Everybody take a step to the right
In the first round of France’s presidential elections, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen won a record 18 percent of the vote on April 22. Her success came after campaigning against the European Union and immigration. She blamed the EU for forcing France to let in far more immigrants than it can handle, demanding the nation cut its annual immigration from 200,000 to 10,000. Le Pen says she is fighting the “Islamization” of France. Muslims, she warns, “are advancing in the neighborhoods. They are putting pressure on the population. They are recruiting young boys” to fight for Islam.
Several of Le Pen’s ideas are becoming mainstream. The leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union in parliament, Volker Kauder, said: “Islam is not part of our tradition and identity in Germany and so does not belong in Germany,” though diplomatically adding: “But Muslims do belong in Germany.” A confrontation between conservative Germans and Islam is brewing as an ultra-conservative Salafist group, “The True Religion,” begins a campaign to put a Koran in every home in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The French and German interior ministers published a joint letter calling for “the possibility of reestablishing internal border controls” on April 20. Open borders and the free movement of people are key parts of EU integration. Opposition to it usually comes from far-right parties or perhaps from smaller member countries. This proposal coming from Europe’s core countries shows how far to the right they are shifting.
Meanwhile, European countries are becoming less tolerant of immigrants and minorities because of economic troubles, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance’s annual report concluded. “Xenophobic discourse has been mainstreamed during the past decade, gaining increasing social acceptance,” warned the report, published May 3. It continued: “Racism and intolerance are on the rise in Europe today, and the resulting tension sometimes leads to racist violence.” As Europe’s economy worsens, watch for this hatred to grow.
First veterans day since WWII
German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière has proposed that Germany celebrate a veterans day to celebrate its armed forces, on May 22, the date of the foundation of the Bundeswehr in 1956. “As the war generation dies out, the defense minister believes that the time is ready for Germany to come of age as a nation and commemorate the work done by its modern armed forces,” wrote the Times. It wrote that, for Germany, the move would “end one of its last postwar taboos.” Watch for the German military to continue to shake off the stigma of its Nazi past.
Wild elections rock Continent
An anti-austerity backlash by Greek and French voters rattled the eurozone May 6, causing uncertainty for the markets and for the euro currency.
What used to be Greece’s two main parties received so few votes that, combined, they could not form a coalition. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund may not release the next section of Greece’s bailout money. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, who did second best in the elections, called the bailout conditions “barbaric.” The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party won 21 seats. Citigroup said there is a 50 to 75 percent chance of Greece leaving the euro.
In France, Socialist Francois Hollande defeated conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency. Hollande promises to steer Europe’s focus away from austerity and toward economic growth through government spending.
A few weeks earlier, Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom toppled the Dutch government over opposition to austerity. This was a blow to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Spain also seems set to cause problems, with its economy sliding toward a bailout. The status quo, propped up by German loans and European Central Bank printing presses, cannot continue. Expect dramatic changes in Europe soon.
Infiltrating Europe’s underbelly
Iran employs an unusually large number of employees at its embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, as part of its effort to radicalize the majority-Muslim European nation and to extend its reach into the heart of Europe. On May 3, radio talk show host John Batchelor interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Hoenlein said Iran staffs its Sarajevo embassy with over 400 employees, sharply exceeding the usual number for a facility of its kind. For Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina is becoming “a jumping-off ground,” Hoenlein said. Iran’s efforts in Sarajevo help demonstrate that the prophesied Islamist “push” against Europe is well underway.
Preacher: Let’s take Jerusalem!
A radical Muslim preacher told thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters that Jerusalem should be the capital of an Islamic caliphate, in a video clip released May 7. Safwat Higazi said: “We can see how the dream of the Islamic caliphate is being realized, God willing, by Dr. Mohamed Mursi,” the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate. Brotherhood officials nodded in agreement. “The capital of the caliphate—the capital of the United States of the Arabs—will be Jerusalem, God willing,” Higazi said. Jerusalem is radical Islam’s ultimate prize. As Egypt morphs into a radical Islamist state, it is no surprise that this is being openly championed.
What will the new constitution look like?
Egypt’s Islamists dominate the 100-strong group tasked with writing the country’s new constitution. Parliament chose the Constituent Assembly members on March 25. The Egypt Independent reported that the “Islamists picked their own as much as they could,” and that “[a]ll bankers and businessmen included in the assembly are from Islamist backgrounds, and the bankers work in Islamic banking” (March 25). In response, more than 20 members of the committee, including liberals, secularists and Coptic Christians, walked out in protest. Several lawyers also launched a lawsuit challenging the method of forming the assembly, which has resulted in the courts freezing the assembly.
