Surrendering the Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Surrendering the Lock and Key of the Kingdom

ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images

Signs that Britain will give up Dover
From the April 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

The headline was eye-popping: “White Cliffs of Dover to be sold to the French to help reduce government’s debt” (February 8). Shame on the Daily Mail, it was also misleading.

Turns out the famous cliffs aren’t for sale. But the Port of Dover is under discussion.

After a public outcry, however, Prime Minister Gordon Brown swiftly distanced himself from the idea. “There will be no forced privatization of Dover under [the] Labor [Party],” he said publicly two days after the Mail’s report.

But is that the end of the story? Not even close.

The Gateway to England

The moat separating fortress England from the European continent has always been its most crucial natural defense. The English Channel has been the site of several spectacular victories for Britain—battles in which different outcomes would have radically altered history.

Dover, “the gateway of England,” is the island nation’s closest point to Europe. It is separated from Calais, France, by a mere 21 miles of churning seawater only 150 feet deep. It has thus been the first point of attack for—and first line of defense against—repeated invasions. Julius Caesar tried to land at Dover in Rome’s assault in 55 b.c. Several French forces targeted the port city in the 13th century, as did Napoleon and Hitler.

The town proudly bears the scars of its warring past, relics that silently testify of its indomitability through ages and epochs. The imposing millennium-old Dover Castle is aptly called “the lock and key to the kingdom.” Fortifications remain from Roman times, from the Normans, from King Henry viii, from Queen Elizabeth i, from the Napoleonic wars, from two world wars—constructed by giants of history who recognized Dover’s uncommon value over the centuries. Its cliffs hide a massive maze of underground tunnels and soldiers’ barracks.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the town was an enormous garrison bristling with armaments to thwart French attacks. During the Great War, it became “Fortress Dover,” one of Britain’s most crucial military centers, withstanding several enemy aerial assaults; it hosted warships that protected the channel and welcomed soldiers coming home from battle on the Continent. In World War ii it received over 200,000 of the evacuees from Dunkirk, a miraculous operation directed from one of its underground tunnels. Time after time, Dover has earned its reputation as a symbol of British wartime bravery.

But Britain has changed. To more and more of its people, the nation’s remarkable history is not a source of pride, but of shame. They couldn’t care less about symbolic value. And the idea that Britain might one day need to defend itself again seems alarmist, even preposterous.

How committed is Britain’s government to holding on to Dover, really?

Who Owns Britain’s Ports?

Prime Minister Brown promised “no forced privatization under Labor.” The catch is, Dover port officials aren’t being forced to privatize—they are requesting it. The Dover Harbor Board wants a $645 million expansion of the facility to maintain its status as the biggest freight and passenger ferry port in all of Europe. Because of public borrowing constraints, the only way it can get the money is from private investors. On January 27, the board officially asked the British government for permission to privatize.

Is it far-fetched to think the government will end up approving the request? If it does, this would merely be the latest in a series of British ports being sold to overseas ownership. The United Kingdom has privatized most of its ports industry since 1991, particularly in more recent years. And nearly all the buyers have been foreigners.

This is the result of Britain’s desperate need for cash, its undying belief in the virtues of open markets, and its naive faith in the goodwill of the foreigners gaining control over the gates in and out of the country.

Immediately after the Ports Act of 1991, the UK’s largest container port, Felixstowe, was gobbled up by Hong Kong corporation Hutchison Whampoa, the company that now owns the Panama Canal. Hutchison bought 75 percent of the port immediately and completed the process, to 100 percent ownership, in 1994. This marked the beginning of a significant sell-off of Britain’s major ports, a dramatic change for what was once the world’s dominant trade power.

PD Ports, which operates several UK ports and logistics centers, was sold to an Australian investment fund in 2005. Associated British Ports, which operates 21 UK ports and manages a quarter of the UK’s sea-borne trade, was snatched by a foreign consortium led by Goldman Sachs in 2006. The same year, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, p&o—the giant Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which was founded in the early 19th century—became a subsidiary of Dubai Ports World, owned by the Dubai government in the United Arab Emirates. The Humber Sea Terminal was also taken over by a Belgian company that year. The UK’s third-largest port, Teesport, became owned by a Canadian firm last November.

Ninety-five percent of the UK’s international trade flows through its commercial seaports. The bulk of this traffic now passes through ports privately owned by foreigners.

Dover is one of the few British ports—and is the largest—still owned by the government. In other words, it’s something of an anomaly. The trend suggests it is bound to end up the same way all these other major ports have: in foreign hands. For Prime Minister Brown to act as though such a move would be unthinkable is posturing.

