Why the U.S. Dollar Constantly Loses Value

Why the U.S. Dollar Constantly Loses Value

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Your wealth is steadily evaporating. Why doesn’t a dollar stretch like it used to?
From the February 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

Ever wonder why your dollar doesn’t seem to stretch as far as it used to? There is a simple explanation: It’s worth less. The reason? The nation’s money supply is constantly being expanded.

Between 1783 and 1913, the U.S. dollar was a real store of wealth. Except during wartime periods, inflation within the United States was essentially zero. If you saved one dollar in 1800, a hundred years later you could still purchase approximately the same amount of goods with your savings.

But in 1913 something changed, and the U.S. dollar started down a long, steady road of devaluations. Using the U.S. government’s own figures, to obtain the same amount of purchasing power of $100 in 1913, you would need over $2,000 today.

In 1970, at the age of 77, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about how as a boy his mother had asked him to “[g]o to the meat shop and get a dime’s worth of round steak. And tell the butcher to put in plenty of suet.” A “dime’s worth” meant each person in his family received a modest-sized piece of meat, plus plenty of gravy for the potatoes.

In times past, the dollar certainly stretched further. Mr. Armstrong quoted the Labor Department’s figures for how much $5 would have purchased in 1913: 15 pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of flour, 5 pounds of sugar, 5 pounds of chuck roast, 3 pounds of round steak, 3 pounds of rice, 2 pounds each of cheese and bacon, and a pound each of butter and coffee; that money would also get you two loaves of bread, 4 quarts of milk and a dozen eggs. “This would leave you with 2 cents for candy,” he wrote.

Wow. At most grocery stores today, with $5 you would be hard-pressed to buy a pound of round steak and a chocolate bar.

What changed in 1913? That was the year America adopted the Federal Reserve Banking (frb) system and the nation took its first steps toward abolishing the gold standard and replacing it with a banking system that allowed for unlimited paper money to be created.

Creation of the Fiat System

As described by Alan Greenspan in 1966, the new system consisted of “regional Federal Reserve banks nominally owned by private bankers, but in fact government sponsored, controlled and supported. Credit extended by these banks is in practice (though not legally) backed by the taxing power of the federal government. … But now, in addition to gold, credit extended by the Federal Reserve banks (‘paper reserves’) could serve as legal tender to pay depositors.”

In other words, the dollar would only be partially backed by gold, and banks could create money by lending out money secured by credit from the Federal Reserve banks (even though the reserve banks did not necessarily have gold on deposit themselves). Thus the seeds of America’s first fiat (currency not backed by gold) dollar system were sown.

At that time, however, there were still restraints upon money-supply growth because the dollar was still convertible to gold upon demand. Anyone cashing in paper dollars was still legally entitled to its value in gold, so the money supply did not balloon completely out of control.

Yet by 1934, the paper money supply had expanded faster than the nation’s gold supply, so in order to prevent the nation’s gold supply from being drained, the U.S. decided to devalue the dollar—by 41 percent. Prior to 1934, an ounce of gold could be redeemed for just us$20.67, however after the revision, the U.S. government would only part with an ounce of gold in exchange for $35. In gold terms, anyone who had a U.S. savings account lost 41 percent of its value—overnight.

Even though the 1934 U.S. currency devaluation rocked people’s confidence in the dollar, World War ii thrust the U.S. dollar into a new status: the world’s reserve currency. Toward the end of the war, representatives of most of the world’s leading nations met to create a new international monetary system, later known as the Bretton Woods agreement. At this meeting, the war-torn and virtually bankrupt nations of the world decided that since the U.S. economy had come to dominate the globe, and because it held 80 percent of the world’s gold due to the war, they would tie their currencies to the dollar, which, in turn, could be converted into gold at $35 per ounce.

Yet under the Bretton Woods system there were still limits on how much paper money a country could create. Each country had to police its own currency or be forced into embarrassing devaluations. The U.S. itself was constrained from overprinting money because the dollar remained fully convertible into gold.

However, by 1971, America had again printed vastly more paper money than was backed by precious metal. According to some estimates, so many paper dollars had been created that the nation’s gold supply only backed 22 percent of them. At the same time, French President Charles de Gaulle, recognizing that the dollar was losing value, had been exchanging his nation’s collection of U.S. dollars for American gold reserves. Seeing other nations following suit, U.S. President Richard Nixon closed the gold window in August 1971, no longer allowing foreigners to exchange their U.S. dollars for gold and thus ending the Bretton Woods agreement.

From that point on, America’s dollar became fiat, not backed by tangible assets. As the Federal Reserve bank of Minneapolis says, the U.S. dollar is fiat and is valuable only as long as “[p]eople are willing to accept fiat money in exchange for the goods and services they sell”—and only as long as “they are confident it will be honored when they buy goods and services.”

Since people were already in the habit of accepting paper backed by gold, Americans hardly noticed when the U.S. greenback became backed by nothing more than faith—until it started affecting their pocketbooks. Loss of the dollar’s gold backing resulted in a U.S. dollar sell-off in which foreign nations dumped dollars on the open market. This in turn caused roaring inflation and gold to spike up into the $800-per-ounce range. After the frb jacked interest rates into the high teens, both Americans and foreigners decided they would trust the government and continued using the U.S. dollar.

The U.S. now operates on what many refer to as the Bretton Woods 2 system. Although there is no formal central bank agreement (as was the case with Bretton Woods 1), many countries, especially those in Asia, have more or less informally pegged their currencies to the dollar.

This system is inherently more unstable than the previous precious-metal-based non-fiat system. Since the U.S. dollar is no longer convertible to gold, there is no theoretical limit to how much the U.S. money base can expand—and the U.S. has been taking full advantage of this situation to increase its money supply.

Nevertheless, as one well-known economics saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. America’s monetary expansion has been a primary driver behind the massive and continual erosion in the U.S. dollar’s purchasing power.

The Dollar’s Decline

During Alan Greenspan’s term at the frb alone, America’s monetary base tripled and more new money came into being than under all previous Fed chairmen combined. As the government has massively increased the money supply—doubling it in the last seven years alone—those dollars have become less valuable.

So many dollars have been created that only the dollar’s status as a reserve currency, along with the kindness of America’s trade partners, has prevented a complete dollar meltdown. Unfortunately, these dollar supports seem to be crumbling.

At one point, 86 percent of the globe’s transactions were denominated in dollars. Whether it was Russians and Saudis selling oil to the world, or Chinese purchasing wheat from Canada, the dollar was the primary means of payment. Thus, foreign nations needed to keep huge dollar reserves on hand. This was a gigantic plus for the dollar. Had foreign nations not needed to increase their holdings of dollars as world trade grew, there would have been a massive wave of homeless dollars roaming the world looking to be spent, and as the supply of dollars increased, the dollar’s value would have plummeted. Instead, over the years, America has been able to get away with creating the money needed to pay its bills and finance an otherwise unaffordable standard of living.

However, the dollar’s status as a reserve currency is now being challenged. In 2005, the percentage of dollar-denominated reserves held by foreign nations was 76 percent. Now, not two years later, it is down to 65 percent. “[T]here is a gentle and osmotic process underway,” says economic analyst Julian D.W. Phillips: “a lessening of the role of the U.S. dollar in the global reserves” (Financial Sense Online, Nov. 6, 2006).