More fruitless talks
Talks on Iran’s nuclear program were held in Istanbul between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany on April 14. Tehran agreed to participate in more talks on May 23 in Baghdad. The international community continues the fool’s errand of trying to persuade Iran to cease uranium enrichment. Meanwhile, Iran buys more time to advance its nuclear program to the point of no return.
Back with a vengeance
The Taliban launched a complex attack on foreign embassies in the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, in mid-April. Afghan security forces overpowered the terrorists on April 16, after 18 hours. One police officer and 17 terrorists were killed in multi-prong attacks, which took place in three eastern cities as well as the capital. In addition to several foreign embassies, Taliban terrorists also targeted nato bases and the Afghan parliament using assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide bombers. The violence shows that the Taliban is far from beaten as the U.S. and nato draw down their forces in Afghanistan.
Egypt Deal with Israel is off
The Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company has terminated its contract to ship natural gas to Israel. The company made the announcement April 22, saying that Israel had violated contractual obligations. Israel imports 40 percent of its natural gas from Egypt. Israel and Egypt signed the deal in 2005, and Israeli Energy Minister Uzi Landau said it was a cornerstone of the two nations’ peace treaty. However, since the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last year, it has become a symbol of tension between the two countries. Several presidential candidates, together with the Egyptian parliament and some Arab media, hailed the cessation of the agreement as a positive step reflecting the will of the people. The termination foreshadows the future of Egypt and Israel’s tenuous peace agreement.
Still plotting to bomb U.S.
A plot by a branch of al Qaeda in Yemen to smuggle an experimental bomb aboard a U.S.-bound plane was thwarted by the cia and foreign intelligence after it was discovered in mid-April. Intelligence officials said May 7 that the explosive device was seized about a week earlier. It appears a suicide bomber had been sent from Yemen to board a flight to the United States. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the bomb was “a new design and very difficult to detect by magnetometer,” which is used in most airports. U.S. officials said al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had seized territory in the wake of the “Arab Spring” and had established new training camps. This thwarted attack confirms that the terrorist group is still determined to attack the U.S.
Looking for new friends
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted his Italian counterpart in central Israel on April 8. Netanyahu discussed Iran’s nuclear program and the Middle East peace process with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti at a meeting in Caesarea. The growing relationship between Israel and Europe is significant in light of Bible prophecy. With the U.S. losing influence in world affairs, Israel is being forced to look for a new protector.
Giving America an excuse to retreat
As Vladimir Putin returns to the Kremlin, exuding more swagger than ever before, it’s becoming clearer that Russia has shifted into a new, higher gear in its quest to rebuild the old Soviet power bloc.
In an especially bold statement just days before Putin’s rule became official once again, Russia’s top soldier said that if Washington forges ahead with plans to build missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe, Russia will destroy the posts with a preemptive strike.
Last year, then President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would retaliate militarily if the U.S. failed to reach an agreement with Moscow on the missile defense system. But Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov ratcheted the rhetoric up to a new level in his May 3 statement, saying “if the situation worsens,” the Russian military will “use destructive force preemptively.” Makarov said that if Moscow and Washington fail to reach an agreement, Russia will “be forced to take military and technological measures” to protect itself. Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov warned that such a time is drawing near, saying talks between Moscow and Washington regarding the shield are “close to a dead end.”
Moscow’s threats are not empty bluster. Russia is powerful militarily, and its recent threats were timed to coincide with the commissioning of a new military facility in Kaliningrad, its westernmost enclave, near the Polish border. This facility will be capable of monitoring missile launches from Europe and the North Atlantic, and will become capable of offensive measures. U.S. Sen. John McCain lambasted Russia’s plans in Kaliningrad, saying the use of missile defense “as an excuse to have a military buildup in this part of the world, which is at peace, is really an egregious example of what might be even viewed as paranoia on the part of Vladimir Putin.”
For many years, the subject of U.S. missile defense plans in Europe has been one of the touchiest in relations between Washington and Moscow. The U.S. and nato say the missile defense system is intended only to counter Iran’s missile threat. Moscow rejects this claim, saying the shield could undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent. The Kremlin has proposed running the missile shield jointly with nato, but the alliance has rejected that offer.
Originally, Washington and nato had planned to build a beefier version of the missile defense system. But, in order to appease the Russians, President Obama substituted that proposal with the current, less threatening plans. Critics said the substitution meant the Obama administration had effectively given Moscow veto power over U.S. defenses. But the concession wasn’t enough for Moscow.
