Latin America: Front Line of Trade War

Latin America: Front Line of Trade War

ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images

America’s new protectionism is forcing Latin America to seek new partners.
From the April 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

America’s influence in Latin America is decreasing, while the influence of other world powers in the region is growing. If it continues, this trend could destroy America.

Dominance of the Caribbean basin is integral to America’s safety and essential to its ability to project power globally. If a rival power were able to establish a significant presence in the Caribbean, it could threaten the American heartland. The Caribbean is also key to United States’ trade. The majority of all U.S. waterborne foreign trade travels to or from U.S. ports on the Gulf of Mexico. When you include goods traveling through the region from other ports, no other part of the world is more essential to America’s trade.

This is why more Americans ought to be concerned that foreign powers are rapidly moving into the Caribbean, as well into South America itself.

Former President Barack Obama practically invited these powers into the hemisphere, as his administration declared that it had ended the Monroe Doctrine. This pillar of American foreign policy sought to keep foreign powers well away from the American mainland. Yet in 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the “era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.”

Since then, a string of left-wing and radical-left governments in the region have fallen and been replaced by governments more open to global trade.

Finally, U.S. President Donald Trump’s promises to upend America’s trade with the world are pushing the nations of South and Central America into the eager arms of foreign powers.

“With a barrage of insults and threats, President Trump has begun the process of turning Mexico against us,” wrote Stephen Kinzer in the Boston Globe (February 17). “This could bring the United States something it has never had: an unfriendly country on our border.” While Kinzer appears to have some anti-Trump bias, his general point stands: Mexico is, in fact, in the process of turning anti-American.

The current president, Peña Nieto, is considered too pro-American by Mexican voters, and his approval rating dropped from 24 percent in December to 12 percent by mid-January. Instead, voters want someone radical. Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the rising star, with his far-left rhetoric and promises to stand up to the United States. “Imagine a version of the late President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, the most outspoken anti-U.S. leader to emerge from Latin America in this century, on our southern border,” wrote Kinzer. This appears to be where Mexico is heading. If López becomes president, he could invite foreign powers right onto America’s doorstep the way Chávez did in Venezuela.

Yet it would not take a new president for Mexico to form closer trade relations with foreign powers. The nation is alarmed by Mr. Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric, promises of tariffs, and his opposition to U.S. companies moving south of the border, and thus is already trying to reduce its dependence on the U.S. To do this, it is reaching out to the South American trade bloc mercosur, as well as to Europe and China.

On February 1, Mexican and European officials agreed to work on modernizing an existing free-trade pact. Negotiations on this pact, worth $57 billion in 2015, are being sped up. Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse reported on February 3, “China appears as an attractive alternative, with its massive market of 1.37 billion people.” President Nieto has visited China several times. The two nations signed a strategic partnership in 2013. It won’t be easy for Mexico to reduce its trade dependence on its northern neighbor, but it is certainly making an effort.

Europe is also looking for alternative trade partners, eager to take advantage of the opportunity to move into the region.

On February 4, just before hosting Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would welcome a European Union-South American trade deal.

“[M]any countries are now turning to us because they believe protectionism is not the right answer,” European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told Handelsblatt. “We are already negotiating with almost all of them, or preparing conversations.” Since Mr. Trump’s election, the EU has sped up talks with Mexico and mercosur, she said, along with Japan.

China is ready to move in as well. “China Eyes Latin America in Ashes of Monroe Doctrine” reported the Latin American business magazine America Economia. “First with Obama and now with Trump, the U.S. is making space for a second imperialist power on the American continent, China” (February 17).

Several countries in Latin America were to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (tpp) trade deal, which Mr. Trump withdrew America from, leaving these nations searching for another partner.

America Economia noted that Chile’s foreign minister, Heraldo Muñoz, has already said that in the wake of the tpp’s demise, they must look to China and South Korea. “Latin America is experiencing (perhaps without understanding it) China’s advance in what is still considered the U.S. ‘backyard,’” it wrote. China has already set up the China Construction Bank in Latin America to encourage trade in Chinese currency and is working to sell arms to the region.

