This is a crucial weekend for Theresa May and for Britain itself. The final Brexit proposals are on the table (all 585 pages of them) and parliament has to vote to approve the “deal” that will determine the UK’s future.
It hasn’t been mentioned all week on network television in the United States, but the Brexit deal between the EU and the UK is in its climactic stage. By next week at this time, Britain’s future should be decided. At the same time, Theresa May’s future will be clear – if she cannot get the latest proposals through parliament, there will be a “vote of no confidence” and her government may be gone. The immediate future does not look good for Mrs. May or for Britain.
It’s been over two years since the British people voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, to once again be an independent nation as the United Kingdom was before 1973. Membership of the EU has not been good for the British people. After 46 years, it’s time to depart. But there are many, including the prime minister, who cannot see a future for Britain without the EU. Mrs. May voted to “Remain” in the referendum, but says she wants to honor the will of the people; however, she clearly wants Britain tied as closely as possible to Brussels and the 27-nation union. She is fearful of the country going it alone!
Following the referendum there was talk of Britain becoming a second Singapore, a low tax, free enterprise economy that would boost living standards for the British people. Singapore now has the highest per capita income in the world. The irony here is that the city-state was founded by a British entrepreneur less than two hundred years ago, at a time when Britain had the most successful economy in the world. The proposed revival has not gotten anywhere.
Note the following comment from yesterday’s Wall St Journal:
“Some Conservatives are nonetheless threatening another leadership challenge to Mrs May, and maybe this time they mean it. The Prime Minister’s withdrawal plan at least clarifies the choice. Mrs. May has reached this pass because she and much of her party have lacked the conviction to push for a Brexit that would require widespread economic reform at home and a Singapore-style free-trade policy abroad. If Britain won’t have that kind of Brexit, business groups are right that the country needs to preserve as many of the benefits of existing EU ties as possible to compensate for the disadvantages of Britain’s high-taxing, high-spending, hyper-regulated economy . . . Any Tory inclined to challenge Mrs. May will need a plan for persuading skeptical British voters to follow a reform path.” (“The Best Bad Brexit Deal,” Wall Street Journal, November 15th)
A famous proverb makes clear the problem here: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). The people were not given a clear vision that would have launched Britain on a new course. Instead, they cling to their generous welfare state and free medical system, fearful of change. They “need” a deal with the EU so as not to rock the welfare boat.
Perhaps a different leader would have made a difference? Jacob Rees-Mogg, a prominent Conservative, said only yesterday that: “Leaving the EU is the most fantastic opportunity for the UK.” If only Mrs. May felt that way. If only Margaret Thatcher were still prime minister. Or Winston Churchill. Alas, there are lots of “if only’s” . . . the reality is that the country and the ruling Conservative Party are very divided.
Surprisingly, the 27 members of the EU are not divided, not on Brexit anyway. They have all given their full support to the EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, an uncompromising man whose inflexibility came up against the UK’s constant dithering. He took full advantage of London’s desperate pursuit of a “deal” that will ensure the UK’s future as a “vassal state” of the European Union (the words of former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson).
Mrs. May is quite a bit younger than myself, so I hesitate to describe her as an old woman; but, like many older people, she is showing timidity in this crisis, as her 27 immediate neighbors on the European bloc treat her badly. She wants peace at all costs (“peace in our time” as Neville Chamberlain said eighty years ago when confronted with other continental bullies). She is too nice to stand up to Messrs Barnier, Macron and Merkel. But somebody is urgently needed to stand up to them – and opt for the Singapore option.
It’s interesting to note the contrast between Mrs. May and Donald Trump – the former lacks confidence in standing up to the Europeans; the latter is overly-confident, which is just as bad in its own way. When President Macron announced that the new European Army will defend Europe against Russia, China and the US, Mr. Trump responded in a tweet accusing the French president of an “insult.” A clear head and a determined resolve are needed here by the two leaders of the two English speaking powers.
The present scenario brings to mind the following prophetic words about Ephraim:
“Aliens (strangers, foreigners) 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” (Hosea 7:9)
“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. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Rev 17:12-14)
For these ten nations to come together, there must be a major upheaval that transforms the nations of the world and their alliances. President Trump may be the catalyst.
It’s difficult to know at this point what the outcome of the Singapore summit will be. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump seemed to get along fine and there is hope of an end to almost 70 years of conflict on the Korean peninsula.
“President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hearkens back to an era of high-risk summits where the outcome was not preordained.” (“In the past, summits often redrew maps, changed world,” Gregory Korte, USA Today, 6/13)
“ . . . To Trump’s credit, we are surely at a better place than we were a year ago when Kim was testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, and he and Trump were trading threats and insults in what seemed the prelude to a new Korean War.