Hocking Britain’s Assets

The truth is, Brown says he wants to cut Britain’s budget deficit in half within four years. One step toward that goal is a privatization plan he unveiled last autumn—amounting to the sale of $25 billion in government assets and property over the next two years. Among the potential prizes exciting interest among investors are the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, the Dartford River Crossing toll bridge, the Royal Mint, air-traffic services operator nats, the government’s oil pipeline system, and the government’s 33 percent stake in uranium processor Urenco. Quite a list.

Oh yes—and the Port of Dover. This may not be “forced privatization,” but Reuters reported that the government did ask Dover and its other 50 non-profit “trust ports” to submit privatization plans by April. So, clearly, the interests of London and the Dover Harbor Board are aligning. The port is certain to leave government hands at some point, after which feasibly any offshore firm—even a French one—could buy it.

Such a vast sell-off of valuables is quite unprecedented for a government. But the UK has made itself uniquely vulnerable to it. Yes, its nasty economic woes have placed it in deep need of overseas cash, which it has used to finance its record trade deficits. But even more disturbing is the complete lack of concern over protecting the integrity of Britain’s strategic national interests—let alone preserving Britain’s cultural identity.

In strategically important industry after industry, Britain has been selling its corporate crown jewels to the highest bidder. As a result, its airports, like its seaports, have gone to offshore ownership. Many of its power utility companies, and its largest water utility, are foreign-owned. The power station construction arm of the government-owned nuclear power manufacturer is now held by a Japanese corporation. The nation’s automotive sector has been taken over—as have many of its industrial manufacturers, telecommunications companies and banks—by foreign interests. “It is easier to take over a company here than anywhere else in the world,” Financial Services Secretary Paul Myners told the Guardian last September.

Whereas European governments take pride in domestic ownership of certain sectors and routinely block foreign takeovers, the British government patently celebrates the openness of even its most crucial industries to foreign conquest. This impulse is another ugly manifestation of the cultural shame and historical self-loathing that makes modern Britain so dangerously susceptible to conquest by aggressive foreign cultures and religions.

Danger in Foreign Ownership—Prophesied!

Many Brits say the foreign investment only makes Britain stronger. Such thinking fails to imagine the prospect of enemy cunning or ruthlessness; in fact it fails to acknowledge even the possibility of an enemy existing.

Of course foreign ownership brings simple realities, such as owners likely having less compunction about shedding jobs during economic difficulty. But there are also grave potentialities in having British ports, communications and energy firms run by overseas directors and shareholders, whose loyalties lie outside the UK.

The words of Hosea belie the trust Britain has placed in offshore ownership. Speaking of Ephraim, whose end-time descendants are situated in the British Isles (a truth proven in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy), the prophet wrote, “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people …. Strangers [or foreigners] have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not …” (Hosea 7:8-9). Time will show that the UK’s faith is misplaced. Britain has yet to realize it, but by auctioning off its strategic assets it has rendered itself peculiarly defenseless and susceptible to foreign aggression.

Another, even earlier prophecy spells out how it will happen. For disobedience to His ways, God warned the ancient nation of Israel—and its modern-day national descendants, of which Britain is one—of oppression by aliens. “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low,” He said, “and he shall besiege thee inall thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee” (Deuteronomy 28:43, 52).

In The United States and Britain in Prophecy, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote of how these “gates” included the various sea gates controlled by Britain (and America) at the height of its power—gates that would be subsequently lost and used as weapons to choke off trade routes. Another probable realization of this curse has become vividly clear. Notice: This Israelitish people is prophesied to be besieged in all its gatesthroughout all its land. Even now, “strangers” control virtually all the gates in and out of the island nation of Britain!

For now, Dover—“the gateway of England,” “the lock and key of the kingdom,” the enduring symbol of Britain’s independence and strength—remains in government hands.

Don’t expect it to stay so for long. It, like all the other gates the British have so casually surrendered, is bound to feature in a crushing lockdown—a foreign besiegement—that will drive Britain to its knees.The United States and Britain in Prophecy gives far more detail on this prophecy and what else is ahead for the once Great Britain.

Swans Make Final Landing

Swans Make Final Landing

Trumpet

From the April 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

The sound of diesel motors, hydraulic pistons, power tools and voices brought the work site to life the morning of March 9, just before the day’s most important piece of equipment arrived: a 100-ton crane. The crane would make possible the auditorium’s interior and exterior centerpieces: three crystal chandeliers and Swans in Flight, a sculpture by Sir David Wynne.

