Tag Archives: Otto von Bismarck

COULD SEVENTY BE “IT” FOR THE US?

flags-collage-of-three-flags-flags-of-eu-uk-and-usa-together

Tuesday February 21st marks a special anniversary that will most probably be overlooked.

It happens to be the 70th anniversary of the United States replacing Great Britain as the world’s number one power.

After fighting two world wars, Britain was faced with three major international crises all at once.

The new British Labour government had already announced plans to give independence to India, after two centuries of British rule.   This led to turmoil on the sub-continent between Hindus and Muslims.   British troops tried to keep the peace.

At the same time Palestine exploded.   In 1946 Jewish nationalists blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, British military headquarters in the mandated territory, killing 91 people.

The first two problems occurred on British territories; the third was in Greece, where communists were trying to take over the country.

At the same time, Britain was broke, following the two major global conflicts of the first half of the twentieth century.   Early in 1947, economic problems at home meant that Britain could no longer allocate funds to the conflict in Greece.   They decided to inform Washington to see if America wanted to take over.

“On Friday, February 21st” the Secretary of State General George C. Marshall, left the State Department early to attend the bicentennial celebrations of Princeton University and receive an honorary degree.   Then the British Embassy telephoned to say it had two urgent notes.”   As these notes were urgent, Dean Acheson, the Under-Secretary of State, asked the Embassy’s first secretary to deliver them rather than wait until the Monday.   “Recalling this episode in later years, Acheson wrote, “They were shockers”.”

“It was not being asked to provide aid to Greece that was shocking. The State Department was already preparing a plan for aid.   It was the fact that Britain was pulling out and proposing to hand over responsibility.   After all, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had advised the previous year:   ‘The defeat or disintegration of the British Empire would eliminate from Eurasia the last bulwark of resistance between the US and Soviet expansion . . .  Our present position as a world power is of necessity closely interwoven with that of       Britain , , ,

“This was a momentous change.   For two centuries Britain had been the dominant power in the eastern Mediterranean.   Now it seemed to be surrendering that role in two key countries.   It is often said that Americans lack a historical sense that Europeans have, but on this occasion it was the Americans who saw the historical significance of that moment.   To British ministers, battling from day to day to keep the country’s head above water, this seemed to be just a temporary retrenchment in one area.   None of them appeared to see any larger implications in the decision.   The American view was put in grandiloquent terms by Joseph M. Jones, who was in the State Department at the time:   ‘Reading the messages, Hickerson realized, as had Henderson before him, that Great Britain had within the hour handed the job of world leadership, with all its burdens and all its glory, to the United States.” (“Picking up the reins,” Norman Moss, 2008, page 64, italics mine).

The whole world did not recognize the change immediately,   It was to be another ten years before it became clear to all.   At the end of 1956 the Suez Canal crisis showed that London could not do anything without American support.   Soon afterward, the US was encouraging Britain to dismantle its empire and then to join the European Union (then the European Economic Community).

US vs EU

It’s ironic then that, over the weekend, at the Munich Security Conference, “leading German foreign policy experts” called “on the EU to reposition itself on the world stage, replacing the United States as the West’s ‘torchbearer.’   Since Washington’s change of government, the United States no longer ‘qualifies as the symbol of the West’s political and moral leadership, according to Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference.   It is therefore up to Europe ‘to make up for this loss.’”   (GermanForeignPolicy.com)

That’s easier said than done.   But the EU could be the world’s dominant military power for the simple reason that it is the world’s biggest trading power.   That’s the main reason why the US took over from Great Britain.   Economic power = military power.   The US is struggling economically which is one reason why President Trump is demanding the Europeans pay more for NATO.   Of course, the Europeans have their own financial problems, but they have an urgent need to protect themselves from both Russia and Islamic terrorism.   If they are going to have to pay more for defense, why not go-it-alone?   Especially when they no longer have confidence in American leadership.

One of the first superpowers, Babylon, was predicted to last “seventy years” (Jeremiah 25:12 & 29:10), illustrating how seventy is a significant number.   In Psalm 90:10, Moses was inspired to write that “our days may come to seventy years,” the lifespan of many human beings. Perhaps more significantly in the rise and fall of nations is the fact that, after seven decades, most people have forgotten everything. Few today remember World War II.   Few remember that Baron Ismay, Secretary General of NATO from 1952-55, described the alliance as intended to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down.”   In the current debate on the future of the alliance, this has been completely forgotten.

Dismantle the alliance and two things will happen:   1) the American president will no longer be “the Leader of the Free World;” and 2) Germany will become the undisputed Leader of Europe (she already is economically).   On the 70th anniversary of America’s ascendancy, the Munich conference saw nations actively discussing the end of America’s pre-eminence.

President Trump in Washington and Vice-President Mike Pence, who addressed the conference, may see themselves as being in the lead, calling the shots, insisting on changes within the alliance; but the other member nations have the choice of forming their own military alliance, which will not be led by the United States.

As with the change seventy years ago, it may take a while to fully emerge, but this is the direction we are heading in.   On Sunday, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced she is seeking closer ties with Russia to bring about the defeat of ISIS.

