Russia and China: Have They Already Formed a Military Alliance?

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and Zhang Youxia, Deputy Chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission, shake hands after they signed joint documents at their meeting in Beijing on Oct. 19, 2018.
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Russia and China: Have They Already Formed a Military Alliance?

‘The steadfast denials of a military alliance dynamic here are not based on the evidence.’

The torrent of news about expanding cooperation between Russia and China continues to increase. And though many experts are concerned about the quickly deepening intimacy between these two revisionist nations, the general consensus remains that a real Russia-China alliance does not exist. But a new analysis says that consensus is wrong.

“It is long since time that analysts and policymakers acknowledge the reality that is evolving right before their eyes,” wrote Stephen Blank, a senior fellow with the American Foreign Policy Council, for Second Line of Defense last month.

“[T]he steadfast denials of a military alliance dynamic here are not based on the evidence of arms sales, technology transfer, joint exercises, conventional and nuclear coordination, and long-term strategic dialogues,” he wrote.

Policymakers should stop “taking refuge in clichés and wishful thinking” about Russia and China, Blank wrote, adding that only “on the basis of realism can we move forward to deal with this alliance.”

Euphemisms

Blank says onlookers should not be deceived by the fact that the Russian and Chinese leadership do not use the word “alliance” when discussing their relationship. He says this may be intentional subterfuge.

“Moscow keeps inventing euphemisms to disguise what is going on,” he wrote. For years, the Russians called their relationship with China “strategic cooperation.” It was later upgraded to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and again more recently to a “privileged strategic partnership.”

But Blank says such labels “sound like attempts to deceive foreign observers as to the alliance’s real nature.”

A glimpse of the “real nature” of the Russia-China relationship can be partly gathered from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks on the topic during a 2016 interview with China’s Xinhau news agency. Putin gave what sounds like an explanation of how difficult it is to define “alliance” without using the word. “As we had never reached this level of relations before, our experts have had trouble defining today’s general state of our common affairs,” Putin said. “It turns out that to say we have strategic cooperation is not enough anymore,” he said, adding: “This is why we have started talking about a comprehensive partnership and strategic collaboration.”

Blank suggests that the shades of nuance between these various terms is largely irrelevant given the true nature of the Russia-China relationship. He wrote, “It is hard to know how a privileged partnership expands upon a comprehensive one.”

Beyond Rhetoric

More significant than the ever evolving labels given to Russo-Chinese ties are the actions showing them to be steadily deepening.

In international affairs and politics, the two walk in nearly perfect lockstep. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in 2015, “[W]e feel—and our Chinese friends share this view—that our cooperation and coordination in the international arena are one of the most important stabilizing factors in the world system. We regularly coordinate our approaches to various conflicts, whether it is in the Middle East, North Africa or the Korean Peninsula. We have regular and frank and confidential consultations.”

In mutual trade, Russia and China exceeded $100 billion for the first time last year, with China’s government-controlled Global Times saying in January that in 2019, “bilateral trade is expected to further increase provided that there is a relatively stable world economy.”

And in military matters, the most significant aspect of the relationship, the two have held 30 major joint exercises since 2003. Blank calls special attention to the joint air and missile defense exercises the two held in 2017, saying it “suggests an alliance” because it required both nations to “put their cards on the table and display their c4isr.” This is a broad term referring to the four “c”s of command, control, communications and computer, and also to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The systems and techniques related to c4isr equip decision-makers and soldiers with actionable information, enabling them to accomplish their goals. Such information is among a nation’s most sensitive, so seeing Russia and China share it with each other indeed indicates a rare camaraderie between them.

“[T]his alliance is not merely a political relationship but one of active military collaboration,” Blank wrote.

In recognition of the military basis for the Russia-China relationship, last week’s Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community warned that China and Russia are engaged in a “race for technological and military superiority” that will be a defining feature of the 21st century. “China and Russia are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s, and the relationship is likely to strengthen in the coming year as some of their interests and threat perceptions converge,” the assessment said.

