Is Washington After Israel’s Nukes?

Forget Iran—the Obama administration appears more worried about Israel’s nuclear program.
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

It appears the next phase in the standoff over Iran’s apocalypse-inducing nuclear weapons program is beginning to come into focus.

In the months ahead, don’t be surprised if the efforts of the Obama administration to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions become predicated on the nuclear disarmament of the Jewish state. Why is this likely? Simple: Such a mandate is the inevitable outgrowth of the foolish yet increasingly pervasive tendency to consider as equals the nuclear ambitions of Israel and Iran.

Iran’s Lecture on Nuclear Proliferation

This false moral equivalence between the nuclear programs of Iran and the Jewish state was on display in New York in May, at the month-long Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (npt). The conference was supposed to focus on revising and updating the npt, of which Israel has never been a signatory. But when the conference opened, it quickly became evident that UN member states had set their sights on what Asia Times described as a “predictable target.”

That would be Israel.

In one of the first addresses of the conference, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa spoke on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the largest single coalition within the United Nations (118 of the 192 UN countries are members). According to Asia Times, Natalegawa noted specifically that it was Israel’s refusal to sign the npt that had “resulted in the continued exposure of non-nuclear-weapon states of the [Middle East] to nuclear threats by the only country possessing these weapons of mass destruction” (May 5).

Forget Iran’s fearless scramble for nukes—most UN member states apparently believe the greatest nuclear threat in the Middle East comes from Israel’s refusal to sign the npt.

After Natalegawa’s address, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the only head of state who personally attended the conference, took the podium. Following his requisite praises of Allah and ominous invocation for the speedy arrival of the Mahdi, Ahmadinejad waxed eloquent for 35 minutes on how the npt can be improved, and how the United States and the “Zionist regime” are the central cause of nuclear proliferation.

“Regrettably, the government of the United States has not only used nuclear weapons, but also continues to threaten to use such weapons against other countries, including Iran,” Ahmadinejad “righteously” lamented. That’s not all, according to Iran’s president. The “Zionist regime” has “stockpiled hundreds of nuclear warheads,” and with support and sustenance from America, has “waged many wars in the region and continues to threaten the people and nations of the region with terror and invasion.”

Seriously, can you think of the last time Israel engaged in a conflict that was not strictly defensive?

A Nuclear-Free Middle East?

This moral equivalence on display at the UN came amid reports that Egypt too is preparing to step up pressure on Israel regarding its nuclear arsenal.

“Egypt is … declaring that the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East cannot be tied solely to Iran’s nuclear ambitions but must also address the region’s only existing nuclear power: Israel,” the Christian Science Monitor reported (May 4; emphasis mine). Speaking in New York, Egypt’s ambassador to the UN stated, “We refuse the existence of any nuclear weapons in the [Middle East], whether it is in Iran or whether it is in Israel.”

Think on that: These people behave as though there’s no difference between Israel having nukes and Iran having nukes!

Not surprisingly, Egypt’s renewed efforts to focus on Israel’s nuclear weapons caught the attention of the Obama administration. Reports emerged that it has begun negotiating with Egypt over a proposal to make the Middle East—which would have to include Israel—a region free of nuclear weapons. Although it has apparently assured Israel that it’s not about to impose a nuclear-free zone on the Middle East, clearly this White House is prepared to tackle the issue of Israel’s nukes more directly than previous administrations.

“We’ve made a proposal to them [Egypt] that goes beyond what the U.S. has been willing to do before,” a senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal (May 1).

Clearly, this Cairo-Washington collaboration does not bode well for Israel. “As far as Israel is concerned this is very problematic,” stated Dr. Eytan Gilboa, a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. “The fact that the U.S. is pushing this along with Egypt could threaten our vital national security at a time when relations with the U.S. are tense and the threat from Iran is becoming more and more serious every day.”

The notion that Israel’s nuclear weapons destabilize the Middle East is simply absurd. Even more absurd, though, is that such a notion was openly and widely entertained at a UN conference on the npt, which America’s president has said is the “cornerstone of the world’s efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons” (statement, March 5).

As Bret Stephens wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Iran, in connivance with the usual Middle Eastern suspects (and their useful idiots in the West), is trying to use the npt as a cudgel to force Israel to disarm” (May 4).

America and the West are unlikely to begin immediately to explicitly and forcefully demand that Israel sign the npt and start discarding its nuclear weapons. Inevitably, however, this conference and the Washington-Cairo agreement will foster a false moral equivalence between Israel’s nuclear program and Iran’s. The more the nuclear ambitions of Israel and Iran are discussed in the same conversation, the more ingrained and mainstream the moral equivalence will become.