As the crane began hoisting equipment to the roof of the auditorium, quickly became the center of attention of workers on the site and in the adjacent offices where the Trumpet is produced. By 10 a.m., the crew had set the hoist apparatus that will be used to secure three important parts of the Armstrong Auditorium lobby: two 10-foot side chandeliers and one 12-foot center chandelier. Then the crew repositioned the crane and began to secure lifting slings and straps to the birds.

Swans in Flight was commissioned by Herbert Armstrong—after whom Armstrong Auditorium is named—in the late 1960s. Renowned British sculptor David Wynne created the piece for the Ambassador College campus in Big Sandy, Texas. The iconic form depicts the five stages of a swan in flight. Wynne was knighted in 1994 by Queen Elizabeth II for his body of work, which includes Boy With Dolphin near the Tower Bridge in London and the royal seal on the gates of Hyde Park honoring the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday in 1992. Wynne’s work appears all over the world and includes numerous commissions by the royal family.

After Mr. Armstrong died, Ambassador College eventually failed, and the campus was sold. The campus’s new owner, the Institute in Basic Life Principles, subsequently announced that the Wynne sculpture was for sale.

Gerald Flurry, editor in chief of the Trumpet and pastor general of the Philadelphia Church of God, authorized the purchase of the sculpture in April 2009. The sculpture was disassembled at Big Sandy on August 11 and transported to a foundry in Norman, Oklahoma. After repairing the sculpture and applying a refinished patina, the foundry delivered the birds to the PCG campus in January 2010, where they awaited installation.

After the crane operator relocated four of the birds, the heaviest of which weighs approximately 1,600 pounds, the crane swung back to bring the final stage—the swan with its wings in an upstroke—into place at the top of the sculpture, about 12 feet off the ground.

As he waited for the foundry workers and his crew to unsling the bird, crane operator Rick Church commented about the sculpture. Church, who has worked cranes for 15 years throughout Oklahoma and Texas, said he looked forward to seeing the finished product, which will feature a 120-foot reflecting pool and water jets spraying toward the birds, simulating motion. “I’ve seen a lot of fountains,” he said over the growl of the crane’s idling diesel engine. “But you’ve got something real special here. This is rare.”

The swan sculpture will be unveiled by David Wynne at Armstrong Auditorium’s official grand opening ceremony this summer.

The Joy of New Life

The Joy of New Life

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

One of the greatest proofs of a Creator is the miracle of conception, gestation and the birth of new life.

I’ve been privileged to witness the birth of two of my own children and a number of my grandchildren.

Having spent most of my life disproving the theory of evolution and collecting the overwhelming evidence proving the existence of Almighty God, all of that accumulated somewhat academic proof seems so superfluous when one views the miracle of human birth.

Spring is the season of new life. It’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere and already some of the early season offspring of the four-legged kind are emerging, first tentatively tottering to their legs, then soon becoming quite sprightly, making sure to stay within eyeshot of mom and a ready meal.

Animal reproduction is, in itself, a perpetual seasonal reminder of the great Creator who set the cycles in motion that yield fresh new life each spring. My most immediate acquaintance with the process of animal reproduction is with horseflesh. Having attended a number of mares in foal, helped raise their progeny from birth to weaning and beyond, I am still in awe of the basic, unerring instincts and the totally reliable cycle of life that produces a fine-bred animal ready for training at the hand of man to become his reliable servant.

True, these are but animals, yet with a tremendous capacity to learn behavioral characteristics and habit patterns based on training by the hand of man. But though these animals have an excellent brain, they have no mind. Animals cannot conceptualize, they cannot convert symbols into language, they cannot think, dream, envision, create. At the physical level, only the human mind is capable of such power.

Thus it is that the birth of a new human being is a wonder far and above that of the animal, possessing a potential so vast, if we were only to comprehend it, that it is capable of achieving anything that it can imagine (Genesis 11:6).

The horror of the day is just how cheapened this miracle of human birth has become within society at large.

Abortion is not much more than a routine process these days with numerous medicos prepared to profit from the business of slaughter within the womb. Whole generations have been raised who seem to place no real emphasis on the sanctity of the vibrant life conceived within a woman’s womb. Murder of a living, breathing, walking, talking human being is a crime on the statute books of most countries. Yet abortion is accepted as a mere routine medical operation by too many.

