WorldWatch

From the February 2018 Trumpet Print Edition

New coalition deal—a solution for Germany?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is making a second attempt to form a coalition government after her first effort collapsed on Nov. 19, 2017.

Federal elections on Sept. 24, 2017, led to an attempt to team up with the environmentalist Green Party and the pro-business Free Democrats. But the Free Democrats pulled out, with their leader declaring, “It is better not to govern than to govern badly.”

On November 30, Merkel, who leads the Christian Democratic Union, along with Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union, met with Martin Schulz, chairman of the Social Democratic Party (spd). These three parties formed the coalition that governed Germany prior to the September election. But after the spd experienced its worst election result since World War II, its leaders said they did not want to govern with Chancellor Merkel any longer. After the November meeting, however, the spd said it was open to the possibility.

Will a partnership with the Social Democrats solve Germany’s coalition quandary? No. These parties still have a long way to go before starting negotiations. As of yet, the spd has not committed to even exploratory talks. Most politicians and commentators agree that these negotiations will extend into early 2018.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats have formed a coalition with the Social Democrats twice before, which has led many to think these negotiations will be easy. However, after their epic defeat in September, the spd’s survival as Germany’s main left-wing party is on the line. It has to take a stand for its policies and avoid the perception of “vote for the spd, get Angela Merkel.” For these reasons, Merkel will find the spd difficult to negotiate with and any coalition to be unstable.

This difficult negotiation process is a symptom of a deeper problem. Combined, Germany’s two main parties received only 53 percent of the vote, their worst showing in postwar history (down from at least 75 percent in the 1990s). In 2017, voters abandoned mainstream parties and turned to fringe parties that oppose traditional politics. This shows a growing anxiety and dissatisfaction among German voters.

A cdu-spd coalition may not even happen, but if it does, it cannot solve Germany’s problems as it ignores underlying causes. A Germany with a weak government or no government is ready for a strongman to take advantage. Read Gerald Flurry’s booklet A Strong German Leader Is Imminent.

German military plans for a possible collapse of the West

The German Army is working out what to do if Europe falls apart, according to leaked documents published by Der Spiegel magazine on Nov. 4, 2017.

The 102-page document, published in February 2017 and titled “Strategic Perspective 2040,” reveals that the German Army is contemplating how to react to six political trends that could escalate in the coming years. The document describes as its sixth and worst-case scenario “The Collapse of the EU and Germany in Reactive Mode.” The document proves Germany has a strategy for a time when it is no longer under United States or European Union dominance.

For 70 years, Germany has been content to rest in America’s shadow and hasn’t bothered with this kind of planning. That time is over. As the EU and nato crack under an increasingly divergent set of interests among their members, Germany is making its own plans, and it is planning for the worst.

Spiegel noted that the Bundeswehr’s future projection “describes a world in which the international order erodes after ‘decades of instability,’ in which the value systems worldwide diverge and globalization stops” (Trumpet translation). Bible prophecy shows that such plans will be necessary sooner than most people realize. And it shows that Germany will be a country ready to take advantage when that time comes.

Germany to upgrade Saudi Arabia’s armaments industry

In October, Saudi Arabian Military Industries (sami) announced its appointment of a German military armaments director to become its chief executive officer. Andreas Schwer is “closely enmeshed with the [European Union’s] arms industry” and thus can “possibly open doors for sami at the EU’s arms producers or their subsidiaries outside the EU” (German-Foreign-Policy.com).

Saudi Arabia is one of the top five military spenders in the world. A significant amount of its imports come from Germany, and that trend is growing: In the third quarter of 2017, it nearly quadrupled its imports of German military equipment to $175 billion, compared to $48 billion during the same period in 2016. German manufacturers have also promised to help the local Saudi armaments industry to produce half of its armory and even export weapons.

Germany and Saudi Arabia share a common enemy in Iran, and, as RT reported, the Germans consider the Saudis a “stabilizing factor” in the Middle East. The common interests of both powers in this volatile region, boosted by increased military cooperation, are uniting Germany and Saudi Arabia into an alliance that was prophesied millennia ago in the Bible in Psalm 83.

