2002: The Real Stories
What really did happen last year? If you got your news from mainstream American sources, you would have a pretty short list—war in Afghanistan, corporate fraud, Catholic Church scandal, the Washington sniper, homeland security, Saddam, Saddam and more Saddam. Sprinkle in anthrax scares, Israeli and Palestinian bloodletting, the occasional comings and goings of senators and congressmen and members of the White House staff, and there you have it, as far as the major networks were concerned.
Was that really everything of consequence that happened last year?
No! Actually most of the biggest stories—the stories that will shape the world in the months and years ahead—were virtually overlooked! Events are happening daily that are quickly altering the dynamics of international relationships—relationships that are destined to have a powerful impact on your country, your life—your pocketbook, your standard of living, your family, your loved ones—in the near future!
It is these events that we cover in this magazine, committed to bringing you “tomorrow’s news today.”
Bible prophecy culminates in the depiction of a time called “the latter days.” “The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” (Jer. 23:20). The phrase “consider it perfectly” would be more clearly rendered from the Hebrew “understand it thoroughly.” We now live in a time which our editor in chief identified in the November 2001 issue as the biblical “last hour.” It is a brief age when the world ultimately coalesces into an armed camp featuring four great power blocs—the Anglo-American democracies, the king of the north, the king of the south and the kings of the east. It is a time when we may understand the prophecies for the latter days thoroughly!
The world is simply in the process of evolving a new geopolitical order, eventually to divide along the lines prophesied in your Bible!
With this perspective, let us now take a bird’s-eye view of the real news of 2002, the news that will continue to shape events during this coming year and on into the foreseeable future.
We lead our analysis of the past year with a survey of events in Europe. Still largely ignored by the U.S. media, developments across the Atlantic are ultimately destined to make front-page headlines in the American press.
The year commenced with much hype within the European Union about the launch of the European single currency, the euro. Although the fledgling currency experienced a rocky start, it did reach par with the dollar by mid-year. In a portent of things to come, billions of dollars were transferred by Arab interests from U.S. holdings for conversion into euros.
Meanwhile, an Associated Press report stated, in relation to international economic difficulties, “[I]t is no secret that the world economy is in serious difficulty.” The U.S. opened the year still in recession; Japan tottered along in its economic straitjacket; Asia stagnated; Latin America wobbled; and it was noted that, amid world recession, the EU had no mechanism to establish an expansionist fiscal policy at a time when it drastically needed one to avoid being dragged down by the decline in aggregate world demand. The seeds of imminent economic and social disruption in Europe were being sown.
The year also witnessed a rise in awakening to the right-wing political trend in Europe. Analysts pointed out that, in times of recession, right-wing politics prospers. Europe was in recession. Visions of pre-war Europe of the 1930s were brought back to mind.
In Brussels, the bureaucratic capital of the EU, the European Commission started the year by preparing to give the Union’s leading nation, Germany, a slap on the wrist for its failure to rein in a burgeoning budget deficit. By year’s end, both Germany and France, faced with their inability to perform to the economic standards which Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s previous administration had bullied the EU into accepting, blatantly declared that they would flout these EU rules and resist the payment of any penalty imposed.
Meanwhile, the re-elected Red-Green coalition government of Germany reeled under the impact of polls showing its popularity with the electorate at record lows. Opposition leader Edmund Stoiber waits in the wings to see if his prediction of the imminent collapse of the current government comes to fruition.
At mid-year, calls were being made by some German leaders for the return of bits of Poland and the Czech Sudetenland, carved away from German control as part of the Potsdam agreement redrawing the map of Europe following World War ii. German investment in these regions increased as German nationals sought to buy back the farm in their old pre-war homelands, from which they had been banished for almost 60 years.
On a broader front, the prospect of 10 more European nations joining the EU in 2004 put tremendous pressure on Brussels to refine its bureaucratic processes, contained in over 180,000 pages of script, to ease their entry. Further evidence of the EU’s internal difficulties turned up when a fourth whistle-blower within the European Commission unsuccessfully sought to hold the EU to account for massive fraud.
In the meantime, the EU quietly continued to strengthen its hold on the Balkan Peninsula, extending the mandate of the German-led peacekeeping force in Macedonia until mid-2003.