In 1942, geopolitical thinker Nicholas Spykman warned of the importance of careful diplomacy in this region. No power in the great Caribbean basin could, by itself, challenge the U.S. The danger comes from outside powers moving in. “Only a very skillful diplomacy and a very thick velvet glove will be able to make the reality of the power relationship tolerable to our good neighbors,” he warned. That does not describe America right now—and the nations of this region are running to foreign powers in response to America’s recent and current diplomacy.

From Napoleon to Kaiser Wilhelm to the Soviet Union, whenever a foreign power has had designs to attack America, it has always sought to use the Caribbean as a launching pad.

Further south, South America is still important for American security, but not so immediately crucial as the Caribbean. This region is separated enough from the United States to make it harder for the U.S. to project power there, yet it is still near enough that it could pose a threat if used by an Asian or European power.

Musing on Spykman’s warnings, bestselling author Robert Kaplan writes that “already one can see that the more united Europe becomes, the greater its tensions with the United States. A true European superstate with armed forces and a single foreign policy at its command would be both a staunch competitor of the U.S., and possibly the dominant outside power in the equidistant zone of southern South America” (The Revenge of Geography).

Europe has deep trade and cultural links with the region. As Europe unites, it will look to project great influence here. We can expect China to also grow its presence in this region.

The May 1962 Plain Truth warned that “the United States is going to be left out in the cold as two gigantic trade blocs, Europe and Latin America, mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce.”

Dozens of biblical prophecies promise blessings to Israel for obedience to God’s laws and warn of curses for disobedience. These apply most of all to the end-time descendants of the ancient nation of Israel, of whom the United States is chief. (To learn more about this incredible history, request your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong.)

One specific prophecy of these curses is found in Deuteronomy 28. Among the punishments upon modern-day America that this chapter lists for rebellion against God, verse 52 warns that foreign nations “shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.”

These “gates” include the vital sea-lanes by which America trades with other nations and imports goods that its people rely on every day. This is a specific prophecy that these sea-lanes will be cut off by foreign powers!

That scenario simply couldn’t happen without Latin America: It will entail an enemy or alliance of enemies closing the Panama Canal to American traffic and gaining naval and aerial superiority in the Caribbean.

Europe and China are right now working on a “mart of nations”—an anti-American trade alliance. Already it is clear that Latin America will become part of that trade alliance. This makes it a huge threat to the United States.

For more on the vital importance of this region, read Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s article “The Deadly Dangerous U.S.-Cuba Deal.”

Must Cities Enforce the Law?

Must Cities Enforce the Law?

Julia Goddard/Trumpet

Cities around America are saying no—and leading the country toward a second civil war.
From the April 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

On July 1, 2015, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez fired a stolen gun on a pier in San Francisco, California. The bullet hit a young woman who was walking arm-in-arm with her father. “Help me, Dad,” she said. Two hours later, in a local hospital, she died.

Her killer, authorities soon discovered, was an illegal immigrant who had been convicted of seven felonies and deported five times.

After illegally entering the United States for the sixth time, Lopez-Sanchez had been arrested and incarcerated in a federal prison. As the date neared for him to be turned over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, however, prison officials decided to move him to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department on an outstanding drug-related warrant. The San Francisco district attorney’s office refused to prosecute Lopez-Sanchez for a decade-old marijuana possession case, and instead released him back onto California’s streets on April 15, 2015.

He shot Kathryn Steinle with a gun stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management vehicle 77 days after his release.

Steinle’s death elicited a public outcry against “sanctuary” cities like San Francisco that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials to deport people who enter the U.S. illegally and are wanted by federal authorities. In fact, in the three weeks after Steinle was killed, Republican support for presidential candidate Donald Trump jumped from 15 to 28 percent. Trump’s campaign pledge to actually enforce existing U.S. immigration law resonated with millions of Americans who were fed up with politicians downplaying out-of-control illegal immigration and its deadly results.

In the presidential election, 63 million Americans ended up voting for the candidate who promised to faithfully enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress, in contrast to his predecessor. But now that President Trump has begun to take action against illegal immigration, the spotlight is on more than 650 cities, counties and municipalities that have their own statutes that directly oppose federal (and sometimes even state) law.

These local governments uphold sanctuary laws that forbid local officials from assisting federal agents who are enforcing U.S. immigration law.