Expect it to become widely accepted that curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions is contingent upon addressing the issue of Israel’s nukes!

A Big, Big Difference

American leaders’ growing failure to discern between the foreign-policy objectives of nations like Israel and Iran is a sign of the moral decay besieging Washington.

It is no secret that Israel developed nuclear weapons during the heat of the Cold War as a defensive measure. Or that Israel has possessed nukes for roughly four decades and has never come close to exploding a single bomb—not even during the heat of its many wars. Or that Israel never officially discusses its nuclear cache and never parades them about.

It is no secret that Israel, for decades, has been a stable and responsible proprietor of nuclear weapons!

Yet to Mr. Obama, there appears to be little distinction between Israel’s nukes and the nuclear aspirations of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—even though Iran exists today as the number-one state sponsor of terrorism—even though Tehran bankrolls the activities of terrorist proxies in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and further afield—even though Iranian mullahs and government leaders alike boast publicly about America’s annihilation and the Jewish state’s demise—and even though Iran’s president prays openly for the return of the Mahdi and is actively working to precipitate the planet-engulfing chaos and violence that he says will precede it.

The same week that Ahmadinejad was swooning before the UN, news broke that on his way to New York he had stopped by Zimbabwe. Apparently a deal had been struck with Robert Mugabe the previous month that will allow Iran to swap oil for uranium. President Obama ignores the fact that Tehran is developing an advanced ballistic missile program and putting satellites into space, all in preparation for the moment—which many believe is now imminent—when it can bolt a nuclear payload to a missile and fire it into Israel, or Europe, or even the United States.

Any serious effort by Washington to deal with Iran’s nuclear program by pressuring Israel to reduce or transform its nuclear equation plays into Tehran’s hand. It gives Tehran more time in its quest for nukes. To whatever degree Washington accepts a moral equivalence between the nuclear programs of Iran and Israel, it legitimizes this ridiculous argument as it is used by Ahmadinejad and Iran’s mullahs. In the hands of the global anti-Israel media, this false moral equivalence would quickly become mainstream.

Such muddled thinking also seriously undermines the crucial U.S.-Israeli relationship. Biblical history testifies to the familial bond between Manasseh (America) and Judah (the Jewish people). (To fully understand this relationship, request your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy.) Bible prophecy says that in the end time this brotherhood would be severed. In Zechariah 11:14, God said He would “break the brotherhood between Judah [modern-day Israel] and Israel,” primarily the United States and Britain. The more the Obama administration treats Iran and Israel as equals, the more it irreparably damages America’s relationship with the Jewish state.

Bible prophecy informs us that Israel—abandoned by America and unwilling to turn to God for help—will run to Assyria (Germany) for assistance. To learn how Germany will respond, and about the future of the Middle East, request our free booklet The King of the South.

Yet Another Curse

When will the nightmare in the Gulf stop? Why are unprecedented disasters multiplying?
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Five years after Hurricane Katrina—promptly followed by Hurricane Rita—many Gulf Coast residents are still struggling to get back on their feet. But it’s not the sky that’s threatening them this time with devastating winds, widespread destruction and billions of dollars in damage. It’s the sea.

“I’ve been through Hurricane Camille, Hurricane Frederick and Hurricane Katrina,” said one Alabama realtor. “They all pale in comparison to this.”

“This” is a silent, spreading, inky blackness penetrating, permeating and polluting the waters off the Gulf Coast: The world’s biggest oil slick.

This is merely the latest link in a lengthening chain of curses for the United States. Its magnitude is growing by the day—and just when and how it will end, nobody knows.

How Did It Happen?

On April 20, the giant Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling platform was floating in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles off Louisiana. Gathered on board were 126 workers and executives from BP, which leased the $500 million rig for half a million dollars per day. They were celebrating the project’s seven-year safety record.

Just a few months prior, Deepwater Horizon had made history, drilling a 6-mile well, the world’s deepest. In more recent weeks, it had lowered its drill through one mile of seawater to the ocean floor, drilling an exploration well another two miles below the seabed into the Macondo Prospect in Mississippi Canyon 252. In spite of delays and a few glitches, the crew was finally wrapping up the final stages of sealing the well for future use.

What happened next is still being investigated. But it was a disaster.

Workers set a cement seal at the well, then reduced pressure in the drill column to set a second seal below the ocean floor. As the cement set, it produced heat, which reacted with methane and, it appears, produced a gas bubble.

Rigs often encounter slushy, crystalline, potentially dangerous pockets of methane underwater. And, in an industry that rivals the space program for pioneering technology, several fail-safes are in place to prevent the oil man’s worst nightmare: a blowout.