“Whatever one may think of his diplomacy, Trump has, for now, lifted the specter of nuclear war from the Korean peninsula and begun a negotiating process that could lead to tolerable coexistence.” (“Trump’s Bold Historic Gamble,” Pat Buchanan, 6/15)
For a more critical view, note this paragraph from The Economist: “In foreign policy, perhaps more than anywhere else, President Donald Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do: he has pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran deal, moved America’s embassy in Israel and imposed tariffs on imports. His supporters, and many business folk, are thrilled. But though his wrecking-ball approach may bring short-term wins for America, it will cause long-term damage to the world.” (6/9)
WILL THERE BE PEACE?
In 1938, before the word “summit” was used to describe meetings of world leaders (it was first used by Sir Winston Churchill over ten years later), the two most powerful men in the world met in Munich. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Germany’s leader, Adolf Hitler, worked out a peace “deal” between them. Mr. Chamberlain was able to return to England and proclaim “Peace in our time.” Less than a year later, the two nations were at war. World War Il was to last six years.
80 years later, the Singapore summit has raised hopes of an end to the threat of nuclear war involving North Korea. But whether this will mean peace remains to be seen.
“Here is where the crunch comes. Kim is being told that he must give up the weapons whose very possession by him are the reason why the world powers are paying him heed.” (PB)
Meanwhile, it is becoming clear that neither North Korea nor the United States are the biggest beneficiaries following the summit. The nation that benefits the most is China, already the greatest power in the Far East.
A HUGE WIN FOR CHINA
“Kim Jong Un flew into Singapore on a Chinese plane for his summit with US President Donald Trump and left with a prized concession long sought by Beijing: the suspension of US-South Korean war games.
Not only that, but Trump also teased the possibility of a complete withdrawal of American troops from the Korean Peninsula at some point in the near future.
“It’s a huge win for China,” Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at CSIS, told CNN.” (CNN, 6/3)
Mr. Trump clearly wants to reduce the number of US military personnel in South Korea, variously said to be 28,000-32,000. At a press conference, he said the following:
“I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. I would like to be able to bring them back home. . . . We will stop the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money.”
As said on CNN, this statement is exactly what China wants. Under pressure from Beijing, North Korea will likely take a more peaceful course. The country will likely open up to some foreign investment, mostly from China, although there is little prospect of an end to authoritarian, communist rule. China itself has not made any progress in that area.
It may take some time for the world to see clearly that this summit was a big step forward for China and Chinese power in the Asia-Pacific region. Perhaps mindful of the decline of the European powers in the region following World War II, China is enabling the US to decline gracefully in what is increasingly a Chinese sphere of influence. Even the summit venue, Singapore, is ethnically Chinese. A friend of mine in the city-state reports an increased sighting of Chinese ships around the strategically important island.
On the day of the summit, the Singapore Straits Times reported:
PARIS (AFP) – “France is increasing its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, sending warships through the South China Sea and planning air exercises to help counter China’s military build-up in disputed waters.
“In late May, the French assault ship Dixmude and a frigate sailed through the disputed Spratly Islands and around a group of reefs that China has turned into islets, to push back against Beijing’s claim to own most of the resource-rich South China Sea.”
Around the globe, the talk was of peace; but the summit was largely about money, as is so often the case with global power struggles.
Although the US economy is doing well, the country is heavily in debt (more about that later), while China has mountains of cash. Inevitably, the latter is going to overtake the former, at least in Asia, unless things change fast.
EU & NATO CONCERNS
“Donald Trump’s America-first diplomacy has shaken the foundations of many global institutions and alliances, but its most damaging effects so far have been on the trans-Atlantic relationship. The community of North American and European nations forming the nucleus of the alliance that won the Cold War for the West is closer to breaking up now than any time since the 1940s.” (“Why Trump clashes with Europe,” by Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 6/12).
The summit of the G7 nations, meeting in Quebec just a few days ago, ended in disarray when the US president refused to sign the joint communiqué and walked out of the conference. The future of the organization remains in doubt. The G7 was sometimes referred to last week as the G6+1; at other times the G4, as only the European countries seemed to be in agreement.
By throwing out the suggestion that all tariffs be abolished, Mr. Trump was undermining the very foundations of the European Union.
Early in July, the US president will be attending the NATO summit in Brussels. It should become clearer then if he feels any support for the European democracies. If he doesn’t, Europe will be on its own.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel commented on the “G7 fiasco,” saying “it’s time to isolate Donald Trump:”
“The G-7 summit once again made it clear that U.S. President Donald Trump is intent on treating America’s allies worse than its enemies. Europe must draw the consequences and seek to isolate Trump on the international stage.”
