Zimbabwe Resigns From Commonwealth
IRAQ WAR OPPONENTS BARRED FROM BIDDING
As Associated Press reported on December 9, 2003, “The Pentagon has formally barred companies from countries opposed to the Iraq war from bidding on $18.6 billion worth of reconstruction contracts… The ruling bars companies from U.S. allies such as France, Germany and Canada from bidding on the contracts because their governments opposed the American-led war that ousted Saddam Hussein’s regime.”
Reuters added the following in their report of December 9, 2003:
“The move is likely to anger France and Germany and other traditional allies in NATO and the U.N. Security Council who are being blocked out of prime contracts after their opposition to the war.” Procurement specialist Prof. Steven Schooner from George Washington University was quoted as saying, “This kind of decision just begs for RETALIATION and a TIT-FOR-TAT RESPONSE from countries (such as Germany, France and Russia).” The article also explained that there are “more than 60 countries eligible for contracts funded by the $18.6 billion appropriated by Congress to rebuild Iraq. The list included Britain, Australia, Poland, Japan, Italy, Norway, Spain, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, South Korea, the Philippines, Romania and Saudi-Arabia.”
As could be expected, the European press of barred countries reacted furiously. Der Spiegel Online reported: “Governmental officials condemned the decision and announced resistance.” The German government spoke of an unacceptable decision and of “extremely selfish economic interests” of the United States. Associated Press added that Joschka Fischer said, “We will be speaking about it with the American side.” Russia reminded the United States of their promise to allow the entire international community to help reconstruct Iraq, according to Der Spiegel Online.
Associated Press added that it will be “difficult for [Canada] to give further money for the reconstruction of Iraq.” Canada has contributed so far $225 million to the rebuilding effort. The article also pointed out that “The White House… said Wednesday that countries wanting a slice of that lucrative pie must participate militarily in the post-war effort. Responding to the ANGRY RESPONSE FROM GERMANY, CANADA AND OTHER U.S. ALLIES, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the policy was ‘appropriate and reasonable.'” Earlier, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz had cited “national security reasons” for the decision.
Associated Press reported on December 11, 2003: “A conference of companies seeking $18.6 billion in reconstruction costs in Iraq has been delayed by eight days until December 19… The delay comes amid a FUROR over a Pentagon memo barring countries that didn’t support the U.S.-led war from bidding on the reconstruction contracts… [The government] declined to comment on whether the delay was linked to the dispute over the Pentagon directive.”
In a related article, Associated Press stated on December 11, 2003: “Europe’s foreign affairs chief… called the U.S. decision… ‘ [extremely] unhelpful.’… But the British government said Washington was fully entitled to limit construction contracts in Iraq to countries that were part of the U.S.-led coalition. The White House said THE BAN WAS NOT UP FOR RECONSIDERATION… The European Commission called the contract ban a ‘political mistake,’ and said it would examine the contracts to see if Washington had violated its commitments to the World Trade Organization… French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin all raised the contracting issue during previously scheduled telephone calls with President Bush on Wednesday… [The] conservative French newspaper Le Figaro said Thursday the exclusion was ‘bordering on PROVOCATION.’ ‘For the United States, it is truly a shame that the politics of George W. Bush be presented, once again, in such a petty manner,’ the newspaper said. ‘THE ANTI-AMERICANISM THAT NEEDS TO BE COMBATED IS GOING TO BE REVIVED.’… Russia signaled it would take a hard line on reconstructing after being excluded from the contracts. ‘Iraq’s debt to the Russia Federation comes to $8 billion and as far as the Russian government’s position on this, it is not planning any kind of a write-off of that debt,’ [the Russian government stated]… [It] suggested the CONTRACT BAN COULD UNDERMINE THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST TERRORISM.”
Der Spiegel Online published several articles on December 11, addressing the worldwide reactions to Washington’s decision. German politicians spoke of “REVENGE AND BLACKMAIL.” The magazine pointed out that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder would like to see “constructive conduct” in accordance with “international law.” U.N. General-Secretary Kofi Annan, who was visiting Germany, asked the U.S. government to REVISE their decision. The magazine reported, too, that China is “angry,” and that they have voiced their concern. It added, “Pentagon Spokesman Larry Di Rita said that ‘this is not a final list. It might perhaps include additional countries.'”
Reuters reported on December 11 that President Bush rejected European criticism. He was quoted as follows: “It’s very simple. Our people risked their lives. Friendly coalition folks risked their lives, and therefore the contracting is going to reflect that, and that’s what the U.S. taxpayers expect.”
Not everyone in the United States agreed with the Pentagon’s ruling. As A.P. reported, “Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean… cited the policy as an example of the Bush administration’s ‘confrontation’ approach ‘all over the world.'” He added, “We are now the most feared country on the face of the earth but no longer the most respected.”
As God’s Church has announced for decades, the relationship between the United States and Europe WILL deteriorate. Some, who once understood this truth, have forgotten it and have looked for and begun to preach “alternative” end-time scenarios. However, there is NO ALTERNATIVE for the truth of the Bible.