This is one trend among many others showing that America is more ideologically and politically divided now than at any time since the Civil War.

It is hard to know how this situation will unfold, but this much is certain: A fight is brewing between the Trump administration and a coalition of Democratic Party officials over whether or not sanctuary jurisdiction will allow U.S. immigration law to be enforced. The Trumpet can say with certainty that this division will get much deeper, based on a biblical forecast that is 3,500 years old.

Sanctuary Jurisdictions

From 1990 to 2014, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. tripled from 3.5 million to 11.7 million, meaning illegal immigrants now account for about 3.5 percent of the nation’s population. Because these illegal immigrants aren’t vetted before entering the country, a disproportionate number of violent criminals have mixed in among these waves of hard-working individuals and families seeking a better life.

This is why illegal immigrants commit murder at roughly three times the rate of U.S. residents in general. According to the Government Accountability Office, “criminal aliens” were incarcerated for 25,064 homicides between 2003 and 2010. This figure includes murders committed by all noncitizens, not just illegal immigrants, but it shows that noncitizens—8 percent of the population—commit 22 percent of the murders.

Despite such alarming facts, at least five states, 633 counties and 39 cities limit the extent that local officials can assist federal immigration agents. Between January 2014 and September 2015, sanctuary jurisdictions refused over 17,000 requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain an individual for 48 hours after their release date in order to give federal officials time to put them into the federal deportation system.

Nearly 12,000 (70 percent) of these rejected requests were issued for illegal aliens with a criminal record.

This means sanctuary jurisdictions are releasing nearly 600 illegal aliens with criminal backgrounds each month.

In an attempt to end this practice and to enforce federal immigration laws, President Trump issued an executive order on January 25, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” “Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” this order states. “These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic. … The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.”

Since constitutional law forbids the president from federalizing local police departments or compelling states to enforce federal laws at their own expense, Congress usually encourages local governments to assist in the enforcement of federal acts by giving out grants of money. President Trump’s executive order threatens to strip sanctuary jurisdictions of such federal funding if they continue refusing to assist immigration agents.

The American Transparency Organization found that the federal government gives 106 sanctuary cities nearly $27 billion in funding. Yet much of this funding does not explicitly state that it is available only if these cities comply with federal immigration laws. So unless Congress changes each federal grant to include such a precondition, it is highly unlikely the judiciary will allow President Trump to cut off all $27 billion in funding to sanctuary jurisdictions.

However, if the Trump administration can make a convincing legal case that these funds are not being used according to their intended purpose, the federal government could strip these jurisdictions of at least millions of dollars.

New Nullification Crisis

Now that Republicans hold the presidency, along with both houses of Congress and 31 state governorships, cities are the only major layer of government that Democrats still control. Yet Democratic politicians still hold a lot of power, because 2 out of 3 Americans live in cities. The mayors of 37 major American cities have pledged that they will steadfastly remain sanctuary cities in spite of the president’s threat to withhold federal funding.

President Trump and these mayors are currently engaging in a high-stakes game of chicken. If Congress supports the president’s pledge to cut funding to sanctuary jurisdictions and the mayors still refuse to comply, America will experience a new nullification crisis.

The original nullification crisis erupted in 1832 during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, whose portrait now hangs on the wall of President Trump’s newly decorated Oval Office. South Carolina declared certain federal tariffs to be unconstitutional, and the state stopped enforcing these tariffs. To stave off a constitutional crisis, Congress passed two measures: a compromise tariff to assuage South Carolinians, and an act authorizing President Jackson to use military force if the state didn’t accept the compromise. South Carolina accepted the compromise tariff. But it wasn’t until after the brutal Civil War that every state accepted that federal courts have the final say in determining which acts of Congress violate the U.S. Constitution.

If local jurisdictions were able to nullify federal immigration law, then anyone could enter the United States. That is why the Constitution vests the power to determine immigration policies with Congress, not states, municipalities or universities. So while it is true that the president cannot force sanctuary jurisdictions to cooperate with federal immigration agents if they are willing to endure certain funding cuts, Congress can pass an act requiring local police agencies to report illegal aliens with criminal backgrounds to federal immigration officials.