Russia has been displeased with the progress on the revised missile defense system. This displeasure led to President Obama’s infamous open microphone gaffe in March, when he told Medvedev it would be wise to save the talks about the missile defense system until after U.S. elections, when Obama would have “more flexibility.” But his attempts at greasing Russia’s cogs failed to satisfy the Russians, as evidenced by the threat of a preemptive strike. In a May 10 reinforcement of Russia’s stance on the matter, President Putin told Washington he was too busy to come to the United States for a G-8 summit at Camp David the following week. Moscow also announced that Russia planned to sit out the nato summit in Chicago on May 20-21.
Under Russian pressure, Washington has folded like an origami crane. The U.S.’s military weariness is more evident with each passing month, and Russia’s belligerence gives Washington yet another reason to slide out of Eastern Europe.
Who, then, is willing to provide security to Eastern Europe if Washington won’t? The mantle of responsibility will ultimately pass to Germany. Germany is the perfect candidate, because it is both powerful enough to provide protection and also on increasingly amicable terms with Russia.
European states are already aware of the fading relevance of Washington and nato in the region and are taking measures to replace them. Ireland recently joined the Scandinavian and Baltic states to form the Nordic Battlegroup. Meanwhile, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia formed the Visegrad Group. Stratfor said both of these military alliances are “responses to a militarily powerful Russia lying to the east” (May 9). They are just as much a response to the U.S.’s eroding military willpower.
European nations can plainly see that the U.S. is now a bankrupt nation with a shattered will. If the Visegrad countries and the Nordic Battlegroup nations have picked up on America’s fading capability, and have taken drastic measures to compensate for it, surely Germany will soon follow suit. And European calls for Germany to rearm and assert its power are becoming louder all the time.
As Russia’s desire to rebuild its former Soviet glory intensifies, so does its saber rattling and its actual military capabilities. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said that Russia’s resurgence is significant mostly because it will prod Europe to unify more quickly. Russia’s “power will be able to challenge Europe when nobody else can,” he said, adding that Russia’s rise “strikes intense fear in Europe” (January 2004). The threat from Russia’s top military officer gives the beleaguered U.S. an excuse to wash its hands of the missile defense project and to entrust Eastern Europe’s protection to Germany. Moscow’s expanding military might and intensifying threats will hasten America’s egress from the region, and Russia’s European neighbors will take note and consolidate their power with Berlin at the helm.
Unity as deep as the ocean
On April 23-24, Russian and Chinese warships held joint exercises in the Yellow Sea. The drills focused on joint air defense, supply, anti-submarine, and search and rescue operations. China’s Vice Adm. Ding Yiping said the exercise would test the warfare abilities of both navies and advance their cooperation ability. The drill was the seventh between Russian and Chinese armed forces since 2003 and marks a deepening unity between the two Asian giants.
Marines pulling out
The United States agreed on April 27 to withdraw 9,000 marines from Okinawa, Japan, and move them to Guam, Hawaii and Australia. Officials say the deal was meant to reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa, but it also represents a shift in Japan’s priorities—away from the U.S. security alliance and toward stronger ties with Asian nations, namely China.
A standoff intensifies
China’s state-run PLA Daily published a commentary on May 10 titled “Don’t Attempt to Take Away Half an Inch of China’s Territory,” which said: “Anyone’s attempt to take away China’s sovereignty over Huangyan Island will not be allowed by the Chinese government, people, and armed forces.” The article warned against mistaking “China’s kindness for weakness.” The same day, China told its citizens they are not safe in the Philippines and warned of a possible war.
The row began April 10 when a Philippine warship accused Chinese fishermen of illegal entry and poaching in Philippine waters, and attempted to arrest them. The attempt was stopped by the arrival of two Chinese government vessels, which ordered the Philippine ship to leave the shoal. The Philippine ship refused to back down, saying the Huangyan territory lay within Philippine waters. (The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea designates a country’s exclusive economic zone as 230 miles from its coastline. The shoal in question is 140 miles from the Philippine coast.) The Philippines asked China to bring the simmering dispute to an international court, but Beijing refused and dispatched a third ship to the shoal.
As China’s might grows, watch for its belligerent behavior to also increase.
Official: Asians unite!
China’s Vice Premier Li Keqiang delivered a keynote speech on April 4 saying Asia’s people “are working together to embrace a new rise.” Li said a united Asia requires individual nations “to continue working together like passengers traveling in the same boat …. [China is] ready to work with relevant countries to improve such regional cooperation mechanisms as China-asean cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization ….” As a result of Beijing’s relentless unity measures, Asian nations will increasingly rally behind the rising Chinese star.
China, North Korea
What’s an illegal missile test between friends?
