Covid crackdowns crush democracy
European democracy is under severe strain, according to a March 3 Freedom House report. The report cites the actions of leaders from both Eastern and Western Europe that massively increase the power of their governments at the expense of the freedoms of their citizens.
In response to covid-19, the report states, “Governments across the democratic spectrum repeatedly resorted to excessive surveillance, discriminatory restrictions on freedoms like movement and assembly, and arbitrary or violent enforcement of such restrictions by police and nonstate actors.”
The report describes the Hungarian government using the threat of the disease as a pretext to rule by decree and to deny financial assistance to cities led by opposing political parties. The Polish government attempted, unsuccessfully, to use it to bypass the nation’s electoral commission and conduct national elections by fraud-prone mail-in ballots and to amend Poland’s Constitution to extend the time a government can stay in power. The French government used the scare to try, unsuccessfully, to use mail-in ballots and digital voting machines, and to successfully impose strict rules on citizens’ freedom of movement. The government of Spain used drones to police its citizens’ compliance with drastic restrictions, and the government of Germany arrested anti-mask protesters.
For years, the Trumpet has warned that European nations will change from democracies into authoritarian forms of government. This is based on clear Bible prophecies.
Read “Coronavirus and the Holy Roman Empire” by Gerald Flurry.
Germany in Afghanistan to Stay
On February 24, Germany’s government agreed to extend its military’s mission in Afghanistan to Jan. 31, 2022. The commitment of up to 1,300 troops is part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Resolute Support Mission. More than 1,100 German troops are currently deployed, the second-largest contingent after the United States.
The German government states that in order to “support the democratically elected government of Afghanistan, the Bundeswehr is providing assistance in the north of the country by training and advising local security forces.”
The Trump administration made a deal with Afghanistan’s Taliban faction in 2020, establishing May 1 of this year as the deadline for a final U.S. troop withdrawal. The Biden administration is currently reviewing the deal. While the U.S. and nato are uncertain about Afghanistan, Germany has made its commitment clear.
In 2010, late Trumpet writer Ron Fraser noted in “Afghanistan—Why Germany Won’t Leave” (theTrumpet.com/7124) that Germany is motivated to remain in the region to develop its military technology, forge key alliances, and hold a strategic military foothold. Since the 1990s, editor in chief Gerald Flurry has explained that one of Germany’s main goals in the region is to quietly prepare to confront Iran.
Read “The Whirlwind Prophecy,” by Gerald Flurry: theTrumpet.com/go/whirl.
Switzerland bans the burqa
Swiss citizens voted to ban the wearing of full face coverings in public by a narrow majority of 51.2 percent in a referendum on March 7. The next step will be to draft the law itself. The “burqa ban” comes after Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France and the Netherlands passed similar laws.
Since few Muslims live in the country and it has few incidents involving radical Islam, Switzerland is using this measure to make a statement. Europe has been a Christian continent for centuries. Switzerland is 62 percent Christian and is the birthplace of the Calvinist Protestant denomination. Bans on face coverings are a way to push back against challenges to Europe’s heritage and culture brought by Muslim refugees.
The Trumpet closely watches Europe’s relationship with Islam. Bible prophecy states that a confrontation between Europe and Iran-led radical Islam is imminent. It reveals that in the near future, Europe will be unified under a strong political leader who allies with a powerful, universal Christian religion.
Read The King of the South, by Gerald Flurry.
Iran-backed rocket attack kills American
On March 3, a barrage of 10 rockets struck the al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq used by Iraqi and American forces. An American contractor embedded with United States forces suffered from a heart attack and died. This was the first death of an American citizen inside Iraq since Joe Biden took office.
A similar attack occurred on February 15, killing at least one foreign national working with U.S. forces and injuring several American servicemen. The Biden administration retaliated with “proportional” air strikes against a border post in Syria. According to Iranian media, the March 3 attack was in response to Biden’s own retributive attack and was a message that American forces must leave Iraq.
Responses to the March 3 attack from the U.S. government indicate that it might respond with a “proportional” strike. The Biden administration’s newer, softer defense policy in the Middle East is emboldening Iran.
Friends of Israel Initiative reacts to new ICC prosecutor
On February 12, Karim Khan, a British barrister, was elected as chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The Friends of Israel Initiative responded by sending Khan an open letter signed by many former world leaders urging him not to launch war crimes investigations against Israel.
The letter stated that such an investigation would politicize the court and harm its standing. It noted that Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute, which gives the court its authority, and stated that the court has no right to try Israeli citizens and that Israel has a “long-established and internationally respected legal system with a track record of investigating such crimes.”
Whether the Friends of Israel Initiative will succeed remains to be seen. But one signatory of the letter is worth noting: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. For years, Guttenberg has been positioning himself as a friend of Israel and enemy of Iran, even as the general political landscape in Germany drifts in the opposite direction. In a hostile world, Israel is most certainly taking note of the few supporters it has, and Guttenberg is one of them. But Bible prophecy warns that as Israel looks for help against threats like the International Criminal Court, it is overlooking a threat that is much more subtle and much more deadly.