Blank said the military dimension of the relationship is likely to deepen in 2019. He said Xi has made clear that “both militaries” should “increase cooperation and unswervingly deepen their strategic coordination.”

Blank also mentioned a series of experiments the Russians and Chinese have recently conducted in the atmosphere that could “apparently disturb electrical connections in the territories below.”

He wrote: “These experiments look suspiciously like preliminary efforts to test both ground-based and space-based capabilities to achieve the effects of an emp (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) attack on Earth against their adversaries.”

Chinese journal Earth and Planetary Physics noted that “such international cooperation” involving some of China’s most advanced and important technologies “is very rare.”

Vasily Kashin, senior research fellow at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, told the Trumpet in September that “if the current trend of deterioration of the Russian-U.S. and Sino-U.S. relations persists, a formal military alliance” between Russia and China could emerge.

In his report last year for the Center for Naval Analyses, Kashin said a certain level of strategic military coordination between Russia and China was already enshrined in a 2001 treaty. He wrote: “Chapter 9 of the treaty stipulated that ‘in case there emerges a situation which, by opinion of one of the participants, can create threats to the peace, violate the peace, or affect the interests of the security of the participant, and also in case when there is a threat of aggression against one of the participants, the participants immediately contact each other and start consultations in order to remove the emerging threat.’”

The treaty “clearly required both sides to consider some sort of joint action in the case of a threat from a third party,” Kashin wrote.

The Trumpet closely watches the deepening ties between Russia and China because the Bible prophesies of an Asian confederation that will form in the end time. This Asian bloc is referred to in Revelation 16:12 as “the kings of the east.” Scriptures show that this bloc will play a major role in a nuclear World War iii.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has shown how these passages (and those in Ezekiel 38) prove that Russia and China will be at the helm of this confederation. And he has shown that the two are already fulfilling the early phases of these prophecies. In 2014, after China declared that it supported Russia’s unlawful annexation of Ukrainian territory, Mr. Flurry said the support was “a stunning fulfillment of a biblical prophecy!

He wrote:

Actually we have been proclaiming for over 50 years that Russia, China and other Asian nations would ally themselves in the end time.

Notice that he said they would “ally” themselves—not just build a “privileged strategic partnership” or any of the euphemisms that are often used.

Mr. Flurry continued:

And we are in that end time now. … When these Asian nations—extremely powerful nuclear-armed countries—begin to show solidarity with each other regarding moves like that, what does that portend for the world? I tell you it is woe to the world. It will cause many serious problems.

To understand more about the Bible passages that discuss this Asian confederation and its role in end-time events, read Mr. Flurry’s article “Asia Stands With Putin” and order your free copy of Russia and China in Prophecy.

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South Korea: Increased Funding of U.S. Troops ‘Unacceptable’

A U.S. soldier on an M113 armored vehicle participates in the Warrior Strike viii exercise on Sept. 19, 2017, in Pocheon, South Korea.
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South Korea: Increased Funding of U.S. Troops ‘Unacceptable’

If America pulls its troops out of South Korea, it will leave a power vacuum that could be filled by Russia and China.

The United States and South Korea are struggling to reach an agreement on the cost of maintaining U.S. troops in South Korea, a South Korean lawmaker said on January 22. Disputes between the two governments could lead to the complete removal of U.S. troops from the East Asian nation.

A five-year deal on cost-sharing between the two expired at the end of 2018. Despite 10 attempts to negotiate a deal, the U.S. and South Korea have yet to finalize a deal to fund U.S. troops in the nation.

The U.S. has demanded that South Korea pay over $1 billion to cover the costs of the military base in South Korea, a 50 percent increase in its contribution. The nation flatly rejected the proposal, saying that it could pay less than $886 million. The U.S. made a “sudden, unacceptable” proposal, according to Hong Young-pyo, a South Korean senior ruling party legislator. “The negotiations were deadlocked. The U.S. side suddenly made a proposal at the last stage, which was difficult for us to accept.”

