The Cryptic Nationalist Group Steering Japan

The Cryptic Nationalist Group Steering Japan

Gary Dorning/Trumpet

Will the Nippon Kaigi group steer Japan into a repetition of World War II-era nationalism?
From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

What if Germany elected a leader who was part of a radical nationalist group that believed Germany should no longer acknowledge that it committed war crimes during World War ii? What if that group said historic accounts of Germany massacring Jews and other groups were “either exaggerated or fabricated”? What if that group believed Germany should, in fact, be applauded for “liberating” Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and other nations during the war?

What if the stated goal of the organization was to return modern Germany to its World War ii-era “glory”?

And what if this German leader successfully stacked his cabinet with members of that same organization?

This is essentially the actual situation in Japan today. Yet the fact that more than half of Japan’s top leaders hold these beliefs regarding their country seems to attract little attention, especially outside of Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is a member of the Nippon Kaigi (“Japan Conference”), a somewhat secretive group determined to normalize the Japanese military, teach history in a way that cultivates patriotism in young students, and restore the imperial family as the center of Japanese life. Ten of Mr. Abe’s 19 cabinet members also belong to this shadowy organization.

Resentment Born in Defeat

Shintoism is the ancient animist religion native to Japan. Leading up to and during World War ii, State Shinto, intertwined with nationalism and militarism, was Imperial Japan’s national religion. State Shinto promoted an ideology of Japanese racial superiority and the notion that Emperor Hirohito was a divinity, destined to rule the entire world. The fanaticism of Imperial Japan’s soldiers—and civilians—was driven largely by these religious beliefs.

The toxicity of this faith rendered many Japanese incapable of surrendering—even when offered the chance while facing insurmountable odds.

After Japan’s defeat in 1945, the U.S.-led Allied Occupation sought to root out the Japanese radicalism that had caused so much suffering throughout East Asia. The Allies abolished State Shinto, forced Hirohito to publicly renounce the idea that he was a god, and wrote a new constitution for Japan, saying its people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right” and that they also renounce “the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”

After Tokyo’s defeat, most Japanese accepted the outcome and embraced the postwar realities, which included a prolonged period of extremely rapid economic growth and a surge in the general quality of life in Japan. Most Japanese were grateful to the American-led occupation for bringing prosperity, stability and democracy to the nation.

But not everyone was remorseful about Japan’s wartime behavior. Not everyone was willing to accept the war’s outcome, including the Allied Occupation. In the early 1970s, some who were resentful of Japan’s defeat formed a State Shinto revival group called Nihon wo Mamoru Kai. They championed the trashing of Japan’s pacifist constitution and a return to nationalism and emperor worship.

In 1997, this group merged with a similar nationalist organization called Nihono Mamoru Kokumin Kaigi. The two became Nippon Kaigi.

The United States Congressional Research Service concluded in a recent report that Nippon Kaigi believes that “Tokyo War Crimes tribunals were illegitimate,” that the Massacre of Nanking was either “exaggerated or fabricated,” and that “Japan should be applauded for liberating much of East Asia” during World War ii.

The Economist listed the following as Nippon Kaigi’s primary goals: “[A]pplaud Japan’s wartime ‘liberation’ of East Asia from Western colonialism; rebuild the armed forces; inculcate patriotism among students brainwashed by left-wing teachers; and revere the emperor as he was worshiped in the good old days before the war” (June 6, 2015).

Kobayashi Setsu, a former member of the group and one of Japan’s top constitutional scholars, said Nippon Kaigi members “have trouble accepting the reality that Japan lost the war.” This is in part because some of the group’s members are descendants of those who instigated the war. Many, Setsu says, openly long for the days of Japan’s great-power status.

This is the group influencing the most powerful people in Japan.

Today, Nippon Kaigi has only around 38,000 full members. Yet it wields influence far beyond its membership rolls because its network reaches deeply into the various echelons of government.

Besides Prime Minister Abe, many other government officials also belong to Nippon Kaigi, including Mr. Abe’s deputy prime minister; his state ministers of defense, foreign affairs, education, health, reconstruction, and his chief cabinet secretary; and 289 of the 480 members of the Diet, Japan’s parliament. Other Nippon Kaigi members include numerous state and local lawmakers, renowned academics and authors, media moguls, leading Shinto priests, titans of industry, high-ranking diplomats and military officers, the great-grandson of Emperor Meiji and former Prime Minister Tarō Asō. Even a famous former sumo wrestler is among the group’s ranks. Former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, who became governor of Tokyo in July, is another highly influential member. The former head of Nippon Kaigi was the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Japan.

Why So Little Coverage?

For decades, Nippon Kaigi received little attention in Japan’s mainstream media, and even less outside of the country. That changed in spring of last year when researcher Tamotsu Sugano published an exposé called Nippon Kaigi No Kenkyu (A Study on the Japan Conference). The book sold more than 153,000 copies, making it a surprise bestseller and bringing Nippon Kaigi’s vast influence out of the shadows.

Sugano’s book shows that Nippon Kaigi’s main accomplishment has been uniting various nationalist organizations within a like-minded program. “Throughout 40 years of history,” he said, “it has been sending almost the same message and focusing on the same priority: educating the young generation.”

On January 6, in a rare and telling move, a Tokyo court ordered the book’s publisher to suspend all publication of A Study on the Japan Conference on the grounds that it contained defamatory information. The Japan Times noted on January 7, “It is rare for a court to suspend publication of a bestseller in Japan.”

Opponents of Nippon Kaigi say the court’s decision fits with the idea that the group wields considerable influence to suppress those who seek to expose that very influence.

