Tag Archives: Ukraine

13 Hours

13 Hours

Our son took me to see “13 Hours” on Sunday morning.   The movie recounts the events of September 11, 2012, when the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, came under attack.   The US Ambassador to Libya was killed in the attack along with a few others.   The then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has been blamed for the deaths.   Certainly the US State Department was slow to react.

There is a deeper, more troubling question here – what is the US doing in Benghazi?   Chris Stevens, the Ambassador, said it was to support those who want democracy.   Really?   There’s little evidence in Libya, or elsewhere in the Middle East, that anybody wants democracy.   If they do, they want to use democracy to get power, after which there will be no more democracy!

BBC World News last night led with a disturbing report on Benghazi, a city that has been almost completely destroyed by factional fighting.

It’s also about to fall to ISIS – the same ISIS we’ve been told is on the run!

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Europe is still not ready to face the twin challenges of Islamic terrorism and the mostly Islamic invasion of the continent, taking place through the migrant crisis.

Denmark and Sweden have both been in the news this week.   Denmark’s parliament has passed legislation that will confiscate the assets of migrants with more than $1,400 in cash or valuables.   This controversial decision actually brings migrants into line with Danish citizens, who cannot receive government help if they have more than the equivalent of $1,400.   The decision is likely to deter migrants, which was likely the intent behind it.

Sweden has taken in more refugees than any other country, proportionate to its population.   Last year, more than 163,000 arrived in the Scandinavian country, following the announced decision that nobody from Syria would be turned away.   Now, the government says that up to 80,000 (almost half) will not qualify to stay and will be deported.   The government had to do something following a dramatic increase in the number of rapes and the murder of a 22-year-old female volunteer by a 15-year-old “refugee” at an asylum center.   Concern was expressed by one official at how traumatized the boy must have been!   (Yes, really.)   Sweden’s anti-immigrant right-wing party, the Sweden Democrats, unsurprisingly is gaining ground in the polls.

Germany took in more refugees than anybody and has also seen a marked increase in the number of rapes.   There are also increased fears of terrorist attacks as ISIS encouraged recruits to accompany refugees en route to Europe.

The European Union is failing to deal with the migrant crisis, which is threatening to bring an end to the Schengen Agreement, one of the EU’s proudest achievements. Schengen brought about the free movement of peoples throughout Europe, an arrangement now in danger of collapsing.

These are not the only problems facing Europe.   Note the following comment, from an article by Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph:

“When a real crisis arises, the EU cannot act.   It failed in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and finally had to let the Americans come to the rescue.  Today, some say the EU is more vital than ever, because of Russian adventurism.   But the miseries of Ukraine suggest that the EU cannot successfully fill the vacuum created by President Obama’s abandonment of American strength.”  (Charles Moore, DT  ‘European Civilization is in danger of succumbing to the EU empire’.)

Americans should take note of the comment on the Obama Administration.   “The abandonment of American strength” is a good way to put it.   The consequences of his neglect can be seen in the Middle East and, increasingly, in other parts of the world.

There may only be one year left of the Obama Administration, but will things be any better afterwards?   Will a new president be different?   Some candidates threaten to bomb their way to victory in the Middle East, failing to learn the lessons of the past.   Most, maybe all, are simply clueless when it comes to understanding that part of the world.

Once again, the question is:   what are we doing there?

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Here’s a thought:

There is irony in the fact . . . that when a suicide bomber blows himself up, his body parts are impregnated with gelatine and glycerine from the explosive.   Both gelatine and glycerine are manufactured from pigs – ergo, they will never be accepted by Allah. (Source unknown)

 

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RUSSIAN PLANE CRASH – THE BIGGER PICTURE

Russian plane crash

Sunday, November 1st, was the first anniversary of Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi, thereby becoming the Sinai chapter of ISIS.

They are now claiming that, to celebrate their allegiance and commitment to the terror state, they brought down the Russian flight that crashed Sunday in the Egyptian desert, killing everyone on board.   They have not given any proof that they did this – they say they will do so when they see fit – but their claim has been taken seriously by a number of governments and airlines who will no longer fly over the Sinai desert.   The United Kingdom is the latest country to announce today a total ban on flights.

The flight was cruising at 31,000 feet when it fell apart, after two bright flashes that were picked up by satellite.   It is believed that ISIS does not have the capability to launch a missile that can hit at that altitude, so the most likely explanation is that there was a bomb on board.   It is even possible that this was the work of a suicide bomber.