In August 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump complained that America was “subsidizing” U.S. troops in South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. pays for “about 60 percent” of military costs in South Korea. “When you have wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia, like Japan, like South Korea, why are we subsidizing their military?” the president asked.

The U.S. has maintained a military presence in South Korea since the Korean War hostilities ended in 1953. The 28,500 U.S. troops stationed there are vital to the security of the Korean Peninsula and America’s strategy to stabilize Asia. America’s presence in South Korea has served as a major deterrent to North Korea.

The dispute on military cost-sharing is a sign that the alliance is fracturing. The U.S. pulling its troops out of South Korea is now a possibility. “Such a split [between the U.S. and South Korea] would see America’s 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea ousted, and would shift a huge amount of political and military influence away from the U.S. and toward Asia’s regional behemoths,” the Trumpet wrote in October.

The Trumpet and its predecessor, the Plain Truth, have forecast for almost 70 years that America’s power and influence in Asia and in the world will dwindle. Many trends, including the disagreement between the U.S. and South Korea regarding cost-sharing of U.S. troops, bring this forecast closer to reality. This forecast takes on more clarity when viewed through the lens of Bible prophecy.

The U.S. Has Lost the Will to Defend Its Allies

Following World War ii, Plain Truth editor in chief Herbert W. Armstrong forecast that America would lose the will to use its power and never again win a war. After America’s debacle in sponsoring a failed invasion of Cuba, Mr. Armstrong pointed to the American people. In the October 1961 Plain Truth, he wrote:

Unless or until the United States as a whole repents and returns to what has become a hollow slogan on its dollars: ‘In God we trust,’ the United States of America has won its last war!

I said that when we failed to win in Korea! … I say it again, now that the United States government endorsed this Cuban fiasco—its president gave the “go ahead”—and God, the God America has deserted, gave its most humiliating defeat! What does the Cuban debacle mean? It means, Mr. and Mrs. United States, that the handwriting is on your wall!

Mr. Armstrong’s forecast of diminishing American power is based on Bible prophecy. In Leviticus 26, God outlines the blessings ancient Israel and its descendants would receive if they obeyed God and curses if they disobeyed. Verse 19 states that God will break the pride of Israel’s power. One of the nations descended from ancient Israel today is America. (For proof, request your free copy of Mr. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.) A quick look at America’s wartime history after World War ii shows that God has indeed broken the pride of America’s power.

An America-Free Korean Peninsula

If the U.S. pulls its troops out of the Korean Peninsula, nearby powers like Russia and China could take advantage of the situation, pressure South Korea to reconcile with North Korea, and form a military alliance between the Koreas. This would fit into the general scheme of Bible prophecy.

Ezekiel 38 shows that a union of Asian nations led by Russia and China will form and play a vital role in Bible prophecy. The book of Revelation calls this massive Asian bloc “the kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12). Revelation 9:16 states that this union of Asian nations will amass an army of 200 million men. In his booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia,’ Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes:

Current events show this Asian army is taking shape already. You can see it in Putin’s growing authoritarianism, and also in his outreach to other Asian powers. …

When you put India and Japan together with Russia and China, it is easy to see how an army of 200 million soldiers could be formed. With other Asian nations [like South Korea] joining in, you quickly reach combined populations of 3.5 to 4 billion people! Under extreme circumstances like those described in these end-time prophecies, it is not hard to imagine 1 in 10 or 20 people going to war.

With South Korea’s relatively advanced military, we could see it lend its military power to an alliance with Russia, China and other Asian nations.

To understand more about how Bible prophecy forecasts the formation of “the kings of the east” alliance, which could include South Korea, please read He Was Right and The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia,’ by Mr. Flurry.

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Democratic Party Swings Hard Left

Sen. Elizabeth Warren greets potential voters during a campaign stop at McCoy’s Bar Patio and Grill on January 4 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
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Democratic Party Swings Hard Left

Ahead of the 2020 United States presidential elections, Democrats are speaking like revolutionaries.

The Democratic Party has drafted a new strategy to defeat United States President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election: Shift harder to the left. Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand have announced their candidacies for president, and several others are seriously considering runs. This lineup includes a record number of women and ethnic minorities.