This is a legal truth that sanctuary jurisdictions must accept if a constitutional crisis is to be averted.

Send in the Feds

If sanctuary jurisdictions continue to refuse assistance to immigration agents, President Trump will either have to give up on his campaign pledge to enforce America’s immigration laws, or he will have to enforce these laws using only federal officials. The second option would mean a massive expansion of federal police power.

The number of federal officers with arrest-and-firearm authority has nearly tripled from less than 75,000 in 1996 to more than 200,000 in 2016. The number of nonmilitary federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been the primary architects of this expansion of federal power, but President Trump’s executive order will add another 5,000 border patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to the ever growing list.

Besides promising to enforce U.S. immigration laws, President Trump also pledged to restore law and order to America’s cities. In his first week in office, he expressed his willingness to use federal police power to honor this pledge, posting on social media that he would “send in the feds” to Chicago if the city didn’t fix the “horrible carnage going on.”

Exactly what the president meant by “send in the feds” is still a matter of debate. His two likeliest options would be to either embed Federal Bureau of Investigation agents within local police departments or to send in the National Guard until order is restored. While the second option is certainly the more extreme move, former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson set precedents for such actions.

In 1957, President Eisenhower invoked the Insurrection Act of 1807 to authorize military intervention in Little Rock, Arkansas, after a riot broke out against federal efforts to desegregate the Arkansas school system. In 1967, President Johnson invoked the same act, sending in soldiers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions to put down a violent race riot in Detroit. While Johnson collaborated with Gov. George Romney of Michigan, Eisenhower circumvented state authority to quell the civil unrest.

As murder rates surge in America’s largest cities and race riots become more common (see sidebar), President Trump is going to face some difficult decisions about how to enforce the law in a nation where city mayors obstruct justice and encourage lawlessness. Meanwhile, on the streets, a segment of American society is digging in and making itself “ungovernable” in protest against the president. Anger and bitterness are running high and, at times, erupting in violence.

The situation is leading to a civil war.

The Real Cause of Civil War

Astonishingly, the deep division plaguing America over sanctuary cities was actually prophesied millennia ago in the Bible.

In Deuteronomy 28, God told the ancient Israelites that their society would be blessed for obedience to His laws and cursed for disobedience. In verse 43, He said that one of the primary curses for disobedience would be that “[t]he sojourner who is among you shall mount above you higher and higher; and you shall come down lower and lower” (Revised Standard Version).

This is a dire warning to the modern-day descendants of Israel (the peoples of America and Britain) that foreigners from other cultures would cause serious problems if the people of these nations rebelled against God’s law and turned away from Him. Today, even well-known political commentators who disregard God’s prophecies and reject America’s biblical identity can see that illegal immigration has set the country on a dangerous course.

Verse 52 lists yet another curse: “They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the Lord your God has given you” (rsv).

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry pointed out in his article “Where America’s Race Riots Are Leading” (theTrumpet.com/go/12158) that this reference to America’s “high and fenced walls” coming down refers to illegal immigrants streaming into the country (November-December 2014).

Isaiah 1:7 says, “Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence aliens devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens” (rsv).

God is remarkably specific in these verses. Because the American people have turned away from His law, their “cities are burned with fire” and are “overthrown by aliens” in their midst. President Trump has done an admirable job identifying so many of the curses that afflict America, but his attempts to make America great again will only further inflame the situation unless the American people as a whole turn to God and His way of peace.

For years, the Western Hemisphere has been plagued by violent Latin American cartels that move dangerous drugs northward into the United States in return for cash profits and military-style weapons. One primary reason these cartels have been successful is that Americans have spent about a trillion dollars on illegal drugs in the past decade. The cartels infiltrating America are financed by U.S. drug users and supported by U.S. gangs of fatherless youth.

This is a perfect example of how sin has direct, real-world consequences.

In many U.S. cities, drug cartels have teamed up with local gangs and criminal organizations. Yet the leaders of these cities are defying the federal government and throwing open their doors to more unvetted immigrants, many of whom are dangerous criminals. They are also pursuing economic welfare and drug legalization policies that will lead to more broken families. So while America’s new “law and order” president may try to crack down on crime, a deadly war will break out if he tries to curb the supply of drugs without curbing the demand.

