The Greek Crisis Was Planned!

As an EU member state implodes, look who stands to benefit.
From the April 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Europe is at a crossroads!

Greece is on the verge of collapse. This Mediterranean nation cannot pay its debts without massive restructuring.

Both French and German ministers have announced that they will not bail out their Club Med neighbor. Instead, EU monetary authorities are pushing Greece to massively slash its budget. But if Greece were to implement the severe spending cuts needed to get its deficit under control, it could easily plunge into an even deeper recession. Also, loss of government handouts has already created mass strikes and social unrest—a trend certain to get worse as the cuts become more steep.

Yet if Germany and France allow Greece to continue defying its monetary agreements, there will be little to stop other deeply indebted countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland from also reneging on their monetary commitments. The credibility of the euro would be thrown into doubt.

All eyes are on Europe. Can the euro survive if Greece leaves or is kicked out of the monetary union? If a bailout comes, who will fund it, and at what cost?

There are no good choices. All of them will be very costly. Greece’s massive debt problems threaten the very viability of the European Union.

The disparate nations of Europe are desperately seeking a savior.

The truly remarkable thing is, this crisis was no accident. Not only was it eminently foreseeable long ago, but evidence suggests that it was deliberately planned. And its outcome promises to unfold just as its authors hoped.

What is happening in the European superstate is a mystery to most of the world. Yet while stock markets gyrate and bond investors panic, Trumpet readers know the ultimate result.

“The crisis in Greece is a forerunner of a whole rash of similar crises set to soon break out across Europe,” editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in the February 2009 Trumpet. “They will provide the catalyst for the EU’s leading nation,Germany, to rise to the fore with solutions of its own making.”

For more than a decade, the Trumpet has warned about the rotten heart of Europe. We have specifically noted the flawed currency exchange rate mechanism and how the structure of the EU was a Trojan horse for stealthy German ambitions.

“Who will get control of this great superstate?” asked Mr. Flurry in June 2000. The battle comes down to two nations—France and Germany, he said. But it will be the nation that controls the money—Germany—that will ultimately reign supreme.

Today, events unfolding in Europe are proving that forecast uncannily accurate.

Created to Fail?

From the beginning, the euro was destined—maybe even designed—to fail. At least that is the conclusion of some analysts.

Back in 1992, the power elites in Europe enticed the hapless member nations of the EU at that time into signing up to the Maastricht Treaty on European Union. The treaty contained a vital clause creating the foundation for an economic and monetary union—emu. This has become synonymous with the subsequent European Monetary Union, also called the emu.

The emu was glued together by a single currency. The euro was introduced in 1999, with notes and coins entering circulation in 2002. To date 16 EU member nations have joined the emu, sacrificing their individual national sovereign means of exchange—and in the process setting themselves on a course that would lead to the total sacrifice of their national sovereignty on the altar of the imperialist project of the European Union.

After the EU single currency system was implemented, certain voices predicted the failure of the euro. A handful theorized that the euro may well even have been deliberately created to fail by certain German elites. The theory was that Germany would bide its time and allow the unworkable monetary union to prevail till it reached a point of collapse and then, having wrested control of the European Central Bank (ecb) out of any competitor’s hands (read France, in particular), move in quickly and take direct control of emu administration. Germany could then ensure that a preferred core of EU member nations would receive ecb favor, with the disfavored reduced to vassal status or worse.

Why, if the theory is correct, would Germany deliberately create an economic and monetary union that was destined, from all the tests applied by the clearest thinking observers at the time, to fail?

Unification Through Stealth

When the eurozone’s founders began working toward pan-European unity, they knew it would be virtually impossible to unite the Continent. Jean Monnet, one of the forefathers of the European Union, was well aware of the difficulty of convincing voters to willingly relinquish their national sovereignty. Monnet felt that the only way to achieve unification, without war, was through stealth. The people must not know that sovereignty has been surrendered until it is gone.

English conservative and author Adrian Hilton described Monnet’s intentions for Europe this way: “Europe’s nations should be guided towards a superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation” (The Principality and Power of Europe; emphasis ours throughout).

As Monnet said on April 30, 1952, “The fusion [of economic functions] would compel nations to fuse their sovereignty into that of a single European state.”

Peter Thorneycroft, former chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom and Europhile, described the Monnet unification method in a 1957 Foreign Affairs article: “The idea of a united Europe is not new. It has exercised the minds of the soldiers and sometimes of the statesmen of Europe for many centuries. … Torn by war and conquest, weakened by internecine strife, Europeans have yet found the time and the capacity to leave an incomparable legacy ….

“Yet men do not live easily within the same institutional arrangements. National patriotisms are strong ….”

In an earlier booklet, Design for Europe (1947), Thorneycroft wrote: “No government dependent upon a democratic vote could possibly agree in advance to the sacrifice which any adequate plan must involve. The people must be led slowly and unconsciously into the abandonment of their traditional economic defenses, not asked, in advance ….”

Economic integration, once initiated, would become self-sustaining, it was hoped. Monnet theorized that economic interdependence would drive integration until eventually, Europe would end up with de facto political centralization and unification.

Today, Europe may be at a tipping point where economic integration finally meets political unification.

“The European experiment with a trans-sovereign currency is facing its first acid test,” wrote Euro Pacific Capital’s John Browne. “In essence, the euro was created as a lever to encourage a complete European political union rather than as a currency representing … an already unified economy” (February 10).

According to Browne, who is a former British member of Parliament and close associate of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the euro has largely succeeded in creating the will for a federal Europe among the political classes even though European citizens have voted again and again to maintain their individual country’s sovereignty.

“Whoever controls the currency controls the government,” said economics guru Maynard Keynes. To him, that was not just a law of economics; it was a law that underwrote power politics.