“Germany’s foreign minister called for the European Union to become a more self-confident global actor, prepared to take counter-measures when the United States crosses “red lines” and able to respond to Russian threats and Chinese growth.
“In a Berlin speech, Heiko Maas gave the clearest sign yet that Germany no longer sees its 70-year-old alliance with the United States as unconditional, and threw his weight behind French proposals to make the EU shipshape for a more uncertain world.
“We need a balanced partnership with the US,” he told youth activists in a converted railway station, “where we as Europeans act as a conscious counterweight when the US oversteps red lines.”
“In remarks that drew a line under the post-war German doctrine of close alignment with the United States, Maas listed President Donald Trump’s Washington as a challenge for Europe, alongside more traditional rivals like Russia and China.
“Donald Trump’s egotistical politics of ‘America First’, Russia’s attacks on international law and state sovereignty, the expansion of gigantic China: the world order we were used to – it no longer exists,” he said.
“The speech is the latest in a flurry of declarations by leading German politicians digesting the implications of the disarray following Trump’s abrupt departure last week from the Quebec G7 summit, long a pillar of the US-led Western global order.
“Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, long known as among Germany’s most committed Atlanticists, effectively demoted the US relationship in a television interview by saying Germany’s second loyalty had to be the EU.
“The first loyalty goes to your own country,” she said. “But the second should go to the EU.” For Berlin’s elites, the EU and the transatlantic alliance were long regarded as equal pillars.” (Euractiv with Reuters 6/14)
Once again, money has played a part in Mr. Trump’s anti-European rhetoric. Although some European countries do spend more than the required 2% of their GNP on defense, some do not, including Germany. Mr. Trump feels very strongly that this is wrong and needs to change. The United States is deeply in debt. In itself, this poses a grave threat to national security. Other nations must devote more of their resources to defense.
Did both the Singapore and the Quebec summits have a lot to do with money? Seemingly so.
ONE SUMMIT STILL TO GO
Here’s a final comment from a British conservative publication, linking all three summits (G7, Singapore and NATO):
“Donald Trump is feeling confident about world peace following his big summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un. But . . . western leaders are desperately worried. Might the US President, inebriated on his own sense of destiny, be about to collapse Nato? Theresa May is certainly worried: she knows how hard the British government had to push Trump to officially endorse Nato. But now, following the fallout over tariffs at last weekend’s G7 summit in Canada, Trump is not feeling well disposed towards the rest of the West. Next month’s Nato Summit in Brussels will be a tense affair.” (Spectator, UK, 6/14)
Seventy years after the formation of NATO, could the organization break up? We will see next month.
At midnight Thursday night the US imposed tariffs on goods from Europe, Canada and Mexico. The countries of the EU and Canada have been allies of the United States since World War II.
Verbal reaction was swift, with condemnation from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and threats of retaliation from EU leaders. The President of France declared them “illegal”. The European response is: Retaliate, don’t escalate!
It’s not just bad feeling that will result from the decision by President Trump to impose the tariffs. The tariffs will lead to higher prices on imported goods, both in the US and the EU; unemployment will also increase, over all, though there may be short-term gains in this area.
Although nobody is left alive from the last trade war that afflicted the western world, many leaders are aware that trade conflicts were a contributory factor to World War II.
The trade war is also coming at a bad time, fresh on the heels of the US tearing up the nuclear deal with Iran. The Europeans did not agree with the US and are continuing to honor the agreement.
There’s bad feeling all round.
After seventy years of the NATO alliance, member nations outside of the US increasingly feel they are not in an alliance with Washington; rather, they are being dictated to as America changes direction on a number of levels.
Newsletter – Dispute Among Friends
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ended his first official visit to Washington yesterday, without reaching a compromise in the transatlantic dispute over policy on Iran. “We’re pursuing two completely different paths,” Maas declared following his talks with his counterpart Mike Pompeo and the National Security Advisor John Bolton. The EU remains unified in their policy approach, which is diametrically opposed to that of the Trump administration. Berlin’s attempts to achieve an independent German-EU policy on Iran opposing Washington’s is particularly applauded by Germany’s strategists in the establishment’s foreign policy sectors. Recommendations of submission to the Trump administration’s threats to use force against Teheran, so as not to jeopardize German companies’ highly profitable business relations with the US, are coming from business circles. Meanwhile, foreign policy experts recommend developing the euro into an alternative global reserve currency. This could reduce the USA’s potential to apply pressure on Germany’s economy. (German Foreign Policy, 5/24)
BELGIUM ATTACKED AGAIN
On Tuesday, a terrorist attacked and killed two policewomen in the Belgian city of Liege. One of the policewomen was a single mother with twin daughters, aged 13. A passerby was also killed. The attacker shouted “Alahu Akhbar” as he stabbed the women repeatedly, then seized one of their guns before shooting at others.