Consider the deadly situation brewing in hundreds of American cities. Youth unemployment is growing, racial tensions are rising, and violent criminal organizations are gaining strength. Family breakdown and drug addiction rates are at an all-time high. Mayors and other local government officials are thwarting federal attempts to deport illegal aliens with criminal records. Imagine the anarchy that would follow if the U.S. government decided to crack down on crime in this environment without addressing the underlying moral breakdown that has caused this tragic situation. Then again, imagine the inevitable violence and anarchy that will come if the government continues to turn a blind eye and allow gangs and cartels freedom to operate.

No matter what, war is coming to America’s cities if there isn’t repentance on a nationwide scale.

Now is the time for every American to ask what might we be doing to have brought such chastisement upon ourselves. This is not merely a speculative religious hypothesis or a debatable theological introspection. It is something we did as a nation when we faced our first civil war. During that war, President Abraham Lincoln wrote: “The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party—and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to affect His purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true—that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet.”

The destruction about to sweep through America will be allowed for a purpose. It will be precisely measured by God to bring humanity to a point where they will finally be willing to listen to Him and to submit to a way of life that eliminates senseless killings, organized crime, ineffective government, crushing poverty, unjust laws and escapist addiction. It’s the one way of life that eliminates the root cause of our suffering: sin!

Another Step Toward a ‘Two-Speed’ Europe

Momentum is building behind a plan that shrinks the European Union down to a smaller, more committed core.

A growing number of European Union leaders are calling for a “two-speed” Europe. Such a plan would give pro-integration European nations the power to more quickly form a strong, unified core. Other European nations that are more concerned about preserving their sovereignty would integrate more slowly and less fully.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already thrown her support behind such an approach to European integration. At an EU summit in Malta on February 3, she said, “The history of recent years has shown that there will be a multi-speed EU, and not all members will participate in the same steps of integration.” The leaders of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have also voiced support for two-speed European unification, along with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

On February 23, Juncker stated, “This is no longer a time when we can imagine everyone doing the same thing together …. Should it not be that those who want to go forward more rapidly can do so without bothering the others …?”

In preparation for the EU’s special March 25 summit in Rome, Juncker presented a new white paper to help EU leaders map out the future of the union. The March 1 paper lays out five possible paths the EU may decide to take. But as the Telegraph’s Juliet Samuel wrote on March 5, “[T]here is clearly a coordinated effort to swing behind one of them, labeled ‘scenario three’ in the paper.”

German-Foreign-Policy.com wrote on March 2 that adopting scenario three will mean:

[C]ertain groups of countries forge ahead with intensive cooperation in particular fields of politics leaving others two or three steps behind. This scenario permits the creation of multinational armed forces in Europe, in spite of persistent resistance from several EU member states. This is why Berlin favors it as a solution. … “Scenario 3” stipulates that several “coalitions of the willing” will use the option provided by the Treaty of Lisbon allowing “permanent structured cooperation,” for example in the domains of domestic repression or closer collaboration in foreign and military policy. On the basis of a significantly conflated arms industry, the EU could extend the tentacles of its power much further into the world as has been the case until now.

Samuel drew attention to how radical this policy would be by EU standards:

At its heart, “two-speed Europe” admits something that eurocrats have, until now, always denied: Different European countries want different futures ….If this model is adopted, pro-EU countries will move forwards with integration—common defense policies, border controls and single fiscal, labor and tax policies—but won’t force everyone else to join them.As Europe’s core tries to form itself into a superstate, these outsider countries will look for a new model for their relationship with the euro-using federalist countries.

German-Foriegn-Policy.com noted that scenario three will also allow Europe to move forward much more quickly on creating some form of combined military. It noted that increased application of “coalitions of the willing” will help break resistance against multinational militaries.

What Samuel discussed is what the Trumpet has been forecasting for years. There are currently 27 EU member states, but we expect a European superpower to emerge that consists of only “10 kings.”

“There’s going to be a core group of nations,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said in a 2010 Key of David television program. “Europe is going to have more power and not less, only it’s going to be considerably smaller. You watch and see if that doesn’t happen, because your Bible says it has to! There’s going to be 10 kings there, not 27, as there are 27 nations today in that European Union.”

