The world is starting to resemble the 1930’s, which ended in WWII.
1) ITALY may not seem important. But In 1922 the fascists came to power and Mussolini proclaimed a revival of the Roman Empire. That was the beginning of World War II in Europe. Fascism was a major force in a number of European countries in the thirties.
The country had an election last Sunday. The result stunned Europe — two populist parties got most of the votes. The two parties are widely seen as the equivalent of the fascist party that ruled Italy up to and during WWII.
This follows an election a few months ago that had a similar outcome in Germany. The AfD there is now the main opposition party. These parties in Germany, Italy and elsewhere in Europe are often labeled “far-right.” They are all “populist” parties that have gained support at the expense of mainstream political parties. They are anti-EU and anti-immigrant, as well as very nationalistic.
2) There is increasing talk of a TRADE WAR on both sides of the Atlantic. What started out as retaliation against unfair Chinese trade policies is spreading into a full-scale trade war between the US and the EU. The Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930 followed the stock market crash and put high tariffs on US imports. It is considered a major development on the road to the GREAT DEPRESSION, which led in turn to WW2. It is difficult to see how the western alliance can hold together with increasing conflict over trade.
Historically, trade wars increase unemployment; while unemployment leads voters to turn to the right, becoming more nationalistic. A trade war will strengthen populist parties everywhere.
3) GERMANY REARMING — President Trump has been pushing for this to force Germany to contribute more to western defense. Germany now has a military presence in the Sahel, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and Baghdad. Germany is also at the forefront of calling for a united European military force.
4) UK & GERMANY AT LOGGERHEADS — In 1938 the British government was seeking to appease Germany; it still is, though this time there’s no talk of war. Just TALK, TALK, TALK over trade following Brexit. It does not look good for Britain as I write.
5) GROWING ANTI-SEMITISM. There have been a number of attacks on Jews in France, so many, in fact, that French Jews are leaving in record numbers for Israel; the Polish parliament has passed a law that forbids people from claiming Polish involvement in the Holocaust, even though it’s known that 200,000 Poles helped the Nazis round up Jews during World War II and assisted in the extermination camps; thirdly, Iceland has just banned male circumcision, while other countries are considering it. This action will affect Muslims as well as Jews.
6) RUSSIA IS MAKING THREATENING NOISES UNDER PUTIN, just as it did under Stalin. Could Russia and Germany repeat the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? Both China and Russia now have dictators for life. A prominent spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church is calling for the restoration of the monarchy in Russia. He seems to have Putin in mind as Czar. Whatever happens domestically in each country, the US will likely be in confrontation with both in the future. In the 1930’s Stalin’s threats were ideological; now the threats are just plain old-fashioned nationalism.
7) AMERICA FIRST – in the 1930’s it was AMERICAN ISOLATIONISM, now it’s called AMERICA FIRST. And it’s not just Trump – America is focused on itself. There is little foreign news on TV and most people just aren’t interested in what’s happening overseas. It took Pearl Harbor to wake Americans up. What will it take this time?
History repeats itself. But it does not repeat itself exactly. It remains to be seen how future events play out. But the similarities with the 1930’s are definitely there.
There are, however, two big differences.
During the 1930’s the world’s only superpower was the British Empire. This no longer exists. There is also no Winston Churchill warning of the dangers ahead. Without a warning message it is doubtful nations will make the changes needed to change course and avoid the mistakes of eight decades ago.
The above is a speech I’ve prepared for Men’s Speech Club tomorrow. I decided to post it to my blog.
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that it’s desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).
Special Dispatch No. 7328
Pro-Hizbullah Lebanese Website: “Hizbullah Has 70,000 Iranian Missiles Across Syria Ready To Launch Into Israel; In A Year It Will Have 500,000” (MEMRI, 2/12)
Iran has 10 military bases in Syria, two near Israel border — analyst
Up to 20,000 fighters trained by Tehran are in country, now focused on Israel, after neutralizing IS threat, NY Times reports Times of Israel * 19 Feb 2018
Iran operates 10 military bases in Syria and is training militias loyal to President Bashar Assad’s regime for a possible battle with Israel, with two key facilities located near the border with Israel, an analyst for an American think tank said in an article published Monday. Up to 20,000 fighters from various militias throughout the war-torn country have been trained by Iranian military personnel, giving Tehran its “true muscle” in Syria, according to the Monday report in The New York Times. Israel has been warning for years that Iran is seeking to entrench itself militarily in Syria. According to Israeli political and military assessments, Tehran, which has shored up Assad in the Syrian civil war, has been working to create air and naval bases in Syria, from which it can arm the Lebanon-based terror organization Hezbollah and other Shiite groups, as well as carry out attacks of its own against the Jewish state. Monday’s report said hundreds or thousands of Iranian military officials are in Syria and that about 6,000 of the Iran-trained combatants in the country are members of Hezbollah, with the rest coming from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries. Most of them view the battle against non-Shiite Muslims and against non-Muslims in the region in religious terms, the report added.
DW remains an excellent source of European news. The German news program is shown on PBS on weekday evenings.
