Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?

This headline first appeared in the Trumpet in December 1994. Recent events make this even more of a possibility.
From the June 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

The king of the north and the king of the south are two powers prophesied to clash in this end time. It is vital that we understand who they are.

“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over” (Dan. 11:40). Both powers are rising quickly on the world scene right now. This clash will shake this world as never before! And that is the good news. The bad news is, it will lead to World War iiiunless we heed God’s prophecy and repent!

Islamic extremism is going to be the king of the south. You need to understand why.

The Muslims of the world are comprised of a population second only to that of China. They inhabit a geographic area larger than Russia. The Islamic world also controls much of the world’s oil resources.

The stage is being set for an Islamic group of nations, almost certainly to be led by Iran as the prophesied king of the south, to push at the king of the north, the European Union. Iran has a foreign policy with a lot of “push.” And since the end of their war with Iraq in 1988, Iran has accumulated a massive arsenal of military weapons to back up its aggressive foreign policy.

Now that Iraq has been taken out of the picture, Iran is even closer to becoming the reigning king of the Middle East. It may seem shocking, given the U.S. presence in the region right now, but prophecy indicates that, in pursuit of its goal, Iran will probably take over Iraq. At least, it will have a heavy influence over the Iraqi people.

Iran’s Nuclear Power

Iran has long sought to become the undisputed leader in the region, largely through aggressive and ambitious military development.

Iran’s weapons program is of enormous concern to the U.S. It isn’t only former Soviet weapons and weapons-usable nuclear material that Iran is getting its hands on—it has also actively recruited former Soviet atomic scientists. Communist China has also supplied the Iranians with nuclear technology.

It is clear Iran wants its own production capability. Under the guise of creating a civilian energy program, it is pushing to bring home whole facilities like uranium-conversion facilities—spending far more annually on nuclear hardware than would be required for mere domestic energy production. It now has two nuclear power plants. Iranian diplomats state that they were built only for energy. But nobody believes that, since their country is glutted with oil.

All this is in addition to nuclear weapons that Iran already has, thanks to the Islamic former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.

Notice this quote from the European newspaper over a decade ago, in a front page article titled “Iran Has N-Bomb”: “Iran has obtained at least two nuclear warheads out of a batch officially listed as ‘missing’ from the newly independent republic of Kazakhstan, formerly part of the Soviet Union.” This article said the Russians sent a top-secret report to the cia disclosing that several nuclear warheads vanished from a just-closed nuclear base in Kazakhstan. “Two of the nuclear weapons were smuggled across the border from Kazakhstan into Iran last year and are now under the control of Reza Amrollahi, the head of the Iranian Organization for Atomic Energy. The fact that Amrollahi is also in charge of recruiting former Soviet atomic scientists has sharpened the West’s anxiety over Iran’s efforts to build an Islamic bomb” (May 7, 1992).

But nuclear capability is just the capstone of a comprehensive Iranian military buildup.

As far back as 1994, U.S.News & World Report gave some alarming statistics as to just how strong Iran’s military was becoming (emphasis mine): “Iran has been vigorously rearming its regular forces as well, mainly with help from Russia. The Rafsanjani government has spent up to $4 billion a year for the past five years on everything from artillery, tanks and advanced sea mines to missiles and Russian jets. Iran has even bought two attack submarines from Russia, and a third is said to be on the way. With some 1,200 tanks, 2,300 artillery pieces, 100 attack helicopters, two dozen Scud and Chinese css-8 cruise missiles, and 16 fighter and ground attack squadrons, the Iranian military is one of the toughest in the region. ‘They are rebuilding their forces in a very calculated way,’ says Zeev Eytan of Tel Aviv University’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies and co-editor of the Middle East Military Balance. ‘They are spending money carefully and buying good equipment’” (Nov. 14).

These are the actions of a country intent on becoming the superpower of the Middle East! They weren’t just buying cheap weapons.

Today, regionally speaking, Iran trails only Egypt in the size of its army (11 million men fit for military service, with over 800,000 more reaching military age annually), but it outranks Egypt in military expenditures, which, since that 1994 U.S. News article was published, have climbed toward $9.7 billion a year.

Iran also has several thousand tons of chemical agents stockpiled, including blister, blood and choking agents. According to testimony by Leonard Spector before the House International Relations Committee in 1996, it is capable of producing an additional thousand tons of these agents every year. And in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention it signed, Iran has had a biological warfare program for two decades, beginning back during the Iran-Iraq war.

For delivery of these deadly materials, Iran has artillery mortars, rockets, aerial bombs and Scud warheads—many also delivered from former Soviet countries, China and North Korea. Iran is now working hard to become self-sufficient in its missile production. In July 2000, Iran announced a successful test of its own Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of over 800 miles. Contacts within the Iranian regime claimed that the Shahab-4, with a range of 1,300 miles, was successfully tested in the summer of 2002. This missile uses entirely Russian technology.

In September 2000, Robert Walpole, a National Intelligence Council official, told the Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee on proliferation that “The probability that a missile with a weapon of mass destruction would be used against U.S. forces or interests [or Europe’s, I might add] is higher today than during most of the Cold War, and will continue to grow.”

In other words, in the hands of a country like Iran, this terrifying arsenal won’t sit idle for long. Their history shows that they are adept at using those means at their disposal to meet their objectives.

The Root of Terrorism

The Iraq campaign was the latest round in America’s global war on terrorism. But where did all of this world terrorism begin? Iraq is a dangerous part of the equation, but not the head of the snake.

We must go back in history to see terrorism’s roots.

When the Shah of Iran led the country, he was a strong ally of America. But our liberal press and politicians thought he was too undemocratic. So they helped to drive him from power. As he was falling, America gave him little or no support.

Then, in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah. For 10 years, until he died, Khomeini established Iran as the world’s number-one sponsor of terrorism. He was succeeded by Hashemi Rafsanjani, who intensified Iran’s worldwide network of terrorism.

Back in 1994, then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher called Iran “the world’s most significant state sponsor of terrorism.” America has known for years who “the world’s most significant state sponsor of terrorism” is. But we lack the will to deal with Iran. State-sponsored terrorism became deeply entrenched in the 1990s, and our leaders did almost nothing to combat it.

We must understand how this relates to the present situation in Iraq. History shows how Islamic extremism can dramatically change the politics within a country, and it gives us an indication of the kind of power Iran could be very close to achieving.

Let’s look at Egypt, where Islamic extremism—which spawns terrorism—is gaining power at a frightening pace. Daniel 11:42 indicates that Egypt will be allied with the king of the south. This prophecy indicates we are about to see a radical change in Egyptian politics! That change is already well under way.

Radical Changes in Egypt

It is interesting that God’s end-time apostle, Herbert W. Armstrong, visited with two Egyptian presidents, Anwar el-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. Egypt received a strong warning from God.

In 1981, Mike Wallace of the television program 60 Minutes interviewed Ayatollah Khomenei. He told the ayatollah that Anwar Sadat had said he was a “lunatic.”