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is also warning of possible protracted dollar dumping. “We’re beginning to see some move from the dollar to the euro, both from the private sector … but also from monetary authorities and central banks,” he said in October last year.

Although an all-out revolt against the dollar hasn’t yet occurred, clear signals are emerging that the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency of choice could be ending. Last year, Russia’s central bank, Sweden’s Riksbank, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar Central Bank and the Central Bank of Syria all announced intentions to diversify their reserves away from the greenback.

Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that China and other Asian nations also have been hinting at diversifying out of their dollar reserve holdings. Australian Treasurer Peter Costello admonished central bankers in East Asia “to ‘telegraph’ their intentions to diversify out of American investments and ensure an orderly adjustment” (Sydney Morning Herald, Oct. 18, 2006). Over the past several years, central banks in China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong have spent hundreds of billions purchasing American government bonds. They have done so to support the dollar and help keep American consumers purchasing Asian-made products. If Mr. Costello is correct, however, “the strategy [has now] changed.” Recent trends suggest Asians are weaning themselves off American consumption. Consumer demand within China and Asia is growing, as is Asian trade with Europe. As the importance of Asian-American trade wanes, the incentive for Asians to support the dollar and to hold on to their massive dollar reserves is waning as well.

America’s Asian creditors are up to their necks in U.S. dollars and may now be reaching the point where they no longer feel it is safe to hold so great a proportion of their foreign currency reserves in the dollar.

“The exchange rate of the U.S. dollar, which is the major reserve currency, is going lower, increasing the depreciation risk for East Asian reserve assets,” warned the People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Wu Xiaoling in November. The same month, the central bank’s governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, was quoted as saying that China has plans to diversify its assets into “many instruments,” presumably indicating a move away from the dollar (Forbes, Nov. 24, 2006).

This is big news, since China is the second-largest foreign holder of dollars in the world after Japan. China is estimated to hold approximately 70 percent of its $1 trillion of currency reserves in U.S. dollars. It certainly seems that Chinese central-bank officials are following Costello’s advice about being up front when they plan to sell their dollars. The question doesn’t seem to be whether the Asian banks will dump dollars—it is how orderly and significant the dollar devaluation will be.

America’s massive monetary expansion could be about to boomerang on itself, as it did in 1934 and 1971—only this time, the number of dollars involved absolutely dwarfs all previous currency crises. As the U.S. persistently destroys the value of the dollar by overprinting (or, more correctly, over-creating, since most money created is now digital), foreign nations are losing confidence in the dollar and its role as a reserve currency. Foreign central bank sales are the first waves of a coming dollar storm. The more that central banks dump dollars, the greater the loss of investor confidence in the dollar.

As Congressman Ron Paul wrote in Texas Straight Talk, May 15, 2006, “The consequences of a rapidly declining dollar are not yet fully understood by the American public. The long-term significance has not sunk in, but when it does there will be political hell to pay in Washington. Our relative wealth as a nation is measured in dollars, and the steady erosion of the value of those dollars means we will all be poorer in the future.”

As much as the dollar’s value has fallen in the past, Americans must face the reality of far more dramatic drops to come.

Youth, Cutting and the Family

From the January 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

An astonishing number of teens and young adults are performing a shocking form of self-inflicted brutality: cutting. Numbers are hard to pin down, but studies show as many as 10 percent of teenage girls in England and 17 percent of college students at Cornell and Princeton in the United States are involved in some form of self-injury (Medical News Today, Aug. 26, 2006).

Why are youths doing this? Health officials call it an unhealthy coping mechanism—a misguided attempt to seek release from life’s pressures. The cause is often a feeling of isolation, being left out. The nhs Health Encyclopedia explains, “People who self-harm often describe feelings of numbness or deadness or they may feel detached from reality, as if they are not part of the world.”

Why do these teens feel this way?

God intended family to be the main support for young people as they grow. The biblical model is one of parents being deeply involved in their children’s lives—loving, instructing and disciplining in love (e.g. Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Luke 15:11-31; Ephesians 6:4); and at the same time, children honoring and obeying their parents (Ephesians 6:1-2).

Western culture, by stark contrast, barrages us with anti-family messages. In far too many cases, materialism, independence, personal privacy, moral relativism and other values that saturate modern life all take precedence over family. Parents prioritize careers or personal pursuits over family, and children feel increasingly ostracized from their families as they enter teenagehood. As one cutter reasoned, “I didn’t want to burden my mom with my problems.”

While cutting is a sign of a violent force in society, it is also a powerful symptom of an ailing family life.

Record Drops in House Prices

From the January 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

If you purchased a new home after September 2004, odds are it is now worth less than you originally paid for it.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, the median price for newly constructed homes fell 9.7 percent from September 2005 to September 2006—a drop of magnitude not seen since 1970, and the fourth-largest year-over-year drop on record. Median home prices as of September were down 15.5 percent from their record high posted last April (cnnMoney.com, Oct. 26, 2006). At the same time, the volume of new home sales has also plunged 14 percent from levels a year ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The big danger, according to Jim Jubak, senior markets editor for msn Money, is that this housing slowdown might continue to build on its own momentum.

“It was surprising just how quickly the market seemed to turn,” says Mark Zandi, Economy.com’s chief economist. “It was like, boom, boom, bust. It was like, ‘What happened?’ The psychology in the market place unraveled very rapidly” (USA Today, Oct. 26, 2006).

When home prices are soaring, nobody wants to wait to buy a home in fear that they will have to pay more for it later. And sellers don’t mind waiting for higher bids because they think they can get more money later.

Conversely, however, when market temperaments change and people begin to anticipate lower future prices, the incentive to make a quick purchase disappears. “Bids are drying up. Many potential buyers are simply waiting for lower prices. The word is that ‘it pays to wait,’” says economic analyst Richard Russell (Daily Reckoning, Sept. 19, 2006).

Michael Shedlock of Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis agrees, calling this “a procrastinator’s market” and saying, “Prices have only one way to go and that is down.” Why buy a house today when you can buy it for less next month or maybe much less next year?

Even with the housing downturn in what could be its infancy, some analysts are already forecasting that prices have hit bottom. “The worst is behind us as far as a market correction—this is likely the trough for sales,” said David Lereah, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist. “When consumers recognize that home sales are stabilizing, we’ll see the buyers who’ve been on the sidelines get back into the market” (Associated Press, Oct. 25, 2006).

Where exactly this sideline for buyers is that Lereah refers to is unclear. Homeownership is already at record levels. Additionally, according to some estimates, 40 percent of houses purchased in 2005 were second homes or investments.

Moreover, over the past few years it has become much more commonplace to buy a house without a down payment. If prices continue to remain weak, the market could be flooded with people trying to get out of their mortgages with what little is left before prices weaken more. According to Shedlock, the market is already “flooded with inventory from those who now want to cash out” (op. cit.).

Perhaps the clearest indicator of the end of the housing bubble, from a contrarian point of view, is that people can now, along with pork bellies, soybeans and stocks, invest in a home-futures market. This past May, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange created a home-price-futures market that gives people and investors the ability to speculate on home prices across 10 major U.S. cities, including Boston, Miami, San Diego and Chicago, without actually purchasing any property.