On Monday it reported the appointment of Chancellor Merkel’s “heir apparent”, Annegret Kram-Karrenbauer, as General Secretary of the conservative Christian Democrats. This is a role that Mrs. Merkel had before becoming Chancellor – the same development could happen again. Already, the media has dubbed her “Mini-Merkel”.
On the same evening news program, it was reported that the latest polls show support for the left-wing Social Democrats is plummeting. At the same time, the “extreme right wing party, AfD, continues to rise dramatically. DW’s Oliver Sallet commented that “this is unheard of. It has never happened before in (the Federal Republic of) Germany. The general trend continues, which is the rise of the Right in Germany.”
RENEW LAUNCHED IN UK
Prior to the above news item, the program reported the launch of a new party in the United Kingdom. “Renew” is dedicated to reversing the Brexit decision.
Britain remains very divided on whether the country should restore its independence, or further immerse itself in the German dominated European Union.
It’s also reported that the American billionaire George Soros has donated 600,000 pounds to try to ensure Britain does not go ahead with Brexit; at the same time, the CEO of Bank of America is speaking out against it. Neither of these men is British. In the US, the nightly news frequently brings up Russian interference in the last US election. It’s time the British government condemned outside interference in Brexit. This is a British matter for the British people to decide.
TRADE WAR GETTING WORSE
Chart du jour: Donald Trump, look away now
The EU’s trade surplus with the US jumped in 2017 and Donald Trump won’t be happy about it. Having already dubbed Germany a potential “currency exploiter,” the White House will be wincing at new figures which show EU exports to the States jumped 3 per cent last year to €375bn. Bloomberg reckons the figures could further strain trans-Atlantic trade ties between the two economic giants. (FT 2/16)
RECOMMENDED FAMILY SHOW
Friends recommended “When Calls the Heart,” which is available on Netflix. The show is now in its fifth season on Hallmark.
It centers on the development of a small town “the other side of the Rockies” and the relationship between a Canadian Mountie and an adventurous school teacher from a wealthy family. It’s a very good family show.
Prior to watching it, I was saying to my wife that we have watched good programs from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the USA, but nothing from Canada. Now, finally, here’s a series set in Canada. That’s not the same as being “Canadian.” Hallmark, a US based channel, has left its prints all over it. Even the Mountie is an import from Australia!
King Edward VII conferred the title “Royal” on the Mounties in 1904, six years before the series is set. At the time, all outposts of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) would have displayed a photo of the King in their office. Schools would, too, as any reader of “Anne of Green Gables” knows. (Perhaps, we can overlook this as the school in the series meets in a saloon!) The government is referred to as “the federal government,” whereas Canadians refer to the government in Ottawa as the “Government of Canada.” Additionally, the only time any political subject has come up in the series, it’s been about US presidents. Also, New York, San Francisco and Hollywood have received special mention, as if they are a part of the same province.
In other words, a very uplifting series is slightly marred by historical error, which could have been avoided. Hallmark missed an opportunity to teach Americans about their bigger neighbor to the North.
It’s not very often that Philippians 4:8 comes to mind when watching a television series. But it did with this one:
Philippians 4:8 NKJV – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”
There is no bad language in this series, no sex and minimal violence. My wife and I recommend it as good family viewing, suitable for our grandchildren.
One final comment: famously, Mounties always get their man, but the Mountie in this series is taking a very long time to get his woman! It’s sometimes painful watching what must be one of the slowest courtships in dramatic history. It’s good, though, for teens today to see how people used to court the opposite sex.
Consternation has been expressed this week that the US currently has no Ambassador to South Korea, at a time when war between the US and North Korea is a definite possibility. Nothing has been said about the fact that the US has no Ambassador to the European Union, also at a very critical time.
On Sunday, in a British television interview, President Trump described the EU’s trading policies as “unfair” to the US and threatened increased tariffs on imports from the 27-member nation trading club.
The US president, Donald Trump, claimed in an interview with ITV broadcast on Sunday that the EU had been “very unfair” on American exporters, and that it would “morph into something very big” that would “turn out to be very much to [the EU’s] detriment.”
Washington is currently examining the case for protecting US economic interests on national security grounds, including the imposition of import tariffs on aluminum and steel.
Responding to Trump’s comments, a spokesman for the European commission told reporters in Brussels that the EU was ready to hit back if its importers were made to suffer.
The spokesman said: “For us trade policy is not a zero sum game. It is not about winners and losers. We here in the European Union believe that trade can and should be win-win.
“We also believe that while trade has to be open and fair it also has to be rules-based. The European Union stands ready to react swiftly and appropriately in case our exports are affected by any restrictive trade measures by the United States.”
(“Brussels prepared for trade war with US if it restricts EU imports,” Daniel Boffey, The Guardian, 29th January, 2018).
There is an assumption in the United States that America is the biggest trading power in the world and can dictate to others when it comes to trade. This may not be the case.
“The adjusted GDP of the 28 EU member nations is bigger than both China and the US, the traditional list of world’s economic super powers.