It is also the most left-wing presidential field in U.S. history.

So far, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the biggest name in play. Unlike some of her colleagues, she does not embrace the socialist label. She says she wants to fix capitalism rather than replace it. Yet the details of her economic proposals would actually constitute the largest government takeover of wealth in human history, more than any socialist seizure ever. In August, she introduced a bill in the Senate proposing that the government should manage every U.S. business with more than $1 billion in revenue. That would turn more than 1,000 American companies (90 percent of American businesses by sales) into state-run entities. The government would control over 97 percent of the entire U.S. economy.

Warren’s radical proposal is just one among many. California Sen. Kamala Harris officially entered the 2020 fray on Sunday with a speech outside Oakland City Hall. Hailed as a “female Barack Obama,” Harris says she will run as a “centrist independent outside of the two-party system.” Yet her proposals regarding debt-free college and “Medicare for all” are far from centrist. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, previously advocated both of these proposals. According to a George Mason University study, the “Medicare for all” program would spend about $3.3 trillion per year (93 percent of the total projected 2019 tax revenue) on health care alone.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called on Congress to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, effectively erasing the nation’s border. She has embraced legal marijuana and endorsed a plan for government-guaranteed jobs for all Americans. Taken together, her proposals would allow illegal immigrants to pour into the country, claim a guaranteed job, and openly indulge in drugs. All of these proposals would have been unthinkable just one election cycle ago.

Other Democrats have other radical proposals. More than 40 of her fellow Democrat lawmakers have endorsed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” an environmental plan to eliminate all fossil-fuel-powered electricity and replace all energy needs of the U.S. economy with renewable energy within 12 years. While Ocasio-Cortez is too young to run for the presidency, she is hoping other candidates will take up some of her policies.

All of these proposals are just the latest steps in the Democratic Party moving to the left. This radical shift has been ongoing since supporters of the New Left movement hijacked the 1972 Democratic Convention. But recently, it has intensified to the point where the Democrats may start losing support as the silent majority of Americans become fearful of how radically far left Democrats’ positions have become. If the party becomes smaller and radicals remain in control, it may begin acting even less like a mainstream party and more like a revolutionary party.

Decades ago, Plain Truth editor in chief Herbert W. Armstrong warned that far-left philosophy would strip America of its blessings—the greatest national blessings ever conferred on any people. He said this would happen not because socialists outmaneuvered conservatives, but because the American people as a whole have turned away from God’s law. In particular, he warned that Communist thought would pervert America’s morals, sabotage its educational system, wreck its social structure, destroy its spiritual life, and weaken its economic power.

“Why are our people unable to recognize the Communist line—the Communist plan and conspiracy—in college and university riots, in propaganda accusing ‘police brutality,’ in ‘black power,’ ‘black panther’ and other slogans, even in ‘civil disobedience’ and ‘nonviolent’ movements of protest which lead to violence?” he asked in the March 1969 Plain Truth. “The guiding hand in student revolt is the Communist Party. Many students, their emotions stirred and enraged to violence, do not themselves realize this. Yet actually, these young leaders of the ‘New Left’ movement are going beyond the Communist Party. Their plan is to stir up college-age students to revolt first, and the teenage high school adolescents. If they can corrupt and/or win over tomorrow’s students, they will gain control.”

Those students of the 1960s are now educators, journalists, leaders, senators and presidential candidates.

Mr. Armstrong based his forecast of future events and trends on Bible prophecy. Hosea 7:8 predicts that the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel would mix themselves with foreigners and foreign ideologies. The far-left ideas put forward by the Democratic Party today are not based on traditional American culture, which is largely based on the Bible. They are ideas that were brought to America from German and Russian universities. Today, the 1960s New Left student radicals who embraced these ideas are the leaders of the modern Democratic Party. These radical leaders are now shifting their party even further toward socialism to gain the support of the millennial generation—a demographic that leans overwhelmingly Democrat and even socialist. Their strategy can only lead to violence as socialist revolutionaries seek to destroy the current system and replace it with another.

