1 | Germany 2 | France 3 | Russia
Making the Neighbors Nervous
A military deal between Russia and France in June tells a remarkable story. Russia agreed to buy two of the most advanced amphibious assault ships in the world: French Mistral Class landing vessels. Each ship can carry 16 helicopters, four landing barges, 40 tanks and over 400 soldiers for up to six months. With one of these, the Black Sea fleet could have completed its part in the 2008 invasion of Georgia in “40 minutes, not 26 hours,” said Russian naval commander Vladimir Vysotsky. The government-approved sale is “the most significant transfer of Western military technology to Russia since the end of World War ii,” wrote Stratfor (June 21).
This is just part of a new alliance that is revolutionizing geopolitics. Russia is flush with cash and natural resources, but it needs technology and modernization in its military, its oil and gas industry, and in its economy. This alliance has given Russia an edge in the battle to control Europe’s resources.
In 2006, Europe woke up to the fact that Russia controlled most of its gas supply. Amid a cold winter, Russia shut off the gas to Ukraine to try to bludgeon it into compliance. All of Europe soon felt the pinch. Quickly Europe began to look for ways to wean itself off Russian gas. Enthusiasm grew for the proposed Nabucco pipeline, a conduit through Turkey that would bring natural gas directly from the Caucasus, skirting Russia.
Germany’s negotiating power in such strategic energy projects is strengthened by its having ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as a senior executive of the Nordstream project and ex-Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer at senior level in the Southstream Nabucco project. This gives Germany leverage to enhance its role as a major hub for the provision of gas to Europe.
Despite opposition from virtually every other country on the Baltic shore, Russia and Germany completed a 760-mile undersea gas pipeline on May 5. It is scheduled to begin operation this autumn, and a second pipeline will be completed later.
The pipeline gives both Russia and Germany more power. Russia can cut off gas to Eastern Europe while still pumping gas to Western Europe through Germany. This means it can bring Eastern Europe to heel without antagonizing the west. Germany, meanwhile, will be able to control Western Europe’s gas supplies—in effect holding the same gas supply trump card over downstream countries that Russia holds over many Eastern European countries.
Across Europe, nations are renouncing nuclear power. These countries will almost certainly have to replace their nuclear power with natural gas, at least in the short term. It is readily available and less polluting than coal or oil; the International Energy Agency recently predicted a “golden age of gas.” This means more power to Russia and Germany.
In June, Russian state-controlled gas company Gazprom made a move to form a strategic partnership with German utility company rwe to build gas- and coal-fired energy plants across Europe. rwe is also the main partner in the Nabucco consortium.
German-Russian cooperation is also growing elsewhere. Until recently it was rumored that Russia would buy German Leopard tanks. Instead, the Russian defense industry is now interested in using German armor in Russian vehicles. In July, during talks between the two governments in Hanover, Russia offered Germany a partnership to develop Russia’s reserves of rare earth minerals, metals that are vital in many modern devices.
A month earlier, Germany’s Rheinmetall signed a $398 million contract to build a state-of-the-art troop-training center in Russia. “This,” wrote the National Interest, “brings back memories of the post-Rapallo 1920s and early 1930s secret cooperation between the ussr’s Red Army and the Weimar Germany’s Reichswehr, which allowed the latter to develop and test weapons in Russia, forbidden under the Treaty of Versailles” (July 21). Rheinmetall is not controlled by the German government, but Berlin is allowing the deal to go ahead. Can you imagine the U.S. allowing Lockheed Martin to sell state-of-the-art equipment to Russia?
These are small beginnings for German-Russian military cooperation. But any kind of cooperation is bound to make the central European countries that were invaded by both Germany and Russia nervous.
In fact, it is the growing Russian-German relationship that pushed France toward making the Mistral deal. “France sees Berlin and Moscow cooperating and wants to make sure it develops its own relationship with Russia independent of its relationship with Germany,” wrote Stratfor. “The easiest way to do this is to offer Russia military and energy technology that Germany simply does not have” (op. cit.).