“In nominal U.S. dollar terms, the European Union (plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland) accounted for 25.4% of world output in 2014 according to data from the International Monetary Fund. That was greater than America’s share (22.5%) and well in excess of China’s—13.4%,” said Quinlan.
(“Europe is bigger than the US”, Bob Bryan, Business Insider, 30th June, 2015).
These facts will have changed in the 2 ½ years since this was written. When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union next year, the figures will need to be further adjusted. But the figures do convey that the US, the EU and China are each roughly on a par when it comes to the size of their economies.
What is not conveyed here is how powerful the European Union is through its trading agreements. Whereas the US has twenty major trading partners, the EU has eighty. These countries will all likely side with Brussels if a trade war worsens.
Nobody is likely to benefit from a trade war. The latest tariffs the US imposed on Chinese washing machines, for example, will increase the cost of purchasing a washing machine in the US. This will apply to thousands of products as tariffs are increased by all three economic powers.
There’s a lesson from history here. The Smoot-Hawley Act, passed by Congress in 1930, raised tariffs on over 20,000 items imported from other countries. One side effect was that US trade decreased by over 50% increasing unemployment. This period became known as the Great Depression.
The first shots have been fired in a new trade war. It’s not likely that the US will come out ahead here, certainly not in the long term. Putting “America First” will mean the rest of the world coming together in a renewed commitment to globalization, leading to the new global economic system predicted in Revelation 18.
Note the following just after Angela Merkel’s speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Wednesday “protectionism is not the answer” to world problems, addressing the Davos economic summit before US President Donald Trump appears to defend his “America First” agenda.
“We think that shutting ourselves off, isolating ourselves, will not lead us into a good future. Protectionism is not the answer,” Merkel said in a speech in the Swiss resort.
She spoke a day before the arrival of the US president whose aggressive trade policies have raised concern among defenders of globalization.
“Let us not shut off from others, let us keep pace with the best in the world and let us canvas for this multilateral approach,” Merkel said.”
Headline in WIN (World Israel News)
German FM in Israel rejects US Jerusalem move, warns of European ‘frustration’ (1st February)
During a visit to Israel, German FM Sigmar Gabriel blasted those who oppose a Palestinian state, demanding a two-state approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We went to see “Darkest Hour” recently. Although not perfect, the movie is a fairly accurate attempt at showing what Winston Churchill was up against when he suddenly became Prime Minister in May, 1940. Forgotten now is how close Britain came to being invaded by Hitler’s armies. The future of the world depended on what was to follow – if the UK had fallen, other nations would have had to sue for peace on Hitler’s terms. Those “other nations” included the United States, which was totally unprepared for war in 1940.
Britons like to say that they “stood alone” against Hitler. Certainly, in Europe that was true. But forgotten now is a simple fact: at the time, Britain ruled a quarter of the world’s people. All these nations fought with Britain. Two and a half million Indians were in the British Army, plus hundreds of thousands of people from Africa and the Caribbean. Additionally, the British dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia) played a major role.
In the event of another threat to Britain, none of these countries will be likely to come to her aid.
Watching the movie, you can also see clearly the similarities with today. Whereas, in 1940, Britain was faced with an enormous military threat from Germany, today it’s an economic threat – from the German dominated EU. As the Brexit negotiations continue, the EU has the advantage, because the Brits are allowing them to. There seems to be a lack of backbone in standing up to Brussels, Berlin and Paris. The FT’s Philip Stephens today described the mess as “Britain’s nervous breakdown.”
Sadly, there is no Winston Churchill waiting in the wings!
Note the following headline from the British Daily Express newspaper following an incident were young leftists stormed the Churchill café, screaming that Churchill was a racist. Nigel Farage is the man who led the Brexit campaign. Churchill was an Empire-loyalist, an unforgiveable sin in today’s Britain!
“Nigel Farage TEARS APART ‘pig-ignorant’ lefty gang who terrorized Churchill café. NIGEL FARAGE aimed a furious tirade in the direction of a group of protesters who burst into a Winston Churchill-themed cafe in London while chanting Britain’s wartime leader was a “racist.”
You will remember that Donald Trump reportedly described African countries as “****hole countries.”
At least two countries on the Dark Continent are capitalizing on this.
Namibia is promoting tourism with posters proclaiming that “Namibia is Africa’s Number One ****hole country.”
Namibia is not the only country to take advantage of Trump’s words.
According to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, “A Facebook page run by a marketing group promoting tourism in Zambia – famed for the Zambezi River that feeds the spectacular Victoria Falls – includes a slogan welcoming visitors to “****hole Zambia.” “Where beautiful vistas and breathtaking wildlife are our Trump card!” says an accompanying post.
Europe remains in a continual state of flux. The UK is leaving the EU and facing an uncertain future. The EU must punish Britain. It cannot afford to let the UK succeed outside of the Union, or others may follow her through the “exit” door. Greece is finally coming out of years of serious economic troubles. Eastern European nations are at variance with Germany over immigration. Austria has a new conservative government that includes the right-wing Freedom Party. Always remember, when looking at Europe, that the turmoil the continent is now going through will lead to the fulfillment of the following prophecy.
