The birth of a dictatorship
European Union democracy has large, dangerous cracks, according to a June 17 EU Observer article. In essence, the EU has gone from trying to coerce the public, to autocratically controlling the Union’s political parties.
“Europe seems to have slipped almost imperceptibly in the space of only a few months into an electoral interzone, a crack in the pavement of democracy,” EU Observer said. “The formal trappings of clean elections—in which political parties with competing manifestos contest a ballot free of voter intimidation—are all still there, but someone else has decided in advance what the result will be.”
With EU member states Ireland, Portugal, Finland and Greece having already fallen victim to this “post-political phenomenon,” the article said more are sure to follow. Even without military maneuvering, it said, “a junta has installed itself nonetheless, a junta of ‘experts,’ technocrats, those educated in the knowledge of What Needs to Be Done.” Having seen “how easy it is to intimidate democracy,” these experts “have now gone so far, it appears, as to be on the verge of decapitating a government.”
European officials forced Ireland into bailing out its banking sector, putting taxpayers on the hook. Then when Ireland held elections, the EU and the International Monetary Fund told all parties they couldn’t renegotiate the bailout or opt out—essentially depriving Irish voters of any choice in the matter. The implication was, even parties that campaigned on renouncing the bailout would not be allowed to do so. The message from the EU was: Take the bailouts, further indebt your country, or we will crash you ourselves.
This dictatorial approach was repeated with Portugal. It is becoming clear that EU nations are not as sovereign as they thought they were.
EU Observer then showed the absolute power of the European Central Bank (ecb), which is largely controlled by Germany. It literally brought down the Portuguese government. “After months of [Portugal’s] prime minister, José Sócrates, refusing to acquiesce to pressure to accept a bailout for the sake of the wider eurozone, the European Central Bank simply pulled the plug on his economy.” It did this by giving the head of Portugal’s banking association what he later called “clear instructions” to ensure Portuguese banks would stop buying government bonds if Lisbon did not seek a rescue.
After that, the same day Portugal agreed to the deal, “EU and ecb experts demanded that even though the parties were in the middle of an electoral campaign, all main parties sign an accord endorsing the bailout memorandum, no matter the result of the vote” (ibid). Thus, voters could no longer decide on the matter: Whoever was elected would be beholden to Frankfurt.
In Finland too, the ecb is flexing its muscles. In order to satisfy his European masters, the prime minister elect was forced to eschew forming a durable governing coalition in order to cobble together a parliamentary coalition certain to pass the bailout. The Observer reported, “Parliamentary historians have searched in vain to locate a precedent whereby a majority has been formed in a chamber for just one vote, rather than to build a government.”
And with each success, the European overlords are gaining confidence.
The most remarkable example is what the Eurocrats have done to Greece. “[T]he experts [require] that the country give up all remaining vestiges of its sovereignty, and, if necessary to win such national unity, even the office of the prime minister is negotiable,” the Observer wrote, accusing these “experts” of being “addicted to the ease of being able to force through what they want without heed of democratic norms.” In order to receive a second bailout, Greece is being forced to sell off tens of billions of euros’ worth of public assets (some say as much as €300 billion) under the scrutiny of “eurozone overseers.”
Clearly, a European monster is rising. But even more astounding, though unelected officials in Brussels and elsewhere are forcing their agenda on the Greeks, Irish, Portuguese and Finns, many people are actually craving an autocratic “strongman” to come and set things right.
In Greece, a recent Kappa Institute poll showed that 30 percent of the people actually want the country to be led by “a group of experts and technocrats.” Less than a quarter believe a democratically elected government can solve the nation’s economic problems, and a full 22.7 percent want “a strongman” to solve the crisis. The Observer commented, “When the experts who give lip service to how much they believe in European democracy treat it so cheaply, they should not be surprised when the real junta, the real colonels, take command.”
Democracy is dying in Europe. National sovereignty is being washed away. And Europe is being primed for a “strongman” to come to the forefront with solutions to its economic crisis. To see where the Bible says it is all heading, read Gerald Flurry’s February cover story, “A Monumental Moment in European History!”
Waking up to a religious war
Over 105,000 Christians are martyred every year, Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne said at the International Conference on Inter-religious Dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims, which concluded on June 3. Cardinal Péter Erdo of Budapest stated: “Europe should be preparing for a new wave of emigration, this time of Christians fleeing persecution.” The conference was hosted by Hungary as the highlight of its presidency of the EU. Watch for Europe to forcibly confront this persecution.
