Tag Archives: Germany

REPUBLICS DIVIDED

democrat-and-republican-symbols-of-a-donkey-and-elephant-facing-off

The Royalist Party of America (yes, there is one) is on to something.

They want the United States of America to rejoin the Commonwealth and recognize Queen Elizabeth as Head of State.  Something like Canada.  Canada is a democracy but its Head of State is not elected.  The Queen is a unifying figure above politics.

But that’s not what they are on to.

If you look at their Face Book page, you will see that they are worried about the state of this republic.  They point out that, historically, republics do not last very long.  Eventually, republics become terribly divided between two factions.  Using an analogy with marriage, eventually the two sides exhibit “irreconcilable differences” and divorce is inevitable.  When that happens, democracy is in danger and dictatorship looms.

Witness Rome 2,000 years ago; more recently, the Weimar Republic in the 1920’s.  Or any African republic in the last 50 years.

(For clarity, it should be pointed out that, outside of the United States, a republic is simply a country with a president rather than a king.)

The United States is very divided between what you might call the traditionalists and those who wish to take the country on a different, more secular, path.  In other words, Republicans and Democrats.

But it’s not just America.

Ukraine is a republic that seems on the verge of civil war.  Again, there are two factions.

Roughly half the country wants to strengthen ties with Russia, the country that ruled them for two centuries.  The Russians, led by Vladimir Putin, are certainly in favor of this, willing to spend billions propping up the Ukrainian economy.  There’s a sentimental attachment with Ukraine, as Russia owes its origins to the Kievan Rus who embraced Christianity in the latter years of the tenth century.

But the people in the western half of the country want links with the European Union, which has done so much to develop other former communist countries and to strengthen their democratic institutions.  Russian democracy is an oxymoron.

The latter have been demonstrating for over two months now.  The pro-Russian police force has been too heavy handed, killing some protesters, Russian style.

In a sense, this is part of the ongoing historical struggle between Germany and Russia.

The two countries have fought over Ukraine a number of times in the last hundred years, notably in both world wars.  This time, they are not using tanks or planes.  The battle this time is economic.  The EU is the world’s biggest trading bloc and can offer Ukraine a great deal.  It’s also a champion of human rights and basic freedoms, which new members are required to embrace.  This is in stark contrast to Russia’s shortcomings in these areas.

It’s going to be interesting to see the outcome of this struggle.

France is another republic in danger of falling apart, rather like the new president’s marriage (or, rather, non-marriage as the couple never actually tied the knot).

News sources have revealed that France is the latest subject of concern for the British and German leaders, who are concerned the Fifth Republic may collapse.  As this is the “fifth” Republic, it should be remembered that the country has tried a number of different constitutions since the overthrow of the ancien regime in 1789.  Not only have they tried five republics, there were brief periods of monarchy, dictatorship and foreign control in between.  France has, arguably, been the most unstable country in western Europe during the last two centuries.

President Hollande is not helping, with economic policies that are only making austerity worse.  A 75% tax on the wealthy is only going to drive money away (easy when France shares the euro with all its neighbors!).  Other socialist measures will also make things worse but Hollande is a socialist and has to answer to pressure from his support base, so change is not likely.  Without change, collapse is increasingly likely.  Germany may have bailed out Greece and other smaller members of the eurozone, but cannot bail out France, the fifth biggest economy in the world.

And, if France falls, chaos in Africa will only increase.

Last year, M. Hollande, to his credit, sent French troops into two African republics, both violently divided between Muslims and Christians.  The two nations, Mali and Central African Republic, are both former French colonies.  While things have stabilized for now, a French withdrawal could easily lead to fighting flaring up again.  Terrible acts of depravity have taken place, including cannibalism.  France’s colonial role was often described as a “mission to civilize” – hopefully they can restore a veneer of civilization to these two nations whose people have suffered so much.

Sadly, France’s military missions cost money, which only exacerbates the problems at home.  Reuters reported today that Germany wants to help support France’s military missions in Africa.  In contrast to the 1920’s, Germany today seems a model republic – the two main parties of left and right are cooperating and have formed a coalition government.  It’s hard to imagine such a development in the United States.

Back to the new Royalist Party of America.  Their Face Book page quotes from “Democracy Watch,” an international organization that monitors developments around the world.  A recent report showed that the seven most democratic countries in the world are all constitutional monarchies, including Canada, Australia, and Norway.

The Economist magazine has long described the US as a “corporate democracy,” with a government that is unduly influenced by corporations and where the people have little or no say.  It hasn’t always been that way but it has become so.

That’s certainly something to think about.

