The Collapsing ‘China Fantasy’

The Collapsing ‘China Fantasy’

Feng Li/Getty Images

As the smoke clears and the mirrors begin to crack, Westerners are forced to acknowledge the menacing reality of China’s rise.
From the October 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

More than two centuries ago, Napoleon Bonaparte nicknamed China the “Sleeping Dragon” and advised the Europeans of his day not to awaken it. Today, the dragon is wide awake, and the dynamic changes it has undergone are astounding.

Few international relations developments have been as epic and consequential as the exploding increase of China’s political power, military muscle, cultural influence and, towering above all, economic capacity. And all of the monumental growth began with the liberalization of China’s economy, when Beijing abandoned the Maoist economic planning model and transformed more than 100 million oppressed peasants from the “Great Leap Forward” into a colossal middle class.

Since China’s first steps toward this economic liberalization 35 years ago, Western political and commercial leaders have celebrated the trend. The assumption was that Beijing’s rapid integration into the global economy would lead China to replace its oppressive and authoritarian political ideologies with responsible international behavior, and that the nation’s burgeoning middle class would be granted greater political rights.

In short, the West believed that China’s rise would become a boon to the whole world. Based on this belief, Western nations pursued policies of engagement with Beijing and worked to facilitate China’s growth. James Mann’s 2008 book of the same name identified the pervasive Western optimism toward the Middle Kingdom as the “China Fantasy.”

But decades after Beijing’s first moves toward economic liberalization, the popular assumptions are coming under question. Westerners are beginning to grasp a truth that the Trumpet and its predecessor, the Plain Truth, have proclaimed for decades: China’s rise means trouble on the global stage, especially for Europe.

“When China wakes up,” Bonaparte said, “the world will shake.” Westerners are now beginning to sober up to the implications of China’s multiplying power.

China Then and Now

The China of the mid-20th century was unmistakably hostile to the West. Under Maoist rule, the proclaimed constitutional goal of the Chinese Communist Party (ccp) was to eradicate capitalism from the planet. But the country was in an ideological stupor. It was too mired in the fetid swamps of Maoism to pose a real threat or advance toward its goal.

A set of political and diplomatic events in the early 1970s prompted a reversal in the hostile international relations between China and its capitalist rivals, and moved Chinese leaders to launch an economic reform in 1978. Political leader Deng Xiaoping replaced the previous autarkic model with the opening-up strategy, and China’s export-oriented industries started to boom.

Since then, the growth rate has averaged a sizzling 9.8 percent per year. The number of citizens living in poverty has plummeted from 250 million to 14 million.

In April of 2009, China Reform Forum Chairman Li Jingtian gave the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace a startling collection of statistics illustrating his country’s meteoric growth between 1978 and 2008. During that period, China’s overall foreign trade blossomed from $20.6 billion to $2.56 trillion, its foreign exchange reserves skyrocketed from $167 million to $1.95 trillion, and foreign investment leaped to more than $100 billion. In 1978, only 52 Chinese students were studying abroad. By 2008, that number had risen to 1.36 million students matriculating in 109 countries.

This August, news of China dominated headlines when it was revealed that China’s economic output, for the first time, had overtaken that of Japan to become second only to the U.S. The World Bank and other analysts say that, even though its economy is presently only one third as large, China will overtake the U.S. in no more than a decade.

The deep economic impacts of the reform make it easy to see why China’s ascendancy as a world power was, until recently, a globally celebrated story of success. But China’s newfound economic clout has enabled it to act with a growing geopolitical assertiveness—a trend that is beginning to disillusion many observers, especially in the West.

A growing list of grievances has onlookers on both sides of the Atlantic reevaluating their stance on China’s rise: the ccp’s refusal to liberalize the nation’s political system; Beijing’s behavior at last year’s Copenhagen climate change summit; China’s tarnished human rights record; its heavy-handed political repression; Beijing’s support for tyrannical Third World regimes in a rapacious drive for resources; its obstinacy over Iran’s nuclear program; its military build-up; its soft power build-up; its increasingly belligerent claim to sovereignty over the entire South China Sea—and the list goes on.

The fantasy was that the budding economic freedoms would become a boon for the world economy. The reality is that, as China gains power, it only becomes more antagonistic toward the West, more oppressive, and more authoritarian.

Starry-eyed geopolitical forecasters have to come to terms with a sobering reality: China is an authoritarian economic behemoth with little in common with the West except an appetite for resources. It has always been oppressive and belligerent, but its insularity and weakness made it harmless. Pundits are beginning to understand that Beijing’s newfound power will enable it to project its same old communist and nationalistic ideologies with far greater force. China has not liberalized its society as the West had hoped, and it has not become a responsible member of the international community.

The fantasy is collapsing.

Feeding the Dragon

The speed at which China’s economy is growing is staggering and historically unprecedented. As it wakes up from its long slumber, China is bent on consumption, consumption and more consumption. On July 19, International Energy Agency (iea) chief economist Fatih Birol said, “In the year 2000, the U.S. consumed twice as much energy as China; now, China consumes more than the U.S.”

China is presently growing at five times the speed of the U.S. economy. Data released by the iea in July shows that, at some point in 2009, China overtook the U.S. to become the world’s largest energy consumer. To sustain explosive growth on such a mind-boggling scale, a country requires resources—vast expanses of resources.

In 2007, China was a net exporter of coal. This year it will import between 105 and 115 million tons of coal, putting it on track to overtake Japan as the world’s largest coal importer. In recent years, China has also become the world’s leading consumer of rice, meal, wheat, fertilizer, steel and cement. Twelve years ago, China was a net exporter of oil. Today, it is Saudi Arabia’s largest oil customer and the number-two global importer after the U.S.

Although the U.S. economy is “mature,” its energy consumption continues to increase. Despite China’s gargantuan size, it is a developing economy—an “economic toddler” that is growing rapidly. If China’s appetite for energy doubled in the past decade, how will it change in the next 10 years?

The projected 2015 Chinese middle class—600 million strong—will be twice the size of America’s current population. To meet the country’s skyrocketing demands, China’s leaders have launched an astounding global outreach program. They have laid myriad inroads throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, paying particular attention to nations with substantial reserves of oil and natural gas such as Nigeria, Venezuela and Kazakhstan. Beijing’s preference for resource-rich nations includes third-tier countries the West typically ignores. These developing countries have voting rights in international organizations, so Beijing cultivates relations with them, forgiving billions in loans and lavishing them with infrastructure projects, asking only for their voting support in return.

Unlike Berlin or Washington, Beijing does not entwine its development assistance to conditions of “good governance.” While Western powers sermonize and punish authoritarian actions by withholding aid or even effecting regime change, China constructs palaces for tyrants and builds summer villas for despots. It guarantees them territorial integrity regardless of any human rights violations they may be committing.