“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.” (Revelation 17:12-13)
It looks as if Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (supposedly a conservative party) is going to be able to form a coalition with the left-of-center Social Democrats, led by Martin Schulz. This combination is referred to as a Grand Coalition, bringing two opposing parties together again.
“One downside to the grand coalition is that it leaves the right-wing nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which made a surprisingly strong showing in September’s polls, as the largest opposition party, giving it a number of advantages including public funding and leadership roles in some parliamentary committees. The AfD, the closest thing to Nazis to win seats in the Bundestag since the actual Nazis, ran a racially inflected populist campaign that capitalized on widespread anxieties about the influx of refugees and migrants from the Muslim Middle East, which the AfD said were threatening both Germany’s national security and its national identity.” (“Germany’s political turmoil is bad news for Europe,” Jonah Shepp, New York magazine, 1/16/18).
Looking to the future, Mr. Shepp wrote:
“Part of Merkel’s problem is that she represents a waning generation of political leadership whose preference for moderation and incremental progress is being rejected in favor of bold new ideas on both the right and the left. German voters flocked to smaller parties in September, particularly the AfD and FDP, while the Greens and the Left made gains among younger voters.
“Younger members of Merkel’s own conservative party have been urging her step aside, while a rising generation of leaders is waiting in the wings to succeed her. The most talked-about potential successor is 37-year-old Jens Spahn, an openly gay man who has criticized Merkel from the right on immigration issues. Another name that comes up is Ursula von der Leyen, the current defense minister, whose positions are more liberal.
“The other mainstream parties are also looking at generational transitions: CSU chairman Horst Seehofer is handing the Bavarian premiership over to Markus Söder, 18 years his junior, while many Social Democrats are looking to oust their leader Martin Schulz after their disappointing performance in September.”
The composition of the new coalition means there will be fireworks ahead as each party wants different things. It’s not likely the government can stay together very long. That also means Mrs. Merkel’s future is uncertain and will be short-lived. She has been Chancellor for over twelve years.
Change is likely not far off.
Meanwhile, the German World Socialist website is warning that the new German government plans a massive expansion of its military. (This is exactly what President Trump has been demanding, that Germany spend at least 2% of its GNP on defense.)
Incoming German government plans massive military rearmament By Johannes Stern 3 January 2018 * World Socialist Web Site
“At the beginning of December, in a keynote address to the Körber Foundation in Berlin, Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel demanded that after seven decades of relative foreign policy restraint, Germany return to an independent foreign and military policy – supported by a militarized European Union under German leadership. “Now we realize that even with great economic prosperity in our country there is no comfortable place on the side-lines of international politics for us anymore. Neither for us Germans nor for us Europeans,” he declared provocatively.
“Significantly, the SWP, which is close to the government, has once again submitted a paper titled “Dissolution or Replacement? The International Order in Transition,” which openly makes the case for the establishment of a new world order under German-European leadership. Above all, it considers China and the US, with or without Trump, as international rivals.
“ . . . The entire paper makes clear that the ruling classes in Germany and Europe are again preparing for a new major war. “
The Brits are on their way out and leaving the EU with an almighty headache about money. Rows over the common pot of cash in the EU27 will be about €13bn a year more painful after the UK blows a hole in the budget after 2020. (FT Brussels Briefing, 1/9)
GREECE’S 8 YEARS OF AUSTERITY UNDER GERMAN DIRECTION IS ALMOST OVER
It’s a Grexit with a difference. 2018 should be the year Greece ends eight years of economic tutelage, closing a chapter on an extraordinary period in the EU’s financial crisis fight.
August is the planned exit date and Greece’s Syriza government has been quietly crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on its €86bn bailout ahead of the summer. In a familiar ritual, the Greek parliament this week passed its last mountain of sweeping reforms – touching everything from energy markets to trade unions – to unlock its latest dose of rescue money. Eurozone finance ministers should sign off on the penultimate bailout review on Monday.
In one last act of defiance, thousands of protesters gathered outside the Greek parliament to vent their rage against labour laws that make it harder for trade unions to call strikes. “The law is totally undemocratic, a form of modern slavery” the head of Greece’s public sector union told The Guardian‘s Helena Smith. (FT Brussels Briefing, 1/17)
STRATFOR’S PREDICTION FOR NEW YEAR
2018 Annual Forecast – North Korea’s likely achievement of a viable nuclear deterrent next year will give rise to a new and more unstable era of containment. As the specter of war looms in the Asia-Pacific, China and Russia will band together while the United States cracks down even harder on Iran — as well as its own trade partners. (Stratfor 1/17)
Israel launches plan to expel thousands of African migrants 4 Jan 2018
Jerusalem – Israel on Wednesday began implementing a plan to force tens of thousands of African migrants out of the country by April, threatening to arrest those who stay. “This plan will get under way today,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. Under the programme, some 38,000 migrants who entered Israel illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, will have until the end of March to leave. Each will receive a plane ticket and $3,500 to do so. After the deadline, this amount will decrease and those who continue to refuse to go will face arrest. Holot, an open facility in Israel’s desert south that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work during the day, is also set to be closed. Netanyahu pledged to “return south Tel Aviv to the citizens of Israel”, adding that the Africans were “not refugees but illegal infiltrators.”