It is also possible that ISIS does now have the capability to launch missiles that can hit a plane at 31,000 feet.   If this turns out to be true, then we have just entered a new phase in the never-ending War on Terror, which the West shows no sign of winning.

The crash of the Russian flight is a terrible tragedy as all such crashes are.   A little over a year ago, Russians themselves brought down a Malaysian Airlines flight over Ukraine, killing all on board, including many women and children.   Politics played a big role in the aftermath of that crash – nobody has yet accepted responsibility.   Politics is again playing a role in the Sinai.

The Egyptians do not want to acknowledge the possibility of terrorism for fear it will drive tourists away.   Tourist numbers are still down by a third following the Arab Spring and subsequent events.  They don’t want the numbers to go down even further.   On the other hand, the Russians want it to be terrorism – they don’t want people to stop flying on their airlines because of technical worries.   Russian airlines already have a bad flying record and reputation.

ISIS claimed responsibility almost immediately.   In the absence of a free press, the Russians, the Egyptians and ISIS could all be lying. The truth may never come out.

In the West, where we supposedly have a free press, there is also a lot of lying going on.   Or perhaps it’s best just to describe is as “denial” or simply an inability to connect the dots.

For when it comes to the European migrant crisis, ISIS and the myriad conflicts in the Middle East, little historical context is given.

The fact is that the Middle East has been in turmoil since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War One.   That’s almost a century ago.   The ripple effects of imperial collapse are still with us, getting worse by the day.

There is also a deeper relevance with the Ottoman Empire.   Over the course of centuries, the Ottomans tried to conquer Europe.   The nations of central Europe resisted them, but not always successfully – the Ottomans ended up incorporating vast territories in Europe into their empire.  The descendants of those subjugated Europeans are the ones now resisting the massive influx of Muslims from the former Ottoman Empire, which included Syria and Iraq.  They see clearly the threat from the Islamic world, which many in the West fail to see.

Even before the Ottoman Empire, Islamic forces tried to conquer Europe.   It began as early as the eighth century, just after the founding of the new religion. Mohammed died in 632.   Exactly one hundred years later, the French stopped the Arab advance on Paris at the Battle of Poitiers.   If they had lost, everybody reading this article today would be a Moslem!   The history of the world would have been very different.

We are now caught up in another advance of Islam into the Western world.   It may turn out to be the prelude to the prophesied “push” by the King of the South against the King of the North that we read about in Daniel, chapter 11.   Certainly, Islam right now is pushing against the Western world, which is led by compromisers who are constantly yielding to that push, allowing in hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are changing the composition of western countries.

A backlash has started. In turn, this could lead to a major clash with the Islamic world.   There are reports today of another PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden, Germany, where over 8,000 people marched through the streets protesting against Islamization.  They were carrying crosses, to show their allegiance to Europe’s traditional religion, as against the encroachment of the new.   At a football game in Poland on Sunday, crowds unfurled a huge banner that showed hordes of ISIS invaders threatening Europe and crusaders ready to resist them.

Without a doubt, what is taking place now is a major development in history.   Next year could turn out to be another of those axial years that change everything.   In 1848, almost every country in Europe was convulsed by revolution with democracy the end result.   In 1918 disillusionment with kings led to revolutions at the end of World War One.   In 1989 communists were overthrown throughout Eastern Europe.   There is now a growing disillusionment with democracy, as the governments of Western Europe do nothing about the invasion that threatens everybody’s way of life.   Recent elections across the continent show a significant turn to the political Right.   Some countries could see violence bringing about a further turn to the right as history repeats itself.

ISIS is not the only threat from the Islamic world.   All Moslems see themselves as expanding the Islamic ummah, the community of believers.   Filled with zeal for their faith, this is only natural.   When the West had the upper hand, Christian missionaries went all over the world and were instrumental in converting millions to their faith. In the last few decades, Christians have been on the run, mostly from persecution in Islamic lands.

The followers of Mohammed are well on the way to being numerically greater than the followers of Jesus Christ.

What we are witnessing now is a tectonic shift in international relations.   The West shows every indication of giving in, just as the Western Roman Empire did in Islam’s early years.

FINANCIAL CHAOS AROUND THE WORLD

Euro crisis

Wednesday was quite a day on financial markets around the globe.