Decades ago, Chinese Marxist revolutionary Mao Tse Tung promised his people that “All that the West has, China will have.” China’s historically unprecedented growth—and the ethical low road it travels to sustain it—is evidence that Mao’s words still resonate clearly in the Chinese mindset.

China’s frenetic drive for resources is intensifying the global scramble for the planet’s wealth. As Europe and other powers watch China devour a rapidly increasing proportion of resources, they are provoked to tighten the grip on their own supply channels.

On June 15, the Inter Press Service reported on the 25th Africa-France summit held in Nice, writing that French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared it was time for Europe to fight to increase its influence in Africa before China devours the African pie. As China’s global footprint grows, other nations, especially in Europe, will assume a more combative stance in securing resources for themselves. When more than one power aggressively pursues the world’s wealth with such ferocity, intense competition results and eventually gives way to war.

War Between East and West

More than 2,500 years ago, the Prophet Daniel was inspired to write that in this modern age, “tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble [German-led Europe].” The northern threat mentioned here is Russia, and the eastern power is China. (To understand the details of these astounding prophecies, request Russia and China in Prophecy and Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.)

While Russian power has been formidable for centuries, China, until it industrialized, presented no genuine threat to the West. Sure, it was belligerent, but it was a belligerent grasshopper. Now, in the early stages of fulfilling Daniel’s prophecies, China is a belligerent dragon—a reality that has Europe on edge.

When the United States inevitably succumbs to its weaknesses and fades off the grid, Europe will be the world’s only superpower—except for China. Absent America, Europe would stand alone as the world’s sole superpower, if not for this one menacing threat that has become a juggernaut in a spectacularly short span of time. China is the one powerful civilization on the planet most opposed to European values and modes of thinking. And, very soon, China alone will threaten EU hegemony. If the U.S. had decomposed two decades ago, there would have been no nation to counter Europe. Now, there’s an angry, menacing power to ally with Russia and fulfill that role.

As the “China Fantasy” collapses and disillusionment hits the West, more and more European voices are expressing concern about Beijing’s growing assertiveness. Sino-German relations veered into difficult terrain in 2007 when German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuked China’s human rights record. In June 2010, Sarkozy admonished Europeans to fight to keep pace with China’s rapacious resource procurement in Africa. In a July 2010 meeting with Chinese President Wen Jiabao, two leading German industrialists attacked China’s business environment, which they said was disadvantageous to non-Chinese firms. Also in July, the German DerSpiegel published a scathing report on the threat to the West posed by China’s mushrooming soft power in Southeast Asia. An August 2010 Pentagon report warned that China is using its growing wealth to develop its military power.

Clearly, Western concern is amplifying and the rift between East and West is growing broader.

The Power of Prophecy

The geopolitical realities of the world have sharply shifted as a result of China’s rise as much as because of America’s decline. Because it is easier to discern than Europe’s rise, China’s ascendancy to juggernaut status is among the starkest prophetic trends of the last two decades. And it is a powerful, ongoing reminder of the accuracy and inevitability of Bible prophecies.

While the “China Fantasy” duped many Western political and commercial elites, those following Bible prophecy would have never been taken in by the illusion. Longtime Trumpet readers would not have been taken in by the delusion that China’s rise was good news for the world, even when the situation looked most promising. They would have known the true purpose of China’s rise all along: to check Europe.

Right now, it’s easy for the world to finally see what students of prophecy have long understood. When Herbert W. Armstrong identified China as one of the key pillars of the biblical “kings of the east,” it took faith to believe it. China was weak, backward, and too mired in domestic turmoil to pose a formidable threat to world powers. Reality seemed to contradict Mr. Armstrong’s prediction—for a time. But events have unfolded, time has marched on, and the early phases of these predictions have come to pass to reveal that Mr. Armstrong was right!

Nations of the West are correct to be sober about China’s mushrooming power. Bible prophecy reveals that the burgeoning hostility between China and Europe will culminate in the greatest military conflagration in mankind’s strife-ridden history. But just beyond the perilous times on the horizon is some amazingly good news. Jesus Christ will return to put an end to the conflict between East and West, and between all other peoples of the Earth! He will usher in an era of divine rulership that will effect peace and prosperity for all of mankind.

To understand more about China’s rise, and its prophetic connection to this most hope-filled future, request a free copy of Russia and China in Prophecy.

The Key to Unlock Biblical Prophecy

How can you know which modern nations are referred to in ancient prophetic texts? Here is the first in a series of articles on the origins of modern peoples!
From the September 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

How can the Trumpet accurately forecast future world events? Any regular reader of this magazine should know the answer to this basic question.

The Bible is the foundation and source of all the forecasts in this magazine. It contains “the more sure word of prophecy” that guides our analysis of current world events (2 Peter 1:19).

Yet even if you believe the Bible is God’s unerring Word, a master key is still necessary to unlock these prophecies. Without that key, it is impossible to understand what the Bible prophesies will happen to the world’s nations in the near future.

Those who need to understand these prophecies the most—world leaders, news agencies, government policy makers and educational institutions—are all ignorant of them! They reject the divine revelation of the Bible, the only source revealing the significance and true meaning of today’s world news. They have also lost the vital master key needed to unlock biblical prophecy.

What is that key? The identity of Israel and the major world nations!

The Missing Key Revealed

The most important part of that key—the identity of the most powerful world powers in modern times, the United States and Britain—is explained in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. This book’s author, Herbert W. Armstrong, founded three colleges as well as the Trumpet’s parent newsmagazine, the Plain Truth.

“Not knowing how and where these nations are specifically mentioned in basic and major prophecies, the educated of the world have been utterly blinded to the plain and simple meaning of prophecy,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in that book. “Due to this lost key more than anything else, the Bible has come to be discredited and rejected in this world’s educational system. The unproved and unprovable theory of evolution has been substituted as the foundational concept which became the supposed rational approach to knowledge.”

The main reason why the world and its educational institutions lack understanding of world events is that they don’t have this key!

Well, the Trumpet will give you this key.

To help you to understand future world events involving the world’s major powers, the Trumpet is beginning a series of articles explaining the origins of the world’s major powers. You can’t know the future of these great nations unless you know their past!

Knowledge of this key will demonstrate how accurate the biblical record and its prophecies are. It will also explain how man came to be and where civilization started, powerfully disproving evolution, that flawed premise of our education system.

A good starting point in understanding the origin of man’s present civilization—and disproving evolution—is the study of language.

Case Study: Language

“Language is mankind’s greatest invention—except, of course, that it was never invented,” writes Guy Deutscher in The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. There can be no nation, no civilization nor culture without language. Therefore the history of language and our civilizations are inextricably linked.

