A Monumental Moment in European History!

From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

This might be one of the most important messages on world events I have ever written.

Do you realize that what is currently unfolding in Europe is going to affect your life in a radical way more than anything else ever has?

In May 2010, Germany was forced to bail out Greece’s economy. Last November it rescued Ireland. Other European countries are in the same mess, such as Spain, Italy and Portugal. The economies of these nations, and the future of the entire European unification project, are on life support—and Germany’s fingers are on the power switch!

Last December, Stefano Micossi, a professor at the College of Europe, wrote that soon, “either all of the sovereign debts [of Europe] become German public debt, or the euro will collapse …” (VoxEU.org, Dec. 10, 2010). Unless Germany rescues Europe, the Continent will collapse as a political and financial union. This is exactly what Herbert W. Armstrong warned would happen—as far back as the 1940s: that a massive financial crisis would give Germany the opportunity to shape a United States of Europe!

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard warned that it seems inevitable that the debts of Europe will have to be “fused immediately with German debt.” Germany has the only healthy economy in Europe. It’s the only “solution” to Europe’s financial woes. “This is the sort of game-changer that may now be required to save [this union],” he wrote (Telegraph, Nov. 29, 2010; emphasis mine).

What is happening in Europe is not merely a game-changer—it’s a world changer!

The Bible discusses many different beasts. As Mr. Armstrong explained, these beasts picture world empires. In Revelation 17, the Apostle John wrote about a totally unique and terrifying beast. This empire is different because it is a church-state union.

Verses 1 and 2 read, “… I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Notice, throughout history this woman, or church, has made the whole worlddrunk on her doctrines!

This great church commits fornication with kings. In other words, it recruits kings and nations to serve its despicable and ugly ambitions.

Verse 3 continues, “and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” This beast has seven heads, or seven distinct resurrections. If you study European history, you will easily see six times when the Catholic Church has guided European empires, such as Charlemagne, Napoleon and Nazi Germany.

The beast of Revelation 17 is responsible for some of the most gruesome and violent wars in human history. Now, the financial crisis is bringing about the seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire!

Verse 3 says this last head has 10 horns. These 10 horns symbolize 10 kings, or 10 nations or groups of nations. Using various Old Testament prophecies, Mr. Armstrong taught us that Germany will lead this 10-king conglomerate. The financial meltdown is bringing to fruition this German-led, 10-nation superstate!

Watch closely. Germany will use this crisis to force Europe to unite more tightly. In the process, some eurozone countries will be forced out of the union. When that happens, the pundits will say European unification is dead, that the European Union has failed. Don’t listen to them!

Every country that leaves the EU puts us one step closer to seeing the German-led 10-nation European superstate!

Twice in Revelation 17, John calls this church-state union a “mystery.” What is happening in Europe today has mystified politicians and other “experts,” the media and the public. Many see that this crisis is empowering Germany and could possibly provoke a complete restructuring of Europe.

But they don’t see what this means for humanity. We are witnessing one of the most significant moments ever in the history of Europe. The final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire is staring us in the face! When this government is fully empowered, the Bible reveals it will plunge this world into “great tribulation,” a time more terrifying and violent than this world has ever experienced!

Revelation 17 shows that Europe is going to emerge from this crisis with more power, not less! It will be more stable, more streamlined, more influential, and more terrifying than anything any human has ever seen!

But here’s the most astounding and inspiring part of Revelation 17: God put it in the minds of Europe’s leaders to do what they’re doing! Verse 17 reads, “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” The church leading the Holy Roman Empire is not God’s true Church. But God does allow this church to gain control of this German-led European beast power. Expect the Catholic Church to become more vocal and for this church-state axis to become more evident.

We do not hate Germany or the church that is the spiritual force motivating the Holy Roman Empire. Bible prophecy reveals that God actually employs this European superstate as an instrument by which He corrects some very evil nations.

That is inspiringtruth.Right now, Revelation 17 is being fulfilled, and we are witnessing the emergence of the most powerful and frightening force ever, and the beginning of the most terrifying and violent period in mankind’s history. But God is in total control!

God is watching and shaping everything so His will might be fulfilled. In Matthew 24 Jesus Christ says this European superstate will embark on a reign of terror. But He also comforts us by saying that God will intervene to prevent the ultimate catastrophe, mankind’s annihilation.

Matthew 24 also reveals that at the end of the “great tribulation,” Jesus Christ returns to Earth! As we watch the rise of this Catholic-inspired, German-led beast, we must never forget: The emergence of this institution is a sign that the most joyous event in history is about to take place!

Comfort One Another With these Words

From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Hebrews 6:1-2 show that the resurrection is one of the foundational doctrines taught by your Bible. And it is the knowledge of the resurrection that gives us God’smind about the purpose of life—and the meaning of death.

There are several references in the Old Testament to the resurrection, but only the Prophet Daniel begins to hint that there might be more than one resurrection. Daniel wrote, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). In the New Testament, Jesus Christ said, “… the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [judgment]” (John 5:28-29).