Nippon Kaigi’s Accomplishments

The Economist said Nippon Kaigi has proved itself to have “a formidable ability to mobilize.” A major example of this came in 2006 when the group collected 3.6 million signatures demanding judicial reforms that would legally require schools to teach patriotism to students. The signatures were enough to pass the controversial legislation, which helped to ban “left wing” curricula and to reinstate the traditions of standing for Japan’s Hinomaru flag and singing the national anthem.

“Enacting a law with this requirement was one of the few things that Mr. Abe accomplished in his first, inglorious term as prime minister from 2006 to 2007,” the Economist said.

Around the same time, Nippon Kaigi played a vital role in convincing the government to restore April 29, the birthday of wartime Emperor Hirohito, as an official national holiday.

Sugano says it is clear that without Nippon Kaigi, Mr. Abe would not have been successful in returning to politics after his resignation in 2007 convinced many that his political career was finished. But with the group’s guidance and backing, Mr. Abe returned in 2012 and has gone on to win another two consecutive national elections.

Writing for the Daily Beast on July 9, 2016, Jake Adelstein and Mari Yamamoto said Nippon Kaigi was also instrumental in “getting the Japanese government to reinstitute the Imperial Calendar, which was banished by the U.S. occupation government.” That change means that while it is 2017 in the Western world, in Japan, it is year 29 of the Heisei Period. Adelstein and Yamamoto wrote, “The system is so confusing that many reporters in Japan carry a handy chart to translate the Imperial Calendar dates into Western time.”

Perhaps the most compelling evidence of Nippon Kaigi’s power came in the summer of 2015, when the Diet held heated debates about whether the country should have a right to collective self-defense. Sugano says the crucial factor in delivering victory to those arguing to restore that military capability was the testimony of three leading constitutional scholars. All three were Nippon Kaigi members or affiliates.

This victory equated to a milestone “reinterpretation” of the Constitution that expanded Japan’s military role abroad. Some 14 months later, in a clear indication that history is on the march, Japan’s first armed soldiers since the end of World War ii deployed overseas.

With Japan’s economic and industrial excellence, all it lacks to transform its defense forces into a nuclear-armed world-class military is will. Nippon Kaigi members have that missing element in abundance.

What Lies Ahead?

The Economist noted that Nippon Kaigi’s opponents have been impressed by the success that the group and its affiliates have had in “quietly transform[ing] the landscape of Japanese politics” (op cit). Yet Nippon Kaigi members themselves “are frustrated over what they see as the slow pace of change,” it wrote.

That pace, however, could soon pick up. As of July 2016, Mr. Abe, his Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partners have a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet. This unprecedented double supermajority makes Mr. Abe the most powerful Japanese prime minister in postwar history.

Some analysts have argued that since Nippon Kaigi’s membership is comprised overwhelmingly of older individuals, it will soon die out and doesn’t need to be feared. But the age factor could infuse Mr. Abe and other members with greater urgency to return Japan to its war-era “glory.”

“I don’t think many people have grasped yet what is happening in Japan,” said Tawara Yoshifumi, head of the nonprofit group Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21. “The situation is very dangerous.” Tessa Suzuki, a professor of modern Japanese history at Australian National University, agrees. She told the Japan Times she is “enormously concerned about the way Japan is going.”

National Review columnist Josh Gelernter said July 16, 2016, that “it would probably be a good idea [for America] … not to stand idly by while our most important Asian ally, and the second-richest democracy in the world, reverts to fascism.”

Nippon Kaigi’s “strength is growing,” said Norihiro Kato, professor emeritus of Waseda University. “And there is no telling when its members might start saying what really is on their mind: ‘Take Back Japan From America’” (New York Times, Sept. 12, 2014).

A Prophesied Resurgence

In 1971, when even Nippon Kaigi’s forerunner groups were little more than whispers among closet nationalists, educator Herbert W. Armstrong predicted that Japan would awake from its postwar slumber, cast off the pacifism the U.S. imposed on it, and return to formidable militarism. “Japan today has no military establishment,” he wrote. “But we should not lose sight of the fact that Japan has become so powerful economically that it could build a military force of very great power very rapidly” (Plain Truth, March 1971).

Mr. Armstrong’s view was informed by Bible prophecy. He understood that Japan would be a key part of a massive end-time Asian military power bloc that the Bible calls “the kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12). Ezekiel 38:6 specifies that “Gomer” and “Togarmah” will be part of this power bloc. These are ancient names for the main peoples that make up modern Japan.

For decades, Mr. Armstrong’s forecast could have seemed alarmist to many Japanese and students of geopolitics. But now, in part because of the rise of Nippon Kaigi, that forecast no longer appears far-fetched. Today, as we face the prospect of nationalists and hard-liners dismantling Japan’s pacifist architecture and leading a revival of the nationalism, militarism and emperor worship that made Japan an unusually ruthless military machine.

Trump Tells Germany: ‘Take Control!’

Trump Tells Germany: ‘Take Control!’

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The pressure building up against Germany will force it to aggressively pursue its own interests for the first time since World War II.
From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Is America now Germany’s enemy? With the election of Donald Trump, the German government and news media think so.

Since the end of World War ii, Germany has sat in America’s shadow. The nation hasn’t aggressively pushed its own interests—it hasn’t had to. America has taken care of them.

That time is over. President Trump is ushering in the greatest change in the world order since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

During the Cold War, German and American interests were the same. If Russia had overrun Western Europe, the Soviet threat to the United States would have exploded—so America defended Germany, to the point of reuniting the very country it had helped to divide after the war. And since the Cold War, America and Germany have faced a common threat in radical Islam.

America has taken care of Germany’s economic interests too. Both countries wanted free and stable global trade, with open oceans and trade routes.

Meanwhile Germany had good reason to keep its head down. The destruction left by the Nazis remains in living memory. If Berlin threw its weight around, other nations would quickly oppose it.

German policy, then, has been simple: America takes care of Germany’s general interests, while Berlin focuses on building economic, not political, power.