Almost immediately afterward, President Sadat was assassinated!

That is the kind of power the leader of radical Islam has! America and the world allowed this evil power to change history. We didn’t have the will to stop such madness.

When the Sadat assassination occurred, Mr. Armstrong said it was a turning point in Middle East history! And that was almost an understatement. But virtually nobody in the media saw—or they refused to see—what a world-changing event that was!

Iran’s terrorist network was working frighteningly well.

Mr. Sadat was in the process of changing the Middle East for the good of the world. He took a stand against his own people and the Arab world to make peace with Israel. He proved to be a truly great man. If the U.S. and Britain had shown his courage, they would have dealt with Iran then. Because of their weakness, the Middle East began to look to the king of terror—the king of the south—for leadership. It all happened because of American weakness.

Islamic radicals are very effective in assassinating top leaders. They probably also assassinated the speaker of Egypt’s parliament, Rifaat al-Mahgoub (the country’s second-ranking official at the time), in 1990. Gunmen on motorcycles sprayed his chauffeured sedan with automatic rifle fire. They likely were behind the killing of Algeria’s President Mohammed Boudiaf in 1992. These are just a few examples of how Islamic extremism can influence Mideast politics.

President Mubarak could be assassinated just as Anwar el-Sadat was. This could radically change Egyptian politics, as happened in Iran in 1979. In fact, the Bible indicates that could happen: “He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape” (Dan. 11:42). The king of the north will destroy the king of the south—and Egypt. Why Egypt? Is it because Egypt is allied with the king of the south? Does that mean radical Islam will soon control or direct Egyptian politics? Bible prophecy answers yes. (Here Egypt is mentioned apart from the king of the south. This proves that Egypt is not the king of the south, although anciently it was, in type.)

Today, Egypt is the most stable country in the Arab world. It is viewed as the leader of the more moderate Arabs. But recently, Egypt has become much more friendly to Iran and more distant from Israel and the West. That happened after the death of Sadat and other violent terrorist acts committed against Egypt. In the past, Egyptian politics have been changed radically by Middle East assassinations and other violent acts directed by Iran. Such acts can rapidly change the minds of people. Revolutions often result. However it happens, Egypt will also become the enemy of the king of the north.

If radicals are willing to go to such extremes to influence a country like Egypt, what might they try to do in the weakened state of Iraq? How far would Iran be willing to go to secure the oil wealth of its neighbor in pursuit of its regional ambitions?

Supporting Terrorism

While President Bush considers Iran part of an “axis of evil,” most nations think differently. They are trading freely with Iran, making agreements and business deals. There is a lot of talk about how moderate the Iranian people are. That is why, even though Iran has committed worse crimes than Iraq, America’s policy has been much more lenient toward that country.

But what are Iran’s real fruits? After all, Iran is a theocratic republic. That means the religious leaders hold ultimate power. Under Iranian law, the ayatollah (now Khamenei, Khomenei’s successor) can override the president on any action he wishes. The 12-member clerical Guardian Council can scrap any decision of the elected parliament. Islamic leaders head the revolutionary court, the Tehran Justice Department and the special court for the clergy.

The fruits of the conservative clergy are those of condemnation of the U.S. (the “Great Satan”) and Israel, stifling political control (i.e. banning liberal candidates by the hundreds from supposedly “democratic” elections), censorship (banning books and closing down errant newspapers), floggings and executions, and hugely unsuccessful domestic economic and social policy.

Iran talks as though it is in the vanguard against terrorism. The terrible irony is, Iran’s definition of “terrorism” is vastly different from the U.S.’s. And not just among conservatives—even President Mohammad Khatami has said, “Supporting peoples who fight for their land is not, in my opinion, terrorism” (National Interest, Spring 2000). While out of one side of its mouth Iran condemns terrorism, it continues to support terror groups in Israel, Lebanon and Syria that sabotage peace and destabilize the region!

This is documented, proven fact. The evidence is available to everyone. Iran has vast links to regional terror groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. Iran supports terrorism without qualms—morally, ideologically and economically.

Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?

I believe the American economy will remain reasonably stable for a few years—until God’s warning message is delivered. But the U.S. has over a $6 trillion debt that is going to be a major cause of our economy collapsing very soon. We also lead the world in every major social disease: divorce and family breakdown, crime, drug usage and pornography.

Britain has similar problems.

So what will happen to Iraq when America and Britain can no longer support it? There is going to be a radical change in world events.

Can you imagine the power Iran would have if it gained control of Iraq, which was at one time the third-leading exporter of oil in the world? Experts say Iraq has more oil than any country in the world except Saudi Arabia.

I have believed for years that Iran will lead the king of the south and clash with the European Union, the king of the north. Iran is far ahead of any other Mideast country, apart from Israel, in developing nuclear warheads and bombs. They are a very aggressive force that will be stopped only by a superior force!

Saddam Hussein was the only leader that Iran feared. Now the U.S. has taken him out of the way. But does America have the will or strength to guard the spoils of war? Prophecy states that it does not.

Have we now cleared the way for Shiite Iran to rule over Shiite Iraq?

It was the U.S. that overpowered Serbian leader Milosevic. He was the only leader in Europe that Germany feared.

The staggering paradox may be that U.S. power cleared the way for both the king of the north (the European Union) and the king of the south— and ultimately paved the way for our own destruction, if we don’t repent.

The New York Times of May 1 wrote, “In recent weeks, there has been a steady trickle of intelligence reports about efforts by Iran to influence and shape events inside Iraq.

“Iran, in the view of American analysts, does not welcome a strong American role in Iraq, which would extend American political and military influence in the region.

“Under this assessment, Iran is not looking to confront American forces but to influence events so that the United States fails in its effort to shape Iraq and decides to leave.”

Of course Iran isn’t foolish enough to confront the U.S. directly at this point. After the Iraq campaign, America seems very strong.

But certain aspects of the Iraq campaign that actually show American weakness. And though the current U.S. administration is vowing not to allow an Iranian-style theocracy to gain hold in Iraq, there are also signs in the way it is rebuilding the country that show a fundamental lack of political will to see this pledge through. Perhaps it will not be during the term of the current president, but the Bible shows that America will fail to contain Iran the way it hopes to.

Already, it is clear that Iran is eyeing the situation for opportunities. It would like nothing more than to extend its influence over the majority Shiite population in Iraq, and assume control over its massive oil wealth.

Inroads

Shortly after Baghdad was taken by coalition forces, it quickly became clear how much the Iranian Shiites had made inroads into Iraq, even under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.

Stratfor wrote this in its War Diary of April 23: “The Shiite population is creating a serious administrative problem for the United States. This was partly expected, partly a surprise. The surprise is not to the extent of anti-Americanism but the extent of the organization. The Shiites are much better organized than U.S. intelligence believed. It is clear that their long-term goal is to govern Iraq. …

“The United States cannot really crack down on the Shiites, and the Shiites know it. U.S. troops in riot control mode is not the image Washington wants. … In the end, the solution to this problem is likely in Tehran. The Iraqi Shiite community, to the extent to which it is organized, owes that organization to Iran. Iran’s goal is simple: Get the United States out of Iraq. Officials in Tehran do not expect this to happen immediately, but they do expect it to happen.”