Chinese President Hu Jintao met with a top North Korean official on April 23 to reaffirm ties between the two nations just 10 days after the North illegally tested a missile. Beijing has criticized some of Pyongyang’s actions but opposes attempts by the United Nations to impose new sanctions on the rogue state. With China maintaining its role as North Korea’s protector, it is unlikely that any nation will take action against North Korea’s nuclear development. Watch for China to continue to use erratic North Korea as a proxy to intimidate its Asian neighbors and antagonize the West.
Taking over a U.S. bank
On May 11, the United States opened its banking market to China’s biggest bank, icbc, marking the first time a U.S. bank is open for takeover by a Chinese state-run firm. icbc has around $2.5 trillion in assets, and is the most aggressive of China’s “big four” banks in terms of overseas expansion. The planned takeover is part of a general deepening of China’s footprint in U.S. markets, and America’s financial diseases will accelerate the trend.
An unholy alliance
Latin America is becoming a new platform, fundraising center and operational base to wage asymmetric warfare against the United States. Though the region has long been home to fringe elements antagonistic toward U.S. influence, recent years have seen the menace swell into mainstream politics.
The threat is manifested in large part by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (alba), a Latin American-Caribbean cooperation organization spearheaded by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2004. alba professes commitment to regional economic integration, but a closer look reveals it to be devoted above all to anti-Americanism and comprised of members who have rigged elections to avoid losing power. Moreover, membership in alba brings countries into common cause with the world’s most destabilizing nations and most malicious terrorist groups.
The man most responsible for alba’s spread is Hugo Chávez. His checkbook has wide ideological and cultural appeal in Latin America and the Caribbean. Chávez’s anti-American message is one that many leaders appear eager to latch on to. Caribbean prime ministers praise Chávez’s developments while they blame the U.S. for their own economic woes and soaring crime rates.
Latin American expert Joel Hirst, who has called alba “a subversive plan to create a ‘New World Order,’” wrote of its Mideast link in a January column cautioning Haiti against accepting an invitation by alba to become a member. “In partnership with the Iranians and their many non-state actors [or terrorist groups], [alba] seeks to dismantle representative democracy and the institutions of representative government in order to replace them with a different model,” he wrote. That model, a new socialism, would use a chaotic “participatory democracy” to put the region back under the rule of military dictators, or caudillos, he wrote. “These caudillos use their power to create blackout zones for criminal organizations to work with terrorist groups to launder money and conspire.”
Although the Obama administration downplays the dangers presented by alba’s rising power, the frequent visits of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the region have raised the eyebrows of some U.S. policymakers. “These alliances can pose an immediate threat by giving Iran—[the Revolutionary Guards] or its proxies like Hezbollah—a platform in the region to carry out attacks against the United States, our interests, and allies,” said U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
“There is a Chávez terror network on America’s doorstep,” said Rebecca Theodore, senior editor of Caribbean News Now. Theodore said the danger of terrorists entering the U.S. via Latin America and the Caribbean is imminent. “It won’t be long before Iranian terrorists with Venezuelan and Dominican passports stand in line and show their documents to U.S. border agents as well,” she said.
The thickening alliance between anti-U.S. alba nations and West-hating terrorist groups like Hezbollah reveals that the Middle Eastern extremists who oppose the U.S. are becoming better connected, more powerful, and closer to America’s borders. It also reveals that U.S. influence is rapidly waning in a region it relies on heavily for industrial cooperation.
Latin America, Africa
A state of emergency
Sudan declared a state of emergency on April 29 for areas bordering South Sudan. Tensions are high between the two neighbors along their oil-rich border region less than a year after South Sudan seceded from Sudan. The decree gives Sudanese authorities wide powers to make arrests and set up special courts. There are concerns that the two nations are preparing for all-out war after ongoing clashes over disputed territory and control of oil resources. Earlier in April, South Sudanese troops attacked and captured the oil-rich Heglig area. Sudan later said it recaptured it, while South Sudan said its troops pulled out to avoid an all-out war. After South Sudan said it was withdrawing its troops from Heglig, Sudan dropped bombs on the South, killing civilians. The largely Catholic South Sudan seceded from Muslim-dominated Sudan in July 2011 after a referendum. The referendum was part of a 2005 peace deal that ended more than 20 years of civil war. But issues such as the sharing of oil revenues and demarcation of the border remain unresolved and have sparked numerous clashes. This conflict is a part of a greater clash between Muslims and Catholics.