The incident itself was horrific. But the reaction of the authorities and the media showed how little understanding there is in official circles of the reality of Islamic terrorism. There was a great deal of speculation as to what “radicalized” the perpetrator of the crime. Was he “radicalized” in prison or on the internet, or what?
After centuries of Islamic conquest and ongoing conflict between Islam and the West, today’s western leaders remain out of touch with reality. They believe that Islam is a peaceful religion and that only a very small minority of Muslims turn to violence.
What if they are wrong?
Before political correctness, Winston Churchill once said that: ”Islam is more dangerous in a man than rabies in a dog.”
He also observed that: “A nation that forgets its past has no future.”
IS IRELAND SET TO ABORT ITSELF?
Last week, Irish voters decided to legalize abortion, bringing Ireland into line with every other EU country except Poland and Malta, two very Catholic countries.
In the last few years, Ireland, also a Catholic country, has also embraced divorce and gay rights. Its current prime minister is gay and of Indian descent, two radical departures for the Irish.
But, with a small population, Is it really in the country’s interest to make abortion readily available?
Ireland is simply following other European countries, nations with low birth rates due to abortion and other forms of birth control.
To fill the gap left by those missing babies, the nations of western Europe are importing people from other parts of the world, resulting in serious social problems and terror attacks.
Wouldn’t it be better to simply keep the ban on abortion?
DEATH OF DEMOCRACY
What’s happening in Italy is yet further proof that the EU has a democracy problem. An entire nation has gone to the polls, yet the vote has been overridden because it delivered the ‘wrong’ result. Europe’s leaders insist they know they must listen to voters, but don’t seem very keen to hear what is being said. (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 5/31)
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.
Whereas Germany is having difficulty putting together a coalition government, Austria’s youthful Chancellor, the youngest head of government in the world, has been successful. Sebastian Kurz, 31, leads the Austrian People’s Party. His party is now in coalition with the “extreme right” Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache. The latter party is often compared to the Nazis, whose leader, Adolf Hitler, was from Austria. This is an exaggeration, to say the least.
Both leaders and their supporters, are concerned about the invasion of their country by Muslims and encroaching Islamization. They announced the formation of their government on Kahlenberg Mountain outside of Vienna, the same hill where Islamic Turks were defeated on 9-11 (& 12), 1683, ending the Muslim threat to western Europe. The new government joins Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia in turning against the tide of immigrants welcomed by Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Interestingly, all five of these countries were parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed after World War One.
One thing is certain – Austria has become the first western nation with a genuine conservative government.
“The new coalition was agreed on Friday (15th December) by the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ), pledging to stop illegal immigration, cut taxes and resist EU centralization.
It will be led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took over the ÖVP in May and yanked it to the right, securing his party first place in October elections. At 31, Kurz will be the world’s youngest leader.
At his side for the investiture by Austria’s (figurehead) president in the Hapsburg dynasty’s imperial palace in Vienna was FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, now vice-chancellor, and FPÖ general secretary Herbert Kickl, the new interior minister.
“Strache has said Islam “has no place in Europe” and last year called German Chancellor Angela Merkel “the most dangerous woman in Europe” for her open-door refugee policy.
On Sunday, Strache trumpeted to his 750,000 followers on Facebook that the new government would slash social benefits for asylum-seekers.
“It will no longer happen that migrants who have never worked here a single day or paid anything into the social system will get thousands of euros in welfare!” he said in a post that has gained 9,000 “likes.”
(“European far-right jubilant as Austria’s new government is sworn in.” The Local, December 18th)
Coincidentally, at the same time the Austrian government was agreeing a coalition, my wife and I were watching the “Sisi” trilogy on Turner Classic Movies. These three films, made over 50 years ago in Austria (with English sub-titles), portrayed the Austrian Empress Elizabeth, wife of the Emperor Franz Josef, who reigned from 1848-1916. Elizabeth came from Bavaria. She was sympathetic to the aspirations of Hungarian nationalists and was influential in the historic agreement that united Austria and Hungary in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (in 1867). Her life was rather tragic – her only son, the Crown Prince Rudolf, committed suicide and she herself was assassinated a few years later, while visiting Geneva.
It was an interesting time in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A great deal of liberalization took place under Franz Josef as Austrians tried to keep their multiethnic empire together. Often overlooked is the fact that this major empire gave a home to eleven different nationalities, all united under the Hapsburgs. Today, each ethnic group has its own sovereign state, each one weaker than the old empire.
“The great Czech historian Frantisek Palacky once said that if the Hapsburg Empire had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent it” (The Emperors, by Gareth Russell, 2014, pages 40-41). The European Union is no replacement as it is German dominated.