One indication of the depth of the problem is coming in the form of an Iraqi Shiite cleric named Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. During Hussein’s rule, Al-Hakim was exiled for 23 years. He used that time to establish a large militia in Iran called the Badr Brigade, complete with heavy artillery and tanks. Since Baghdad fell, al-Hakim has returned home to Iraq, as have huge numbers of his brigade, to the cheers of thousands of Iraqi Shiites. He is demanding that American forces leave the country.

“Washington fears [al-Hakim] is an Iranian puppet who wants to impose a theocracy on Iraq, and some observers have compared his return from exile with that of former Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Tehran in 1979” (National Post, Canada, May 13).

In addition, according to United Press International, Al-Dawa (a fundamentalist group affiliated with Iran-backed Hezbollah) opened 27 offices around Iraq during the week of May 10. This is yet another indication of the ties between Iran and great portions of the Iraqi populace—people who cannot be ignored if the U.S. really wants to establish democratic self-rule in Iraq.

The Shiites are holding bigger and bigger demonstrations demanding that the U.S. leave. Some of them are holding posters of Ayatollah Khomenei.

Religious Clash

When the king of the south clashes with the king of the north, the European king will be victorious. Then, the king of the north will unite with the rest of the Arab world not allied with Iran to destroy America, Britain and Judah (called “Israel” today)—unless we repent.

The clash of these two kings would be hastened greatly if Iraqi oil were to fall into the hands of Iran. But even a close alliance between the two countries could achieve the same goal. Germany and Europe get over a third of their oil from the Middle East.

Daniel 11:40 through Daniel 12:13 happen during the “time of the end.” Oil and money give the king of the south power to “push” and trigger a world catastrophe! The king of the north (the European Union) has shocked the world with its meteoric rise to power. We are now seeing the king of the south rise in a similar fashion.

All of these events are tied together. They are horrifying to contemplate! The Bible says we are about to see a religious clash that will stagger this world!

Bible prophecy is being fulfilled as you read this article. These prophecies are exploding on the world scene right now at a dizzying pace. This world is about to be plunged into its greatest suffering ever—trouble far worse than the concentration camps and the millions of people butchered in World War ii! It will all begin in the Middle East.

This issue concerns all of us. Events in the Middle East and Europe are major signs of the soon-coming Great Tribulation. The king of the north and the king of the south will spark the greatest time of suffering ever known to man! It will be far worse than Hiroshima or Nagasaki—or anything that happened in World Wars i and ii combined. We must awaken to the unparalleled nuclear holocaust just ahead of us!

With reporting by Joel Hilliker

Weakness in Victory

America seems unprecedentedly strong. Is it possible that the nation is actually under a curse of weakness?
From the June 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

The idea of being under a curse may seem ancient and superstitious in this modern, scientific age. But if you believe the Bible, you know that curses are real—even today.

To the ancient nation of Israel, while God promised manifold blessings for obedience to His laws, He also warned about terrifying curses for disobedience (e.g. Lev. 26; Deut. 28). A discerning look at history proves that God carried out those promises.

Why is this example recorded in the Bible? God says we must learn the lessons (Rom. 15:4; i Cor. 10:11). The United States and Britain are the modern inheritors of the birthright promises made to their progenitor Israel (as our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy proves).

Note this. These are prophecies for our time—as up to date as the headlines in today’s newspapers!

To rebellious Israel and its descendants, God warns, “I will break the pride of your power … And your strength shall be spent in vain” (Lev. 26:19-20).

Consider the staggering implications of these verses.

This implies that these modern nations have power, and pride in that power—they have military strength. This fact is corroborated by other prophecies about the modern descendants of Israel (e.g. Gen. 24:60; 49:22-26; Mic. 5:7-9). But—because of these nations’ disobedience, God would break that pride, and thus—as a curse—all that power would be wasted, squandered!

Is America now under this curse? It may seem almost silly to presume so. The victory in Iraq was impressive—powerful, efficient. A regime tumbled, and a dictator disappeared, in three quick weeks. In some ways, America today seems unprecedentedly strong, most particularly because it has a decisive president who is willing to stake his reputation on unpopular decisions he believes to be right. But there are significant aspects of the Iraq campaign and its aftermath that actually show how the nation has an alarmingly faint heart.

The United States has many enemies. President George W. Bush actually has a much clearer grasp of reality than the many people who would have left Saddam Hussein in power. He understands that those enemies, left to themselves, would quickly challenge America’s ability to protect itself against them.

However, measure the way the Iraq campaign was fought against the history of warfare. As commentator Daniel Pipes wrote in a New York Post article (April 16), “traditional features of warfare have been turned upside-down.”

Consider some examples.

Perhaps the overarching adjustment in wartime thinking is a redefinition of the nature of the enemy. Rather than considering the whole of a foreign country the enemy, now “the authorities painstakingly distinguish between the government (the Taliban, Saddam Hussein’s regime, Arafat) and the people (Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians). The former is the enemy; the latter, potentially friendly” (ibid.). Sounds reasonable. But it has towering ramifications.

For example, rather than trying to inflict as many casualties as possible, now “Western armies strive to keep down the other sides’ losses” (ibid.). Even with the entire Iraq campaign being driven by careful precision strikes on specific government targets, criticism still flew over any loss of Iraqi civilian life. This mindset resulted in problems like ambushes from foreign troops dressed as civilians—who, ironically, were clearly less concerned about casualties among their own people than the Americans were.

One enormous consequence of this approach is that now, instead of plundering the loser, “starting with the Marshall Plan after World War ii, the U.S. government established the precedent of paying for the rehabilitation of its former enemies” (ibid.). Thus, rather than growing richer off the spoils of war, America risks going broke trying to rebuild those nations it defeats.

This transformation in thinking—that war is actually intended to help the enemy—has come to the point where, now, rather than measuring a war’s success in terms of increased homeland security or other national benefits, many Americans consider war a failure as long as there are continued problems afterward in the target country.

Why the change?

Much of the world is decrying America’s so-called cowboyism, its supposed unilateralism and lack of concern for the opinions and interests of other nations. This is the story being pitched by the world’s media, including much of the liberal American press.

This new style of warfare is largely intended to put these criticisms to rest. It is meant to be more humane, more altruistic. It is meant to make the world more comfortable with the benign supremacy of American superpower.

When you recognize the degree to which America is trying to wage war in a way that, it believes, should place it above reproach in the eyes of other nations—the degree to which it is actually putting those nations’ opinions and interests ahead of its own—then the truth comes into better focus: Despite its firestorm of shock and awe, America has exposed an underbelly of fatal weakness.