BECOME LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN
Our youngest grandson, not even two yet, already knows a lot more than most politicians, judges and liberal intellectuals in the western world.
Hayden has it down pat. He knows to go to either Mom or Grandma when he wants food or needs his diaper changed; he’s also learned, when he wants fun, that Dad or Grandpa are the go-to people.
If a 20-month-old toddler can clearly distinguish gender roles, why can’t judges, politicians and lawyers?
They would do well to ponder the following words of Jesus Christ:
… Jesus called a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you, He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
FOUR LETTER WORDS
I took my wife and daughter to see a movie today. On the way there, our daughter was doing a crossword on her phone. She suddenly said: “I need a four lettered word.” I suggested she call the White House!
It’s ironic that the bad word President Trump allegedly used to describe African countries and Haiti has some truth to it. We lived in Africa for over ten years. During that time, we hosted many western visitors, both black and white. The one thing everybody complained about was the toilet facilities – or, rather, the lack of them.
This does not mean that there is nothing positive to say about Africa. As I often remarked to visitors: “we can teach them a lot about plumbing, but we can’t teach them anything about relationships. That’s where they can teach us.”
Back to Trump’s expletive. Both Richard Nixon and his predecessor LBJ used a lot of bad language. I suspect every president has since, to one degree or another.
Whenever I hear certain words, I am reminded of what my old English teacher said over fifty years ago. “People who use bad language have a limited vocabulary with which to express themselves!” There’s a lot of truth in that.
Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona Republican) has compared President Trump to Josef Stalin.
This kind of ignorance is appalling and dangerous.
Trump has his problems, but he cannot be equated with Stalin, a dictator who killed millions of people in his own country. Millions more were sent to their deaths in the gulags.
Additionally, ordering the murders of five of his top nine generals prior to World War II meant the country was almost defeated by the German army. The death toll from this alone was twenty million.
Senator Flake should not be allowed back into Congress until he has read all three volumes of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago.” This would give him a much better idea of Russia’s reality under Uncle Joe.
Others who have compared Trump to Hitler should be assigned William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”
Unfortunately, ignorance does not preclude entry into Congress! If anything, it helps.
Israeli Mayors Rail Against Law Limiting Commerce on Shabbat 11 Jan 2018 * JNS.org
Dozens of mayors across Israel vowed on Tuesday to fight the country’s new law limiting commerce on Shabbat, saying they will not enforce it. The controversial “supermarkets bill” passed in the Knesset with a razor-thin majority of 58-57 on Tuesday morning. The law, an amendment to the Local Authorities Law’s provisions on the operation of local businesses on days of rest, gives the interior minister the power to shutter businesses that choose to remain open on Shabbat. During the past few weeks, Israeli municipalities have raced to bypass the looming supermarkets law, passing and bolstering bylaws allowing businesses to remain open on Shabbat.
“The supermarkets bill is meaningless. It is up to the mayors to enforce it and I say in no uncertain terms that I have no intention of sending inspectors to enforce it,” Ramat Gan Mayor Yisrael Zinger said Tuesday. “We are a liberal city, and we believe in allowing people to live their lives according to their own beliefs. This is what creates the fabric of life in the city,” he said. Prior to the vote on the bill, Holon Mayor Moti Sasson pledged “to do everything within my power to preserve the status quo in the city, as part of which some businesses will be open on Shabbat for the benefit of the residents.” Givatayim Mayor Ran Kunik also announced he would not enforce the new law, telling reporters he is determined to preserve the status quo in his city. “Givatayim knows what’s best for its residents better than any minister,” he said.
A friend from Singapore called me at the weekend. Amongst other things we discussed President Trump’s visit to the region, which is now taking place. He told me that Singaporeans (mostly ethnic Chinese) believe that America is on the way down and China is on the way up. In other words, the most powerful nation in Asia and the Pacific is now NOT the US, but China. Every nation in the region is having to come to terms with Chinese domination.
My friend, who is over 80, remembered the events of 1942 that led Singaporeans to realize the British Empire was on its way down. One of the greatest military defeats in British history was the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February in 1942. The story is told of Lee Kwan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore. While he was a student, the British blew up the causeway that linked the city to the mainland, to delay Japanese forces. The sound of the explosion could be heard across the island. When Mr. Lee’s British headmaster came out of the school building and asked him what the noise was, Mr. Lee responded: “It is the sound of the British Empire falling.”
Effectively, it was. The fall of the British built and developed city started a series of events that led to American domination of Asia and the Pacific. Now, China’s economic success means Beijing has greater clout in the area than Washington — many nations are looking to Beijing rather than Washington, to secure their future.
I posted an article to my blog in February to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first time anybody realized that the US had overtaken the United Kingdom as the world’s pre-eminent nation. It’s all recounted in the book “Picking up the Reins,” by Norman Moss. It wasn’t until the following year that the term “Leader of the Free World” was applied to the US. Seventy years later, we find people openly talking about China overtaking the United States. Chinese resentment at US domination is illustrated by an item on today’s BBC World News website. Apparently, the Chinese use the term “Boss of the World” to describe America.