Anticipated Crisis

When the euro was created, a chain of events was set in motion. For nations like Greece, a future debt crisis was almost inevitable.

By joining the eurozone, Greece traded its inflation-prone drachma for the stability of the euro. It also gained the economic borrowing clout of a superstar, even though it had the economy of a small supporting actor.

Initially, these two advantages vastly improved the standard of living for the people of Greece. They allowed corporations, individuals and government to borrow money at the low rates typical within large developed countries like Germany. The new low interest rates were more than Greece could resist. All levels of society binged on seemingly cheap money. The government, for its part, embraced a massive welfare state, also made possible by easily obtained low-interest loans.

But as lenders to Greece are beginning to remember, there was a good reason Greece paid far higher interest rates to borrow money when it was not a member of the Union. Greece has a history of borrowing too much. According to analyst John Mauldin, Greece has been in default in one way or another for 105 out of the past 200 years.

Even as luxury swiftly came to Greece, so now have the first whiffs of poverty.

With a projected budget deficit of 12.7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, Greece is far out of compliance with the eurozone’s mandated 3 percent maximum. With the world in recession, investors are wondering how Greece will pay its bills.

Typically when a country takes on too much debt, it contracts Argentine-disease. Known also as “quantitative easing,” countries devalue their currency by turning on the money printing presses and simply creating the currency to pay the bills. This of course upsets creditors, but at least the bills get paid. The economy also gets a short-term kick-start because a devalued currency makes exported goods less expensive; thus foreigners buy more domestic products.

Greece, however, does not have this option. Since it is locked into the euro, it does not control the printing presses. Germany does.

Analysts worry that Greece may be reaching the point where a debt spiral could bankrupt the government. What will Europe do?

It’s true that the Greece crisis will necessitate some difficult and costly decisions. But in some respects, as far as the European political class is concerned, it matters not whether Greece stays or goes. Greece is a peripheral country, immaterial to the desire for a federalist Europe. What is material is that the current crisis be exploited to its maximum—and that means that it be used to foster further integration of core Europe.

Will the Eurozone Be Pared Down?

The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote on January 31 that the solution to the crisis could involve a paring down of the eurozone. He noted the possibility of a bloc of nations centered on Germany leaving the eurozone and creating a new currency: the Deutsch mark 2. The rest of the eurozone countries would then be free to devalue the euro (turn on the printing presses) to pay down debts.

Although Evans-Pritchard noted that Germany is currently happy with its advantageous position within the euro, he also said there would be certain benefits to a newly created German-led bloc.

Events in Greece bear close watching, especially in light of the advent of the seventh revival of the Holy Roman Empire in Europe, which officially began on January 1 with the onset of the Lisbon Treaty.

The first major reason to watch this issue is that the Bible indicates that this final Roman imperial resurrection will be composed of 10 nations or groups of nations (as indicated in Daniel 2). Whether or not the current 27 EU nations get regrouped into new political regions remains to be seen, but the economic crisis in Greece may well provoke a vast restructuring or paring down of the European Union.

Far from heralding the end of the European unification project, the current crisis in Greece may actually signal a new beginning.

Forcing the Pace of Political Union

Back when the euro was first created, the European Commission’s top economists warned politicians that the new currency might not survive a serious crisis. They knew that because the eurozone had “no EU treasury or debt union to back it up” and a “one-size-fits-all regime of interest rates [that] caters badly to the different needs of Club Med and the German bloc,” the day would come that economic crisis would threaten the EU (Telegraph, Oct. 1, 2008).

The fathers of the euro did not dispute this. They knew European economic union was risky, but they saw it as an acceptable risk—even desirable—as a last-ditch option to force the pace of political union. As the Telegraph said, “They welcomed the idea of a ‘beneficial crisis.’” And as “ex-Commission chief Romano Prodi remarked, it would allow Brussels to break taboos and accelerate the move to a full-fledged EU economic government” (ibid.).

Mr. Flurry’s words from that February 2009 article ring out: “Berlin has been planning for this crisis before it even adopted the euro. European elites knew it would eventually come. And they will soon present a solution.”

Sure enough, in the midst of the Greek crisis, an increasing ensemble is crying for a federalized European economic government—one with not just a common currency, but one with a common debt union and power structure—kind of like a United States of America in Europe.

It is “Time for the Eurozone to Grow Up,” headlined the Wall Street Journal on February 8. There is a way out of this dilemma, it wrote. “It would require a European federal government with substantial taxing and spending power, with the ability to redistribute resources and impose fiscal discipline across the continent. In short, it would require a far greater degree of political union …. Yet the choice is now clear and inescapable.”

That is exactly the kind of talk that political elites are looking for. It is also a sentiment echoed in Europe.

“The crisis has revealed our weaknesses,” said European Union President Herman Van Rompuy in February. “Recent developments in the euro area highlight the urgent need to strengthen our economic governance.” Europe needs a powerful “economic government,” he said.

The EU’s foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, agrees. More political union is needed, she said on February 6 at the Munich Security Conference. “We must mobilize all our levers of influence—political, economic, plus civil and military crisis management tools—in support of a single political strategy.”

“The days when a common EU foreign policy was regarded as mere talk are numbered,” Ashton said.

Yes, the days when the free nations of Europe charted their own destiny are indeed numbered.

Victory for Berlin

Consider the success of the euro project in the grand scheme of things. By gearing a whole continental economy to a single currency—imposing rules for membership of monetary union that it was clear no member nation could reliably and consistently fulfill—the German elites crafted a scheme designed to create a continental crisis. If they come to control the ecb (and judging by the top candidates for the presidency, which is due to change hands next year, this looks to be a done deal), they will be positioned to respond to that crisis by enacting, at their will, a totally reconstituted European monetary union.

