When They Shall Say Peace and Safety …

A bevy of peace initiatives at the beginning of 2004 may have some people hopeful for peace. But can we take these efforts at face value? Is peace really on the horizon? The lessons of history give the answer.

Is world peace on the horizon? Will diplomatic efforts of recent months finally bring the peace our war-weary world so desperately seeks?

A slew of unprecedented geopolitical maneuvers in the past few months have many hopeful. Most of these occurred in the Middle East at the beginning of 2004: Relationships became more agreeable between the U.S. and Libya, the U.S. and Iran, Egypt and Iran, Turkey and Syria, Israel and Libya, Israel and Syria. Not too far eastward, India and Pakistan made unprecedented efforts at a peaceful settlement to their differences.

What has been happening?

Lately, we have seen the rise of normalizing relations, informal alliances and peace talks—evidenced by a flurry of summits, joint declarations, agreements and statements.

Leaders are calling for more rigid observance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (see p. 16).

Nations in Asia once at odds have been striving to put past differences behind them—India and China, China and South Korea, India and Myanmar, Russia and Japan, Russia and Azerbaijan.

A Canadian journalist proclaimed that peace had broken out on the African continent: “Africa appears to have heeded a call to put down arms and work toward development of the bright future that should be possible given the enormous resource wealth of the continent and the enormous intelligence and ingenuity of its people” (www.YellowTimes.org, January 14). His evidence that certain conflicts in Africa are winding down is that there are possible peace agreements in the works, the disarming of rebel groups and the presence of peacekeepers.

Then a former Jordanian diplomat wrote, “Whatever claims Israel makes about the past, today it cannot claim to be ‘surrounded’ by enemies” (Electronic Intifada, January 22). The evidence he used to support the claim that Israel dwells safely: “It has FULL PEACE TREATIES with Egypt and Jordan. Syria and Lebanon … continue to offer to negotiate full peace in return for their occupied land …” (emphasis mine throughout).

Some believe the world is on its way to peace. Isn’t it natural, when we see former foes and long-time enemies at a table together, to be encouraged—thinking in our hearts that maybe they might settle things for good? Do we not entertain the idea that perhaps world peace could come about this way—one table-discussion at a time?

What do all these efforts for peace mean? Is worldwide peace imminent? An understanding of history can help us know for sure.

War and Treaties

Winston S. Churchill said, “The story of the human race is war.”

Paul Eidelberg, political science professor and respected author, backs Churchill’s statement in his essay “On War and Peace.” Between 1945 and 1978, he relates, “there were not more than 26 days in which there was no war of some kind somewhere in the world. About 12 wars were being fought on an ‘average’ day.” Eidelberg concluded, “Indeed, the occurrence of 1,000 wars during the last 2,500 years indicates that ‘peace’ is little more than a preparation for war. Which means that peace treaties are worthless, to say the least.”

The evidence for peace that journalists and analysts typically give is the number of alliances, joint declarations and treaties presently occurring. However, we only need to look into the pathetic track-record of treaties to see that those assumptions—however optimistic—are hopelessly naive and unfounded.

According to Laurence W. Beilenson’s 1969 book, The Treaty Trap, it is this “magic of labels” that has people subconsciously associating treaties with peace and their absence with war. “This has led some commentators to assert that since war has become so suicidal, logic dictates dependence on treaties to prevent it. The conclusion, however, does not follow from the premise.”

In fact, his book supports the sure word of Bible prophecy—showing that pronouncements of “peace” actually demonstrate how volatile the global situation is. It seems that the more men shout “peace,” the more WAR is imminent.

When he set forth a prophecy for our day, the Apostle Paul also demonstrated an astute understanding of human nature in global politics: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them …” (I Thes. 5:3).

This prophecy is being fulfilled today—the cries of “peace, peace” only mean that sudden destruction is at our door.

Beilenson—a lawyer, historian, veteran of two wars and retired army officer—examined treaties of the U.S. and European nations over a 300-year period: “This book looks back to point forward. … Ever since men grouped themselves in tribes, PEACE TREATIES HAVE WALKED HAND IN HAND WITH WAR.”