Deutscher, who holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Cambridge and was a professor at the University of Leiden in Holland, wrote his book from an evolutionary standpoint, trying to demonstrate how language can evolve from basic grunts into the complex languages used today.

However, as he admits, there is one problem: No evolutionist can determine the beginning of language.

Let’s follow the evolutionists’ story and see how they try to reconcile their research and observations with their false premise to overcome this admitted paradox.

Before we start their story, we must acquire a penchant for the fantasy genre—“for how can anyone presume to know what went on in prehistoric times without indulging in make-believe?” asks Deutscher. Any evolutionist must possess a richer imagination than J.K. Rowling and be a greater master of fiction than J.R.R. Tolkien, or else what we are about to read would not sell.

Monkey See Monkey Speak?

The beginning of this erroneous story is set in a time long, long ago when mankind was evolving from apes. For this world to be constructed, apes must be able to learn language. Yet research conducted at Georgia State University concluded that this is impossible.

“[D]espite popular myth, not even chimpanzees can learn a human language,” Deutscher writes. Using the example of an advanced chimp named Kanzi, he concludes, “[E]ven Kanzi cannot string symbols together in anything resembling the complexity of a human language. The human brain is unique in having the necessary hardware for mastering a human language—that much is uncontroversial.”

The only indisputable thing in an evolutionist’s study of language is the insurmountable gap between human speech and animal communication!

The evolutionist must now ignore the research or pretend that even Kanzi, the genius hero of the chimp world, would be a fool compared to his predecessors, which, if evolutionists were to be believed, must also somehow be less evolved than Kanzi.

When we turn the page, we don’t see a chapter two filled with the linguistic exploits of Kanzi’s ancestors. Instead we skip toward the end of the story!

Deutscher starts his explanation of the evolution of language late in its development, assuming several important aspects were already formed: “[W]e must take as given … its symbolic nature: the use of arbitrary signs, which can mean something only by agreed convention …. We also have to assume that these arbiter signs were conveyed vocally … but which derive their sense from being joined up into words. … And finally, we have to take it as given that these words were used essentially for the same purposes that motivate us today ….” He is starting off with three very advanced assumptions to make his theory work because, as he admits, earlier scenarios “don’t really have a leg to stand on.”

Our evolutionist author finds it pointless to fill in the missing chapters, because it is too fictional, even for readers who were sold on chapter one. Yet his story continues on the assumption that some future author will backfill the blank chapters with some missing research.

Clueless

Deutscher often uses words like “assume” and “a given,” which are fancy ways of saying that he has to speculate and guess.

He even must speculate as to the time in man’s history when this already advanced language would have evolved, because, “Unfortunately, no one has any idea (or more accurately, too many people have too many ideas) about when exactly this point should be located in time: 40,000 years ago, 100,000 years, or even much earlier than that?”

This is how history books read when it comes to origins of man. You will come across a profusion of words like seem, likely, may and probably. No evolutionist can decide on when man first made an appearance. Just as the scientific method starts with a hypothesis, so does the historical method, with each historian, anthropologist and archeologist choosing and interpreting the facts in a way that appears to substantiate his own theory, trying to turn fiction into nonfiction and oftentimes disagreeing with conclusions put forward by others in the process.

Linguists Ignore Two Basic Facts

Let’s step away from the realm of fiction and make-believe and into the rational, observable world. When studying today’s languages, evolutionists ignore two concrete facts.

First, they ignore that older languages tend to be of a higher order and complexity than modern languages. Deutscher writes, “[I]t seemed that the deeper linguists dug into history, the more impressive was the make-up of words they encountered, but when they followed the movement of languages through time, the only processes that could be discerned were disintegration and collapse.”

That’s not to say there haven’t been any developments since that time, but the general trend is degeneration. Instead of languages getting more complex, they have grown simpler! Compare Old English with modern English, Latin with modern Romance languages, and ancient Hebrew with modern Hebrew. In every case, the trend directly contradicts the concept of evolution, that of ever increasing sophistication and complexity.

Second, evolutionists ignore how far back in time we find language. “The available written records of any language extend at most 5,000 years into the past,” Deutscher writes, “and the languages around by that time already have pretty much the full repertoire of complex features found in today’s languages.”

Instead of seeing written records that show some kind of evolution of a primitive language, we see a sudden arrival, around 5,000 years ago, of already complex languages. There are no “missing links.”

Is it a coincidence that the origins of language can only be traced back about 5,000 years, about when the dendrochronological record ends? (sidebar, page 16). Is there an account that explains this similarity in dates and explains why languages have gone through a trend of degeneration?

Yes there is—IF we accept divine revelation!

Linguists can’t figure out how language was invented because it wasn’t invented by man! That is the conclusion to which all the facts logically lead.

If we take the Bible as the foundational historical document that it is, there is an explanation—not an assumption, theory or guess, but an absolutely true description—of facts that fly in the face of evolution.

Interestingly, even Deutscher admits the biblical account confirms the research. Yet though the Bible perfectly explains the sudden arrival of multiple languages each equipped with powerful complexities and irregularities, he simply discards its accounts. “Taken literally, however, neither invention by divine fiat nor dispersal as a punishment for human folly seems at all likely today. But has anyone ever come up with a more convincing explanation?”

The answer to his question is no! And there can be no other explanation that fits all the facts. Though the biblical record is brief, it contains no missing chapters. The real story starts about 6,000 years ago.

The Real History of Nations and Language

At that time, Earth was renewed in one week from complete desolation and emptiness. On the sixth day, the first man, Adam, was created and given language—a fully formed, complete language! This explains the conclusion of modern research that only man’s brain can master language: That brain was formed and designed for a specific purpose by a Creator!

It is no coincidence that one of the names for God is the Word. Neither is it a coincidence that divine authority declares that the Word was there “in the beginning”!

Names have meaning, and God’s own name shows who invented man’s language. It is only fitting that God would have this name. Just think how powerful language is: Without it, nothing can be done! When the Word spoke, the entire universe was created! (John 1:1-5). That is the power of this Supreme Being who gave us language.

About 2,000 years after the creation of Adam, mankind became so evil that God flooded the Earth and saved only one righteous man, Noah, and his family. Surviving the Flood with Noah was his wife and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, each with their wives.

As Noah began to separate and colonize the growing families throughout the Earth, a rebellious people led by Cush and his son Nimrod decided to stay where they were and unite the families. The details are brief, but found in Genesis 10 and 11. “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. … Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:5-6, 9).

This event begins the history of the nations. Here God divided the people into nations by creating multiple languages. God gave several unique languages to the people, probably one to each of the main families listed in Genesis 10.