To understand the biblical significance behind the Democratic Party’s shift left, read Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s free reprint article “Communism in America Today.”

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Chaos Consumes Zimbabwe—Again

The Zimbabwean government has responded to violent anti-government protests with violence of of its own, placing Zimbabwean governance on trial yet again, some 39 years after independence.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst state violence in more than a decade.

On January 13, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that his government would hike the price of oil by more than 150 percent, angering the majority of Zimbabweans already heavily burdened with the effects of economic collapse and the worst annual inflation rate in the world, excluding Venezuela.

Mnangagwa said that the price hike would curtail “rampant illegal currency and fuel trading activities.” Instead, it fueled protests across the nation—protests that turned ugly in some places. Civilians blocked roads and looted shops. And law enforcement authorities responded with brutal, overwhelming force!

The authorities blacked out the Internet to limit online coordination of protests—and quite possibly, to also restrict the amount of real-time dissemination of information about the protests and the subsequent government crackdown.

President Mnangagwa had to cut short his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos to attend to the crisis.

According to human rights organizations, at least 12 people have been killed, hundreds have been injured from assaults, and 78 people were shot. According to Amnesty International, “Up to 700 people, including minors, have been detained after being arrested on trumped-up charges or brought before courts in hearings that do not meet fair trial standards. Hundreds have been denied bail.” That includes several opposition leaders and trade union leaders who organized a national strike.

Amnesty International said that “the onslaught by the security forces in Zimbabwe has seen people killed, arbitrarily arrested, abducted, reportedly raped and jailed on suspicion of taking part in the protests.” It also reported that “children as young as 11 years old have been detained on frivolous charges.”

According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, the government crackdown has been “systematic torture.”

On Monday, SkyNews shared an eyewitness video report documenting some of the torture: A soldier, a policeman and another security official in plain clothes were videotaped physically assaulting a helpless, handcuffed man. They punched him and slapped him in the face several times—in broad daylight.

This made a lot of headlines primarily because a prominent, foreign news organization managed to capture it on camera.

Year after year, Zimbabweans hope that their fortunes will improve. And year after year, their hopes are dashed by a cruel dictatorship.

Last year, Zimbabweans voted in their first-ever elections that didn’t have dictator Robert Mugabe on the ballot. But his comrades stole the election.

And when the electorate protested the results, the government dispatched the Army to forcibly stop them, killing some—again in broad daylight. Pictures and videos of last year’s crackdown are available on the Internet. In one of these videos, captured in the central part of the capital Harare, a soldier is seen charging forward, dropping to one knee, and shooting at civilians as if he were on a battlefield. He stopped shooting only after a fellow soldier charged him and hit him in the back to stop his out-of-control madness.

Last year, the government said it regretted its brutal actions. But barely a year has passed and the government’s law enforcement is repeating the same brutal actions. Thirty-nine years after gaining independence from Britain, most Zimbabweans are suffering at the hands of a brutal and incredibly corrupt regime.

Why? And who can stop the suffering? When will Zimbabwe truly become free and independent?

In the introduction to his book Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong discussed the many threats and evils facing every nation of this world. Then he made this profound statement: “[T]he truth of God, if known and acted on, could [save] humanity from this threat and all its evils! Stop a moment. Think on this.”

So, let’s stop a moment, and let’s think on the truth of God.

When white Europeans colonized Zimbabwe, they introduced Christianity. Today, most Zimbabweans are Christian. They have forsaken their traditional religions and embraced the religion that they were taught by white Europeans.

When the same white Europeans colonized Zimbabwe, they also introduced Western norms of governance. But today, most Zimbabwean leaders reject those norms of governance—meaning they have not forsaken their own personal or traditional forms of governance.

The Plain Truth magazine, which is the predecessor of the Philadelphia Trumpet magazine, once interviewed Ian Smith, the prime minister of Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe after independence. He was of white European origin. During the interview, he made some comments that are proving to be more and more profound today.

