The Kings of the East
Cold war is the term given to the conflict—conducted by means just short of direct military engagement—between the United States and the Soviet Union from 1945 until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet economy in 1989-1991. To most Westerners living during this time, the cold war meant more than merely competition over ideological differences—it spelled fear.
For more than four decades, the world remained transfixed by the American-Soviet standoff. As both sides built up elaborate space and missile programs, more Americans began to jump on the “bomb shelter in every backyard” bandwagon. There were rumors of “Commies in every closet and under every bed.” School children across the nation took time out of class regularly to practice emergency evacuation drills. No one was exempt from the threat of all-out hot war involving atomic weapons.
The arms race increased at a frightful rate to the point where, in the 1980s, there was talk of satellite laser-guided missile technology (the Star Wars program), nuclear winter and “global overkill.”
No one seemed to have an answer for the perplexing cold war problems. No one, that is, besides one exceptional news forecaster. Amid the cacophony of confusing news reports that emerged throughout that era, that lone voice cried out: “Russia will not attack America!”
One man, Herbert W. Armstrong, repeatedly dared to declare—years ahead of the Soviet Union’s fall—that the USSR was not the power to fear. The real power to watch, according to him, would be another force: a ten-nation “United States of Europe” that would form in the years ahead. He said that Russia would remain a threat to the world—just not in the way most Westerners thought. Russia would combine economically and militarily with China, he predicted, to eventually create a gargantuan new Asian superpower such as the world has never seen.
Even before World War II broke out, Mr. Armstrong could foresee the emergence of these two superpowers in the end time. In the June/July 1934 issue of the Plain Truth he proclaimed, “Scripture prophesies two great military powers to arise in the last days—one the revival of the Roman Empire by a federation of ten nations in the territory of the ancient Roman Empire; the other…Russia, with her allies… possibly China or Japan.”
Not many, however, listened to his predictions. Many chortled at statements such as this one, which appeared in the December 1956 Plain Truth: “We have been warning that it is not Russia which will conquer us—it is not Russia which will master Europe…it is a union of ten fascist nations in Europe which will become a third power in the world and rise up to conquer the democracies of Northwest Europe and America!”
Remember: That statement was printed at the height of the cold war!
No wonder people scoffed. Especially when—one month later—he wrote the following statement. “The idea that has been sold to the Western world that Russia is a powerful industrial and military nation threatening to surpass the United States, capable of waging full-scale world war against us, is the most colossal hoax of our time! Stalin always believed, like Hitler, that if you tell the world a lie that is big enough, the world will believe it! The world does not like to believe the truth. The Communists are the most chronic, experienced, consistent and dastardly liars on earth!” (Plain Truth, Jan. 1957).
During the public uncertainty over the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the Plain Truth categorically declared that the U.S. need not fear the Soviet Union. “The Russians would back down, or give in on almost any point that has arisen, rather than go to war with America” (Oct. 1962).
Mr. Armstrong continued to speak out on these and other specific issues, providing clear projections regarding major world events, until his death on January 16, 1986. Still, not many believed him.
Yet, a few short years after Mr. Armstrong was gone from the scene, the USSR collapsed and the Iron Curtain rusted into oblivion. Suddenly, the Evil Empire lost its foothold in Eastern Europe and the Communist threat to America indeed seemed to diminish. The cold war was over. In addition, a re-united Germany appeared—just as Mr. Armstrong had declared!
How could Mr. Armstrong have known, more than 65 years ago, that these world events would pan out this way? Simple: He used the world’s best seller as his guide!
We’ve already discussed the validity of his predictions involving the German-led European superpower (see story on page 4.) In this article, we will zero in on what Mr. Armstrong and the staff writers of the Plain Truth said about Russia, and the coming Asian superpower.
History of Russia and China
In the next few years, there will be a staggering turn in world events! A giant Asian superpower, with a modernized Russia and China at the helm, will dramatically affect the course of history. Indeed, this emerging power bloc—a conglomerate of peoples which comprise one fourth of the world’s population—will be deeply involved in the tumultuous tide of events that will lead to the conclusion of mankind’s 6,000 years of self-rule!
“From time to time news commentators—in describing the coming catastrophic military struggle for world control—use the biblical expression Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16. But what they do not mention is a striking prophecy about ‘Armageddon’ found in Revelation 16:12. In this verse we read that ‘the way of the kings of the east’ is to be prepared!” (Plain Truth, Dec. 1962).