Such a union will vest financial and economic power in the hands of a select group of nations. These core nations will act in consortium under Berlin and Rome’s direction to propel the Holy Roman imperial vision to reality. They will no longer be frustrated by having to seek a majority vote from 28 fractious, disparate EU member nations. The weaker nations will simply become slaves to the beck and call of the ecb, beholden to it and its governing authority for their economic survival—a literal fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation 13.

Whether or not the euro fails under its present stress doesn’t change this reality: Given the likely imminent placing of a German in charge of the ecb, Germany is about to directly control the bullion hoard stashed in the vaults of the ecb and beyond. The ecb is headquartered in Frankfurt; the importance of the German elites ensuring the bank lies in Germany’s heartland will prove a vital key in securing the bank’s wealth in times of crisis. When financial crisis arises, Germany will control the EU’s singular currency and hence imperial power over the whole of the EU. It will be a case of game, set and match to Germany.

Some have even mused that, as the day of monetary crisis approaches, the German elites, having positioned themselves to seize control of the ecb, would use an appropriate global institution under EU dominance as a regulator to both control and regulate global trade in the EU’s favor.

As regular Trumpet readers know, the Bible indicates that a king will soon arise in Europe who will deceitfully gain power and force his authority on Europe. The machinations for this pan-European federalist hijacking are falling into place.

Dictating Europe’s Destiny

The second reason the Greek crisis bears close watch is that the Bible indicates that this European superpower will be dominated by Germany. If this crisis in Europe has shown anything, it is that, at least economically, Germany holds ultimate power in Europe.

Bailout or no bailout: Either way, Germany wins. If Germany and Europe bail out Greece, what will be the cost? If Germany has to ask its citizens to reduce their standard of living to subsidize Greeks, what will it ask Greece for in return? The price is sure to be steep. Conversely, if Germany were to work to remove Greece from the EU, the result would be a slimmer, economically healthier, core Europe with one less voice to dilute German political clout.

Sixty-five years after World War ii, Germany is again dictating the destiny of Europe. This should startle the world.

As Britain’s Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, warned in 1993, “You have not anchored Germany to Europe. You have anchored Europe to a newly dominant, unified Germany. In the end, my friends, you’ll find it will not work.” It is Germany’s national character to dominate, she said.

Germany has hijacked Europe. Greece knows it. Portugal and Ireland will find out next. And probably Britain soon thereafter.

But remember: You read it here first.

Prophecy Fulfilled!

The true portent of all that is happening in Europe will only be obvious to those who understand the reality of the prophetic words of that once “ambassador for world peace without portfolio,” Herbert W. Armstrong.

Relying on the Bible for his vision of the future—and on a deep understanding of world events, coupled with his high-profile discourse with the upper echelons of international leadership—Herbert Armstrong powerfully proclaimed these events that have occurred in Europe, especially since the unification of Germany, itself one of his most oft-repeated prophecies. Fully five years before World War ii, Herbert Armstrong prophesied these events. He continued to air those same prophecies while Germany lay in abject defeat, then on throughout the wirtschaftswunder—the German economic miracle of postwar revival—clear on up to his death four years before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the resultant reunification of Germany.

Ten years before the wall fell—13 years prior to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty which created the European Monetary Union—Herbert Armstrong declared, “I have been proclaiming and writing, ever since 1935, that the final one of the seven eras of the Holy Roman Empire is coming in our generation—a ‘United States of Europe,’ combining 10 nations or groups of nations in Europe—with a union of church and state!

“The nations of Europe have been striving to become reunited. They desire a common currency, a single combined military force, a single united GOVERNMENT. They have made a start in the Common Market. They are now working toward a common currency. Yet, on a purely political basis, they have been totally unable to unite. …

“This new united Europe will be, militarily and economically, as strong, or even more powerful, than either the United States or the ussr. It will be a third gigantic world power! But it will be exceedingly short-lived (Revelation 17:10, 12)—as iron and miry clay are not adhesive, and will not stick together (Daniel 2:42-43)” (Plain Truth, January 1979).

In our February edition, our editor in chief proclaimed that, as of Jan. 1, 2010, “The Holy Roman Empire Is Back!” That ought to be a call to action to those who once heard and believed Mr. Armstrong’s words. If those words ring in your ears today, then you ought to realize the time for delay in your returning to the only way of life that guarantees true freedom, safety and protection from this seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire is up! The words we publish are a powerful warning to you in particular!

The ball is in your court. The door is before you. Christ said all you have to do is knock, and He will open unto you!

SocietyWatch

From the March 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Britain to Educate Teens on Parenting

Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe. Four of every 100 British girls under age 18 become pregnant every year. An average of 22 girls under 15 become pregnant every day. The government’s solution? Require all British teens to take lessons on how to be a parent.

Under Children’s Secretary Ed Balls’s proposal, all 14-year-olds will receive parenting lessons starting in 2011. They will be taught parental responsibilities, stages of child development, and techniques for controlling unruly children. Balls hopes his strategy will discourage teens from having children—but it risks sending the message to children that teenage pregnancy is natural and normal.

The plan appears to be based less on right teaching and more on the political correctness that has contributed to Britain’s moral mess. For example, a government leaflet on how parents should teach their children about sex warns parents not to educate their children about right and wrong, as it “may discourage them from being open.”

Some educators say sex education does nothing to slow teen pregnancy rates. That is likely true of such misguided programs as this one. Educate children with the right education, however, and pregnancy rates will fall. To learn what is conspicuously absent in Britain’s education, request a free copy of a detailed book dedicated to true education on dating, marriage, pregnancy and family: The Missing Dimension in Sex.

Race Policy Dumbs Everyone Down

Americans perform poorly on science tests. America also issues thousands of science visas so foreign graduates from China, India and elsewhere can come to the United States and fill chemistry and physics positions that Americans can’t. However, the Berkeley High School Shared Governance Committee approved a proposal in December 2009 that will cut the school’s science labs and five science teachers. The reason? Not because of lack of funds or science students, but because the school lacked science students of the right race.