That interview can be found in the September 1971 Plain Truth. Regarding leadership, Smith said:

All we have done is to insist on certain qualifications. We say let merit be the criterion …. We have always had standards which we believe people should achieve before they participate in government. After all, government is supposed to be responsible and we believe that people should qualify and show a certain degree of responsibility, a certain degree of civilization, before we allow them to take part in government.

Anyone can see that Zimbabwe’s leaders today are deficient in the proper qualifications and responsibility required to administer a government.

Broadly speaking, every government of man lacks the precise qualifications required by God to run a government.

The white Europeans who colonized Zimbabwe also lacked those qualifications.

But the reality is that the norms of governance they brought—even if they failed to implement them perfectly—had much stronger connections to the truth of God.

Just like the Christian religion they brought—even if they didn’t follow it perfectly—was much closer to the truth of God.

Exactly how they gained some access to the truth of God is incredible in itself, discussed in another book of Mr. Armstrong’s: The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

That book has a lot to do with Zimbabwe—because Zimbabwe once was part of the British Commonwealth, which is actually prophesied in the Bible! See Genesis 35:11 and Genesis 48:19.

Zimbabwe is currently suffering under a severe financial crisis, but it has tremendous wealth potential. And that potential is tied to the prophesied company of nations that it was once part of.

Zimbabwe will soon enjoy that wealth. But only after God finishes preparing for what the Bible calls “the Kingdom of God,” which is the government of God ruled by the Family of God. That government will be established on Earth soon. Its leaders will have qualified to serve mankind with godly responsibility. They will bring peace, freedom and prosperity to every man, woman and child. Thank God His Kingdom is almost here. This is Zimbabwe’s only sure hope of escaping economic hardship and tyranny.

To study the prophecies referenced in this article, request your free copies of Mystery of the Ages and The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

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The Kurz Experiment

Austrian President Sebastian Kurz
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The Kurz Experiment

European politics are a simmering cauldron of uncertainty, frustration and downright anger. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, once the “Queen of Europe,” is a lame duck. In France, thousands of “yellow vest” protesters continue to fill the streets, demanding the guillotining of President Emmanuel Macron. Meanwhile, as Richard Palmer wrote last week, rebel populist movements in Italy, Spain, Sweden and elsewhere are wreaking havoc on established parties and politics.

There is, however, one notable exception: Austria.

Since December 2017, this small but influential European nation has been led by Sebastian Kurz, a dynamic 32-year-old Catholic politician who has taken Austria (and Europe) by storm. Before Kurz, Austria was much like the rest of Europe. The nation was divided over the issues of immigration, Islam and the European Union. The people were disenchanted with the mainstream parties; the popularity of the far-right party, the Freedom Party of Austria, was surging.

Then Sebastian Kurz came along. Today, “the far right and the mainstream have merged” in Austria, Time stated in November. Austria’s new chancellor has somehow united the mainstream and the far right on “the issues that trouble Europe the most, namely identity, Islam and immigration.” Today, Kurz is more popular than ever, and Austria is much more stable and content. What’s his secret?

For aspiring leaders in Europe, the Kurz experiment in Austria furnishes some important lessons.

Lesson 1: Be a man of the people. Sebastian Kurz is not an elitist, uppity politician who uses highfalutin language that makes him feel smart and his audience feel dumb. He is down-to-earth, friendly and approachable. He flies commercial, often coach. He seems to genuinely enjoy being among the people. “That is his style,” reported Time after an interview with him. According to one of his advisers, “He is cordial. He is modest. He listens.”

Lesson 2: Avoid being perceived as elitist or an establishment politician. A major part of Sebastian Kurz’s appeal is the fact that he is not a typical politician. He also doesn’t look or sound like a bureaucrat. He might lead the establishment, but he isn’t perceived to be a part of it. In today’s political climate, voters worldwide want renegades, leaders who aren’t afraid to shake the system and tackle the issues. Kurz doesn’t shy away from discussing sensitive subjects. He doesn’t obfuscate and lie. Or at least he doesn’t appear to obfuscate and lie. He appears to speak the truth—candidly, without apology and in terms that are politically incorrect.

