Want to Know What a Former Superpower Looks Like?

You don’t need to scour the history books. Just look at Britain.
From the April 2009 Trumpet Print Edition

“The shores of history are strewn with the wrecks of empires,” Churchill once said. How quickly the empire over which he presided has joined those wrecks.

It’s easy to forget just how great Great Britain was, and how recently. At the turn of the last century, its wealth and power were immense and unmatched. It was the world’s number-one or -two producer of petroleum, coal, steel, pig iron, gold and nearly every other precious metal. Its electricity output dwarfed every other comer. Its Royal Navy—by law larger than the world’s next two largest navies combined—extended the empire’s presence around the globe. The company of nations over which it ruled comprised one out of every four people and one of every five acres on the planet.

Today, Britain is having trouble governing its own children.

In place of an empire is a weakened, fractious little nation about to collapse under its economic woes. It is besieged by social breakdown; it is plagued by radical subcultures; its police are conceding the battle against crime; its military is a shell of its former self and continuing to shrivel.

This is a cautionary tale particularly worth scrutinizing as an unstable world lurches into a new geopolitical era.

Military and Economy—Decimated

After years of budget cuts and neglect, Britain’s armed forces have been decimated. While politicians speak of technological advances with words like “modernization,” “flexibility” and “efficiency,” steep and steady cutbacks in troops, vehicles, weapons and equipment have devastated the nation’s defenses.

As an example, the Royal Navy—almost 900 warships strong at its peak—currently has 22 warships, only a third of which can operate at any one time.

Britain has surrendered its once-prized military self-sufficiency in arena after arena. The latest of these came in December, when the Defense Ministry scrapped an order for 2,000 armored utility vehicles. The manufacturer that lost the order, bae, happens to be Britain’s only remaining heavy-duty combat vehicle maker—and it said it may soon have to abandon the business. This would mean the nation that invented the tank would be forced to trust other nations for its military needs, parts and maintenance.

Not a good position to be in, considering the fracturing stability of our world.

While a loss of national pride in British power is certainly to blame, so too are the economic constraints facing a nation in decline and sinking under its own ridiculous welfare commitments. (Recent figures show, for example, that 140,000 British households are receiving tax-free government handouts that exceed the average British salary.)

The global financial crisis has walloped the precariously balanced, debt-laden British economy. Its biggest banking houses have crumbled. The Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and others have been nationalized. London’s reputation as a center of global finance is likely gone for good.

Bank of England governor Mervyn King has warned that the British economy could shrink up to a staggering 6 percent this year. Labor cabinet minister Ed Balls said the recession is the most serious in over a century, and that the country faces “seismic events that are going to change the political landscape.”

To address the contraction, the government is expected to borrow between $172 billion and $190 billion—up from “only” $52 billion last year. These figures are certain to balloon to even more perilous heights in the longer term, considering the scale of the “stimulus” initiatives being discussed. But with indications that foreign investors are abandoning the UK, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced he may turn to the printing presses to create the vast sums needed to pay for all the spending and to prop up the banks—at the risk of destroying the British pound.

The International Monetary Fund says the UK will face the worst recession of any industrialized nation in 2009. The British people are facing the simultaneous economic pressures of a depreciating pound, abnormally high inflation, exorbitant and rapidly rising taxes, and exploding unemployment. This in a nation already known as one of the most expensive in the Western world.

Britons’ notoriety for keeping a stiff upper lip during tough times is proving to be a thing of the past. The UK is already seeing a rise in thefts, domestic burglaries, knife-point robberies and fraud—economically related crimes that the government directly links to the crippled national economy.

Falling Apart and Turning to Crime

Other factors are clearly contributing to the problem as well, however—most notably the wasteland that once was British family life. The broken homes that dot the landscape are proven breeding grounds for future criminals.

“The offspring of the first big generation of single mothers were children in the 1980s,” deputy head teacher Ralph Surman told the Daily Mail. “Now they are adults with their own children, and the problems are leading to higher crime rates and low participation in the labor force” (February 10). In Surman’s view, Britain is raising a generation with no social skills or work ethic, and that cannot be educated.

Surman was responding to figures released in January showing that the number of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training (known as neets) is increasing across Britain—from 94,000 in 2003 to a remarkable 850,000 just four years later. What are these hundreds of thousands of unproductive young people doing with their lives?

Unsurprisingly, antisocial behavior like drunkenness, vandalism and verbal abuse has become epidemic: An estimated 35 million such acts occur each year in England and Wales, which averages out to more than one per second, round the clock.

The government’s own patently anti-family welfare policies also bear their share of blame for these pathologies. Since the Labor Party came to power in 1997, the British government has eroded tax breaks for families and replaced them with a system of tax credits that benefit single mothers rather than couples. Recent figures show, shamefully, that a couple with children can become over $7,200 a year richer simply by splitting up. Under this system, the number of single-parent homes has soared. Today it stands at 2.3 million British households.

“There are now so many children growing up in broken homes or with disruptive backgrounds that the self-restraint taught to previous generations is no longer there,” Robert Whelan, a member of a British think tank, told the Mail. “They think when they are angry they can just lash out” (January 30).

And that’s just what they’re doing. Government figures show that one in three British youth carry knives. On average, more than five people die from knife crime each week, and a British child dies in a knife attack every two weeks.