Some of the former Austrian nationalities are again marching together. Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are all opposed to further Muslim immigration, wanting to protect and preserve Catholic Europe. These five countries are set to form the Eastern leg of the biblically prophesied revived Roman Empire.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in the fifth century, there have been a number of attempts to revive it – most recently, in 1922 Mussolini announced a revival of the Roman Empire; in 1957 European leaders signed the Treaty of Rome, forming what is now the European Union, another attempt at uniting Europe. Perhaps out of the rubble of the EU will come the final European Union, led by Germany.
“Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:41-44)
ANNUAL MESSAGES FROM HEADS OF STATE
Every year, the British monarch speaks to the Commonwealth on Christmas Day. This is a tradition that began with her grandfather, King George V, in 1932. At the time Britain was a global superpower, ruling over a quarter of the world’s people. With the introduction of radio in the previous decade, the king could now address all his subjects around the world.
In 1957 the annual radio broadcast began to be televised. By this time, the empire was fundamentally changing. Indeed, in 1957’s broadcast, the Queen welcomed Ghana and Malaysia into the Commonwealth, as both nations had become independent that year. The 52-nation Commonwealth continues to this day, with the Queen as its Head.
For some years now, the queen’s message has embraced multiculturalism. The Commonwealth is multicultural in itself, composed of nations that have different religions and a great deal of ethnic diversity. This year, she took a different approach to her speech. Instead of emphasizing multiculturalism, she praised the citizens of London and Manchester who suffered terrorist attacks last year; and the heroism of Emergency Responders who helped save lives.
Sadly, it is, of course, multiculturalism which has led directly to terrorism, not just in the United Kingdom but in other countries in Europe.
The queen is a deeply religious woman, never more so than at Christmas. In her speech this year she talked of how Jesus Christ “suffered rejection, hardship and persecution.” Having experienced all three in recent years, I was encouraged by her words, which prompted a Bible Study from this angle.
Queen Elizabeth is not the only Head of State who gives an annual Christmas speech. President Steinmeier of Germany addressed the German people on the same day. The German president, like the British monarch, is a figurehead, playing an important role in unifying the nation at a difficult time. The German president devoted his speech to reassuring the German people, who still do not have a government over three months after the election. This is the longest period in the Federal Republic’s history and, for some, brings back memories of the rather unstable Weimar Republic. Today’s German republic is more resilient and Germany should soon have a new coalition government, made up of two or more parties.
The Pope also gave a Christmas speech. Whereas the British monarch and the German president were careful not to advocate more immigrants, the pope called upon nations to open their doors wider to receive more refugees. Ironically, on the same day, ISIS in Somalia called for the assassination of the pope and for attacks on more western cities, like Manchester and London.
And so it goes on. The West has lost its way and does not know how to respond to radical Islam’s assault upon it. It won’t, until its religious roots are revived. Most people in the West still give lip-service to Christianity, but few think deeply about their traditional religions, both Catholic and Protestant.
Acts 4:12 says of Jesus Christ: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Muslims deny Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Therefore, to equate Islam with Christianity, makes no sense and endangers Christians, who are ill-prepared for the assault that is taking place upon them today.
The British monarch is the titular Head of the Anglican Community. The Pope is the Head of the Catholic Church.
They need to wake up to what is happening and to see clearly the threat to traditional Christianity.
The Pope, in his annual speech, focused on Jerusalem, calling for an independent Palestinian state, the “two state solution” that has been official policy of most countries in recent years. What the pope is calling for pits him (and the Church) against the US Administration, which is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“Pope Francis has used his traditional Christmas Day message to call for “peace for Jerusalem” and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Acknowledging “growing tensions” between them, he urged a “negotiated solution . . . . that would allow the peaceful co-existence of two states.” US President Donald Trump recently announced that America recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The hugely controversial move drew condemnation across the Muslim world. The Roman Catholic leader gave his Urbi et Orbi speech, which in Latin means “To the city and world,” in Saint Peter’s Square.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42477274
REVISIONIST HISTORY – CHECK THE FACTS!
I’ve taken to looking up just about everything depicted in historical movies and television programs. As we watch a series, I keep my laptop on my lap and google the “facts” depicted by Hollywood and others who make movies. The “facts” are rarely factual. Note the following:
1) The new “History” channel series “Knightfall” depicts the Knights Templar around the year 1300. In the first episode of the series, the Catholic soldiers saved the Jews who were expelled from Paris by King Philip the Fair in 1306. According to the series, the Jews were saved by the Knights Templar.
This is a total fabrication. Note the following from the BBC’s Religion section:
“During the first half of the 13th century the attitude of the Church towards Jews hardened from disapproval to loathing. On 22 July, 1306 King Philip IV of France expelled all Jews from his kingdom.”