Last January, the hunt for al-Qaeda took a unique turn when, hard on the heels of breaking out of their cocoon during the Balkan wars, German combat troops entered their second theater of combat since the army was ostensibly vanquished—never to rise again—at the close of World War ii. By year’s end, the Germans were preparing to take on the leading role in the peacekeeping force on the ground in Afghanistan.
Buoyed up by its seeming welcome role in peacekeeping within the Balkans and Afghanistan, the EU placed security and defense high on its political agenda. In January, a German leader put forward a proposal that gave the ring of falsehood to British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s assertion to U.S. President George W. Bush that the EU rapid reaction force would not evolve into a European army. “A top German diplomat called Thursday for the European Union to develop its own army as a logical further step toward integration after the successful launch of the new single currency, the euro. ‘Does it make sense to keep the national armies?’ German Ambassador to Washington Wolfgang Ischinger asked …“ (United Press International, Jan. 24, 2002; emphasis mine throughout).
Our readers may remember the Trumpet warning of the danger contained in a key clause of the EU’s Maastricht Treaty over four years ago: “This article of the treaty flowed from a resolution by its 15 signatories ‘reinforcing the European identity and its independence in order to promote peace, security and progress in Europe and the world.’ … This is perhaps the most dangerous clause of all contained in the Treaty on European Union! It is this clause … which the EU leaders will use to legitimize their creation of a powerful combined military force that will startle the world with the ferocity of its future ‘peace keeping’ missions!” (May 1998).
Another trend that became apparent in Europe over the past year was the alarming rise of anti-Semitism following the World Trade Center attacks in the U.S. Quantum leaps were being recorded in the demonstration of overt anti-Jewish hatred. To quote evidence from just one of the principal nations of the EU: “Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Italy, according to a new survey, which found that over one in three people considered Jews not to be real Italians, as the country marked Holocaust commemorations Sunday” (Agence France Presse, Jan. 27, 2002).
A trend highlighted in January news reports, which was to recur in similar reports periodically throughout the year, had to do with the influence that will ultimately bind together, for a brief moment in time, the brittle mix of iron and clay that is the EU. In December 2001, Pope John Paul ii lamented the EU’s rejection of any contribution from “communities of believers,” in the religious sense, to the convention that is drafting the Union’s federal constitution.
Papal lobbying for the traditional religion of Europe (overwhelmingly Roman Catholic) became more strident as the year wore on. By the end of October, the pope was pressuring Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the head of the Convention on the Future of Europe, to ensure that the papal view of religion be ensconced firmly within the new EU Constitution.
Also emanating from Rome was a request that international observers be sent to the Middle East, “given the violence ravaging the Holy Land. Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, told Vatican Radio on Saturday, ‘The Holy See has been thinking of this proposal for more than a year, as one cannot witness passively the daily deaths of Israelis and Palestinians. [R]eligion, with a capital R, has its place in society as the indispensable factor for public dialogue. It is necessary to stress this forcefully, after last September 11,’ the French archbishop emphasized” (www.zenit.org, Jan. 27, 2002).
And so it was that all nations and nation-states, including the Vatican state, used the events of September 11, 2001, as a platform to accelerate their own individual agendas.
Remarkably, following the great disasters of mad cow disease in the 1990s and the foot and mouth scourge of 2001, Britain shone out as the best economic performer within the EU.
Geopolitically, the British government sought to perform a balancing act between full support for the U.S. in the war on terror and its own perceived role as a prime player, with France and Germany, within the EU. Reality struck home late in the year when the French and German governments did an underhanded deal on EU farm subsidies, effectively blocking Britain out of any discussion on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. This policy has effectively dragged agrarian Britain down from being the most efficient farm economy in the world, prior to its joining the old Common Market, to a point where many British farmers are suicidally desperate at their inability to cope with the ridiculous standards, rules and regulations imposed by Brussels bureaucrats.
For Britain’s royal family, events combined at year’s end to threaten the upswing in their popularity during Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee year. A dramatic slump in their public image followed scurrilous accusations by palace staff in November. Britain’s tabloid press had a field day rubbing salt into royal wounds (see p. 8).
In Ireland, the EU and Irish government combined to convince the Irish public by propaganda overkill and legislative manipulation to vote for entry into the European Monetary Union. Democracy took another step backward. Meanwhile, the Irish peace process faltered on revelations that Sinn Fein/ira was guilty of spying on the British government.
Russia, Asia, Pacific
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin continued his game of pretending to be a U.S. ally while, at the same time, cozying up to each of the nations on President Bush’s axis-of-evil list—Iran, North Korea and Iraq. The Russian prime minister courted EU investment, offering in exchange the carrot of access to Russia’s massive energy reserves. But at year’s end, the Russian economy, still moribund, showed no signs of regeneration. The risk of clandestine deals to rogue countries seeking to acquire nuclear material increased as Russian nuclear infrastructure continued to rust in neglect. Germany remained Russia’s single largest investor of capital.
The influence of the EU on emerging policy within the principal Asian nations came to the fore with an initiative mounted by China toward the close of the year. The East Asian economic meltdown of the 1990s is still fresh in the minds of long-term-thinking Asians. The lead nations in Asia are much aware that Europe is becoming (albeit presently during recession) a largely self-contained, self-sustaining economy. They perceive the Atlantic rift between the U.S. and Europe widening, and they observe the instability within the major oil suppliers in the Northern Hemisphere—the Middle East and Russia and its old Caucasus satellites. Hence, it has seemed inevitable that either China or Japan would move, sooner or later, to lead an initiative toward a pan-Asian trading bloc. As it happened, Japan, with its plans for such a move in the formative stages, was upstaged by China.
During November, China signed a commitment with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean) to create a free-trade region, with China at the core, by 2010. It is, “in effect, an offer by Beijing to help neighbors share in its growth. The agreement was reached more quickly than expected and left Japan a surprised and worried outsider” (New York Times, Nov. 24, 2002).
Whether or not Japan’s worrying is sufficient to prod the country out of its steadily sinking economic slough remains to be seen. Japan’s alliances are crucial to stability in Asia and the Pacific. At present, America’s military treaty with Japan still influences the country’s geopolitical considerations. Yet with the U.S. increasingly diverted to other spheres in its war against terror, the temptation for Japan to assert old nationalistic tendencies and regain its dominant post-war economic role in Asia and the Pacific may well increase. Between Japan and China, “mutual suspicions run deep, reflecting centuries of stormy history, including Japan’s invasion of China in the early 20th century and continuing incidents that inflame tempers on both sides” (ibid.).
Add to this the need for Japan to keep an eye on Russia to the north and to police its seaways to the south through the Straits of Malacca, and the country’s security and defense needs become most apparent. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi used the events of 9/11 as a platform from which to mount a call for a revision of Japan’s constitution to legitimize the nation’s reemergence as a military power. Increasingly Japan feels, like Germany, that it has done penance for World War ii atrocities and may now prepare to restructure itself to allow for a more overt military presence.
An additional pressure on Japan is the fact that China, India, Pakistan and Russia all possess nuclear power, and North Korea has a developing nuclear arms program. Watch for a continuing rise in Japanese nationalism and militarism throughout the next year in response to these pressures.
India and Pakistan, long caught in a feud over Kashmir, rattled their nuclear arms at each other. For a moment the world held its breath watching to see if either nation would be first to hit the nuclear attack button. Although the crisis was diffused, these two nations continued to eye each other aggressively.
During the final quarter of the year, Australia was shaken out of its decades-long gloat as “the lucky country.” The October terrorist attack in Bali, Indonesia, took the lives of nearly 90 young Australian nationals and led Prime Minister John Howard to declare that Australia may seek to take the initiative by mounting aggression on foreign soil, should the country perceive a threat to its interests from any of its neighbors. This rankled Australia’s two largest neighboring Islamic nations, Indonesia and Malaysia. Asian and Pacific nations observe an Australia increasingly isolated from its northern Anglo-Saxon sister countries, straining to strengthen its ties to a U.S. increasingly pre-occupied with its own terrorist war on multiple fronts.
Added to Australia’s woes were so-called natural disasters that impacted its environment. Massive drought sent more farmers to the wall. Farmers also faced the creeping curse of salinity which is rendering huge swaths of agricultural land infertile. Then came the fires, sweeping across the state of New South Wales and ringing the picturesque harborside city of Sydney. Officials told the city to “prepare for hell” as bushfires, driven by the heat of summer winds, surrounded the city’s outskirts. Veterans described the scene as the worst they had ever seen. This picture of a fire-ringed city of Sydney, host to the world’s greatest annual homosexual mardi-gras and site of so many non-Christian places of worship, brings to mind the prophecies of Hosea: “For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor” (Hos. 8:14; 9:1).
The Middle East
In the Middle East, Iran started the year with a fresh diplomatic initiative to use a common hatred toward the tiny Jewish nation of Israel as cement to weld a uniform stance by Muslim and Arab nations against Israeli actions in Palestine. This included overtures to woo Pakistan out of the arms of U.S. cooperation and into mainstream Muslim politics.
In Israel, it seemed that suicide bombings became a more-than-weekly occurrence. Terrorist leader of the Palestinians Yasser Arafat somehow managed to survive another year as the Palestinians’ representative on the national scene. Hostilities ground on between Jew and Arab, with Israel offering tit-for-tat reprisals for the Palestinians’ incessant attacks on Jewish people and property. The hawkish former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gained the portfolio on Foreign Affairs in the Israeli government. He will contest the prime ministership in upcoming elections in early 2003.
From a joint meeting of Israel and Palestinian leaders in Luxembourg in late October, the EU issued statements calling on the Jewish state to back the establishment of a Palestinian state. This clash of two religions, Jewish and Muslim, in the Middle East, with a third entity, the EU, seeking to influence an outcome in its favor, will become increasingly evident as the current year progresses. The role of the U.S. in the peace process will diminish, and that of the Vatican-inspired EU dominate, until the pope’s call for an international army to enforce peace in Jerusalem prevails (Luke 21:20).
And while the world focused on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the real sponsor and harborer of Middle East terrorists, Iran, seemed largely ignored by the U.S. in its war on terror.
From Tunis to Cape Town, from Dakar to Djibouti, the continent of Africa continued to decline economically, socially and culturally, with very few bright spots—descending into the state of the world’s singular continental basket case.
Zimbabwe, the latest of the former colonial entities to implode, had perhaps the highest profile. Here, the country’s leader, Robert Mugabe, pursued a deliberate policy of the elimination of the only national force that could give hope to this ailing country, the white farmer. Rumbles to the south indicate that Mugabe’s so-called land-reform policy is beginning to impact South Africa as well (see p. 16).
Declining per capita food production and unpayable debt continued as Africa’s legacy of decolonization. British journalist Max Hastings said it all in an article headlined “The Game is Over for the White Man Throughout Africa.” In it he stated, “In a succession of lurches and surges, Africa is reverting to a dark continent. … By almost every economic measure Africa has gone backward, not forward, since the 1960s. … You may have noticed that even as more and more whites are obliged to quit Africa, growing numbers of black Africans seek to migrate to Europe and the United States—refugees from the economic catastrophes their own rulers have created at home. … It is a bitter historic irony. … Africa’s story will have become an exclusive black disaster” (Daily Mail, London, Sept. 13, 2002).
The great hopes of the 1990s for an economic revival of Latin America faded last year as the whole region dipped into economic malaise. Apart from Mexico and Chile, things are grim in this southern region. Argentina and Brazil still face the prospect of default on their massive debts.
The U.S. administration currently has little specific interest in the region south of the Rio Grande; two exceptions are Mexico (with whom it has a significant interest in trade and in limiting rampant border incursions) and Colombia. Having entered into Plan Colombia, ostensibly for the purpose of aiding in that nation’s effort to quell its huge drug problem, the U.S. finds itself now bound in a mini-war of attrition with hit-and-run terrorists in a jungle setting not unlike Vietnam.
Elsewhere, Latin America shows little promise to investors for a stimulation of its moribund economies, given its pattern of unstable government and widespread financial corruption. Yet, its European connections both ethnically and religiously may ultimately rejoin Latin America’s umbilical cord with the womb of its old colonial mother—the continent of Europe—through the aegis of the EU. If this is the case, then Europe either will have to emerge out of its current recession to enable viable investment in Latin America, or it will exploit the Latinas’ current economic malaise by signing deals for much-needed resources at bedrock prices. Watch for events in the future to lead Latin America back to its religious roots in the center of EU spiritual influence, the seven-hilled city of Rome.
The main challenge of the U.S. administration, representative of the world’s singular greatest nation, was to maintain focus within a world in the midst of unprecedented global turbulence.
In the past year, 25 civil wars were waged—cutting a swath across the globe from Indonesia, through Asia, India and Pakistan to Africa, Spain and Colombia. Add to this the worldwide network of terrorist organizations, and the role of policing the globe becomes a daunting task.