On the other hand there are the unconscionable multiple mass murderers. Extremist regimes have used genocide as a tool of politics and war from time immemorial. This is a sin condemned by the majority. Yet the elimination of a living human embryo, possessing the potential to be born as a human being, is somehow seen by many as either a lesser sin or not a sin at all.

The sheer wickedness and the depravity that spawns the regimes that count human life as next to nothing (except the individual lives of the murderous perpetrators of mass human slaughter) boggles the minds of the truly civilized. Yet the civilized, caught in the grip of this politically correct, morally relativist mindset which is so rampant in Western society today, are entirely too content to allow such regimes to flourish and continue to wreak their carnage. They have even revered their philosophies as having some value—witness the popularity of Mao’s Little Red Book with the campus set of the ’60s and ’70s. Comparable, or perhaps even worse, is the renewed popularity of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Modern China, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the butchers of Darfur, the Congolese cabals, these are but latter-day types of the old crooked, murderous regimes of Mao and Pol Pot, not to mention their even earlier mentors, Lenin, Stalin and Hitler.

Then there is the bloody history of one of the most murderous of empires, the Holy Roman Empire, with its perpetual resurrections and declines, wading through a sea of blood for over 1,500 years to convert the world to its universal, imperialist religion.

Go back in history even further and we see how the sacrifice of new little lives on alters of blood and fire was endemic to so many ancient pagan cultures.

Given all this wretched history, still the civilized world is willing to kowtow to China, compromise its so-called humane convictions, and slap the nation on the wrist for its human rights breaches with what amounts to nothing more than the equivalent of a wet tram ticket. This, rather than risk insulting the nation upon which it is so dependent for propping up its economy, by roundly condemning it and powerfully penalizing it for its grossly overt inhumane acts.

How cheap human life has become on this weary old planet, how utterly useless our great institutions in stemming the tide of human carnage.

That’s what’s so refreshing about experiencing the birth of just one new human life into a warm, caring and loving family that will cherish it, nourish it, is willing to endure the pain for the gain of training up a child in the way that it should go that it become a responsible member of society, reaching for the stars, and beyond, to fulfill its very God-ordained destiny—its incredible, human potential.

Oh! What a joy is the birth of such a little one, given the revelation as to the very reason for its birth and the incredible human potential that awaits it!

Read The Incredible Human Potential for a glimpse of the true vision of the God-given destiny of each and every human being that has ever lived … and died!

Why Most Do Not Understand Prophecy

Why Most Do Not Understand Prophecy

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One cannot unlock the mystery in Bible prophecy without this indispensable key.

Most are familiar with the term “twelve tribes of Israel”; those who descended from the 12 sons of Jacob (whose name God changed to Israel): Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher (Genesis 35:22-26). When the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land under Joshua, each tribe was given its own district, except for the priestly tribe of Levi, which mingled among all the tribes. Also, Joseph had separated into two tribes by this time—Ephraim and Manasseh. Both were assigned their own district. So, technically, there were 13 tribes, but 12 districts. Except for Levi, the tribes mostly kept to themselves. Yet they were united as one nation, the nation of Israel, much like the 50 states in America.

Israel reached its height as an empire during the reigns of King David and his son Solomon. God had made an unbreakable covenant with David that his kingly dynasty would continue right up to the return of Christ. God said in Jeremiah 33:17 that David’s royal line would never end.

But because of Solomon’s sexual perversion and idol worship, God said, “I will surely rend the kingdom from thee” (1 Kings 11:11). God, however, promised to preserve one tribe for David’s sake (verse 13).

Solomon died in 926 b.c. The people begged his son Rehoboam to relieve them of the unbearable taxes his father had instituted (1 Kings 12:4). Rehoboam disdainfully replied, “My father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (verse 11). Ten Israelite tribes rebelled against Rehoboam and seceded from the kingdom. They chose Jeroboam as their ruler. “There was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only” (1 Kings 12:20). God’s prophecy was fulfilled. Israel separated into two kingdoms.

Rehoboam tried to subdue the rebels and preserve unity in Israel. He succeeded in retaining the tribe of Benjamin (verse 21). Most of the tribe of Levi also joined Rehoboam’s forces. But God finally told him to stop fighting with Israel, “for this thing is from me” (verse 24).