To keep the immense pressure of undersea oil in check, well holes are blocked by piping and plugged with cement. Hydrostatic drilling “mud” fills the cavity around the drill string and leaves the oil below nowhere to go but to stay put. Finally, the space between the well walls and piping is typically filled with cement to block the last remaining path up the shaft for surging gas. In addition to the seals, at the wellhead sits a huge steel blowout preventer. If danger is detected, the preventer can apply as much as 1 million pounds of force to a rubber gasket that seals the well. If all else fails, the backup kicks in: steel rams slice through the pipes altogether, severing the rig from the well and choking off the blowout.

However, a worker had accidentally damaged the gasket four weeks earlier. And one of the blowout preventer’s two control pods was malfunctioning. It also had a weak battery and a hydraulic leak.

The slushy methane bubble began to rise, bursting seals as it went. It broke through the cement seal and the damaged rubber gasket. For some reason, the rams failed to shear the pipes. Because the drilling mud had been removed from the column, the gas bubble shot up the drill, expanding as it rose through the less-pressurized shallows toward the derrick floating above.

On the platform, crewmen saw seawater in the drill column. It rose toward them, finally shooting up hundreds of feet in the air, followed by gas, followed by oil. A cloud of gas covered the rig. Its giant engines sucked in the methane and began racing. Something exploded. The rig became engulfed in a huge, intense fireball, killing nine workers and two engineers. Under black rain, survivors fled to lifeboats and leaped from the burning deck 10 stories down into the water, which was stinking of crude oil, grease and diesel fuel—and itself on fire. The rig burned so brightly it looked like the sun on the horizon. It blazed for two days and sank.

But the disaster had just begun.

A Growing Toxic Cloud

Dump a single quart of motor oil into the ocean, and over 2 cubic miles of seawater become toxic to wildlife, according to one engineer.

The day the derrick sank into the Gulf, the U.S. Coast Guard said 8,000 barrels of crude oil and up to 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel could be leaking from the rig into the water.

But the ominous, inky, iridescent truth began to emerge soon thereafter. The wellhead was also leaking. In addition to the immediate ecological carnage of a humongous, chemical-filled platform and a mile-long drill string spewing oil and other toxic chemicals, the well itself was gushing crude into one of America’s most important, profitable and ecologically sensitive bodies of water.

Unlike a wrecked tanker, which holds a known, fixed amount of oil, this is effectively a bottomless, active underwater oil volcano.

Initial estimates using data, satellite imagery and flyovers were that 5,000 barrels of oil were flowing from the prospect each day, creating an estimated 2,000-mile black storm cloud in some of the most commercially productive seas in the world.

The well’s main leaseholders, BP and Transocean, and even the federal government dispatched to the growing slick a flotilla that has since grown to include more than 550 vessels, plus boom oil-collection barriers, helicopters, airplanes, remote submarines, drills, chemical dispersant, and 17,000 personnel. The cost: $6 million per day—and rising.

These efforts are entering uncharted waters—both in trying to stop the leaks (which are far deeper underwater than any prior oil well breakdown), and in trying to contain the noxious mess.

Repeated efforts to activate the blowout preventer via robot failed. An effort to cap it with a 125-ton funnel also failed, as did other attempts. Finally, on May 16, crews successfully inserted a 4-inch siphon into Deepwater Horizon’s broken 21-inch riser pipe, diverting about 1,000 barrels (42,000 gallons) per day to a drillship. Meanwhile, two more platforms are drilling relief wells that will eventually plug the well permanently—but will take three months to complete.

But even that thin, silver lining to the pitch-colored cloud was soon blotted out by more bad news. Scientists studying the footage of the gushing pipe and taking readings of the water found huge plumes of oil, one of which is 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and up to 300 feet thick. Although BP has denied them access to additional data, they estimated the flow was actually 5 to 16 times greater than the previous official figure. In the worse scenario, that would mean 3.4 million gallons of thick, black, poisonous, non-degradable stuff pumping into the seawater every day.

That’s almost 40 gallons going into the gulf every second you read this.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” one researcher said. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

On May 4, BP admitted to Congress that its worst-case estimate for the daily flow rate is actually 2.5 million gallons—roughly the equivalent of dumping the infamous Exxon Valdez into the Gulf every four days.

Worst-Case Scenario “Is Upon Us”

It is conceivable that the leaking riser pipe could be kinked. If that is true, the present oil flow is actually somewhat restricted. If the wounded infrastructure deteriorates further—not unlikely, considering the high-pressure, abrasive sand-filled contents being forced through the piping—the leakage could explode even worse.