China’s stock market continued to lose considerable value, down about a third in three weeks.   Uncertainty over the future of Greece within the euro rocked European stock exchanges. And a technical glitch caused problems on the New York Stork Exchange, the world’s biggest.

The latter was resolved before the closing bell.   Greece should be resolved by the weekend.   China, the number two economic power, poses the greatest threat to the world’s economy.   There are increasing fears that the Chinese stock markets are one big giant ponzi scheme, with nothing tangible to support them.

Late Thursday Greece handed over proposals to its European partners that will, hopefully, end the crisis affecting the beleaguered country.

Greece was a member of the euro from the very beginning, using the new European banknotes and coinage from day one on January 1st, 2002.   Today, the euro is used by nineteen European countries. Euro notes are used daily by more people than the US dollar.  The two currencies are the two most important currencies in the world and are used as payment for most international trading.

When Greece joined the euro, it was suddenly able to borrow vast amounts of money, which it did. It was not all used wisely.   Following the crash of 2008, the country soon found itself unable to repay its loans. The dream currency had become a nightmare for the Greek people. Austerity was forced on the country by European bankers, making life very difficult for the average citizen.   Austerity led the country into a downward spiral, which has recently been speeding up.

In January, the left-wing Syriza party won the election, promising an end to austerity.    However, European bankers, anxious to get their money back, want to impose greater austerity as a condition for offering Greece more help.   Without help, Greece will not be able to stay in the euro.

Without a doubt, Greek governments have been reckless.   Government employees can retire at 48 on generous pensions. Corruption is rife, as also is tax avoidance.

Germany is owed 68 billion euros by Greece, France 65 billion (add 10% to get the US dollar equivalent).   Other countries have loaned lesser amounts.   Total Greek debt amounts to 323 billion euros.   Greece is asking for a further bailout of 53.5 billion.

Although there is much talk of the Greek crisis, in a sense this is not about Greece, so much as Germany.   Germany’s conservative government is taking a hard line, refusing to cancel debt or extend further loans.   The Germans want their money back, on time.   Germany’s stance is setting a precedent that will no doubt be repeated if any other country in the eurozone gets into trouble.   Many have pointed out that when Germany was suffering economically after World War II, European finance ministers, including the Greek finance minister, generously cut Germany’s debt by 50%.   If Germany would reciprocate now, Greece would be fine.

The Greek people voted in a referendum a few days ago, rejecting the austerity demands placed on them by Germany and others. However, they still want to remain in the eurozone, which is an apparent contradiction.   If they leave the eurozone, they could restore their former currency, the drachma, but this would cut them off from many of the benefits of the eurozone.   Business loans and mortgages in euros would have to be paid back in ever depreciating drachmas, leading to many foreclosures.  Importers would have to pay upfront in euros, which may be hard to get if Greece leaves the eurozone.

Nobody wants a “Grexit” (a Greek exit from the euro), but it may not be possible to avoid it if the Greeks are unwilling to make the necessary structural changes to keep them in the euro.

This crisis is not the only crisis facing Europe at this time.   The continent is having to work through a number of challenges all at once.

The migrant crisis is the second biggest issue confronting the European Union.   So many people are fleeing from the Middle East and Africa into Europe that social cohesion is becoming a serious issue.   One consequence of this massive movement of people is the rise of right-wing parties opposed to immigration.

Ukraine is a third challenge for Europe.   Russia’s invasion of parts of Ukraine threatens the peace of Europe.

The possibility of Britain leaving the EU comes in at number four.

There’s even a fifth challenge, and that’s the relationship between European countries and the United States.   France and Germany are both upset over the American NSA spying on them and their leaders, even though it’s quite likely they are doing the same to America.

Depending on how each of these issues is resolved, Europe could be very different in the near future.

INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS IN EUROPE THIS WEEK

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with US President Barack Obama outside the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with US President Barack Obama outside the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday. (Reuters)

The week began with the 41st G7 summit, held this year in the Bavarian town of Krun.

The former G8 is now down to 7 since Vladimir Putin started misbehaving himself and invaded Ukraine.   He never really belonged anyway.  The group is made up of the seven biggest industrial powers in the world – Russia was never the eighth.   Even the Belgian economy is bigger than Russia’s.   At the same time, Russia under Putin can hardly be described as a model democracy.