German, Israeli fighter jets train together

Israel hosted Blue Flag 2017 from November 5 to 16, the largest international military exercise ever in the nation, and the largest air drill in the world in 2017.

The drills at Ovda Air Base involved air forces from Israel, the United States, India, Greece, Poland, Italy, France and Germany. They were designed to “strengthen diplomatic relations between the countries, expose the participating militaries to new tactics and techniques, and improve military cooperation by forcing the air forces to work together,” the Times of Israel noted, citing Israeli Air Force officers.

The maneuvers were not only enormous but also symbolic. For the first time in Israel’s modern history, the German Air Force flew through Israeli skies.

Germany has provided military support to Israel for decades, but most of this support has been secretive to avoid provoking the Arab nations surrounding the Jewish state. German and Israeli air forces openly training together in Blue Flag 2017 marks a new chapter in Israeli-German relations.

“Every cooperation with Germany and Israel is very emotional,” Israel’s Ovda base commander told Deutschlandfunk. “We can’t eliminate the past. But we are looking forward. And the relationship of our aircrafts is based on trust” (Trumpet translation).

Many see German and Israeli fighters flying side by side as signifying hope for the relationship between the two countries despite the Holocaust and the rising anti-Semitism in Germany. The Bible prophesies that Germany and nations like Israel will reconcile, but that this reconciliation will be illusory. God warns in Hosea 5:13 against Israel and its allies turning to Germany for help. Bible prophecy warns that Germany will double-cross Israel. Read Jerusalem in Prophecy for more information.

Putin to Russian companies: Prepare for war

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his country’s top defense companies to be ready to boost arms production in case of a sudden declaration of war.

“The economic ability to increase the production of defense products and services quickly is a vital element of military security,” Putin told senior defense officials on Nov. 22, 2017. “All strategic and simply large companies, regardless of the type of ownership, must be able to do this.”

This proclamation comes only two months after the weeklong Zapad 2017 military exercises held in Russia’s westernmost states. The war games involved thousands of soldiers, testing Russian defenses against a simulated attack by Western nations. Putin had high praise for the Russian troops in his address, but noted that military manufacturing companies’ readiness was unacceptable. “The exercise has exposed certain shortcomings. We must analyze them so as to propose additional measures to enhance mobilization readiness,” he said.

Putin’s focus on military readiness and the aggressive direction he is taking Russia has many Europeans concerned.

“[S]ome Europeans recognize that Putin’s power maneuver on Ukraine was no isolated incident,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia’. “The Ukraine crisis continues, and America is sleeping through it. But Europe is deeply alarmed! The changes this crisis provokes in Germany and Europe will shake the nations! … We need to watch what is happening in Russia and how Europe responds to it.”

China’s military catching America in East Asia

China’s military might is catching up to that of the United States in East Asia, according to an assessment by U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis (Ret.) published in the Nikkei Asian Review on Nov. 22, 2017.

“At present, China seeks the ability to control East Asia, dominate the South China Sea, operate at will in the East China Sea, overpower any Asian competitor (notably Japan), and compete with the U.S. in the region,” Stavridis wrote.

He explained that even though America’s $600 billion military budget is around three times the amount China is estimated to be spending on defense, “The military balance is approximately equal in East Asia.”

Beijing’s “$200 billion focused on regional security roughly equals the U.S. spending and presence in the Pacific,” Stavridis wrote, adding that “Chinese military spending and operations are increasing, while the U.S.’s are largely static.”

For the past 72 years, the world has enjoyed relative peace. Since the U.S. and its allies have been the powers primarily responsible for keeping the peace, journalists and historians have taken to calling the time period since World War ii the American Peace, or Pax Americana. Now, the rise of nations like China, Germany, Iran and Russia threatens to bring this period to an abrupt end—in East Asia and beyond.

Worst wildfires in California’s history

A swath of new wildfires lit up Southern California in early December. Yet even before these fires ignited, 2017 was already the worst wildfire season in California history.