“Worst-case scenarios almost never happen,” Prof. Bob Thomas, of New Orleans’ Loyola University, told the UK’s Times. “In this case, almost everybody I have known with technical knowledge of oil spills, people who have worked in the industry 30, 40 years, … say this is the worst-case scenario … it is upon us” (May 3).

The worst-case scenario is that the leak is as big as it seems; that it will take weeks to plug it; that there are already millions of gallons of oil below the surface; that it will take billions of dollars to partially contain; that fisheries will be contaminated, tourism poisoned, economies across five states spoiled, and special environments and beautiful wildlife covered in black.

And that doesn’t begin to include hundreds of millions of dollars in wasted resources, lost oil, and other financial damage to BP. Nor does it include the long line of lawyers and victims that began to line up while the rig was still burning to sue some of the world’s richest companies: 88 suits by mid-May, and rising. Litigants are eyeing almost every company involved, but the main target is BP, the fourth-largest company in the world. BP has accepted blame, but is also pointing at other companies. The company posted profits of more than $5.5 billion in the first quarter, but one experienced Louisiana lawyer says the company might just not have enough if the leak continues. “I don’t think they have enough money,” he said (United Press International, May 17). It could leave the former British Petroleum, owned mostly by Britons and Americans, vulnerable to a takeover.

Nor do these projected costs include the effect the accident will have on the other 90 rigs in federal Gulf waters producing almost a third of U.S. oil production (1.7 million barrels of oil per day). It doesn’t include the effect on policy for more drilling or the political fallout and witch hunt already underway. Nor does it begin to fathom the havoc that all this plus restricted energy and shipping access in the Gulf will have on an already foundering American economy. Nor does it include the greatest cost: 11 men killed.

The worst-case scenario is that this is the biggest environmental disaster in American history—many times over.

Worse Than Katrina

As damaging as the 1989 Valdez oil spill was, it occurred on the rocky, uninhabited Alaskan coast of Prince William Sound. The Gulf of Mexico offers no such consolation. It is a hive of economic activity. The surrounding coastland, aside from being densely populated, has long stretches of marshland—which would be far more difficult to clean. The Gulf Coast cleanup and ecological recovery will be measured in years—and generations.

Tar balls have already washed ashore at South Pass on Louisiana’s marshy southern tip, a prime area for fishermen, many of whom are sitting at home unemployed. Oil has washed up around the sensitive Chandeleur Islands, where some of the Gulf’s five species of endangered sea turtles make their nests, along with a species that has started to recover: the brown pelican, state bird of Louisiana.

According to an early analysis by the Louisiana governor’s office, eight estuaries, wildlife management areas, state parks, national parks and wildlife refuges lay in the path of the spill, the closest being the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. Louisiana alone has 40 percent of the coastal wetlands in the continental United States: 3.5 million acres. The Mississippi Delta is the closest shoreline to the spill, and has already been hit.

Biloxi, Mississippi; Mobile Bay, Alabama; and Pensacola, Florida, are also within 150 miles. But the mess could drift into currents that would channel it directly through the Florida Keys and even up the Atlantic coast. Trying to contain the oil completely will be impossible. “[U]npredictable currents, extreme pressure and low temperatures make such endeavors almost as difficult as a second moon landing,” reported Der Spiegel (May 4).

Louisiana alone has already spent billions of dollars on ongoing projects to protect and rebuild sensitive, endangered marshes, habitats and wildlife. Wildlife-related tourism contributes half a billion dollars to the economy each year. Commercial seafood harvesting brings in over $650 million a year; recreational fishing another $750 million and almost 8,000 jobs. Fishing has been shut down completely in many Louisiana and federal waters, and vacationers have cancelled reservations at hotels across the area. Small investors are canceling plans throughout the coast.

Further offshore, plankton, fish larvae, shellfish, sea turtles, dolphins and even sperm whales are being harmed and killed by effects from the gushing crude and the chemical dispersants used to control it.

By the time it’s all over, the devastation will dwarf that of Katrina.

Why Is This Happening?

In looking for a deeper cause, it is crucial to see this event in the broader scope of such disasters that are hammering the United States: economic woes; rising unemployment; spiraling food prices; unfavorable weather; environmental disasters; deteriorating health; loss of industry; illegal immigration and related crime and drug problems; social and racial division; political polarization; terrorist threats; intractable wars; foreign-policy failures; weakening alliances; international isolation.

These are not isolated or unrelated problems.

They are mounting evidence of a spiritual reality the Trumpet has been writing about for two decades—as its parent magazine The Plain Truth did for five decades before that. America is being cursed by God.

