Current Events

USA — a Weak Superpower

Der Spiegel wrote on November 28:

“251,000 State Department documents, many of them secret embassy reports from around the world, show how the US seeks to safeguard its influence around the world. It is nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy…

“Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information… Never before has the trust America’s partners have in the country been as badly shaken…

“In the major crisis regions, an image emerges of a superpower that can no longer truly be certain of its allies — like in Pakistan, where the Americans are consumed by fear that the unstable nuclear power could become precisely the place where terrorists obtain dangerous nuclear material.

“There are similar fears in Yemen, where the US, against its better judgement, allows itself to be instrumentalized by an unscrupulous leader… Even after the fall of Saddam Hussein, it still remained a challenge for the victorious power to assert its will on Iraq. In Baghdad… it is now up to Vice President Joe Biden to make repeated visits to allied Iraqi politicians in an effort to get them to finally establish a respectable democracy. But the embassy cables make it very clear that Obama’s deputy has made little headway.

“Instead, the Americans are forced to endure the endless tirades of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, who claims to have always known that the Iraq war was the ‘biggest mistake ever committed’ and who advised the Americans to ‘forget about democracy in Iraq.’ Once the US forces depart, Mubarak said, the best way to ensure a peaceful transition is for there to be a military coup. They are statements that add insult to injury.

“On the whole, the cables from the Middle East expose the superpower’s weaknesses… And it is drawn into the animosities between Arabs and Israelis, Shiites and Sunnis, between Islamists and secularists, between despots and kings. Often enough, the lesson of the documents that have now been obtained, is that the Arab leaders use their friends in Washington to expand their own positions of power.”

USA Diplomats Deride World Leaders

BBC News reported on November 29:
“European countries have reacted with irritation to the release by whistle-blowing website Wikileaks of secret memos written by US diplomats. The messages describe… Russia’s Vladimir Putin as an ‘alpha dog’… President Nicolas Sarkozy is compared to an ’emperor with no clothes’…

“Among the comments released by Wikileaks is a reported conversation in which a senior advisor to the French president branded Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ‘crazy’ and Iran a ‘fascist state’. Mr Sarkozy himself was described in cables penned by US diplomatic officials as ‘thin-skinned’ and ‘authoritarian’… the leaks… include descriptions of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as ‘feckless’ and ‘vain’… Mr Erdogan had ‘little understanding of politics beyond Ankara’.”

Tensions Increase in Middle East

Deutsche Welle wrote on November 29:
“Tensions in the Middle East are increasing as the fallout from the latest WikiLeaks revelations continues to spread. Previously reticent Arab states have been exposed as having discussed strikes on Iran with the US… Among the most inflammatory [documents] were those between Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus in which the Saudi monarch urged the US to stop Iran’s nuclear program by any means necessary… King Abdullah called on the United States ‘to cut off the head of the snake’…

“The documents show the level of concern within the Middle East of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and, contrary to the public declarations of a number of Arab states, the apparent willingness to deal with the threat militarily. While Israel’s favoring of air strikes is well-known and documented, no Arab nations have gone on record as saying they would support US action or take their own to stop Tehran. A particular danger to stability now lies in the perception that Arab states named in the documents are on the same page as the US and Israel in regard to policy toward Iran.

“… while Iran may not be shocked into action by the revelations, factions within Saudi Arabia may be. There is an escalating unease in the kingdom itself over its allegiance to the United States, and its willingness to support the US and even join in with any military action it mounts against Iran…”

“Crisis For German-American Relations”

The Local wrote on November 29:
“In a message attributed to a US diplomat in Berlin dated March 24, 2009, the State Department is told that Merkel is ‘risk averse and rarely creative’… The Americans argue that the chancellor views international diplomacy above all from the perspective of how she can profit from it domestically…

“Merkel’s vice-chancellor and foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle comes in for harsher criticism in the secret documents and is described as incompetent, vain and critical of America… An embassy cable from Berlin from September 22, 2009, days before the general election that put him in office, describes Westerwelle as having an ‘exuberant personality’ but little foreign policy experience…

“Meanwhile Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany’s most popular politician, is quoted as telling the US ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, in February 2010 that Westerwelle was the real barrier to a US request for an increase in the number of German troops in Afghanistan. Guttenberg also disparages his boss, saying that Merkel has trouble implementing her own economic policies.