Before Israel separated into two nations, all Jews were considered Israelites. After the division, Jews were no longer called Israelites. The Bible calls them Judah. When the dust settled, the 10 seceding tribes moved their capital north to Samaria and chose Jeroboam as king. It is they who retained the name “Israel,” not Rehoboam’s kingdom. The smaller southern kingdom retained Jerusalem as its capital, but became known as Judah. God’s prophecy came true. He did rend the kingdom of Israel from Solomon’s descendants. He left only a small “part” for Rehoboam, and that only because of the covenant He had made with David!

From this point forward, the Bible deals with Israel and Judah as two separate nations. They dwelt in separate, yet adjoining, regions. Each had different kings. They were constantly fighting each other. “And there was war between Rehoboam [Judah] and Jeroboam [Israel] all their days” (1 Kings 14:30).

As soon as Jeroboam gained control of the northern kingdom, he rejected God’s holy days and introduced idol-worship into the nation. This continued over many generations. God constantly pleaded with Israel through His prophets, warning them to return to their former ways. Israel refused. So God promised to “root up Israel out of this good land” to be scattered abroad over the face of the Earth (1 Kings 14:15).

God used the Assyrians to root them up. “And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land” (2 Kings 15:19). Assyriologists attribute the name “Pul” to Tiglath-Pileser iii, who ruled from 745-727 b.c. Menahem, king of Israel, quickly submitted to Assyrian aggression and paid tribute to Pul with much silver and gold (verse 20). He appeased Pul, but infuriated his own people who despised the burdensome taxes.

Angered by Menahem’s compromise, an Israeli army officer named Pekah killed Menahem’s son and ascended to the throne. Pekah entered into a military alliance with Rezin, king of Damascus, in hopes of thwarting Assyrian advances. Other Phoenician and Arabian states joined the alliance. But King Ahaz of Judah, the southern kingdom, obstinately rejected. 2 Kings 16:5 says that Rezin and Pekah descended upon Jerusalem to force Ahaz into the defensive league. Judah resisted. The league, however, did succeed in driving the Jews out of Elath (verse 6).

Most people read over this seemingly unimportant skirmish in 2 Kings 16 without realizing the true significance. It’s the first time the word “Jews” is mentioned in the Bible and we find that Jews are fighting Israelites! Tell this to the average churchgoer today and they will think you are crazy. That’s impossible, they might say. How can Jews fight Israelites? They’re both the same people.

True, before Israel separated into two nations, all Jews were considered Israelites. But after the division, Jews were no longer called Israelites. The Bible calls them Judah!

When Shalmaneser V succeeded Tiglath-Pileser iii on the Assyrian throne, Hoshea, Israel’s new king, refused to continue paying tribute. He solicited Egypt’s help to resist Shalmaneser. It was to no avail. 2 Kings 17 records Israel’s last stand and subsequent uprooting at the hands of Assyria. “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only” (verse 18). Shalmaneser and his successor Sargon ii removed tens of thousands of Israelites from Samaria and placed Assyrians in their homes (verses 22-24), just as God prophesied during Jeroboam’s reign.

If you continue reading 2 Kings in sequence, following Israel’s captivity, you will see that the history of the Jewish nation continued on, though not much longer. It too rebelled against God and His laws. In 2 Kings 23:27, God warned, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen.”

By this time, the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar was the world’s most dominant power. The Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem over the course of 19 years (604-585 b.c.). In the end, God removed the Jews from Palestine, just as He did the Israelites 130 years earlier.

Though Judah and Israel were different nations, God delivered the same punishment for rebellion. Israel was amalgamated into Assyria; Judah into Babylon. Israel never returned to the land of Palestine; Judah did. Read it for yourself in Ezra 1:5 and 2:1. God allowed the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi to return to Palestine 70 years after their captivity to rebuild the temple. In other words, He allowed people from the kingdom of Judah to return to Jerusalem.

Here is where scholars, theologians and historians fail to understand. They know from Bible history and abundant archaeological evidence that Israel split into two nations after Solomon’s reign, but after that, their understanding is hazy at best. Those who returned to Palestine to rebuild the temple in the fifth century b.c. were Jews. The descendants of these Jews were in Palestine during the days of Christ 500 years later. Indeed, those who reside in that location today are mostly from the tribe of Judah. They have been mistakenly labeled “Israel.”

The actual descendants of the northern kingdom of Israel never returned to Palestine. When they were removed from their land in 721-718 b.c., they lost their identity. But they did not disappear, as most scholars carelessly assume. Werner Keller gives an excellent account of Israel’s separation into two kingdoms in his outstanding book, The Bible as History. Yet he makes the same mistake so many others do. He said, “The people of the northern kingdom and their kings with them disappeared, were absorbed into the population of these foreign lands, and never emerged again in history. All investigation into what became of the 10 tribes who had their home there has so far come to nothing.”