1 | Germany 2 | Russia
Look out—they’re cooperating
Berlin and Moscow are collaborating to formally resolve the continuing frictions between Moldova and its breakaway region of Transnistria. These efforts mark the first demonstrable indication of Russo-German collaboration to resolve European security problems. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin agreed on the resolution on June 14 when they met in Switzerland.
Ever since the region of Transnistria gained de facto independence from Moldova shortly after the Soviet Union’s fall, tension has thrived. Moscow has propped up the breakaway territory, in part by stationing 500 Russian soldiers there. Moldova leans toward Europe in its politics, but Transnistria is a staunch Russian ally. The new resolution is expected to grant Transnistria representation in Moldova’s parliament and allow European security forces to help Russian troops there.
However, Stratfor notes, “The specific details of the agreement are far less important than the fact that this is the first concrete instance of Russia and Germany working jointly to dictate the terms of key European security issues” (June 17).
The real significance is that Berlin and Moscow hope the agreement will convince the world that rising German-Russian cooperation is not a threat. Berlin wants to convince other European nations, especially in Central Europe, to view the cooperation as a force for peace; it is willing to see Moldova move toward Russia in order to sell this idea.
Germany and Russia have been at odds with each other throughout history. The periods of cooperation between them, such as those initiated by the 1922 Treaty of Rapallo and the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, have been based on mutual strategic necessity in the lead-up to major conflicts. History is consistent on this point: Germany and Russia are not close friends, and any appearance that they are is a harbinger of conflict.
3 | Spain 4 | Greece
No job? Take to the streets
The financial crisis is fueling unrest across the Continent. The most dramatic has been in Spain: With the jobless rate now at more than 45 percent for 16-to-24-year-olds, tens of thousands of Spanish youths have taken to the streets to protest. Greece’s youth unemployment rate is also high, at 33.5 percent; Ireland’s and Italy’s are both 28 percent, and Portugal’s and France’s are above 20 percent. This mass unemployment and dissatisfaction with the political system risks sending nations in a radical new direction. Even moderate citizens of several EU nations have recently voted for parties with an extremist past, militant rhetoric and a dubious political agenda. In France, Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the National Front, is leading in the polls. In Germany, genuine fears exist concerning the possible emergence of a nationalist party. This growing discontent could well lead to the ascension of a new Charlemagne in Europe.
1 | Germany 5 | Saudi Arabia
Making friends in the Mideast …
German federal police have been training Saudi Arabian forces in how to deal with protests, according to a report by Fakt shown on German television on May 30. Officially, the police officers are aiding in border security, but classified documents and anonymous German police revealed that their job goes beyond the official government description. Watch for Saudi Arabia to increasingly reach out to Germany for protection.
6 | Iran … as well as enemies
Flying to India on May 31 and about to cross Iranian airspace, a plane carrying German Chancellor Angela Merkel received a message that Iran had rescinded its permission for the plane to traverse its territory. The incident instigated a diplomatic row and showed a growing rift between Germany and Iran. Despite U.S. and EU sanctions, until recently Germany was one of Iran’s most important trade partners. Now, German politicians are cracking down on Iran. Giant German corporations such as Siemens and ThyssenKrupp are moving out of Iran, and Merkel recently announced that the Hamburg-based European-Iranian Trade Bank (eih) would be shut down. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Stuart Levey called the eih one of the “few remaining access points to the European financial system.” Its closure will be a blow to Iran. Expect Iran to lash out in response—and push the limits of European patience.
1 | Iran 2 | Iraq 3 | Afghanistan 4 | Pakistan
Eager to show America the door
Iranian leaders are working to solidify ties with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq in a move that highlights Iran’s goal of taking a lead role in the region, the Wall Street Journal reported on June 27. At a meeting in Tehran on June 24, for example, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan about issues relating to the departure of nato forces from Afghanistan.
In Iraq, tens of thousands of supporters of anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched through Baghdad on May 26 in a warning that they would restart the Shiite insurgency if U.S. troops do not leave Iraq by the end of the year. Sadr is backed by Iran and enjoys considerable support among Iraqis. His party’s support of Nouri al-Maliki was critical to the prime minister gaining a second term and forming a government last year.
This public protest is a complication for America. Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked Baghdad to host American troops in Iraq past the end of the year, the deadline stipulated in the current agreement between the two countries. While some Iraqi political groups support such an extension, it is widely opposed by Iraqi citizens—and Sadr.