Why? God has given America and Britain unique, unprecedented blessings of land, resources and protection. Yet we continue to deny Him and to grossly sin against His laws. Now He is simply taking those blessings away.

Could there be a more graphic illustration of this truth than this nightmare in the Gulf? The billowing cloud of oil that is costing billions in repairs, clean-up, lost jobs and economic ripple effects should be flowing into and enriching America’s economy. The fluid that is wiping out life, land and sea should be fueling America’s industry. As the nation bemoans its energy dependence on unstable and even enemy foreign states, its domestic energy production suffers this blow.

The spreading, toxic, sticky blackness presently defying all efforts to contain it is a vivid metaphor of America’s prophesied future.

Freakish troubles will continue to intensify until people unite in realizing that the cause is essentially spiritual. America doesn’t suffer merely from bad luck, or corporate incompetence, or weak problem-solving skills. It suffers from pride, self-reliance, greed, materialism, moral bankruptcy.

“Hear the word of the Lord, oh people of Israel, the Lord has filed a lawsuit against you listing the following charges,” wrote the Prophet Hosea: “There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You swear and lie and kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere, with one murder after another. That is why your land is not producing: it is filled with sadness and all living things grow sick and die: the animals, the birds and even the fish begin to disappear” (Hosea 4:1-3; The Living Bible).

The Bible is full of such warnings for America today—the curses we can expect to proliferate because of the people’s defiance of God and reliance on themselves. These are placed into their biblical and historical context—and then brought right up to date—in Herbert Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy (request your free copy).

These prophecies give a warning we would all do well to remember: The frustration and despair among Gulf residents being hit with another disaster before they’ve recovered from the last is about to become epidemic, nationwide. It is only when we begin to address the underlying spiritual causes that we will see the trend turn—and, after intervention from God, be able to rebuild on solid ground.


China, Taiwan Forge Closest Ties Yet

China, Taiwan Forge Closest Ties Yet

Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

After decades of hostility, Beijing and Taipei have inked a landmark free-trade deal. This does more than just increase the flow of goods across the Taiwan Strait.

China and Taiwan signed a historic agreement on Tuesday that forges the strongest ever trade ties between Asia’s rising giant and its longtime rival. The ambitious deal heralds a bold step toward reconciliation between the former enemies, but has many Taiwanese concerned that their nation’s direction will erode away its independence.

The trade pact, called the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ecfa), will significantly reduce tariffs and open up mutual market access across the Taiwan Strait. The agreement will grant favorable tariffs to more than 500 categories of Taiwanese products being imported to China, while Chinese producers will receive tax breaks on about 260 types of products. It is by far the most important of the dozens of economic agreements Taipei and Beijing have signed in the two years since pro-China Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou came into power.

“Part of ecfa’s significance is that each side is telling the other that it wants to solve problems through sincere negotiations instead of by cursing and political warfare,” said Hu Shiqing, a researcher at the Taiwan Studies Institute of the China Academy of Social Sciences.

But not all Taiwanese are celebrating the pact and Beijing’s vamped-up diplomacy in Southeast Asia.

During a June 26 demonstration in Taipei, tens of thousands of Taiwanese chanted anti-Communist mantras and protested the ecfa, fueled by fears that the deal will boost China’s influence and whittle away Taiwan’s political sovereignty.

Among the analysts who oppose the landmark agreement is National Taiwan University Prof. Kenneth Lin, who says China has intentionally left the ecfa as the only economic path for Taiwan to travel.

“After signing ecfa with (China), then Taiwan, asean and (China) will form the hub-and-spoke framework—that is, the preferential trade arrangement only exists between Taiwan and (China) and between asean and (China), but there is no preferential trade arrangement between Taiwan and asean,” Lin said.

Critics of the agreement also fear an influx of cheap labor into the island, and that Taiwan will soon be made to open up its financial or services sectors to Beijing.

But the core of the issue is that Taiwan is negotiating with an immensely powerful neighbor that simply does not recognize its right to exist as an independent entity. This fundamental reality makes ecfa more than just another free-trade pact, and it should give Taipei pause regarding Beijing’s overtures toward the island.

Though the critics are adamant, opponents hold too few seats to block the agreement, and finalization is expected later in the summer.

Beijing has admitted that it sees the trade deal as a stride toward greater political integration between China and the island nation that it considers to be its territory. China remains committed to establishing its dominance over the Taiwanese people.

Herbert W. Armstrong predicted the fate of Taiwan over 50 years ago, writing, “Will Red China invade and capture [Taiwan]? In all probability, yes …. The Red Chinese will ‘save face,’ and the United States, with many American troops now on Taiwan, will again lose face!” (letter, Sept. 19, 1958).