2) The second season of “The Crown” (Netflix) implies that Prince Philip cheated on his wife in the 1950’s and early 60’s. There is no evidence for this. It may be true – it may not be true. But people watching the otherwise excellent series will no doubt believe everything they see.
3) “A United Kingdom” was an otherwise good movie, telling the story of Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth Williams. Sir Seretse led Botswana to independence in 1966. He met his wife while studying in London. They were a bi-racial couple in southern Africa, not very common in those days and forbidden in neighboring South Africa, the regional powerhouse. In 1947 the movie referred to the presidents of four neighboring countries, not one of which had a president at the time, as they were all a part of the British Commonwealth.
4) This is the worst one! ‘The Viceroy’s House” is a recent movie set in India at the time of independence and partition, in 1947.
Everything in the movie was good until somebody opened a drawer and pulled out a two-year-old highly secretive British government paper advocating partition of the country into India and (Muslim) Pakistan. So what, you may ask?
Well, this file changed history. Instead of Earl Mountbatten being responsible for partition, the file “revealed” it was war-time leader Winston Churchill. As the anti-colonial Guardian reviewer put it – it was the equivalent of somebody in Germany opening a drawer and finding that the Holocaust was first proposed, not by Hitler, but by Mussolini.
Why can’t the entertainment industry ever get it right? As far more people will watch the movie than read any book on the subject, Churchill will now be blamed for one of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century.
One very good series we’ve seen was on the National Geographic Channel. It was a biography of Albert Einstein. One of the most brilliant minds in history, he was absolutely hopeless at personal relationships.
I thought you might appreciate the following quote from the great physicist himself: “The universe is so extraordinary that only God could have created it. My job is to figure out how He did it.” (Einstein)
The two greatest scientists of all time were Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Many people today see science and religion as opposites — these men did not. They both believed in God. Be sure to share that fact with others.
BBC World is an international news channel, based in London. With more correspondents around the globe, it is certainly the best source of world news. It’s nightly news program made especially for American audiences is shown on PBS channels across the country
Increasingly, it has become the best place to go for humanitarian news. At a time when many people are tired of seeing disaster after disaster and weary of refugee news, the BBC is consistent in highlighting the sufferings of people around the world. If it wasn’t for the BBC, most people would be unaware of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the continuing tragedy in South Sudan, or the half a million Rohingya refugees, who have fled Myanmar (Burma) in the last few weeks, for the safety of neighboring Muslim Bangladesh. Thursday their nightly news program for American audiences had an in-depth report from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a major humanitarian and worsening disaster.
The BBC is almost a century old, having been launched in London in 1922. During World War II, it gained an unrivaled reputation as a reliable news source, even upsetting Britain’s wartime leader, Winston Churchill, who didn’t like its negative reports on the country’s war effort.
Undoubtedly, Burma’s most prominent politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, once thankful for the BBC’s championing democracy in her native Burma, is now wishing the organization did not exist. Why? Because it has been relentless in trying to get her to condemn the “ethnic cleansing” of the country’s Muslim minority, the Rohingya. For some reason, she refuses to do that.
A negative consequence of the BBC’s relentless coverage is that people in the West are made uncomfortable witnessing all the suffering. Many react by donating to charities that help those suffering; more vocal and radical people will call for “resettlement” into their own countries, which will only add to ethnic tensions at home.
The nightly scenes of columns of “Syrian” refugees (many actually from African countries) marching through snow and rain to reach western countries, led to those nations opening their doors. Some are now regretting it. Not far from the BBC’s headquarters in London, an attempt was made to blow up a subway train recently by a Syrian refugee. Similar attacks are likely to follow.
The world has always had ethnic conflict, but, after decades of organizations like the BBC, the European Union and the United Nations, supporting globalization efforts, while glossing over ethnic conflict, and singing Kumbaya at international gatherings, the world is waking up to the fact that ethnic consciousness has not gone away and ethnic conflict is surfacing everywhere.
Christians, who have often been at the forefront of trying to bring ethnic groups together, should be aware that this problem is set to get worse. Asked by His disciples what would be the signs of His (Second) Coming, Jesus said: “nation will rise against nation” (Matthew 24:7) and “kingdom against kingdom”. A kingdom is a political unit, like the United Kingdom or the United States. The word “nation” here is from the Greek ethnos, meaning ethnic group. Ethnic group will turn on ethnic group is what this verse is saying.
The Bible also helps us understand why.
In the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, written by Moses, we read:
“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel.” The word “nations” here is a Hebrew word meaning “people”. (Deuteronomy 32:8) “According to the number of the sons of Israel” is telling us that God wanted the Israelites to be separate from the pagan nations around them, so that they would not be encouraged to follow the pagan gods.