The leaders of the seven seem to have had the usual amicable two-day session, during which they discussed Russia and Ukraine, global warming and ISIS.   President Obama was more than candid when he said that the US does not have a “complete strategy” when it comes to dealing with the terror group.  One year after ISIS captured the city of Mosul, the Administration still doesn’t know what it’s doing!   It’s a good thing the president wasn’t in power at the time of Pearl Harbor – Hitler and Tojo would have won!

Fortunately, there are leaders out there who do know what they are doing and who seem to have a clear strategy.  Unfortunately, they live in Moscow and the Vatican.

Today, the leader of Russia, no doubt sore at being barred from the summit and all that Bavarian beer, met with the Pope in the Eternal City.   This was the second time the two men have met, the first since the Russian annexation of Crimea.   Note what Russia Today had to say:

“The two men champion similar conservative values in a rapidly changing world, as well as concerns for emerging threats to Christianity.  During their last meeting in 2013, Putin and the Pope discussed the danger Christians face in the Middle East at the hands of radical Islamists.

“The meeting is expected to touch upon Ukraine and the civil war in the east of the country.  Pope Francis has been rejecting calls from the Ukrainian Catholic Church to condemn Russia over allegations that it’s fueling aggression, and instead called on all parties involved to cease hostilities.”

Today’s meeting was a test of the pope’s diplomatic skills.  Fresh from a visit to Cuba, which was appreciated in both Washington and Havana, the pope was instrumental in breaking the ice between the US and the communist country.  Can he help break the logjam over Ukraine?

Perhaps more important to the pope is the state of Christians in the Middle East.  Extremists throughout the region are killing Christians at an alarming rate and in a most alarming manner.  Russia’s president has said that Russia will protect them.  The pope has called for world leaders to intervene and use force against those persecuting Christians.  The US president is on record as saying that the US is a “post-Christian” country – he will not be seen to favor Christians over Muslims, reminding people a few weeks ago that Christians did some terrible things to Muslims during the Crusades. At the same time, Christianity is a thing of the past to most western Europeans.

So, what next in Europe and particularly Germany, Rome and Moscow?

Bible prophecy shows that prior to Christ’s Second Coming, there will be a revival of the Roman Empire, in which Rome and Germany will play major roles.   You can read about the revived Roman Empire in Revelation, chapter 17.   History students will know that this union is not improbable.   In 1922, Mussolini proclaimed a revival of the Roman Empire.   After his plans failed, six European nations came together to sign the Treaty of Rome in 1957, pledging to form “an ever closer union”, in effect a nicer Roman Empire, not built by force.

For this revival of the Roman Empire to come into its final form, a German led Europe and America are set to go their separate ways. Clearly, there are already differences between Washington and Berlin, the only European capital that counts.   Germany is witnessing increasing anti-Americanism, which is likely to get worse with the publication of “Schindler’s List.”   Gerhard Schindler is the president of Germany’s BND, the equivalent of America’s National Security Agency (NSA).   He has in his possession a list of people in Germany that his BND has been spying on at the behest of the NSA.

“This list has become a potential time bomb both for Germany’s ruling coalition and for the transatlantic relationship.  It refers to the documentation of millions of “selectors”— search terms for phone numbers, e-mail addresses and so on — that America’s National Security Agency (NSA) has over the years fed into the computers of its German equivalent, the BND.   The Germans monitored these and passed the intelligence back to America.  Under a 2002 deal, the selectors may not point to German citizens, European firms or European Union governments.

“But for years the BND failed to check the selectors, according to parliamentary testimony by Gerhard Schindler, its president. It began doing so properly only after revelations of American mass surveillance by Edward Snowden in 2013.  The BND then rejected thousands of search terms as impermissible, apparently because they aimed at European firms and governments, including France’s. A big question is just how many problematic selectors had got through.   Mr. Schindler says he was informed of the situation only in March.  How much Chancellor Angela Merkel knew is unclear.” (“Germans are angry not only with America’s spies but also with their own,” The Economist, June 6th.)

There is likely to be considerable fallout when the list is revealed.   In turn, this could affect transatlantic relations.

Add to this a growing disillusionment with a do-nothing Washington that is no longer committed to Europe and seems averse to doing anything significant in the Middle East.   This leaves a vacuum in the Western world.   Europe is not ready to fill the vacuum yet, but if the West is to be saved, it must do so.   And do so soon.