There were disagreements, of course. At times, Germany pushed its own agenda. The Balkans are a good example: Germany recognized Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia against major opposition. But once America came around, Berlin was happy to let Washington do the hard work.

Now, however, times are different. In an increasingly dangerous and chaotic world, Germany has to stand aggressively for its interests—for the first time since World War ii.

The threat comes not from a few offhand comments by the new president, but his entire worldview. Mr. Trump promises a revolutionary foreign policy. Rather than pursuing America’s long- term interests, he aims to maximize short-term profits. He’s about the balance sheet, not the balance of powers.

This has triggered an almost frantic response in Germany. “The inauguration of Donald Trump heralds the arrival of a new world order,” wrote Spiegel Online. “Trump is the end of the world as we know it.”

“Can Merkel’s Europe now hold together?” this article asked. “Can she become a worthy adversary to Trump in the approaching conflicts over trade regulations, international agreements, and the liberal legal and economic order that has been so important to the United States for the last six decades?” (January 20; emphasis added throughout). One of the most popular and influential magazines in Europe sees America as the enemy—and wonders if their leader is aggressive enough.

In an interview in 1990, Mr. Trump singled out Germany and Japan as America’s top two enemies—because, he said, those two “are making billions screwing us.”

“Merkel’s staff is convinced that his views haven’t changed,” wrote Spiegel Online (op cit). Germany’s leaders genuinely think America is out to get them.

Germany Under Attack

What could possibly make Germany so desperate? On the surface, the nation is doing great. The economy grew faster than forecast in 2016. Rather than borrowing, the government is actually paying off its debt. The nation is rapidly growing in power.

Yet Germany is vulnerable. Its political order is fragmenting. The upstart Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and the Left Party (the former Communists of East Germany) are growing in popularity, threatening to destabilize the country’s entire political system. Both are generally considered too extreme for mainstream parties to work with. Terrorism and immigration—major threats in their own right—are only pushing more voters toward these parties.

Less appreciated is Germany’s economic peril. Germany is the most export-dependent of all big economies. Exports account for almost half its economic output, compared to only one fifth for America. A decline in exports would have major, immediate consequences.

Here Mr. Trump’s outlook directly threatens Germany. He believes free trade means other nations taking advantage of America. He wants to completely reevaluate global trade policy. No nation has more to lose from this reevaluation than Germany.

Given Germany’s current political trouble, economic turmoil would spark a political crisis unprecedented in its postwar history. If the AfD and Communists are currently polling around 10 to 15 percent each, how high would their popularity soar after a crash? They could win a majority of votes between them—which would mean that no coalition government would be possible without one of these groups. The dangers posed by an export crisis in Germany are far greater than a slight increase in unemployment: It could destroy Germany’s political system.

Yet this is exactly the kind of economic turmoil Donald Trump threatens to ignite.

‘Our Prosperity Is at Risk’

In his interview with Bild and the Times, published January 15, Mr. Trump threatened bmw with tariffs of 35 percent. America is the top destination for German exports. If Germany’s economy is to grow, it must increase exports. With most of Germany’s export markets in trouble, America is one the few locations with potential for growth. Anything threatening to slow that increase is a danger to Germany. But Mr. Trump wants to go much further and drastically cut German sales to America.

By toying with tariffs, Mr. Trump is threatening to destroy Germany’s economy.

Germany worries that Mr. Trump could use the 1974 Trade Act to impose tariffs of up to 15 percent on German exports for 150 days—without needing to consult Congress.

Much in President Trump’s analysis is right. Germany’s export miracle is largely because of the euro. The euro is a de facto subsidy for German goods. Weak economies in southern Europe keep the euro weak—and cheap. Cheaper euros mean cheaper German goods, which means more exports from Germany. If Germany were not part of the euro, its bmws would be more expensive. Mr. Trump is perfectly justified in taxing them.

Nevertheless, a core German interest is threatened. Germany must persuade America not to impose tariffs—find a way to make free trade with Germany in Mr. Trump’s short-term interest. In other words, Germany needs power and leverage—a return to power politics and an aggressive pursuit of self-interest.

“Our prosperity is at risk more than at any other time in the past 60 years,” warned Markus Kerber, director general of the Federation of German Industries. If Mr. Trump follows through with his rhetoric on free trade, “the German prosperity model would fail.”

But the threat President Trump poses to Germany’s economy goes beyond just direct trade.

Trump Vs. the EU

Germany’s reliance on exports makes European unity a core interest. Seven of Germany’s top 10 destinations for exports are in the European Union. If the EU unravels or the euro falls apart, it means economic depression for Germany.

Unfortunately for Berlin, President Trump wants exactly that. The EU, he said in his January 15 interview, is “basically a vehicle for Germany.” He praised Britain’s decision to quit, adding, “I believe others will leave.”

Spiegel Online wrote, “Officials in Brussels are concerned that one of Trump’s foreign-policy goals may be that of dividing the EU—in areas like the environment and energy policy, for example, but particularly in its relationship with Russia” (op cit).

For 60 years, Americans have been cheering for European unification. Now they have a president who is ideologically opposed to it.

Mr. Trump’s fondness for Britain may be designed to hurt the EU. British Prime Minister Theresa May was the first world leader to visit President Trump at the White House. His administration is promising lucrative trade deals to post-Brexit Britain, a marked change from his predecessor, who said that if Britain left the EU, he would put it at “the back of the queue.”

Such deals between Britain and America would undermine Europe’s position in any Brexit negotiation. Britain would enter talks with the world’s most powerful economy on its side.

More importantly, any such trade deals would effectively represent an invitation from President Trump to any other nation thinking of following Britain. Quitting Europe is not a leap in the dark, he would be saying. Abandon Europe and we’ll welcome you with open arms and great deals. No wonder officials in Brussels are worried.