This kind of speculator excitement—typified by a plethora of new and improved investment ideas like home-futures contracts, interest-only mortgages, negative amortization home loans, 50-year mortgages, widespread adjustable-rate mortgages and other products—is characteristic of the froth that usually surrounds bubble peaks—like that of the dot.com mania in 2000.

The noise of a deflating housing bubble is getting louder. For the U.S. economy, which has become so dependent on the many jobs surrounding the home-construction, real-estate and property financing sectors, this is certainly not a good economic development. If you haven’t started preparing for post-bubble economic trouble, now might be a good time.

Midterm Elections—A Disaster for America

The elections that awarded Democrats control of Congress marked a turning point in American history. You need to understand why.
From the January 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

Last November’s mid-term elections marked a disaster in American history.

President George W. Bush won the last two presidential elections by razor-thin margins. Republicans have dominated both chambers of Congress for 12 years. But in November, the American government underwent a sea change. I believe the 2006 midterm elections changed American politics forever.

In the run-up to the elections, it seemed that nearly every critical race could go either way. But on Election Day, the Democrats made virtually a clean sweep.

God may well have had a hand in these results.

You don’t need deep biblical understanding to realize that something is dreadfully wrong in this country. America is being cursed!

Times have never been more dangerous for America. We face wars on multiple fronts. Do you think a government dominated by antiwar politicians can save America from its enemies?

The election of the Democrats, I believe, reveals the desperate lack of will in our people more than any other single event. This election sent a message to terrorists just as surely as Chamberlain sent a message to Hitler when he traveled to Munich before World War ii and accepted a paper promise of “peace for our time.” Most of the British people were hysterical with joy! But oh, how short-lived that “peace” was.

President Bush has not been successful in Iraq, but at least he used some measure of force. He could have achieved more if our people had supported him. Now extreme liberals dominate our government.

Time will prove this to be a deadly curse on the United States!

War, What War?

In these elections, the United States surrendered to Iran and the terrorists.

The Democrats won because they vehemently attacked President Bush over the war in Iraq. But the Democrats have no plan to fight these raging enemies. Many don’t even believe we are in a war with radical Islam. How can they defend this nation against an enemy they don’t even believe exists?

Do you think these new leaders see the gravity of the problem in Iran? Tehran is run by a madman and is the obvious king of radical Islamic terrorism—yet Democrats do not comprehend the seriousness of this situation. Even most Republicans do not!

Three days after the election, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Bush’s defeat a victory for Iran. He said the election was “not a purely domestic issue for America, but it is the defeat of Bush’s hawkish policies in the world. … Since Washington’s hostile and hawkish policies have always been against the Iranian nation, this defeat is actually an obvious victory for the Iranian nation” (Reuters, Nov. 10, 2006; emphasis mine throughout). America doesn’t see the victory it has handed to Iran, but this man does.

Reuters also reported on how al Qaeda “gloated over the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,” and vowed to attack Washington. “I swear by God we shall not rest from jihad until we … blow up the filthiest house known as the White House,” declared the leader of Iraq’s al Qaeda wing.

We are in a war against terrorism, and top terrorist leaders are rejoicing and celebrating with the Democrats.What is happening in America? What does this mean?

Liberals attacked Mr. Rumsfeld as a warmonger, but the fact is, as imperfectly as President Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld have conducted their campaign against radical terrorism, their efforts and their perseverance have meant America hasn’t suffered a terrorist attack at home since 9/11.

This is why Iran and its terrorist henchmen rejoiced when President Bush was politically punished and Donald Rumsfeld was removed from the picture.

Have you considered why terrorists would be happy about the electoral success of the Democrats?

Could it be that President Bush and the Republicans made it very difficult for Iran and the terrorists to attack America? And now the terrorists are excited because they know the Democrats will have a soft approach to radical Islam?

Former President Clinton recently joked that Republicans see a terrorist on every block, and when they start to run away, they trip over an illegal immigrant. But these problems are not funny. We are at war with radical Islam, and our nation is being overrun by immigrants—some of whom are hardened, violent criminals and terrorists!

America is surrounded by nation-destroying crises. Is this the time for our leaders to be joking about these problems? Remarks like this should make us wonder if the Democrats truly comprehend the gravity of the crisis threatening the United States.

San Francisco Values

The new speaker of the House is a Democrat from San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi. This woman, who is now second in line for the presidency after Vice President Dick Cheney, is pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage; she wants to allocate federal spending for stem-cell research, which involves experimenting on unborn babies.

Democrats are excited by the fact that endorsements of “San Francisco values” now echo through Washington’s halls. Is this what America needs? Prior to the elections, one newspaper stated, “If Democrats win, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will be speaker and her far-left San Francisco values—gay marriage, cutting and running from Iraq, coddling terrorists, raising taxes, amnesty for illegals—will become the House agenda” (Augusta Chronicle, Oct. 28, 2006). San Francisco values will now permeate every major decision made by the American government.

San Francisco is the homosexual capital of America. It is a seat of liberalism and one of the most morally and spiritually bankrupt cities in the country. Now a leader saturated in San Francisco values and beliefs is one of the most powerful politicians in the land.

Pelosi has sharply rebuked the president, calling him an “incompetent leader” and saying he is “not a leader” at all (San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 10, 2006). She has called Bush “immoral” and his administration a “freak show.” This from the mouth of a strong liberal who hails from the immoral city of San Francisco.

Pelosi is also very ambitious. A 2003 story in the National Catholic Reporter said that her mother “encouraged her to pursue a religious vocation,” but she had her doubts. “I didn’t think I wanted to be a nun,” Pelosi said. “But I thought I might want to be a priest. There seemed to be a little more power there ….”

She once told Time magazine, “Anybody who’s ever dealt with me knows not to mess with me.”

At the same time, Nancy Pelosi is strongly antiwar.

Whether we accept it or not, radical terrorists are waging war on America. How can a politician be antiwar when, like it or not, we are in a war?

Lame-Duck Presidency

Prior to the midterm elections, when it was obvious that Republicans would suffer serious losses, Dr. George Friedman wrote, “George W. Bush is a lame duck in the worst sense of the term. Not only are there no more elections he can influence, but he is heading into his last two years in office with terrible poll ratings” (Stratfor, Oct. 31, 2006). If the Republicans lost the House, commented Friedman, this would be a “loss that will generate endless hearings and investigations on foreign policy, placing Bush and his staff on the defensive for two years. Making foreign policy in this environment will be impossible.

Massive crises loom over our shores, yet our government, weighed down with internal crisis and friction, has become a lame duck.

The American legislature has been taken over by a political party with a history of weak, inept foreign policy.

In an October 10 piece, Dr. Friedman wrote, “Diplomacy without a realistic threat of significant action, in the event that diplomacy fails, is just empty chatter.” You can be sure that’s all we will hear from the U.S. over the next two years—empty chatter—because President Bush doesn’t have the power to do anything.

Meanwhile, foreign threats such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Russia, radical Islam and Europe will intensify unabated. That is an indescribable disaster for America—and the world!

What Is a Liberal?

The U.S. midterm elections were significant from a foreign policy and national security point of view. There is a point of view that is far more important, however.

What did God think of these elections? What does God think of the liberals now dominating the American government?