It is amazing how quick scholars are to cast aside whole races of people as “disappeared.” Over centuries, names can change, people will migrate, but whole races do not just disappear. Hitler was one of history’s most noted genocidal maniacs, yet even he didn’t come close to exterminating the entire Jewish race! The 10 northern tribes biblically known as Israel after the reign of Solomon might have lost their identity, but they most assuredly did not disappear!

In Matthew 10, Jesus commissioned His disciples, those who became apostles in the New Testament Church, to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God. They were not to deliver the gospel to Gentiles or Samaritans (verse 5). Christ told them to go “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (verse 6). Understand the critical history that is packed into this short verse. It was written nearly 800 years after Israel went into captivity, and here Christ tells the disciples to go to “lost” Israel. Yes, they had lost their identity, but they did not disappear! Christ couldn’t have been referring to the Jews residing in Palestine. They weren’t lost. Christ wanted His disciples to take the gospel to the Israelites who were removed from Samaria and absorbed into the Assyrian Empire hundreds of years before; those who never returned to the Promised Land.

Considering Christ’s commission in Matthew 10, it should not seem strange that after Acts 15, you do not read much in the New Testament about the original apostles. Paul is the most prominent individual in the New Testament; and he was commissioned to go to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). There were numerous Gentile nations in and around the region of the Middle East. Most of the New Testament revolves around Paul’s travels to Gentile nations nearby and the letters he wrote to churches in those regions. The original apostles, however, left the land of Palestine to preach to the lost sheep of Israel.

The question is, where did those disciples go? Where had the Israelites migrated to? Why had they lost their identity? These questions, and many more, are answered in our fascinating free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.Request your free copy and find out why more than 6 million people have requested it over the past 65 years.

The Week in Review

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Solomon’s wall, Iran’s tentacles in Iraq, Europe’s anti-Islamic feelings, and the “lepers in London”

Middle East

A section of an ancient city wall of Jerusalem from the 10th century b.c.—possibly built by King Solomon—has been revealed in archaeological excavations directed by Dr. Eilat Mazar. The wall, 70 meters long and 6 meters high, is located in the area known as the Ophel, between the City of David and the southern wall of the Temple Mount. Dr. Mazar believes the wall “may correlate with written descriptions of Solomon’s building in Jerusalem,” she said. “The Bible tells us that Solomon built—with the assistance of the Phoenicians, who were outstanding builders—the temple and his new palace and surrounded them with a city, most probably connected to the more ancient wall of the City of David.” Mazar cited 1 Kings 3:1, where it says Solomon “made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.”

Iran announced on Monday that it plans to build two new uranium enrichment facilities deep inside mountains in order to protect them from attack. Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran’s more advanced centrifuges would be used at these sites. “Hopefully, we may begin construction of two new enrichment sites in the next Iranian year [which begins March 21] as ordered by the president,” the semi-official isna quoted Salehi as saying.

Iranian Interior Minister Mustafa Mohammad-Najjar announced Tuesday that the leader of Iran’s anti-regime Jundallah militant group, Abdolmalek Rigi, had been captured in Pakistan by Iranian authorities and transferred to Iran. The Sunni organization has been responsible for dozens of attacks in Iran, including one last October that killed more than 40 people, including 15 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Details of the capture remain hazy, though it appears to have involved Pakistani cooperation. Stratfor points to another possible angle to the story: “Iran claims Rigi was at a U.S. military base within 24 hours before his capture. And Stratfor sources in Iran suggest that the United States allowed Pakistan to turn Rigi over to the Iranians, with the United States seeking in return greater assistance from Iran in stabilizing Iraq” (February 24). Though Stratfor says this version of the story cannot be verified, it says “the possibility of U.S. assistance—in an attempt to make Iran more willing to cooperate in other areas—cannot be ruled out.” If this is the case, it would once again demonstrate the leverage Iran has over the U.S., particularly in Iraq.

Last week, America’s commanding general in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, revealed that the two politicians who organized the banning of about 500 Sunni candidates from running in Iraq’s upcoming March 7 elections are linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and have attended senior-level meetings with Iranian officials. One of those politicians is Ahmed Chalabi, who controls the electoral commission that disqualified the candidates. Earlier this month an appeals panel lifted the ban, but that decision was overruled by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki several days later, despite U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visiting Iraq and urging Iraqi officials to reconsider. The Maliki government blasted the U.S. for interfering, illustrating just how weak America’s influence in Iraq has become—and how strong Iran’s. Now a major Sunni political bloc, the National Dialogue Front, says it will boycott the election. This will help ensure a Shiite victory—and also, probably, a spike in Sunni violence. The Sunnis have been checkmated, and they know it.

