waves?

There is a storm building. Not of winds or waves, but of money and debt. The United States is the cumulonimbus of debt. Or maybe the stratocumulus. Debt clouds darken the horizon. Federal debt is nearly $20 trillion. If the sheer enormity does not alarm you, its projected surge should.

A lot of people are going to drown.

As to the storm’s size, the federal debt is now more than $61,000 per citizen. That is $61,000 for each mother, father, baby, grandmother, unemployed uncle, credit-card-happy Aunt Thelma and welfare cousin in America. When the storm’s swell washes in, that’s a lot of weight around the economy’s ankles. Most Americans simply cannot contribute much of anything to pay down this debt. Fifty-six percent of working-age Americans can’t even come up with a thousand dollars of cash in an emergency, according to Bankrate.com.

But don’t be worried about such things, you worrywart. America’s most powerful leaders assure us that debt isn’t something to fear. As Forbes explained: In today’s modern economy, debt is the same as cash. “The correct conclusion to draw is that these people are indeed middle class in a country with a well-functioning financial system. Because of this they don’t need savings because they have access to credit” (emphasis added throughout).

You can be part of the middle class without a thousand dollars to your name!

“[I]f we’re honest about it, credit and savings are economically the same thing,” wrote Forbes. “That most Americans don’t have $500 or so of ‘savings’ as conventionally defined simply doesn’t matter.”

Credit is really the same as savings, according to the experts. “[A]s ever in the study of things economic, it is consumption which is the important point of it all” (ibid).

There you have it! Why bother scrimping and sacrificing to build an emergency fund, or to buy that first car, or to pay for college when functionally speaking, the result is supposedly the same as using an American Express? It doesn’t really matter how you pay for itall that really counts is the ability to consume.

Sounds a lot like Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2004 remark that budget “deficits don’t matter.” He said that just four years before the 2008 economic storm hit.

Back in the real world where credit is not the same as saving, and debts cannot be perpetually paid for by swapping credit cards, analyst Wolf Richter is very worried. “So now we’re burdened with such an enormous amount of debt that I think it is very hard to even breathe for the economy. A lot of people out there are worried about this,” he says (PeakProsperity, October 16).

According to Richter, America’s leaders are still trying to solve the too-much-debt-problem with more debt. “I mean, the Fed is still saying We will make money for free and you just need to borrow more money, and that’s its solution to having too much debt. It’s insane when you look at it.”

America’s federal debt works out to more than $166,000 per income-tax paying citizen.

There is another $3 trillion in state and local debt that must eventually be paid too. That’s an additional $25,000 owed per taxpayer. But Americans have no savings. They do however have a lot of something else—debt! Vortex in personal and corporate debt, and the U.S. debt rotation is $67 trillion in magnitude. And none of this includes the promised benefits to future generations of Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

Depending on how you calculate it, America has liabilities of greater than $100 trillion. Boston University’s Laurence Kotlikoff says it is closer to $200 trillion.

That’s a potential debt storm so big it is virtually impossible to fathom. Forget those promises made because they won’t be paid. Not in full. That in itself is going to hurt a lot of people who are relying on the government for shelter during retirement.

But even the part of the debt that analysts think the government could pay is quickly blowing out of proportion to America’s ability to sustain. The total size of the U.S. economy is under $18 trillion, which equates to a government debt-to-gdp ratio of over 110 percent. That is up from only 100 percent of gross domestic product in 2011.

Just eight years ago, the federal debt was only about $10 trillion. It has almost doubled during the tenure of America’s current president. And it doubled during the previous administration too. Is that rate of growth sustainable?

No.

Does that mean politicians will come to their senses? That the debt storm will abate?

No.

In fact, the debt storm will probably intensify before making landfall. Total U.S. household debt hit a whopping $12.25 trillion in March, but that is still 3.3 percent below the peak preceding the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. It has room to run. Student loan, auto and recently credit card debt are growing. Call them the three trillion-dollar-triple-threat.

America’s leaders think debt is good. Today, the Federal Reserve is considering raising interest rates a quarter of a point from 0.5 to 0.75 percent. The minuscule increase would be only the second one in 10 years. The Fed’s unstated purpose is to support consumer spending. Do you really think the Fed is serious about raising rates and reducing borrowing?

President-elect Donald Trump thinks you can’t lose with debt. He said on cnbc May 5:

Yeah, I think—look. I have borrowed, knowing that you can pay back with discounts. And I have done very well with debt. Now, of course, I was swashbuckling, and it did well for me and it was good for me and all that. And you know, debt was sort of always interesting to me. Now we’re in a different situation with the country. But I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal. And if the economy was good, it was good. So, therefore, you can’t lose. It’s like, you know, you make a deal before you go into a poker game, and your odds are so much better.

On August 11, he said on cnbc, “[T]his is a time to borrow, and to borrow long term, so that we can have money to rebuild our infrastructure.” According to Mr. Trump, nobody knows how to use debt like him. “I’m the king of debt. I love debt,” he said (cnn, May 4).

He told cbs This Morning in an interview on June 22:

I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt; nobody knows debt better than me. I’ve made a fortune by using debt. … And if things don’t work out, I renegotiate the debt. I mean, that’s a smart thing, not a stupid thing.

And what if America borrows more than it can handle? The president-elect has that inevitability covered too (cbs, June 22):

You go back and you say, “Hey, guess what? The economy just crashed. I’m gonna give you back half.”

According to the Brookings Institution, the national debt may grow by almost as much under President Trump, as under President Obama. Brookings estimates $9.5 trillion in additional debt over the next 10 years.

Those estimates will rise. If there is one thing America has proven during recent history, it is that it knows how to underestimate spending.

And while America embarks on its greatest debt binge ever, a storm of epic proportions will be developing offshore. On land, all may appear sunny and tranquil. Debt will buoy the stock market; consumption will give the appearance of prosperity; temporary jobs will be created.

And then one day the storm will roll in. Suddenly the skies will darken. The wind will blow. The rain will fall. And a tidal surge of epic proportions will wipe America’s debt-based economic system right off the map.

Until then, you have a choice. Join the majority of Americans who build their financial houses on sand. Or build upon a sure Rock foundation. Begin by reading this.

Can Air Strikes Prevent War With Hezbollah?

Can Air Strikes Prevent War With Hezbollah?

Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Israel continues to work to deter conflict with the terrorist organization.

Twice in as many weeks, Arabic media has accused Israel of carrying out air strikes in Syria. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the attacks—though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly admitted in April that there have been dozens of such Israeli air strikes over the course of the Syrian civil war.

According to a November 30 report in the Times of Israel, the first attack was dual, targeting the al-Sabboura region—though Syria has not confirmed the alleged target—and a Hezbollah convoy on the Damascus-Beirut highway.

Then on December 7, Syria’s sana state media reported on another attack in which “the Israeli enemy launched at 3:00 a.m. Wednesday a number of surface-to-surface missiles from inside the occupied territories to the west of Tall Abu al-Nada that landed in the surroundings of al-Mezzeh Airport west of Damascus.” Hezbollah claimed the attack was another air strike.

Adding weight to the reports, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also “came clean” about Israeli attacks to keep weaponry out of Hezbollah hands.

Delaying the Inevitable?

Regardless of the validity of these or previous claims, Israel clearly has a goal in mind. It is not—as the Syrian government proclaims—to overthrow Bashar Assad. Israel is focusing on the possibility of a future conflict directly involving the Jewish state.

As Netanyahu said in February, “We will not agree to the supply of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah from Syria and Lebanon. We will not agree to the creation of a second terror front on the Golan Heights. These are the red lines that we have set and they remain the red lines of the State of Israel.”

But red lines or not, can Israel prevent Hezbollah’s rise? There are a number of factors to consider.

First, recruits. Haaretz released a report in July with updated figures on the size and scope of Hezbollah. The terror group, while lacking tanks and planes, is a medium-sized army. It has some 45,000 fighters with 21,000 in regular service. Comprised primarily of Shiites in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has an ample fighting force.

Then there is training. Aside from experience gleaned in the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah fighters are gaining experience in the Syrian arena. Unable to prevent Hezbollah’s involvement, Israel has no choice but to watch as Hezbollah’s fighters are trained and battle-hardened for a future conflict with the Jewish state.

One of the few aspects Israel can influence is weapon shipments. Hezbollah has long sought missiles and arms from Syria and further abroad. Israeli air strikes have waylaid many such convoys, but the convoys that run the gauntlet successfully are unknown.

While Netanyahu and the military do all they can to contain Hezbollah, there is little doubt that Israel’s efforts are not stopping Hezbollah’s rise, only slowing it.

According to the Israel Defense Forces (idf), Hezbollah now has the ability to fire up to 1,500 missiles per day in the next war. In 2006, the number was just 200.

These rockets are also more sophisticated. Hezbollah has acquired rockets capable of hitting the Red Sea area to Israel’s south. It is also equipped with a plentiful stock of antiship, antitank and antiaircraft systems.

Going off these facts, Israel appears near powerless to keep advanced technology such as the SA-22 Russian missile system or the Kornet antitank missile out of Hezbollah’s hands.

Then there are the military installations. Hezbollah has been busy since 2006, turning southern Lebanon into a fortification.

The idf recently tweeted an image of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure in Lebanon. Times of Israel called this “an apparent calculated move by Israel to build a case for any future military action. It could also serve as a warning to the terror group itself, demonstrating Israel’s intelligence gathering capabilities as a deterrent.”

But only days later, an idf spokesperson admitted the image was a fake. While the map was a shallow ruse, the point still stands that Hezbollah is well at work in southern Lebanon. Numerous reports corroborate Israel’s fear that southern Lebanon has become a Hezbollah fortification.

And Israel is almost out of time. With the rebels almost driven from Aleppo, Hezbollah’s role in Syria will likely diminish and its attention will again turn to Israel.

Trust Not in Air Strikes

To go to war now might seem a tough choice for Israel. But to wait only gives Hezbollah time to grow stronger. So is there anything we can to do avoid another Israel-Hezbollah war?

Individually, yes there is. And it doesn’t involve air strikes or armaments.

The solution comes straight out of the pages of the Old Testament book of Hosea.

As many Bible scholars will note, the book of Hosea contains some frightening prophecies concerning Israel and the impending war that lies still in the future. But notice how it ends.

“Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me” (Hosea 13:4). Eventually Israel will turn back and trust in God, but not before the fulfilment of the prophecies laid out in the earlier chapters of Hosea. It will take some tough times for the nation as a whole to come around!

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help” (verse 9). These verses show that the people of Israel will learn that God is willing to help them.

But you don’t have to wait until after God’s prophesied Tribulation actually hits! If you and I look to God now instead of trusting in military or intelligence services, we can avoid disaster. That is why the Trumpet continually points back to the significance of God’s Word in modern geopolitics. God is offering an escape from looming catastrophe for any who are willing to turn back to Him today.

Request our free booklet Hosea: Reaping the Whirlwind. Chapter 3 offers the solution Israel needs. It is titled “God’s Love for Israel.”

Military intervention cannot solve the problems Israel or any other nation is facing. But God offers a permanent solution for you and me—and it isn’t air strikes.