The new fires began on Dec. 4, 2017. The largest and most destructive, in Ventura County, scorched 140 square miles. Strong Santa Ana winds fueled the fire, which threatened thousands of homes, requiring mandatory evacuations for more than 27,000 residents. More than 1,000 structures burned to the ground.

Soon after, two other fires sprang up in the San Fernando Valley, one that burned more than 7,000 acres; the other, more than 12,600 acres. On December 6, another fire ignited, reaching homes in the wealthy Los Angeles suburb of Bel-Air. The fire skirted along the edge of Interstate 405, temporarily shutting down the nation’s busiest highway.

What is causing the wildfires? The most popular answer is climate change. “Fire season usually peaks in October in California, but officials suggested that with climate change, more fires are occurring later in the year,” the New York Times reported (Dec. 6, 2017). California Governor Jerry Brown blamed a “warming climate.”

But there is more to this than climate change. The Bible warns that God punishes with “natural” disasters. “Thou shall be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire” (Isaiah 29:6). An increase in earthquakes, storms, tempest and devouring fires marked this past year. For a more detailed explanation, read Gerald Flurry’s article on page 10.

Slavery booming in Africa, Mexico and beyond

Authorities in five African nations rescued some 500 victims of human trafficking, including 236 children, a Nov. 23, 2017, Interpol report said. Two days later, Mexican police rescued 30 women from sex trafficking.

The African operation took place in Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal and led to the arrest of 40 suspected human traffickers, mostly women. Interpol said female traffickers ensnared many of the vulnerable girls and young women into prostitution rings. Other victims were handed over by destitute parents on promises that traffickers would provide them with a better life; instead, victims were forced “to engage in activities ranging from begging to prostitution, with little to no regard for working conditions or human life,” Interpol said.

In Mexico, the 30 women, mostly from Colombia and Venezuela, were being held against their will as prostitutes.

The two rescue operations were conducted after footage emerged of people in Libya being sold as slaves for $400 each.

These heart-wrenching accounts show that human trafficking and slavery still thrive. In fact, the International Labor Organization (ilo) estimates that in 2016, some 40.3 million men, women and children worldwide were victims of slavery. This is more than triple the total number of Africans who were shipped to the Americas during the entire 360-year history of the New World slave trade.

Modern slavery is not limited to the Third World. Across the United States, 7,621 cases of trafficking and enslavement were reported in 2016—up from 5,575 the year before.

“Slavery isn’t just a scourge of the past,” we wrote in the February 2014 Trumpet. “It is in your country, your city, even your neighborhood. But a solution is coming soon that will break the shackles that bind them all.” That solution is the return of Jesus Christ and His establishment of the Kingdom of God.

Islamic State fighters return to UK without punishment

The British government believes up to 850 Britons left the United Kingdom to fight for the Islamic State. Over 400 have returned home, but only 54 have been convicted of crimes. The rest have been left free to reintegrate.

“So far, only a small proportion [of Britons returning from Syria] have been prosecuted, and counterterrorism officials have said it can be difficult to find evidence that they committed crimes in the war zones of Syria and Iraq,” the Telegraph reported on Oct. 29, 2017.

Terrorism legislation advisor Max Hill said Islamic State fighters returning to the UK should be kept out of the court system because they “traveled out of a sense of naivety, possibly with some brainwashing along the way ….”

The Telegraph also reported “the Home Office is looking at a new strategy to reintegrate extremists that could even see them propelled to the top of council house waiting lists if needed.” They could even have their rent paid by British taxpayers. One unnamed source said, “We are planning a number of pilots to explore the best way to diverting such people from terrorism and extremist activity.”

The Bible has a perfect description for behavior like this. The book of Hosea describes many of the afflictions of the modern descendants of the ancient Israelite tribe of Ephraim. “Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment. … Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless” (Hosea 5:11 and 7:11; New International Version). The modern descendants of Ephraim are the British, and these descriptions are startlingly accurate.