Iran is seeking to double its trade with Iraq to $8 billion this year, the Iranian consul in the Iraqi southern oil hub of Basra Mohammed Reza Baghban said on Sunday. “We are sure that, if there are no obstacles in Iraqi-Iranian economic relations, bilateral trade between the two countries will be double what it was in 2009,” Baghban told reporters. Iran is Iraq’s largest trade partner, and has been the biggest investor in its Shiite neighbor since 2003.

Europe

The Dutch government collapsed on February 20 over a disagreement within the ruling coalition over the country’s participation in the Afghanistan war. The Labor Party wanted to keep its campaign promise and bring all Dutch troops home; however, its coalition partners, the Christian Democrats in the cda and cd, wanted to leave 500 to 600 men in the country to train Afghan police as per nato’s request. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands ordered a new election to be held on June 9. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this will probably be Geert Wilders and his right-wing anti-Islamic Freedom Party. According to opinion polls, the Party for Freedom would increase its number of seats in the 150-strong parliament from 9 to 24—making it the second-largest party after the Christian Democrats. A senior Labor politician called for the other parties to work together to keep Wilders out of government, but has been criticized for doing so by the other parties. Watch for Wilders’s party to continue to succeed as Europe’s citizens turn further against Islam and immigration.

Roughly 2 million public and private workers refused to work in Greece’s second 24-hour strike in two weeks on February 24. The general strike stopped all bus, train, ferry and air travel; it closed schools and government offices and left hospitals staffed by emergency crews. The strikes were in protest of the government’s austerity program to bring the country’s deficit under control. Much of the anger was directed against the European Union, and Germany in particular, as people feel the EU has let them down. Many are accusing the Germans of refusing to pay reparations after World War ii. On February 23, Fitch downgraded the long-term debt ratings of Greece’s four largest banks from bbb+ to bbb. Watch for Greece’s crisis to put even more pressure on the whole eurozone in the future.

Germany and France also experienced strikes over their austerity measures this week. Pilots for Lufthansa Airlines began a four-day strike that grounded 45 percent of flights. In France, labor unions went on strike at oil refineries owned by Total, threatening to create gas shortages. Europe avoided a lot of social unrest during the economic downturn in 2009 through large stimulus measures. Now, however, governments need to spend less in order to pay back the debt created by the stimulus initiatives. This could lead to increased social unrest and friction within Europe in 2010.

The European Commission is investigating Google based on complaints that the Internet search company was lowering the search rankings of its competitors. Though such an investigation does not automatically lead to an antitrust inquiry, this is another example of Europe’s regulatory imperialism. Watch for Europe to accrue greater control over the global economy through these types of court cases. For more information, see our April 2008 Trumpet article, “Bending the World to Its Rules.”

Asia

China expanded its lead as the world’s foremost agricultural producer in 2008 with its food production jumping 30 percent, according to a February 23 note by the World Trade Organization (wto) secretariat. In 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, Chinese agricultural output jumped to $759.94 billion from 2007’s $584.25 figure. The latest figure for the EU’s agricultural output is from 2000 when the figure was $248.69 billion. That was the year China overtook it with its production at $268.15 billion. Data from some individual EU nations suggest the EU might have retaken the lead a year later, but China pulled back ahead conclusively by the middle of the decade. The latest year for which figures are available for U.S. food production was 2007, when it was $311.23 billion. China has been consistently ahead of the U.S. since 1995 when the World Trade Organization series began.

Beijing has defended its recent reductions in holdings of U.S. treasury securities, saying the U.S. should take steps to bolster confidence in the U.S. dollar. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the statement Thursday in response to questions about China dumping U.S. treasury securities last December. Qin said there are two sides to the issue, explaining that, on one hand, Beijing is following the principle of “ensuring safety, liquidity and good value” in managing its foreign holdings, but on the other side of the issue, that Washington should take action to promote confidence in the greenback in the international market. In December 2009, China cut its holdings of U.S. debt by us$34.2 billion, leaving Japan as the largest holder of U.S. treasury securities.