Look at the headlines in your newspaper today. You will see that none of the effort to protect Iraqi civilians, none of the humanitarian aid, none of the care in ensuring that Iraq keep its own wealth, none of the endeavors to put government back into the hands of the Iraqi people—nothing that America has done to conduct the Iraq campaign from this “higher moral ground”—is earning the United States even one iota of respect among other nations.

America’s initial hesitancy to use force to restore law and order to Baghdad—in its efforts to appease the world community—ironically became the subject of much criticism. America continues to be blamed for the looting, the lack of order, the perceived slow restoration of basic services. At the same time, despite its insistence that it will get out as quickly as possible, it is accused of being imperialistic. Everyone is glad to see Saddam gone, yet ultimately, no postwar government that appears friendly to the U.S. will be accepted as legitimate by the vast majority of Mideast inhabitants. It is a lose-lose affair.

The United States is targeting a small segment of its enemies. As it does so, the hatreds of many more of its enemies—who at this point are smart enough to challenge the U.S. only in ways that do not provoke it militarily—are being heated to the boiling point.

The Bible prophesies of those enemies (some even still being viewed by the U.S. as allies) bringing America down in the near future! You can read about this by requesting The United States and Britain in Prophecy. No tweaking of American foreign policy could prevent that from happening—only turning in heartfelt repentance and looking to God for protection and deliverance.

The United States, powerful as it is, will be unable to protect itself for much longer. In Iraq, we are seeing on display the war policy of a country with no real pride in its power, a country that is spending its strength in vain.

The Polish Connection

Behind the news on Iraq: Thanks to Poland’s imminent entry into the European Union, the EU will gain a presence but a step from its coveted icon—Jerusalem!
From the June 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Who would have thought it? Poland, the biggest state in Europe in the 17th century, yet almost wiped off the map by the 18th century. Poland, in the midst of the tug of war between Russia to the east and Prussia to the west, enslaved by Nazi Germany, “liberated” by Russia from Nazidom, only to be plunged into the abyss of tyranny under the bootheel of Russian Soviet communism. Poland, its gdp in 1950 equal to that of Spain, now, thanks to the legacy of half a century of communism, two and a quarter times smaller.

Who would have thought that this Poland would suddenly rise to center stage in the great political struggle of the emerging new world order in the 21st century?

Following the Iraq campaign, the latest event to deepen the fracture in the Atlantic alliance, Poland has hit the headlines. “Poland Upstages European Powers,” declared the International Herald Tribune on May 14. The article led, “For Poland, these have been heady times. Not since the country liberated itself from Soviet control has it assumed so visible a role on the world stage, or one so defiant of the wishes of its most powerful future partners in the European Union, which Poland is scheduled to join next year.”

Poland? But then again, why not? To the most astute students of world events viewed in the light of biblical prophecy, this has not really come as a surprise. Just connect the dots.

The Polish Pope

Since he gained the papal throne in 1978 as Pope John Paul ii, Polish priest Karol Wojtyla has labored tirelessly to use his largely Catholicized home country as a major pawn in the great Eurogame. His aggressive papal diplomacy connected his Jesuit intelligence system with the cia and the Communist resistance movement in Poland to create the scenario that split the Soviet Union apart. The pope’s and President Reagan’s foreign-policy aspirations coalesced, and their combined treasury and intelligence systems lit the Polish fuse that sparked the Soviet implosion. The rest, as they say, is history.

But Poland has suffered a reality check since the pull-back of Soviet tyranny from its soil. No sooner had the Reds departed than the old Prussian thorn in Poland’s flesh began to penetrate its borders once again.

Taking advantage of the depleted Polish economy, German investors plowed welcome funds into Polish infrastructure to the point where the Poles suddenly realized that their old antagonists to the west were gobbling up huge tracts of Polish real estate (read the November 1999 Trumpet article “Poland: Sold to Germany” under Issue Archives at www.theTrumpet.com). But the Poles, aspiring members of the European Union, were in a Catch-22. Their economy drastically needed capital investment, and the Germans were the most willing to give it. Would the price be too much for Poland to bear? Poles began to fear that they had escaped one great totalitarian power only to find themselves being dragged into another—a federalized European Union.

The U.S. Hook

Then, right at the very moment that the Poles were feeling most uncomfortable with the encroachment of their Teutonic “EU” neighbors, along came the war in Iraq. With the Franco-Germans opposed to that campaign, Poland seized the moment to assert its sovereignty: It threw its hat into the ring with the U.S.-led “coalition of the willing” and promptly dispatched troops to support the allied effort against Saddam Hussein. It was but a small token, compared to the U.S. and British contribution, a mere 200 special forces troops. Yet they fared well, securing the Iraqi oil fields in the far south with zero casualties.

U.S. diplomacy then came into play. Seizing the moment to play off “new Europe” against “old Europe,” the U.S.-led team designated one of the four operational sectors of occupied Iraq to Polish jurisdiction. The Poles then committed to sending up to 2,000 more troops to assist in this effort.

The French and Germans were irate! Had they only been willing to support President Bush in the Iraq campaign, they would have been in the prime position within Iraq—not the Poles!

Franco-German Reaction

The first to mock the Poles in their role as “America’s greatest friend in new Europe” were, you guessed it, the Germans. “The German media has gushed with mockery, jeers and cynicism about its Polish neighbor …. The occasion was last week’s news that the U.S. wanted to entrust Poland with one of the three occupied zones in Iraq” (Deutsche Welle, May 9).

But there’s more to this than meets the eye. With the EU’s leading duo, France and Germany, so unwelcome in Washington, Poland is now able to play advocate for each in any efforts to patch up differences across the Atlantic.

Beyond that: Not only does the EU find itself playing a key role in Afghanistan, on Iran’s eastern border, but if it plays its cards right, with Poland up for EU membership next year, it will still find itself in a box seat in Iraq. In addition to being strategically placed on Iran’s western flank, it will also be barely 200 miles from the plum for which it has crusaded since the time of Charlemagne—Jerusalem!

Here’s how it works.

The peacekeeping force in Afghanistan is under German leadership. Germany is the EU’s leading nation. Recent history shows that when the German-led EU forces move into a region, they do not leave—witness the Balkan Peninsula. The Germans, with the support of the Vatican, created the confusion in 1991 that led to the Balkan wars. U.S.-led forces fought the resultant Balkan wars of the 1990s, only to hand the fruits over to a German-led EU.

Russia failed in Afghanistan. U.S.-led military forces did a better job of routing the Taliban, and then installed a new regime. The German-led EU is now leading the military effort to secure stability in Afghanistan. They will not leave. Afghanistan presents an ideal bridgehead to the EU from which to stem the incursion of the Islamic hordes into Europe. The U.S. won the campaign. The EU will enforce the peace!

Will we see a similar situation play out in Iraq, with Poland already having its foot in the door? And, further, because Iran is after the same territory, might this point of contention be part of the spark that ignites the conflict prophesied in Daniel 11:40?