Authorities deemed that the science classes mostly benefited higher-achieving white and Asian students, and felt resources should instead be diverted to help black and Hispanic students that were deemed to be struggling. “Berkeley High was identified as the high school with the largest racial equity/achievement gap in the state,” an internal study reported.

There are several reasons for the difference in test scores between races, including lack of discipline, broken family life, single parenting and alcoholism. A San Francisco Examiner report on the issue also blamed the test score differential on gangster rap and the crack-cocaine epidemic.

Regardless of the causes, eliminating the achievement gap by bringing down America’s few science achievers is not the answer.

Ignorant of Basic U.S. History

A study by the Libertarian Lexington Institute shows that de-emphasizing U.S. history in American schools’ curricula has brought about “appalling results.” The report, “The Teaching of American History: Promise and Performance,” analyzes data collected from an American Revolution Center (arc) survey conducted in December.

The arc’s study shows that 83 percent of Americans failed a basic test on the American Revolution.

More than a third of the Americans surveyed believed the American Revolution occurred after either the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, or War of 1812.

Many more Americans knew that Michael Jackson wrote the song “Beat It” than knew that the Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution.

A 2006 study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress proved the knowledge gap begins early. Only a quarter of American elementary, middle and high school students surveyed were deemed “proficient” in U.S. history at their grade level.

Robert Holland, author of the Libertarian Lexington Institute’s report, said, “The success of our democratic republic depends upon citizens who believe in a common set of ideals as originally expressed in the founding documents.”

Holland identified the 1960s and 1970s as the time when the focus in American history began to shift away from traditional subject matter—such as the founders and the Revolutionary War—and toward less central subjects like “women, racial/ethnic minorities and immigrants.”

“Whatever might be said for or against a broadening of the study of history,” Holland said, “there is no doubt that the sharp switch led to declines in knowledge of the founding of the American republic, its enduring principles, and its accomplishments.”

What is the real danger in an educational system that produces students and adults ignorant of history? Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has recognized this tendency to de-emphasize history as “an extremely dangerous trend that may be too entrenched ever to correct” (January 2006; also see article, page 1).

American history will continue to fade as political correctness and apathy increase. This approach will weaken the nation and leave entire generations ignorant of and vulnerable to the dangers that history warns against.

Man Does Not Know His Greatest Enemy

You can’t conquer your enemy if you don’t even know him.
From the April 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

No matter how bad the news is, most of our leaders in this world still believe they have a solution to world problems. The terrifying truth is, not one of them knows how to solve the world’s evils, especially our number-one problem of human survival.

Man does not understand the basic cause of our extreme immorality, violence, crime and war. He doesn’t understand why we are on the brink of obliterating all human life from this planet.

Here is a paragraph from our booklet Human Nature—What Is It? (request your free copy):

The human mind: What a wonder! It can produce the most sophisticated computer technology imaginable. We have sent men to walk on the surface of the moon—a robot to crawl on the surface of Mars, photographing the terrain for us to examine. Yet the same minds which produce such marvels of science and technology cannot solve human evils, like war, violence, crime, immorality, dishonesty and deceit. The awesome mind of man has not brought about lasting peace. Indeed, the mind of man, contrary to what some modern scholars might think, has produced an abundance of evil, heartache and bloodshed. The question is, why? How can a mind that produces such incredible technology utterly fail when it comes to solving world problems?

Man is facing total annihilation of all human life, perhaps in a decade or less. That is especially true when you consider the mad leader of Iran, who is about to get nuclear weapons and is eager to use them. Iran is by far the greatest terrorist-sponsoring nation in this nuclear world—madness that no nation or group of nations has been willing to take a stand against—yet. The country’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, believes a nuclear war would hasten the return of his version of the Messiah.

His philosophy has radically changed the nuclear equation! But how many people really understand that deeply enough to do something about it?

The irony of Ahmadinejad’s belief is this: It is a sick perversion of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, who is going to return to save man just before we destroy all human life, mainly with nuclear bombs. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [alive]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

What a shameful paradox. Millions of people in Iran will believe a sick counterfeit of Christ’s Second Coming, but you can’t get most Christians to believe what Christ, who is supposed to be their leader, teaches about nuclear warfare. And He prophesied the exact nuclear conditions we face today, about 2,000 years ago! That fact alone should stagger the minds of truly educated people.

No book in this world even remotely compares with the Bible. That is because God inspired the Old and New Testaments, and you can prove it. One third of the Bible is prophecy, and 90 percent of that prophecy is being fulfilled today. Comparing other books to the Bible is like comparing man to God!

Most educators have closed their minds both to the Holy Scriptures and to understanding their chief enemy (Matthew 13:15). But true education is about opening minds—not closing them!

How can it be anything but ignorant and barbaric if you close your mind to the only way human beings can survive?

All the red lights are flashing and all the sirens are blaring! But where is the urgency to deal with this life-exterminating problem?

Nuclear bombs are real. They stand ready to erase all human life from this planet. That is not a fantasy!

Educators have not yet learned that true education begins with being childlike and humble so you can be taught. God only reveals to babes (Matthew 11:25)—that is, humble people who will be taught. Only then does a person become truly qualified to teach others.

Many of our deceptive educators are the same brilliant geniuses who have led us to the point where we’re about to blow all human beings to smithereens! I’m sure you can understand why such scholarly leaders exalt themselves to high heaven. Look at what they have accomplished!

The basic cause of world evils is human nature. That includes the evil of a coming nuclear conflagration. But we don’t understand our human minds well enough to even know what human nature is.