“And Horst Seehofer, the head of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats, is shown as unaware that half of 40,000 US troops in Germany are based in his state, which he also governs…

“A German diplomatic source said that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had called Westerwelle on Friday to ‘express her regret about the impending publication of internal US documents.’ Meanwhile US Ambassador Murphy said Monday that there is no reason to apologise to either Westerwelle or Merkel for the information contained in the leaked documents…

“Former US ambassador to Germany John Kornblum, who served in Berlin from 1997 to 2001, told broadcaster ZDF on Monday that the leaks were a crisis for German-American relations. ‘Diplomacy…must function on the basis of trust, and when that trust if broken, as is the case now, then one must begin at almost zero again,’ he said.

“… government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular press briefing that Berlin’s ties with Washington would weather the diplomatic storm. ‘The German-American relationship is mature, it has grown so robust over the decades, it is such a deep friendship based on shared values that it will not be seriously damaged by this publication,’ he said.”
Whom is he kidding?

German Papers Not Amused

In a related article, The Local wrote on November 29:

“As Washington scrambled on Monday to explain leaked diplomatic communiqués disparaging leaders in Berlin, newspapers in The Local’s media roundup tried to assess the damage to German-American relations… there’s little doubt the leaked communiqués will do little to improve transatlantic ties…

“The left-wing Berliner Zeitung said much damage had been done to US foreign policy by the leak… The paper said the incident will ‘sow mistrust’ and ‘destroy human and political ties,’ which will in turn weaken US diplomacy around the world.

“The Düsseldorf-based Rheinische Post called the episode a disaster for America that would ‘cool Angela Merkel’s already troubled relationship with Barack Obama’…”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 30:

“The dust is still settling after Sunday’s revelations about the contents of 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables, but it’s already clear that the WikiLeaks disclosure is hugely damaging for the American government… While it remains to be seen what the lasting impact of the explosive leaks will be, it is already clear that the revelations are a huge embarrassment for Washington and a massive setback for US diplomacy. American representatives abroad may find it difficult in the future to find informants who are as willing to talk openly as they might have been in the past, now that reams of supposedly confidential conversations have been made public…

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… The damage to the US as a result of the documents’ publication is immense… The diplomatic facade has crumbled, revealing just how calculating the business of international politics really is… America’s reserve of trust is empty. … The US has already been struggling for decades to maintain its credibility on the global stage. WikiLeaks has now acted like a weapon of mass destruction on the last traces of trust.’

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘…Washington now looks like one giant leak. Who would now trust the Americans to keep confidential conversations confidential? Mistrust will spread, and not only among minor informants. Leaders of the US’s allies have been embarrassed in public, with unpredictable consequences for the relationship between their countries and the states and politicians that they talked about…'”

Nuclear Weapons Hosted in Europe

The EUObserver reported on November 29:

“The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Turkey have US nuclear weapons situated on their soil, the WikiLeaks whistleblower files have revealed. The four countries, along with Italy, had long been suspected of being home to a collection of American nuclear armaments, but neither the states nor Nato had ever officially confirmed or denied their presence…

“According to estimates found in a 2007 report using a variety of different sources to catalogue deployment of US nuclear weapons in Europe from the Natural Resources Defence Council, an American environmental protection NGO, the continent is home to 480 such weapons.

“The report estimated that… Belgium… housed 20 nuclear weapons. The same document reckoned that another 20 are housed… in… the Netherlands. Nuclear weapons are thought to have been stored there since the 1960s and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some 20 nuclear weapons are believed to be stored in [Germany]… Last October, the country’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, came close to admitting their existence when he called ‘for a country free of nuclear weapons’…

“Italy is also thought to host a total of 90 such arms… Turkey… is believed to store 90 such weapons… Beyond the undeclared European nuclear states, the UK, an admitted member of the nuclear club, is home to 110 US nuclear weapons…”

Should Hillary Clinton Resign?

Politics Daily wrote on November 30:

“Should Hillary Clinton resign as secretary of state due to the WikiLeaks revelations?… Clinton, like predecessor Condoleezza Rice, signed orders instructing U.S. foreign service officers to spy on the diplomats of other nations. Cables went out under her name telling State Department officials overseas to collect the fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans of African leaders, to obtain passwords, credit card numbers, and frequent flyer accounts used by foreign diplomats, and to gather private information on United Nations officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Of the many WikiLeaks revelations that have emerged in the past few days — and more are to come in the next few months, as the renegade website continues to release batches of the 251,287 State Department cables it has obtained — the news that U.S. diplomats have been turned into part-time spies certainly warrants thorough investigation. Obama administration officials, of course, have tried to make the leak itself the paramount issue. Attorney General Eric Holder has promised prosecutions if ‘we can find anybody involved in breaking American law.’ Clinton has called the leak ‘an attack on America’s foreign policy interests,’ claiming it has endangered ‘innocent people.’ Republican Rep. Peter King urged Clinton to determine if WikiLeaks can be designated a terrorist organization. Sen. Joe Lieberman has called on the United States and other governments to shut down WikiLeaks. Sarah Palin, naturally, blamed President Barack Obama’s ‘incompetence’ for the leaks…