But lest those in the constitutional monarchies get too smug, it is clear that they also have their divisions.  And, if the American republic falls, it’s unlikely they would survive!

Advertisements

LESSONS FROM WEIMAR

Weimar_Republic_1919-1933-300x225

At the birth of the euro, The Economist magazine reminded readers that one of the great lessons of history is that paper money eventually always fails.

That doesn’t just go for the euro – it applies to dollars and pounds, too.

One way it fails is through hyperinflation.

We tend to think that hyperinflation only happens in banana republics like Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Argentina, forgetting that we also like bananas.  It can happen here, too.

It happened in Germany.

After fighting and losing World War One, Germany entered a period known as the Weimar Republic.  Its constitution was written in Weimar, a city 50 miles from Leipzig.

The victorious powers made the great mistake of forcing Germany to pay reparations after the war.  The French, in particular, insisted on their neighbor paying for everything – even invading the German industrial heartland, with assistance from Belgium, in 1922.  If the Germans wouldn’t hand over their wealth, they were simply going to take it!

All the main participants in the war suffered greatly.  This does not include the United States, as America was only a factor in the closing months of the conflict.  The established order in Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary was overthrown, replaced by chaos and confusion.  Serious financial problems also developed as somebody had to pay for the war.

In most countries it was the working class that had to foot the bill.  In Germany, it was more the middle class.  Successive Weimar administrations – and none of them lasted very long – gave in to the workers’ demands rather than try to enforce fiscal discipline.   Additionally, Germany had the most generous welfare benefits in the world at the time, introduced by Otto von Bismarck in the 1880’s.  Together with reparations, the result was a high rate of inflation.

Hyperinflation is when inflation gets out of control and prices are increasing at more than 50% a month.  Very quickly, that becomes 50% per week, then 75% and 100%.   Eventually, workers have to be paid hourly in wheelbarrows full of money, which then has to be spent quickly before prices go up even further.

Weimar-MArk

The fixed-income middle class, professionals on salaries or pensions, soon suffers.   Skilled workers can often barter their skills for food.  In an attempt to control inflation, mistakes are made – freezing rents, for example, with resultant negative effects.

This was Germany in the early 1920’s.  By 1923, the situation was out of control.

The Downfall of Money explains all this very well.  The book is written by an Englishman named Frederick Taylor.  It shows clearly how World War One led inevitably to World War Two, via hyperinflation and the rise of right-wing parties, culminating in the Nazis coming to power.

When economies collapse, people look for simple solutions – jobs and food are far more important than constitutional niceties and democracy. 

The parallels in the United States and Great Britain today are disturbing.

Our governments are recklessly over-spending, borrowing to excess.  The US is printing an extra $85 billion per month, “quantitative easing” as it’s called.  This is enabling some to take advantage and make a lot of money, while the vast majority is finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.

Part of the justification involved in QE was the fear of deflation after the financial crash of 2008.  The value of homes dropped dramatically in the crash; some commodities have been dropping as the global economy enters a slump.  Deflation is the worst thing that can happen to an economy.  It’s almost impossible to stop the downward spiral.

Hyperinflation is the second worst thing that can happen.  One can lead to the other.  As central banks print money to avoid the one, it can inadvertently get out of control and hyperinflation can take over.

The end result is that almost everybody loses everything!  Those that gain by taking advantage of the situation also lose as the people will turn on them as they did in Germany.

“The Germany of the inflation was paradise for anyone who owed money.”  (The Downfall of Money, by Frederick Taylor, page 206)  A high rate of inflation reduces the amount of debt people owe.  “By the same token, this was a very bad time for creditors of all kinds, for savers, and for investors depending on a fixed return.  That meant large numbers of the old German middle and upper middle classes suffered a drastic, even catastrophic, fall in their standard of living.” Appropriately, chapter 21 of the book is titled:  “The Starving Billionaires.”

Inflation is not something new.  The prophet Haggai wrote about it 2,500 years ago.

“You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes.”  (Haggai 1:6)

We all hope that hyperinflation is not the consequence of over-spending by the US, UK and other governments.  But it’s difficult to see how it can be avoided.  It seems as if the only way we can create greater wealth today is by printing more money – a recipe for inflation.  In turn, inflation can quickly get out of control, soon turning into hyperinflation.

It can all happen very quickly as it did in Zimbabwe a few years ago and in Germany in the 1920’s.

