Crisis in Europe: A Classic Whodunit
Is Greece about to collapse? Is the euro about to fall apart? Is this the end of the European Union? These questions seemed unthinkable a few months ago. Now they fill newspaper headlines.
Greece looks like it is about to disintegrate. On May 5, over 30,000 demonstrators overran the streets of Athens. They began their protest at the Field of Ares—named after the Greek god of war. Many were there to do battle—Molotov cocktails, gas masks and sticks their weapons of choice. “It’s not unusual in Greece for a small minority to cause trouble during a protest, but on Wednesday the rage ran deeper,” wrote Time. “It wasn’t just masked anarchists who charged police; men in polo shirts joined in too” (May 5).
The social unrest almost brought down Greece’s government.
And Greece is only the beginning. Within days, as news circulated that Portugal, Spain and Italy were in similar financial straits, global stock markets tanked and the euro plunged. Were it not for emergency meetings between eurozone states and other EU countries over the weekend of May 9-10—which concluded with the EU and the International Monetary Fund making $1 trillion available to fragile eurozone countries—the European Union and the euro would have been in jeopardy of disintegrating.
The question now on everyone’s mind is, how did Europe get it so wrong?
Many commentators—especially Euroskeptic ones—point out that the project seemed bound to fail from the start. What they miss is that this is literally true. The euro project really was bound to fail—or at least to come close to doing so. It was designed to do so. This may be a crisis, but it is a carefully planned one.
“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,” wrote the Trumpet’s editor in chief Gerald Flurry last year (February 2009).
Like a master criminal, the Euro-federalists behind the crisis have made Greece’s financial demise seem like suicide or accidental death. But really, media detectives are looking at it the wrong way. This is more than a case of reckless spending. It’s a whodunit.
Greece has been caught in a two-stage trap. First, by joining the euro, it was plunged into the world of low interest rates.
The interest rate is a tool governments use to manipulate the economy. Different interest rates are needed for different countries in different situations. In a way, it can be like alcohol. A burly bodybuilder might be able to knock back several pints of lager without it having any noticeable effect. But the same quantity could floor a ballerina.
Greece, along with a few other countries, just couldn’t handle the cheap credit. It was the ballerina. Actually, it’s a bit worse than that: Greece was an alcoholic ballerina—already heavily addicted to credit. Having lied about the amount of its government debt in order to get into the euro club, it was already headed for disaster. The euro just made the alcohol cheaper.
Usually, lenders would be cautious about lending to a country that seems dangerously drunk on debt already. But they kept giving cheap credit to Greece. They assumed that if anything went wrong, because Greece was in the euro, Germany would pick up the tab. Rather than having to pay more and more interest, as its position got worse, Greece was given cheap credit until lenders suddenly realized that Germany might not pay after all and hiked up their rates.
Greece is no innocent bystander in this debacle. But neither are the European central bankers. They knew that, given access to cheap credit, Greece and other similar nations would soon get inebriated. But perhaps even they were surprised by how quickly it happened.
This is when the second stage of the plot kicked in. Usually a nation with Greece’s problems would devalue its currency by printing more money. With more money in circulation, the debts become easier to pay. This is a painful process—and the creditors get cheated—but usually it’s the least painful option available.
But because it is in the euro, Greece cannot print more money: Its currency is controlled by the European Central Bank (ecb), which is controlled by Germany. By staying in the euro, Greece is denied the tools it needs to fix its problems, which has led to its current position, where it needs European help. And it looks like it will have to give up a lot to get it.
The Spirit of Charlemagne
Europe’s monetary endeavors have always been part of a plan to gain more political control. In discussions among European leaders, the legacy of Charlemagne comes up continually. It is one of the clearest hints of Europe’s true goal. Charlemagne forged Western Europe into a single Catholic military empire. He was also famous for his common currency; he minted standardized silver coins all over his empire. Not only did his coins help spur trade, more importantly they gave Europe a sense of unity.
“[H]is portrait coinage,” wrote one historian, “sent an impressive and influential message of imperial status and power throughout the Frankish world—and beyond” (Joanna Story, Charlemagne: Empire and Society). Indeed it did: Charlemagne’s coins were deliberately modeled after Roman coinage, bearing a portrait of the emperor for the first time since the fall of Rome. They replaced more crudely made local coins that bore the name of a local ruler.
When hashing out the details of the European Monetary System (a precursor to the euro), then French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt held a summit in Aachen—the main seat of Charlemagne’s authority. In his book The Rotten Heart of Europe, Bernard Connolly wrote, “The symbolism was heavily underlined in both France and Germany; the two leaders paid a special visit to the throne of Charlemagne and a special service was held in the cathedral; at the end of the summit, Giscard remarked that: ‘Perhaps when we discussed monetary problems, the spirit of Charlemagne brooded over us.’”