History is consistent on this point: Germany and Russia are not close friends, and any appearance that they are portends conflict. The Kremlin knows European history and sees that Germany has restored itself as the dominant power and natural leader of Europe. By forging closer ties with Berlin, the Russians are getting on good terms with the political, military and economic entity that will determine Europe’s future. Just as in the past, Russia and Germany both benefit, in the short term, from the alliance. But as Germany grows in power, the two will become competitors. Watch this relationship closely as history repeats itself.
4 | Ireland
Catholic cover-ups continue
Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny made a historic attack on the Roman Catholic Church on July 21 after revelations that the church was covering up child abuse as recently as three years ago. The “Commission of Investigation Report into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne,” detailing how the Vatican was unhelpful in dealing with allegations of child abuse, was published July 13. Vatican officials had argued that the church has learned from its mistakes and is now cooperating with authorities to stamp out the abuse, but the Cloyne report proves they were lying. Even in recent years, the church has conspired at all levels to cover up the abuse. Ireland’s Catholic prime minister is livid. The Cloyne report “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic,” said Kenny. It “excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism … the narcissism … that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day. The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation.’” Kenny announced that Ireland would introduce laws to imprison priests if they have covered up abuse. Many in the church are outraged, arguing that the law would force them to give police information revealed to them in confessional. According to events prophesied in the Bible, the Catholic Church will, in the short term, rise above this abuse scandal—but in the end will be destroyed, never again able to harm man, woman or child.
5 | Croatia
Another step toward the EU
On June 30 Croatia officially concluded negotiations over an accession treaty to join the EU. The treaty must now be approved by all 27 EU nations and by Croatian voters in a referendum. If all goes according to plan, Croatia will join the EU on July 1, 2013. Germany facilitated the breakup of Yugoslavia so it could extend its influence into the area. The fact that Croatia is preparing to join the EU shows it has succeeded.
6 | Norway
Manifesto anticipates massacre
Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik murdered at least 76 people in a huge bomb blast in the country’s capital and a massive shooting spree at an island retreat on June 22. Breivik is a self-described Christian fundamentalist with links to anti-Islamic establishments in both England and Norway. In a 1,500-page online manifesto titled 2083—A European Declaration of Independence, he railed against Islamic immigration and claimed that multiculturalism was sapping Europe of its Christian heritage.
Grotesque and aberrant as this nightmare was, Breivik’s beliefs have become common in Europe. In recent years, anti-immigration parties have gained influence throughout northern Europe by tapping public anxiety over the relatively new phenomenon of mass Muslim immigration to their region. Mainstream politicians are now expressing anti-immigration viewpoints as a means of appeasing the populace. French President Nicolas Sarkozy banned the wearing of burkas in France earlier this year in the face of rising public support for Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant National Front Party, and Belgium has also followed suit.
Even though the peoples of Europe stand aghast at the brutal murders committed by Breivik, many hold the same ideas about the need to take radical action against the threat of Islam. Watch for Europe to take more extreme measures in the future. History and prophecy reveal that Europe will act forcefully to solve the “Muslim problem.”
1 | Germany
Realizing an imperialist dream
Imperialist, Roman Catholic, ever the supporter of pan-Germanism and European union, Otto von Habsburg, the last official emperor of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire before he renounced all titles after World War ii, died on July 4. Habsburg settled in Bavaria after the war, joined the Christian Social Union and—following encouragement to do so by former strongman of Europe Franz Josef Strauss—became a member of the European Parliament. He was the only serving member of that body to have been born before World War i. He thus could see the dream of German and European union in a uniquely historical context. This drove him to strive for a personal goal: to see every country in Europe, east and west, that had been headed by a royal dynasty pre-World War i become part of the European Union. He lived to see that goal fulfilled. In this sense at least, Habsburg was instrumental in setting the scene for a biblical prophecy unfolding before our eyes: the division of an east-west union of European nations into 10 entities ruled by 10 kings (Revelation 17:12-13).