Regardless of steady U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, there are very few in Beijing, Taipei or elsewhere who believe that the Obama administration would assertively assist Taiwan in the event of military conflict between mainland China and the island. The outcome of reunification is now settled, leaving only the question of how it will be effected. It is not in Beijing’s interests to wage war to achieve that outcome. Besides hampering trade, China’s neighbors would respond to such an altercation by bolstering their defenses.

Instead, China’s gentle approach will continue until Taiwan is offered something like the status Hong Kong currently has. Should Taipei refuse China’s advances, Beijing would likely respond with threats of force.

The rapidly warming relationship between China and Taiwan is a step toward the realization of Mr. Armstrong’s forecast. China’s “invasion,” at this point, is through soft power and diplomacy as Beijing forges unprecedented inroads into the Taiwanese economy. But Taiwan’s desire to cozy up to China will eventually lead to the end of its autonomy.

China’s long-term perspective on Taiwan can be summarized by the sagacious words usually attributed to the country’s most famous philosopher, Confucius: “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

The World Turned Right-Side Up

The World Turned Right-Side Up

iStockphoto

Had enough of the Upside-Down World? Something better is on the way.
From the August 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

We all want it. A better world. A world that makes sense. We want more peace, more safety, more prosperity. We yearn for no disease, no murder, no theft, no lying, no divorce.

Why can’t we have a better world? And why is this world so far from it?

Human beings have tried every way we could think of to make the world better. In every age, in every iteration, in every cohort, in every style imaginable. We’ve debated Plato’s philosopher kings, Cicero’s republic, More’s commonwealth, Augustine’s City of God. We’ve read Locke’s treatises on government, Hobbes’s social contract, Rousseau’s principles of politics. Christians believe in some form of it; so do Jews, Muslims and others.

For millennia, we tried to find paradise lost, sail to the new island utopia, get back into the Garden of Eden. We’ve looked for a natural Shangri-La on the lost horizon. Or we’ve dreamed of a world where “everything is achievable through technology,” as one recent movie character said.

We put it to the test. In Germany, the United States, Canada, Israel, Russia and would-be paradises beyond, we’ve taken the bold step of putting it into action. It’s been totalitarian and anarchist, communist and capitalist, natural and industrial, classless and classified, religious and atheist, multicultural and mono-cultural, technological and ecological, open and closed, restricted and free, fictional and real.

It failed. One hundred percent of the attempts, one hundred percent of the time: untopia.

Paradise has been confined to the pages of fiction. Yet even there it has gone awry. Writers have explored utopias in antiquity, utopias in space, utopias populated by humans, by single-gender beings, by sexless beings, by homosexuals. Even fictional utopia is dissonant, ringing of a Nineteen Eighty-Four dystopia, Lord of the Flies, or something worse.

Even a discussion about mankind’s greatest goal, a perfect society, is depressing. All the more so when we realize just how far our real society is from even that imperfect, self-conflicting ideal.

What would life be like if you knew what a perfect world was like? What if you knew it actually is coming, and coming soon? What if you knew how to get there?

There is hope. Not in reforming this world. But in the wonderful World Tomorrow.

It Is Coming

The Bible is actually full of prophecies—certain prophecies—pointing to a better tomorrow.

Against all odds, against a literal world of evidence to the contrary, God says this wonderful World Tomorrow will happen! Read His bold prediction in Isaiah 2 and 11. It is coming, God says!

People will be unified, war will be abolished (Isaiah 2:1-4); sickness will be healed, deserts will blossom; prosperity will flourish, honesty will thrive (Zechariah 3:10; 8:16); people will love each other (Matthew 22:37-39).

But how can any of that ever occur? How could you get just one nation, just one state, just one town to live in harmony for even one year?

There is an important reason the world will be this way. It’s how people think. We live in a carnal world ruled by carnal people who insist on finding their own carnal way through life, who define right and wrong for themselves.

Since that original paradise, the Garden of Eden, human beings have rejected following God and letting Him define what is right and wrong. They have followed instead the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), the real author of God-rejecting human nature. Finding “utopia” under the influence of Satan (Ephesians 2:2) is more impossible than even the most calloused skeptic imagines.

Man simply cannot govern himself.

God can. And God will. After man proves how inept he is at bringing a better society and plunges himself into a horrific tribulation, God will intervene and save man from himself (Matthew 24:22). Then, He will depose the evil god of this world and take over Himself to rule humankind righteously (Revelation 20; Micah 4:3).

When the only government official truly qualified to do so rules the Earth, He will start to build a new world, a better world. He will give man what he has been so sorely missing for thousands of years: His way of life (Isaiah 11:9).