The answer to these questions can be found in Isaiah 32. Read the entire chapter. The first four verses show that this is a prophecy for the end time, the time just before Jesus Christ, the “king [that] shall reign in righteousness,” returns to Earth to establish His perfect government.

Verse 1 is speaking about Christ’s Second Coming. But God allows some terrible things to unravel just prior to that magnificent event.

Notice that! This election marks the final chapter for the United States. We mourn to see America’s downfall. We are about to see a tsunami of problems sweep over the world! But it should not discourage us. God is going to bring purpose and direction and hope out of that chaos! These problems are prophesied to occur just before the greatest event in history: Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.

Verse 5 reads, “The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.” The word liberal implies goodness—something noble or generous.

Democrats are often called liberals, and their values and beliefs are called liberal. Time magazine quoted Nancy Pelosi saying, “I pride myself in being called a liberal,” and “I don’t consider myself a moderate.” The problem is, much of what we call liberal is actually vile! Democrats have some of the vilest values and beliefs there are.

Isaiah 32:5 is about God making sure that people with vile values will no longer be called liberal. God calls them repugnant and vile, because that’s what they are.

Vile values predominate in Washington today, but they are foisted off on a naive people as being good and noble. “San Francisco values” could not be further from what the word liberal actually means.

Vile means wicked or ungodly. It means to become withered or faded; it implies falling down, fainting or losing strength, or the decay associated with acting foolishly and impiously. This word applies to America and the other modern nations descended from ancient Israel, as well as to God’s unrepentant people. According to God’s values, America is decaying and withering like a dying flower—rotting at the core—losing its strength to survive!

Churl means withholding or stingy. American society is all about getting, not giving. The word also implies fraud and deceit—something we see today in both political parties in the U.S. The Republicans often tout their “family values,” for example, while committing shamefully immoral acts.

“For the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail” (verse 6). Gesenius’ Lexicon defines villainy as a shameful act of wickedness such as rape or incest! God likens the vile views and beliefs of prominent leaders to some of the most hideous acts a human being could commit. These leaders “work iniquity”—they are lawless, doing all they can to force their San Francisco values on this nation and on this world! They “utter error” against God, openly defying His law and biblical truths. They “make empty the soul of the hungry.” As people hunger for purpose in life, these leaders provide vile values, leaving them spiritually empty.

This is the party Americans elected in November.

Verse 8 is clearer in the Revised Standard Version: “But he who is noble devises noble things; and by noble things he stands.” The beliefs and values of a true liberal—a person seeking to live by God’s standards—are noble and good. Godly beliefs are the foundation of a true liberal—someone who is upright, wholesome and noble.

Who behaves this way today? Who stands by God’s noble values?

Do you see that in Washington today? Many of America’s leaders are lawless; their foundational beliefs and values are as far from being noble as you can get. This spiritual and moral crisis worsened dramatically on November 7, the day “liberal” Democrats gained massive influence in the American government.

The Way of Rome

It is a law of history that nations rife with vile beliefs and values will be overpowered and conquered. Barbarians from northern Europe overpowered ancient Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries when Roman leaders, preoccupied by wealth, materialism and vile and lascivious behavior, became disunited and distracted.

When “San Francisco values” dominated Roman society, the empire fell!

Nobody talks about this history today. Winston Churchill said nations that neglect history are destined to repeat it. History today has become despised and maligned in America’s educational system.

A 1999 survey showed that students could graduate from 78 percent of America’s elite colleges without taking one history course. None of these top 55 schools required American history. College students are graduating without understanding history. Embarrassingly, many of our leaders lack even a mediocre understanding of history!

There is a war against history in education and politics today. Why would anyone attempt to destroy history?

The main reason is, without history as a guide, there is no one to tell a nation or people what is right and what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t.

History teaches that San Francisco values and beliefs do not work. People who fail to look to history do not learn the lessons it provides.

In an introduction to Winston Churchill’s biography of his ancestor Marlborough, Henry Steele Commager wrote, “[Churchill] cherished as a law of history that a people who flout these virtues [order, justice, resoluteness, magnanimity] is doomed to decay and dissolution, and that a people who respect them will prosper and survive.

Learning lessons from great leaders of the past is critical to our national well-being. If we flout those heroic virtues, our nations are doomed to “decay and dissolution.” But if we respect and emulate them, we will “prosper and survive.”

What would Churchill say about America’s recent election?

Loss of Will

History shows that leadership defines national success. High-quality leadership is a blessing from God that results in wealth, peace and prosperity. Poor leadership is a curse that destroys nations.

In The United States and Britain in Prophecy (which we will give you for free upon request), Herbert W. Armstrong showed how America and Britain received spectacular national blessings because of the obedient example and quality leadership of Abraham.

Today, America sits at the opposite end of the spectrum. God is cursing America for its rank vileness by taking away quality leadership.

The leaders sweeping into power today are the opposite of the God-fearing leaders that made this nation great. Their widely touted vile values and beliefs are blatantly anti-God.

God specifically talks about the state of America and Britain today in another prophecy in Isaiah 1: “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah 1:4). America is laden, or worn down, with sin!

This has provoked God to anger!

People like to think God doesn’t care much about this world and that He isn’t really involved with the affairs of nations. Americans talk about God a lot, but few really believe He is involved in their affairs. This is a false and twisted belief.

God loves this world beyond what you can imagine—and it pains Him to see it unraveling like it is. But He is also angered by what He sees. Rampant sin is tearing the United States apart, and this provokes God to anger!

Twisted San Francisco values and beliefs are flowing like a river out of America today. Such sin infuriates God.

Does it infuriateyou? Does it provokeyouto anger?It should!

“Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” (verse 5). God is telling us that America’s leaders are sick, and the people who elected them are faint! The whole head is sick! The whole heart is faint!

God is cursing America today by removing quality leadership and destroying the collective willpower of the people. In Leviticus 26:19, God specifically warns that if we disobey Him, He will break our pride in our power and take away our courage to stand up to our enemies. This prophecy is unfolding right now—just as deadly threats like Iran, North Korea and radical Islam are mounting and threatening our peace and well-being.

In the November elections, God took away a leadership that was at least prepared to confront these threats, and allowed it to be replaced by antiwar, morally bankrupt leadership.

America is facing a kind of war unprecedented in its history. A terrorist attack could occur at any moment, in any location. But we are now led by a liberal leadership that refuses to acknowledge the threat of war.

Winston Churchill believed that the test of greatness is war. “All great struggles of history have been won by superior willpower wresting victory in the teeth of odds,” he wrote in Marlborough. “The story of the human race is war.” Churchill knew that possessing strong willpower is critical to winning wars.

When the American people handed antiwar Democrats control of Congress, they revealed their unwillingness to stand in the face of adversity. They exposed a massive deficit of willpower and determination!

In 1938, one of Britain’s lords wrote in a letter to Churchill this comment, which shamefully applies today: “The public is so terrified of being bombed that they will support anyone who keeps them out of war. I always knew they had no desire to stand up to the dictators, and I always knew that when there was a sharp issue of peace or war, 95 percent of the electors would rally to the peace policy, however humiliating such a policy might be.”

The Democrats’ post-election celebrations will be terribly short-lived. A person only has to know a little bit about leadership and history to know that this nation cannot handle the problems America is about to face!