China isn’t the only power center trying to take over from America. The European Union is also determined to provide an alternative to American hegemony, with Germany’s Angela Merkel now often labeled “the Leader of the Free World.” Bible students will not be surprised at these developments.
IRAN – SAUDI STRUGGLE
Keep an eye on the growing Sunni-Shia struggle in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia leads the former and Iran the latter. The two countries are fighting a proxy war in Yemen. The latest development was a missile attack on the Saudi capital, fired by Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran.
Iran also supports Hizbollah in Lebanon, whose prime minister resigned on Friday out of fear that he, like his father, will be assassinated.
From Monday’s Jerusalem Post: “Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.”
Syria is also caught up in the Sunni-Shia conflict. Iran supports the Syrian president, Bashir Assad.
The West is solely focused on ISIS, a Sunni Islam group which is fighting Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria. ISIS is re-grouping in a number of countries, claiming to represent and defend Sunnis from the Shi’ite heretics.
It’s all very complicated. Not at all as simple as TV news depicts.
A new area of conflict is in the Sahara, where the US lost four military personnel last month. Most attention was focused on President Trump’s call to the young wife of one of the men who died. Little attention has been given to the wider problem of a growing conflict right across the Sahel.
The West seems to think ISIS has been defeated; the reality is that the organization has dispersed and formed new radical terrorist groups in a number of different countries. ISIS fighters have also been returning home to western nations – we should expect more terrorist attacks following the “defeat” of ISIS.
WALL STREET’S BREXIT WARNING
Big banks are worried about Brexit. A group of large financial institutions with big London operations, including JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, has told US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross that Britain’s unstable government and slow progress in Brexit planning may force them to start moving thousands of jobs out of the City in the near future. The lack of clarity over a transition deal is making them nervous.
Their concerns are unlikely to be assuaged by the latest chaos in Theresa May’s cabinet. Mrs. May is under pressure to strip two more cabinet ministers of their jobs following separate fiascos involving Priti Patel and Boris Johnson. And the EU has warned that the UK has less than a month to make concessions on a divorce settlement. The FT’s editorial outlines how the British government’s flailing at home is translating into weakness abroad: “Allies are increasingly wondering whether Mrs. May’s government has the focus or ability to play Britain’s traditional global position — let alone the enhanced role pledged by Brexit.” (Financial Times, 11/8)
TEXAS CHURCH ATTACK
26 people were shot dead in church Sunday, following a man’s argument with his mother-in-law. Twenty others were injured, some very seriously.
This was the 307th incident of mass murder in the US this year. Today is the 310th days of the year, so, in effect, the US is experiencing an average of one mass attack per day. A mass murder incident is defined as the murder of four or more people.
No other nation in the world sees so much violence. Yemen, in a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims (see segment above), has the second highest incident rate. Statistically, you would be safer living in Yemen, than in the United States.
I’ve always believed that people have a right to defend themselves, a right that goes back at least to the time of Henry II in the 12th century and perhaps goes back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom prior to the Norman ascendancy. The second amendment of the US constitution guarantees that right. After an attack in London a few weeks ago, I pointed out that if one member of the public, just one, had been carrying a weapon, the terror attack might have been thwarted.
President Trump raised the issue of mental health in the context of mass shootings at a press conference in Tokyo. Mental health is certainly a major issue. But easy access to guns, especially by the mentally ill, is also a factor and needs to be addressed. It’s time for that presidential commission of inquiry into mass gun violence. Let the public have their say. They are the ones that are dying, even in church.
100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF RUSSIAN REVOLUTION
November 7th is the anniversary of the Russian Revolution that brought the communists to power. Not surprisingly, Russians are not enthused about the anniversary. They rejected communism over 25 years ago.
There is still talk of a restoration of the monarchy, though most people do not seem to be in favor and do not expect it to happen.
There are lessons here from both France and Spain, two countries that were once dominated by their respective leaders, Charles de Gaulle and General Franco. Both were strong men, who were vain enough to think that nobody could possibly replace them after their deaths. Both men thought that the best way to preserve their nations in the future was through the restoration of their national monarchies.
De Gaulle was a close friend of the Comte de Paris, the descendant of the Orleanist monarch, Louis Phillipe, who ruled France from 1830-1848. The Comte was aware of de Gaulle’s desire to restore the monarchy.
In 1968, France was rocked by student riots and violence across the country. DeGaulle presented constitutional reforms (not including a restoration) that were rejected, leading to his resignation as President of France in April, 1969. He died one year later. De Gaulle, the inspiration behind the Fifth Republic in 1958, need not have worried — the Fifth Republic remains to this day.
General Franco of Spain, a fascist dictator, had more time to think about the Spanish succession, proclaiming that his heir and successor was to be Juan Carlos, of the Bourbon line of monarchs. As soon as Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos was proclaimed king. Rather than continuing Franco’s conservative ideology, the new King dedicated himself to protecting Spanish democracy, thereby at the same time preserving the monarchy. He even had the respect and support of Spanish communists.