It might be good for Washington’s new leaders to take a lesson from the great nineteenth century German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, who once observed that a great power, to survive, must be “one of three” in a world governed by “five.”   Note the following:

“Of the five original great powers recognized at the Congress of Vienna, only France and the United Kingdom have maintained that status continuously to the present day, although France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War and occupied during World War II.   After the Congress of Vienna, the British Empire emerged as the pre-eminent power, due to its navy and the extent of its territories, which signaled the beginning of the Pax Britannica and of the Great Game between the UK and Russia.   The balance of power between the Great Powers became a major influence in European politics, prompting Otto von Bismarck to say “All politics reduces itself to this formula:  try to be one of three, as long as the world is governed by the unstable equilibrium of five great powers.”   (“Great Power,” Wikipedia)

In 1914, the German and Austrian empires went to war with the British, French and Russian empires.   Germany was one of two in a world governed by five.   The Germans lost.  They repeated the same mistake in World War II, when Germany and Japan were the two, in a world still governed by five.   The three opposing powers were Britain, America and Russia.   Again, the Germans lost.

The five major powers right now are the EU, China, the United States, Japan and Russia (a great military power, but not so great economically).   The US remains in alliance with the countries of the EU and Japan, making it one of three in a world governed by five.   If the EU separates from the US, that will reduce America to being one of two.

This all may seem incredible with almost daily news of set-backs in the EU.   France and Holland may leave after elections early this year; Greece and Italy have serious financial problems, which may affect the euro.   But the fact remains that Germany dominates the continent and Germany is putting together a European military force to rival America’s.   The Munich security conference showed the will is there, boosted considerably by the change of administration in Washington.

Daniel 2:21 says that God is behind the rise and fall of nations.   “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings.”   It could be, that after seventy years, the American Era is coming to an end. Munich this weekend showed that many want to see that happen.

Something to think about as the US passes its seventieth anniversary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REALPOLITIK AND THE FUTURE OF THE UKRAINE

Putin and Merkel

There are only two people who matter when it comes to the crisis in Ukraine.

They are Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel.

As it happens, both speak the other’s language.  When Putin was a KGB officer, he was assigned to the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).   That happens to be where Mrs. Merkel grew up, living in a country dominated (even controlled) from Moscow.

They should understand each other.

In the West, the crisis in Ukraine and particularly the Crimea is seen in ideological terms.   The thinking is that the Ukrainian people overthrew a dictator and want democracy; that the Russians forcibly took Crimea, thereby thwarting an honest election.

Forget ideology, realpolitik is more applicable here.

Mrs. Merkel will be familiar with realpolitik, a term that originated in Germany in the 19th century.  The closest equivalent term in English is ‘power politics.’  The greatest proponent of realpolitik was Otto von Bismarck, Mrs. Merkel’s predecessor during Germany’s rise to unity and preeminence in Europe.  Mrs. Merkel is leading Germany through a similar period in history today.

Realpolitik is not a negative term in Germany.  It simply refers to realistic politics as against idealistic politics.   An example of this was illustrated a few days ago when President Obama called for economic sanctions on Russia.  Mrs. Merkel disagreed with the US president.   Realpolitik has to face the fact that Germany and other countries in western Europe depend on Russia for their natural gas.   How can they slap sanctions on Russia?

Realpolitik, then, refers to realistic politics, as against unrealistic politics, which is often the basis of western (US) policy.  For example, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Anybody familiar with the history of these two countries would never have tried to impose a democratic system on them.  Motivated by idealistic notions of spreading democracy, the US and its allies tried to introduce a democratic system in both countries but there’s no sign democracy works in either one.

In the present world crisis, realpolitik makes clear a simple fact – Russia needs the Crimea for its own national security.   For centuries the Russians sought after a warm water port, as St. Petersburg and Murmansk freeze over in winter.   They finally got what they wanted in 1783 when Catherine the Great’s forces defeated the local Tartars and Crimea became a part of Russia.   It was Nikita Kruschev who gave the region to Ukraine in 1954, supposedly when he was drunk.  It didn’t matter then as Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union.   In 1991, with the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine got its independence and kept the Crimea.   Russia still had access to its essential port facilities.  But when Ukraine’s pro-Russian government was overthrown last month, it was time to act – and act decisively.  Russia is not leaving.   That’s realpolitik.

Could this now lead to a split between Germany and the US?   Could NATO fall apart?

The Germans have not been treated well by Washington in recent years.   Edward Snowden’s revelations showed spying on one of America’s key allies, even down to listening in to Mrs. Merkel’s mobile phone calls.

Just last month, Victoria Nuland, a US State Department Spokesperson, in conversation with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, used the “F” word in connection with the EU, a 28-member organization whose de facto leader is Angela Merkel.   Perhaps its time for the US State Department to buy multiple copies of “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” to be read by each and every member of the organization!  They are, after all, in the business of diplomacy.  Use of gutteral Anglo-Saxon terms is hardly diplomatic.

Washington seems to be out of date in its perception of European affairs.

London, being closer, is more perceptive but still not totally clued in.

Mrs. Merkel visited London one day last week and spoke to a combined audience of members of both Houses of parliament.   She made it clear that she wants the UK to stay in the EU.  British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain’s membership in 2017, if he is still prime minister at that time.

None noticed the irony, a very real irony.

Exactly seventy years ago, Britain was at war with Germany.  The leader of Germany had invaded most of the countries on the continent but had failed to conquer the United Kingdom.

Once again, Germany dominates Europe.  Realpolitik invited Mrs. Merkel to speak to the British parliament – she is now the de facto leader of Europe.

Her power and that of Germany stretches from the British Isles in the west to the Ukraine and Crimea.   The EU has played a major role in the events of the last few weeks.

Germany and the EU, together with Russia, are at center stage in the Ukrainian crisis.  A German dominated EU must reach an accommodation with a resurgent Russia.   75 years ago, an unexpected pact between Russia and Germany turned the world upside down and led directly to World War II.   Could a similar pact happen today or at some time in the near future?

Realpolitik will determine the final outcome of the Ukrainian crisis, not ideology.

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.