From the November-December 2018 Trumpet Print Edition

U.S. and China escalate trade war

The trade war between the United States and China escalated on August 23, when the U.S. government levied 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion in Chinese goods, up from the previous rate of 10 percent. China responded by implementing 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of American products. Currently, the dispute affects roughly 17 percent of trade between China and the U.S.

Members of China’s ruling party are already facing significant criticism from those within their own circle, but even if the United States wins this trade battle, it will not win the trade war. The Bible forecasts exactly the kind of trade war we see building now, and states that the resultant economic siege against the U.S. will ultimately put it in mortal danger.

In The United States and Britain in Prophecy, Herbert W. Armstrong explained that Deuteronomy 28:52 prophesies that U.S. rivals will use their economic power and control of the world’s maritime choke points to besiege America.

U.S. State Dept. promotes homosexuality around the world

The U.S. State Department has continued the Obama administration’s policy of pressuring foreign governments and international organizations into supporting homosexuality and transgenderism. On October 1, the State Department implemented a policy that partners of staff members of U.S.-based international organizations must be married to obtain diplomatic family visas, including homosexual partners. Critics of the Trump administration call it discrimination against unmarried homosexuals, but the policy supports homosexual “marriage.”

Last May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Under Pompeo’s leadership, the State Department has also continued funding Obama-era programs that support lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender initiatives around the world. Despite the fact that the Bible condemns homosexuality as sin, American society has embraced it and worked to pressure other nations into embracing it as well. Like ancient Israel, modern-day America has become more sinful and turbulent than the nations that are round about it (Ezekiel 5:7).

America’s merchant marine fleet nearly gone

The United States has the most powerful navy in the world, but a dangerously weak merchant marine fleet. According to an August 14 report in Defense News, the U.S. government, private businesses and private individuals owned just 2,021 deepwater vessels at the start of 2017. But 96 percent of these were registered to nations like Liberia, Panama and the Marshall Islands. They fly foreign flags and are manned by multinational crews.

Ships in the actual U.S. merchant marine fleet fly the American flag and are crewed by sailors who have taken an oath of allegiance to the U.S. In 1951, the total number of ships that fit this description was 1,288. Today, the number is just 81.

During peacetime, the merchant marine carries commercial cargo, but during war, it becomes an auxiliary of the Defense Department, since the Navy cannot sustain enough cargo ships to deliver the vast quantities of troops and supplies needed in combat zones and beyond.

During the 1991 Gulf War mobilization, the U.S. military had to rely on foreign-flagged ships to transport military supplies to the Middle East. The crews of 13 foreign-flagged vessels rebelled against the U.S. and forced their ships away from the war zone. An Air Force general recently warned Congress that the Pentagon could again face a similar situation.

“[The] reduction in actively trading U.S.-flagged vessels correlates to a decline in the numbers of qualified merchant mariners, the workforce required to deliver U.S. Forces to war,” Air Force Gen. Darren McDew told a Senate panel on April 10. “If the fleet continues to lose ships, a lengthy, mass deployment on the scale of Desert Shield-Desert Storm could eventually require U.S. forces to rely on foreign-flagged ships for sustainment.”

If a foreign naval power creates a naval blockade at sea, any vessel flying a foreign flag may refuse to carry American cargo through disputed territory. China understands the strategic implications of America’s dwindling merchant fleet. That is why it has 4,973 Chinese deepwater vessels flying the Chinese flag.

Fifty years ago, almost 17 percent of merchant vessels worldwide flew under an American flag. Today, it is less than half a percent. Americans take for granted the U.S. Navy’s ability to handle any conflict. But Navy ships need supply lines. A 2015 report by Capt. Carl Schuster and Dr. Patrick Bratton claims that America’s weakness in commercial shipping is the nation’s Achilles’ heel.