UPDATE ON EUROPEAN CONSTITUTION
As FT.com reported on December 5, 2003, “The European Union risks falling apart if heads of government put in place a flawed constitution next week, according to Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president who was the architect of the draft constitution.” The article continued: “Mr. Giscard d’Estaing told the European parliament: ‘History teaches us that bad constitutions, those which are felt to be unjust or ineffective by citizens, lead to revolution or rebellion.’… Should EU leaders fail to overcome their differences next week, Mr. Giscard d’Estaing suggested they should then allow ‘time for reflection,’ possibly until after the June parliamentary decisions, rather than rush into a new round of talks: ‘If there is no political will today… there would be nothing to expect from pushing the negotiations.'”
The article pointed out that “Germany is leading to push to have a system where voting clout is closely tied to population size… On the size of the future European Commission…, [Mr. Giscard d’Estaing] reiterated his belief that the EU’s executive could not operate effectively with as many as 31 commissioners… The draft constitution proposes having 15 commissioners with full voting powers.”
Associated Press reported on December 8 that “European Union foreign ministers admitted defeat Monday in their efforts to find a constitutional compromise between countries seeking greater integration and those who fear a European superstate. Their failure after nearly two months of arduous negotiations diminished hopes for a deal on a first-ever EU constitution despite a weekend deadline for action. The ministers said the issue was so divisive it could only be resolved by EU leaders, who arrive Friday for a two-day summit.”
The article continued:
“The countries also remained at odds over how to bolster the EU’s defense policy without endangering s
ecurity ties with the United States or trampling on some countries’ cherished neutrality. In an eleventh-hour appeal, neutral EU nations Sweden, Ireland, Finland and Austria objected strongly to a proposed mutual defense pledge, similar to NATO’S, stating that if one EU member is attacked, the others are obliged to provide assistance… Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who chaired the talks, said he would revise the clause for a new proposal… De Villepin [of France] WARNED Frattini NOT TO WATER IT DOWN… ‘The solidarity as expressed in this clause must not be downgraded,’ he told reporters.”
Der Spiegel Online reported on December 10, 2003, that “Great Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair is apparently concerned that he will be treated less than equal by Germany and France regarding the battle for the EU constitution.” The two countries stated, according to the article, that they would work together more closely if a EU Constitution should not become reality at this point.
In an additional article, Der Spiegel Online reported on December 10 about the “European Fear of ‘Francallemagne.'” It pointed out: “A new German-French power bloc is developing in Europe. Smaller nations are looking at this development with concern.” The article continued: “It’s all about power in Europe… Joschka Fischer declared that there would be smaller groups in Europe if a European Constitution should not be adopted… Especially Britain looks with suspicion at the new love between the former arch-enemies, Germany and France… The message: Be aware of a powerful Germany, and be even more aware of a powerful Germany together with an already powerful France… Former German Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, is also not supportive of a German-French power bloc. ‘We need a new agreement for a greater Europe, and not one for France and Germany,'” he was quoted in the article.
Associated Press reported on December 11, 2003, that “a new draft constitution has failed to resolve divisions among European Union governments on a voting system for the enlarged union, with growing signs leaders will miss their weekend deadline for agreement. Instead nations hardened their positions as they prepared for the summit of EU leaders starting Friday to debate the union’s first-ever constitution. EU officials have said about 100 issues remain to be decided, including whether God should be mentioned in the charter and whether there should be a majority voting on foreign policy.”
Der Spiegel Online quoted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as saying, “If we reach an agreement, that would be a MIRACLE. But sometimes, miracles happen.” The magazine stated, too, that Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski announced that he does not agree with the current draft EU constitution. Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, warned that a failure would be catastrophic for Europe. He was quoted as saying that this was the last chance for Europe to reach a political union for all European member states. Otherwise, he added, the core states of the EU might go their separate ways. This would then place a grave responsibility on the countries which originally founded the European Community in 1957, i.e., Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Prophecy is marching on. The Bible reveals that ultimately, ten nations or groups of nations will lead Europe. It is exciting to see how this will work out on the political scene. It is important to watch these world events, as their fulfillment indicates the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
US RETREATS FROM GERMANY
Associated Press reported on December 8 that “the United States briefed NATO allies Monday on plans for an overhaul of American forces in Europe that may see tens of thousands of troops transferred from Cold War-era bases in Germany to new bases closer to potential trouble spots.” The article pointed out that “U.S. officials have previously said the realignment is likely to close or scale down many of the permanent bases set up in Germany and other NATO nations to face the Soviet threat. Instead troops will be shifted to smaller, lightly equipped centers ready for rapid deployment to places like the Middle East, the Balkans or Central Asia.”
AUSTRALIA JOINS U.S. MISSILE DEFENSE
Reuters reported on December 4, 2003, that “Australia has decided in principle to join a U.S.-led missile defense system, strengthening military ties with Washington.” The article pointed out, too, that “Australia has also joined the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program to develop an advanced stealth fighter-bomber.” Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was quoted as follows: “Our long and vigorous alliance with the United States benefits the security of both countries and will be strengthened by our participation in missile defense.” The article continued: “Canberra’s decision to join the U.S. program could spark renewed accusations by some Asian neighbors that Australia is playing ‘deputy sheriff’ for Washington in the Asia-Pacific region.”