1 | Saudi Arabia
Not alone in hoping to stop Iran
Germany has agreed to sell 200 state-of-the-art Leopard battle tanks to Saudi Arabia, according to reports published July 3. The deal marks a major change in Germany’s arms-export policy. Though the decision has stirred much controversy in Germany, the government has defended it. Diplomatic and military experts say the delivery of the tanks is aimed at improving Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities in case of war against Iran. In light of biblical prophecy, we can expect relations between Riyadh and Berlin to grow stronger as the Iranian threat grows.
2 | Iran
Confident and brazen
New forensic evidence proves that weapons being used by Iraqi insurgents against U.S. troops are being supplied by Iran. According to senior U.S. officials, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq are using more sophisticated weapons than in the past to target U.S. troops and military bases. June was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq in the past two years, with 15 being killed in Iranian-backed attacks. Three Shiite militia groups, which have been trained and supplied by Iranian Revolutionary Guard special forces, are mainly responsible for the violence, according to U.S. officials. Michael Eisenstadt, director of military studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Iran has little reason to hide its support for groups attacking Americans in Iraq. “They’re feeling a lot more confident now, as the supreme leader is not worried about an American attack” on Iran, he said.
3 | Israel
On the hunt for a reliable ally
A poll in Israel published July 11 shows that Israelis are far more positive about Europe than is generally imagined. The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev survey showed strong and growing support for Israeli membership in the European Union. It indicated that 81 percent of Israelis would like to join the EU, an increase of 12 percentage points since the last survey in 2009.
“The results demonstrate that the Israeli public views the European Union as a crucial player and that Israelis believe in stronger cooperation and not in isolation,” said Dr. Sharon Pardo, who compiled the poll. The survey also found that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the most popular European leader among Israelis, and that 64 percent of Israelis would support the deployment of nato troops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel has never applied to join the EU, and we don’t expect it to do so. However, this survey reveals an Israeli mindset amenable to European involvement in peace-keeping responsibilities in the region. The Bible specifically prophesies that when Israel sees the futility of the peace process, it will seek help from Germany (Hosea 5:13). Biblical prophecy also reveals, however, that Europe will prove to be a counterfeit peacemaker.
4 | Afghanistan
Not getting any safer
Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s younger half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was killed July 12 at his home in Kandahar city. Ahmed Wali was a powerful figure in southern Afghanistan who had been influential in securing support for the president in Kandahar province, the Taliban’s birthplace. His death leaves a dangerous power vacuum in the province; it will likely weaken support for President Karzai and diminish the government’s negotiating power with the Taliban, which could complicate America’s drawdown in the region. Government officials say the killing was carried out by one of Ahmed Wali’s bodyguards; the Taliban also claims responsibility. It is possible both claims are true.
The Taliban conducted one of its boldest terrorist attacks to date in the Afghan capital on June 28 when nine heavily armed suicide bombers stormed the Intercontinental Hotel, battling security forces and targeting foreign hotel guests. While just 12 people were killed, the incident highlights the fact that the Taliban can strike anywhere in Afghanistan. The hotel was considered a safe fortress, and the attack came during a conference on the transfer of security authority from the International Security Assistance Force to the Afghan government. Expect such attacks to continue as the U.S. draws down its forces in Afghanistan.
5 | Syria
Apparently they don’t like foreign ambassadors
As demonstrations and crackdowns continued in Syria, crowds broke into the U.S. Embassy in Damascus on July 11, smashing windows and tearing down the American flag, and also tried to attack the French Embassy. This followed protests against a visit by U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and French envoy Eric Chevallier to the city of Hama. The U.S. accused Syrian authorities of instigating the attacks on the embassies in an attempt to deflect international attention from Assad’s repression of activists. As the Washington Post reported, the embassy attacks highlighted “the limits of U.S. statecraft.” About 1,600 civilians have been killed in the crackdown by Syrian authorities that began in mid-March, according to human rights groups.