Just what is human nature? How evil is it? Only God can answer those questions. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Every human heart has this capacity for evil under the right circumstances. Here is man’s greatest enemy that he must face and conquer. Only then can he enter into the righteous and peaceful Family of God.

Throughout history, God has tried to educate us about our greatest enemy. But man has refused. And today, because of that massive rebellion, you see the most frightening scenario man has ever faced!

Man is going to get dangerously close to annihilating all human life, just before Christ returns to save us from ourselves.

Every human being who has ever lived is going to be resurrected to face his own human nature. Man must either conquer it or be conquered by it, before God is finished with him.

That is the inspiring truth of your Bible. But that book is banned from most classrooms today. Thankfully, new educators are about to come on the scene to help God change this world and its educational system.

A Void at Germany’s Helm

Confusion in the government is creating a leadership vacuum at a time of crisis.
From the March 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

The first 100 days in office is often a harbinger of what is to come throughout the duration of an elected government. In the case of Germany’s present coalition government, judged by its tumultuous first four months since inauguration, the future does not look too bright. “Chaos and confusion” is how one source has described this unwieldy mix of incompatible personalities and policies that go to make up Germany’s current federal leadership.

“Chancellor Angela Merkel’s first 100 days in power … following her reelection in September have been marred by infighting on economic and foreign policy and opposition accusations of cronyism and incompetence,” reported Der Spiegel. “Merkel has been accused by members of her Christian Democratic Union of failing to show leadership, and opinion poll ratings for her coalition of conservatives and pro-business Free Democrats (fdp) have been falling ahead of an important regional election in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, in May” (February 1).

At this time of crisis, Chancellor Merkel has been strangely conspicuous by her absence from a good deal of the political action. This is giving the impression of a leadership vacuum just as Germany’s government seems to be literally coming apart at the seams.

Where’s the Chancellor?

The headlines at the close of Angela Merkel’s first 100 days of leading this misfit coalition ought to be worrying to the chancellor.

The Times Online ran the title, “Iron Lady Angela Merkel vanishes amid trouble home and abroad.” The Economist headlined an item “Waiting for Angela.” Both articles commented on Germany’s chancellor strangely missing from the action while her government is gripped by crisis. As the Economist noted, a comedy was playing at a Berlin cabaret theater that had audiences splitting their sides with mirth as actors parodied German political party officials rushing about asking each other “Where’s Angela?” (January 21).

“Angela Merkel, once billed as a kind of Iron Lady, has become the Invisible Chancellor,” the Times commented. “Even Germans who are usually quite happy to have a non-intrusive, modest head of government, are astonished. There is trouble brewing at home and abroad but the leader of Europe’s biggest economy is distinguished by her absence. … At home, she suddenly looks weak. And abroad, there is a sense that her attention is flagging” (January 25).

Though she briefly appeared at the end of the coalition’s first 100 days to announce an increase in German troops in Afghanistan and to declare Germany’s support of sanctions against Iran, even this may work against the chancellor. The latter policy, should it be enacted, will rankle some of Germany’s highest-profile corporations that for years have profited from exporting both technology and manufactured goods to Iran. If Merkel follows through with this, it will also place further strain on her relationship with her coalition partner, the business-oriented fdp.

Already under pressure through falling poll ratings, the fdp more recently suffered from a highly publicized taxation affair when it reversed its stance on “one of the only policies the coalition has implemented since it came to power,” Spiegel wrote. The decision only “added to the general picture of chaos and confusion” (op. cit.).

In a keenly focused view of Germany’s present need for assertive leadership, the Times observed, “Ms. Merkel looks more fallible. The first 100 days of her new government have made almost no impact on her countrymen. What is needed now is a shift from passive to active leadership, the kind that governors need in order to demand sacrifice from the governed” (op. cit.).

It’s been a long time since Germany had such a leader. Germans pine for more assertive leadership amid the country’s present crisis of government. Disquiet has been creeping through the populace this winter. The once greatest export nation in the world suddenly finds itself knocked into second position by China. Unemployment gradually bites deeper into the German economy amid the global economic crisis. Chancellor Merkel’s reaction to strains on the German economy is to push very hard for a German to head up the European Central Bank. But that is not helping her back home.

The Times rightly pointed to Afghanistan as being one of the major questions on which Chancellor Merkel’s leadership will either wax or wane. Right now it’s on the downside. “Afghanistan will ultimately determine how history judges Chancellor Merkel,” wrote Roger Boyes. “It is a deeply unpopular war. Ms. Merkel has yet to tell the Germans it is a necessary war. Nor has she tried to drum up popular support for the mission of the German troops there. … Ms. Merkel does not know even how to start to be a war leader; there hasn’t been one in modern Germany …” (ibid.).

And that’s the problem. Germans are becoming unsettled once again, and it’s in such a situation that they crave strong leadership. Should Merkel not soon be able to pull a few rabbits out of the hat to keep her electorate happy, the outcry from the German populace could be the kiss of death to her coalition and her leadership of the nation’s government.

Seizing His Moment

In the meantime, there is a certain German politician who has gained a high profile and great popularity with the German public who is prepared to state things as they are. He has even broken a postwar taboo in Germany by mentioning the German term krieg (war) in direct association with the Bundeswehr’s engagement in Afghanistan. He is a politician to whom we devoted much space in our February edition. His name is Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

The contrast between Guttenberg and Merkel is marked. He is a devoted Roman Catholic, she a somewhat diffident Protestant. He hails from the Bavarian rightist Christian Socialist Union, she from the more centrist Christian Democrats. He is a titled aristocrat, she hails from the working classes of the former East Germany. He is known for his decisiveness, for taking a position and not backing down easily. She has employed a leadership style that, in the words of Times journalist Boyes, “waited for issues to cluster, tribal rows to reach critical proportions and only then would she intervene.” Added to this is what Boyes terms “a certain furtiveness” in her dealings. Such an approach does not convey strength in times of crisis. Rather, it gives “the impression of weakness,” as she has always appeared “slow to deliver an opinion or enter a debate” (ibid.).