In 2016, not long after he closed Austria’s border to migrants, he said: “Those who do not put clear limits on migration will soon start to feel like strangers in their own land.” You will never hear Angela Merkel or Emmanuel Macron make remarks like that. Sebastian Kurz did, and most Austrians loved that he did.

Lesson 3: Address populist issues, but don’t be populist. Kurz isn’t afraid to tackle sensitive issues like migration, Islam and the EU. Yet on all these issues, his views are pretty nuanced. He doesn’t want to toss all Muslims out of Austria. Rather, he wants to manage their inflow and influence in an effort to preserve Austrian culture. Many consider this approach rational, thoughtful and measured. Kurz is strong, but not tyrannical; unbureaucratic, but not unstructured; anti-establishment, but not anti-government; nationalist, but not uncompassionate. By addressing the populist issues, but not behaving as a populist, Kurz has established himself as the alternative to the far right.

Lesson 4: First address the heart, then the brain. In presenting his views, Kurz “boiled down his platform to a few often-repeated bullet points—anti-migration, anti-politicized Islam, pro-personal responsibility in the economic sphere—without too much policy detail,” wrote Foreign Policy. He avoids bureaucratic language. He addresses the issues, and the fears and anxieties, of the people.

Lesson 5: Appeal to nationalist sentiments. Deutsche Welle said it succinctly: Sebastian Kurz wants to “make Austria great again.” In March 2014, after the government added the department of integration to his Foreign Ministry, Kurz initiated the so-called “Stolz-Kampagne,” which translates literally to “Proud Campaign.” Through the campaign, Kurz encouraged immigrants in Austria to share on social media and other platforms the things that make them proud to be in Austria.

Lesson 6: Embrace the vision of a united Europe. Despite all of his populist views, Kurz is actually very pro-EU. He doesn’t want the EU disbanded; he wants it reconstituted. Kurz doesn’t talk incessantly about overthrowing the system, like Viktor Orbán and others. He is much more nuanced in his criticisms. In Brussels, Kurz is admired and respected by European leaders.

Kurz is one of the rare politicians in Europe who enjoys the support and respect of both the people of Austria (and Europe) and Europe’s elites and politicians. Thanks to this unique position, he has emerged as a mediator in a nation with a history of mediating east and west. Indeed, this is how he sees himself. “Austria is a country that can function in Europe as a bridgehead between Eastern and Western Europe,” he said in 2017.

Lesson 7: Embrace Europe’s Catholic imperial heritage. Perhaps the most underestimated characteristic of Sebastian Kurz is his Catholic faith. In February 2017, he explained to the Wiener Kirchenzeitung the role his faith plays in his personal life: “Faith plays an important role for me. Due to my job, I have, unfortunately, very seldom enough time to attend mass, but attending on holidays together with my family is very important for me. Faith and Christian values were also always important in my parents’ home.”

His Catholic faith also influences his politics. The Catholic Herald has reported that Kurz surrounds himself with a team of practicing Christians and that he meets regularly with Catholic authorities. On election day, he told reporters that he had visited the “Sunday mass in my baptistery in Gatterhölzl,” where he prayed. That same day he tweeted about his visit with Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna and a potential successor to Pope Francis.

As foreign minister, Kurz was known to have sought the counsel of a Catholic priest on how to deal with the migrant crisis. The actions he took after that meeting actually stopped the influx of migrants into Germany and Eastern Europe.

In December, Austria concluded its six-month tenure as president of the Council of the European Union. As council president, Austria—and specifically its chancellor, Sebastian Kurz—had the opportunity to promote specific causes throughout the EU. Kurz used the occasion to highlight Austria’s cultural and imperial heritage, and he focused in particular on the Holy Roman Empire.