“Yet there have not been such passionate calls for investigating the transformation of U.S. diplomats into undercover snoops. The administration’s strategy — as is to be expected — is to focus on the easy-to-demonize messenger, not the hard-to-explain message…
“In many other nations, news such as this would indeed prompt resignations of high officials. The United States does not have this noble tradition. Here, government officials hold on for dear life when trouble erupts. (How many U.S. officials resigned when it turned out the Bush-Cheney administration was wrong about WMDs in Iraq? None.) So one can expect Clinton to dig in her heels, as the administration decries the leaker and ignores the leaks…”

IRS targets Pro-Israel Groups

Politico reported on November 24:
“A Pennsylvania Jewish group that has claimed the Internal Revenue Service is targeting pro-Israel groups introduced in federal court today a letter from an IRS agent to [an] unnamed organization that tax experts said was likely outside the usual or appropriate scope of an IRS inquiry.

“‘Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?’ [an] IRS agent… wrote the organization… as part of its consideration of the organization’s application for tax exempt status. ‘Describe your organization’s religious belief system toward the land of Israel.’…

“The IRS can deny tax exempt status to groups that work against ‘established public policy,’ a precedent established in its denial of a tax exemption to Bob Jones University over racial discrimination.”

There are many more or less independent and/or unsupervised powerful institutions within the US government which are perceived to threaten our individual and collective freedoms and liberties.

China Has Not Changed…

CNN reported on November 26:
“Having just enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner, the American soldiers were told they would be home by Christmas as they launched their final offensive. In fact, they were driving into the greatest ambush in modern history. Twelve miles to their north, 380,000 brilliantly camouflaged enemy fighters lay in wait. In the days that followed, the U.S. Army would suffer its most harrowing ordeal of the past half-century. Two American regiments were massacred at a pass called Kunu-ri; another was annihilated beside a frozen lake called Chosin. The time was 60 years ago; the battlefield was North Korea; the enemy was China’s People’s Liberation Army.

“Despite wide-ranging global changes — the fall of European communism, the end of the Cold War, China-U.S. rapprochement, the rise of China as economic superpower — there has been no indication that Beijing has altered its stance toward maintaining the isolated regime in the peninsula’s north since it routed U.S.-led United Nations forces in Korea in the winter of 1950.

“‘China does not want to lose North Korea as a buffer zone vis-a-vis a pro-U.S. country — South Korea,’ said Kim Won-ho, dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. ‘The last thing China wants to see is U.S.-style democracy in North Korea,’ added congresswoman Song Sun-young, who sits on the South Korean National Assembly’s Defense Committee. ‘Even if they apply open-door policies to their markets, China wants North Korea to follow the Chinese style’…

“North Korea, in addition to its strategic position on China’s doorstep, is a rare voice of support buttressing China’s historical role at the heart of Asia… Meanwhile, South Korea’s relationship with China is conflicted… Six decades after China crossed the Yalu River to fight in Korea, the competing alliances borne of that conflict — the world’s last remaining Cold War battlefront — remain firmly in place.”

Beware of Russia

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 26:

“Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wants the EU and Russia to forge a massive free trade zone. German commentators are wary of the wily politician’s true intentions and urge Europe’s politicians to read the small print…

“The reaction to Putin’s piece was mixed from the German side. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed Putin’s suggestion… Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg described it as an ‘interesting proposal,’ but added the caveat that ‘there are certainly a few things that need to be done first.’ Merkel was more reserved in her response, saying on Thursday that recent steps by Russia did ‘not exactly point in the right direction’…

“The business daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘Without political reform in the direction of greater democracy and a freer market, without Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, and without the release of [political prisoners], proposals like those regarding the free-trade zone will remain nothing but a smokescreen that Putin is creating in a bid to polish his tarnished image in Europe.’

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… Has the great chameleon Russia now decided to change its color once again?… The global economic crisis may have caused great damage to many countries, but it left Russia in ruins. The country will not be able to head into the future relying on its oil, gas and metals any more. The model of a great power based on raw materials is a thing of the past, and Moscow can no longer depend on energy prices as it once did. Russia must open itself up… In the long term, the country has more to gain than to lose…’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘… He wants Russian companies to have access to Western European know-how and capital — but under Russian conditions. The Russian prime minister may have recognized the problem, but he has reached the wrong conclusions… The country’s potential can only be tapped when companies are given freedom and legal security… Freedom, however, is an idea that Putin still finds it hard to get to grips with.'”