This is the spirit European leaders wish to revert to: one that used currency to unify and control a squabbling bunch of nations while it tried to increase its power abroad by forcibly converting others to Catholicism. Charlemagne spent decades murdering Saxons in an effort to force them to unify and accept Catholicism. This is the spirit of Charlemagne: a spirit that wants to resurrect the Roman Empire across Europe and will let nothing stand in its way. It is a spirit that thinks nothing of deliberately plunging a nation into economic catastrophe if necessary for the “greater good” of European unity.
The New Roman Empire
Charlemagne saw himself not as founding a new empire, but simply reviving the much older Roman Empire. Modern Europe’s movers and shakers view themselves the same way. They, like Hitler and Napoleon before them, hark back to Charlemagne, who looked back at Rome.
This succession of empires, all claiming the mantle of the Roman Empire, was precisely foretold in your Bible. Scripture forecasts a major empire that would appear to be dead, but will be resurrected repetitiously. (For more information on this, request a free copy of our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire and read the third chapter.)
It is because of this understanding that the Trumpet has known from the start where the euro was leading. “Monetary union is but a means to an end—the fiscal means to achieving the goal of political union—a federation of European nation-states—in fact, a European empire,” we wrote in May 1998—before euro nations began converting to the new currency.
Nine years later, it became clearer exactly how this could happen. In the summer of 2007, amid America’s financial collapse, Bernard Connolly wrote, “[W]hatever mistakes Greenspan may have made, he just got it wrong: He didn’t deliberately set up this Greek tragedy.
“In contrast, the EU quite deliberately created the most dangerous credit bubble of all: emu [Economic Monetary Union]. And, whereas the mission of the Fed is to avoid a financial crisis, the mission of the ecb is to provoke one. The purpose of the crisis will be, as [Romano] Prodi, then Commission president, said in 2002, to allow the EU to take more power for itself. The sacrificial victims will be, in the first instance, families and firms (and banks and investors) in countries such as Ireland and Club Med. Subsequently, German savers (or British taxpayers) will bear the burden of bailouts that a newly empowered ‘EU economic government’ will ordain. …
“The resulting carnage in the financial system of the whole euro area will make the present global financial crisis, serious though it is, seem almost insignificant” (Telegraph.co.uk, Aug. 20, 2007; emphasis mine throughout).
“Watch Germany,” wrote Mr. Flurry as the Greek crisis began to unfold in late 2008. “Watch for Germany to be at the helm in a restructuring not only of EU member nations’ economies, but of the entire European Union itself! That union will be united and then guided by the Vatican” (theTrumpet.com, Dec. 31, 2008).
And now what do we see? The entire Continent is looking to Germany to decide the future of Greece and the euro. Germany sits as Caesar, with the fallen gladiator before it. Thumbs up, and Greece is spared, thumbs down, and its economy is destroyed. Soon, it could be the euro itself squirming as it awaits Caesar’s verdict.
Already this crisis in Greece is propelling EU power to giddy heights. In order to receive the bailout it needs, Greece must implement a set of demanding terms and conditions. “[T]his is no ordinary piece of Euro-bureaucracy,” wrote Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post. “This is the kind of thing a surrendering field marshal signs in a railway car in the forest at the end of a bloody war” (May 11).
The document dictates that Greece “shall” implement several mandatory reforms. Europe is now dictating Greece’s tax rates, public sector retirement ages, health care service policy, civil service pay and even small business legislation. Applebaum wrote that “the council’s ‘decision’ does represent something new.
“Though the European Union has always required a partial surrender of sovereignty from its member states, Greece no longer has much sovereignty at all,” she continued. “I don’t believe anybody, least of all the Greeks, knew that the European Union had so much power over its member states.”
Did Europe reluctantly or accidentally end up with all this power over Greece? Neither: Everything is going according to plan. And if the financial crisis spreads further, as Applebaum noted, these conditions could be used as a blueprint for other countries forced to beg for help.
“Germany … Undisputed Master of Europe”
Not only does this financial crisis give Europe more power than it’s ever had before, it also raises Germany to its highest position yet. Bankers, politicians and bureaucrats alike all look to Germany. “The heads of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund made a joint pilgrimage to Berlin, pleading with lawmakers in the Bundestag to throw their full weight behind rescue efforts before the chain reaction spreads to Portugal and the rest of the emu periphery,” wrote the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. “Their presence as supplicants in Berlin marks the symbolic moment when Germany appears the undisputed master of Europe” (April 28).