Who are these “kings of the east”? Their identities are critical for us to understand if we are to know where modern nations fit in biblical prophecy.
Your Bible, mainly in the books of Genesis, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Revelation, identifies these leaders or nations as Meshech, Tubal, Gog and Magog.
Mr. Armstrong pointed out that “There is general agreement among students of prophecy that ‘Gog’ in the land of ‘Magog’ is the vast regions of northern Eurasia extending from the Baltic to the Pacific. ‘Meshech’ is Moscow, ‘Tubal’ is Tobolsk. The Bible margin says ‘Prince of Rosh,’ which is Russia” (Plain Truth, April 1981).
Historically, relations between these countries have been rocky—especially between Russia and China. For centuries, these two nations have vacillated between conflict and cooperation. In recent years, these two Communist neighbors have been forging a closer bond—for several reasons. (For further explanation, please request our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.)
Eastern Europe’s Breakaway
One of the significant occurrences that Mr. Armstrong predicted would aid in the building of this new Asian superpower is the slipping of Eastern Europe from the USSR’s grip—an event that has happened this past decade.
As early as April 1952, even while West Germany was rebuilding after being bombed to ashes in World War II, the Plain Truth wrote, “Russia may give East Germany back to the Germans and will be forced to relinquish her control over Hungary, Czechoslovakia and parts of Austria to complete the ten-nation union.”
Notice what Mr. Armstrong wrote in a booklet first published in 1955—over 41/2 decades before Eastern Europe split from the USSR: “Some of the Balkan nations are going to tear away from behind the Iron Curtain. Russia has lost already, to all appearances, Tito’s Yugoslavia. Russia probably will lose still more of her Eastern European satellites.”
Not many would have believed that statement then, or this report which appeared in the Plain Truth the following year: “Communist oppression in Eastern Europe is being overthrown…. We have shown years in advance what would happen to Russia’s ill-fated empire in Eastern Europe. These prophecies have been in your Bible for the past 1900 years. But the world, and the churches of this world, have refused to believe them” (Dec. 1956).
Mr. Armstrong once suspected that Eastern Europe’s breakaway would happen sooner than it did. These events, though, were forestalled a little longer than he (and everyone else) expected. As wise Solomon said millennia ago, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). Conditions weren’t quite ripe during the mid-1950s.
In January 1957, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “When the right psychological moment arrives, a number of these nations will break away from Moscow, and the world will then be stunned to learn that they had previously entered into a secret pact allying themselves with Germany, Italy, Spain and other European nations in a fascist united Europe! Another most significant evidence of this trend, showing that these satellite nations are in actual fact breaking away from Moscow and turning more toward the West, is the fact that Roman Catholics in these countries are again being allowed their liberties.”
That “right psychological moment” finally arrived about ten years ago! That prophecy has unfolded right before our very eyes!
Yes, the Russians believed, for years, that the West would try every means within their power to attract the satellite nations of East Europe into their orbit. The Russians feared that West Germany, above all, would use these very means to attract some of the Balkan nations away from the Soviet sphere of influence.
Now we can see that many of the Eastern European nations did in fact escape the clutches of Soviet Russia! These countries include the Czech Republic, East Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Yugoslavia. Each of these is either already a part of the European Union or is clamoring for EU membership.
Throughout the cold war, Mr. Armstrong’s insights were correct!
Why is the loss of these Eastern European nations significant? Because it drastically weakens the western border defenses of Russia. Russia has learned, having thrice suffered European invasion through Poland in two centuries, that it cannot fight a war on two fronts. That is why, today, Russia and Belarus are reasserting influence in the states of the former Soviet south economically and diplomatically—even militarily in the case of Georgia, in Chechnya. They would like nothing better than to bring the former-USSR Commonwealth of Independent States (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan) back into the Communist fold.
It is also why, concurrently, Russia is working to come to peaceful terms with its oriental Communist relative.
Middle and Southeast Asia
Throughout the cold war period, Russia and China continually played a game of cat and mouse. For the most part, Russia had the upper hand. China, however, began making huge gains after the cold war. Both countries have their eyes fixed on conquering Middle Asia, Indochina and Southeast Asia. Their ultimate goal, said Mr. Armstrong, is not just frontier expansion, but world control!