Now European leaders are talking seriously about stripping the Union down to a smaller yet more solid core. Keep an eye open for what happens on March 25 in Rome. To see how this “multi-speed” alliance will ultimately lead to a 10-nation European superpower—and how the Bible specifically forecasts this—read “Europe’s Coming Big Ten.”

Europe’s Big Ten and Iran’s Grand Strategy

Europe’s Big Ten and Iran’s Grand Strategy

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Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on March 6.

World War iii will be triggered by a push from Iran against a German-led United States of Europe. Iran is rapidly gaining power in the Middle East, positioning itself to upset the global order. And in Europe, serious talk is underway about how to create a stronger, paired-down European superstate. Both trends are leading to the fulfillment of spectacular Bible prophecies. Tune in to today’s Trumpet Daily Radio Show with Stephen Flurry for a discussion on these earthshaking events.

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Are You Ready for When the ‘Ten Kings’ Come Together?

Are You Ready for When the ‘Ten Kings’ Come Together?

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Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on December 16, 2016.

Stratfor posted an article this week titled “The Year That May Decide Europe’s Fate.” Coming on the heels of what was already a dramatic year for Europe, 2017 may prove to be the year that the eurozone becomes defunct. Bible prophecy indicates that Europe is going to have to undergo some incredible reorganizing to pave the way for it to be ruled by “ten kings.” Events in Europe right now are leading to these major changes. Listen to Stephen Flurry comment on these stories and more on today’s Trumpet Daily Radio Show.

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The Russian Alliance You Really Have to Worry About

The Russian Alliance You Really Have to Worry About

WIN MCNAMEE/Getty Images, MIKHAIL SVETLOV/Getty Images

Concern over a Trump-Putin friendship is misplaced. Instead, watch for the global order to be overturned by a different relationship.
From the April 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Donald Trump and Russia. It has become one of the most discussed potential romances of our time.

The United States abandoning its traditional Western allies and siding instead with Vladimir Putin would be the most dramatic realignment in global politics since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It won’t happen. America may try to draw close to Russia, but no close alliance is possible.

Instead, there is another alliance coming that the world should really pay attention to.

A Short-Lived Alliance

Just weeks into Mr. Trump’s presidency, the wheels already seemed to be coming off the much-anticipated U.S.-Russia alliance. National Security adviser Michael Flynn, the most pro-Russian of Mr. Trump’s advisers, was fired. The U.S. said it will not end sanctions on Russia and that it expects Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia went back to business as usual, violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and buzzing U.S. ships in the Black Sea.

Mr. Trump is about as well known for his consistency as he is for his modesty, so this could change. But there are more fundamental reasons to expect this Russo-American détente to fail.

Barack Obama began his presidency with his infamous “reset” with Russia. George W. Bush declared Putin a man Americans could trust. Bill Clinton’s collapse into uncontrollable laughter at a 1995 press conference with President Boris Yeltsin suggested, if not trust, then at least an absence of fear.

No president starts his term wanting conflict with Russia. But no recent president has avoided one. Why? Because alliances are not based on intention or good will. We live in a world founded in selfishness. An alliance works if both sides get what they want. The alliance must be in the self-interest of both parties.

A Russo-American alliance has continually failed because it is in neither nation’s long-term interests.

What Are These Nations’ Interests?

America’s number one interest is to prevent any power from rising up to challenge it. The only place such a power could come from in the foreseeable future is Eurasia. “[O]ur constant concern in peacetime must be to see that no nation or alliance of nations is allowed to emerge as a dominating power in either of the two regions of the Old World from which our security could be threatened,” wrote Prof. Nicholas Spykman, one of America’s greatest thinkers on the subject of international relations (The Geography of the Peace). He was referring to Europe on the Atlantic, and East Asia on the Pacific.

During the last 70 years, that potential challenger has been Russia—particularly in the form of the Soviet Union. And so the U.S. has opposed Russia.

But Russia is not Mr. Trump’s top concern. China is a massive and assertive trade power. Germany is using the euro to economically dominate the eurozone. Therefore, Mr. Trump believes, America could ally with the declining power of Russia and oppose Germany, China and also radical Islam.