Has Sebastian Kurz supplied the blueprint for Europe’s salvation? Time will tell, but the fruits of his leadership are obvious. The sense of crisis that hung over the nation before his arrival has subsided. Austria’s populist uprising has calmed. The migration issue remains but is under control. The nation’s economy is stable. Austria, politically and socially, is relatively content. In other words, Austria stands in stark contrast to virtually every other nation in Europe—and it’s thanks primarily to Sebastian Kurz.

If you haven’t read it already, I encourage you to read “The Prophesied Holy Roman Empire Has Arrived.” This article by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry puts the rise of Sebastian Kurz in its full prophetic context.

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Violence in Zimbabwe Intensifies

A man drags a burning tire as angry protesters barricade the main route to Zimbabwe’s capital Harare from Epworth township on January 14 after the announcement of a more than 100 percent hike in fuel prices.
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Violence in Zimbabwe Intensifies

Amidst brutal government crackdowns, hatred among citizens continues to rise.

Chaos and violence are erupting in Zimbabwe. In the face of a major fuel shortage, President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe increased the price of fuel by more than 250 percent. Zimbabwe now has the most expensive fuel in the world by far—304 percent higher than the global average and 161 percent more expensive than the next most expensive country, Hong Kong.

Lines of cars queue at fuel stations while people with no way to get where they need to go riot in the streets, blocking roads and burning tires. Some have looted shops; unemployed youths have turned to arson. When the fuel price was suddenly increased, many who were away from home did not have enough money for the fuel needed to return home. Businesses have closed due to employees being unable to commute and because trade unions are calling for solidarity. Hunger is increasing, and many see nothing to do but riot.

“Our future is being destroyed because of one thing: the prices. We are struggling, and they are treating us like their slaves,” said one man protesting in the street.

Immediately after raising the price of fuel, Mnangagwa left on an international trip. Remaining in charge was Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who was formerly in charge of the Army and led the arrest of President Robert Mugabe in the military coup that brought Mnangagwa to power. Chiwenga imposed a complete Internet blackout and blocked communications. Security forces were then released on its citizens. On January 26, the Spectator reported on the armed assault:

Roving bands of soldiers (some of them masked, never a good sartorial sign in a soldier) went house to house, smashing windows, beating residents at random, stomping on their cellphones. The soldiers killed at least 12 people and wounded another 80 or so. More than 242 people were treated for bite wounds from patrol dogs. Police arrested more than 1,000, including some 10 opposition M.P.s.

Police targeted riot participants and nonparticipants alike, as well as men, women and children. This indiscriminate use of force was an explicit exhibition of the military dictatorship Zimbabwe is becoming. The Spectator continued:

Soldiers conducted acts of ritual humiliation—forcing young men to bathe in the pools of standing sewage that dot the decrepit working-class townships. And all this by the same soldiers that so many Zimbabweans lined the streets to welcome as heroes when they toppled Robert Mugabe just over a year ago.

“[T]he rule of law has been overthrown. … We are living are under a serious dictatorship. The world thought Mugabe was a dictator. But the current dictator is worse,” said lawyer Job Sikhala, who is representing 18 juveniles who were arrested in the raids.

Despite the government crackdown, many have vowed to continue protesting. Ellen, whose mother was killed in an armed assault, said she will “continue protesting until things are settled. I am not afraid to protest. I don’t care, because we are hungry. My mother died for us to stay OK, but still we are in hunger so we can’t stop contesting.”

With the destruction of the rule of law and intense civil unrest, peace is unlikely to quickly return to Zimbabwe. The Bible prophesies that such suffering and misery will increase globally. These events are a precursor of greater tragedy yet to engulf the entire planet.

Matthew 24:21 calls this rapidly approaching “great tribulation” a period of suffering “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be.” There has never been such a period of suffering in the history of man. It will be a time when “blood toucheth blood” (Hosea 4:2).

Ezekiel 7:23 says, “Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.” The violence and bloodshed will be like links in a chain, following one on top of another without reprieve.

This is exactly what is happening in Zimbabwe: bloodshed upon bloodshed, violence on top of violence.

For more on the recent upheaval, read our article “Who’s Behind the Coup in Zimbabwe?