Rome will also play a role here.   A revived Roman Empire is not possible without the papacy.   Note the following comment in Time Magazine one day before the pope met with President Putin.

“The Bishop of Rome may not represent the United States or Germany, but he is increasingly a superpower in his own right, and the Wednesday meeting is a diplomatic test of how Francis will use his influence.”

(“Vladimir Putin Tests the Limits of Pope Francis’ Powers,” Elizabeth Dias, Time Magazine, June 9th.)

Little attention is given to Berlin, Rome, or Moscow on American television news programs, but developments in these three cities could affect America’s future and very soon.

LESSONS ON WAR

 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED LONE PINE PHOTO                  (306) 683-0889
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
LONE PINE PHOTO (306) 683-0889

“What was the true lesson of the war in Vietnam?   Or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?   No matter how powerful you are, it’s hard to defeat an enemy that cares much more about the outcome than you do.   Don’t escalate the fight with Russia over Ukraine, a nation that will always matter much more to Moscow than to Washington. Instead of boosting Vladimir Putin’s popularity by feeding anti-American fury in his country, let Europe lead.   This is not a new Cold War.   The American people don’t care.   Why continue this fight?

“Independents know the US shouldn’t try to push Israelis and Palestinians toward a peace deal that neither side really wants.  It shouldn’t defend Middle East dictators while claiming to defend freedom and human rights.   Let those most threatened by ISIS, in the Middle East and Europe, take the lead.   Let Germany and Japan finally accept responsibility for their own security.   Accept that decisions made in Beijing, not in Washington, will decide whether China sinks or swims.”

Ian Bremmer, “What does America stand for?”  Time Magazine, June 1st.  (Author of “Superpower:  Three choices for America’s role in the world,” published by Portfolio/Penguin.)

TWIN THREATS PROMPT CALLS FOR ACTION

Pope

One thousand years after the Crusades, the Pope is calling for force to be used to protect Christians in the Middle East.

The Catholic website “Crux” is currently leading with the headline:  “Vatican backs military force to stop ISIS ‘genocide’.”   The news story begins with the following two paragraphs:

“In an unusually blunt endorsement of military action, the Vatican’s top diplomat at the United Nations in Geneva has called for a coordinated international force to stop the “so-called Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq from further assaults on Christians and other minority groups.

“We have to stop this kind of genocide,” said Italian Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative in Geneva. “Otherwise we’ll be crying out in the future about why we didn’t do something, why we allowed such a terrible tragedy to happen.”

At the same time, the Fox News website’s top story is:  “Islamic State intensifies its efforts TO WIPE OUT CHRISTIANITY.”

Meanwhile, there has been another call for a European Army.

Presently, every single country in Europe has its own military.   However, many European nations are members of NATO and co-operate greatly on defense.  In spite of increasing threats to the peace and stability of Europe, some European countries have been cutting defense expenditure in order to balance their budgets in a time of austerity.   This has caused some resentment in the United States.  Many feel that Europeans are not pulling their weight.  A number of countries are spending less than the required 2% of their budgets on defense.

At the same time, Europeans are concerned that Americans seem intent on raising the stakes in Ukraine by sending more arms to Kiev.   This scares some European governments including Germany.  Additionally, the US is closing 15 military bases in Europe, as if to emphasize that the country’s priorities are changing.

Europeans see Russia as their greatest threat at this time.  So do many members of the US Congress.  However, differences remain on how best to handle Russia.

The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, has called for an EU Army to make the Russians realize that Europe is serious about Russia’s threats (“Jean Claude Juncker calls for EU Army,” The Guardian, 8 March).

In the last twelve months, Russia has invaded and annexed Crimea, continues to occupy (supposedly through surrogates) eastern Ukraine and has increased intimidating military flights over the Baltic countries and the United Kingdom.

But Russia may not be the biggest military challenge Europeans face.   Islamic extremism could be an even bigger problem.

The Europeans have to contend with both ISIS and Al-Qaeda.  The latter was behind the attacks in Paris in January.  ISIS is now at Europe’s back door with a significant presence in Libya, Italy’s former colony, and not that far away from the Italian peninsula.   ISIS also now has an ally in Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State a few weeks ago.   Boko Haram is causing a great deal of turmoil in Nigeria and neighboring countries, all of which have commercial and historical ties with European countries and the EU.