But what can America offer to persuade Russia to turn against China and to confront Europe?

Russia’s top interest is to dominate Eastern Europe. It has no natural frontiers there. This is why Russia constantly pushes as far west as it can. Historically, this extra space between Europe and Russia’s heartland has thwarted most attempts to conquer Russia.

Russia also has an interest in confronting Islamic terror and in gaining access to Western finance and technology.

There are complementary interests and the potential for an alliance. But the problem is that the price Russia would have to demand—to make it worth its while to turn on China and Germany—is higher than the U.S. can afford. Russia would need help in achieving its main interest: more space in Eastern Europe.

America cannot afford that. America cannot be certain that Russia is no longer its top threat. Though Russia lacks the economic heft of either the European Union or China, it has a formidable military and, most importantly, a formidable leader. In backing Russia, many even in Mr. Trump’s administration fear that the U.S. could be building up its own worst enemy.

An alliance with Russia then, actually threatens America’s number one interest. Of course Mr. Trump would love to get Russia on his side without giving much in return. But that is not how the world works. Thus, no long-term alliance is on the cards.

There could be short-term arrangements. In the Middle East, for example, America and Russia could work together. And it would be possible for America to make concessions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. But we will not see a wholesale global realignment around a U.S.-Russia alliance.

The fundamental difference in interest between the U.S. and Russia has meant that they have allied together only once in history: in World War ii. This addressed an urgent threat to both powers, but it was short-lived and immediately gave way to a nuclear-armed Cold War rivalry.

But there is another power with more compatible interests—one that Russia has allied with repeatedly.

The Real Power Couple

Germany’s core interest is to avoid encirclement—a hostile France in the West and hostile Russia in the East. This interest is taken care of, thanks to the EU. Germany has no fear of a French invasion.

Another important interest is a secure export market for its heavily export-dependent economy. This it meets primarily through the eurozone. The countries of the eurozone are locked into a common currency and cannot raise their exchange rates. This means that imbalances that would normally fix themselves over time cannot—so Germany can export far more to these countries than it imports. It also provides Germany with a de facto subsidy when exporting to other markets.

The migrant crisis and radical Islam make the Middle East another important interest for Germany.

Russia and Germany have much to gain by working together. Historically, Russia could only dominate Eastern Europe when European powers were weak, or when they acquiesced.

Meanwhile, the two have several complementary interests. Economically, they go together hand in glove. Germany has excellent technology and manufacturing, and needs to export. Russia needs to buy Western technology and know-how. Russia has energy commodities, and Germany is among its best customers. Russia’s deep ties to the Middle East make it the perfect partner for a Germany that needs to stem the tide of refugees into Europe. Russia has even edged its way into the euro crisis—its strong ties to Cypriot and Greek financial systems mean that it could hurt or help Germany’s economic ambitions.

Furthermore, an alliance with Germany does not require Russia to drop its alliance with China. Thus it needs much less from Germany to make such an alliance worth its while.

Germany, then, can afford to pay the price Russia requires, while the U.S. cannot. The cost-benefit calculation looks very different.

A Russo-German alliance still carries risks. Done recklessly, it could alienate much of Central and Eastern Europe. But with care, allowing Russia to expand its sphere of influence into parts of Eastern Europe would actually drive the remaining countries to Germany. Germany would also have to be sure it was rewarded enough to make up for the extra insecurity that would come from an expanded Russian sphere of influence.

But Germany, whether it wants it or not, is being forced into this alliance.

Germany Has Little Choice

The other major part of President Trump’s foreign policy is a withdrawal from the world. He believes the U.S. is spending far too much money intervening beyond its shores.

If America withdraws from Europe, Germany is left with little choice but to cut a deal with Russia. Economically, the EU dwarfs Moscow—but militarily, Russia is a force to be reckoned with. Right now Europe could not stand up to Russia alone. So, what do you do if you can’t beat them?