Mr. Trump’s isolationism poses an additional, though less direct, threat to European unity. For years, American leadership had kept the EU from facing the kind of strain that now threatens to tear the Continent apart. Though this leadership couldn’t protect Europe from economic problems like the euro crisis, Europe didn’t have to ask questions like what do we do about Russia? How do we confront terrorism? The questions were there, but the answers didn’t matter much; America set the direction for the West, and Europe merely decided whether to hop on board or not. America did all the hard work, persuading or cajoling nations to follow the American lead.

Even before Mr. Trump’s election, Europe’s answers were starting to matter. But how do you come up with a common answer for a bloc with such a disparate range of views? At one end, you have Estonia, where all young men are conscripted into the armed forces and one in 20 of its working-age adults serves in the military or volunteer for its national guard. Fear of Russia has led to the nation approaching the Israeli model in terms of the level of its citizens’ participation in the military. Yet in the same bloc you have nations like Austria and Italy that are chaffing against sanctions on Russia.

Once, America provided the leadership necessary to keep such a group on the same page. Now someone must replace that leadership. Someone must fight back against Mr. Trump’s attempts to break up the EU. Because if nobody does, the euro, the EU and Germany’s prosperity will fall apart.

Pressure From Russia

Meanwhile, Germany could also face peril from Russia. Mr. Trump promises a revolution in relations with Moscow. Almost every U.S. president since the 1990s has started out promising closer ties with Russia, only to be disillusioned. But this time, Russia seems interested in playing along, at least for a time. Also, Mr. Trump’s unique rejection of America’s long-term interests could lead him to tolerate a Russian expansion that all former U.S. presidents opposed.

Now Europe must confront this threat—alone.

For Germany, the situation could get worse. Jochen Bittner, an editor at the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, wrote in the New York Times that the election of Mr. Trump leaves Russian President Vladimir Putin without a “boogeyman.” If the U.S. president is no longer the source of all evil in the world, then who else could Putin blame and attack? “[G]uess who qualifies best as a new, well, boogeywoman?” Bittner asked. “Angela Merkel” (January 1).

“The German chancellor is a perfect target,” he continued. “Germany is holding general elections next autumn, and with politicians sympathetic to Moscow on the rise, she may well be running for her fourth term as the sole European leader willing to stand up to a newly assertive Russia.”

During Obama’s administration, Merkel worked hard to keep Europe united in its sanctions on Russia. If Trump reverses those sanctions and Germany doesn’t, Merkel would be left as the most prominent Russian opponent in the world—and subject to the full force of Putin’s ire and geopolitical genius. That’s not something she is used to.

A Russia with American support would be powerful. “If Trump sticks with his positions, it is the chancellor’s view that Europe could be facing a great threat,” wrote Spiegel Online (op cit). Elmar Brok, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the EU Parliament, warned that Putin might use the opportunity to grab one of the Baltic states: “Trump’s messages about nato could lead to a situation in which Putin says to himself, ‘Let’s give it a shot!’”

Paul D. Millar, assistant professor of international security studies at the National Defense University, wrote in Foreign Policy, “Putin now has the most favorable international environment since the end of the Cold War to continue Russian expansion” (November 16).

Russia could take advantage of Trump’s favor to try to divide and rule Europe—while Trump himself is doing the same thing.

Under all this strain, Germany would have to assert itself aggressively against both powers at once—and hold Europe together at the same time.

‘Brutal Pursuit of Self-Interest’

Thinkers around the world see this change in Europe coming. “Brexit, a shock all around, will combine with a Trump presidency to force the EU to put away childish things, and ask hard questions of itself,” wrote John Lloyd in an article published by Reuters. “Infancy may be ending: always a hard transition” (January 13).

Yes, that transition will be hard, but over the next few months the world is going to see Germany and Europe grow up.

So Germany faces mounting pressure from all sides and can no longer rely on the United States—and even sees America as an enemy. The result? The nation must stand up for itself. If America follows a narrowly defined “America first” policy, then Germany has no choice but to respond with a “Germany first” policy.

Germany has not had to do this for 70 years. As George Friedman writes in his book Flashpoints, after World War ii, Germany and Japan “tried to become economic giants without becoming militarily powerful. Both exercise less international power than they could.”

“German intentions are to have an economic policy without political, and certainly without military, consequences,” he writes. “They intend to be the dominant power in Europe without imposing their will on anyone. Their intention is to exercise only one element of national power, the economic, and to exercise that without the brutal pursuit of self-interest. … This is an understandable impulse. It is not clear that it is practical.”

There have certainly been leaders who wanted a more forceful Germany. But Friedman gives a good description of the worldview of chancellors such as Angela Merkel.

As Friedman notes, Germany is being forced into a more “brutal pursuit of self-interest” by the euro crisis. It has to impose its will on southern Europe, or it will face major political and economic crises. Now, the paradigm shift in America’s worldview adds another great pressure.

For the last 70 years, Europe has lived in a bubble, with the pressures of global politics held off by the United States. With America’s retreat, reality is setting in—a reality where, as one of the first thinkers on international relations, Thucydides, put it, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

Germany will be forced to become strong in a host of ways.

It must become strong in its response to Russia. It must muster the strength to rally Europe around it. It will have to cajole, beg or force France and Italy to accept sanction extensions, or do the same to the Baltic countries to keep them in line with a rapprochement.

The Middle East can no longer be left to America—Europe sees this already. Germany must muscle up its foreign policy, or migrant floods and terrorist attacks will ravage its political system.

Germany must preserve and strengthen its international trade. This may mean wrestling for leverage with America, meeting strength with strength in order to prevent Mr. Trump’s tariffs. Again this will probably mean an aggressive pursuit of its own interest within Europe. It will mean holding at least a core of nations together while America works to pull them apart.

Trumpet columnist Brad Macdonald wrote after the terrorist attacks in Germany last December: “Berliners, the German people and even Europeans in general will increasingly grapple with a choice between who they want to be and who they need to be. They might want to be progressive, open-minded and tolerant, but the message from Berlin and all the other attacks is that they need to be more cynical, more unforgiving and more confrontational. This, you can be sure, is a trend that will affect us all.”

Germans and Europeans face exactly the same choice in foreign policy. The luxury they have enjoyed for decades of being able to forgo the brutal pursuit of self-interest because America took care of that is ending. Now, if they do not aggressively pursue their own interests in the next few years, they will face calamity. They will not let that happen. We will soon see a new Germany, one that is willing to push other nations around.

Returning to Its History

Europe is peaceful now. History shows this is abnormal. This peace has existed only because America lifted the immediate need for European nations to be strong and stand up for themselves. With that gone, Europe will return to its historical character.

President Trump is pushing an isolationist policy—one that is opposed to the EU, but, outside of trade, not directly anti-German. He probably does not realize the pressure he is placing on Germany. Germans may believe Mr. Trump is an enemy, but there is little evidence that he himself thinks so. He opposes Germany in important ways, but in other areas, he is all for it. More German military spending? Great! More German troops in the Middle East? Wonderful! An EU army? About time you defended yourselves!

America is forcing Germany to return to power politics, at the same time that it steps back from the world. This sets the stage perfectly for Germany to reemerge as a major power.

This is exactly what the Trumpet has forecast for years.

These forecasts are rapidly becoming reality. In January 1963, Herbert W. Armstrong, editor in chief of the Plain Truth, the Trumpet’s predecessor, wrote, “A united Europe—the astounding resurrection of the ‘Holy Roman Empire’—a giant new world power equal to Russia or the United States—perhaps even stronger. It will then hold the balance of power between East and West.”

It’s easy to see how President Trump’s foreign policy will lead to the rise of this new power in Europe—a power that, as Mr. Armstrong prophesied, does not merely sit in America’s shadow, but maintains its own power base, grows its own resources, and asserts its own foreign policy.

But the rise of this new European power really is “the arrival of a new world order” as Spiegel Online put it. It is a world that few alive today have ever seen—one with an assertive power in Europe, a power that is ready to challenge both America and Russia.

Allergies: When Food Attacks

Allergies: When Food Attacks

Julia Goddard/Trumpet

From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Lucretius wrote, “What is food to one is to others bitter poison.” Nowhere is this Roman philosopher’s observation more apparent than with the steep rise in food allergies over the last two decades. In years past, some few suffered an allergy to one type of food. Today, it is common to see people suffering from allergies to three or more foods. The scary part is that no one is certain of the cause or how to stop the problem. The allergic condition plagues a person with anxiety, food phobia and constant fear of reactions, sometimes up to and including death.

Why did generations before us not suffer from this epidemic? What is it that’s making us so allergic?

What Causes Food Allergies?

Food allergies have become the fifth leading chronic illness in the U.S., affecting up to 15 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The most common triggers are eggs, cow’s milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, sesame, soy, fish and wheat.

A seemingly innocuous meal can be a loaded weapon. When the allergy sufferer ingests a trigger food, the immune system produces immunoglobulin E antibodies in order to neutralize what it determines to be a danger. The body releases chemicals such as histamine into the bloodstream, triggering an exaggerated external response and sometimes a deadly internal response of swelling, known as anaphylaxis.

The big mystery is why we get allergies. Theories abound. The hygiene hypothesis says rising rates of allergies mirror our declining exposure to bacteria during childhood, making us prone to reacting to substances that would otherwise be harmless. Some also point a finger at increased rates of vaccinations, the use of carcinogenic agricultural chemicals and even genetics.

Surprisingly, an often-overlooked cause of food allergies is food itself. In The Unhealthy Truth, Robyn O’Brien writes that food allergies and intolerances may be a product of toxins and genetically modified ingredients in the industrial food system.

Beginning in 1994 with the introduction of the first genetically altered tomato, we have now reached a critical juncture with genetically modified foods. They have been shoved onto the public without meaningful debate, without long-term animal feeding studies or government tests, and without labels.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association says between 70 and 80 percent of all processed foods may contain ingredients from genetically engineered plants. So most Americans are eating genetically modified organisms with almost every bite.

The genetically engineered hormone rbgh (recombinant bovine growth hormone), used to increase milk production, causes cows to have higher rates of disease, requiring the use of antibiotics for ill effects. Consuming products from these cows is a major factor precipitating leaky gut, a condition where a person’s intestines have increased permeability. This allows toxins, microbes and undigested food particles to leak into the bloodstream, causing food allergies and many illnesses.

Consuming Pesticides

Another common ingredient in processed foods is soy, a top food allergen genetically engineered to withstand massive doses of weed killer. Corn allergies are also rising, with some genetically modified corn engineered to withstand Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. Other varieties are engineered to create their own internal pesticide, Bt toxin (Bacillus thuringiensis), which breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.

This marks the first time in history that pesticide toxins inside cell walls are being sold for human consumption. It also raises the possibility that eating produce containing Bt might damage the human digestive tract the same way it does to insects.

A 2011 study at Quebec’s Sherbrooke University Hospital showed correlation, finding the Bt toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn babies. And in 2012, The Journal of Applied Toxicology showed the Bt toxin causes leaky gut, something Bt’s aggressive mechanism was designed to do to insects in a ruthless way.

O’Brien writes that since the introduction of genetically modified foods, hospitalization rates due to food allergies have risen 265 percent. This has concerned scientists, including some in the Food and Drug Administration, who have warned that genetically altering a food plant could trigger food allergies. In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine stated, “[S]everal animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with gm food consumption, including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with … insulin regulation … and changes in [major organs] and gastrointestinal system. There is more than a casual association between gm foods and adverse health effects. There is causation ….”