6 | China
Reaching new heights, depths
Over a year after China began to allow its currency to climb against the U.S. dollar, the country is a bigger exporting force than ever before, compounding its trading dominance and complicating attempts by other countries to boost their manufacturing sectors. On July 10, Beijing reported that its exports reached $874 billion in the first half of the year and $162 billion for June alone. Both figures were records representing increases of almost 20 percent over the previous year. China’s improving performance comes in spite of increasing costs for Chinese manufacturers, which face the highest inflation in three years, mandatory wage increases, and a Chinese currency that has strengthened more than 5.5 percent against the greenback since Beijing began allowing it to climb in mid-2010.
As China’s economic might grows, so will its military capability and assertiveness.
The nation’s Jiaolong deep-sea submersible conducted four test dives in the central Pacific Ocean in July, reaching over 5,000 meters below sea level and surpassing current U.S. capabilities. The Jiaolong is designed to become the world’s deepest-diving manned craft, giving it extensive mining and military potential. Next year, Beijing will send the Jiaolong to its maximum operation depth of 7,000 meters, which would mean the craft could navigate nearly all of the world’s ocean floors. It would also place China at the top of an exclusive list of deep-sea submersible operator nations, ahead of the U.S., Russia, Japan and France. Beijing aims to use its superior diving technology to boost its leverage over resources in waters that are also claimed by Japan and Southeast Asian nations. In a powerful symbolic gesture, the Jiaolong used a robotic arm to plant a Chinese flag on the floor of the South China Sea during a dive in 2010. Although Beijing makes no effort to hide its ambitions to use the Jiaolong to harness resources, it has said little about the submersible’s military potential. The craft’s stated capabilities suggest that it could execute key expeditions for China’s national security forces, such as developing high-resolution maps of seabeds to facilitate the navigation of China’s expanding fleet of submarines; tapping into other nations’ undersea fiber-optic cables to intercept messages; and recovering lost nuclear weapons. Expect China to continue to invest in projects that bolster its claim to resources and its military power.
7 | Russia
We’ll take over from here, thanks
On July 21, Russia declared that it is now “the era of the Soyuz,” after the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis completed its final flight, leaving Russia’s Soyuz rocket as the only means of ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station. “From today, the era of the Soyuz has started in manned space flight, the era of reliability,” the Russian space agency Roscosmos said. As the U.S. succumbs to its moral and financial diseases, it will fall behind other nations in more and more areas.
8 | Belarus 9 | Kazakhstan
Back in the USSR?
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan created a single customs region on July 1 by doing away with customs controls on the borders between the three nations. Movement of goods and workers is no longer delayed by administration controls, taxes or other duties. Cancelling the customs controls represents a victory for Moscow, which wants to expand its power in its satellite nations.
10 | Pakistan
Looking to China for protection
Anti-Americanism in Pakistan has risen to extraordinary levels in recent months, prompting calls by Pakistan’s media for Islamabad to draw closer to Beijing. Pakistan’s highest-circulation newspaper, the Jang, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s manner during her May visit to the country “seemed more like dictation than reconciliation.” The Nation advised the government to “get away from this trap.” After the U.S. announced on July 10 its plan to withhold $800 million in military aid from Pakistan, the Nawa-i-Waqt said Islamabad should “consider this opportunity as a blessing; do away with U.S. slavery and start a journey towards self-reliance.” The paper also said Pakistan can “find alternative means of aid,” and calls for a closer relationship with Beijing have been growing stronger. On July 16, the Pakistan Observer noted, “The exponential expansion in [Pakistan-China] relations during the present regime reflects a marked departure from our perennial propensity to look up to the West, particularly the U.S., for our security and economic progress.” The paper said these warmer ties between China and Pakistan “will contribute immensely to warding off the lurking dangers.” Expect Islamabad to heed these calls to sever its relationship with the U.S. and work toward closer ties with China.