With Slobodan Milosevic removed from the pages of the world’s press, the Bush administration initially focused on the personality of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. When he proved too elusive to catch, it was Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq, who was next brought into the focus of Washington’s glaring foreign-policy light. Having weighed the options of gunning for any of the three nominated members of President Bush’s “axis of evil,” the administration opted for the lesser evil of Saddam, considering the other two options far too volatile. Thus it was that Iraq became the central feature of the American government’s strategic policy throughout the year. Yet, here the U.S. is in a cleft stick, for if UN weapons inspectors fail to find proof of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, upon what grounds does America mount the attack on him, an attack which is already in a final phase of preparation?
“Since the United States has a serious credibility problem in the Islamic world—where it is perceived as too weak and irresolute to carry out its operations to complete success—backing away from Iraq would be not only damaging, but far more damaging than if the issue had not been spun up as the keystone of U.S. policy.
“Therefore, the United States cannot abandon its goal of regime change in Iraq or even put it off for very long without causing serious problems for itself among the audiences that Washington and al-Qaeda both are trying to influence—Islamic regimes and populations” (www.stratfor.com, Oct. 21, 2002). This is an unenviable situation for the U.S. government.
Exacerbating this scenario is the great wave of anti-Americanism currently sweeping the world. As one British commentator reported, “[T]o the world’s eternal shame, 9/11 is increasingly seen as America’s comeuppance. Incredibly, anti-Americanism has increased over the last year” (Mirror, Sept. 11, 2002).
But the greatest of shame is surely borne by many liberals within the Western democracies, including the U.S. itself. National self-loathing has been a popular sport of liberal socialists in Britain for decades. But 9/11, it seems, has brought the anti-American phenomenon to the fore. “These days you don’t have to be some dust-encrusted nut job in Kabul or Karachi or Finsbury Park to see America as the Great Satan. The anti-American alliance is made up of self-loathing liberals who blame the Americans for every ill in the Third World, and conservatives suffering from power-envy, bitter that the world’s only superpower can do what it likes without having to ask permission” (ibid.).
It seems the U.S. just can’t win in the global pr stakes. The temptation for the U.S. to revert back to isolationism, if not under this present government, then perhaps under the next, will be palpable once the true nature of its perceived status as international pariah really dawns on its public. The coming year will force the U.S. government to put up or shut up on the subject of Iraq. Either way, for America it will be a no-win deal. The ancient prophecy mouthed by the Prophet Moses will inevitably be fulfilled against this morally corrupted, materialistic nation which has simply lost sight of the true God who is the source of all its blessings: “And I will break the pride of her power” (Lev. 26:19).
In concluding our review of the events of 2002, it is essential that we return to the region that will continue to have the most powerful consequences on the world scene, in particular the U.S., and Britain and its dominions, over the coming year and beyond: the continent of Europe.
In the Prophet Daniel’s exposition of King Nebuchadnezzar’s great vision, he explained that the final great Gentile empire would be divided (Dan. 2:41). The Holy Roman Empire was divided between the east, with its capital in Constantinople, and the west, having its capital in Rome. For decades, the developing seventh and final resurrection of that empire, now in its current guise as the European Union, has comprised only a western component. However, with the accession of Eastern European nations in May 2004 agreed at the EU summit last month, the vision emerges, for the first time since Eastern and Western Europe were enslaved under Nazism-fascism, of a final resurrection of that old two-legged Roman Empire. As Pope John Paul ii foresaw in a joint declaration on October 12, “[W]e have been the witness of a promising reconciliation between East and West” (www.vatican.va).
The last time Eastern and Western Europe were “reconciled” under Catholic rule was under the old “Holy” Roman Empire! To those who, in the words of revelatory Scripture, have an ear to “hear what the Spirit saith” (Rev. 3:22), the geopolitics of the past year rapidly accelerated the restoration of that ancient engine of destruction.
However, the closer events move us toward the final resurrection of that empire, the closer we come to the most climactic event of the age, the return of Jesus Christ: “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives …. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (Zech. 14:4, 9).
Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to watch and pray (Mark 13:33). As we reflect on the fulfillment of prophesied world events increasingly becoming evident in this last hour of man’s present civilization on Earth, continue to watch current events and stay tuned to the vision portrayed in this magazine. It is, in fact, the only vision that remains of real and ultimate hope in a world increasingly filled with terror and fear.