What can you do if you suffer from food allergies? Look for a nutritional program that focuses on removing damaging foods and replacing them with healthy alternatives, giving the intestinal lining a chance to heal and seal. One such program is the gaps nutritional program by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

For prevention, eat a wholesome diet based on unprocessed, ideally organic or locally grown foods cooked at home. These form the foundation upon which your immune system can function and thrive without allowing allergies to become a lifelong disability.

Should Donald Trump Trust Vladimir Putin?

Should Donald Trump Trust Vladimir Putin?

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The Russian president is more than he appears to be.
From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Many people are concerned about American President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But they are not concerned about this relationship for the right reasons. They do not understand the real danger.

On July 31, 2015, candidate Trump said publicly, “I think I would just get along very well with Vladimir Putin.” He repeated this sentiment numerous times throughout his campaign.

Mr. Trump indicated that, under certain circumstances, he might not protect America’s allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. nato was created to keep Russia in check, and Putin would love for it to go away.

Russia is a rival power to the United States. It fought America in the Cold War, and its socialist ideology has infiltrated American universities, news corporations, government and culture since the 1960s. It is also a major antagonist toward Eastern Europe and Europe as a whole, which America has treated as its allies. And it is not afraid to assault nations like Georgia, Ukraine or Syria. Its nuclear arsenal and delivery systems rival those of the United States. These are all reasons to worry about Trump’s comments about Putin.

But I want to focus on another reason why Trump’s comments are dangerous. And this reason revolves around who Vladimir Putin is as a man.

What will happen if the American president does “get along very well with” a man of Putin’s character? What happens to America if our country gets along with this man?

What Kind of Man Is Putin?

Putin’s Russia, along with China, has vetoed multiple United Nations sanctions that would have restricted some of the most terrible regimes on Earth. And yet Western leaders continue to “push the reset button” every time a new administration comes into office, thinking they can work with him.

President Putin has continued Russia’s support of Iran, giving this suicidal religious extremist terrorist nation hefty support, including the development of nuclear weapons. This is a regime that has disgusting, devastating policies and openly calls America the “Great Satan” and the Jewish nation the “Little Satan,” and for the latter to be wiped off the map. Putin supports Russia’s vile policy of sponsoring this nation.

In Chechnya, an Islamic separatist region of Russia, Putin has lashed out in warfare that killed more than 160,000 of his own people. Imagine the president of your country killing 160,000 of your fellow citizens. Russians do not have to imagine that!

Putin has crushed Russia’s independent media and taken control of it. That is the classic hallmark of a dangerous, oppressive, tyrannical despot. But notice this: Putin has allegedly ordered the murder of 134 journalists! Imagine your president not just arguing against or insulting or silencing journalists who disagree with him, but going so far as to murder them!

Vladimir Putin is a former kgb operative. He says that even in high school he dreamed of becoming a spy. Putin told his biographers that the allure of the kgb wasn’t its professed high-minded ideals, but the actual dirty work of espionage. You can read about all this in the Jan. 23, 2016, Washington Post (“The Death of a Former KGB Operative Is a Reminder of Vladimir Putin’s Past Life as a Spy”).

“I was most amazed by how a small force, a single person, really, can accomplish something an entire army cannot,” Putin said to his biographers. “A single intelligence officer could rule over the fates of thousands of people. At least that’s how I saw it” (Telegraph, Feb. 25, 2012). Putin achieved his dream and became a Russian agent during the Cold War in one of the most brutal intelligence agencies that has ever existed—a genuine deception and murder machine.

What did Vladimir Putin actually accomplish as a spy? How did his career in espionage shape who he is now? And how was he affected when he saw firsthand the Soviet Union disintegrate around him? When he ascended to power and ultimately took the presidency, did he leave that deceitful, dangerous and deadly way of life behind? These are vital questions that need to be asked and answered before anyone should trust this man.

‘Supersize Model of the KGB’

Alexander Litvinenko was a former kgb operative. He criticized the actions of his superiors and accused them of assassination. He fled to Britain, where he was granted asylum and apparently worked with the British mi6 spy agency. Then, in 2006, he was murdered. Inquiries into his death found he was poisoned with polonium, a rare and lethal radioactive isotope, and that the murder was likely approved personally by Vladimir Putin.

Putin is also widely considered responsible for the 2004 poisoning of Ukraine’s opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko.

This man is not just an authoritarian leader! He is an evil, ruthless, vindictive agent with Soviet-style methods of psychological warfare, assassination and war! As one Russian journalist put it, Putin “is a supersize model of the kgb.”

This is a man with beastly power and with a beastly desire to rule the world! He is a vengeful, monstrous friend of the devil with all sorts of anti-God policies. He is steeped in secrecy, deception, manipulation, aggression, intimidation, coercion and force, and there is far more about him that we do not know.

What will happen to a country that will “get along very well with Vladimir Putin”?

That’s not just a rhetorical question. The closer our president and our nation gets to Putin, the further it gets from what is good and what is right—the further it gets from God! That is deadly dangerous!

Putin will stay true to his character and prey on President Trump and America as he has preyed on others. And we will deserve it for having cozied up with him.

Two Individuals Prophesied

Putin’s Russia is in the news almost daily right now because of how active it is in the world. But do you know that what this nation is currently doing was forecast many centuries ago?

If you can believe it, a perfect description of 21st-century Russia and its leader is recorded in the sixth-century b.c. book of Ezekiel. This is a stunning and wide-ranging prophecy, one of the longest in the entire Bible.

Ezekiel 38:8 says, “After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years ….” Notice that Ezekiel was writing not for people who lived at that time, but to people who would read his book “in the latter years.” That is our time today.