The Future of the Euro

Bloomberg wrote on November 25:
“The European banking system would be ‘nearly bust’ if the euro were to be abandoned which means the 16-member currency ‘cannot and should not go,’ Evolution Securities Ltd. said. ‘If the euro is abandoned, and we go back to the peseta, lira, escudo, drachma etc., devaluations would follow immediately,’ said Arturo de Frias, head of bank research at Evolution in a note to investors today, adding the industry is a ‘great buying opportunity.’ Devaluations mean write-offs ‘of a size that would render the whole European banking system completely insolvent.’

“Contagion from Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is spreading to Spain, sparking concern that the European rescue fund set up in May isn’t large enough. French, German and U.K. banks could lose 360 billion euros ($479 billion) if the euro collapsed, assuming a 30 percent devaluation in the wake of the restoration of national currencies, said de Frias.

“The damage caused by the abandonment of the euro would be such that such an outcome is impossible and the ‘only way forward’ for Europe is fiscal union, he said. ‘It is simply too late,’ he wrote. ‘There are too many cross-border investments in Europe to go back to national currencies.’

“If Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Ireland devalue by 30 percent on the way to readopting national currencies, total losses for German banks alone would be 120 billion euros, said de Frias. That’s almost half the total equity of German lenders, he said… In such a scenario, losses at U.K. banks would reach 80 billion euros, equivalent to nearly half the equity of Barclays Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc., he said.

“’And this is only the banks. What would happen with the investments of the large European multinationals’ like Siemens AG, Tesco Plc and others…”

Did Britain Do It Right?

The Daily Express wrote on November 25:
“From this day forth our energies will be directed to furthering the cause of those who believe Britain is better off out… After far too many years as the victims of Brussels larceny, bullying, over-regulation and all-round interference, the time has come for the British people to win back their country and restore legitimacy and accountability to their political process….
“This newspaper has always been hostile to the dilution of national sovereignty that EU membership entailed, but it has also always acknowledged that economic arguments were key. So long as there was a case to be made that leaving the EU would risk jobs and investment in Britain there was a powerful brake on thoughts of leaving altogether… We were told that staying out of the eurozone would be a financial disaster, yet it is now clear beyond doubt that the opposite was true… “
Just merely based on monetary considerations, this view point might sound correct in the short term, but the Bible shows that in the longer term, continental EU and the euro will be dominating and all-powerful factors to be reckoned with. In fact, the EU will fight and win not only a monetary, but also a military war against Great Britain. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

Practical Impossibility to Leave the Euro-Zone

BBC News reported on November 24:

“Much has been written about the theoretical attractions for financially troubled countries in exiting the euro-zone. But the question of how a country would go about it is less well explored. And the more closely you examine the question of ‘how’ – as opposed to ‘why’ – a country might leave the euro, the clearer it becomes that the practical difficulties are huge.

“To establish a new currency a country would have to convert all existing euro-denominated savings at a fixed rate on a given date. But savers and businesses would not wait passively for that date to arrive… The first practical problem, then, is that if it becomes clear that a country is seriously thinking of leaving the euro a huge amount of money will leave the country. This is sometimes referred to as ‘capital flight’. The overall effect would be to trigger huge transfers of deposits out of the country and wreck the banking system…

“But if a prolonged national debate about leaving the euro creates a risk of capital flight, would the alternative be to prepare in secret and announce it suddenly?… the idea that huge numbers of new bank notes could be prepared and distributed in secret… is absurd…

“However, suppose for a moment that these practical problems could be overcome, where would the country leaving the euro stand financially? It would have a large national debt denominated in euros…

“The euro came into circulation without too many hitches, albeit with many years of preparation. East Germany’s Ostmarks were converted into Deutschmarks. But the key difference is that in these cases the currency into which savings were being switched was perceived to be stable. The incentive for capital flight did not exist.

“… if the fundamental problem is substituting a weak currency for a strong one, the most practical solution would be for the strongest members of the euro-zone to leave the currency union. It means that… Germany could leave the euro while weaker countries could not… it seems massively unlikely that a German government would initiate the break-up of the euro. The euro was not designed with any possibility of break-up in mind… the point of a currency union is that it is supposed to be unbreakable.”