European Commission Chairman José Manuel Barroso began a three-day visit to Angola on April 18 at the invitation of the Angolan government. He met with President José Eduardo dos Santos and the speaker of the National Assembly, exchanging views on economic cooperation and African security issues. Barroso said the European Union’s relations with Angola are important since the country is gradually rising regionally and globally. He said the EU is willing to increase communication and coordination with Angola on international and regional issues. The EU also agreed to provide a fund of more than €1 million to create non-governmental organizations there. The Trumpet continues to watch world powers to see which ones will lay hold on the rich resources of Africa. Based on Bible prophecy, we predict that the German-led EU will eventually control access to much of those resources.
A telling boo-boo
President Barack Obama took some flack recently for referring to the Falkland Islands as the “Maldives”—intending to use the term Malvinas, as the Argentines refer to them. Speaking at the Summit of the Americas, President Obama reiterated his stance of neutrality over the Falklands: “And in terms of the Maldives or the Falklands, whatever your preferred term, our position on this is that we are going to remain neutral. … [T]his is not something that we typically intervene in.” The fact that he would even try to use the Argentine term highlights the growing rift between the Obama administration and Great Britain. At the very least, the president’s speech gave legitimacy to Argentina’s outlandish claim over the islands. Gaffe or not, and intended or not, the president attempting to refer to the Falklands as the Malvinas was a slap in Britain’s face.
UK is telling who to rearm?
British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said Germany must recognize “that it can’t continue to be the dominant economy in Europe without also significantly increasing its military capability.” After talking with his German counterpart Thomas de Maizière in Germany on May 2, Hammond chastised Germany for its “historic reluctance to deploy and operate overseas” and called on it to deliver “more usable firepower” to nato.
This view, which goes far beyond the defense minister, shows a shallow grasp of history. On May 4, the House of Lords European Union Committee published a report on European defense, where it drew the same conclusions. For the EU to have “an effective security and defense policy,” Germany must play a bigger role, it said. It sees America pulling its military out of Europe, making cuts and focusing on the Pacific. “Europe really does have to start to get its act together, and the only player that’s really missing in that is Germany, Europe’s powerhouse,” the chairmen of the committee, Lord Teverson, told bbc Radio 4’s Today program. Lord Teverson dismissed any concerns about Germany’s history by saying the war was over 60 years ago. In a deeper view of history, however, 60 years is not that long.
The famous document agreed by Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference read: “It is our inflexible purpose to destroy German militarism and Nazism and to ensure that Germany will never again be able to disturb the peace of the world” (emphasis added). The document went on to use phrases like “break up for all time.” However, people have lulled themselves into a false sense of security throughout man’s history.
Britons for independence!
The United Kingdom Independence Party (ukip) has overtaken the Liberal Democrats to become the country’s third-most popular party, according to a YouGov poll published April 17. Nine percent of those questioned said they would vote for ukip, while 8 percent said they would vote for the Lib Dems, a member of the ruling coalition. British dissatisfaction with the European Union is increasing. Watch for Britain to leave or get kicked out.
Annie, get your gun
As America’s economy continues to suffer from the aftereffects of the worst recession since the Great Depression, one industry in particular has bucked the trend and churned out astronomical profits: firearms. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the total economic impact of firearm sales—including jobs, taxes and sales—hit $31 billion in 2011, an increase of more than 63 percent since 2008. Jobs in the firearms industry jumped a full 30 percent over the same time period.
The U.S. has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. According to the New Yorker magazine, there are now nearly 300 million privately owned firearms in the country. People are stocking up on guns and ammunition to protect themselves. But once shooting breaks out, there are enough weapons in the nation to unleash a wave of violence unseen in America since the Civil War.
In the fifth chapter of Ezekiel, God reveals that one third of the people in modern-day Israel will be killed in a plague of violence just before a German-led invasion. The proliferation of guns at a time when the country is beset by drug cartels, terrorists and violent protesters shows that America is nearing this prophesied episode of violence.
Mexico’s grisly drug-related violence is inching closer and closer to the U.S. border. The bodies of 43 men and six women were found in the Mexican town of San Juan on the highway to the border city of Reynosa on May 13. The bodies were found with their heads, hands and feet cut off. Several bore tattoos associating them with drug traffickers. Sadly, this is only the latest event of its kind. Previously this month, 23 bodies were found dumped or hanging in the city of Nuevo Laredo, and 18 were found along a highway south of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city. In April, police found the mutilated bodies of 14 men in a minivan abandoned in downtown Nuevo Laredo, along with a message from an undisclosed drug gang. Mexican drug cartels have been waging an increasingly bloody war to control smuggling routes, local drug markets and extortion rackets. These transport routes to American customers help the cartels rake in anywhere from $8 to $35 billion a year.