Saddam Hussein said, “You Americans can’t take the blood.” He is right! The majority of Americans have proven that they cannot handle some of our soldiers—the best of our best citizens—spilling their blood. That lack of willpower means the nation is destined to die! Rather than a few soldiers, the blood of the whole nation will flow in rivers!

Loss of Leaders

A prophecy in Isaiah 3 speaks even more specifically to America’s problem today. “For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counselor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator” (Isaiah 3:1-3). Quality leadership in the U.S. today is gone—wiped away! America lacks a great war-time leader like Winston Churchill. There is no great orator rousing the American people to action.

“And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them” (verse 4). That is precisely what we have. And these latest elections may have helped pave the way for this nation to have its first woman president take office in two years.

The government in our nation has been overturned and is upside down, from the highest levels of federal government all the way down to the family unit. Look at the mainstream media, the movies, the music, the clothing, television—it is all teen-dominated. Society is upside down; adults are subject to children and teenagers.

“The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves” (verse 9). America trumpets its sins before the whole world!

This nation is defying God in the most repugnant ways possible. Ms. Pelosi called President Bush “immoral.” What standard is she using? She is judging with “San Francisco values,” which God likens to those of Sodom and Gomorrah!

Why is God talking about Sodom in this prophecy? Because that was a society so sick with homosexuality and other sins that God destroyed it!

This is a terrifying warning!

Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:10). God says America’s leaders must receive this warning!

God is provoked—and so should we be. We ought to be provoked enough, angry enough, to deliver this warning from God to the rulers of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah!

All Fall Together

Biblical prophecy reveals that Britain and the nation called Israel today will rapidly decline at the same time America falls. Britain, its dominions and Israel are suffering from the same leadership crisis as America.

“And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them. … Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be” (Hosea 5:5, 9). Because of their sins, all three of these nations will fall together.

Many observers believe that the results of the midterm election mean America’s support for Israel could wane in the coming months. Israel is surrounded by an arc of hate-filled enemies whose hearts are committed to bulldozing the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. Only America’s support over the years has prevented Israel’s demise.

Who will Israel turn to when America removes its support? “Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness. When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim [and Judah] to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound” (verses 12-13). This prophecy tells us that both Ephraim (Britain today) and Judah (the nation of Israel) will run to the Assyrian (Germany) for assistance. This prophecy speaks of a time when the U.S. will lack the power and the will to assist its allies.

November’s election results prove we are witnessing the demise of American global leadership. President Bush will not be able to accomplish anything of substance again. Internal crisis and division will prevent the U.S. from conducting a respectable foreign policy.

America’s geopolitical decline will create a global leadership void. As Hosea and many other biblical prophecies note, another nation will step up and fill this void: Germany. This nation is about to replace America as the global superpower.

After World War ii, Mr. Armstrong said the U.S. would never win another war.

I believe thatafter we retreat from Iraq, America will neverFIGHTanother war!

We simply don’t have the fortitude to survive. Our new leaders are afraid to even call a war a war!

In Ezekiel 7:14, God says that the warning trumpet will sound, but nobody will run to battle. That is because God’s wrath is upon us!

This election marked a monumental turn in America’s history. We live in the midst of the most eventful moment in human history! God’s warning must be delivered before this tidal wave of catastrophes descends.

How to Think Deeply

How to Think Deeply

theTrumpet.com

Everybody thinks. But have you ever thought about thinking? Deeper thinking leads to deeper living.

This world is hostile to serious thought. Our lives are cluttered with barriers that sear our minds with the habit of lazy, shallow thinking. Consider the insipid television and movies that pass for entertainment, transparently hostile toward anything approximating deep thought. Consider the overstimulated, technology-driven, information-saturated nature of modern life. It is too noisy for us to hear ourselves think, yet so omnipresent and addictive that silence disquiets us.

Even within respected circles of society, intellectuals are plagued by fundamental flaws in their thinking. Consider the education and scientific communities, which staunchly stand by the unprovable theory of evolution. Formal education can actually be a hindrance to quality thought—emphasizing the wrong subjects, approaching certain subjects improperly, bullying students into specific political and/or intellectual mind-sets, fostering a destructive social atmosphere. Little wonder that many of the great men and women of history were self-educated.

How we think is critical. Our thoughts govern our moods, our attitudes, our words, our actions. Thinking is the core of our being. Superficial, unfocused thinking produces a superficial, unfocused life. We are what we think.

Trouble is, generally we are not taughthowto think. It is a skill we are expected to know, without specific instruction.

What is the quality of your thinking? Are you skilled at analyzing problems? Are you able to concentrate on the things you want to concentrate on, or are you easily distracted? How deep a thinker are you?

In With the New

Vigorous thinking is fundamentally a matter of replacing inferior thoughts with quality thoughts.

You cannot think shallow thoughts and deep thoughts at the same time—it’s one or the other. So first you must push out, put off and purge the one in order to clear space for the other. To think deeply, first you must expunge the shallow thought that so easily fills your mind, and then fill that mental vacuum with quality thought.

We will save for the end of this article a brief discussion on just what “quality thought” is. But first, let’s look at some barriers to quality thought that we must eliminate and some blessings to quality thought we must cultivate in order to develop better mental habits.

Eliminate Distractions

The most common barrier to deep thought is distractions.

Life today is chock-a-block with them! hdtvs, dvds, cds, pdas, xm radio, wi-fi, broadband, laptops, mobile phones, satellite, cable, movies, video games—there is always something to keep us stimulated. Television, our third-most time-consuming activity after work and sleep, gives us a hyper world of fast cuts, zooms and pans, noise and suddenness. The nightly news promises the world in 22 minutes. If you can’t wait for that, cable provides “headline news,” with multiple bits of information flashing and scrolling simultaneously. There is so much going on in the world, we want only the essential, only the cream, only the surface.

What price are we paying for such compulsive hyperness? The price we pay is depth.

That’s right. You can’t cover a lot of ground quickly and also go deep; you are either plowing or you are digging.

Realize: Information is not the same thing as understanding. Of course the stupid entertainment that dulls the mind is a distraction. (Proverbs 12:11 in the Revised Standard Version is wonderfully pithy and tactless on this subject: “[H]e who follows worthless pursuits has no sense.”) But anything can be a distraction. Mere information—even good information—becomes another distraction if you’re not thinking about it, evaluating it, analyzing it—if it’s not stimulating your mind in original directions.

Distractions simply crowd our minds with inferior thoughts. So turn off that tacky television, skip that silly movie, mute the mindless music, put down the trashy novel—create some quiet and clear space for something of substance.

Cultivate Concentration

Just what is thinking? It is merely a collection of images flickering through your mind, a sequence of associations.

Thinking deeply then is a matter of restricting those associations so as to repeatedly and purposefully mull a particular thing. It requires eliminating irrelevant thoughts: those weed-like musings that crowd your mind and pull you off the subject you want to be pondering.

The Apostle Paul was an advocate of such mental discipline. He spoke of “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This requires a moment-by-moment awareness of and restraint over the images, impressions and ideas that float through the mind and then an expunging of anything unwelcome. That, in essence, is exactly what concentration is.

Good idea, but how do you apply it? Perhaps we all would love to possess greater powers of concentration.

You may not like to hear it, but concentration is a skill acquired with practice (just as poor, petty thinking is a habit strengthened by years of practice). If you aren’t used to focusing your attention, you can’t suddenly summon the knack. It requires habitual concerted deliberation.

But there is a trick to learning it. Recognize this simple truth about how your mind works: We naturally concentrate on what we enjoy.

In a wonderful little book written in 1928 called The Art of Thinking, Ernest Dimnet wrote, “[R]eal interest is essential for concentration and creates it in an instant. The same boy who goes a-wool-gathering when he has to write a literary essay can concentrate for half a day on mathematics or on a new radio implement” (emphasis mine throughout). Thus, concentrate only on those things you enjoy—or learn to enjoy those things you must concentrate on. At least, you can consciously practice concentrating on the more satisfying things and progressively work toward applying the skill elsewhere.

Paul also understood this principle. To the one who seeks to attain God’s Kingdom, he advises to “set your affection” on it (Colossians 3:1-2).

Ruminate Good Mental Food

So—you have evicted some trivialities from your mental living quarters; the space may now be leased out to more refined tenants.

Dimnet advocated populating your mind with greatness.

“It is impossible to spend an hour in a room with a man approaching greatness without feeling the contagiousness of distinguished thinking,” he wrote. “Such men cannot always be found, or our chances for meeting them may be limited. But anybody with an average knowledge of the history of nations, literature, philanthropy or art, not to speak of the history of great religionists or saints, can people his imagination with groups of superior men in every realm. … [O]ur serious hours cannot be devoted to a more useful occupation than studying the lives or ideas of great men” (ibid.).

Dimnet threw out this challenge: “If, at any moment, you are unable to name a great man who is, or has recently been, having an influence on your conduct, you will be passing the verdict: ordinary on the quality of your own thought and existence.”

Who do you spend your time with? Their influence on you looms larger than you would like to believe. Scripture is filled with admonitions such as this: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). Find those wise men and women, and then really converse—meet minds—think deeply together.

When you read, what do you read? What is the quality of the food you feed your mind?

And—just as important—when you read, how much do you think? Studying something to the point where it has “an influence on your conduct” means letting it soak into and saturate the folds of your gray matter. Be honest: How much of your reading is forgotten the moment you close the book?

Yes, read more. But as you read—read less, think more.

Beware Conformity

How is it that fatal flaws in thinking can pervade whole communities of intelligent people? How, for example, could the untruths that riddled national socialism have pervaded Europe so thoroughly as to have produced the Holocaust? How could higher education be almost unanimously condescending toward the revealed truths of God’s Word?

A dangerous barrier to deep thought is our natural “joiner” mentality—wanting to be part of the group. This tendency is generally helpful in smoothing the progress of interpersonal relationships, but too much concern about what others think renders your mind inhospitable to original thought and can result in your holding on to dangerous misconceptions.

A true thinker must have a certain independence of thought. He or she must not be afraid to stand out from the crowd. Exodus 23:2 contains the sage and generally ignored command, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.”

On the flip side, however, when you have found a solid truth, then by all means conform your thinking to it—it is a foundation on which to build. “Prove all things,” wrote Paul, “hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). All great thinking is founded upon the thoughts of great thinkers—chief of whom is God.

Once your views are based on great thinking, contribute something of yourself to the process.

Yes, there is an element of originality in deep thinking. When you think deeply, you travel intellectual territory that no one else will travel in quite that way—and you acquire unique intellectual property to offer those around you. You are a distinctive individual. God loves diversity, and there is a reason why each of us is so exceptional—not even in a brood of sextuplets is there a single carbon copy. To the person who understands the incredible human potential, this is an inspiring fact to contemplate.

Deep thinking is that which nurtures something uniquely you, and the unique personality, talents and character that God is developing in you.

Cultivate Solitude

This leads us to another essential commodity for the thinker: solitude.

“Solitude produces an exhilaration of consciousness, the consciousness of our innermost, whatever that may be. It never fails of this result,” Dimnet wrote. “Take strong coffee one morning, to keep yourself awake, lie not in bed but on a couch for two or three hours, and try to simplify and again simplify your problems ….”

How much time do you dedicate to private, quiet contemplation each day? Most people would laugh at the question. But if we are eliminating distractions, we will be redeeming some time (Ephesians 5:16), which can then be devoted to secluded thinking. “How can we secure solitude when our path is beset with a variety of undesirables?” asked Dimnet. “There is no answer to this question if we do not really crave solitude” (ibid.).

Yes, we must crave solitude.

King David did (Psalms 63:1; 119:148). Jesus Christ did (Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:23).

A life of worship of the true God should involve daily personal prayer—time spent in isolation communing with God, which requires a certain degree of introspection. Daily prayer is a huge benefit to deeper thinking—not only because of the invaluable contact with the Creator that it brings, but also because it instills the habit of focused, effortful thinking to a purpose, done in seclusion.

Educator and theologian Herbert W. Armstrong recommended about an hour of prayer a day. Secular sources say that even 20 minutes a day of quiet reflection goes a long way toward improving a person’s mental health.

The Bible is filled with directives to think about what you’re doing, to regularly evaluate yourself. For example, Haggai 1:5 says, “Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” Analyze your life. Think about what is working and what isn’t. Involve God in this process and you can save yourself a lot of problems—and deepen your thinking in the process.

God’s Thoughts

God is the epitome of quality thought, of depth, of substance, of quiet meditation, of everything opposite our shallowness. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

But the wonderful truth is, that great gulf need not remain. Yes, God’s thoughts are much higher than ours—but we can strive to rise to His level. And with the help of God’s Holy Spirit we can succeed—in no small measure.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

This is what we’re striving for: God’s thoughts. When we talk about becoming deep thinkers, we’re talking about our thoughts co-mingling with and coming to approximate God’s thoughts. There is no thinking deeper than that.

Consider: God can impact your mind to the extent that you have the capacity for deep thought. If you are a shallow thinker, you’ll only ever be able to have a shallow understanding of the deep things of God.

The deeper thinker you are, the more rigorous your thinking is, and the more you exercise and challenge your mind, the deeper your understanding can be.

America Has Waged Its Last War

Every indication is that the U.S. will never fight again. Here is why.
From the January 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were giddy as lottery winners. As November’s election night results tipped the balance of power in both chambers of the United States Congress in favor of the Democrats, these two looked to become the next speaker of the House and Senate majority leader. Supporters cheered; their faces glowed. Confetti fell; their hearts soared.

They weren’t the only ones celebrating. Halfway around the world, Iran’s leaders were also wreathed in smiles. Ayatollah Khamenei, the nation’s supreme spiritual head, called the election result “an obvious victory for the Iranian nation.” He viewed it as “the defeat of Bush’s hawkish policies in the world.” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the election showed “that the majority of American people are dissatisfied and are fed up with the policies of the American administration.”

Amazing: Not only were the Democrats and mullahs celebrating the same thing, they were celebrating for the same reasons. Expectations are high in both circles that an era of perceived American belligerence and warmongering is over.

What that means for the future, however, is where the two camps differ. Democrats believe this will open the door to a golden age of diplomacy—the mullahs believe it’s a step toward a golden age of their brand of Islam. The Dems see the election leading to peace—the mullahs see it as giving them the breathing room they need to take over the Middle East and beyond.

Which vision is correct will become clear quite soon, because the U.S. truly is entering a new, less militaristic phase. This is a milestone with massive global ramifications.