America wants to stay in Iraq longer in order to maintain stability and counteract Iran. “The Iraqi Security Forces will not be able to defend Iraq’s sovereignty, independence from Iran, and internal stability without American assistance, including some ground forces, for a number of years,” defense analyst Frederick Kagan argued in a paper released in May.
Washington is trying to delay the inevitable. As the Trumpet has long said, Iran will cement its takeover of Iraq once the U.S. leaves.
And don’t forget its ‘peaceful’ nuclear program
Iran has worked on technology to place nuclear material on a missile and detonate it, the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote in a nine-page report May 24. The report cited evidence that Iran had begun “experiments involving the explosive compression of uranium deuteride to produce a short burst of neutrons.” This type of device would be used as a trigger for a nuclear bomb; Harold M. Agnew, former director of the Los Alamos weapons lab, said, “I don’t know of any peaceful uses” for it. The evidence discredits Iran’s claims that it is developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
5 | Libya
Where jihadists are the ‘good guys’
A report by two French think tanks indicates that the West is on the side of Islamic terrorists in the war against Muammar Qadhafi in Libya. Six experts who consulted with representatives on both sides of the conflict concluded that jihadists have played a predominant role in the eastern Libyan rebellion and that “true democrats” represent only a minority. They also found that the justifications given for Western military intervention in Libya were largely based on media exaggerations and “outright disinformation.” It appears the current military campaign in Libya may well facilitate that country falling to Islamists and into the Iranian orbit—an outcome prophesied by the Prophet Daniel.
6 | Turkey
Islamist revolution by stealth
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (akp) won a resounding victory in parliamentary elections on June 12 with 50 percent of the vote. This means the status quo in Turkey will remain, with the Islamist-rooted akp staying in power. Economic growth under the akp has been largely credited for the party’s success. However, two other important factors contributed just as much to its win: the appeal of the akp’s Islamic orientation to Turkey’s Muslim population, and the anti-Western and anti-Israel direction the akp has taken Turkey’s foreign policy. Since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan first came to power in 2002 elections, he has taken the secularist country in a more religious direction, seeking to bring Islamic culture into the political sphere. Political analyst Barry Rubin says the June elections mark an Islamist revolution by stealth. The Trumpet wrote back in November/December 2007: “Any shift within Turkey away from secularism and toward Islam could help alter the balance of power in the Middle East—most notably, in favor of Iran.”
7 | Lebanon
Hezbollah coup complete
Five months after Hezbollah brought down the Lebanese government, Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced his new cabinet on June 13. Unsurprisingly, it is dominated by allies of Hezbollah. Most cabinet posts are held by the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition, which helped bring the government down in January when its members quit in protest of a UN-backed tribunal investigating the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (a tribunal expected to indict several Hezbollah members). Five months later, the Shiite terrorist group’s coup was complete. Hezbollah and its Christian and Druze allies secured 18 posts in the new government—up from 11 under the previous coalition—enabling them to pass or block decisions more easily. In holding majority sway within parliament, Hezbollah is now freer than ever to pursue its terrorist agenda within the bounds of democratic rule in Lebanon’s government.
A boom in security cooperation
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco), a regional security bloc dominated by China and Russia, celebrated its 10th anniversary in Kazakhstan on June 15. Over the past decade, sco member nations have signed over 100 cooperation agreements and have greatly expanded cooperation in economics, security and culture. Now the sco is on the verge of further expansion, with observer states Mongolia, Iran and Pakistan all seeking membership. India has also expressed its desire to gain full membership, an addition that would bring a further 1.19 billion people into the sco’s area of influence. Although China and Russia are the regional behemoths driving the unification of the East, the sco may well be a vehicle they use to reach that destination.
8 | China
Hungry for energy
A surge in energy consumption last year bumped China ahead of the U.S., making it the world’s biggest consumer of energy. According to a report published June 8, for the year 2010, China’s consumption accounted for 20.3 percent of global demand compared to 19 percent for the U.S. China’s consumption grew by 11.2 percent over the previous year, more than any other nation. As China’s consumption grows, other nations, especially in Europe, will assume a more combative stance in securing resources for themselves. When more than one power aggressively pursues the world’s wealth, intense competition results and eventually gives way to war.
9 | India
An eight-member Indian military delegation arrived in China on June 19 to begin a six-day visit with Chinese military officials, marking a return to defense cooperation between the two Asian behemoths that was at a stalemate for a year. The two sides made the decision to resume military ties during the most recent brics summit in April.
10 | Philippines
U.S.: Don’t count on us!
Tensions in the South China Sea have been escalating since June. The Philippines appealed to the U.S. for help in the event of a military conflict with Beijing, expressing confidence the U.S. would honor the Mutual Defense Treaty it has held with Manila for 60 years. However, U.S. press attaché Rebecca Thompson responded that America would not side with any party. As America’s willpower and financial resources wane, expect Asian nations to abandon the sinking U.S. ship and resolve their intercontinental skirmishes.
8 | China 11 | Russia
Dumping U.S., a dollar at a time
Moscow is likely to continue lowering its holdings of U.S. debt as Washington scrambles to boost its anemic economic recovery, a top aide to President Dmitry Medvedev said on June 18. U.S. Treasury figures show that Russia’s holdings of American debt fell from $176.3 billion in October 2010 to $125.4 billion in April 2011. Russia’s financial reserves, totaling $528 billion as of June 10, are the third largest in the world, after those of China and Japan.
China is following the same pattern, no longer buying dollars, but favoring euros instead. Premier Wen Jiabao visited Germany for the first-ever German-Chinese joint cabinet meeting on June 27, where he said he will continue to back purchases of European debt. Because China has around 26 percent of its currency reserves in euros, Beijing is committed to the currency’s stability. Wen also underscored the important role confidence can play in helping the EU to correct its sovereign debt crisis. As Athens convulses, Beijing knows that holding euros is risky, but clearly it sees that holding dollars is far riskier.
In a further move to decrease their dependence on the dollar, Beijing and Moscow signed an agreement on June 26 permitting their bilateral trade to be conducted in their national currencies. Russian and Chinese companies will now be able to settle their business in rubles and yuans, and it is viewed as a consequence of rising bilateral trade between the two Asian giants. Last year, bilateral trade between them soared 50 percent to reach $59 billion, making China Russia’s biggest trading partner. Earlier in the month, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Russia and set the goal to increase Russo-Chinese trade to $100 billion by 2015 and $200 billion by 2020.
Watch for more nations to dump dollars as the U.S.’s economic fissures grow deeper.
Latin America, Africa
1 | Argentina
U.S. snubs UK over Falklands
The United States has once again sided with Argentina, along with Venezuela, against the UK over the Falkland Islands. On June 7, America signed on to a draft declaration that calls for Britain to negotiate with Argentina over the sovereignty of the Falklands. This comes as Argentina has been increasing its aggression against the islands, and despite the fact there is nothing to negotiate: Argentina’s claim to the islands is tenuous at best, and its inhabitants want Britain to retain sovereignty. The incident shows that despite President Obama’s words of support during his visit to Britain in May, the special relationship between these two countries is dead. Britain, certain to get no help from the U.S., is prophesied in Scripture to lose the Falklands.
2 | UNASUR
A continent unites
The Union of South American Nations (unasur) has made progress in becoming more like its EU role model. unasur leaders met in Lima, Peru, in May and issued a declaration calling for the region to pursue a common methodology in monitoring defense expenditures among member nations. Latin America remains a major customer for global defense suppliers and there are now calls for unasur to become more militarily integrated. Expect South America to continue looking to Europe for guidance as it integrates economically, politically and militarily.
3 | Chile 4 | Colombia 5 | Peru
Look out, Mexico: New stock exchange in town
The stock exchanges of Chile, Colombia and Peru officially combined into a new South American Stock Exchange on May 30. This new market, called the Integrated Latin American Market (mila), will start with a listing of 560 companies and will overtake Mexico as the largest stock market in Latin America. The launch of the new market doesn’t mean the disappearance of each country’s local exchange, but rather the creation of a new multi-border stock exchange that will provide an additional platform for companies to access investor capital.
6 | South Africa Strengthening China’s foothold
The government of South Africa agreed in early June to closer relations with China in an effort to combat crime. South African Police Minister Maggie Sotyu met with the Chinese vice minister of public security on May 30. “Our main relationship with China is trade,” said Sotyu. “They are our number one trade partners, but China felt that we needed to go beyond trade and we needed to deal with the issues of crime.” Cooperation with regards to police training and the possibility of exchanging information between the police forces of both countries formed the basis of the talks. Expect China’s interest in South Africa to magnify Beijing’s voice in sub-Saharan affairs.