The contrast is particularly marked between Merkel and her charismatic minister of defense on the issue currently dominating headlines in Germany: the question of the nation’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

Minister of Defense Guttenberg has hardly been out of the headlines since being sworn into office, completely overshadowing his chancellor and Vice Chancellor Guido Westerwelle in the process. He has been commanding German media attention over the war in Afghanistan since the Kunduz bombing in September. Be it in Berlin or Washington, on the occasions when he is before the cameras or any audience of note—which is often—his presence is commanding; anything but furtive. Guttenberg certainly does not give an impression of waiting to see how the ball drops before engaging in action. He is out front leading and powerfully influencing the debate in Germany on the nation’s foreign-policy question of the moment: Afghanistan.

Those cutting words of Roger Boyes—“Ms. Merkel has yet to tell the Germans it is a necessary war. Nor has she tried to drum up popular support for the mission of the German troops there. … Ms. Merkel does not know even how to start to be a war leader”—are at the nub of German politics and, in particular, Germany’s foreign policy at this moment, 10 years after postwar Germany first sent a military force outside its own borders to participate in war.

Guttenberg has been singularly impressive in doing what no other postwar German defense minister has done. He has quickly demonstrated his willingness to tell the German people that their troops are involved in a necessary war and that he actively seeks popular support for Germany’s combat role in Afghanistan. He has shown, in contrast to his predecessors in the Ministry of Defense, that he knows how to lead the nation as its commander in chief in that war. Not only that, but, at the very time that his chancellor is “missing in action,” he is anything but invisible. In January, Guttenberg declared that there is no room for failure in Germany’s new approach to the war in Afghanistan, clearly indicating that there may be German casualties in the process (Bild, January 31).

Guttenberg has also demonstrated that he is prepared to work outside his portfolio, getting involved in both economic and foreign affairs matters at the annual Davos conference of global movers and shakers. He openly upset the German economics minister, Rainer Brüderle, by breakfasting publicly at the January conference with the chiefs of German corporate giant basf and energy mammoth rwe. This might seem unusual till one realizes that these corporate moguls are heavily engaged in business within Iran. German corporations have a history of being involved in espionage in foreign countries. Any sanctions that Germany lays on Iran would not only potentially harm German business, but they could also limit the bnd (Germany’s intelligence agency) in keeping tabs on Iran and feeding information of value to the defense minister, especially in relation to Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

No wonder that, despite the efforts of his political opponents and liberal elements in the press, Guttenberg remains Germany’s most popular politician. In the meantime, not only has Merkel’s hand been weakened by her absence from the political action, but her coalition partner of choice, the fdp, has also seen its popularity sink by over 30 percent since last September’s election. This places Foreign Minister Westerwelle on the defensive.

As Germans worry about a leadership vacuum in the chancellery, the aristocratic Reichsfreiherr Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has been propelled forward on the political scene, not only in Berlin, but increasingly in Washington, cementing a much higher role in transatlantic affairs than the struggling Westerwelle.

Guttenberg does not back down willingly. After all, he hails from a long line of crusading forefathers known for their tenacity in battle. “As Guttenberg’s own father, speaking about the family, put it in an interview with the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, ‘We are raised in such a way that we are, if necessary, prepared to die for the things that we believe are right …. That’s the family ideal’” (Global Post, Aug. 12, 2009). He has already declared that he is not going to be led by Washington on matters of security and defense. Guttenberg is cutting his own path in his present portfolio—and Chancellor Merkel seems either unwilling or unable to resist this.

The Rise and Rise of Guttenberg

Guttenberg changed the whole game for German politicians by mouthing one word: “war”!

“Our engagement in Afghanistan has for years been a combat operation. But the feeling is—and not just among our troops—that the Taliban is waging a war against the soldiers of the international community,” Guttenberg declared to a journalist from the German daily Bild. In doing so he used a three-letter word that up to then had been eschewed by postwar German governments and commentators alike. Until Guttenberg shot into the forefront of the German political scene, using that word to describe German operations in Afghanistan—use of the term in association with the Bundeswehr—was simply taboo.

By breaking that taboo, Guttenberg became the darling of the German military overnight. In the clearest statement yet made by any German politician with regard to the Afghanistan conflict, Guttenberg emphasized, “In parts of Afghanistan, there are, without question, conditions that are like a war. I can understand any soldier who says, ‘There is a war in Afghanistan. It doesn’t matter if it is foreign forces or Taliban terrorists who are attacking, wounding and killing me.’”

With Guttenberg’s success in securing an increase in Germany’s troop commitment to the war in Afghanistan, the conservative and heavily government-influenced media outlet Deutsche Welle reported, “Following much speculation recently in the German media, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced at a news conference on Tuesday that a further 500 troops would be deployed to Afghanistan to join the roughly 4,300 already stationed there. A further 350 troops would be a ‘flexible reserve’ to be deployed when necessary …. Commenting on the troop hike—850 additional troops in all—Chancellor Merkel stated that this was part of a ‘completely new’ approach to cooperating with the Afghan government, which aimed to see Kabul take responsibility for the security of the country as soon as possible. ‘This is a much more defensive approach, for which the German Army’s offensive capacities will be rearranged,’ she said” (January 26).

The European Union provides over 30,000 troops to the nato/isaf force in Afghanistan, compared to the U.S.’s 45,000. As the EU’s largest contributor of troops to the war, Germany has for some time agitated for a more powerful say in the orientation of the nato campaign in Afghanistan. Defense Minister Guttenberg is now in the strongest of positions to influence Germany’s future war policy in Afghanistan, or, for that matter, any other theater in which the Bundeswehr is presently engaged or will engage in the future.