When England and France went to war in 1793, they were allies on paper, just as they were immediately before other major conflicts—the War of the League of Augsberg, the War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years War and the War of the American Revolution.

Speaking of the post-Napoleanic 19th century, Beilenson said, “The relation between peace and treaty operated in INVERSE RATIO.” In other words, PEACE TREATIES MEANT THE OPPOSITE OF PEACE!

This is an irrefutable law of history. Our editor in chief, Gerald Flurry, pointed this out in his booklet The King of the South: “Middle East peace treaties dominate the news—as all kinds of peace treaties did just before World War II began! It is just another major sign that WAR IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE IN THE MIDDLE EAST!”

So often, treaties are made in conflict only to allow antagonists to catch their breath. Countless historical examples prove this—from the conflicts of ancient Greece to those of 19th-century Europe. Even the period between the two world wars was merely a time for Germany—unhappy with the restrictions placed on it at Versailles—to catch its breath. And, remember, Neville Chamberlain just hastened the second round with his elated announcement of “peace in our time”!

Given these facts, we must agree with Eidelberg’s realistic conclusion that so-called peace is “little more than a preparation for war.”

Distrust Cries of “Peace”

Joseph Stalin wrote in 1913, “When bourgeois diplomats prepare for war, they begin to shout very loudly about ‘peace’ and ‘friendly relations.’ A diplomat’s words must contradict his deeds—otherwise, what sort of a diplomat is he? Words are one thing—deeds something entirely different. Fine words are a mask to cover shady deeds. A sincere diplomat is like dry water or wooden iron.”

So many times throughout history, peace agreements were contrived by shrewd and often ruthless leaders expressly to ensnare other nations and mask their plans for war.

Eidelberg condenses Beilenson’s research into two lessons: “First, there is no such thing as a ‘peace process,’ except for fools and scoundrels. … A second lesson is this: If you want peace, be prepared for war; if you want war, make concessions for peace. This unpleasant wisdom rubs against the principles and passions of democratic societies” (op. cit.).

Democratic nations easily fall into the trap of treaty reliance, believing as they do that nearly every person alive sincerely desires peace. But as John Jay, America’s first chief justice, said, “[N]ations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it.” Many national leaders throughout history have believed that the ends always justify the means—even if, or especially if, the “means” is war. And not only that, they have deceitfully used “peace” as a snare for the trusting nations they have known will take the bait.

It’s no wonder that author-essayist Midge Decter, who last November received one of America’s highest honors for her literary achievements, wrote that peace is an evil word when applied to the affairs of nations. She asserts, “From the peace of Versailles to Chamberlain’s ‘peace in our time’ … each of these declarations ended in what might otherwise have been avoidable slaughter. Not necessarily immediately and not necessarily directly, but slaughter all the same ….

“There is no such thing as ‘making’ peace. Nations who are friendly do not need to do so, and nations or people who are hostiles cannot do so. …

“To cry peace, peace, when there is no peace, as the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel taught us long ago, is not the expression of a hope. It is, on the contrary, a reckless toying with the minds and feelings of people …” (Israel News, Sept. 6, 2002).

Treaty-Reliance Often Leads to Destruction

Not only is the mere existence of political promises and maneuvers toward “peace” a sign of impending doom, the fact that so many modern politicians suffer from what Beilenson called the “disease of treaty-reliance” puts the world in exponentially more danger.

We live in a time when men are “spellbound by peace treaties,” as Mr. Flurry has said (op. cit.). It seems people are, as Louis XIV was, “always ready to buy another promise to replace the broken one.” However, Louis XIV “never learned that the new promise was as undependable as the one it replaced” (Beilenson, op. cit.). History shows that this naive reliance on precarious promises has engendered war and bloodshed on too many occasions.

In 1697, when Charles XII succeeded to the Swedish throne at age 15, he lacked political experience. Being a man of his word, he blindly assumed other rulers would be the same. “Throughout his short life, he suffered from treaty-reliance, which CONTRIBUTED TO HIS LOSS OF AN EMPIRE” (ibid.).