“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him” (Ezekiel 38:1-2). God wants a man in the latter years to prophesy against “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” This prince is a powerful leader who is visible in world news.

The Bible prophesies of a “prince” in our lifetime and says he will be revealed during a period called the end time. It also prophesies that there will be a messenger who will prophesy against this leader. You can’t deliver this message and you can’t understand this prophecy unless you know who this prince is.

Ezekiel gets specific here. There are two individuals, a “son of man” and this “prince.” If you can identify the message of Ezekiel to this prince, then you can also identify God’s messenger in the 21st century. God reveals this message to His messenger. No human being can just figure out these prophecies and discern anything from them. Only God can unlock what these prophecies mean.

This passage mentions “Gog” and “Magog.” Ezekiel is using the ancient names of these nations. What modern nation or nations do these peoples represent? The Bible says Gog and Magog must be warned. So God’s messenger has to know who these two great nations are and who this prince is.

This is an electrifying prophecy in your Bible that discusses super-powerful nations that are active in the latter years. If you know this is a prophecy for our time period, then it is not that difficult to discern who these nations are, who this world leader is, and who this messenger is.

This is the leader of Gog, the leader of Meshech, the leader of Tubal, the leader of Rosh! This is the prince of Russia.

This individual controls an enormous, monstrous swath of land in Asia, from east to west. The territory described in your Bible sounds very much like that of the former Soviet Union, the territory Russia dominates or wants to dominate right now.

Russia’s ‘Prince’

Russia has already conquered or threatened states that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. In 2007, Putin ordered a devastating cyberattack against Estonia. In 2008, he sent the Red Army into Georgia and conquered it. In 2014, he sent masked gunmen with no insignia to seize the peninsula of Crimea and ordered it to be annexed to Russia. The same year, he deployed the same type of masked troops to mainland Ukraine to assist pro-Russian rebels in Donbass who want to separate from Ukraine. In spite of evidence that these Russian operatives may have been responsible for shooting down a commercial airplane in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Russia continues to field troops in the region.

The “latter years” prophecy about Gog, Magog and the prince of Rosh, including Meshech and Tubal, indicates that Russia may conquer more former Soviet satellites.

Under Putin, Russia is mobilized and aggressive. He is a powerful prince. In 2005, he called the demise of the Soviet empire “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” To put it mildly, most people don’t agree with his statement. After all, the oppressive Soviet regime persecuted all kinds of people, imprisoned them, and murdered countless millions just because of their ideas and thoughts. Most people were glad to see the Soviet Union break up in 1991. But Vladimir Putin thinks very differently. He sees the Soviet Union as Russia’s greatest glory in this modern age.

Putin rules an immense territory, but he wants to extend it even farther. If you think the world is too sophisticated or too nice for Russia to reconquer former Soviet states and try to create a new Russian empire—it has already happened!

The prophecy in Ezekiel 38 is being fulfilled now.

When you look at what Russia is doing, the burning question is, where is this leading? Well, the same Bible that forecast Vladimir Putin’s dominance also forecast the answer and revealed how it would affect the whole world!

The Largest Army in History

If the prophecy of Ezekiel seems amazingly up to date, look at Revelation 9:16: “And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.” This verse uses an ancient description of soldiers, “horsemen,” and an entirely modern phenomenon: the fact that there are two hundred million of them. In fact, the entire book of Revelation is specifically for the end time.

This prophecy is definitely for our modern era! This is an enormous army even by current standards. The U.S. military has only about 1.5 million personnel. Even in the 21st century, where could you find a 200 million-man army? You will find it in the near future in Russia, as well as in China. (Bible prophecy also includes Japan and perhaps India in a power bloc it calls “the kings of the east” in Revelation 16:12.)

This may sound astounding, but the book of Joel describes this same army and actually calls it God’s army! God is using this unrighteous power for His own purposes. And why? Because He says He is going to cause the heathen to come to know Him. God is orchestrating His plan on this planet, and not even the mighty, massive kings of the east can do anything but play right into His hand. All of this great turmoil and war around the world will lead to the heathen coming to know God.

The rise of Vladimir Putin; Russia’s invasions; a budding alliance between Russia, China and other Asian nations—these are all signs that Bible prophecies are true! Bible prophecy and just honestly looking at the world reveals that this is all building toward a nuclear World War iii!

When nuclear bombs begin detonating, when a 200 million-man army mobilizes, when World War iii explodes, it will seem like this will literally be the end of the world, the end of life on Earth. And it would be, except for something else the Bible prophesies. The Bible forecasts not only the geopolitical situation we are facing right now and the resulting violent eruption, but also what comes next: the precise events leading to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

The Bible has been 100 percent correct about its prophecies so far, and it prophesies that the rise of Asia, the rise of Europe, and the clash of these two superpowers are all leading to the Second Coming! In fact, these superpowers will be fighting each other in the Holy Land and then fighting Jesus Christ Himself right in Jerusalem! It will be the bloodiest battle ever on Earth—yet it will mark the end of man ruling over man and the injustice, tyranny, violence and death it produces.

If the Bible is exactly right about the prince of Rosh, you can be certain it is right about the return of Jesus Christ!

Notice Ezekiel 39: “[A]nd they shall know that I am the Lord. … Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God …. Neither will I hide my face any more from them” (verses 6, 28-29). This is where these events are leading: All mankind will come to know the Eternal! Isn’t that wonderful?

God prophesies massive destruction in connection with the prince of Rosh and the 200 million-man army. But He also prophesies in the same books of Ezekiel and Revelation that He will resurrect the dead who have never had the chance to know Him. Then they will have the chance to know God!

That is the greatest news we could hear!

A Shameful Record Against Israel

From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

June 4, 2009: President Obama condemns Israeli settlements in the West Bank as “occupation” during his famous Arab outreach speech in Cairo, Egypt.