Imagine a world—a real world, not a fantastical dream—of happiness.

Rules That Work

A new birth of character will uplift the entire world—education, business, science, agriculture, health, sports, literature, language, music, art, even the average backyard barbecue conversation—to heights that will make the early 21st century look barbaric by comparison. This isn’t reform. This is a different world.

No more indefinable, masquerading “morality,” or sliding-scale “standards,” or “personal preferences,” or “lifestyle choices,” or “codes of conduct,” or even “family values,” as if righteousness were a neutral mathematical variable. Mankind will live according to one way of life.

With Satan’s influence eliminated, finally, people will know that yes, there is such a thing as right. Yes, some things are absolutely wrong. What “feels right” is not the same as what actually is right. And we are required to find out what that is and do it.

It’s not just that the world will share one way of life—dictatorships can accomplish that. The key is that this way of life is the right way of life.

It’s the truth.

Just as laws govern biology and physics and astronomy and mathematics and every other part of the universe, laws govern people. It’s only rational. Certain causes have certain effects. Something causes happiness. There is one right law of life that produces happiness. It’s out there. So the question becomes, how do we find it?

Are we sure we can trust ourselves to do it? Do you really know the right way to live? Do I? Does some guy in his living room somewhere? No. The only authority that can define the right way of life for humans is their Creator. His “definition” of right and wrong applies to everyone. And He allows—actually requires—people to think and decide for themselves whether or not to follow it.

The truth, after all, is not a religion. It’s not a political platform. It’s not a philosophy. It’s the way things actually are—scientifically, socially, spiritually.

A World of Love

It’s simple. The principle of this way of life is so plain you can memorize it: give instead of get. Read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Christ summed them up in one word, love: “[T]hou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind …. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:30-31).

Imagine that world. No rampant crime. No horrific terrorism. No ugly warfare. No fragmenting cultures. No racism. No self-destruction. No gender confusion. No victims groups. No poisoned tongues. No scientific dishonesty. No intellectual intimidation. No political correctness. No insane religions. No killing, no lying, no stealing, no coveting, no adultery, no excuses.

If you’re stuck upside-down in the early 21st century, this world might seem beyond belief. But you can take a step toward it. Look at the world around you. Judge the results of this carnal experiment and its failed utopias. You can be a part of this world—or you can take a step toward something better. Something that makes a lot more sense.

It’s not too good to be true. A better world, a wonderful World Tomorrow, is coming—soon.

To learn more about this future, request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.

The Glitter Is Gone

From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

What Saudi Arabia is to oil, South Africa was to gold. For over a century, it was the largest gold producer in the world. At its peak, South Africa generated two thirds of the world’s gold supply—more than four times as much gold as the next largest gold producer, which was all the nations in the Soviet Union combined.

Yet today, gold production in South Africa is plummeting by double digits per year. In 1994, South Africa turned out over 18 million ounces of gold—just slightly less than it had been producing for 20 years. But never again would it be so prolific: The next year, the industry went into dramatic and sustained freefall. Today, South Africa only produces around 6 million ounces annually—a level last seen during the 1920s.

Gold is critical to South Africa’s economy. Not only is gold bullion an invaluable monetary component of central banks, it is the single largest source of foreign revenue in South Africa. Along with platinum, gold is the nation’s most strategic export. Gold mining is also an important job sector; one quarter of the nation’s mining workforce is in gold mining and processing.

Sadly, the demise of South Africa’s precious metals mining industry is largely self-inflicted.

Many of South Africa’s biggest mines are very old and are reaching the end of their lifespan. This accounts for part of the national production decline. Rolling power blackouts that have recently plagued state-owned energy providers have also not helped.

But there is another, more important reason for the nation’s dramatic decline in gold production. International companies have become very wary of building mines there. Why? Because of racism.

Since the end of apartheid, South Africa has implemented Black Economic Empowerment (bee)—a race-based policy that mandates companies turn over 40 percent ownership and management to black persons or black empowerment unions. To comply with law, corporations are forced to give shares of their companies to black people and take on black executives regardless of their qualifications. bee laws have been criticized for simply shifting economic power and wealth to allies of the government’s anc party but doing little for the average South African.

Faced with having to hire workers based on race as opposed to skill or experience—and with the prospect of having to turn over business ownership—many foreign investors have balked at committing further investment in South Africa. Why risk millions exploring for gold only to have the government mandate that you give it away?

The South African government’s strong support for Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe has also frightened foreign and domestic investors away. Like Mugabe, Julius Malema, confidant of President Jacob Zuma and leader of the anc’s youth league, is pushing to nationalize South Africa’s mining industry and is among those pushing for a controversial new policy to hasten the “redistribution” of white-owned land in South Africa. He advocates this policy even though the same policy transformed Zimbabwe from a major food exporter into a country reliant on humanitarian aid to stave off mass starvation—and despite the fact that the present policy has already turned South Africa into a net food importer, as of 2007.