A spiritual lesson we should remember in these turbulent times is found in Matthew 6:19-21:  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

The Economist was correct with its warning of all currencies eventually collapsing.  It’s only a matter of time.  The accumulation of wealth may seem important, but clearly we need to be prepared for losing it all as did millions in Germany.  As Jesus Christ pointed out, treasures in heaven are more important and more reliable than treasures on earth!

THREE DOWN IN THREE DAYS

NSA

On Monday the French were angry at the US when they learned that the latter had been listening in to French citizens’ phone conversations.

Two days later the Germans were even angrier following revelations that the US government had been listening in to Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone conversations.

In between, the US managed to upset the Saudis.  The Administration in Washington had already lost Egypt.  The last time the US lost a major ally in the Middle East was in 1979 when the Iranian revolution led to the rise of the Ayatollah’s under President Carter.  Some claim this was the start of World War III – a struggle without end against Islamic fundamentalism.  Saudi Arabia is upset with the way the US has been handling (or rather, not handling) the Syrian situation and Iran.

Last night, a dinner was scheduled in Washington for the visiting Brazilian president, who cancelled, to show her anger at US surveillance of Brazil’s leaders.  Mexico has expressed similar concerns following similar revelations from NSA defector, Edward Snowden.

These are serious set-backs for the United States that could lead to the unraveling of alliances that go back decades.

A French think tank has written that “the de-Americanization of the world has begun – emergence of solutions for a multipolar world by 2015.” (Global Europe Bulletin #78)

“It’s one of those times when history accelerates.  Whatever the outcome of the negotiations on the shutdown and debt ceiling, October 2013 is one of them.  It’s the deadlock too far, which has opened the eyes of those who still support the United States.  A leader is followed when he is believed, not when he is ridiculous.”  (GEAB #78; October 16th)

The following paragraph is devastating, written at the height of the US government crisis:

“In fact, if the whole world is holding its breath before this pathetic game of the US elite; it’s not out of compassion, it’s to avoid being swept away in the fall of the world’s first power.  Everyone is trying to free itself from American influence and let go of a United States permanently discredited by recent events over Syria, tapering, shutdown and now the debt ceiling.  The legendary US power is now no more than a nuisance and the world has understood that it’s time to de-Americanise.”

This de-Americanization is partially economic – the dollar index has been steadily dropping as the currency loses value against other currencies due to nations no longer wanting to hold dollar reserves or trade with the currency.

Deuteronomy 28:25 says that the modern Israelites will “become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth” because of their sin.  This is what we see continuing to happen.

Germany has already suggested an overhaul of NATO, the 28-member alliance of western democracies founded 64 years ago, the oldest multinational alliance in the world and the longest lasting in history.

“German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière wants to strengthen cooperation among NATO members and is calling for reform of the military alliance.”  (“NATO Reform:  German plan faces broad opposition,” Der Spiegel, October 22nd)

Under the German proposal, NATO countries would be divided into “clusters,” smaller groups of countries, to be led by a bigger member nation.  This would enable a small group of nations to be used in a military intervention in an area assigned to them.  The idea would give Germany more power within NATO.  It would, for example, allow Germany to lead a group of nations (ten?) in a military action in the Middle East.  The proposal is supported by the US and the UK, but opposed by France.  Washington is happy to see Germany doing more, so that the US can do less in a time of serious defense cuts.

Germany’s defense minister has been tipped to replace Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish NATO Secretary-General, who might retire in a few months.  This would also enhance Germany’s role in the alliance.

The GEAB newsletter is correct – the debacle over Syria and the impasse in Washington, possibly to be repeated in January, have both woken up the world.   Significant changes are likely to take place in the foreseeable future.

The US has seriously upset three allies in three days – the week isn’t over yet!

(The above was written earlier today, Thursday; at 3pm Eastern time, the news reported that Italy has today protested about US surveillance on Italians.  This is the fourth ally in four days; and we still have Friday to go!)

(Further – a later news program revealed that the US has been monitoring the cell phone conversations of 35 world leaders.)

WHICH ONE OF ITS PREDECESSORS WILL THE FOURTH REICH RESEMBLE?

eurozone

Germany is once again on top in Europe.

As an article in Britain’s “Daily Mail” showed some time ago, Angela Merkel has achieved in five years what the Kaiser and Hitler set out to do – and without firing a shot.

But now that the country is pre-eminent in Europe and effectively controls the eurozone, what is the new Germany going to be like?

Will it resemble one of the earlier reichs (empires)?

The first reich lasted almost a thousand years.  Named the Holy Roman Empire, it is generally dated from 962, when Otto the Great was crowned, but some will say it really began with Charlemagne, who was crowned by the pope on Christmas Day in the year 800.  It was dissolved in 1806 by Napoleon.