American Drawdown

The U.S.-led alliance invaded Iraq and took Baghdad in record time. But the U.S. needs relief—particularly as it is now forced to look to its Pacific flank with rumblings in North Korea becoming worrisome, and even more so those in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the prospect of a future nuclear-armed Iran looms large on the horizon. Two of the antagonists in the war on terrorism, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, remain on the loose. And then there’s al-Qaeda. This all must be seen in the light of the effect on American society of the continuance of a war against an elusive enemy, the arch-terrorist, on ill-defined fronts. The location of the next strike is entirely unpredictable. Thus, warning bells are sounding for the U.S. administration.

“The United States is exhausted by the Iraq campaign at all levels. … U.S. troops are exhausted. The military reserve system has been stretched to the limits. It needs radical surgery if it is to sustain the United States through the rest of the war” (www.stratfor.com, March 19).

It would not be surprising to see the U.S., stretched thin as it is in the effort to forestall and preempt terror attacks on so many fronts, increase the pace of the drawdown of its military forces in Western Europe. “With the Iraq war over, the Pentagon is again focusing on Defense Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld’s favorite topic: reforming the U.S. military. Germany, home to the biggest U.S. bases in Europe, could be hard hit” (Deutsche Welle, May 13).

But the EU is not yet ready to lose the guarantee of security that the U.S. has so willingly and selflessly provided it for the past 58 years. It needs time to absorb its 13 candidate nations into full EU membership, time to consolidate its military security and policing structure. Thus, some degree of reconciliation with the U.S. by the EU’s leading lights, France and Germany, is necessary. In a speedy about-face (shortly after their jeering taunts at Poland’s status), France and Germany agreed to nato support of a Polish-led peacekeeping force in Iraq.

Enter Poland as the ideal mediator. What is the main strength of this Polish nation, still struggling to cast off the economic slough of decades of Communist rule over its economy? The Polish pope!

Polish Popish Diplomacy

Was it mere coincidence that, within just one week of the jeering German reaction to the Poles being granted jurisdiction over the southern Iraq sector, Pope John Paul ii announced his intention to canonize two Poles—Josef Sebastian Pelczar and Urszula Ledochowska? Or was this a publicity stunt timed by the Vatican as an endorsement of the Poles’ newfound role in diplomacy across the Atlantic divide?

The Vatican thinks long term. For almost 2,000 years they have sought to possess the prize of Jerusalem. The French and German leadership may have dropped the ball on this one—but this Polish pope won’t! Just connect the dots: the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq. With the handing of responsibility for peace enforcement to elements of the Catholicized EU in each of these theaters, the EU’s presence has moved south and east. That directly aligns with a prophecy for these times in your Bible.

Bible prophecy indicates that a leader will come upon the world scene intent on moving strategically south, east and into Jerusalem. “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (Dan. 8:9).

That “little horn” represents the biblical king of the north of Daniel 11. That king will be a final revival of the ancient Holy Roman Empire—an entity rising before our eyes in Europe today! Track the progress of the EU’s strategic moves. The Balkan nations, Malta and Cyprus, all prime contenders for EU membership, will extend the strategic territory of the EU south and east. Further east they have a presence in Afghanistan. Soon they will have a legitimate toehold on Iraq, barely 200 miles from Jerusalem—within the “pleasant land”!

A Multinational Force—Prophesied!

“Five European countries—Italy, Spain, Denmark, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Ukraine—have all agreed to provide troops to help the United States, Britain and Poland police post-war Iraq” (www.EUobserver.com, May 5). These are either existing members of the EU or they are aspirants to membership in the very near future.

To whom must these nations, within the scope of the newly drafted EU constitution, yield their military command and control? The draft constitution for the uniting Europe mandates that each country yield control of its military forces to a central command. Most influential in the direction of that central command will be the old, revived, German General Staff!

See the danger looming in the Middle East! Your Bible warns of the gravest of dangers, encouraging flight to a place of safety when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20-21).

A multinational force, significantly comprising nations associated with the EU, in reality a final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire, will soon be on the ground in Iraq. Poland, powerfully influenced by the Polish Pope John Paul ii, controls one of four sectors of administration in Iraq. Watch for Poland to play mediator in mending the fences between the U.S., France and Germany. Then watch for the Franco-German connection to wheedle its way into peace enforcement in Iraq, only minutes away from Jerusalem by supersonic jet.

And, as you watch, think on these things in the light of the prophecies in your Bible. Think—and pray!

Australia the Blessed … Australia the Cursed

From the June 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Australians and Americans were brothers in arms long before the recent combat in Iraq. They have fought together in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and many other conflicts. They share the same heritage as the British peoples around the world, being descended from the patriarch Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel). (To prove this, request a free copy of The United States and Britain In Prophecy by Herbert W. Armstrong.)

The island-continent of Australia is about the same size as the U.S. It is rich in sheep, cattle, cotton, sugar, minerals, ores, oil and wine, and is the envy of Asia. Much of the interior is desert, but the coastal areas are very fertile. Australia’s great need is water and rain in due season.

Receiving God’s Blessings

The Bible refers to Australia as “the land of Sinim,” in Isaiah 49:12. The Vulgate renders it “Australi.” Australia is one nation of the “company of nations,” the commonwealth, referred to in Genesis 35:11.

God promised special blessings of national wealth and power to Israel because of Abraham’s obedience. These blessings were to be withheld for 2,520 years from their captivity by the ancient Assyrians in 721-718 b.c., so modern Israel’s wealth started to flourish from about a.d. 1800 onward. God kept His unconditional promise to Abraham through the line of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. No one could dispute that the American and British peoples have been blessed beyond any other countries in history.

However, Joseph’s descendants’ retention of these blessings was conditional upon obedience.If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit” (Lev. 26:3-4).

But because of the people’s sin, God is progressively replacing these blessings with curses—as experienced in the recent extreme drought and bushfires in Australia.

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy [cattle], and the flocks of thy sheep” (Deut. 28:15-18).

Australia has been experiencing the worst droughts and bushfires on record. Unfortunately, these are a fore-taste of greater disasters to come, if the nation does not repent.

Cursed by Drought

The drought appears to have subsided for many farmers, as some areas have had recent rain relief. Meteorologists now predict the waning of El Niño, identified as a cause of this extreme weather condition. But 99 percent of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, is still affected, and thousands of farmers are receiving government financial assistance. For much of the country it is very risky sowing crops because of lack of moisture in the subsoil.

The Courier Mail on February 19 reported that Australia’s winter grain production is estimated at 15.4 million metric tons, down by 61 percent from the record 39.6 million metric ton crop last season. Wheat production is expected to fall 62 percent to 9.4 million tons, barley by 61 percent to 3.3 million tons.

Subsequent to drought came the spate of massive bushfires which ravaged every state and territory in Australia in January.

I visited Canberra, the capital, where the fires reached the city suburbs and destroyed over 400 homes and took people’s lives. It looked like pictures of Hiroshima in 1945: The extreme heat melted reinforcing steel to where one brick was not left on another.