“A Whole Fresh Look”

The day after the election, President Bush announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—the man, after the president himself, most closely associated with the “hawkish policies” so despised in Tehran. The White House chief of staff said the president wanted to “take a whole fresh look” at its war effort.

“Whole fresh look” is huge. “Whole fresh look” speaks volumes.

An indication of what that “fresh look” might produce came in the choice of Rumsfeld’s replacement. Robert Gates is widely believed to favor a pragmatic policy, one that would include negotiating with Iran and Syria to fix Iraq’s problems.

Such policy is actually not so fresh. It is essentially the same policy that in 1983 shuttled Donald Rumsfeld—then the Reagan government’s Middle East envoy—to Baghdad to shake hands with Saddam Hussein as part of an effort to check Iran’s growing power. Though Washington knew at the time that Saddam had used chemical weapons, the handshake represented, in the words of author Michael Rubin, “a triumph for diplomatic realism.”

That handshake didn’t play so well leading up to the Iraq war. In its Sept. 23, 2002, cover story, “How We Helped Create Saddam,” Newsweek featured the Saddam-Rumsfeld photo as a symbol of a hypocritical, opportunistic foreign policy that supported dictators as long as it was convenient.

The Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns that Rumsfeld oversaw as President Bush’s secretary of defense nearly represent the opposite policy—not winking at dictators but wiping them out. But that approach is, of course, now condemned by both Democrats who disdain the president and Iranian leaders who don’t want to be wiped out.

Thus, “Today,” Rubin commented in the Wall Street Journal, “progressives and liberals celebrate not only Mr. Rumsfeld’s departure, but the resurrection of realists like Secretary of Defense-nominee Robert Gates …. Mr. Gates was the cia’s deputy director for intelligence at the time of Mr. Rumsfeld’s infamous handshake, deputy director of Central Intelligence when Saddam gassed the Kurds, and deputy national security adviser when Saddam crushed the Shiite uprising.” In other words, he represents the old-school, once-maligned, propping-up-dictators program.

In addition to promoting Gates to defense secretary, the president is considering the recommendations of the congressionally appointed Iraq Study Group, led by James Baker (another Reagan-era “diplomatic realist”) and Lee Hamilton. This group also recommends opening up talks with Syria and Iran. Rubin aptly concluded, “In effect, Mr. Baker’s proposals are to have the White House replicate the Rumsfeld-Saddam handshake with both Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

That’s “a whole fresh look”: accepting the election as a rebuke of the war policy and moving in a softer direction. Even the president’s British ally, Tony Blair, implied that a deal with Syria and Iran is a possibility.

The Democrats are eager to gloat over what they see as a chastised Republican administration. Sen. Carl Levin, who will likely lead the Senate Armed Services Committee, came on strong in a post-election Sunday morning talk show appearance. “The people spoke dramatically, overwhelmingly, resoundingly, to change the course in Iraq,” he said. Change course how? “We have to tell Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over,” he said, calling for troops to begin coming home within four to six months. Senator Reid agreed that withdrawal “should start within the next few months.” The president appears dead-set against such plans, but these are the kinds of ideas that play in the minds of his detractors when they see him backpedal.

If the president’s actions appear to Levin to be a signal of political weakness, they read differently in the Middle East. Ayatollah Khamenei sees a military defeat, plain and simple. That being the case, what kind of ideas are playing in his mind?

Lack of Will

Clearly the president is concerned about the election results sending a message of defeat. So he tried to replace it with another: “I have a message for [America’s] enemies,” he said. “Do not confuse the workings of American democracy with a lack of American will. Our nation is committed to bringing you to justice, and we will prevail.”

Given the election results and the effects rippling through Washington, it is easy to see how America’s enemies could confuse the workings of American democracy with a lack of American will. That’s pretty much what a massive congressional makeover, a defense secretary getting jettisoned, talk of deals with Iran and Syria, and demands from newly empowered congresspersons to pull troops out of Iraq asap look like. These signs certainly can’t be interpreted as a strengthening of American will.

The voices of the new leading party in Congress, compelled to prove they aren’t soft on defense, say they will implement a smarter, tougher military policy. But the truth is, Americans did not elect them to make the military tougher.

In the Boston Globe, columnist James Carroll urged America to win by losing. He argued that the big problem with Vietnam was the fact that the U.S. didn’t concede defeat way back in 1968. Fighting for America’s honor in Iraq today is futile, he wrote, because we lost it the day we set foot there. “For all of the anguish felt over the loss of American lives, can we acknowledge that there is something proper in the way that hubristic [arrogant] American power has been thwarted? Can we admit that the loss of honor will not come with how the war ends, because we lost our honor when we began it? This time, can we accept defeat?”

No one disputes that America is caught in a bramble bush in Iraq. But to say American defeat is proper? That the U.S. deserves to lose? Traces of such thinking clearly seeped into the congressional election results.

In commenting on the Globe article, tcsDaily’s Josh Manchester quoted German scholar Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s book The Culture of Defeat, a study on “the stages of defeat through which nations pass upon losing a large war.” Comparing examples such as France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and Germany’s defeat in World War i, Schivelbusch documented a pattern in how peoples deal with such losses: first denying it, then awakening to reality, then protesting the tactics of the victorious enemy—then “the stage of seeing the nation as being a loser in battle, but a winner in spirit.” Schivelbusch spoke of how these losers came to see “victory as a curse” and “defeat as moral purification and salvation.”

Some Americans may view “accepting defeat” as salvation, but Islamists recognize it as perdition. Even the faintest signs of American frailty are sweet, intoxicating wine for imperialist Muslims—proofs of Islam’s destined global conquest, prods to press on in the violent cause. In his book America Alone, commentator Mark Steyn quotes an Arabic proverb: “A falling camel attracts many knives.” Donald Rumsfeld once expressed the same idea: “If we know anything, it is that weakness is provocative.” America does not have the luxury of “accepting defeat” as if lying on a comfortable psychiatrist’s couch. With Islamist radicals, surrender, prostration and defeat lead not to purification, but to destruction. Any notion that there is honor in such a defeat is a delusion.

In the context of the present war, “accepting defeat” is, in effect, expressing the belief that the world would be better off ruled by Islam.

The Futility of Talk

What happens when America’s enemies don’t fear American action? The last several months already provide a clue as to the nightmarish answer: Hezbollah launches war against Israel; Hamas does everything but; North Korea freely tests long-range missiles and nuclear weapons; Iran spurns international pressure to refrain from doing the same; Iraqi and Afghan insurgents brazenly attack, emboldened by even surviving to fight another day.

These are growing forces in the world that have proven time and again that they cannot be talked into giving up their destructive agendas. But the general policy in international bodies—and in American politics, with a couple of brief exceptions—is still to forego action for the sake of talk, indefinitely.

In Civilization and Its Enemies, Lee Harris exposes the fundamental cause for this approach and explains why it is doomed to fail. It is the difference between one side wanting to do anything (short of dying) in order to hold on to things as they are, and the other side willing to do anything (including dying) for the sake of the cause. One side has everything to lose; the other side has nothing to lose.