The second reich came together under Otto von Bismarck who united Germany in 1871.   It lasted until the abdication of the Kaiser in November 1918.

Hitler intended his third reich to last a thousand years, just like the first.  It was defeated in war only twelve years after he came to power.

Each of these reichs had its own unique character.

The Holy Roman Empire wasn’t holy, wasn’t Roman, and wasn’t really an empire.  It was rather a loose confederation of German states.  Some were directly ruled by the Emperor while others had their own king or duke but still owed some allegiance to the Emperor and the Empire.

The second reich came about when Prussia took over the rest of Germany following wars with Austria (1866) and France (1870-71).  Some territories kept their own kings, but all came under the authority of the greater empire ruled from Berlin by the Kaiser (Emperor), who appointed his own chancellors (prime ministers).  Under Kaiser Wilhelm II, this reich became very militaristic and eventually triggered World War I.

Most people are very aware of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler’s mad plan to impose German authority upon the world.  Fortunately, Hitler lost.  But the global conflict he started was far from a foregone conclusion.  Comparatively small Germany, with Japan and some other minor nations, took on the world and almost won.

Following World War Two, six nations in western Europe determined that conflicts like the two world wars should never happen again.  Their plan was to integrate the economies of the various European countries together in such a way that war became impossible.  In effect, Germany would be contained within a European federal system.

They signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957.  Today, there are 28 countries in the European Union, the world’s biggest single trading bloc.  The euro is now used more widely than any other currency.Treaty of Rome

On Germany’s Unification Day, German President Joachim Gauck called for Germany to play a greater role internationally, commensurate with its economic power.  Germany is now the fourth biggest economy in the world.  As the leader of the EU, which is the world’s biggest single market, its economic power is even greater.  But the country still is not flexing its muscles on the international scene.  The country’s figurehead president launched a debate by calling on Germany to become more involved.  He told the German people:  “Our country is not an island.”

A few days later, American Professor Walter Russell Mead, Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine and Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College in New York State, explained in “The Local”  (Germany’s news in English) that “Germany is playing a larger role in the world than people appreciate.”

Professor Mead “urged Germany to lead a Holy Roman Empire rather than a Prussian conquest.”  “Are you going to have a King of Prussia or the Holy Roman Emperor?  The Holy Roman Emperor is the more sustainable.  It is the least work of the two.”

In effect, Professor Mead is calling for a loose confederation of nations in Europe.

However, although this might be the best long-term model, it seems more likely that a more centrally controlled system is forming.  The new “fourth reich” is more of an economic empire, but Germany is once again perceived as throwing her weight around.

“Former European Commissioner Günter Verheugen warns Germans not to act like know-it-alls when it comes to Europe.  In this interview with DW, he blames Chancellor Merkel for relations with Southern Europe turning sour.”   Mr. Verheugen called for “Germany to avoid arrogance on euro crisis.” (Deutsche Welle, October 14th)

Meanwhile, international financier George Soros, says: “Europe’s nightmare is getting worse and only Germany can make it stop.”  (Matthew Boesler, Business Insider Australia, October 2nd.)

While the world remains focused on the American debt crisis, Germany quietly goes about its business of restructuring Europe’s economies and uniting the continental countries that form the eurozone into a closer economic union with itself at the head.

Bible scholars have long understood that a revived Roman Empire will appear on the world stage immediately prior to Christ’s return.  While the United States is not involved in prophesied end-time events, this union of ten nations will play a major role.  You can read about it in Revelation, chapter 17.

READ THE SMALL PRINT – A LOT IS GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES

smallprint_249

Sometimes it’s the small news items that are really the biggest.  Even items that are completely overlooked by the mainstream media may turn out to be of the greatest significance.

Washington takes the 64-year-old NATO alliance for granted, expecting other member countries to follow the US lead.  Remember how critical Americans were when the French refused to invade Iraq?   The alliance is now under greater strain, partly due to Edward Snowden’s revelations that the US has been spying on some EU members and European leaders.

Even trade talks between the US and EU have been halted as the lack of trust takes hold.  Successful trade talks could have boosted employment on both sides of the Atlantic by 5%, it has been claimed.

Sources claim that “the EU is planning to assemble an independent intelligence body of its own ‘in an urgent response’ to the recent revelation that the US has been spying on EU officials as well as European citizens.”  (Voice of Russia, 29th July).

Meanwhile, Deutsche Welle claimed that:  “Germans suspect America’s Army bases spy on them.”  Again, this follows leaks from former NSA employee Edward Snowden.