These parent languages would have then been changed and simplified over time into all the languages we have today, much like Latin gave rise to Spanish, French and Italian.

Our ancestors would have had no real choice but to migrate and dwell with the people with whom they could communicate, developing their own unique cultures and civilizations through their independent languages.

This account in Genesis explains everything! It is in complete agreement with all the established facts and observations—not just of the history of language, but of the history of our nations and even the provable elements of dating “science”!

Ancient Records Too!

But the account of Babylon is not just in the Bible. The building of the tower is also recorded in the ancient writings of Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Greece and Media. The most complete secular account is found in the Akkadian Creation Epic, reproduced in James B. Pritchard’s Ancient Near Eastern Texts, which even speaks of a father and son leading the project.

The Chinese, Hindus, Irish, Native Americans and Persians also tell us of the divisions of speech by a supreme God. In fact, thanks to Chinese and Egyptian record keeping, we can trace the date of the tower of Babel to approximately 2200 b.c. That is roughly the time period that these ancient manuscripts mark as the beginning of the origins of their civilization.

That is within the same time frame as linguists can demonstrate when our complex languages started!

Yet modern scholars and educational institutions reject all of this. They not only reject the Bible, but they also relegate ancient manuscripts, which they spent years deciphering and trying to understand, to nothing but fantasy! These manuscripts do contain a large amount of myth, but they also carefully preserve annals of and references to their patriarchs.

The rejection of these sources is a fairly recent phenomenon. It wasn’t until German rationalism became the rage within academia in the 19th century that the knowledge of the Bible and divine intervention was removed from education and the ancient manuscripts taken as pure myth. That is why today’s linguists are trying to prove how language evolved using godless evolutionary methods.

Men are using human reasoning to explain something that was divinely ordained at the spiritual level—a level clear above human flesh, which divine authority created! Hence the confusion (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Scholars theorize by attempting to create a prehistoric time period for evolution—yet in the literal sense there is no such thing as prehistoric man. Man was given language from the beginning, which was also used to pass on mankind’s history, through oral traditions and written records! That is how Moses was able to write Genesis. The first language appeared with the first man, and there is no history of men before the written word existed!

The first recorded conversation was between God and man (Genesis 1:28-30; 2:16-17). The first conversation between two human beings is recorded in Genesis 2:23. The first attempt by man to reason without a foundation of divine revelation is recorded in Genesis 3:1-6, and its detrimental results in the remainder of that chapter.

Then What Is Prehistoric Man?

What about the artifacts and bones of “prehistoric” man? The remains of thousands of bones, rudimentary tools and weapons lie embedded in all the continents. How do these fossils and remains fit in if there is no such thing as prehistoric?

First, realize that today’s scholars don’t even know how these artifacts fit in their theory of evolution. Anthropologists and archeologists segment history into ages—such as the Stone Age for prehistoric times—yet this is useless for determining a chronological history because, as they admit, these ages may not be sequential, but actually contemporary!

There is no concrete time period for the start and end of each age, nor is there agreement on how many ages exist. The ages only represent developmental periods in various cultures that occur at different times for different people. It’s not a sequential order of time at all!

According to The Encyclopedia of World History by Peter Stearns, the term Stone Age “has little more than technological significance” and “has no chronological significance.” In this age of space exploration, the Internet, and nuclear power, we still have people in a primitive “stone age” culture in places like tropical rainforests.

Stearns says the archeological theories on prehistory are intensely controversial even as highly “sophisticated” evolutionary theories are still being developed.

How sad that these theories are labeled sophisticated when in reality they are deliberately made complex in order to attempt to keep the evolution theory from completely falling apart! If scientists would only look to the Bible, all their theories could be explained in one simple passage!

Job 30:1-8 contains the truth about the stone cultures we see today and in ancient history: “But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock. Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished? For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste. Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat. They were driven forth from among men … To dwell in the clifts of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks. Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together. They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth.”

Scripture actually speaks of men living in caves and under bushes. They descended from civilized people of low birth and degenerate habits—yet more proof not of evolution but of degeneration! These degenerate, primitive people were driven out of civilization into remote parts such as tropical forests—places where we can yet find them today!

If in our advanced time we still have these primitive people, then it is easy to believe that in ancient times, before and after the Flood, degenerate people were driven out into caves and forests. Their remains are the prehistoric fossils and artifacts scholars find, which, with the unreliable carbon dating method, are postulated to be tens of thousands of years old! In reality they can’t be older than 6,000 years!

Your Only Option!

So what will you believe? The account from the written Word of God that explains all the facts and is corroborated by ancient secular manuscripts and modern research?

Or will you reject divine revelation and the truth that God intervenes in history so that you can blindly believe in evolution, whose supporters must ignore and discard facts, even accepting unreliable data that must first jump through hoops to match their theory?

Where will you put your faith?

If you want to know the origins of the major powers and understand the soon-coming earth-shattering events that these nations will participate in, believe what the Bible says. It must have come from another Source, the One who designed the human brain so man alone is able to master language!

Boys Don’t Automatically Become Men!

From the September 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Ambitious, confident boys have become a vanishing breed.

Our society is certainly producing a lot of assertive, self-assured young women. Throughout the English-speaking world, they are storming college campuses and flooding the workforce. More and more, they are leaving boys in their dust.

This trend emerges early: in the female-dominated world of elementary school. There, 90 percent of the teachers are women; many schools are staffed completely by women. Governments acknowledge that boys lag in reading and writing—in New Zealand, for example, two times more 10-to-12-year-old boys than girls require remedial reading help—but efforts to narrow the gap haven’t worked.

By secondary school, grades, test scores and graduation rates all show girls outperforming boys by noticeable margins. In the U.S., nearly twice as many boys as girls repeat a grade. Only two out of three boys finish high school.

Women also dominate higher education. They outnumber men on America’s college campuses almost three to two. Last spring in America, women earned almost 149 degrees for every 100 degrees men earned. They dominate men at every level, from associate’s (167 for every 100 men) to doctoral degrees (107 for every 100 men).

College enrollment officers are scratching their heads, trying to puzzle out how to attract a greater number of qualified men. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has launched a probe to scrutinize whether colleges are actually discriminating against women by lowering male admissions standards. “In some circles, it still is not cool to be smart for boys,” laments one enrollment official at Rutgers.

For 28 years running, more women have received college degrees than men, and the gap has widened every year. This year’s U.S. Census figures revealed that all told, more American women than men now hold undergraduate degrees. Women have also pulled even with men in advanced degrees, and could pass them this year.

These numbers represent a cultural sea change. The education system is society’s incubator. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workers, spouses, parents. And the educational disparity between the sexes is fueling a revolution in traditional sex roles.