To add to the drought and bushfires around Australia, wheat farmers are concerned with the outbreak of an exotic wheat virus.

This was reported in the Advertiser, April 24: “Wheat streak mosaic virus, said to be a potential au$300 million [us$192 million] threat to Australia’s wheat crop—or 3 percent of an estimated 10 million [metric] ton national harvest this year—was found and destroyed at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization laboratories in Canberra this month.

“Had the virus, which in severe cases can kill an entire crop of wheat, spread to the farming community, the disease would have been almost impossible to eradicate—leaving us with an environmental disaster, say scientists. The threat was even worse for South Australia because of wheat’s status as the state’s most valuable grain crop—worth [us$830 billion] this year—closely followed by barley, worth [us$391 million], which is believed to also be susceptible to the virus.”

Rural Australians are very sensitive to drought, pests and bushfires because their income, debt and lifestyle are hit first when these plagues strike. By comparison, many city dwellers hope they won’t be affected too much, although they may pay more for their food.

But the reality is that these curses do flow on to impact the cities. Eventually everyone is affected. The wealth of all nations comes out of the ground, in one form or another. If the ground doesn’t yield, then the people feel the pain. Whether food, wine, oil or minerals, they all come out of the ground and affect the whole nation.

Australia has been blessed with enormous natural wealth, exporting much of the world’s sheep meat, wool and wheat. But things are changing. This once-richly blessed nation is becoming accursed. “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city …” (Amos 4:6-7). Australia can expect more extremes in weather, crop failures, disease, bushfires, terrorism and war.

A Hopeful Future

However, in the longer term, an even brighter future than the very best experienced in Australia’s short 200-year history as a civilized nation awaits. Bible prophecy tells us of a good ending for Australia and the rest of modern Israel after their finally repenting of sin: “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee” (Isa. 54:7).

When Christ returns to Earth and teaches all peoples how to live right, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isa. 35:1).

Then, in this coming Millennium, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isa. 41:17-20).

Australia’s prime minister, John Howard, said we can’t drought-proof Australia. He is right. But God can if we let Him—and eventually He will. It will take a change in our attitudes first. God will make this vast country arable and productive, with crops so abundant that the ploughman will overtake the reaper (Amos 9:13). But only Christ’s return will bring this about, when He re-establishes God’s government on Earth.

Recolonizing Latin America?

Recolonizing Latin America?

Ricardo Stuckert

The EU and the Vatican have joined forces in a move reminiscent of the Holy Roman Empire’s dominance of Latin America in the 16th century.
From the July 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Within the next year, the European Union and Latin America are set to sign one of the most comprehensive bilateral agreements ever witnessed between two continents.

Together they will create a dominant cross-Atlantic power bloc linked by trade, mutual economic interest, and social, political and religious affinity.

What so few understand is that the key players behind the scenes in the creation of this massive trade bloc have worked patiently for over 50 years to see their master plan implemented.

In fact, the groundwork was laid during a secret meeting of a number of Germany’s principal industrialists in Strasbourg, France, in August 1944. At this meeting, plans were drafted for the repatriation of German funds to other countries in preparation for the development of a new German empire based on global trade and investment.

There followed the establishment of the Vatican “ratlines,” an interconnection of underground safe houses and transit routes whereby SS officers and Nazi Party members escaped from Europe only to turn up in foreign countries under a new name, complete with a new identity. Many of these senior Nazi party members headed for Latin America. Once ensconced in their new abodes, they became respectable businessmen or technocrats attached to some of global business’s most respected names. Others were involved in training the military and security forces of various dictators in Latin America as that continent headed into its revolutionary phase of coup and countercoup following World War ii. Many supplied support as secret service agents during the Cold War when the Soviet Union was involved in trying to destabilize the region.

Ironically, this was often done with the support of the U.S. in the interests of waging the Cold War against the Soviets. In other instances, the Americans simply turned a blind eye, as long as they continued to receive intelligence from these agents, who were in fact working toward their own fascist ends.

Inroads

By the late 1940s, German officers had largely penetrated the military and security forces of Argentina. Krupp’s industrial strength was well established in Brazil. Hitler’s Croat “Ustashi” Chief Ante Pavelic was heavily influencing security in Paraguay. Nazi intelligence agents populated ig Farben (Bayer) in Chile and Venezuela, and Nazi Party organizers of Brueckmann & Co. were firmly on the ground in Ecuador.

Since then, German businesses, their path often smoothed by agents of the Holy See, have increasingly led the penetration of the European Union into key industrial, agricultural and commercial industries within Latin America. German corporate giants such as Krupp, Siemens, Bayer, Volkswagen, I.G. Farben and Deutsche Bank steadily became household names across the Central American isthmus, through that crossroads of intrigue, Panama, and clear down to southern Chile and Argentina.

From the time of Germany’s reunification and the resultant push for a stronger political voice on the world stage, the EU has stepped up its infiltration of Latin America. Earlier this year it even established an office in Cuba, right on the U.S.’s back doorstep (see “Communism to Catholicism?” in our May issue).

EU and Mercosur

On November 25, 1999, after signing a historic free-trade agreement with Mexico, the EU announced that it was working to conclude formal talks toward a free-trade pact with the entire Latin American region, thus combining what is known as the Rio Group (which includes Central America, the Andean Community and Mercosur) with Cariforum (which includes all Caribbean countries). The crowning jewel, however, is clearly the Latin American common market—Mercosur. Since that time, both sides have moved rapidly toward the 2004 deadline for signing a formal agreement on free trade.

Mercosur is a vast economic bloc incorporating Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay with Chile and Bolivia as associate members. It is actually based upon the EU common market model, but without the supranational institutions. The EU has long planned to use an agreement with the us$1 trillion Mercosur market to gain control of the region. The EU-Mercosur free-trade agreement will cover 90 percent of two-way trade. This new “strategic alliance” directly usurps U.S. efforts to garner greater economic prosperity from the region.

Brazil and Argentina have the greatest bilateral trade among Mercosur members. Both countries, presently being stimulated to economic recovery, are set to dominate the southern continent’s relations with the EU. Significantly, the newly elected German Catholic leader of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, has declared support of EU-Latin America trade relations in preference to any trade deals with the U.S.-dominated free trade association.

Last March, EU Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, alongside EU foreign ministers, met in Athens, Greece, with their Latin American counterparts from the Rio Group, Mercosur, the Andean Community, Mexico and Chile. Understandings were reached that will propel developments forward in anticipation of a summit meeting in Mexico between Latino countries and the EU to cement a common trade policy next year.

The EU is working feverishly to establish itself as the top trading partner and investor in Latin America, taking advantage of the region’s economic and political weakness as it struggles to find its feet following decades of instability and the boom-and-bust era of the 1990s. During that decade, international banks with swollen coffers flooded the region with capital, without first ensuring adequate structural reform in the Latino countries. The result was a blowout of debt in most of their economies to the point that they now kneel at the altar of their benefactors, pleading for favorable back-out terms. This has put many countries in the region at the mercy of anyone who offers the incentive of continuing investment, grants or financial aid, without significant strings attached. Thus the EU finds itself in a position of considerable power.