March 23, 2010: President Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; presents him with 13 demands; abruptly leaves room after disagreement over Jewish settlements; no customary photo op.

May 19, 2011: Barack Obama becomes the first United States president to officially endorse a two-state division of Israel based on its pre-1967 borders.

March 2012: High-level sources reveal that the Obama administration allegedly leaked Israel’s secret relationship with Azerbaijan, where Israeli planes could refuel for an air strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

September 11, 2012: President Obama refuses to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu during the Israeli leader’s visit to the United States.

March 21, 2013: Obama visits Israel; refuses invitation to speak before Knesset; speaks to students about Israel’s “foreign army” in Palestinian territory; says, “It’s not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own.”

March 2015: U.S. State Department attempts to oust Netanyahu from power by funding an opposition political group in Israel with $349,276.

April 6, 2015: President Obama says in an interview that Iran’s recognition of Israel will not be a precondition of the Iran nuclear agreement.

January 16, 2016: President Obama lifts economic sanctions against Iran, opening the path for an Iranian nuclear bomb.

January 19, 2016 U.S. supports EU regulation requiring goods originating in the West Bank to be labeled separately from those made in the rest of Israel.

September 2016: White House publishes a transcript with a speech location as Jerusalem, Israel, then republishes it with a strike through the name “Israel.”

December 23, 2016 President Obama’s United Nations ambassador breaks a decades-long diplomatic precedent and allows a Security Council resolution to pass that condemns Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.

January 20, 2017: In his final hours as president, Mr. Obama gives $221 million to the Palestinian Authority. Two House Republicans had placed a hold on the money due to concerns about the PA, but the president did not honor the hold.

President Obama’s Hidden Legacy

President Obama’s Hidden Legacy

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Did he ‘fundamentally transform America’?
From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Former United States President Barack Obama ran his campaign on “change” and said he would “fundamentally transform America.” For eight years he added action to his words, and America has indeed been transformed, fundamentally.

President Donald Trump’s campaign inspired support by opposing Mr. Obama’s transformations. Candidate Trump said undoing what Obama had done would be easy: He could nullify his executive actions by issuing executive actions of his own. When Mr. Trump got to work in January, he began signing them right away.

But is reversing eight years of Obama as simple as signing executive actions with the signature “Donald J. Trump”? Is it as simple as a Republican-controlled Congress repealing laws passed by the previous Democrat-controlled Congresses?

In reality, President Obama made eight years of systemic changes: not only legal and regulatory, but also cultural, moral and psychological. Some of this transformation of America cannot be reversed.

Let’s start with young Americans. The Obama Justice Department and Education Department enforced policies, regulations and laws that prevent educators from disciplining insubordinate students. They argued that since statistics show that black teenagers are disciplined at a higher rate than white students, American teachers and administrators are racist. Obama’s bureaucracy coerced and even prosecuted schools into leaving two high school generations unrestrained and unpunished. The result is millions of young people who have been educated to throw off rules and laws.

President Obama also attacked America’s prison system, accusing it of systemic racism. He blamed the makeup of jail populations not on law breaking, but on the law itself, particularly the judges and law enforcement officers. He accused police of racism so vile that officers often murder a man simply because he is black.

By the end of Mr. Obama’s second term, it had become much more common to see people marching in the streets, trashing public places, beating people on the sidewalks, and rioting in cities like Ferguson and Baltimore.

Fringe arguments received the vocal support of the highest office in the country. Eight years on, many more Americans now mistrust, disrespect and even attack law enforcement officers. Many hate the law more than they hate the crime.

President Obama, occupying an office created to enforce the law, personally undermined the rule of law, in some cases openly refusing to enforce laws that his office is specifically required to enforce. His enforcement of immigration was lawless at best, completely anti-law at worst.

Mr. Obama gave a presidential endorsement to many more issues that fundamentally weakened America’s culture, economy and security. He flung the doors wide open on entitlement culture and spent hundreds of billions giving away phones, health care, money and more. He hooked tens of millions more people on welfare benefits. He passed a gargantuan health-care law, reportedly the largest tax in history, that was a massive federal overreach into Americans’ personal lives. He became the biggest spender in world history, accumulating twice as much debt as his predecessor and nearly doubling the national debt to almost $20 trillion. Can that be paid back—with interest—with a few signatures?

President Obama also invited inside the White House Black Lives Matter, an organization whose website reveals that it has as much or more to do with anti-constitutional socialism as with race-baiting. He bathed the outside of the White House in the colors of the homosexual/bisexual/transsexual/queer/intersexual/etc. flag, celebrating the newfound right of homosexuals to “marry.” President Trump has said he is not interested in challenging this law, which by itself fundamentally transforms America.

President Obama successfully used the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service as political weapons. He presided over the surveillance of journalists, the mass surveillance of average Americans, and the targeted killing of American citizens involved in terrorism. His Justice Department provided a framework arguing that the federal government sometimes has the legal right to kill Americans without trial, overseas and at home.

The most fundamental transformation President Obama accomplished can be summarized in one word: lawlessness. The most important American office for enforcing laws was occupied by a man who instead enforced his personal will. Unshackling the presidency from its constitutional limitations is one of the most dangerous transformations of all, no matter who occupies the Oval Office. The worst legacy of the Obama administration is the erosion of the rule of law.

In 2017, America is a different nation from what it was on Jan. 20, 2009. To sign away some of Mr. Obama’s policies and laws will be easy, but to confront America’s changed mentality will not. To instead leave it as it is will be easy; to transform it back to the way it was, much less to make it great, will not. That’s because the Obama years appealed to an ugly, destructive and powerful element: our lawless human nature. The only way to truly roll back the Obama years is to change our own hearts and attitudes toward law.