Everyday Americans under threat of cyberattack
“The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not.” That is the assessment of Kevin Mandia, ceo of cybersecurity company FireEye, given in a February 28 interview with Axios on hbo. FireEye is the firm that uncovered the massive SolarWinds hack that breached the National Nuclear Security Administration and several other federal agencies
Mandia warned that even small nations can use cyberattacks to disrupt the lives of Americans and weaken national security. Americans would find that their computer programs and even their appliances will stop working, and more importantly, the nation’s supply chains will break.
Last year, Internet users were reminded of how heavily they rely on cyber services when Google aservices including Calendar, Gmail, Hangouts, Maps and YouTube all crashed due to a power outage. Hacking or shutting down services used by millions of Americans would throw the economy and society into turmoil.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry warned about the threat of cyberwarfare in 1995 when the public was only dimly aware of how vulnerable a computer-run society could be. He emphasized a statement by intelligence analyst Joseph DeCourcy: “Computer dependence is the Western world’s Achilles’ heel, and within a few years, this weakness could be tested to the full.”
Mr. Flurry then emphasized Ezekiel 7:14-16, a Bible prophecy that could be fulfilled by a cyberattack: “They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof. The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him. But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity.”
China’s digital currency could challenge dollar
China established a joint venture with swift on January 16 to promote the use of China’s digital yuan in cross-nation transactions.
Swift is the vast messaging system banks use to transfer money from one nation to another. Since its establishment in 1973, the overwhelming majority of its trillions of transactions have been conducted in United States dollars. This is one reason nations hold dollars in reserve, which renders a huge benefit to the American economy.
“It’s early days,” wrote David Goldman in the Frontier Post, “but the joint venture could denote the end of the dollar’s role as the dominant medium of international exchange and, more importantly, the end of more than $20 trillion of cheap loans to the United States from the rest of the world.”
These “loans” are related to the way the world’s nations hold foreign-exchange reserves and transaction balances in dollars. The system has functioned as a vital artery of the American economy, helping finance its vast deficit expenditures and giving Washington considerable power over any nation that imports or exports.
For this reason, leaders of countries such as China, Russia, Iran and Venezuela have worked to chip away at the U.S.’s dominance in the swift system and in the general global reserve currency dynamic. But avoiding the dollar has proved challenging, largely due to the size of America’s economy, the dominance of U.S. markets, and the momentum of long-standing global finance practices.
But China’s joint venture with swift could change that.
Goldman continued: “Historians still quibble about what event marked the end of the Roman Empire. Some future historians might choose Jan. 16, 2021, as the fatal moment for the American empire.”
As Goldman noted, it is too early to know whether the new mechanism will materialize into a dollar-toppling development. But the fact that it was launched on January 16 makes this an event of particular interest to the Trumpet.
On January 16 of 1986, after preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God as a witness to the world for almost six decades, Herbert W. Armstrong died. Editor in chief Gerald Flurry explains in his booklet January 16: God’s Miracle Day that ever since then, God has repeatedly used this date to call attention to all He accomplished through Mr. Armstrong—and to the warnings He issued through him. “Study this date, and watch for it,” he writes. “It points you to a man around whom so much revolves in this end time! … A man who preached the true gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations as a witness. A man who warned Israel for decades of the curses and calamities they are about to experience.”
Request January 16: God’s Miracle Day.
Chinese Communist Party law would trap Hong Kongers
The government of Hong Kong introduced an amendment bill in late January that would empower security chiefs to unilaterally ban any individual from leaving the country. The proposed law is the Chinese Communist Party’s latest move to take away Hong Kongers’ special freedoms.
For decades, the Basic Law of Hong Kong protected citizens in the metropolis from the dictatorial power the Communist Party holds over mainland China. In 2019, China proposed a law that would enable it to extradite any citizen of Hong Kong to the mainland, where the conviction rate is 99.965 percent. Only after truly massive, passionate, months-long protests was the bill withdrawn. But a more recent national security law has muzzled freedom of speech, enabled imprisonment of pro-democracy activists, and ordered the surrender of travel documents in certain circumstances. The new bill apparently would order the surrender of travel documents in all circumstances deemed necessary by agents of the party.
The United Kingdom, which established Hong Kong in the 1800s, introduced a plan in January that could give as many as 5.4 million Hong Kongers asylum and a path to British citizenship. But once the “Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2020” passes, leaving Hong Kong could become as difficult as defecting from North Korea.
Putin and other ‘kings of the east’ prepare for war
The Russian Defense Ministry announced on January 1 that Russia would participate in nine military exercises with foreign troops in 2021, hosting eight of them.
Several drills will be held under the banner of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, members of which include Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The exercises will include faster, larger joint deployments and hybrid warfare.
In September, Belarus and Russia will hold “Zapad-2021” joint military exercises in both nations, including the Russian Arctic. Other 2021 exercises will see Russian forces rehearsing war alongside troops from China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Rarely has any nation become so quickly and so heavily involved with so many other countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin is building a gargantuan military alliance of literally biblical proportions. It is prophesied in Revelation 9:16.
To learn more, request Russia and China in Prophecy.