The Globe and Mail admitted that Germany is “linked to a circle of countries that have become economic colonies …. [T]he Greek crisis, and the mounting Portuguese and possibly Spanish and Italian crises, are, at their heart, and in their origin, German crises. … Through [the] constantly repeated cycle of exports, payments, surpluses and then loans to southern Europe, Berlin became an imperial center …” (May 1).
“If the aim of Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand at Maastricht was to tie down a ‘European Germany’ with the silken chords of emu, they failed,” Evans-Pritchard also wrote. “Monetary union has delivered a ‘German Europe’ after all. … What is undeniable is that Club Med and Ireland are being told to implement the same policies that crippled Europe in the early 1930s, that led … in different ways to Hitler …. Is that a good idea?” (Telegraph.co.uk, May 2).
Germany holds all the cards—or rather, all the gold—and is in position to take even more power in the future.
As we wrote back in 2008, “[I]t is noteworthy that the German central bank holds the second-largest reserves of gold in the world. During the first quarter of 1999, at the same time the euro was launched, Germany bought up huge reserves of gold. Enough, according to the Economic Intelligence Review, to back an entire currency (March 2000). In addition, when the 11 nations joined the euro, they signed over their gold reserves to the European Central Bank, in Frankfurt, Germany” (theTrumpet.com, op. cit.).
Already, European states look to Germany as the leader of Europe by virtue of its large economy alone. No one is paying much attention to gold reserves right now. But in the end, when entire currencies start collapsing, gold will become important once again.
Germany is already the leader of Europe, and will attract more and more of the limelight as time goes on. But it will not be alone. Another institution has played a major role in shaping Europe, and it will come out on top.
The Spirit Behind Monetary Union
Connolly describes France’s early approach to the idea of the single currency as “mysticism, quasi-religiosity and something approaching Aryanism,” reflecting the deeply Roman Catholic—“Holy” Roman—spirit of its elites.
Connolly states that the Catholic Church has been a willing cheerleader of European integration, writing that “the attitude of … Catholic churches in many continental countries was influenced by a desire to see a shadow Holy Roman Empire recreated in Europe” (The Rotten Heart of Europe).
The Catholic Church had a powerful role in Charlemagne’s empire. It too has an interest in recreating those days of yore.
To understand the spirit that drives the “Holy” Roman imperial vision of the elites in Europe, one must comprehend their deeply entrenched mindset. It is a mindset rooted in Holy Roman Empire culture that sees the 19th- and 20th-century dominance of the Anglo-Saxon nations as but an uncomfortable interruption to the thread of Holy Roman destiny.
Connolly puts it this way: “Just as the French establishment has never forgiven the Anglo-Saxon world for liberating the homeland from the Nazi occupation their incompetence and decadence had permitted, so also the [German] Christian Democrats and Christian Socialist tradition in Europe has never forgiven the forces of nationalism and liberalism that in the 19th century seemed to have finally freed the church from the self-imposed chains of its pretensions to temporal power” (ibid.).
This is why both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been so quick to point the finger at the Anglo-Saxons as being the cause of today’s global financial crisis. This also explains the cry of the popes John Paul ii and Benedict xvi for Europe to return to its traditional, historic, pre-19th-century “Holy” Roman roots!
The Vatican may seem down and out after its abuse scandals. But don’t expect that to last. The Catholic Church has also been involved in the planning for the economic crisis—and as Germany uses this crisis to rise to the top, expect the church to rise with it.
Today, Europe is unquestionably dominated by Germany. Sensible journalists now acknowledge that. To the rapidly diminishing generation of those who experienced the bitter fruits of the last time that Germany dominated Europe, this is sobering news indeed.
The founder of the Trumpet’s predecessor, the Plain Truth, forecast this for years. “I believe that some event is going to happen suddenly, just like out of a blue sky, that is going to shock the whole world, and is going to cause the nations in Europe to realize they must unite!” Herbert W. Armstrong said July 7, 1984.
“I think I can see what may be the very event that is going to trigger it, and that is the economic situation in the world,” he said.
Years in advance, he said Germany would be Europe’s leader, stating, “Germany inevitably [will] emerge as the leader of a united Europe” (Plain Truth, November/December 1954). He foretold this more than half a century ago! At the same time, he also forecast the Vatican’s role: “It will require some spiritual binding force to inspire this confidence—to remove these fears—and that spiritual binding force must arise from inside Europe!” (ibid.).
Mr. Armstrong said that Germany would “be the heart and core of the united Europe that will revive the Roman Empire” (ibid., June 1952). We are seeing this happen right before our eyes, in Greece and across Europe. And it is no accident!