This rapidly rising star of German politics has clearly achieved a number of goals in his brief term as Germany’s minister of defense. As a result of the Kunduz bombing affair, Guttenberg was able to clean house, dispensing with defense leaders who may have held loyalties to influences and ideas that he did not share. He has announced that the Bundeswehr is definitely engaged in a war outside of Germany’s borders. He has gained an extra troop commitment to the Afghanistan campaign and gained the endorsement of the chancellor of that commitment. He has announced a new German strategy for the war in Afghanistan and asserted that he will not be influenced by Washington in carrying it out. He has successfully weathered the storm created by liberal politicians and media that called for his resignation in the wake of the Kunduz affair. In all of this, Baron and Baroness Guttenberg have continued to shine as the most prominent stars on the German political and social scene. It seems that, politically, Guttenberg has the Midas touch.

Journalist and commentator on European affairs Luigi Barzini once noted, after long experiencing the German people in wartime and peace, that “Germany is, as it always was, a mutable, Proteus-like, unpredictable country, particularly dangerous when unhappy” (The Europeans).

What is Germany’s present mood?

Germany’s chancellor is unhappy. Her coalition government is unhappy. Media commentators are not happy with the government’s poor performance, observing that the coalition is unable “to find solutions for a society that is drifting apart” (Spiegel, op. cit.). A society that is drifting apart is not a very happy one. Germany is coasting into crisis. In such situations, history demonstrates that the German people will seek out and respond to an assertive, charismatic and strong leader, giving little thought to his ideology as long as it unifies the volk with an appeal to German nationalism.

An appeal to the period of German greatness under charismatic, nationalistic, aristocratic rule, as prevailed in the time of the kaisers, may be just the medicine that a German society “drifting apart” will respond to. That was when the German military had an overarching faith in a deity to guide it toward its perceived destiny of global rule—a faith in a deity whose religion was centered in Rome—a faith that inspired its men of war to march into battle wearing on their belt buckles the slogan “Gott mit uns”God with us.

Could the time be ripening for an aristocratic leader of crusading heritage, a titled baron of the Holy Roman Empire, a dedicated, practicing Roman Catholic, who publicly declares that he prays, as does his wife, for German troops in battle, to assert his leadership over a nation crying out to be led in a time of increasing national crisis?

To see the answer emerge, keep watching Germany, watch the Bavarian pope, and watch closely the Bavarian baron, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, baron of the Holy Roman Empire.

Six Minutes to Midnight

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says mankind has bought itself some time.
From the March 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

The minute hand of the symbolic Doomsday Clock was moved back by one minute on January 14. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (bas) cited a “more hopeful state of world affairs” regarding the threat of nuclear war and global climate change. The clock is now set at six minutes to midnight.

The “Doomsday Clock,” created in 1947, is a symbolic measurement of the likelihood that mankind will begin nuclear war, with midnight representing the zero hour—global destruction. The farthest from midnight the clock has ever been was in 1991 when the Cold War era ended, and it was set at 17 minutes to midnight. The nearest to the zero hour it has ever been was in 1953 when it sat at two minutes to midnight following the announcement that the U.S. and the Soviet Union had tested thermonuclear devices within less than a year of each other.

The bas reported that the most recent change represents new optimism on the part of its panel of scientists—including 19 Nobel laureates—about the threat of nuclear war, and global cooperation on climate change.

“The main factor,” bas board member Lawrence Krauss told National Public Radio, “was that there’s been a sense that there’s been a sea change in the possibility for international cooperation regarding both nuclear weapons and climate change” (January 15).

“There are now—largely, one would have to say, as a result of the election of Barack Obama—new international talks and agreements to reduce arms,” he said.

To those keeping close watch on global developments relating to nuclear proliferation, this statement likely comes as a shock. An unbiased evaluation of global trends since the clock was last adjusted in 2007 reveals that the threat of nuclear war has only multiplied in that time.

U.S. Appeasement

A U.S. administration operating on a policy of appeasement and trust of enemies has convinced this panel of scientists that the world is a safer place because of its softening stance, but the opposite is true. The Obama administration last year slashed America’s homeland missile defense budget and abandoned plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe that would have served as a major deterrent to a nuclear attack on its allies. Have America’s disarmament policies really lessened the threat of nuclear war? Has its willingness to perpetually suspend judgment on Iranian designs in the name of diplomacy removed the world one inch from the danger of nuclear war? Policies of appeasement have only shown Iran, North Korea and other nations how quickly U.S. will to counter their aggressive actions is evaporating. Those policies have emboldened the rogue nations of the world.

Iran 

A litany of headlines shows Iran making great strides toward nuclear armament. In December, the Times of London cited secret Iranian documents revealing that Tehran has been working on a “neutron initiator”—the trigger used to detonate a nuclear bomb. This discovery further exposed the deceit of Iran’s claims that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes. Compounding the significance of Iran’s nuclear advancements is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s desire to plunge the world into a nuclear abyss for religious reasons.

North Korea 

2009 saw a North Korea of unprecedented defiance. Since President Obama took office, Kim Jong Il’s nation has successfully tested a bona fide nuclear weapon and a long-range missile, withdrawn from the 1953 armistice agreement with South Korea, and announced that it will weaponize its plutonium reserves. In response to these belligerent acts, the Obama administration showered Pyongyang with concessions, including caving in to Kim’s demand for bilateral talks.

Russian Arms Reduction 

High on the list of 2009’s celebrated international peace talks was July’s discussion between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about cutting the nuclear arsenals of their respective countries. But even a cursory look at the agreement reveals these reduction plans to be ludicrous—at least for America. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer called the agreement “useless at best, detrimental at worst,” because Russia agreed to dismantle a certain quantity of its archaic offensive nuclear warheads in exchange for the U.S.’s elimination of a comparable amount of its state-of-the-art nuclear defense weaponry. In this laughable scenario, Russia loses nothing, and the U.S. loses everything.