At the end of World War I, England and France trusted in the Treaty of Versailles to the point that they essentially disarmed—assuming Germany would abide by the settlement imposed on it. But Germany didn’t disarm, despite numerous inspections supposedly verifying that it had. Why didn’t the French remember Germany’s treatment of the 1808 Franco-Prussian treaty whereby Prussia had agreed to maintain an army of only 42,000? In that instance, Europe learned two years later that Prussia was able to put nearly 200,000 men into the field!

England’s severe disease of treaty-reliance between the two world wars was evidenced not only by Chamberlain’s peace pronouncement but by its military downsizing (and another treaty which actually led to INCREASED German naval power)—leading to the bloodshed of World War II and the threatened annihilation of Britain.

It was treaty-reliance that brought war to Russia: Stalin trusted Hitler. However, after Hitler’s 1941 surprise attack on Russia, “Stalin was cured” of this disease, as Beilenson points out.

A Modern Disease Too

With this background, it should not startle us that men, hopeful for “peace,” are using its name in vain. What is truly startling is that our world is riddled with politicians who blindly feel they must solve international crises within “the legal straight jacket of treaties.” As William Kintner said in the foreword to Beilenson’s book, this “could JEOPARDIZE THE SURVIVAL OF NATIONS which believe that the role of law in domestic matters applies with equal force to foreign confrontations.”

The “role of law in domestic matters” is different to international law in that international law is “enforced” by nations with their own self-interests at heart—they have to referee themselves, penalize themselves, or else just ignore the rules altogether. “[I]nternational law at best is only a contract among sovereign states, each with its own armed forces. If a contract between private citizens be broken, the contract has the ultimate force of the sheriff to carry out a judgment of the courts of the sovereign state. Breaches of international law, including the breaches of treaty, have no such remedy” (Beilenson, op. cit.).

Within a nation, especially within a republic, you have a government that somewhat benevolently and judiciously guards the rights of its citizens and enforces the laws and regulations of the federal government. On this level, there is a clear way to handle disputes. Not so in international relations. People have tried to create systems like the League of Nations and the United Nations to establish international laws, and they have tried to create international judicial systems like The Hague or the International Criminal Court—but these are all controlled by nations competing for power, or at the very least, acting in their OWN self-interest.

Germany’s chancellor during World War I “echoed Frederick the Great and Bismarck by telling the Reichstag on Aug. 4, 1914: ‘We are now in a state of necessity, and necessity knows no law’” (ibid.).

What good is international law if it cannot be enforced? When treaties are broken, what recourse does the world have in order to maintain peace and order? Rationally minded men have determined that the only solution is ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT—justly enforcing laws and rules upon the citizens of the world for the common good. But man has been unable to devise this type of system.

Still—as U.S. diplomat and historian George F. Kennan pointed out—men rely on “the legalistic-moralistic approach to international problems. … It is the belief that it should be possible to suppress the chaotic and dangerous aspirations of governments in the international field by the acceptance of some system of legal rules and restraints” (American Diplomacy 1900-1950).

When you understand human nature—that “the heart is deceitful above all things,” as the Prophet Jeremiah said, and that “all men are liars,” as King David said—you can see the folly of relying on the words of any leader, or relying on the fragile laws set up to dictate how competing nations must behave among one another. As Jeremiah also wrote, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm …” (Jer. 17:5). David again said, “Put not your trust in princes …” (Ps. 146:3).

This trend of treaty-reliance will only get worse in nations too blind to learn from history—while other nations will use this weakness to their advantage.

There was a time when the U.S., for instance, relied very little on treaties or alliances. It had the national will to avoid them. For the first 150 years of its existence, the U.S. was able to secure power and influence with relatively few paper guarantees. Even after World War I, it refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. It typically opted for a policy of few political pledges. “This country fought the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War and World War I without alliance treaties” (Beilenson, op. cit.).