As the Prophet Isaiah foretold, strong men, wise men, honorable men are all gone! And society is ruled by women and children (Isaiah 3:4-5, 12). Increasing numbers of boys have no clue how to be men.

It is common to see grown boys who have cultivated no drive or ambition, no moral conviction, no ability or even desire to lead, and no bodily strength. They have few salable skills and a poor work ethic. They haven’t been taught any sense of honor toward women or responsibility toward children, nor of duty to provide for or protect them.

Meanwhile, more and more successful women are struggling to find men who are “at their level” educationally and financially. Surveying the singles scene, they’re having to ask themselves, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, “Am I willing to ‘marry down’?” Some women lament that men feel threatened by their achievements and simply won’t enter a relationship. This has contributed to an increasing number (a 145 percent rise in the last 30 years in the U.S.) of unmarried births among college-educated women, some of whom have simply grown impatient with looking for Mr. Right.

The education gap has also helped to flip the traditional family of a breadwinning father and homemaking mother on its head. Only one in five American families with children has a working dad and stay-at-home mom. The majority of America’s workforce is now female. In fact, nearly 40 percent of moms are their family’s primary breadwinner. “Now the standard working woman is a married woman with children,” says UCLA women’s history professor Ellen DuBois.

In the UK, almost half of women earn as much or more than the men in their lives. More than 600,000 British fathers are “homedads” whose wives or girlfriends bring home the bacon. The trend looks nearly identical in Canada and Australia. In general, today’s men spend over twice as much time on housework as their fathers did.

“How do you manage not to emasculate your husband?” a Telegraph reporter asked a friend who out-earns her husband. “I don’t manage,” was the answer. “If we disagree about how money is spent, I decide because it’s my money, and he hates it.”

This tendency has been aggravated by the global economic crisis, which has particularly rocked male-dominated industries. In America, of the 8 million jobs lost since September 2008, somewhere north of three fourths were held by men. Where unemployment among women is 7.8 percent, the figure for men is 9.9 percent.

Statistics suggest, however, that men are settling into their diminished role as providers. “The idea that men see themselves as breadwinners is collapsing,” says Rob Williams of the UK’s Fatherhood Institute. One short generation ago, 72 percent of men believed a man should provide his family’s primary income and a woman should be the family’s primary caretaker and homemaker. Today only 42 percent of men believe that.

It’s a shame. Because those traditional roles were not arbitrarily concocted by a primitive society. They were assigned by the Being who created human beings and made them male and female. We ignore proper, God-given sex roles at our peril. An understanding and wholehearted embracing of the God-ordained roles for men and women is a vital key to success.

A man’s divinely ordained responsibilities include leading, protecting, providing for and loving his family. By failing to educate our boys to embrace these duties as men, we are dooming them to perpetual adolescence and depriving them of the genuine satisfaction that comes from fulfilling their potential. Worse, we are striking a mortal blow to the stability of our families and our society.

The Lost Art of Slow Reading

The Lost Art of Slow Reading

©iStock.com/lisafx

Why the Information Age is making us shallower.
From the October 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Going paperless is simpler than ever. Like many of you, I go online to shop, make travel arrangements, manage bank accounts, pay utility bills and read the news. But when it comes to my bookshelves and file cabinets, it’s difficult for me to imagine a paperless environment.

Along two of the walls in my office, I have five rows of bookshelves sitting atop 30 file cabinet drawers. I haven’t read all the books on the shelves and I know there are files in those drawers I haven’t opened in years. But it’s a large collection of commentaries, encyclopedias, biographies, histories, periodicals, booklets, articles, clippings and notes I’ve accumulated over the past two decades.

Except for the news I skim online every day, I usually mark or highlight what I read and study. This is why I generally buy my own books and print out or photocopy important articles I run across in my research.

I still use the Internet a lot, particularly for my weekly columns. There is no substitute for the speed at which you can obtain information that used to take hours to find in a library. But at the same time, there is simply no online equivalent to the thoughts and ideas I have tucked away in the drawers and shelves of my personal library.

Besides that, studies are beginning to show that the way we read and study online is much more superficial than the way we used to study the printed word. When reading online, we tend to skim and bounce around the page. We’re often distracted by the numerous links embedded into the text and the flashing advertisements designed to grab our attention.

Because of this, as Nicholas Carr writes in The Shallows, “Our attachment to any one text becomes more tenuous, more provisional. Searches also lead to the fragmentation of online works. A search engine often draws our attention to a particular snippet of text, a few words or sentences that have strong relevance to whatever we’re searching for at the moment, while providing little incentive for taking in the work as a whole. We don’t see the forest when we search the Web. We don’t even see the trees. We see twigs and leaves” (emphasis mine throughout).

Carr believes Google’s ambitious plan to digitize all the books ever printed will only make matters worse. “To make a book discoverable and searchable online is also to dismember it,” he writes. The end result, he says, would not be a library of books—but one of snippets.

While reading the pages of Carr’s book, I kept thinking of a wonderful little book, written in 1905—one that has been on my shelf for more than 15 years. In The Art of Thinking, French philosopher Ernest Dimnet said, “Do not read good books—life is too short for that—only read the best.” He recommended a personal library of just 20 or 30 volumes—classic works that you return to over and again for greater depth and understanding. What good is an extensive library that fills our shelves, Dimnet argued, if it doesn’t fill our minds? Or, given the massive amounts of information available today, what good is a computer database containing every book known to man if all we do is skim the surface for snippets?

Even some educators are waking to the dangerous pitfalls of online multitasking and cursory reading. A few are even calling for us to return to the tried and tested method of slowly poring over the printed word. According to the Associated Press, one teacher “is encouraging schools from elementary through college to return to old strategies such as reading aloud and memorization as a way to help students truly ‘taste’ the words. He uses those techniques in his own classroom, where students have told him that they’ve become so accustomed to flitting from page to page online that they have trouble concentratingwhile reading printed books” (June 17).

Scanning a book for a salient quote certainly has its place. So does skimming text to get the gist of the author’s intent. Even occasional Web surfing might help one get a feel for current events.

But none of this should be confused with studying the printed word. In the case of God’s Word, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The Greek word for “workman” is referring to one who exerts strenuous effort to study the right way.

Online Bible helps can offer valuable assistance in this regard. But if you are really serious about plumbing the depths of God’s inspired Word, crack open the Book alongside a companion article or booklet, grab a pen and highlighter and then start reading. Don’t skim through the information as fast as possible. Slow down—make sure what you do read gets through to you.

Radiocarbon Dating

From the September 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

What about carbon dating? Doesn’t that give accurate dates of “prehistoric” civilizations?

Carbon dating is the ultimate benchmark of the evolutionary dating world. Everyone assumes that dates that follow the word “radiocarbon” are accurate, precise and sure. But are they?

The basic principle of radiocarbon dating is that plants and animals absorb trace amounts of radioactive carbon-14 from carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere while they are alive but stop doing so when they die. The carbon-14 in a sample decays at a steady rate after it dies, and thus works like a clock. It is assumed that the amount of radioactive carbon left in the sample indicates how old it is.

But there is a major problem with this method. It is based on several assumptions, one of which is false. For this method to work, the rate of production of carbon-14 in the atmosphere has to remain constant through time. In truth, however, the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere varies with fluctuations in solar activity and Earth’s magnetic field, changes in atmospheric conditions and even the exploding of atomic bombs!

As a result, radiocarbon dating isn’t so accurate: “Provided they are adjusted, radiocarbon dates are now considered reliable as far back as 5000 B.C.,” writes archeologist and professor Martha Joukowsky in A Complete Manual of Field Archeology. “Since the dendrochronological sequence extends back only as far as about 5500 B.C., no way exists at present to check radiocarbon dates from 5500 to 10,000 B.C.”

When comparing radiocarbon dates with dates derived from tree rings, known as dendrochronological dating, the dates only agree accurately as far back as A.D. 640, and only generally well back to the time of Christ. Anything further back and the dates are as much as 800 years off. So scientists made calibration charts to make up for the variation. But they still have to verify their calibrations with samples of known dates. There is still a problem!

Radiocarbon dates can only be trusted up until the record left by trees can back them up. There is no other way to verify the calibration charts accurately! Scientists, however, will push the envelope to 10,000 B.C. without any way to verify it.

In 2004, the claimed reliability of radiocarbon dating supposedly got a boost to 26,000 years, and then again in 2010 back to 50,000 years ago—the point at which there is too little carbon-14 to measure accurately. Scientists now claim 50,000 years is as far back as this method can go. This latest system of dating developed by intcal, an international working group, was based on dating coral samples from the ocean floor.

intcal extended radiocarbon dates beyond the limit of dendrochronology by basing it on “matched uranium series and radiocarbon dates on fossil corals, coupled with radiocarbon-dated organic material from laminated marine sediments in the Cariaco Basin, Venzuela” (Mike Walker, Quartenary Dating Methods, 2005).

Did you catch that? They apparently increased the effectiveness of radiocarbon dating by basing their calibration charts on radiocarbon-dated coral and sediment layers! That is circular reasoning—defending the method by using the very same method!

On top of that, radiocarbon dating coral presents great difficulties that make it unreliable. Why? Because of another assumption in radiocarbon dating: that it is a closed system. Once the “clock” starts, there is no gain or loss in radiocarbon elements used in dating. The trouble is, coral behaves differently. In coral, the carbon-14 decay rate is not stable; it picks up radioactive isotopes over time. In other words, the clock’s hour hand doesn’t move consistently.

The result?

“[P]roblems arising from past variations in the marine reservoir and also possible errors in the counting of laminated sediments mean this part of the calibration curve is less secure than that based on tree-ring records,” says Quartenary Dating Methods. “Despite the uncertainties associated with the older part of the age range, the international radiocarbon community has recommended that intcal 98 be used as the basis for calibration for the time being” (emphasis mine throughout).

So even though it is less reliable and has some serious problems, scientists ignore that and still use it. This book was written on the basis of the calibration that intcal has been developing for over 20 years, a process that has unfolded in the stages listed above.

How did the newest development come about? In an article titled “Radiocarbon Daters Tune Up Their Time Machine,” Science magazine explained: “[T]hanks to new and more accurate data from foraminifers, corals, and other sources—plus some fancy statistical treatments that help predict which way data gaps bend the curve—the intcal group has been able to resolve most of the discrepancies. ‘It took the group quite a while to come together and agree,’ says intcal team leader Paula Reimer, a geochronologist at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. But the new data, combined with what Reimer calls a ‘real sense of necessity’ among team members to resolve the debates, won the day” (January 15).

“Fancy statistical treatments” that didn’t even resolve all of the discrepancies? That doesn’t seem like a sound scientific process, does it? And what was it that finally got the scientists to agree on their uncertain calibration curve? A “real sense of necessity” to resolve the debate!

The problem with all these theories and conclusions is that they hark back to the scientists’ blind belief in the false theory of evolution. That is about the only thing the scientists agree on, yet it causes much confusion and chaos. Data has to be manipulated, skewed and given fancy treatment to make evolution fit the facts.

That is science based on a shifting foundation of sand! Yet that is the necessity by which these scientists are driven. They need a way to date artifacts further than 5,000 to 6,000 years ago so they can prove their false theory “true”!

If no dating system is created, evolution will forever be stuck in the realm of hypothesis. Even with such manipulation, the scientists still can’t remove all the discrepancies. In the end, it is still an unprovable hypothesis!

It is under this pretense that scientists take up the false hypothesis of evolution as their religion, the foundation of their knowledge. That is what the Bible terms “the oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20).

The bottom line is that scientists cannot reliably use radiocarbon dating on artifacts beyond the time of Christ. The method they use to attempt to do so is twisted to fit evolutionary theory.

WorldWatch

From the September 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

1. Amid unrest, who’s left standing?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to suffer blows to her leadership.

On June 17, Germany’s Social Democratic Party and the Green Party agreed to establish a minority government in North Rhine-Westphalia, the country’s largest and richest state. This means Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (cdu) no longer holds the majority in Germany’s upper legislative chamber.

Two weeks later, Merkel was humiliated as her candidate for the new German president, Christian Wulff, failed to win an absolute majority in the first two rounds of voting as many in her own coalition rebelled. Wulff won in a third round, where a simple majority was all that was needed.

Suddeutsche Zeitung wrote, “This wasn’t just an election day, it was a day of reckoning for Merkel. … This Federal Assembly became Merkel’s writing on the wall.” Handelsblatt said Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle “are now fighting for their political survival.” Spiegel Online said Merkel’s “next major decision may be who to groom as a successor.”

On July 18, the mayor of Hamburg, Ole von Beust, became the sixth state governor to resign within just one year. A whole string of leading cdu lights in Germany have left the scene over the past year, including, most notably, President Horst Köhler, who suddenly resigned in June.

A July 19 poll found that Merkel’s coalition parties had the lowest approval ratings since the agency Forsa began polling in 1986. The three parties had a combined approval rating of just 34 percent.

On July 7, the New York Times singled out one man to watch as the German chancellor’s possible successor. “Mrs. Merkel has deflected any threat to her leadership,” it wrote, “except, possibly, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.”

Throughout the turmoil of Merkel’s second term, Guttenberg has remained one of Germany’s most popular politicians. “Unlike other potential challengers, Mr. Guttenberg will not be easily silenced,” the Times continued. “As a member of the Christian Social Union party, he is politically independent from Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democrats. She cannot afford a fallout with her sister party in Bavaria. She needs that electoral support.”

As the Trumpet has been saying for some months now, Guttenberg is a man to watch.

2. Smells like a superstate

The European Union has taken two more major steps toward being a superstate.

July 14, EU countries agreed to propose a resolution that would give the European Union speaking rights at the United Nations General Assembly. Under the proposal, the EU would still be

an observer at the UN, but would have the same rights as member nations to submit proposals and amendments, to circulate amendments, to reply, etc. The EU president could address the UN in the same way as a head of state.

Then on July 26, European finance ministers approved the overall structure of Europe’s External Action Service (eeas), paving the way for Europe’s own diplomatic corps to become operational in December. The eeas will operate 136 European embassies, employ around 6,000 people, and have a budget of around €7 billion—including EU money spent on aid and peacekeeping.

Even before the latest agreement, British member of the European Parliament David Campbell Bannerman said, “I believe that through the Lisbon Treaty, through [the EU foreign minister] role, and the External Action Service, the European Union now has all four criteria it needs under international law to declare itself a single nation-state, a United States of Europe, and to do so overnight.”

3. Israel opens Gaza; considers EU help

Israel announced on June 20 that it will now allow anything into Hamascontrolled Gaza as long as it could not be used for military purposes. This effectively ended the so-called land blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the restrictions on civilian goods that had been in place since September 2007 had been aimed at weakening Hamas and gaining the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The lack of progress on both counts, it explained, motivated the change in policy.

Of course, Hamas and the terrorists who sponsored the Gaza-bound “humanitarian” flotilla just three weeks earlier saw it as nothing less than a resounding victory for challenging Israel. Not only did their mission draw a lethal retaliation from Israel’s navy, followed by a tidal wave of international outrage against Israel, but it brought enough pressure for Israel to end its sanctions against Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials said Israel was considering asking the European Union to monitor Gaza’s land crossings. This would represent “a first step towards [Israel] surrendering its sovereign control over its borders,” wrote Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post (June 21).

In another indication that the Jews are looking increasingly to Europe, on July 16 Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman proposed that Israel fully disengage from Gaza and hand responsibility for its development to the EU.

This trend portends danger for the Jews in light of Bible prophecy that warns that a European power will actually double-cross Israel in the end time.

4. Should U.S. really celebrate?

On June 19, China’s central bank announced that it was prepared to move toward reforming the country’s exchange rate regime to allow more flexibility. On June 21, the yuan rose by 0.4 percent against the dollar. Although a relatively small move, it sent the yuan to its highest level since September 2008 and was hailed as a political victory for the U.S., which has argued that the undervalued currency gives Beijing an unfair exporting advantage.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has pressured Beijing to lift the currency peg in recent months, applauded the move. But the revaluation carries potential risks that could undermine Western economies. Europe’s prolonged economic downturn, and European money fleeing to the U.S., could cause a free-floating yuan to actually weaken relative to the dollar, rather than appreciating. This could tilt America’s trade imbalance further into Beijing’s favor.

Some analysts say the move is largely symbolic, merely a political strategy designed to relieve pressure from Washington.

For America, the gravest danger is that a legitimate lift of the currency peg would require China to reduce U.S. government debt purchases, which would drive interest rates up. For an economy addicted to debt, the implications could be devastating. America has complained about the trade imbalance with China that results from the yuan’s peg to the dollar, but it is that same imbalance that enables America to maintain its debt-fueled policies.

China’s loosening of the yuan’s peg to the dollar will not solve Washington’s problems, but it may replace the smoldering fire of trade imbalance with the raging inferno of soaring interest rates.

Data released in July shows that China became the world’s largest energy consumer last year—usurping a title held by America for the past 100 years. China’s predominance marks “a new age in the history of energy,” said International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol. The transformation of global energy markets has long-term implications for America and the world. Expect competition for resources to heat up, resulting in trade war.

5. Another Popping Housing Bubble

House sales in Canadian cities are plummeting.

In Toronto, realtors reported a 23 percent drop in sales from last year. The Globe and Mail reported July 7 that home sales in Vancouver plunged by 30 percent in June compared to one year earlier. Calgary was even worse: In June, single-family home sales were down 42 percent from a year earlier—16 percent just from May.

Sitka Pacific Capital Management’s Mike Shedlock warns that the trend is similar to how things cascaded in the United States once the housing bubble peaked. “I am now confident the peak in Canadian housing insanity is finally in,” he wrote on July 6.

Canadian readers may want to take note of the calamitous events that followed America’s housing bust. Millions of Americans are losing their homes and thousands of others are choosing to let the bank foreclose rather than spend decades paying for houses that are worth fractions of current market values. Hundreds of thousands of people associated with the construction, real-estate and mortgage-related industries found themselves out of work. This, plus the resultant credit crunch, caused a snowball effect that hit virtually every sector of the economy.

Canadians should prepare for a drastic economic downturn.

The International Monetary Fund weighed in on American economic policy in early July, saying Washington should consider raising taxes and cutting Social Security benefits to get control of the nation’s budget deficit and public debt. Watch for outside authorities to seek to increase influence over America’s economy.

The dollar is unreliable and needs to be replaced as the world’s reserve currency, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs said in a report released June 29. The UN wants to replace the dollar with a new global currency managed by the imf. The new currency, called sdrs, or special drawing rights, would maintain stability, the UN says, while knocking the U.S. from its role as global economic leader.

Europe

France’s national assembly voted to ban face-covering veils, such as the burka, 335 to 1, on July 13. While the bill will probably be approved by the Senate in September, France’s Council of State or the European Court of Human Rights may rule it unconstitutional. Belgium passed a similar law earlier this year, demonstrating the growing backlash against Islam in Europe.

In a June 16 letter, U.S. President Barack Obama urged his G-20 counterparts to maintain 0whatever stimulus programs their governments could finance.

Germany rejected this counsel and urged cutbacks instead. The G-20 meeting on June 26 and 27 concluded with an endorsement of the economic policies of Germany and other European leaders, not those of the U.S. Gone are the days when Washington could set an agenda and lead the world in adhering to it.

The Vatican announced the creation of a new department on June 29: the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization. Headed by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, the aim of the council is to re-evangelize once-Christian nations that have now become secular. The council will focus on Europe and the Americas. Expect the Vatican to unleash a major push to become more powerful in these areas.

Mideast

A slew of documents relating to Afghanistan that had been leaked to the WikiLeaks website were published by the New York Times July 25. Despite the hype surrounding the massive intelligence leak, the documents exposed little new about the fundamental reality of the war in Afghanistan. The leaked documents accuse Pakistan of providing both supplies and sanctuary for Taliban fighters. The secret military field reports detail how Pakistan’s intelligence service has guided the Afghan insurgency, even while Islamabad receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help in fighting the Taliban. The Trumpet has long pointed out the duplicity of Pakistan as a U.S. ally in the war in Afghanistan. Washington’s reliance on Islamabad despite this demonstrates the compromised nature of America’s power on the world scene.

In July, Israel carried out final operational tests on a new anti-missile system, the Iron Dome, designed to protect Israeli communities from Hamas and Hezbollah rockets. The shield will soon be deployed in vulnerable towns close to Gaza. It seems, however, that it has been talked up to be more effective than it may prove to be, not to mention its cost: A single Iron Dome anti-rocket missile is $100,000—as opposed to just a few dollars for a Kassam. While the technology is impressive, the Jews’ reliance upon it for protection will prove to be yet another false hope.

Hezbollah is establishing military positions, including the placement of weapons and explosives, next to schools and hospitals in southern Lebanon, an Israel Defense Forces officer said July 7. The Iranian sponsored terrorist group is digging tunnels and setting up communications infrastructure as it prepares for war, the source said. This is occurring even while the United Nations’ force in Lebanon is present, supposedly to stop Hezbollah rearming and rebuilding.

The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said in a press conference on July 13 that Iranian-trained Shiite fighters pose an increased threat to American soldiers in Iraq as the U.S. draws down its forces there. Gen. Ray Odierno specifically referred to the threat posed by the Kataib Hezbollah militia trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran’s influence in Iraq continues to grow as the United States’ shrinks.

Asia

North Korean despot Kim Jong Il threatened the U.S. with nuclear war in July in response to America’s joint naval drills with South Korea. The exercises came four months after a torpedo sunk the South Korean ship, the Chonan, and were intended as a display of unity between Washington and Seoul. However, the U.S.’s participation was undermined by repeated delays and a relocation that observers saw as being a sign of America’s fear of China outweighing its desire to stand up for Seoul. In light of the U.S.’s weak will, expect Seoul’s distrust to intensify. South Korea will draw closer to Asian nations, like China, in its search for security.

On July 11, Japanese voters delivered a rebuke to the Democratic Party of Japan, impairing the ability of Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s ruling party to govern. Kyodo News observed that the parliamentary gridlock “may complicate attempts by Tokyo and Washington to ‘reset’ their political relationship” (July 14). Mr. Kan’s promises to the Obama administration aimed at resolving the dispute over the location of a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa are now in doubt. When Tokyo emerges from its state of political gridlock, governmental consensus against the security partnership with the U.S. will likely solidify.

On July 12, China’s premier credit rating agency stripped America of its aaa status. Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. downgraded the U.S. to aa, while Britain and France slipped to aa-. Belgium, Spain and Italy are ranked at a-,along with Malaysia. Meanwhile, Dagong raised China to aa+ with Germany, the Netherlands and Canada. Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Singapore, along with resource-exporting heavyweights Australia and New Zealand, have the coveted aaa.

China and Taiwan signed an agreement on June 28 forging the strongest-ever trade ties between Asia’s rising giant and its longtime rival. The deal heralds a bold step toward reconciliation between the former enemies but has many Taiwanese concerned that their nation’s direction will erode its independence. The trade pact reduces tariffs and opens up mutual market access across the Taiwan Strait, but Taiwan is negotiating with an immensely powerful neighbor that does not recognize it as an independent entity.

Africa/Latin America

Somali Islamists from al Shabaab, a group linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for two bomb explosions that ripped through crowds watching the World Cup final in Uganda July 11, killing more than 70 people. Later that month, the African Union (AU) agreed to send 4,000 more troops to join its peacekeeping force in Somalia. If the extra troops materialize (not all AU nations make good on their promises), the AU will have over 10,000 soldiers in the country. Uganda, the main contributor to the peacekeeping force, has expanded its troops’ mandate beyond merely defending themselves against al Shabaab; soldiers can now preemptively attack the rebels if they feel the AU’s forces are under threat. Al Shabaab is also gaining strength thanks to a warlord in the northern part of the country, Sheik Mohamed Said Atom, allying himself with the militant group. More warlords may follow.

The Vatican is helping to bring Cuba out of diplomatic isolation and closer to Europe. On July 7, Cuban officials announced they would release 52 political prisoners, following nearly two months of talks between Cuba and the Vatican. EU nations have refused to have normal relations with Cuba because of its human rights record, but Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said the prisoner release opens a new era in Cuba.” Several commentators pointed out that the prisoner release doesn’t mean that conditions in Cuba are improving; the last prisoner release occurred in 1998, when Cuba released 101 prisoners after a visit by Pope John Paul ii. Watch for the common Catholic heritage of the EU and Latin America to bring the two blocs closer together.

Tensions between Venezuela and Colombia rose in July as outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused Venezuela of harboring Colombian rebels. Colombia presented photographic and video evidence before the Organization of American States on July 22 that 1,500 militants and several leaders belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (farc) were taking refuge in Venezuela. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez responded by breaking off diplomatic relations with Colombia, saying Colombia’s accusations were really American-inspired “aggression.” On July 25, Venezuela said it would cut off oil to the U.S. if Colombia attacked.

Anglo-America

A U.S. federal district judge blocked the most contentious parts of Arizona’s new immigration law on July 28, preventing police from asking suspected illegal aliens for identification. The injunction was granted to the Department of Justice, which on July 6 sued Arizona, the state that is at the epicenter of illegal immigration into America. Watch this situation closely for its explosive potential to exacerbate racial tensions and social unrest in the United States.

British Prime Minister David Cameron attacked the “endless British preoccupation” with Britain’s special relationship with America at his White House debut July 20. The prime minister said he failed to understand the “absurd” anxiety about the state of Britain’s alliance with the U.S. He urged people to stop “overanalyzing the atmospherics” between the U.S. and the UK.

Three British Supreme Court judges have unanimously intervened for homosexuals who seek asylum in the UK. July 7 they ruled that the Home Office may not refuse asylum to homosexuals and expect them to return to their home countries. Rather than toning down their homosexual behavior in their home nations to avoid persecution, one judge said, these individuals should be “free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts and drinking exotically colored cocktails” in Britain.

The UK now ranks 17th in global manufacturing competitiveness according to an index published in June. Britain is expected to fall as low as 20th on the list by 2015. In 2009, the UK was responsible for 2.6 percent of the world’s manufacturing production, down from 5.5 percent in 1980.