In the New Testament we read the following words spoken by the Apostle Paul, a Jew who was also a Greek and a Roman citizen: ” . . . and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” (Acts 17:26)
From these verses we can understand that God set boundaries between different ethnic groups, to help them avoid conflict. This also meant that religious groups were separated. The presence of Shi’ite Muslims in predominantly Sunni Yemen is the root cause of that country’s problems. Little attempt is made to help people understand the depth of this animosity by organizations like the BBC that are always trying to promote multiculturalism and the idea that there is one faith, one God and that all worship Him in different ways.
Some are waking up to this reality. It’s nothing new. For centuries different religious and ethnic groups separated themselves from one another. But now, after decades of increasing strife as groups were forced to mix, there are an increasing number of people questioning the whole idea.
Daniel Pipes is one of them. Mr. Pipes is an American historian, writer and commentator. He is also President of the Middle East Forum and publishes its Middle East Quarterly Journal.
In a recent interview, Mr. Pipes was asked by a German publication, Achse des Guten, for his solution to the problems caused by multiculturalism and specifically the attempt to assimilate millions of Muslims into German society:
What, then, is the answer?
The 100,000 permanent, almost-always empty tents in Saudi Arabia can hold 3 million migrants.
“Practically speaking, see the world in terms of cultural and geographic zones: Westerners in need should stay in the West, Middle Easterners should stay in the Middle East, and so forth around the globe. Is it not strange that migrants from Syria and Iraq move to places like Germany and Sweden? They would be better off going to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where the climate, the language, the religion, and the mores are all like their own; plus, these countries are much closer to Syria.”
Cultures and customs change. Perhaps Muslims will adapt to European cultures if given the opportunity?
“In theory, yes; in practice, no. Experience shows that the first generation of Muslim immigrants to Europe is more adaptable than its children and grandchildren, as cultural separation increases over time. It is hard to find any place in Europe where Muslim immigrants have assimilated, leading me gravely to doubt that this will take place in the future. Chileans, Chinese, and Congolese fit better into European culture than do Muslims.”
Let’s be clear – Mr. Pipes is advocating the separation of the “Christian” West and the Islamic world. Muslims should live in the Middle East; they should not be allowed to flee to western Europe when there are 22 Arab countries closer to them, some of them fabulously wealthy nations.
I would like to suggest we take it a step further.
Western nations need to urgently call for an international meeting of Islamic and western leaders. The West needs to openly confess that it’s made a horrible mess of the Middle East since the Treaty of Paris a century ago. Western leaders need to promise to stay completely out of the Middle East in exchange for Muslim nations taking in the Muslims who are living in the West.
Is this likely to happen?
Once again, we can look to the Bible for the answer.
Daniel, a book written in the sixth century BC in Babylon, not only predicted the coming of the Messiah six centuries later, but also prophesied of future empires – Persia, Greece and Rome. Much of the book has already been fulfilled, but parts are set in the future. Chapter 11 deals with Alexander the Great and the four kingdoms that succeeded him. The prophetic timeline brings us down to the present. In verses 40-43 we read of a coming clash of civilizations between a united European power and the “King of the South,” a revived caliphate to the South of Jerusalem. The Jews (the nation we call Israel) will, once again, be caught up in this conflict.
Forty years ago, my wife and I lived in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
Rhodesia (Southern Rhodesia, to be exact) had been a model colony. It never asked London for help; it always had sound finances; it was stable and prosperous. It was often called the Breadbasket of Africa. During World War II, Winston Churchill had labeled the country “the most loyal colony,” as it had contributed proportionately more to the allied cause than any other.
But, twenty years after the war, the same Rhodesians who had fought for the Empire and helped Britain win the war against Hitler, were being called “fascists,” for the simple reason that they wanted to preserve their way of life, which included a qualified franchise, to ensure responsible government. This meant that most native Africans did not have the vote. Britain, the US and the nations of Africa were hostile to this and insisted on NIBMAR (No Independence Before Majority Rule). In order not to have majority rule forced on them, the white Rhodesian government declared itself independent of London on 11th November, 1965.
The “rebellion” led to a civil war, which lasted seven years. It wasn’t a simple black and white struggle. 82% of the Rhodesian army was made up of black African soldiers. Many saw what had happened to nations north of them, where independence led to corruption, nepotism, financial collapse, political uncertainty and eventually military coups – they didn’t want that and fought to save Rhodesia.
But the whole world was against Rhodesia. Even its southern neighbor, South Africa under apartheid, did not like the country and was ready to throw it to the wolves. This they did, with the US and the UK, forcing the country to hand over to a “majority government.” to introduce “one man, one vote.”