Since World War II, it has been a different story entirely. Even the current U.S. administration, though condemned for its “unilateral” actions in the Middle East, is seeking agreement and appeasement from its allies in a multiplicity of areas. Secretary of State Colin Powell calls it “A Strategy of Partnerships” (the title of his January/February 2004 article in Foreign Affairs). Powell believes that the “enlightened self-interest” of the American people “makes us partners with all those who cherish freedom, human dignity and peace.” America believes that its fundamentally good nature (its “enlightened self-interest”) will cause other nations to rally with it.

America is afflicted with the same disease that has infected many nations historically just before they faced immense peril. A case in point that shows how such alliances will ultimately work to America’s disadvantage is the support Washington gave to radical Islamic elements during the Cold War to stem the spread of communism in Asia and the Middle East. America rearmed Germany and Japan for similar reasons. Now, with the Soviet threat vanquished, Germany stands nearly unchallenged as the leading power in Europe, and America is fighting a politically exhausting war against the same Islamic elements it once supported.

Even today, in our increasingly interconnected world, Washington is fostering “unlikely alliances”—the only way it feels it can gain leverage over its enemies. It is bargaining with the nation it once labeled the bastion of state-sponsored terror, Iran, in order to attain stability in Iraq and leverage in the Middle East. It also is taking the heat for letting nuclear Pakistan off the hook—Washington argues it must remain on Islamabad’s good side if it wants to send its forces into the country where Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.

Where Current Treaty-Reliance Is Leading

The Bible prophesies the downfall of key nations in the end time—and DIRECTLY RELATES THOSE DOWNFALLS TO NAIVE DIPLOMACY. The nations to fall victim to this are the modern descendants of Israel—the U.S., Britain, Israel, and other parts of the Anglo-American world. (Request your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy for further explanation.)

God calls end-time Britain a “silly dove” in Hosea 7:11, because “they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria”—modern Germany. This precarious alliance is mentioned in Hosea 8:9 as well: “For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.”

God uses the term “lovers” to describe Israel’s end-time allies. But He says, “Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side” (Ezek. 23:22).

The Bible also says that Judah, or the Middle Eastern nation of Israel, will go to Assyria because of its “wound.” As our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy points out—this “wound” is actually the current “peace process.” The peace process will end up wounding Israel; the Jewish nation will seek help from Germany; and that will seal its ULTIMATE DOOM as a nation!

Surely the prophet’s words ring true: “We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!” (Jer. 8:15).

Final War Portends Real Peace

The rash of diplomatic activity we see is only a sign that our world is in dire danger and turmoil. As is the nature of international relations, nations—led by selfish human beings—are jockeying for a secure position in a world on the brink of destruction. Indeed, Paul’s prophecy will ring true: “[S]udden destruction cometh upon them … and they shall not escape” (I Thes. 5:3).

But—and here is the ultimate and blessed irony—this final war is a sign that lasting PEACE is just around the corner.

If we read the context of Paul’s prophecy in I Thessalonians, we see that it is about Christ’s return. A few verses prior to chapter 5, Paul writes, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God …” (I Thes. 4:16). Other prophecies show that Christ will wage the war to end all wars against a rebellious mankind, ushering in an everlasting age of peace.

This age will have no need for treaties—for ONE government will rule the globe: the Kingdom of God. Men will truly disarm under the perfect inspection of the King of kings. No more will power struggles, duplicitous politics or greed be tolerated.

Breach of treaty will become a thing of the past, “when men and nations become unselfish,” as Beilenson said. Though Beilenson didn’t believe this would happen, we know from Bible prophecy that God WILL CHANGE human nature. He will teach all men to live the way of give—of unselfish, outflowing concern.

“When men come to love their neighbors as themselves … armed might to protect will become superfluous, and so will treaties. The men and women who labor to hasten that happy day are to be blessed, but one need only read the daily paper to know that their success is not imminent” (ibid.).

But we DO know, beyond the gruesome times ahead, the success of lasting peace IS imminent!

“But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. … But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day …” (I Thes. 5:1-2, 4-5).

We don’t have to be caught off guard by the pronouncements of “peace and safety.” If we heed God’s Word, we can be “children of light” and see clearly where world events are headed. And though they head toward unparalleled war and destruction, just beyond that comes the peace this world has longed for.

As Paul stated in I Thessalonians 4:18, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”