The Bible highlights the fact that the Middle East is at the center of Bible prophecy.  Many of the prophecies in scripture could not have been fulfilled until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire less than a hundred years ago.  The subsequent peace treaty created a number of new countries, many of which remain in varying degrees of conflict and instability.  Deeper tensions came with the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948.   These events have made the final biblical scenario all the more credible.

Daniel 11:40-41 prophecies:  “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.  He shall also enter the Glorious Land (the Holy Land)….”

Earlier in chapter 11 we read a prophecy, written in the sixth century BC, of Alexander the Great.  His empire, a fulfilled prophecy, came about two centuries after the prophetic words of Daniel were written.  As predicted, his empire was eventually divided between his four generals.  Two of these generals founded biblically significant dynasties, one to the north of Jerusalem (the King of the North, or the Seleucid dynasty) and one to the south of Jerusalem (the King of the South, or the Ptolemaic dynasty).   These two dynasties were often in conflict.  As the Jews were in the middle, they suffered greatly because of them.

After the horrendous climactic events in the middle of the second century BC, the prophecy takes us down to the present time, where, once again, there’s a king of the North and a King of the South.   It should be noted that the prophecy has a gap of two thousand years because the Jews did not have a country of their own during that time.  Now, once again, they do.

The ancient King of the North was conquered by the Roman Empire in 60 A.D.   A new revived Roman Empire is going to emerge as the new King of the North, although it won’t be called by that name.  But it will fulfill the prophecy in Daniel 11.  It will send troops into the Middle East to deal with the growing threat of Islamic militancy, political turmoil and conflict.  A European Army is more likely to be used in this region than against Russia.

But, after intervening in the Middle East, that same army may have to deal with Russia.  “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him . . .” (v. 44).   It should be noted that Russia, Iran, Syria and a number of central Asian, former Soviet republics, co-operate militarily.  If Europe was embroiled in the Middle East, Russia would no doubt take advantage and annex other countries that were formerly in its empire.

This brings us back to the pope’s call for force to be used to save Christians in the Middle East.

In the latter part of the eleventh century, Muslim Turks massacred Christians and treated surviving Christians cruelly.  This led to Pope Urban II in 1095 calling for a Crusade against the Muslims, to free the Christians in the Holy Land.  The Crusades lasted two hundred years.

Today, it’s not the Turks who are persecuting Christians.  It’s ISIS and other extremis groups.   And, it’s not just Christians who need protecting.   Other minorities also need intervention on their behalf.   But, as with events a thousand years ago, it could be the pope who calls nations to arms.

Western civilization is once again seriously threatened.  Politicians, never able to see beyond the next election, seem blinded to this reality.   The papacy is, once again, more in tune with global reality.

The pope’s call, together with the call for an EU Army, show that the prophecies of your Bible are on track, leading ultimately to the second coming of Jesus Christ to establish His Kingdom.

GERMANY OVERHAULING DEFENSE STRATEGY TO COUNTER RUSSIAN THREATS

GDM von der Leyen

The Ukrainian situation is having a profound effect on Europe.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen is promising to overhaul defense strategy in response to Russian aggression against the government and people of Ukraine.   The Russians have been using “power politics and military force,” to get their own way.

The latest deal, Minsk 2, brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with the aid of French President Francois Hollande, failed to end the fighting.   It’s clear who is the major problem – yesterday, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, was warning Ukraine to pull its forces out of yet another of the country’s cities, so that Russian rebels can take over.   There’s ample proof these rebels include Russian professional soldiers.   This is a blatant attack by Russia on the sovereignty of one of its neighbors.

Not content with being the biggest country in the world, the Russians clearly want more territory.   It may even be that Moscow is intent on taking back all the territories of the former Soviet Union. The fall of the USSR in 1991 was once described by Mr. Putin as the greatest disaster of the twentieth century.

It’s less than seven years since Russian troops invaded Georgia in support of ethnic Russians living there.   Less than a year ago, the Crimea was annexed.   Now eastern Ukraine is seriously threatened. Other countries on Russia’s borders now face the same prospect, as the western alliance is proven impotent in the face of Moscow’s aggression.

Watch for dramatic changes ahead in Europe.   As the US shuts down military bases in Europe to focus on needs elsewhere in the world, only one western European country has the capacity to fill America’s shoes.   That country is Germany.   The German Defense Minister sees clearly the need for Germany to reassert itself in the face of Russian threats from the east.