Pakistan 

Although Pakistan’s nuclear weapons haven’t yet come under direct attack by Islamists, the looming threat is increasing. Never before have Pakistan’s weapons been in so much danger of being stolen by terrorist organizations. In 2007, militants attacked nuclear weapons facilities in Punjab, Sargodha and Kamra. In 2008, they blew up gates to the Wah weapons complex, leaving 63 people dead. The U.S. government is funneling substantial funds into Pakistan’s military because the stakes are so high. So far the terrorists have been kept at bay, but the threat is growing.

Krauss was careful to point out that the January adjustment was the first time in history that the bas has moved the clock’s time by an increment as small as one minute. In explaining that the board’s optimism is reserved, he said, “If we don’t follow up on all the talk that’s been happening with action, it could go much closer to midnight. On the other hand, if all of these things that we hope are going to happen happen, it could move much further away.”

So the move was essentially based on talk—on diplomatic initiatives. But an objective analysis of our diplomatic track record shows that these efforts will prove fruitless in most situations and counterproductive in others.

However slight the adjustment, the bas’s optimism over these talks showcases man’s refusal to admit that the problems threatening us are too big for us to solve. It highlights mankind’s unwarranted confidence in itself. Six thousand years of strife-ridden history have failed to teach our experts that man does not know the way of peace. Man’s inability to effect peace should have become more evident in the last two years. But, as the danger intensifies, man’s delusion that he is able to solve his own problems has only grown stronger.

It will take Christ’s intervention to keep us from annihilating ourselves and usher in true peace (Matthew 24:22). There is no cause for optimism about mankind solving its problems, but there is every cause to be optimistic about God’s solutions to humanity’s troubles!

For more about this hope-filled future—a future in which the concept of a Doomsday Clock will be totally irrelevant—request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s inspiring booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.

Greece’s Mirror Image in America

Will California become the next Greece? What about Kentucky, or Florida, or Illinois, or Ohio, or Michigan, or North Carolina?
From the April 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

The president of Europe’s Central Bank was asked in January whether Greece posed a threat to the monetary union. He replied that the crisis in Greece was greatly overstated and told reporters that if they wanted to worry about something, they should worry about California.

Right now, Greece is synonymous with an economic red alert. Without a bailout, the entire country could face debt default. Standards of living are plummeting; unions are already staging mass strikes, and money is fleeing the country.

Is it possible California—the seventh-largest economy in the world—could actually be in a more dangerous situation? Could California set off a Greek-style economic crisis in America? Some say yes.

Too Much in Common

In some ways, Greece and California are very similar. Both have high unemployment and falling tax receipts. Both also have bloated public sectors with lavish retirement and pension plans that are underfunded and unsustainable. Both have gridlocked governments comprised of politicians incapable of working together to make hard choices.

Greece and California are also members of a larger union that shares a common currency. Each state also has specific trade relationships as well as financial interrelations with others inside the union. And both states have the worst credit ratings within their unions. As with Greece, it costs more to insure California debt against default than it does to insure Kazakhstan.

Both Greece and California are dominated by special interest groups and handicapped by unions. Chronic overspending has become endemic and uncontrollable in both locales. And both states are bankrupt.

Critics of the economic doomsaying point out that there are big differences between Greece and California. There are differences, but not all of them are good. In some ways, California could actually be a greater threat to its union.

California’s debt is supposedly far less than that of Greece. California’s debt reportedly equals about 7 percent of its economy. In Greece, the ratio is around 100 percent. On the surface, Greece looks much worse off.

In reality, comparing total California debt to total Greece debt is like comparing rotten apples to rotten oranges. To make it a fair comparison, you also need to factor in California’s share of the national debt (which is projected to be $14 trillion by year end). When this amount is factored in, the $68 billion that the state owes (as of the end of 2009) balloons to $1.65 trillion—which means that California’s actual debt-to-gdp ratio is almost 90 percent.

Yet, as horrendous as a debt-to-economy ratio of 90 percent is, California’s ratio is even greater. When including unfunded Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid liabilities into the equation, California’s state debt-to-gdp ratio soars to a stratospheric 400 percent.

That means California debt equals more than $200,000 per man, woman and child. Where will the money come from?

A California debt default would be far more damaging to the U.S. than anything a Greek failure could produce. Besides being far smaller, Greece’s economy makes up only 3 percent of the total eurozone. California, however, composes about 12 percent of the U.S. economy.

Plus, a California default could disproportionately hurt many U.S. states. According to the ecb president, Jean Claude Trichet, cumulative U.S. state budget deficits amount to 12 percent of America’s gross domestic product. In Europe, the figure is only 7 percent.

Looking in the Mirror

Portugal may be a problem. But so is Ohio. Think things are tough in Ireland? Look at Kentucky. Is Spain having unemployment issues? So are Florida, Illinois and Michigan. While analysts focus on Greece, they are missing the rhinoceros in the flower garden.

David Walker is the former U.S. comptroller general, which means he was America’s top auditor. He says America only has a couple of years to deal with its deficit problems before it ends up like Greece. America could face a “crisis of confidence with regard to our own finances” if we don’t start being honest with our budgets, he says. Walker, who is now working to bring attention to America’s financial irresponsibility, warns that a big part of America’s problem is its use of “creative accounting practices”—the same ones that burned Greece.

Events in Europe surrounding Greece are pivotal, and could have dramatic economic and geopolitical ramifications (article, page 2). But when comparing Greece and California, don’t forget that California’s economy is five times larger. The EU could survive without Greece, but America will not survive without California.

Unfortunately for California and the rest of America, watching the Greece crisis is rather like looking in a mirror.