Worldwatch: Latin America, Africa
1 | Guatemala
Enemies of drug cartels, unite!
Guatemala’s President Álvaro Colom has called for the creation of a regional nato-style military force to contain the threat posed by the violent and well-armed drug cartels spreading across Central America. In an interview in the July 20 Financial Times, Colom said drug cartels travel across borders almost at will, while the region’s national armies and police force regulars cannot cross international boundaries without the permission of the respective parliaments of each nation involved. “What good is it if the forces of one country are pursuing drug traffickers who cross a river but then have to stop to avoid an international incident?” asked Colom. “Why not have a type of Central American nato?” Expect the leaders of Latin America to continue pushing for economic and military integration.
2 | Mexico 3 | Venezuela
Cartels: Friends in low places
A devastating war with local drug cartels is weakening the Mexican government and creating opportunities for Hezbollah to join forces with Latin American drug lords, according to Sue Myrick and other U.S. congressional representatives. In a special meeting on July 7, witnesses from public policy groups met before a House Homeland Security subcommittee to testify on Hezbollah’s growing Latin American connections. They outlined how both Iran and Hezbollah are taking advantage of friendly relations with the leaders of Mexican drug cartels and also with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Tehran is increasing the number of Iranian embassies in Latin America and has made an effort to teach Islam to impoverished residents in the region. Expect the terrorist threat to America to intensify as radical Islam forges alliances close to the U.S.’s porous southern border.
4 | South Africa
How not to solve race problems
South Africa could be on the verge of racial warfare as the firebrand youth leader of the African National Congress (anc) calls for the seizure of white-owned farms and the nationalization of white-owned businesses.
Julius Malema, 30, who was recently tried by South Africa’s Equality Court for singing a song that calls for the killing of Afrikaans farmers, has repeatedly called for the nationalization of the country’s mines and banks, which he says are controlled by whites. At an anc Youth League conference in Johannesburg in late June, Malema’s anger burned even hotter than usual. “The real enemy is white monopoly capital,” Malema told more than 5,000 cheering delegates. “They are the ones we are fighting against. In whose hands is this wealth? In whites’!”
He elaborated on his plans for South Africa by saying the seizures must be made without compensation. “Our calls for mines to be nationalized and land to be expropriated without compensation is currently our most important issue,” he told delegates in a 90-minute speech. “We must take the land without payment.”
Malema’s proposed policy has investors running scared. Though the anc leadership has stated that nationalization is not official policy, it is getting more difficult to dismiss Malema as a radical sideshow in South African politics. As unemployment soars, his views resonate with the 50 percent of young black South Africans who are out of work and whose living conditions have deteriorated in the 17 years since the end of apartheid.
While Malema may not be the king of South African politics, he could definitely be considered the primary king-maker. South African President Jacob Zuma relied heavily on the support of Malema’s Youth League to get elected. Since Zuma cannot risk having Malema throwing his support behind some other candidate in next year’s anc party elections, he is likely to forge a halfway compromise between the government’s current position and the more radical proposals proffered by the Youth League.
Investors fear that the implementation of Malema’s economic policies will transform South Africa into a second Zimbabwe. More than this, however, many political observers believe the seizure of white-owned farms and businesses could intensify the racial schism in the country and spark clashes between whites and blacks.
More white farmers were murdered in South Africa during just 2009 than have been killed in Zimbabwe since Robert Mugabe came to power. Since the end of apartheid, over 3,000 white farmers have been murdered, according to the bbc.
If violence and crime are already this bad in South Africa, imagine how bad things could get once the government starts seizing land and businesses from their rightful owners.
As Ezekiel 7:23-27 prophesy: “Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence. Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses ….”