The diplomacy-at-all-costs mind does not comprehend the victory-at-all-costs mind. It is unwilling to believe any nation would be so crazy as to risk plunging the globe into large-scale war. Consider: World War i was called “the Great War” because people assumed it would end warfare forever; having witnessed the horrors of that conflict, it seemed unthinkable that anyone would ever tread that path again. Harris calls this idea “the Grand Illusion”—and Hitler exploited it masterfully. He “grasped the enormous opportunity that the aftermath of the Great War gave to any power that could plausibly threaten to bring about another great war. For as long as he could even imply such a threat, those who were not prepared to commit themselves to such a conflict … would be forced to compromise over issues that they would otherwise have been willing to fight for, if only they could have been certain that the fight would not immediately escalate into total war.”

In other words, the party willing to risk even death has an incalculable advantage over the party willing to do anything to preserve life. And the nation unwilling to wage total war will always be forced to appease the nation that has no such fears. Thus a paradox: The more the world turns to instruments of international diplomacy and justice—the more that nations invest their confidence in the ability of such organizations to prevent large-scale war—the greater the rewards become for the nation, terrorist group or religious faction that is willing to risk total war.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated his belief that world war must come before the Islamic messiah can return. He simply does not fear Armageddon. His willingness to risk having even nuclear bombs dropped on his country gives him a tremendous advantage: He can pursue his provocative agenda fearlessly. He will not change his course unless an outside power changes it for him, using force.

International bodies such as the United Nations simply are not capable of action on that scale. They are designed to address problems through talk alone.

America is embracing the same approach—retreating to the illusory bunker of multilateralism. The Democratic victory merely poured in concrete a reality that had already existed for perhaps two years: A shift toward subjugating national interest to the will of the UN, of “managing” dangers through diplomacy without threat of action. Look how Washington has handled the nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea: Semi-tough talk backed up by firm, muscular patience. Belligerent tolerance. Repeatedly redrawing lines in the sand. Shuffling responsibility onto the UN, or the Security Council, or the EU, or six-party talks. Anyone can see the drastic adjustment in attitude from the administration that knocked out the Taliban in seven weeks and Saddam Hussein in three. It is showing itself firmly committed to always finding another option short of war.

By subjugating itself to the international community in this way, the U.S. is giving up the use of its military as a genuine instrument of national sovereignty. Given the fact that, in recent years, it has been the only nation willing to fight—even limited, small-scale battles against petty dictators—this trend is opening up a massive opportunity for any party eager to embrace war.

And now, after an election that empowered the party that has incessantly criticized virtually every aspect of those campaigns the president did undertake, the trend will only accelerate.

Once disentangling itself from Iraq, will the U.S. recommit troops in order to solve other conflicts by military means? Not outside the confines of UN or nato action, surely.

Will it go after Iran, North Korea, or somewhere else? No, no and no.

Will it, instead, look for every possible diplomatic avenue in addressing new global problems, to the point of effectively taking robust military options off the table? It already has.

Is it possible, in fact, that the United States will never fight another war?

The Last Helicopter

To a mind saturated with hatred for the U.S., convinced that Islam will soon rise to dominate the world, the answer is obvious. The “Great Satan,” so powerful and arrogant, has been humbled. It will not rise again.

In a Chicago Sun-Times column after the election, Mark Steyn wrote, “What does it mean when the world’s hyperpower, responsible for 40 percent of the planet’s military spending, decides that it cannot withstand a guerrilla war with historically low casualties against a ragbag of local insurgents and imported terrorists? You can call it ‘redeployment’ or ‘exit strategy’ or ‘peace with honor’ but, by the time it’s announced on al-Jazeera, you can pretty much bet that whatever official euphemism was agreed on back in Washington will have been lost in translation. … [I]f the Great Satan can’t win in Vietnam or Iraq, where can it win? That’s how China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela and a whole lot of others look at it.”

Is that fair? In one sense, the question is moot. These nations are already basing their foreign-policy decisions on America’s diminished stature.

Last March, an article appeared on OpinionJournal.com by Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, explaining how the Middle East is anticipating the day that President Bush leaves office. Called “The Last Helicopter,” it described a powerful image burning in the minds of many Muslim leaders: that of a helicopter whisking the last of the “fleeing Americans” out of a hot war zone—an image that has played out repeatedly in history: “It was that image in Saigon that concluded the Vietnam War under Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter had five helicopters fleeing from the Iranian desert, leaving behind the charred corpses of eight American soldiers. Under Ronald Reagan the helicopters carried the corpses of 241 Marines murdered in their sleep in a Hezbollah suicide attack. Under the first President Bush, the helicopter flew from Safwan, in southern Iraq, with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf aboard, leaving behind Saddam Hussein’s generals, who could not believe why they had been allowed to live to fight their domestic foes, and America, another day. Bill Clinton’s helicopter was a Black Hawk, downed in Mogadishu and delivering 16 American soldiers into the hands of a murderous crowd.

“According to this theory,” Taheri wrote, “President George W. Bush is an ‘aberration,’ a leader out of sync with his nation’s character and no more than a brief nightmare for those who oppose the creation of an ‘American Middle East.’ … Ahmadinejad [and others] have concluded that there will be no helicopter as long as George W. Bush is in the White House. But they believe that whoever succeeds him, Democrat or Republican, will revive the helicopter image to extricate the U.S. from a complex situation that few Americans appear to understand.

“Mr. Ahmadinejad’s defiant rhetoric is based on a strategy known in Middle Eastern capitals as ‘waiting Bush out.’ … Mr. Bush might have led the U.S. into ‘a brief moment of triumph.’ But the U.S. is a ‘sunset’ (ofuli) power while Iran is a sunrise (tolu’ee) one and, once Mr. Bush is gone, a future president would admit defeat and order a retreat as all of Mr. Bush’s predecessors have done since Jimmy Carter.”

Considering the present political scene in Washington, perhaps Iran’s mullahs don’t have that long to wait.

The loss to the world of an America willing to undertake the difficult business of preventing violent, imperialist Muslims from pursuing their vision of a worldwide Islamic empire would truly be a profound one.

With renewed fervor and increasingly lethal weaponry, Iran and its proxies are destined to push and to keep pushing their program. They will score success after success as long as the Western world continues to negotiate, equivocate, second-guess and surrender, meekly accepting defeat as some feeble type of moral purification and salvation.

Is the seriousness of this historic moment real to you?

The Days of Vengeance

Remember the difference between the Democrats’ and the Iranians’ visions of where the world is headed following America’s recent congressional elections.

The fact is, neither vision is right. On one hand, anticipation of a new golden age of diplomacy reflects a spectacular misunderstanding of the mullahs’ aims and underestimation of the mullahs’ will.

But on the other, the “golden age” of Islam will be checked before it arrives.

The Bible foretells a crisis point, a watershed, when Iran will push too hard, too far, and a power—not America but a European power—will lash back with unprecedented ferocity. That Islamists can be stopped only by force will ring powerfully true. You can read about this in our January 2006 article, “The Ostrich, the Warriors and the Whirlwind.”

It will be at that point—the biblically prophesied “great tribulation”—that the enormous tragedy of America’s departure from the scene will truly become apparent. “For these be the days of vengeance,” Jesus Christ prophesied of this time of unendurable savagery, “that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22).

But the wonderful and imminent end of this nightmare Christ spoke of immediately after, in verses 27-28: “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

For more information on America’s future, order a free copy of our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.