The last white Prime Minister, Ian Smith, remarked that “one man, one vote” would mean exactly that, that the first African leader would be the one man with the one vote.
Black African friends of ours said Zimbabwe, the new name for the new country, would be different. It would not go the same way as the rest of Africa.
But it has.
It’s been over 37 years since Robert Mugabe became the country’s leader. As Ian Smith predicted, he became the “one man” with the “one vote” – nobody else’s opinion mattered. And, as has happened so many times in Africa, the only way to remove a civilian president who won’t allow anybody else to come to power, is for the army to overthrow him. The army goes on to make things worse, with even more corruption and general incompetence all round; eventually the army allows another election, bringing another civilian government to power, which is also corrupt and so it goes on and on in a vicious cycle.
Zimbabweans woke up Wednesday morning to find the army has taken over. Right now, it’s unclear what has happened to 93-year-old Robert Mugabe. It seems as if the army is saying that they only want to remove the criminals around the president, not the president himself. They certainly want to remove the wife of the president, who has lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the poor. But Mr. Mugabe has become one of the richest men on earth during his time in office. They may turn against him yet. Right now, he is said to be under “house arrest”, while his wife, Grace Mugabe (“Gucci Grace”), has fled to Namibia.
What may help Mr. Mugabe is that he is highly respected across the continent.
Ask a taxi driver in any African country who is the best African leader and they will all say Robert Mugabe. Why? “Because he got rid of the whites!” Point out that the country collapsed economically after the expulsion of the white farmers and they will say, “it doesn’t matter!”
Less than a week before the coup, the capital’s airport was renamed “Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.”
The “coup” seems more of a final act in a dynastic power struggle. The president was grooming his wife as his successor; this was intolerable for those who have been close to him for decades. She was booed early last week at a rally. The Vice-President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, fled to South Africa a week ago, increasing fears that Mrs. Mugabe may succeed her husband. It’s even possible Mr. Mnangagwa may have solicited support from South Africa to effect the coup.
It all brings to mind the words of Jesus Christ in the Book of Matthew, where He warned His disciples not to be like the gentile leaders who ruled over them, with their never ending power struggles and abuses of authority.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28).
SSM, COA, SSA AND CCC
For those who are not familiar with the abbreviations above, let me explain.
SSM = Same Sex Marriage.
COA = Commonwealth of Australia, the latest country to approve this historic change.
SSA = Same Sex Attraction, a term that is often used to describe people who are attracted to the same sex. Many of these people do not want to be gay, which denotes promiscuity and a particular lifestyle.
CCC = Conservative Christian Churches, who are ill-equipped to handle the cultural tsumani that is heading their way.
Australia is the latest country to embrace same-sex marriage, approved by the people in a plebiscite. Parliament in Canberra is set to approve the change before the end of the year.
There were celebrations across Australia today. One banner was particularly disturbing: “Burn Churches, not Queers.” The attitude behind this banner is not limited to Australia. The issue of same-sex marriage has pitted conservative churches against the gay movement. While liberal churches have embraced gays, Biblically based churches cannot.
But this does not mean that biblically based churches have got it right, either.
Recent research showed that 12% of 18 year olds in the United States have a sexual identity issue. Either they are attracted to the same sex or they feel they are in the wrong body and want to change sex. None of this is of their own choosing. They are like people struggling with eating disorders. A 75-pound woman will look in the mirror and see herself as fat, when everybody who knows her sees clearly that she is anorexic.
In the same way, someone can look in the mirror and feel they are in the wrong body. They want to change sex. Or they feel strong attraction to a member of the same sex.
Whatever the problem, these people have to make a choice: either go into the gay lifestyle, or try to obey God. It’s the same choice everybody makes one way or the other, whether or not to commit to a godly lifestyle. Those who choose to commit to God take the more difficult road and need help from other Christians.
Those struggling with these issues need compassion and love. They need Jesus Christ more than the average person. “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”… (Matthew 9:11-13). This is what is lacking amongst conservative Christians and too many churches.
It’s been known for over a century that people do not choose their sexual orientation. Recognizing this might have avoided the polarization that has taken place.
ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
It seems that, in today’s English speaking world, you are guilty until proven innocent. This is a significant reversal of a practice that goes back 800 years to the Magna Carta. It separated England, and later the English speaking countries, from the European legal system, which denied people justice until they were tried before a 12-man jury of their peers.
Perhaps all the accusations are true and that all of those accused are guilty, but they are still entitled to a fair trial.
The Bible says: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” ( II Corinthians 13:1 KJV)
What is clear with all the accusations, whether against politicians or actors, is that there were no witnesses. What are parents doing allowing their teenagers to spend time alone with people they don’t know?
Maybe we should bring back chaperones! That would put an end to all of this.
"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