Teachers given permission to use common sense
As violence in British schools reaches stunning heights, the UK’s Department for Education has released new guidance telling teachers they can use reasonable force against unruly students. There were 12,688 acts of grievous bodily harm or actual bodily harm reported in schools in England last year, the Daily Mail reported July 12. In 2008/2009, nearly 1,000 students were suspended from school every school day because of abuse or assault. The previous year the number was 452. In 2010, 44 teachers went to hospital with serious injuries. Facing such figures, the government finally decided to act. The new guidelines, released July 11, forbid the “no touch” policies that don’t let teachers lay a hand on pupils. They clarify that teachers can use force “to prevent pupils from hurting themselves or others, from damaging property, or from causing disorder.” The guidelines also make it easier for teachers to defend themselves against false accusation. The guidelines go a small way toward restoring discipline, but schools are still barred from effectively punishing children—and parents won’t. The result is the society foretold in Isaiah 3:12: “As for my people, children are their oppressors ….”
UK to cut Army, again
The British regular Army will be cut to its smallest size in over a century after 2015, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox announced July 18, saying the Army will lay off 10,000 soldiers. This is on top of the 7,000 troops that the Strategic Defense and Security Review has announced will be cut, meaning the Army will shrink from 101,000 to 84,000 by 2020. The Treasury has promised that in return, it will give the armed forces more money to spend on equipment after 2013. The government will also channel more money to the reserve forces, making them better equipped and better paid. They will also be expected to fight more often. “Liam Fox will use the reserves review to put a brave strategic face on the Army cuts,” wrote the Spectator. “But the fact remains that once again it is money, rather than strategy, which is really driving the decisions. Reserves are far cheaper than regulars, and neither ministers nor officials have been able to find another way of making the sums add up” (July 18). These cuts will leave Britain with less international influence and more reliant on its European allies.
Same-sex ‘marriage’ marches on
A new law in New York legalizing same-sex “marriage” took effect on July 24. The legislation passed by a comfortable margin of 33-29 in the Republican-controlled New York Senate. And since there are no residency restrictions within the law, homosexuals from anywhere in America can now legally “marry” in the Empire State.
‘White girl bleeds a lot’
Violence with racial undertones broke out in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over the Fourth of July weekend in the midst of the celebrations. Late-night surveillance footage shows a mob of possibly dozens of African-American teens who rushed into a gas station, stealing armfuls of snacks and trashing the store as shocked employees and paying customers looked on in disbelief. A second robbery, possibly related, occurred shortly thereafter. Authorities believe the same group taunted and attacked a group of passersby the same night. The Milwaukee police chief called the attack disturbing, outrageous and barbaric. One of the victims was punched in the face as her debit card and cell phone were stolen. “They just said, ‘Oh, white girl bleeds a lot,’” she recalled. Her sister was kicked in the head and others in the group were also beaten, some requiring stitches, others, surgery. As the economy worsens and tempers flare, expect crime and racial violence to grow more and more brazen.
Shame: Why the unemployment rate is so high
The U.S. Department of Commerce reported in July that career openings in science, technology, engineering and math are on the rise in the United States. The problem is that there are not enough qualified American applicants to fill them.
Andrew Liveris, chief executive officer of Midland-based Dow Chemical Co., told cbs News that his company is having a hard time finding qualified engineers. “We have 1 million science, technology, engineering and math jobs available in this country right now and only 200,000 graduates qualified to fill them,” Liveris said. “That’s scary.” To counter this shortage, he said, “I’m opening up R&D labs in China, in Brazil, in Eastern Europe, in India, to get those jobs.”
It may be hard to believe that a country with an unemployment rate hovering close to 10 percent should have a shortage of qualified job applicants—but not when you consider the state of America’s education system. According to a report last year, less than one third of eighth graders are considered proficient in math and science. America has lost its competitive advantage in technical know-how.