Violent crime is now the most common offense committed by females in England—recently overtaking theft. Additionally, crimes of violence—which include assault, street brawls, grievous bodily harm and even murder—committed by girls under age 18 rose almost 50 percent over the past five years. “Half of all violent offenses are linked with alcohol,” the Telegraph reported, “causing concerns that the ‘ladette’ culture of binge drinking is turning more and more violent” (January 31). Last year, 10- to 18-year-old girls carried out almost 58,000 crimes in England.

How the Police Are Handling the Problem

In major cities like London, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, whole areas “have become lawless enclaves, places where even the police fear to tread,” says South Africa’s Argus Weekend.

The public’s confidence in the police is plummeting. The Brussels Journal reports, “In the last few years violent crime has risen sharply, with the police seemingly unwilling to investigate or prosecute even many serious offenses and government guidelines requiring judges sentence those found guilty to little or no prison time.” Concurrent with this erosion in civil order, Britain is losing more and more of its sovereignty to Europe (“well over 300 European laws have been established in Britain against the wishes of Parliament,” the Journal says)—and it is turning over more and more cases to the parallel Islamic judicial system it is fostering in its midst.

The gradual surrender of British law enforcement to antisocial forces is perhaps nowhere more chillingly illustrated than in Britain’s capitulation to hate-filled Muslims. Throughout the recent Gaza war, public demonstrations of condemnation against Israel and support for Hamas filled the streets of London. Israel’s embassy in Kensington was the object of daily violent siege. “Certainly, there have been anti-Israel protests around the world,” wrote Melanie Phillips. “But in Britain, not only have these been particularly violent but the authorities have done nothing to stop such incitement of hatred” (Wall Street Journal, January 19).

At least once, police demanded that pro-Israel demonstrators put away their Israeli flags so as not to be “inflammatory”—even while allowing some Hamas demonstrators “to dress up as hook-nosed Jews pretending to drink the blood of Palestinian babies.” “One recent video clip,” Phillips wrote, “captured the astonishing spectacle of Muslims stampeding through London’s West End hurling traffic cones and other missiles at the police, all the time shrieking ‘Allahu akbar’ and ‘cowards.’ The police ran and stumbled backward rather than standing their ground and stopping the rampage” (emphasis mine).

It is a fitting metaphor for what has become of the world’s mightiest empire.

Four Decades Ago—a Warning

Remarkably, the Trumpet’s parent publication, a monthly prophetic newsmagazine called the Plain Truth, began warning in the interim years between the two world wars that Britain would lose its empire! To understand how this dramatic collapse was written about in advance in your Bible, order a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s masterwork The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

Through its several decades under the editorial eye of Mr. Armstrong, the Plain Truth reported in detail the curses that were increasingly plaguing Britain, all the while forewarning that they were merely the prelude to far worse curses.

A number of notable Plain Truth articles throughout the 1960s in particular detailed Britain’s woes at the time, which were considerable: economic problems, low food production, struggles with defining its commonwealth, racial tension, a burgeoning and unsustainable welfare system, notorious laziness and preoccupation with immoral entertainment. The Plain Truth even laid out, on more than one occasion, detailed steps that would turn Britain around and set it back on a course lined with blessings.

Consider, as an example, this statement from a December 1964 Plain Truth article: “[T]he British public remains apathetic! … The new generation insists only on less work and more benefits. The welfare state, supported by each government in turn, encourages just such an attitude. … But as the cry grows louder for wage increases, unemployment pay, sick benefits, pensions, allowances, national assistance, grants and payments—the entire economy staggers, unable to stay afloat!”

Now, having stumbled through those tough times with no appreciable change in its behavior, Britain faces an intensification of its problems.

What Is Britain’s Fate?

God makes and unmakes nations. “He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again. … Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing” (Job 12:23; Isaiah 40:15). He made Britain what it once was, and He is unmaking it today.

But God has not yet given up hope on reaching the British people. Strange as it may sound, the very fact that the nation is suffering is evidence of His perseverance and mercy. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons” (Hebrews 12:6-7).

Shortly after Herbert Armstrong’s death in 1986, the warnings issued by the Plain Truth were taken up by Gerald Flurry and published in the Trumpet to be delivered to a new, largely more corrupt generation. His booklet explaining God’s condemnation of Britain in the biblical book of Hosea is a must-read—and we will send you a free copy upon request.

The leaders of Britain responsible for its 60 million citizens would think this message silly or quaint. But even so, at least the 1 million readers of this issue of the Trumpet will have this warning set before them. Perhaps some of you will heed.

God told Britain what would happen. He has explained His reasons for bringing curses upon it. Still, Britain toils on, trying to solve its problems with its own muscle and ingenuity. And instead of looking to God, Britain is relying on its “allies” like Europe—or, as the Bible refers to them, its “lovers.” “They are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers” (Hosea 8:9). (For the astounding proof that Assyria refers to Germany, request our free booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.)

In October 1966, the Plain Truth made this important statement: “The big question: ‘What will it take to wake up the people of Britain?’ Will it take a terrible economic depression, or will it take national military defeat at the hands of a German-dominated United States of Europe?”

There the article referred to the prophesied ultimate fall of Britain!

As the Trumpet has often explained, and as the Bible makes clear to those who have the key to understand it, God prophesies that Britain will not learn its lesson except through total defeat and subjugation as slaves to a united Europe!

“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord. … Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard. … Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations” (Hosea 5:3-4; 7:11-12; 9:16-17).

Yes—what will it take to wake up the people of Britain? Will you wait until being besieged by a frightful foreign army, rounded up and thrust into captivity? Or will you accept God’s correction and heed God’s warning now?