The EU is currently Mercosur’s main trading partner, accounting for 33 percent of its trade imports and 30 percent of its total exports in 1998. Overall trade between the two blocks that year exceeded 49 billion euros (us$57 billion).

The establishment of a cross-Atlantic free trade area would enable a greater flow of EU exports, which are currently subject to high duties and internal taxes. According to EU officials, the EU-Mercosur free-trade area could result in additional annual profits of more than 6 billion euros (us$7 billion) for the Europeans and nearly 5 billion (us$5.9 billion) for Mercosur.

In the European Commission’s June 1999 report “European Union, Latin America, Caribbean—Advancing Together,” it is noted that the driving force in Euro-Latin trade in the past decade has been a comprehensive document generated in 1994 “under the impetus of the German presidency.” As the Trumpet has previously reported, it happens so often that where Germany leads, Europe follows. It comes as no real shock that German exports and imports to and from Latin America far outweigh those of all other EU member states.

Europe’s exports to Latin America grew by 164 percent between 1989 and 1999, while Latin exports to EU countries rose by 29 percent. Over half of all of Latin American financial aid came from EU coffers. The EU is also the largest donor of bilateral official development assistance to the region. Not surprisingly, the same EU report boldly claimed that, as a “partner of the European Commission, the eib [European Investment Bank] has become one of the principal European players on the subcontinent.”

In perhaps the most powerful statement in the report, the EU declared, “The European alternative can thus represent a viable counterweight to what is sometimes perceived as excessive economic and political dependence.” The European Commission is referring to a dependency on the U.S.—Latin America’s largest trade partner until being overtaken by the EU.

In May 1962, Herbert Armstrong’s Plain Truth magazine declared, “[T]he United States is going to be left out in the cold as twogigantic trade blocs, EuropeandLatin America,mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce.”

The Plain Truth cautioned its readers in its April 1966 issue, “Can you see why we warn readers that the Latin American Common Market and the Central American Common Market are dangerously close to becoming partners with the European Common Market?

“Can you see these giant combines are dangerously close to turning their backs on America and Britain, once and for all? Can you see why we warn you that the Nazis—hiding out all over South America—are dangerously close to rising again …?”

The facts are in! The passage of time has proved Mr. Armstrong absolutely right! The old generation of underground Nazis is now dying out. But their Latin American legacy lives on, being passed to the men in gray flannel suits who continue to traverse the Atlantic above ground in pursuit of their global corporatist empire.

The Vatican Connection

Let us now note the role that religion is playing in this partnership.

Catholic roots in South America go back to the discovery of America in the 15th century, when the Vatican-inspired evangelization of the entire Western hemisphere was set in motion. Still, what so many foreign-policy gurus failed to see during the Cold War was that religion would be the force that subsumed the empty, godless ideology of communism, with its abject failure to promise any vision beyond a limited life of hard labor for little return.

It took the right man at the right moment to bring that point powerfully home to foreign-policy circles around the world. The man was Karol Wojtyla, a Polish candidate for the papacy; the moment was just when the strain of forcing a moribund economy to compete with the power of the mighty U.S.’s free economy began to show cracks in the ussr’s armor. The rest is history. But of particular note is that this Polish pope chose Mexico as the object of his first overseas visit upon gaining office in 1978.

Immediately upon his ascension to the papal throne, Pope John Paul ii commenced a campaign to rid the church in Latin America of the liberalism that had penetrated it under Communist influence. He started at the U.S. southern border and worked south from there. By the end of the century he had achieved his aim. With the liberals largely removed, the Vatican had consolidated Latin America’s most powerful link with Europe: the force of religion.

South America is the only continent on Earth dominated by a single universal religion—Roman Catholicism. The fear of purgatory for the mass of Catholics is much more potent than is the fear of deprivation or loss in this present life. This gives the Vatican powerful control over the collective minds of its Latino adherents.

The Vatican is fully cognizant of the fact that more than half of the world’s Roman Catholics live in Latin America! Pope John Paul ii recognizes the centuries-old power and influence that Catholicism had upon the Spanish-Portuguese world. During his tenure of office, the present pope has visited almost every country in South America. He instigated a great new wave of evangelization in the region, perhaps the most concentrated effort in centuries to call the sheep back to the Roman fold. He has traversed backward and forward across the Latino zone in an effort to stabilize the region in preparation for the fulfillment of his vision of a revived “Holy” Roman colonial empire.

No geographic area outside of Europe is more aligned with the Vatican today than the Mercosur countries. With an office in every Latino country, the Holy See maintains a dominant and influential presence in the region. “To speak of Latin America means to recognize ourselves in a singular fraternity that is based on common origins,” said Guzman Carriquiry, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. “Our roots are Christian. Our culture is Christian. Catholicism will be the decisive factor for national construction and for Latin America’s integration in world globalization” (Zenit, April 2).

And now, after nine rounds of meetings led by the EU, what began as an effort by the underground, post-war Nazi movement to connect Latin America with Europe has steadily metamorphosed into a partnership centered upon “social similarities”—a recognition of the strength of the religious connection to the Catholic Church.

The EU and Latin America are more than just a trade duo. They are a religious, commercial and political partnership—and their time is ripe.

Where Is It Leading?

Remember, while Germany still lay in the ashes of defeat following World War ii, Herbert Armstrong warned that it would again rise to power beneath the cloak of a uniting Europe. Looking through the lens of Bible prophecy, he boldly declared for almost 60 years that Europe would again dominate the region of Latin America, politically and economically, while the Vatican would exercise ultimate religious influence.

Watch the EU assault on Latin America continue and intensify. A signed agreement is expected in 2004.

We live in tumultuous times—times of great geopolitical earthquakes as old alliances between world powers collapse and new ones form. The Trumpet, in the tradition of Herbert Armstrong, continues to report these events as they happen. The whole world needs to know what is happening between Europe and Latin America! With Herbert W. Armstrong gone, only the Trumpet can tell you.

Britain and America have failed to heed the warning of the lone voice crying out in a wilderness of geopolitical confusion. They have continued in national disobedience to the supreme laws of God. As a result of their failure, their birthright promises are being stripped away; the Eurocombine, supported by a great false church, is prophesied to soon stride atop the world and enslave the English-speaking nations (Rev. 17).

Their only hope is to heed God’s end-time warning, yield themselves to His power and turn to God in national repentance and obedience.

The Burden of John Q. Consumer

Will America’s success in Iraq translate into economic stability? When looking at what props up the world economy, the answer is clear.
From the June 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

“Shock and awe” was the term bandied around to describe the pace of the Iraq campaign in America’s declared war on terror. But has that stunning victory perpetuated a sense of overconfidence in dealing with other problems? Can we expect similar victories on other fronts—such as in rescuing the U.S. economy?