Vladimir Putin may be thinking along the same lines. He’s been a very strong leader, with a 90% approval rating at times. He must be fearful of Russia’s future after he leaves the scene.
The restoration of the Romanov dynasty along Spanish lines, may be just what he’s thinking. He’s already reviving Russian culture, and has helped the church take center stage.
SYRIA SIGNS UP TO PARIS ACCORD
The US is now the only country in the world that has not signed up to the Paris climate treaty. Syria was the only other holdout, but has now signed.
PARADISE PAPERS SCANDAL
The Anglo-Saxon world loves its scandals, especially when its leaders are exposed. In this regard, the Paradise Papers did not disappoint.
While TV audiences are focused on who has what and why, it should be emphasized that absolutely no one “exposed” broke the law. They simply took advantage of legal tax loopholes, just as most people do, only theirs is on a much bigger scale than the average citizen.
The only law-breaking going on here was by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which somehow gained access to private financial information. The paper’s partners in this enterprise included the British Guardian newspaper and the New York Times. No surprises there.
Another concern is this: the revelations are the latest “scandal” to undermine our institutions. As if the Harvey Weinstein and other sexual revelations are not enough, we now have nightly reports that Queen Elizabeth II (and others) have been protecting their assets by moving them beyond the control of national governments.
Times have certainly changed. Fifty years ago, royal tour-guides would proudly announce that the British monarch was the richest woman in the world. Now, she’s not even in the top 500 wealthiest people in Britain (J.K. Rowling heads the female list), and people are getting riled about it.
The amount involved was only 10 million pounds ($13 million).
Exactly 100 years after the class warfare of the Russian Revolution, people have learned nothing. All socialism brought was “equal shares of misery for all” (Margaret Thatcher’s definition). Do we really want to embrace it again, naively thinking it will improve all our lives?
As the house is now dog free, I did not expect to find a can of dog meat and certainly was not looking for one. I was not wearing my glasses when I pulled it off the shelf at Kroger. It looked like a promising can of soup, with the word “Organic” prominently displayed on the label. The words “dog food” were in small print and not noticed until my daughter pulled it out of the trash.
It’s my own fault, really.
Our local Kroger grocery store has a “Reduced for quick sale” section, which I often check out for bargains. That’s where I bought this half-price can.
Now, I may be barking up the wrong tree (sorry!), but I do feel that stores have a responsibility to separate human food from pet food, if only to discourage people from switching to the healthier, cheaper canine options.
This could lead to a serious shortage of dog food, forcing dog owners to feed their pets human food. While this would be a boon to vets and would encourage entrepreneurs to open doggie weight loss centers on every block, it’s probably best not to blur the thin line that separates animals from humans.
I will continue to write, even though that dog food has made me a little queasy. My youngest made the observation that my body is in shock from eating healthy food!!!
Enough of dogs. Cats have been a big part of my life recently.
After living in an animal free home for almost a year, our youngest daughter brought a cat into the house, thinking that our grandchildren would benefit from the new arrival. A few weeks later, a second cat suddenly appeared.
The two do not get along. Cat fights have been a nightly occurrence. So, in a couple of days, we will be taking the “new” cat to our eldest daughter’s home. This will cost over $100 in gas. I suggested it might be cheaper to send the cat by UPS or FedEx, but was over-ruled.
To more serious matters, the Chinese Communist Party just held its “once-every-five-years” big congress. Foreign observers would notice that, whenever the delegates had to vote, the vote was always unanimous, with nobody voting against Mr. Xi, the President of the People’s Republic.
I’m surprised that any foreign delegates were there. Mr. Xi’s speech was 3 and a half hours long, “short” by Chinese standards. Come to think of it, I would have voted “for” just to get the speech over with.
As few westerners were likely to have listened, it should be noted that President Xi wants to offer the world an alternative to American leadership. The first Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party was Chairman Mao. He is credited with unifying the country. His successor, Chairman Deng, turned the country’s back on socialism and made it the second biggest economy in the world, after the United States. Now, President Xi vows to build on his predecessor’s accomplishments and make the country “stronger.” History shows he’s likely to succeed – economic success leads to military success.
China isn’t the only power center that wants to offer the world an alternative to the US. The EU is promising the same. The EU is the world’s biggest single market. It is effectively the world’s biggest economy, but with 27 member countries it’s not ranked at the top, with each country listed separately. That will change if Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have their way. Immediately after Brexit takes place, they want to move full steam ahead with their plans to turn Europe into the world’s number one superpower.
Russia was in the news today.
Exactly a century after the Russian Revolution overthrew the country’s monarchy, the last Czar, Nicholas II, was in the news again.
A new movie on “Niki’s” relationship with a popular ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, is proving so controversial the lead actor decided not to attend the premiere of “Matilda” in St. Petersburg. Cinemas have been attacked and at least one was burned to the ground.
The contention is due to the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas and his wife Alexandra after the end of the communist dictatorship. Russian nationalists consider the movie “blasphemous.”