Writing during the latter half of the Cold War, Hans Morgenthau, in a later edition of Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, outlined what could happen if America withdrew from Europe. The nations of Europe are “ambivalent towards the United States, whose support they need but resent,” he wrote. If the U.S. withdraws, these countries “may then perceive themselves as having been abandoned by the United States and having to face the Soviet Union alone, unchallengeable in its military power.” This, he wrote, would force the nations of Europe to “accommodate themselves with Russia.”

If Germany does this, it “would signify a drastic change in the distribution of world power,” Morgenthau concluded. For Germany, there are “rational arguments … in support of an Eastern orientation.”

Today, the Russian military is not as overwhelming as it once was. But if America pulls out of Europe, Germany still faces a similar dilemma.

Trump’s openness to an alliance with Russia has also made it easier for European powers to draw closer to Russia. The top leaders of Germany’s Christian Social Union (csu), part of Germany’s ruling coalition, have remained close to Russia, despite their nation’s sanctions against it. In 2016, Bavarian State Premier Horst Seehofer and Honorary csu Chairman Edmund Stoiber visited Russian President Vladimir Putin. Stoiber welcomed the election of Donald Trump, partly because he believed it could help open the door for closer relations between Germany and Russia. Trump, he said, will “set a new tone in foreign policy.”

A History of War

These same pressures now heaped on Germany have led to similar alliances in the past. From 1772 to 1795, Prussia, Austria and Russia divided the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth among themselves. At that point, Poland extended much farther eastward than it did today, including almost all of present-day Belarus.

Shortly afterward, German generals helped modernize the Russian Army. As Leo Tolstoy noted in War and Peace, one Russian general was so irked by the commanding role Germans played in the Russian Army that he reportedly asked the emperor if he could be promoted to the rank of German.

While Otto von Bismarck united the German states, he worked hard to stay on Russia’s good side. As he famously said, the secret to politics is to “make a good treaty with Russia.”

In the early 20th century, the German high command rejected Bismarck’s advice, thinking Germany had a shot at defeating Russia. Russia collapsed during World War i, but Germany lost in the West. The fall of both Russia and Germany allowed Poland to become an independent state for the first time since it had been divided. Other smaller nations sprouted up. The next time Germany tried to take over Europe, it made a treaty with Russia first. The Rapallo Treaty helped Germany rise from the ashes of World War i. Then Poland was again divided in the infamous Hitler-Stalin pact, also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

Shortly thereafter, Hitler caught Stalin napping and attacked Russia, a decision he may or may not have lived long enough to regret.

The history between Germany and Russia proves not only that their self-interests align better with each other’s than with America’s. It also proves that self-interest is self-interest: Once one nation thinks it can gain more by stabbing its “ally” in the back, it will do so.

Another Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

The shared interests here are so powerful that the Trumpet has long forecast a new alliance between these two nations.

In May 1962, the Plain Truth—predecessor of the Trumpet—wrote, “Once a German-dominated Europe is fully established, Germany will be ready to negotiate and bargain with Russia—and behind the backs of the Western allies if necessary.”

“When a Russo-German deal is made, you can be sure that the doom of the United States and Great Britain is on the horizon,” warned the same article.

Sound far-fetched? Eminent scholars in the field of international relations made the same warning! To Morgenthau, such a deal would be “a drastic change in the distribution of world power.” Spykman warned that the lack of a unified power in Europe or in East Asia “is an absolute prerequisite for the independence of the New World and the preservation of the power position of the United States.”

“The United States must recognize once again and permanently, that the power constellation in Europe and Asia is of everlasting concern to her, both in time of war and in time of peace,” Spykman wrote.

Under threat is America’s most core interest of all: its very survival.

This coming Russo-German alliance will last only as long as it is in the interests of both parties. Historically, that has not been long.

“[L]ook at history,” warns Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry. “Every time competition between Russia and Germany heats up, they form a deal with one another—just before going to war!” (Russia and China in Prophecy).

Those wars have expanded to engulf the world and have turned these allies-of-convenience against each other in devastating manner.

There are already strong signs that the two sides have been talking and dealing. Germany has emerged, more recently, as Europe’s leading opponent to Russia—although even as it has rallied other nations to keep pressing sanctions, it has continued to work on some potentially lucrative pipeline deals with Russia.

But pressure is now building on these two powers to work together much more closely—a development that will quickly change the world.