Latin America/Africa

Latin American and Caribbean leaders agreed on February 23 to create a new regional alliance to replace the Organization of American States (oas). The oas contains the U.S. and Canada. These two North American countries, however, will not be welcome in the new organization. At the conclusion of a two-day summit in Cancun, Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced to participants from 32 nations representing Latin America and the Caribbean that this new bloc “must as a priority push for regional integration … and promote the regional agenda in global meetings,” adding that the name and structure of the new organization will be determined at a further summit to be held in Caracus, Venezuela, next year. Mexico and Brazil are the driving forces behind the new bloc, which, in an early sign of strengthening anti-Anglo-Saxon orientation in the region, threw its weight behind renewed calls by Argentina for the handing over of the Falkland Islands by Britain to that southern Latino nation. Yet despite the outward show of bravado in seeking to distance the region from Anglo-Saxon influence, Latin America does not have any real history of intra-regional cohesion. It is not unlike the unwieldy and fractious EU in this respect. Yet both these regions have one overarching potentially binding force in common that could, amid crisis, rapidly unify their respective masses together: Roman Catholicism. Bible prophecy declares that it will be Rome’s religion that finally binds the unwieldy EU together to give it the political unity it needs in order to lead globally in the near future. The EU will wield that power over a very Catholic Latin America in particular.

Few nations would celebrate the birthday of terrorist and despot-extraordinaire Robert Mugabe. Yet China threw the Zimbabwean president a party at its embassy in Harare to celebrate his 86th birthday on February 21. This marked the first time Mugabe has visited a country’s embassy since he took over the country in 1980. “This proves the special friendly relations between the two countries,” said a statement on the Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. China is hungry for resources and has no qualms about dealing with—or even throwing birthday parties for—genocidal dictators to get them. Chinese troops have even been seen walking the streets of one of Zimbabwe’s biggest cities. Watch for Europe and Asia to continue to compete for Africa’s resources.

Anglo-America

The former financial capital of the world is now home to the “lepers in London.” Bloomberg quoted London Mayor Boris Johnson as calling the city’s financial center a “leper colony” after taxpayers paid more than £800 billion to bail out bankers. Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined in the bashing by criticizing the “bankrupt ideology” of free-market “fundamentalism,” pledging to make the banks “the servant of people.” The report amounted to one more nail in the coffin of the world’s former financial powerhouse.

Initial jobless claims in the United States rose last week, jumping 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 496,000.

On Tuesday, a 32-year-old man brought a rifle to Deer Creek Middle School outside of Denver. The gunman raised the weapon in the school’s parking lot and shot two young students before being tackled to the ground by a 57-year-old math teacher who charged at him. The shooting was within a few miles of Columbine High School, where two deranged teenage gunman killed 12 students and one teacher back in 1999.

Meanwhile, America wrapped itself up in health-care debate as Democrats and Republicans sparred over the mammoth health-care bill before Congress. The six-hour meeting revealed division within America’s leadership and how distracted it is from the nation’s dying economy and from the rest of the world.

Leader of Iranian Militant Group Arrested

Leader of Iranian Militant Group Arrested

Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian Interior Minister Mustafa Mohammad-Najjar announced Tuesday that the leader of Iran’s anti-regime Jundallah militant group, Abdolmalek Rigi, had been captured in Pakistan by Iranian authorities and transferred to Iran. The Sunni organization has been responsible for dozens of attacks in Iran, including one last October that killed more than 40 people, including 15 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Details of the capture remain hazy, though it appears to have involved Pakistani cooperation. Pakistani ambassador to Tehran Mohammad Abbasi said on Wednesday that Pakistan was involved in the arrest, claiming that Rigi was captured on a flight from Dubai.

“Whatever the true story,” writes Asia Times Online, “the fact is that Pakistan appears to have abandoned one of its strategic assets against Iran” (February 25).

Why? Stratfor points to another possible angle to the story: that the arrest was a result of a deal made between the U.S. and Iran.

“Iran claims Rigi was at a U.S. military base within 24 hours before his capture. And Stratfor sources in Iran suggest that the United States allowed Pakistan to turn Rigi over to the Iranians, with the United States seeking in return greater assistance from Iran in stabilizing Iraq” (February 24). Stratfor’s sources say Islamabad turned Rigi over to Tehran last week.

Though Stratfor says this version of the story cannot be verified, it says “the possibility of U.S. assistance—in an attempt to make Iran more willing to cooperate in other areas—cannot be ruled out.”

If this is the case, it would once again demonstrate the leverage Iran has over the U.S., particularly in Iraq. Regardless, the capture of its most-wanted fugitive is a victory for Iran.