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan predicted that a swift victory in Iraq would remove a degree of uncertainty surrounding the U.S. economy, thus stimulating growth in U.S. markets and even worldwide. The Economist reported, “A quick victory, no big oil-field fires and the absence of new terrorist attacks have allayed economists’ worst fears. … The doomsday scenario of a global recession triggered by a long and messy war can now be dismissed” (April 12).

Can it?

Even with the quick resolution to this campaign, there is still cause for concern, because generally, “Post-war markets and the economy fare worse,”_according to Investor’s Business Daily. “Recessions followed World War ii as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars. The first Gulf War stands as an exception; a weak expansion began shortly after that war’s conclusion” (April 16).

After this Second Gulf War, stock markets rebounded cautiously throughout the world, but nothing extraordinary has truly set investors’ minds at ease. Businesses are still somewhat shell-shocked after the financial collapse at the beginning of this present decade. It was hoped the dollar would strengthen after the war, but it hasn’t. In fact, it has devalued, particularly against the euro. Foreign investors are still seeking alternative investment opportunities, which further weakens the dollar.

The world’s attention has shifted from political conflict to economic concern. Nearly every nation on Earth is dealing with financial woe.

Global Economy

The combination of the collapse of an overvalued stock market and the timing of al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks in 2001 jolted the global economy.

In Germany, unemployment currently accounts for 10.6 percent of its potential work force. Many fear Europe’s economy is meandering back toward recession. The European Union’s gross domestic product is projected to grow at a stale 1 percent for 2003. Economists list the short-term outlook as “bleak” for the eurozone.

Although the British economy still remains the most dynamic in the EU, the Bank of England lowered its growth forecast from 3.1 percent to 2.5 percent for 2003—a trend expected to persist through 2004 with further decline to 2 percent growth. The downward forecast is blamed on the sluggish eurozone and faltering consumer spending growth.

In the U.S., businesses and individuals have been hit with dramatic increases in insurance premiums for the past several years. Dips in the stock market and increased natural disasters and terrorist activity have drained capital from the insurance sector of the economy. Some claims have yet to be covered from 9/11, putting a tremendous strain on the reinsurance industry.

The American Consumer

The economy has come to the forefront of our attention. If unsuccessful in the next presidential elections, President Bush could become the first president in history to leave office with America having fewer jobs than when he took office. Over 2.6 million jobs have been lost in the past two years, with 20 percent of those laid off having been out of work for over six months now. A robust economy requires high employment. Without new jobs, it is unrealistic to expect an increase in either consumer confidence or spending. And without increased spending, the economy will not generate new jobs. The vicious cycle perpetuates itself.

Politically, economic issues will most likely decide our next presidential election. Americans, and the world for that matter, are looking for a way out of our present economic quagmire.

It is not a matter of which political party is to blame for our financial troubles. These problems have existed for decades and have grown ever more complex—and the potential increasingly devastating. The truth is, the average American is responsible for much of the trouble we face today.

From the mid-1990s, the global economy has largely been driven by consumer credit in the United States. Since 1995, the U.S. has accounted for two thirds of the world’s economic growth. The overwhelming majority of the U.S. economy is sustained by the average consumer, who shoulders nearly two thirds of the total economic activity for the nation, and provides what little forward momentum the economy now enjoys.

Nearly every nation is relying upon the continued global stimulus of the American consumer. But in these increasingly volatile times, consumer confidence is beginning to wane. High unemployment (6 percent in the U.S.) and declining confidence are eroding the consumer’s ability to sustain such a massive economy. American consumers are increasingly defaulting on payment of their bills. The credit bubble is about to burst! The global economy is teetering on the brink of disaster.

The Consumer-Friendly Decade

How did the world economy become propped up on as weak a foundation as the confidence of the American consumer?

It began in the 1990s when an unprecedented pool of credit and low interest rates became available. Creditors were eager to issue new loans or extend credit to individuals who previously might not have qualified. Consumers took advantage of low interest rates to buy houses, cars and other major purchases. That borrowing binge propped up the economy.

The average American consumer fell into the trap of spending more than he or she had to spend. By March this year, Americans held a collective credit card debt of $721 billion.

On top of this, at the end of the ’90s, personal savings plunged to an all-time low. “America’s private sector was a net saver for 40 years until 1997: The total income of households and firms always exceeded their spending, with average net saving of 2.6 percent of gdp. But the irrational exuberance of the late 1990s encouraged a massive boom in spending and borrowing, pushing the private sector into a deficit of 5.2 percent of gdp by 2000 …” (Economist, March 15).

Many are not adjusting to economic reality and are still actively borrowing against the equity in their homes for purchases they can’t afford. A crisis could rapidly develop if conditions changed. “If house prices were to wobble, the outlook would be far worse. An analysis in the World Economic Outlook points out that 40 percent of house-price booms are followed by busts, and that these busts cause twice as much economic damage as stock market collapses” (Economist, April 12).

Americans seem to have an insatiable appetite and tolerance for debt—greater than that of any other nation. But how long can the American consumer carry the economic activity of the world?

Time to Pay

The present, unprecedented state of economic affairs in the lives of individuals and nations indicates that our day of reckoning is almost here.

“World economic growth this year will be modest at best and will be driven—yet again—by the engine of America. While helpful in the short term, this continued reliance on America is perhaps the biggest reason to fret. For it means that the American current-account deficit, already above 5 percent of gdp, will rise. A deficit of 7-8 percent of gdp within the next few years no longer looks outlandish.

An external deficit on that scale is not sustainable. Yet no other economic area looks capable of taking over from America as an engine of global growth. Until that changes, any reduction in America’s deficit will spell a weaker world economy. Long after the war has ended, that threat will lurk in the background” (Economist, April 12). That is the unsolvable dilemma we have gotten ourselves into: Mounting debt simply cannot be sustained—yet if Americans begin behaving responsibly, the whole house of cards will tumble.

In December of last year, U.S. retail sales were flat (excluding automobile sales), below the forecasted growth of 0.3 percent, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. “Some economists think these are signs that consumers—whose spending fuels more than two thirds of the total economy—have finally had enough, that two years of a lousy stock market, job cuts and rising debts are finally taking their toll,” wrote Mark Gongloff for cnn/Money.

Could it be that when consumer confidence dwindles, the entire economy will come crashing down? Since consumer spending accounts for more than two thirds of the total U.S. economy, one would certainly think so! We can keep burying our heads in the sand, but the bankruptcy of the world’s once-wealthiest nation is coming. It is impossible to sustain indefinitely a situation where a nation’s population carries a $34,500 per capita debt.

Global economic conditions will remain volatile. With consumer spending outstripping income, the cycle can only run for a limited time. The gluttony of the 1990s pumped incredible growth into the world economy, but it is now time to pay the bill. Stand by for a global economic explosion of historic proportions when the credit bubble finally bursts!