The Plain Truth of December 1959 revealed some of these Communist plans—including Russia and China’s plans to form a coalition! “Russia’s program is not to take Europe and to attack the United States, first. The Communist program, which our leaders should know, calls first for the seizure of Asia. Lenin wrote that the way to Paris, London and New York is via [Beijing] and Delhi….
“Part of the Communist plan [is] to place India and Pakistan in a giant vice between Russia and China…. Red China insists it has a legal right not only to Tibet but [also] to many parts of India and Southeast Asia…. Their constant dream for centuries has been ultimate world conquest!… China knows, however, that in this highly industrialized age she can accomplish this dream only as an ally of Russia….
“China is now ready to begin devouring the rest of Asia with Russia’s secret military backing. The plans were laid bare in [the Korean War]. China, not Russia, intervened in Korea. Korea became divided. China, not Russia, launched attacks in Indochina and seized control of North Vietnam. Vietnam became divided. Next, the Chinese Communists took over all Tibet. From Tibet the Chinese plan conquest of India by dividing her and devouring her a piece at a time!… The Communist Party will ultimately control not only the Russian states, but China…and India as well!”
Remember, that was written in 1959!
The Plain Truth did forecast some geopolitical changes that remain to be seen. Howbeit, even while the United States stood at the pinnacle of world power, it warned of America’s impending international setbacks in Vietnam.
Notice this from the November 1961 issue: “Having advanced virtually to the brink of another ‘Korea-type’ war over Laos, the United States would almost certainly have to fight a major battle in either Thailand or South Vietnam….”
In May, 1968—seven years before the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam to communism—the Plain Truth stated, “Bible prophecy reveals that not even America, with all of her nuclear muscle, can prevent Southeast Asia from eventually being overrun by communism.”
China, along with the USSR’s help, continued to push into Middle and Southeast Asia throughout the 1960s. In December 1962, the Plain Truth reported on the Chinese-Indian border conflict. “[The Soviets are] supplying the Chinese with technical know-how and letting China’s 600 million people gobble up the rest of Asia!… It is part of their propaganda that these areas once were under Chinese control.
“A cunning two-point Red thrust has again caught the West off guard. While Soviet Russia was secretly establishing a missile beachhead in Cuba, the Red Chinese were assembling immense supplies, 100,000 men and heavy armor for an attack on India. Red Chinese have already captured more than 50,000 square miles of Indian territory…. Almost no one, it seems, is aware that India is far more important to Communist leaders than is Cuba. Cuba is an extra prize, which the Communists chanced upon. But the next big goal in Communist thinking is India…. The petty jealousies between Moscow and [Beijing] are not deterring either from their joint goal: world conquest. This is all part of the great Communist plan enunciated by Lenin 30 years ago.”
The Plain Truth continued to follow Sino-Russian affinity throughout the next several years. In July 1966, this startling prediction was made: “India knows Red China is completing massive troop buildups on the Indian border. India knows Red China has the atomic bomb, and possibly the hydrogen bomb. That means, in the most urgent considerations of national security, India must have the bomb! Purely as a defensive measure against Red China, of course. But then there’s Pakistan…. [Pakistan is] one nation, born of violent hatreds between Hindu and Muslim. Should India build the bombs, Pakistanis would turn in desperation to the big powers—they would be forced to obtain nuclear weapons!”
By 1998, both India and Pakistan tested nuclear bombs, abruptly pronouncing themselves members of the exclusive nuclear club!
In addition to pushing into middle Asia, Red China would attempt to pull some of its island neighbors into its grasp. On this issue, it has been the practice of Western leaders to try to “appease” China through various “peace talks”—often to no avail. The very non-”politically correct” Plain Truth of the 1960s didn’t mince words regarding this problem.
“The Asiatic mind is totally different from the occidental [Western] mind. It doesn’t reason in the same manner. Try though we may to delude ourselves into believing our dollars, trade missions, military advisors and arms shipments, our hospital ships, our missions, our food supplies are helping stem the tide of the advancing threat of communism in these Eastern nations—we are failing! These simple peoples are impressed with strength, not talk. They feel a much closer kinship with other peoples of the Asian sphere than they do with the far away ‘Yankees’ with customs, languages and religions so totally different from their own” (Nov. 1961).
Russia and China Today
Despite Russia and China’s love-hate relationship in the past, there has been resurgent collaboration between the two nations since the end of the cold war.
In 1989, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev visited China to restore ties and give new impetus to settling demarcation lines that had been disputed for centuries. Further steps were taken in 1991 when Russia and China signed an official border agreement.