The EU was destined to unite, and the euro is one of the means of such unification. Please also read the next article, which proves as well that the notion that the euro could be exchanged for national currencies is just ridiculous. To believe such speculation would be tantamount to questioning biblical prophecy. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

Comeback of National Currencies Would be a Disaster for EU and Germany

Der Spiegel wrote on November 29:

“Europe is discussing the horror scenario of a break-up of the euro zone. At present, that still seems unlikely, but experts are alarmed. A comeback of national currencies would be fatal — especially for Germany… what would really happen if the euro collapsed? Would it really herald a return to the good, old days, to a Germany that uses the much-revered deutsche mark? Or could it actually be a harbinger of chaos and economic depression?…

“Germany has reaped all sorts of benefits from the euro. A collapse of the common currency would have dramatic effects. Here is a list of possible consequences:

“… the high transaction costs alone would cause massive damage to the national economy. For example, huge amounts of new bank notes would have to be printed, and mountains of coins would have to be minted… Merchants and restaurant owners, for example, would have to re-adjust all their prices…
“… leading German economist Peter Bofinger said: ‘Many Germans’ eyes would start to glisten with emotion if the deutsche mark were to come back.’ But he also warned that ‘the economic consequences would be disastrous’… [It] would make German goods dramatically more expensive abroad, which would result in a serious competitive disadvantage, especially since roughly 40 percent of German exports go to other euro-zone countries.
“Last summer, Gerhard Cromme, chairman of the supervisory board of German engineering giant Siemens, described the consequences in drastic terms: ‘Prices would shoot up so high that those of us in the industrial sector would no longer be able to sell anything out there in the world.’ …

“Experts calculate that there would be severe job cuts in Germany if this were to happen… German companies would also have to assume billions in additional costs. For example, without the euro, they would have to hedge themselves against major currency fluctuations. Thanks to the common currency, this has not been necessary when exporting to countries within the euro zone.

“What’s more, a collapse of the euro… would throw financial markets into chaos. At the moment, all the big German banks have euro-denominated government bonds issued by other EU countries on their books. Were the common currency to disappear, these countries would be forced to repurchase these bonds in… whatever currency they assumed. But this would present the banks with a serious problem… German banks would be threatened with enormous loan losses…

“A defeat of the euro would be a victory for the dollar, which would continue on for the time being as the unrivalled currency for all major international transactions. At the same time, a breakup of the euro zone would also cause damage at the political level. As Andreas Scheuerle, an economist with DekaBank, said last summer: ‘Europe would suffer a massive decline in importance vis-à-vis the United States and China.’…
“The political consequences would be downright devastating… an end to the euro zone could lead to significant tension between EU member states. In the end… the entire European Union would be threatened.”
The Bible predicts that this will not happen–at least not until sometime AFTER the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

USA vs. Germany?

Reuters reported on December 1:

“The United States would be ready to support the extension of the European Financial Stability Facility via an extra commitment of money from the International Monetary Fund, a U.S. official told Reuters on Wednesday… U.S. Treasurys’ [sic] prices fell and the euro strengthened against the dollar on Wednesday after the news that the United States would be prepared to support an enlarged EFSF.

“Germany, whose leaders have expressed frustration at the market backlash against their plans to solve the euro zone’s debt problems, does not want to make the stability fund larger.”

Germany Not Liked Too Much in Europe

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 26:
“Everyone is talking about German Chancellor Angela Merkel these days — and most of what they have to say isn’t complimentary. Her plan to create a bankruptcy mechanism for euro-zone countries, they say, has worsened the debt crisis in Ireland and elsewhere. Merkel’s name, once widely respected, is now mud…
“Ever since the sovereign debt crisis began shaking the euro zone, Germany has been the target of criticism more frequently than it has in a long time. And the image of the chancellor has been badly blemished…
“In the middle of Europe’s crisis, the former image of the ugly German — all-powerful and arrogant — has returned. Groaning under the weight of the euro crisis, Ireland sees itself as a victim of German conceit. The Irish press writes of ‘neo-colonialism.’ One of the largest newspapers in the country, the Irish Independent, quotes Fine Gael politician Michael Noonan, saying: ‘Can I ask whether this is what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor on the side?’…

“The president of the Euro Group, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, has hinted at his own concern about Germany’s European policies… ‘That in Germany federal and local authorities are slowly losing sight of European public good, that does worry me,’ he told the newspaper Rheinischer Merkur…

“The influential Spanish daily El País wrote about ‘the clumsiness of Europe’s leaders.’ The article claimed that German unintentionally made things much worse for Ireland by demanding that private investors be held partially liable for losses… Many German taxpayers have been wondering why they should have to foot the entire bill for a mess in which the banks were also heavily involved… Experts in the financial industry are not very impressed with the Germans at the moment…”

However, the time will come–and soon–when Europe will grudgingly ask Germany to lead them–and they will even surrender their power and authority to a charismatic German or Austrian leader. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?–The Mystery of the Book of Revelation.”

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