ZIMBABWE RESIGNS FROM COMMONWEALTH
As Der Spiegel Online reported on December 8, 2003, the African state of Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, resigned from the Commonwealth of Nations, after Zimbabwe’s membership had been suspended last year, due to alleged governmental election fraud and a refusal of President Mugabe to open the country to democratic reforms. During a Commonwealth summit in Nigeria, the vast majority of especially Western countries voted for a continuation of the suspension, while eight African countries were asking to revoke the suspension.
The Commonwealth of Nations represents one-third of the world population. It is a loose and voluntary confederation of currently 53 independent sovereign states, formed mostly by the United Kingdom and most of its former colonies. It was formerly known as the British Commonwealth, and many still call it mistakenly by that name.
As nationmaster.com explains, the Commonwealth is the successor of the British Empire and has its origins in the Imperial Conference of the late 1920s. After World War II, the Empire was gradually dismantled, “partly owing to the rise of independent movements in the then subject territories (most importantly India…), and partly owing to the British Government’s straitened circumstances resulting from the cost of the war. Burma (now Myanmar) (1948) and South Yemen (1967) are among the only former colonies that did not join the Commonwealth on independence. Ireland was a member, but left the Commonwealth upon becoming a republic in 1949.”
The article continued:
“India is the most populous member, with a billion people at the 2001 census, while Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria each contain more than 100 million people. Tuvalu, in contrast, has only 11,000 inhabitants… One member of the present Commonwealth was never attached to the British Empire [i.e.,] Mozambique. [It] applied for and received membership in 1995… Fiji and Pakistan have had their memberships suspended in recent years because of military coups… South Africa’s membership was effectively suspended during the apartheid era… but was reinstated… in 1994. Nigeria was suspended between 1995 and 1999. Pakistan had earlier left on January 30, 1972… but rejoined in 1989. Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 over concerns with the electoral and land reform policies of Robert Mugabe’s… government. Charles de Gaulle once suggested that France, though it was never a member of the British Empire (even if for centuries English/British monarchs claimed the title ‘King of France’), should apply for Commonwealth membership. This never happened.”
The current Commonwealth Members and their membership dates are as follows:
Antigua and Barbuda (1981); Australia (1931); The Bahamas (1973); Bangladesh (1972); Barbados (1966); Belize (1981); Botswana (1966); Brunei (1984); Cameroon (1995); Canada (1931); Cyprus (1961); Domini
ca (1978); Fiji (1970, left in 1987, rejoined in 1997); The Gambia (1965); Ghana (1957); Grenada (1974); Guyana (1966); India (1947); Jamaica (1962); Kenya (1963); Kiribati (1979); Lesotho (1966); Malawi (1964); Malaysia (1957); Maldives (1982); Malta (1964); Mauritius (1968); Mozambique (1995); Namibia (1990); Nauru (1999); New Zealand (1931); Nigeria (1960, was suspended in 1995, but readmitted in 1999); Pakistan (1947, left in 1972, rejoined in 1989); Papua New Guinea (1975); Samoa (1970); Seychelles (1976); Sierra Leone (1961); Singapore (1965); Solomon Islands (1978); South Africa (1931, left in 1961, rejoined in 1994); Sri Lanka (1948); St. Kitts and Nevis (1983); St. Lucia (1979); St. Vincent and The Grenadines (1979); Swaziland (1968); Tanzania (1961); Tonga (1979); Trinidad and Tobago (1962); Tuvalu (1978); Uganda (1962); United Kingdom (1931); Vanuatu (1980); Zambia (1964).
As mentioned above, Ireland left in 1949; Pakistan has been suspended since 1999; and Zimbabwe was suspended on March 20, 2002, and left on December 8, 2003.
From the above-mentioned Commonwealth Member states, the following 17 member states recognize the Queen of England, represented by a governor-general, as their Head of State, according to Swishweb.com, 2002:
Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; Bahamas; Bangladesh; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Grenada; Jamaica; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Solomon Islands; Tavula; and Mauritius.
It may also not be widely known or commonly recognized that the following 20 member states are still monarchies, according to the Commonwealth of Learning, June 1999:
Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Grenada; Jamaica; Lesotho; Malaysia; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Solomon Islands; Swaziland; Tonga; Tuvalu; and the United Kingdom.
At one time the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly called the British Commonwealth, was a very powerful group of nations under British control. This is no longer the case, as nationmaster.com points out:
“With the mutual decline of interest in each other as former British colonies forge closer relationships with non-Commonwealth trading partners and close geographical neighbors, the Commonwealth’s direct political and economic importance has declined.”
Both Great Britain’s rise to power and the influential formation of a British-controlled Commonwealth, as well as Britain’s and the British Commonwealth’s political and economic decline were prophesied to occur thousands of years ago in the Bible. We will continue to inform our readers about these startling developments, as they are happening in front of our very eyes.