7 | Somalia 8 | Kenya
New wrinkle on Horn of Africa
Kenya is preparing to recognize Somali-land’s independence from Somalia, which would create another new country in the Horn of Africa, according to claims made on May 22 by the Somaliland Press. Kenyans who are calling for their government to recognize Somaliland argue that its independence would help stabilize the region and stop Somalia’s dreams of expansion into Kenya and eastern Ethiopia. Expect violence in the Horn of Africa, however, to push the region further into the arms of Iran and radical Islam. Bible prophecy predicts that Ethiopia will soon be allied with Iran, the end-time “king of the south” (Daniel 11:40).
The Horn of Africa is engulfed in a devastating drought. The UN reported in June that more than 20,000 Somali refugees had arrived in the Dadaab refugee complex in northern Kenya over a two-week period. More than 50,000 refugees are living in makeshift shelters outside the structured camp. Expect droughts to increase in frequency and severity as the world nears the end of this age.
One ridiculously tall stack of dollars
The United States hit its legal borrowing limit on May 23. The Treasury Department said Congress must raise the debt ceiling by August 2 if the government is to avoid a default. The Obama administration is trying to hammer out a deal with lawmakers to cut federal spending in exchange for a debt-limit increase. The federal debt currently stands at $14.5 trillion. If such an amount were made into a single stack of $1,000 bills, it would be more than 900 miles tall. If the pile were made with $1 bills, it would stretch to the moon and back twice.
The world is starting to wake up to the magnitude of the American government’s debt. On June 10, a Chinese ratings agency accused the U.S. of defaulting on the massive debt it owes China. On June 13, pimco bond manager Bill Gross said America’s financial condition was worse than that of Greece and other debt-saturated European nations. Then, the following day, a Gallup poll was published showing that Americans’ confidence—the only thing keeping the beleaguered dollar afloat—was plummeting. If you are following economic developments closely—payrolls, railway loadings, the housing market, banking sector, foreign exchange markets and gold price—you know America is heading back into a recession.
Why Empire died
At the end of June, Empire, Nevada, became a ghost town. Gone is one of the biggest mines in America—and along with it the mineral production, jobs and families it supported. After more than 100 years and two world wars, the Empire gypsum mine is eerily silent—not because the gypsum ran out, but because America is no longer growing like it once was. Gypsum is the primary ingredient in drywall and other masonry products. If homes are not being constructed and office complexes no longer being built, who needs wallboard? Empire is the latest victim in a country that has stopped building and expanding.
A ‘brotherhood’ fraught with sibling rivalry
The United States hosted Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for six days in May. Setting the stage for tension, President Obama, in a State Department speech just prior to the visit, explicitly endorsed a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines and stated that such a state must be “contiguous.” On May 22, Netanyahu met with Obama at the White House and two days later spoke before a joint session of the U.S. Congress, rebuffing the U.S. president’s stated policies. The trip demonstrated that the Netanyahu-Obama relationship is at a low point. We could soon witness the prophesied breaking of the historic brotherhood between America and the Jewish state.
Tide of war ‘recedes’ in time for election
President Obama announced June 22 that he will bring home 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011 and 23,000 more by next summer, a withdrawal window that will conclude two months before voters decide whether to give him a second term. “Tonight,” the president said from the East Room, “we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding.” Earlier in the month, Obama emphasized that America would be working closely with Germany and other nato allies in empowering Afghans in their political and economic efforts to forge a lasting peace. Watch for Germany and the EU to step up efforts to stabilize the Middle East region as America withdraws into geopolitical isolation.
To raise a family, don’t come here
Britain is the third-least family-friendly country in Europe, according to a study by the Relationships Foundation, a UK-based think tank. Its study looked at 25 indicators showing financial pressures, work pressures, caring and parenting pressures, and living environment. Only Romania and Bulgaria did worse in this study. It found that 20.9 percent of UK households with dependent children experienced “difficulty” or “great difficulty” in making ends meet. Fourteen percent of households in the UK, as well as in Germany, suffered under “highly critical” debt burdens (versus only 1 percent of Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian households). The study also found that Britain has the third-worst living environment in Europe.
Why gamblers always lose
Australians last year lost close to $1,300 on gambling for every resident (not including tourists) age 17 and over, according to international gaming industry consultants H2 Gambling Capital. This statistic places Australians in the lead as the world’s biggest gamblers. The Australian gambling industry, with clubs, hotels and casinos, employs about 160,000 people. “Problem gamblers routinely lose everything, including their jobs, family and friends, homes, minds and sometimes even their lives,” said Tasmanian Independent mp Andrew Wilkie. This problem is having a devastating effect on thousands of people across the social spectrum. The bottom line is that any and all forms of gambling corrode our character to one extent or another—and that is why, even when money is won, gamblers always lose.