The trouble facing South Africa’s white farming population looks set to intensify. The Zimbabwe Guardian captured the sentiment of the ruling anc: “South Africa should learn from Zimbabwe. … White commercial farmers in Zimbabwe did not heed the sign-o-the-times. … That naivety has cost them their livelihoods. … [T]here’s not much they can do anymore. The current is in motion. … If [South African white farmers] do not heed the signs; especially the calls for nationalization of farms and industries, then they have themselves to blame if that process is forcibly put in motion …” (March 20).

It used to be said that South Africa was slowly becoming Zimbabwe. The transformation doesn’t look all that slow anymore.

Ever Hear Your Child Say This?

Ever Hear Your Child Say This?

©iStock.com/Matt_Brown

“This is too hard!” gives you a great opportunity.
From the August 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

When I started teaching college, I had to help my students with some sizeable mental blocks. “I’m not good at this,” one would say. “This is just not my thing.” “I can’t do that.”

That was daunting—but understandable, considering our tendency to get more set in our ways as we grow older. But I was even more surprised to see something else when the college opened a sister primary and secondary school (K-12, as we call it in the U.S.). I was amazed at how much of this same thinking was coming from developing high school students, impressionable middle schoolers, and even wee elementary pupils.

Though we express it differently at varying stages of life, it is all essentially the same attitude: “This is too hard!”

No teenager should make such concrete, negative pronouncements about his or her abilities. No adolescent should be so sure about what he or she just can’t do.

If our infants knew any better, they might say at age 11 months, “I just can’t walk. This walking thing is just not for me.” But they don’t. We expect them someday to get off all fours and keep their balance with the rest of us. And they embrace the task.

When should that change? At what age should our children shy away from challenges?

Yes, it’s harder to learn certain things as we get older. Yes, every child has certain aptitudes as well as mental and physical strengths; certain subjects will come more easily to a child than others. And yes, there may be times when it would be better for him to shift to something he has a knack for rather than bullishly persisting in a doomed effort.

But what’s the attitude? Are our children simply settling for what comes easy? What kind of life do we doom them to if, after they try something once or twice without success, we allow them to give up, resigned to “just not being good at that”?

When even 7-year-olds comfortably slip into this attitude, it is clear this is part of our human nature. We naturally opt for what comes easily with the least effort and the most instant gratification.

In our “it’s too hard” world, we must constantly prod ourselves never to quit—to stick with something through whatever challenges stand in the way.

Our children can take lessons from history. They should know about the inventors who failed thousands of times before creating their masterpieces. We have to teach them about great men and women who ignored the naysayers—even their inner naysayer—and built great institutions. They must learn that anything worth having is worth struggling for—that only when it is “too hard” is it good enough to go after.

One of those persevering historic figures was Herbert W. Armstrong, who founded several enduring institutions despite severe obstacles. In his booklet The Seven Laws of Success, Mr. Armstrong outlined two laws to overcome failure: drive and perseverance. The first of these is the positive, internal-combustion engine that propels us to vigorous action. The second is the determination to stick with a task even in the face of the inevitable obstacles that will arise.

No one can expect to be a success without developing these qualities. Our children especially need these two laws of success. They need help to push themselves to overcome their mental blocks and the gravitational pull toward lethargy.

We are all born knowing nothing—we must be taught everything. How many of our “mental blocks” come from us simply never learning what we need to know? Our children—and we—must never give up on a concept before even starting!

Mr. Armstrong said he learned more in the last 10 years of his 93-year life than in all the years before. He also wrote that, in general, ages 16 to 25 are vital preparatory years for the mind: “At age 25 a more definite adulthood of mind, attitude, interests, is reached. The mind becomes more ‘set’ in its ways. The years between ages 16 and 25 are the vitally important years of adult preparation for life’s work. These are the crucial years of PREPARATION. During these years the mind is capable of acquiring faster than at any other stage of life the advanced knowledge needed before beginning one’s adult career ….”

What budding college student should resign himself to failure in certain subjects he thinks he is “not cut out for”? What child should say, “I just can’t”?

Our children’s paths to success will include obstacles that need to be overcome. Let us not obstruct that path by removing all hindrances. Teach them how to drive themselves and to persevere. Not everything will come naturally and easily to them. The endeavors that require them to break through or surmount obstacles are generally the ones that come with the greatest rewards.

Request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet The Seven Laws of Success.