By April 1997, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan met to sign an accord in Moscow on troop reduction and security-building measures along the 4,700-mile border between the former Soviet Union and China. Several months later, in November, a clear signal of their intent for mutual cooperation appeared: Russian President Yeltsin and Chinese President Zemin signed a formal declaration, putting an end to variances over the implementation of the 1991 border agreement.
This act seemed to confirm that Russia and China, long vacillating between a historic relationship as friends and foes, were entering a new era of cooperation in strategic partnership to counter U.S. dominance. As an example, between 1991 and 1997, China spent $6 billion on Russian armaments. Last June, the two countries signed a contract to train Chinese servicemen in Russia’s military schools. Further inroads between the two countries have been made since then—most notably in recent weeks.
On January 6, U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said in remarks at the National Press Club that Russia and China could seriously threaten America if their political ties are strengthened. Concerning Russia’s failure to complete its transformation into a democracy and free-market economy, Mr. Berger said, “If [Russia] fails and it reverts back to a more nationalistic direction or a more threatening posture or a more hard-line posture, it could under those circumstances reemerge as a threat….” Mr. Berger also gave a frank assessment of China. “A sense of realism cautions us to be prepared for the possibility that this emerging power emerges as a threat.”
It is evident that both Russian and Chinese officials are eager to form a new alliance and counter perceived American dominance of world affairs. Russian diplomats want to create a “multi-polar world,” and they know that the most expedient way to do that is to cement relations with their closest neighbor to the south.
Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian arrived in Moscow on January 16 for three days of talks concerning the solidification of a Chinese-Russian military alliance. On the first day of the meetings, Mr. Chi expressed the hope that the two countries would strengthen cooperation, especially in the military sphere. He said, “We are strongly convinced that under acting Russian President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s help and support, our good-neighbor relations will become stronger.”
During the meeting, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev agreed that military relations between the two nations were “intensively expanding.” He also said, “We welcome each meeting with our Chinese friends. Our mutual understanding on all issues grows deeper and broader as we meet more frequently.”
The ministers signed a memorandum on mutual understanding at the end of their talks addressing military and technical cooperation between Russia and China. The sides also discussed the current state and prospects of bilateral teamwork in defense, arms trade and related services, and exchanged opinions on pressing international affairs of common interest, particularly the strengthening of security in Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific.
The Plain Truth of October 1973 predicted that democratic headway into Communist Asia would eventually fail. It also stated that an alliance of socialist-communist nations was in the thinking of Russian and Chinese leaders: “The Communists haven’t suddenly changed ideologically. They haven’t come to believe that their system is unworkable. Neither have the communists given up their hopes of leading the world to socialism. But they do profess that their goals can be reached by means of peaceful coexistence.”
At present, Vladimir Putin and Jiang Zemin are both feeling international pressure over internal territorial disputes. By their actions and currently growing partnership, they are telling the West to mind its own business and not to seek domination in the post-cold war world. They see the urgent need to revive their imperialist roots.
God has prophesied the final outcome of the emerging Asian alliance. Using those prophecies, Herbert Armstrong and the staff writers of the Plain Truth, as well as the editorial staff of the Trumpet, have accurately forewarned of these situations for many years. Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, but the Trumpet continues to declare that a nuclear World War III is coming! We are also positive that Mr. Armstrong’s assertion that “the kings of the east” will forge an even deeper relationship in the years ahead, and eventually play a major part in the coming battle of Armageddon, is correct!
Although America and Britain are destined to fall, we still say that it is not Russia (nor a Russian-Asian conglomerate) that we need to fear. It is Germany and the revived “Holy” Roman Empire! Some will still scoff—even today. They say the cold war is over and we need not fear a “hot” war anytime soon. But the Trumpet says our world is about to be rocked!
Our message isn’t all about “gloom and doom,” despite what our critics might think. Just beyond the perilous times that lie ahead is unbelievably good news! That is the biggest news of all! No major newsmagazine is announcing that good news. They simply do not believe it!
That good news involves the gospel of the Kingdom of God. (The word gospel means “good news.”) The worldwide work of this magazine is actively announcing the crisis at the close of this age—the crisis of which the greatest news forecaster of all times, Jesus Christ, warned in Matthew 24. We are announcing a crisis that will usher in a new and better age, when all peoples everywhere will begin to enjoy peace and prosperity under the direction of God’s divine rulership.