The Wall Street Journal revealed August 5th a further rift between the two biggest economic powers, this time over aviation agreements.  “Rift stalls US-EU Aviation Discussions” ran the headline, highlighting the fact that if agreement is not reached, it will negatively affect all air traffic between North America and Europe.

Unfortunately, train travel is not an option for trans-Atlantic travel.  But trains are boosting trade between Germany and China, as the following news item from euronews shows:

“The first freight train from the eastern Chinese city of Zhengzdou has arrived in Hamburg, Germany.  It covered more than ten thousand kilometres in just 15 days – halving the normal travel time by sea.  Officials say heavy cargo that cannot be transported by air, car parts and electronics will benefit from the new service.  It is hoped the transport link will lead to even stronger trade ties between the two cities.”

Meanwhile, Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, hosted a meeting of Europe’s four German speaking countries at which North Africa and the Middle East was the focus.  Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein attended the quadripartite gathering.  According to GermanForeignPolicy.com, “Berlin is advancing its political positions in the middle of Europe by coordinating exclusive meetings of the four German speaking countries’ foreign ministers.”

Europe is increasingly focused on the neighboring Muslim world at a time when the US seems to be backing off.  The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week became the first foreign dignitary to see deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

Laurence Norman reported from Brussels in the Wall Street Journal:

“BRUSSELS – Egyptian authorities’ decision to let European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton meet with Mohammed Morsi – the first person outside the military reported to have visited the ousted president since his imprisonment early July – highlighted the growing role European diplomats are playing in Cairo and the region.

“With the U.S. facing mounting suspicions from many of the region’s new political forces, the EU has sought, throughout Egypt’s crisis, to step in. It is a role blessed by Washington, according to diplomats and officials, and at which EU diplomats, often left on the margins by member state ambitions, have jumped.”  (“Amid Egypt’s Crisis, Europe Steps Up”, August 1st).

Each one of these news items is of considerable significance but not one received much attention in the US.  It’s clear the EU is not happy with the US following Mr. Snowden’s revelations; it’s also clear that Germany is increasing its influence in Europe, and that the EU is increasingly involved in the Middle East.

Students of Bible prophecy will know that the Middle East and Europe are at the center of the end-time events prophesied in the Word of God.  Keep looking for those small news items that are overlooked by the media, but may turn out to be of the greatest significance.

IRISH REMAIN COMMITTED TO EU IN SPITE OF SEVERE AUSTERITY

eu_and_ireland_crossed_flags_posters-rf0988df8ee574f2ab33df295a6557057_z1x_8byvr_324

The Irish Finance Minister admitted a couple of weeks ago that he cannot make any big decisions about the Irish economy until after the German elections in September.

For hundreds of years, Ireland struggled to rid itself of English control only to now find itself under German domination.  How did this happen?

In 1957, six western European nations signed the Treaty of Rome, establishing the EEC (European Economic Community, now the European Union).  In 1971, Britain negotiated entry into the EC, along with the Irish Republic and Denmark.  Ireland was so closely tied to the UK that it had no real choice in the matter.  Besides, closer ties with other European countries held out the hope of reducing the economic dependency on England.

Between 1995 and 2008, the Irish economy grew so fast it was known as the Celtic Tiger.  The Irish people were enthused about their new-found wealth and status within Europe.

In 2002, Ireland was in at the birth of the EU’s currency, the euro, which is now the currency of 17 of the, today, 28-member nations of the EU.  With 920 billion euros in circulation (notes and coins), the euro surpassed the dollar earlier this year as the world’s most used currency.

In 2008, Ireland ceased to be the Celtic Tiger with the crash in the global economy.  Along with a number of other EU countries, Ireland has had serious fiscal problems and is following a path of austerity agreed to with the “Troika” (the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank).  In effect, Germany, the dominant economy of the European Union, is behind the austerity imposed on Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal.  Because these nations do not have their own national currencies, they have no choice but to follow the dictates imposed upon them.  The result is a great deal of unemployment and severe cuts in government spending, which are predicted to continue for the next twenty years.

Further decisions on austerity plans must await the German elections.

What is surprising is that, in Ireland, there is a greater acceptance of this situation than in the other countries struggling with austerity.  Irishmen remain committed Europeans.

They do not seem unduly concerned at their loss of sovereignty and see little future without the EU.  They are a part of what has been called “German Europe”, a distant outpost maybe, but very much a part of the German dominated eurozone that is coming together in Europe.

Could Scotland find itself in the same situation if it also breaks away from London a year from now?  A switch to the euro would likely follow independence, with increased dependency on German Europe.