In Acts 24:15, the Apostle Paul plainly stated “that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Paul wrote at length regarding the resurrections in 1 Corinthians 15.

The simple truth of your Bible is that there will be three resurrections (Revelation 20:4-15). The first will be at Christ’s return to Earth (1 Corinthians 15:22-23) when He will resurrect to eternal spirit life those who have received God’s Holy Spirit in order to belong to Christ (Romans 8:9) and who have overcome and endured in God’s ways and held fast to God’s truth (Revelation 3:11-12; 21:7).

This reality explains God’s perspective on the end of physical life: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).

The second resurrection will occur 1,000 years after Christ’s return (Revelation 20:11-12). Those in this resurrection will be given human physical bodies once again. For the first time, they will receive the opportunity to understand God’s precious truth and put it into practice in their lives (Isaiah 30:20-21) so that they, too, can be added to the spirit-composed Family of God (Ephesians 3:14-15).

This second resurrection gives us the sure hope of again seeing even those loved ones who never knew the truth of God. Every human being only gets one opportunity to respond to God’s truth! Just because a person has lived does not mean they understood God’s truth. They will receive their one opportunity in the second resurrection!

The third resurrection will also be a resurrection to physical life, but the end result of this resurrection will be eternal death, complete cessation of life—not an eternity boiling and bubbling in an ever burning hellfire, but death. These individuals understood God’s truth and ways but rejected them, through either rebellion or weakness (Hebrews 10:26-27; Revelation 20:13-15; 21:8). God will mercifully impose an eternal death penalty upon them to prevent them from becoming ever living, miserable wretches like Satan the devil.

God’s plan in Scripture inspires tremendous hope—a hope offered to every person who has ever lived.

The Apostle Paul, in explaining this truth, wrote thus: “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [are dead], that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Then, after describing the first resurrection in glorious detail, he concluded by admonishing us, in verse 18, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

The Sin of Idolatry

It’s more common than you might think.
From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Of all God’s commandments, the ban on idolatry might seem the most outdated. It must be for another age, many assume—when people offered sacrifices before man-made statues or deified the sun, moon and stars.

In fact, idolatry is just as common today as it was in the Stone Age. Of course, the materials, technologies, trends and fashions are much different than they were then. But human nature remains the same.

In the pivotal Old Testament prophecy of Leviticus 26, God reaffirmed the birthright promises He had made to Abraham. He told the Israelites of Moses’s day that they would receive the birthright blessings then,if they faithfully obeyed God’s laws. In outlining these conditions to Israel, God placed special emphasis on two of the Ten Commandments.

Notice: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 26:1-2).

Keep my sabbaths, God said, and don’t bow down to idols. These were the two great test commandments for the people of Israel. Now why would God emphasize these two? Because these two, more than the others, were designed to keep man in the closest, most intimate contact with his Maker!

“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,” God thundered at Mt. Sinai, before reiterating the ten indispensable laws mankind has always needed to regulate their relationships with God and man.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” God continued (Exodus 20:1-3). That word before means “in place of.” God must have first place in our lives—always; without exception. This First Commandment forbids man from placing anyone or anything in front of God. It forbids idolatry.

Now notice how the Second Commandment flows right out of the great command to put God above all else. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God …” (verses 4-5).

This commandment obviously forbids the use of any physical substitutes or aids man sets up in order to “worship” God. But what about the spiritual idols we set up in our hearts, as it says in Ezekiel 14:3? We may not bow down to physical idols made of stone, wood or precious metals, but our modern world is filled with idolatry just the same!

“Every person has his idol,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his Autobiography. For Mr. Armstrong, it was an egotistical sense of self-importance—the desire to attain status in the eyes of his peers. For us, it may be an inordinate love of self—or vanity—as it was with Lucifer. His heart was lifted up because of his own beauty—so much so that he wanted to raise his earthly throne above his own Creator’s (Ezekiel 28:17; Isaiah 14:13).

Maybe it’s pursuing the physical beauty of others that we place in front of God. Just look at how our Western culture glamorizes beauty, among women especially—as if good looks and a youthful appearance are all that matters. Look at the reverential treatment of celebrity icons.

Perhaps it’s physical wealth and materialism that prevents us from putting God first, like the young man who told Jesus he had obeyed all of God’s commandments since his youth. When Jesus told him to give up his earthly possessions, he went away sorrowful because his heart was so attached to material things.

Pleasure-seeking also separates a lot of people from God—things like entertainment and sports or excessive television viewing. God’s way of life, after all, is demanding. Among other things, God expects us to observe His weekly and annual sabbaths, to tithe on all of our income and to seek Him daily through effectual fervent prayers and diligent Bible study. If we spend most of our leisure time pursuing things other than God, this might be an idol.

Some make an idol out of gluttony, drunkenness and other such addictions. Instead of looking to God in time of need, they turn to physical substances in order to cope or to escape.

Still others insist on putting friends or family members ahead of God. They would rather give God second or third place in their lives than face alienation from loved ones over their obedience to God’s laws.

What about our profession or career? God praises those who work with all their might, but if we turn to work in order to avoid responsibilities at home or in the church, then we can make a god out of working. On the other hand, there are also those who refuse to work—who make a god out of idleness and ease.

Whatever it is, if we place it ahead of God and living according to His laws, it becomes a false god! If it interferes with our relationship with God, the Bible says, then it becomes an idol—and it must be crushed!

In Mr. Armstrong’s case, it took God 28 years to finally stamp out every vestige of self-assured confidence, which was idolatry!

“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry,” Paul wrote to the brethren at Corinth, well over a thousand years after Israel had come out of Egyptian captivity. He knew well that the idolatry command was not meant for some bygone age. It was written for us. Like the rest of the Ten Commandments, it applies to our time today!

And it remains, even to this day, as one of two critically important test commands. If faithfully obeyed, it automatically draws us closer to our Maker!

Keep yourselves from idols, as John wrote to conclude his first epistle. Give God first place in your life. Make your relationshipwith Him more important than anyone or anything else. Nothing in this material life is as important as that.

WorldWatch

From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Europe

1. Germany—Learn German or get out

Germany’s chancellor asserted Germany’s role as a major world power, and emphasized Germany’s role as a Christian nation, in a powerful speech on November 15.

“Whoever wants to live here must learn German … (and) obey our laws,” Angela Merkel told the Christian Democratic Union Conference. “It’s not that we have too much Islam, but rather that we have too little Christianity …. We speak too little of our Judeo-Christian heritage.”

Stratfor commented, “The gist of the speech was that Germany was a European leader, it should not be ashamed of its German identity and it needed a modern army to defend its interests. However, its standing in the world was not guaranteed and the looming demographic crisis could very well threaten its preeminent position. …

“[I]ts politicians are beginning to speak of a German security and defense strategy in mature tones, without a prerequisite ‘we’re sorry’ attached to every policy statement. In short, Germany is ascending to what it feels is its rightful place as a global power, if not one of the world’s true superpowers” (Nov. 16, 2010).

“Current Cold War-era institutions that dominate Europe politically, economically and in terms of security—the European Union and nato—were not originally designed for a unified, assertive and unashamed Germany,” Stratfor concluded. “The Germany that Merkel spoke to on Monday will either make these institutions work for Berlin or will leave them behind.”

2. Hungary

Following the leader

As Hungary prepared to take over the presidency of Europe for the first half of 2011, Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi vowed that his nation would use its new influence to support Germany. “A strong and successful Germany is vital for the strength of Europe,” Martonyi said after meeting with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle in Berlin on November 4. As EU president, “we will support all that is important for Germany,” he said.

Credit risk

Hungary had its credit rating cut by two notches by credit rating agency Moody’s on December 6. Its rating is now Baa3—Moody’s lowest investment grade.

3. Rome 

Under fire for failing to fire

More evidence personally implicating Pope Benedict xvi in the Roman Catholic child abuse scandals has emerged. It involves a case in 1980 where a priest was transferred to Munich—then under the jurisdiction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—after sexually abusing boys in Essen. The head of personnel in Essen told Ratzinger that “there is a risk which has prompted us to immediately remove him from the parish.” The priest was then allowed to go on abusing children, and received a fine and suspended sentence for this in 1986.

4. Netherlands 

Nearly 2,000 people said they had been sexually and physically abused as minors by Roman Catholic Church personnel in the Netherlands, an independent commission reported on December 9. This makes the Netherlands the second-most abused nation by the Catholics, after Ireland.

5. Portugal 

Economy tanking; people want more

On November 24, public sector workers in Portugal went on strike for a day as the country’s two biggest unions held their first joint strike since 1988. The two unions say they represent 1.5 million workers. The strike was called over dissatisfaction with the government’s austerity measures.

The alliance that lost its way

Nato leaders met to decide on a new strategic concept, or mission statement, for the alliance in Lisbon on November 19 to 20. The result was essentially mush. Nato has lost its way and doesn’t really know its mission in today’s world. As the Trumpet has long forecast, expect either Germany to twist the alliance to its own ends, or for nato to fade into insignificance.

Middle East

6. Israel

Jerusalem not for sale!

Israel’s Knesset has passed a law to prevent an Israeli government giving up East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights without a significant number of people supporting it. The national referendum law, passed on November 22, means that this territory can only be given away if approved by two thirds of the Knesset. Unless 80 out of the 120 Knesset members approve such a land giveaway, the deal must be approved by a majority of voters in a national referendum.

“The new law makes it extremely unlikely that any government can surrender any of the land covered by the law, barring a drastic shift in political leanings against the growing nationalist mood,” wrote IsraelNationalNews.com (Nov. 23, 2010).

The Trumpet has long predicted that Israel would not give away East Jerusalem in a peace deal. Rather, the Bible indicates that the eastern part of the city will be violently taken over by the Palestinian Arabs.

7. Pakistan

Watch this anti-West alliance

Iran and Pakistan have agreed to boost security ties and strengthen regional cooperation, Iran’s Press tv reported November 17. In a November 16 meeting between the Iranian ambassador to Islamabad and the Pakistani interior minister, Iran’s ambassador reportedly called for the two countries to exchange intelligence and carry out joint operations against drug traffickers. The same day, Iran’s parliament speaker, meeting with a Pakistani official in Tehran, also spoke of the need for cooperation to establish peace and security in the region. Signs of increasing solidarity between Iran and Pakistan—based largely on a shared foundation of Muslim ideology and anti-Western sentiment—should concern the West.

8. Egypt

Rigged election—angry mob

Riots erupted throughout Egypt at the end of November, resulting in eight deaths and scores of injuries, over accusations that the country’s government rigged the November 28 election. The unrest indicates that a shift is underway in Egypt’s political alignment.

The party snubbed by the election fraud was the government’s only real rival, the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood (MB) party. Although the MB is officially banned in Egypt, its candidates run as independents, and it is the largest political opposition to President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (ndp). Suspiciously, in this election, the ndp won its largest share of the legislature in 15 years, while the MB was obliterated, going from 88 seats to zero.

Although the government has defended the integrity of the elections, its refusal to allow international organizations to observe them has undermined its credibility. Egyptian security forces arrested more than 1,000 MB activists in a nationwide crackdown in the days leading up to the election.

In runoff elections on December 5, the ndp won 83 percent of the seats, with the two main opposition groups, including the MB, boycotting the vote. The Brotherhood promised to mount legal challenges against the results, and popular opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei called for a boycott of the 2011 presidential election, dismissing Egypt’s election process as a “farce.”

The MB has not abandoned its quest for power in Egypt. MB candidate Sobhi Saleh said the Brotherhood hopes the rigging will discredit the ndp and draw more Egyptians to the MB. Reportedly, 82-year-old Mubarak is terminally ill and will likely be unable to run in this year’s presidential election. Will his successor be able to maintain Egypt’s dictatorship and its suppression of the MB? The Trumpet’s editor in chief has predicted, based on a prophecy in Daniel 11:42, that Egypt will fall to Islamists.

9. Syria 

Nukes? Um … er …

Syria is refusing UN nuclear inspectors access to multiple suspect sites. An International Atomic Energy Agency report shows that for over two years, Syria has blocked iaea access to the nuclear site bombed by Israel in September 2007. It is also denying access to a pilot plant used for acid purification, which produces uranium ore as a by-product. At a research reactor in Damascus, inspectors found unexplained particles of processed uranium; Syria gave inconsistent information to the iaea and dodged questions about this uranium. The UN has proved ineffectual in preventing or even monitoring nuclear weapons development in rogue countries, including Syria, Iran and North Korea.

10. Lebanon

Operation Misguided Evacuation

In an effort to get the United Nations to declare it free of Lebanon border violations, Israel has agreed to withdraw Israeli forces from the northern part of a village that straddles the Israeli-Lebanese border. Israeli Security Cabinet officials voted on November 17 to transfer the northern section of Ghajar, an Arab village, to UN control. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon will take over security for the northern part of the village, supposedly to prevent Hezbollah infiltration. While this may sound plausible in theory, unifil’s track record in southern Lebanon does not provide much assurance. In reality, this unilateral retreat by Israel is just one more concession that will weaken its security and only be met with more demands from its Arab enemies.

Asia

1. North Korea

Chinese friend, U.S. nemesis

When Kim Jong Il began shelling the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in November, most of the world, especially regional counterparts such as Japan and Taiwan, roared with disapproval.

Amid the fracas, China remained relatively quiet. China’s leaders display little interest in curbing North Korea’s belligerence. On December 8, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that the “Chinese have enormous influence over the North, influence that no other nation on Earth enjoys, and yet, despite a shared interest in reducing tensions, they appear unwilling to use it.”

But China isn’t the only country unwilling to use its influence. The question not being asked is: Why is the United States—presumably the most powerful nation in the world—looking to China to rein in Pyongyang to start with? After all, China is the nation helping North Korea. China’s view of North Korea as a strategic buffer against the U.S. has prompted it to defend and increase aid to Pyongyang in recent years. It is the primary source of political and economic support for the rogue nation—and, it is emerging, also a source of its nuclear technology.

The stunning progress North Korea has made in its nuclear technology was recently exposed when a nuclear scientist was invited to tour the facilities in November. Stanford professor Siegfried S. Hecker visited two new North Korean nuclear facilities, including, shockingly, a new uranium enrichment plant that contains 2,000 centrifuges. “The control room was astonishingly modern,” Hecker later said. He reported that the uranium enrichment facility was currently configured to produce low-enriched uranium—material for use in a nuclear reactor and unsuitable for a nuclear bomb. However, he pointed out that it could be reconfigured pretty easily to produce highly enriched uranium, the type used in bombs. In addition, the facility Hecker visited went completely undetected, so North Korea could easily have another hidden site.

China’s fingerprints on the project are discernible. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists wrote on June 18, 2009, that North Korea’s uranium procurement scheme involved commercial entities in China. The Institute for Science and International Security, a U.S.-based think tank, confirmed in a report last October that North Korea often procured for its uranium enrichment program in China or used it as a transit point.

In response to North Korea’s deadly attack on South Korea, Beijing hosted the chairman of North Korea’s parliament the last week of November. While its initial response was muted, it later called for emergency talks among the leaders of the nations involved in the stalled six-party talks. Washington says the talks can’t be resumed until Pyongyang makes concessions over its attacks on South Korea. North Korea’s belligerency, which the West has often rewarded in the past, is its latest attempt to obtain aid from the international community. China’s calls for the emergency talks suggest that Beijing wants Pyongyang to accomplish this goal.

It is true—China has the leverage to truly pressure North Korea. But the problem is, the United States lacks the leverage to convince China to do so. In fact, America right now needs China to keep the U.S. economy alive by financing its gargantuan debt.

In reality, that the U.S. would look to North Korea’s main ally to rein it in speaks volumes of its own diminished power. As a result, America’s allies such as South Korea are destined to look less and less to the U.S. for support. Such nations will end up searching for security elsewhere—even if it means drawing closer to China. Without a strong America clearly behind them, these nations will have little choice but to make concessions to the nearest rising power.

2. Bulgaria

Abetting an energy monopoly

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin left Bulgaria on November 14 with an agreement for Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom to work with Bulgarian Energy Holding to build and run the Bulgarian section of the South Stream pipeline. The pipeline is planned to transport Russian gas through the Black Sea and over Bulgaria to Europe’s Balkan region. The agreement, Moscow’s most recent victory in a rapid expansion of Kremlin-operated energy firms into the EU, means that Bulgaria has followed Poland’s example of teaming up with Russia to circumvent the EU’s anti-monopoly legislation.

3. India | 4. Japan | 5. Singapore

Asian giant is coming together

Foreign ministers from China, India and Russia vowed in November to boost cooperation in energy, aerospace, high-tech, innovation, trade, cultural exchanges and geopolitical affairs. Chinese officials also emphasized the need for Russia, Japan and Singapore to ally themselves with China economically in order to capitalize on the influence they wield within the international monetary system. Watch such economic and political cooperation among these Eastern powers to increase, paving the way for military alliance.

6. Philippines

Another U.S. ally slipping

On December 7, Filipino and Chinese military officials met to sign a military logistics deal between their two nations. A spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (afp) called it a step in the direction of bolstering Manila’s military ties with Beijing. The afp is too weak to control either domestic threats or outside security challenges involving the nation’s many sea-lanes and islands. Historically, Manila has depended on the U.S. for the military assistance it needs, but the U.S.-Philippines military relationship is cooling. Beijing sees an opportunity to gain a foothold in the Philippines and expand its influence in Southeast Asia, while elbowing the U.S. out.

7. Russia | 8. Poland

Making nice with Europe

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Europe in December, boosting Russia’s relations with the Continent and bringing Moscow closer to joining the World Trade Organization (wto).

Medvedev visited Brussels for an EU-Russia summit on December 7, where he signed a bilateral trade agreement between Russia and the European Union, drafted the previous month.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso called the agreement “a milestone.” Russia has been negotiating to join the wto for 17 years, and is the only large nation not a part of the 153-member group. At a press conference with Medvedev, Barroso said Russia is expected to become a wto member in 2011.

The agreement commits Russia to phasing out lumber and other raw materials tariffs. There are still some other issues the EU wants Russia to change, such as its seemingly arbitrary bans on European meat.

On the same trip, Medvedev visited Poland, where he worked to improve relations in the first official visit to the country by a Russian leader in nine years. Medvedev said that in order to attain better relations with nato and the EU, Russia must draw closer to Poland. He is right—often it is Polish objections that hinder EU-Russia or nato-Russia rapprochement.

The visit was an apparent success. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said that it heralded the end of a period of “bad drought” in relations between the two countries.

However, Poland hasn’t suddenly decided that Russia is a benevolent, friendly nation. “We have no illusions about the nature of the Putin regime,” an anonymous government official told the Wall Street Journal. “We got tired of being the one country to stand up to Russia. Russia is our number-two trading partner—we have more to lose [than other states in the EU]” (Dec. 8, 2010).

The Russia-EU, and specifically the Russia-Germany, relationship is important to watch. If the two work together, as they have several times in recent history, they can rise in power very quickly—putting them in a better position to wage war.

9. China

Deserting the dollar

China and Russia have agreed to abandon the U.S. dollar in favor of using their own currencies for bilateral trade. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced the news on November 23, saying the policy is not designed to challenge the dollar but to protect the Russian and Chinese economies amid the global financial crisis. Expect this movement away from the dollar to continue to gather steam. And watch for Russia and China, as their global economic influence increases, to draw closer to each other.

Prime Minister Putin praised Europe’s single currency while criticizing the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency on November 26. “We have to get away from the overwhelming dollar monopoly,” he said. “It makes the world economy vulnerable and unbalanced.”

10. Vietnam

Yes, them too

China and Vietnam held their first-ever bilateral strategic defense dialogue on November 27. The two sides agreed to collaborate in the areas of naval and border guard forces, and military science research and training. Previously, Vietnam’s concerns over China’s mushrooming power had been prodding it to develop a closer relationship with the U.S. These talks, however, show that Vietnam’s alignment is shifting.

Latin America and Africa

1. Brazil | 2, Argentina | 3. Uruguay | 4. Paraguay

Forget peace talks—here’s a two-state solution

On December 3, Brazil said it recognized a Palestinian state existing in the territory owned by Jordan west of the Jordan River in 1967. Argentina followed suit three days later, and Uruguay said it would do so this year. The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riad al-Malki, said he expected Paraguay and other South American nations to also recognize a Palestinian state soon. Not only does this demonstrate the continuing trend of nations worldwide siding against Israel, but it also reveals these nations’ increasing willingness to publicly spurn their neighbor to the north, the United States.

5. Venezuela 

Eager to shush a drug smuggler

Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez seems to have rescued himself from a very tricky position. Last August, one of the world’s most wanted drug smugglers, Walid Makled, was arrested in Colombia. He is rumored to have recordings of all of his dealings—including those with high-ranking members of the Venezuelan government. If released, that information would be catastrophic for Venezuelan officials—and could even bring down Chávez’s government. Key government members could faces charges of money laundering, drug trafficking and even terrorism. But on November 16, Colombia agreed to extradite Makled to Venezuela, not to the U.S.

In exchange, a desperate Chávez is giving a lot to Colombia. On November 18, Venezuela announced it would extradite at least four members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and National Liberation Army—rebel groups that Chávez usually protects—to Colombia. Chávez also agreed to renew trade ties with Colombia.

The Trumpet has long watched for Latin American nations to draw closer together as part of a trade bloc that will eventually align with Europe. A quieter Chávez could allow the continent to better unite.

6. Somalia

Ahoy! Pirates moving east!

Somali pirates hijacked a Bangladeshi ship only 300 miles away from the coast of India on December 5. The Jahan Moni was 1,300 miles east of Somalia when it was seized. Western efforts to combat Somali piracy have mainly involved patrolling the Gulf of Aden. They have not dealt with the cause of the problem, but rather merely tried to protect a small area from pirates. This means that the problem has not gone away—the pirates are just spreading out over a much larger area.

7. Gambia

Iranian arms turn up in Africa

The government of Gambia broke off relations with Iran and sent all Iranian diplomats home on November 22 over an arms smuggling scandal. On October 27, Nigerian media stated that the government had seized a large shipment of weapons from Iran at the port of Lagos. The government informed the UN Security Council of the seizure on November 12. Despite the fiasco, Iran is certain to find alternative means of smuggling weapons into Africa.

8. Rwanda

Africa’s head in the mouth of a lion

African leaders are concerned they’re being exploited by resource-hungry Europe. At an African Union meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, from October 29 to November 2, several ministers of trade criticized the Economic Partnership Agreements (epas) the EU is attempting to sign with their nations.

The epas are ostensibly designed to benefit African nations by allowing them to trade with Europe on favorable conditions. However, the terms seem more favorable to the EU, and one minister said that by signing an epa a country puts its head in the mouth of a lion.

Germany is pursuing a similar policy in Latin America. On October 30, German Aid Minister Dirk Niebel left for a week-long trip to the region. “During Germany’s unification and the European Union’s extension to the east, we have not paid enough attention to some other parts of the world,” Niebel said, specifically mentioning Africa and Latin America.

A draft European Commission policy document, titled “Raw Materials Initiative,” states that the EU wants to access most of its raw materials from outside its own borders by means of new trade agreements. Watch for Europe and Asia to compete for raw materials in these areas.

Anglo-America

In math, we’re #32

The United States and the United Kingdom were solidly beaten by a host of countries in math, science and reading tests conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (oecd), the results of which were published December 7.

Asian nations regularly came top in an assessment of 470,000 15-year-olds in 65 different countries in 2009 under the oecd’s Program for International Student Assessment (pisa).

Out of the oecd countries, South Korea came top in reading and math, and third in science. Finland came second in reading and math, and took the top spot for science. However, when China (not an oecd nation) is included and subdivided into economic regions, then Shanghai comes out first, by far, in all three categories.

The UK’s ranking has plummeted since the pisa first began in 2000. This year it came 16th in science, 25th in reading and 28th in math (ranking includes non-oecd countries, and China’s regions). In 2000 it was fourth in science, seventh in reading and eighth in math.

The U.S. performed even worse, coming 23rd in science, 32nd in math and 17th in reading. Both nations remained above the oecd average for reading and science (though only barely, for the U.S.).

The U.S. and UK did not do spectacularly badly; they ranked just above the middle. But the days of their educational superiority are over. The trend is worth noting: The quality of a nation’s education is a predictive measure of its future power.

Hazard pay for teachers?

Almost 1,000 British students are sent home from school every day for attacking or verbally abusing fellow students or staff, a November 17 study found. The figure is thought to be higher, as many such incidents are not reported to the government.

King James what?

A November survey found that half of Britons under 35 did not know what the King James Bible was. The renowned translation is one of the most important books of all time, religiously, culturally and linguistically.

They’ll die in debt and that’s OK

Though most dire financial headlines in the UK describe the government, individual Britons are also heavily in debt. A November study found that a third of Britons think they’ll never be free from and will die in debt. One in five had no qualms leaving their debts to their next of kin. Half who owed money said they did not feel in control of their debt, and half said they would always need to borrow money in order to fund their lifestyle.

Guess what your cabbie does on holiday

In October, Guardian reporters traveled with a group of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan with a variety of ethnicities, including some from London. One mid-level commander who spoke English with a slight Londoner accent said he fought for three months of the year and the rest of the time lived in East London and worked as a minicab driver. “There are many people like me in London,” he said. “We collect money for the jihad all year and come and fight if we can.”

See? Political correctness abets terrorism

As 12,000 people attended a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, on November 26, Mohamed Osman Mohamud attempted to detonate a truck full of explosives. Happily, the explosives were fake, supplied by the fbi in a sting operation, and Mohamud was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The bomb, had it been real, “could have killed hundreds,” according to the Portland Tribune.

Portland’s own actions put the city at risk. In 2005, the city council decided to end Portland police’s cooperation with the fbi’s Joint Terrorism Task Force—the same task force that thwarted Mohamud. The mayor at that time, Tom Potter, wanted top-secret security clearance to ensure that the fbi didn’t violate the state’s anti-discrimination laws, but the fbi refused it. The American Civil Liberties Union praised the city’s refusal to work with the fbi, saying there is “ample evidence that several fbi task forces elsewhere have targeted individuals because of their political or religious affiliations.”

The fbi succeeded, despite the city’s obstruction. But it could have been very different. Now, the city says it is considering renewing cooperation with the task force.

This is not the first time political correctness has hampered U.S. security efforts. In the 1990s, the government restricted how many agents could keep taps on the growing number of religious jihadist cells in the country. “So, for example,” wrote the Washington Times, “agents might know that a meeting of radicals was taking place inside a mosque, but they could not watch the building or even collect the tag numbers of cars parked in the parking lot because the entire structure was off-limits” (Dec. 1, 2010).

Today, America’s Transport Security Administration refuses to profile obvious potential terrorists. Giving invasive patdowns to small children and elderly people in wheelchairs doesn’t make the country safer. Focusing on young, Arabic looking men would. Political correctness, endemic in the U.S., Britain and other Western nations, poses a demonstrable danger.

Teaching Smooth Things

Watering down Bible truth to attract parishioners doesn’t work.

Somme Valley Meditations

Somme Valley Meditations

PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

To this day the Somme River Valley in France remains a potent reminder of the folly of war.

The Somme—Tens of thousands of visitors have flocked to the Somme Valley over the nine decades that have elapsed since the last cannon was fired on the Western Front after the armistice following World War i. Their mission has been one of remembrance—lest the world forget the massive sacrifice made by so many for so little gained. That war was billed as “the war to end all wars.” Yet all it really achieved was a 20-year “peace” that enabled preparations to be made for an even bigger and more slaughterous affair that ended with the use of man’s most fearful weapon, the nuclear bomb.

The Somme was the focus of some of the most intense battles of World War i. Even today, the numbers of lives lost on this most murderous of battlefields, the Somme, are staggering. On one day alone, July 1, 1916, 58,000 men fell, including almost 20,000 killed.

Of all the British dominions that contributed to the British Imperial Forces in the Great War, it was my home country, Australia, that provided one of the largest military contributions: 331,000 volunteers out of a population of only 4.8 million at the time. Australia suffered more than 58,000 casualties, including 16,000 dead.

We are staying in the village of Peronne, where an Australian flag flies, flanked on the right by the French tricolor and on the left by the British Union Jack. Peronne was overtaken by the Kaiser’s forces early in the war, finally to be recaptured by the Second Division of the Australian Imperial Force toward war’s end in September 1918. To this day the flag of the Aussie Second Division is kept inside Peronne’s town hall in remembrance of that event.

Pausing for a moment at a British war cemetery in Peronne, one of many such cemeteries scattered throughout the World War i battlefields in France, we counted about a thousand graves, neatly maintained on the village outskirts. That’s the equivalent of well over an entire battalion of men. What a waste. Yet that was only a small part of the great loss to the British Empire of the best of its imperial manhood at the time. Listed as having been interred here at this cemetery in Peronne were men from British regiments, others hailing from Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

What made our visit to the Somme even more poignant to me personally was the realization that somewhere out there lay the remains of one Australian private, Oscar Hart, killed in action—a great-uncle of mine.

To any keen analyst of European affairs, it is impossible to visit the Somme and meditate on the horror of the Great War without tracking forward to think more deeply about the current scenario of the dominance of the nation of Germany, risen to power once again, asserting itself militarily on the continent of Europe. It would be foolish to assume that such dominance may not tempt Germany one more time to reassert itself with military aggression. The signs are there already of this being more than just a prospect. It is now becoming a distinct possibility, and Germany is being encouraged in that drive by the very allies that defeated it in two great global wars.

As the saying goes, if the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into the ditch. Utopianists have been ever blind. Blinded to the reality of human nature, convinced as they are that human beings are essentially good at heart. They aren’t. As Jeremiah the prophet so truly declared, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

In the very nature of things since man’s rebellion at Eden, war has been the natural outcome of conflict between human beings. It’s also in the very nature of things that certain proclivities writ deep in the character of nations have a habit of coming to the fore given certain stimuli. The German peoples have traditionally reacted to the combination of resurgent national power and the onset of crisis in a traditional manner. War has always been the outcome. The long and bloody history of the German-dominated Holy Roman Empire attests to this.

German economic, financial and political power is once again resurgent to a point of dominance in historically strife-torn Europe, where, with crisis in the air, Germany is again calling the tune. This time it’s the euro crisis Germany is using to assert its dominance on the Continent. At the same time, public recognition of Germany’s involvement in combat in foreign theaters of war is back in the headlines.

Following 65 years of deliberate playing down of German military potential, German elites are now going out of their way to promote a positive public image of the Bundeswehr.

It all started with the appointment of Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg as head of the German Ministry of Defense in October 2009. In the year that has followed, Guttenberg has done more to develop positive public relations for Germany’s military forces than has been done in all the decades following World War ii. Much of this has been achieved by his striding ahead of accepted government policy and even of the wishes of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. For instance, it took Guttenberg only eight months to turn his chancellor’s mind around 180 degrees, from refusal to support his initiative to end military conscription in Germany back in May to submitting to it and leading her whole government unanimously to support it. Thus, military conscription will end in Germany on July 1, 2011.

This is no mean achievement. For it brings to an end one of the key underpinnings of German postwar policy, that of preventing the growth of a professional military force in Germany for deployment in external theaters of warfare. For obvious reasons, this was seen by both the Allies that defeated Germany for the second time in 30 years in two great wars, and by German elites intent on playing down any hint of a repetition of German aggression in the future, as wise policy. But times change, and with them, so do attitudes.

In our politically correct, non-judgmental Western culture, we dare not think that a Germany so obviously repentant of its past national sins and so obviously democratized would ever deign to become an aggressive, imperialist military power again.

Well, think again.

Shunned in public dialogue since the war, the word “war” is again being injected into public dialogue. Even Germany’s Chancellor Merkel has cast aside her mask and finally used the term.

Having now visited the Afghanistan war zone on eight separate occasions in his first year as Germany’s defense minister, Guttenberg recently outshone all comers, including his chancellor, by becoming the first defense minister in Germany to take his wife into a combat zone. It was by no mere coincidence that inside of a week of that public relations coup, Chancellor Merkel was the next woman to accompany Guttenberg to the war zone. Nor was it coincidence that the chancellor would wrest that word “war” out of her mouth at the time.

Under the banner headline, “Merkel Says Germany at War in Afghanistan,” Agence France-Presse reported Merkel as stating to the troops: “What we have here is not just a warlike situation. You are involved in combat as in war. … This is a new experience. We have heard such things from our parents talking of World War ii, but that was different because Germany was the aggressor” (December 18).

Well, today, being right on the scene of mass carnage in the Somme Valley brought on by Germany when it was indeed the aggressor almost a century ago, it is most poignant reading of these words confirming that Germany is once again embroiled in war outside its own national borders. The question is, where will it end this time?

Read our book Nahum: An End-Time Prophecy for Germany and find out for yourself. That booklet gives a startling exposé of the end result of Germany’s present-day combat activities. It’s bound to startle you, yet at the same time it gives the reader a boundless hope in a future of boundless peace and happiness.

Tomorrow we shall report from the very scene where German troops have recently stationed themselves for the first time since the close of World War i on France’s eastern border at Alsace Lorraine.