Clearly, only 26 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the church and the monarchy both have a substantial following in post-communist Russia.
Perhaps one reason for a revival of both Russian and Chinese nationalism is American democracy. US divisions make democracy look really bad. Mass shootings like the recent one in Las Vegas don’t help, either. Street interviews with the Chinese public during the Communist Party Congress showed that most people do not want to be like the West. They feel that the US and other western democracies have too much freedom.
We seem to be living through a time that’s reminiscent of ancient Israel. “There was no king in Israel in those days. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
The British-Israel World Federation (BIWF) has called a fast for this Saturday for the peoples of “the Covenant Nations.”
The British-Israelites formed their federation in 1919, but their beliefs can be traced back to the previous century. As the British Empire expanded during Queen Victoria’s reign and America was spreading westward fulfilling its “manifest destiny,” so the number of believers grew. Their belief is based on God’s promises to Israel in Genesis 48, that the two sons of his son Joseph would grow into a “company of nations” and “a great nation” – the British Empire and the United States of America.
It was a widely-held belief in the trenches of World War I, when men from all over the British Empire fought against Imperial Germany. The losses were so great that people became disillusioned with both religion and the empire.
As Britons turned increasingly away from their Christian heritage, so BIWF lost some support. The organization was supported by some prominent members of the British establishment, the most famous of which was Princess Alice, one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters. In the 1930’s, as the Countess of Athlone, she was married to the Governor-General of South Africa; from 1940, following the sudden death of John Buchan, the popular Governor-General of Canada, she and her husband moved to Canada in war time, so that he could serve there, replacing John Buchan. They remained in Canada until 1946. On two occasions, they hosted President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor-General. King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II, also made supportive statements reflecting a belief in BI. A former prime minister of New Zealand was also a member. They have branches in a number of countries, including all the “covenant nations”.
The idea still persists, in spite of Wikipedia’s claim that the theory has been disproved, for which they give no evidence. Yair Davidy’s Brit-Am organization in Israel supports the theory with archaeological evidence. An American organization called “Truth in History” publishes a magazine, which also upholds the teaching. Additionally, the Churches of God that came out of Herbert W Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, continue to believe – their interpretation of prophecy is heavily influenced by British-Israelism.
Some are dogmatic in their support of BI, while others are equally dogmatic in their dismissal of the belief. There are those who believe the evidence supporting BI is overwhelming, but there are others who don’t consider it conclusive and reject the teaching.
Whether you believe the theory or not is largely irrelevant. The fact Is that the “covenant nations” are in deep trouble, hence the call for a fast. Coincidentally, the date chosen for the fast is also the Jewish Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year for Jews. On this day, believers are expected to fast completely, abstaining from all food and drink. The idea is for everybody to humble themselves before God, to be “at-one” with God, through prayer and Bible Study, as well as worshipping Him with others of like mind.
It’s also a day for repentance. Repentance means to change, to overcome sin and return to God with great fervor. It’s unlikely that the peoples of the “covenant nations” will go that far.
Followers of BI believe that Ephraim is the ancestor of the British peoples and nations that became dominions after independence (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa). Note what God said to Ephraim in Hosea 7:8-10:
“Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it, yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it. And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this.”
A little over seventy years ago, the descendants of Joseph, the peoples of the covenant nations, the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples, dominated the globe. The British Empire and the United States had emerged victorious after World War II and it seemed as if God had given them supremacy all over the globe. But things started to go wrong immediately. The British lost their empire in the twenty years after the war; and the United States and Britain now seem unable to win any conflicts.
The Commonwealth has largely unraveled and may not survive the death of the Queen and ascension of her son, Prince Charles.
Certainly, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are not as close as they once were. They no longer form an effective military force and no longer see themselves as fulfilling a common destiny. They have also taken in millions of people from other cultures who do not share the same values inherited from Britain. (“Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples”; “aliens have devoured his strength.”)
At the present time, the greatest threat comes from Brexit and this is why BIWF has called for a fast. Brexit negotiations are not going well. The United Kingdom seems to be intimidated by the European Union, lacking in self-confidence, its stance somewhat reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain prior to World War II. (“Grey hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knows it not.”)
BIWF’s call for a fast and a day of prayer has this to say about Brexit: “On 29th March 2017, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was triggered for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. We need to pray that the LORD will deliver the United Kingdom completely from the Babylonish EU as the difficult negotiations proceed.”
BIWF publishes a book called “We Have a Guardian” recording historical evidence that shows God’s intervention to help Britain in times of trouble. “Dunkirk” was one example in 1940. They are calling for God to intervene again, to save Britain through Brexit and to restore the country to its former self, when many of the people were devout Christians. They are mindful of the Queen’s Coronation Oath, to maintain the laws of God and the true religion, two promises that all the queen’s governments in each of her dominions have conveniently forgotten.
They are also mindful of the threat to the United States and the rest of the world posed by North Korea, calling upon their members to pray about the situation so that a devastating war can be avoided. Such a war would finish off North Korea, but may also set back the United States, allowing other nations to fill the vacuum.
Remember to pray for your country on this fast day.
"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill