China–A Generational Change in Leadership
BBC News reported on March 15, 2013;
“China’s leaders have named Li Keqiang premier, placing him at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy.
“Mr Li, who already holds the number two spot in the Communist Party, takes over from Wen Jiabao.
“Mr Li was elected for a five-year term but, like his predecessor, would be expected to spend a decade in office.
“On Thursday, Xi Jinping was confirmed by legislators as the new president, completing the transition of power from Hu Jintao.
“Li Keqiang’s widely-signalled elevation was confirmed by 3,000 legislators at the National People’s Congress, the annual parliament session, in Beijing. He received 2,940 votes to three, with six abstentions.
“As premier, he will oversee a large portfolio of domestic affairs, managing economic challenges, environmental woes and China’s urbanisation drive.
“The appointments seal the shift from one generation of leaders to the next. A raft of vice-premiers and state councillors will be named on Saturday, before the NPC closes on Sunday.
“Mr Li, 57, who is seen as close to outgoing leader Hu Jintao, speaks fluent English and has a PhD in economics…
“In an editorial, state-run Global Times said Mr Xi and his colleagues needed to show powerful leadership to unite society.
“‘China cannot stop developing or fighting corruption. Social unity is the key to how China can stand against complex international affairs,’ it said.”
Both Japan and South Korea have recently elected new leadership–adding to the rapidly changing face of East Asia. Under President Obama, U.S. interests have become more focused in this region. With North Korea’s young leader pounding the drums of war and Japan and China bristling at each other over some disputed islands, economic and political stability for this vast expanse of humanity remains fragile, at best.
Italy Embraces Grillo
Following recent elections in Italy, commentaries have been written to explain the third place finish of an emerging political movement among dissatisfied voters–we present highlights from one such article in Spiegel Online, March 14, 2013:
“Beppe Grillo, leader of the populist Five Star Movement in Italy, prides himself on his ridicule of the parliamentary system. Yet while his anti-establishment rhetoric sounds appealing, at heart it’s actually anti-democratic. And very similar to that of an infamous Italian from the past…
“Grillo derives his energy from resentment. The real key to his success lies in the exploitation of anger — at Germany, at Brussels bureaucrats, at the whole system. That is what makes him great, not the appeal to reason or the love of democracy.
“As with all other revolutionaries, Grillo’s answer to the malaise of the present age is extremely simple. You just have to do away with the politicians or, better yet, jettison everything that smells of power and privilege. ‘We are young,’ it says on his blog. ‘We have no structure, hierarchy, leaders or secretaries. We take orders from no one.’ Grillo’s comparison of his movement to the French Revolution, which took its ideas of equality with bloody seriousness, is no accident. He relativizes by saying, ‘without the guillotine,’ but the stipulation means little. When people are incited into rage, those who fueled their passions never take the blame…
“In his best moments, Grillo talks like a cult leader. When he speaks of being ‘not a commander, but a guarantor,’ he sounds like a swami who could just as easily be leading the penitant to an ashram. But with a bit of historical awareness, one can see darker parallels.”
While this commentary draws parallels to the rise of Italian Fascism, it also represents the unrest that is growing in Europe. Leadership changes have not brought about stability, but it will be the emergence of powerful leaders who will galvanize Europe in ways very reminiscent of both Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.
A “New” Government in Israel
Deutsche Welle wrote on March 18, 2013:
“Israel’s new government has taken office after a coalition agreement was signed last week. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the new parliament that he was ready for ‘real peace’ with the Palestinians.
“The country’s parliament, known as the Knesset, opened on Monday afternoon to formally swear in the new coalition government. The session, which began with a series of formal speeches, culminated in mid-evening when the parliament gave its seal of approval for the new administration.
“Speaking to the delegates, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was elected for a third term in January’s elections, thanked the country’s citizens and promised to defend them from regional threats. He also extended an olive branch of sorts to the Palestinians, saying his government was ‘ready for compromises in exchange for real peace,’ and would talk to the Palestinians ‘in good faith.’
“But, Netanyahu said, Israel faced ‘very great threats’ from Iran’s nuclear program and the ongoing conflict in Syria, which has just entered its third year.
“‘The top priority of the new government is the defense of the security of the state and its citizens,’ he told MPs. ‘Our existence here cannot be taken for granted…’
“Monday’s formalities come two days ahead of a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories by US President Barack Obama, and on a day when the US refused to take part in a United Nations Human Rights Council Debate in Geneva on Israeli settlements and their effects on Palestinians.
“The US has accused the panel of being biased against Israel. When discussion turned to the wider issue of human rights in the Palestinian Territories, the US ambassador, Eileen Donahoe said ‘the United States remains extremely troubled by this council’s continued biased and disproportionate focus on Israel.’
“Ahead of his visit, Obama has said the purpose of his Middle East trip is to listen, rather than propose a political solution, and has ruled out demanding a construction freeze in Israeli settlements on the West Bank.”
A New Papacy Begins
BBC reported on March 19, 2013:
“Pope Francis has inaugurated his papacy at a Mass in Rome, calling on global leaders and all the people of the world to defend the poor and the weak.
“Up to 200,000 people attended the Mass in St Peter’s Square.
“His homily focused on protection – of the environment, children, the elderly and those in need, who he said were ‘often the last we think about’.
“Francis was elected by a conclave of cardinals last week to take over from Benedict XVI.”
This report continues, bringing out the growing historic significance being observed concerning this new pope:
“Communion was distributed by some 500 priests throughout the crowd.
“The Mass was co-celebrated by around 180 clergymen, including Adolfo Nicolas, the superior general of Pope Francis’ Jesuit order.
“The list of attendees also included Bartholomew, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople.
“He is the first Orthodox patriarch to attend a papal inauguration Mass since the two branches of Christianity split nearly 1,000 years ago.”
BBC reported on March 19, 2013:
“Pope Francis has celebrated his inaugural mass in the Vatican, and he has assumed the responsibility of leading the world’s Catholics. But what exactly does a pope’s job entail?
“After Pope Francis’ solemn inauguration mass, attended by six reigning monarchs, 31 heads of state and representatives of 132 governments, he will become head of state of the world’s smallest sovereign enclave, Vatican City, as well as spiritual leader of an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics scattered over every continent.”
“The duties of the 266th successor to the throne of Saint Peter are wide-ranging.
“His regular Vatican appointments are:
“A weekly blessing for tourists and pilgrims every Sunday from the window of his private study overlooking Saint Peter’s Square.
“A weekly general audience for some 5,000 pilgrims in a modern audience hall in winter and in the open air in Saint Peter’s Square in summer.”
“The Pope normally presides over religious celebrations of all the major church festivals of the year inside Saint Peter’s, including Christmas and Easter, when he also appears on the same balcony where he was proclaimed pope after his election to deliver his “Urbi Et Orbi” message to the city of Rome and to the world…
“One of the duties of a pope is to meet at least once every five years with his more than 5,000 bishops from around the world – roughly 1,000 a year, or 20 a week.
“Under church law they are obliged to visit Rome to report to the Pope on the state of their dioceses in what is called an ‘ad limina’ (on the threshold of Saint Peter) visit.”
President Obama in Israel…
USA Today wrote on March 20, 2013:
“Obama was greeted warmly on Wednesday in Israel where he is on a high-profile trip to Israel, his first as president, to assure the Jewish state of U.S. commitment to stopping a nuclear Iran and boost the prospect of peace talks with Palestinians demanding their own state.
“‘The United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend,’ Obama said after disembarking from Air Force One at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. ‘It’s in our fundamental security interest to stand with Israel.’
“‘Across this region, the winds of change bring both promise and peril,’ he said, calling his visit ‘an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors.’
“Obama said his administration would pursue a Mideast peace that would allow residents of the Jewish state to live in peace and free from the threat of terror.
“‘In this work, the state of Israel will have no greater friend than the United States,’ the president said after meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres.”
Even within the well publicised strain that exists between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is a grudging willingness to protect one-another’s interests–at least for the moment. At the same time, notwithstanding all the enthusiastic reports on President Obama’s friendly reception in Israel, it has been sadly recognized that his visit will accomplish little, if anything. Events are moving in a direction that will cause the State of Israel to be left standing alone in the near future, as revealed in Isaiah 9:21: “Manasseh shall devour Ephraim and Ephraim Manasseh, together they shall be against Judah.” This prophecy speaks of the United States (Manasseh), the British Commonwealth (Ephraim) and the modern State of Israel (Judah)–more information can be found in our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
Chemical Weapons Used in Syria?
The Times of Israel reported on March 19, 2013:
“Syria’s government and rebels traded accusations of a chemical attack Tuesday on a northern village near Aleppo.
“But while a U.S. official said there was no evidence of any such attack, Israel confirmed the use of chemical weapons, a Channel 10 news report stated, citing an unnamed defense official. The report said the official did not determine whether it was the rebels or the military who fired the non-conventional weaponry. It said the official said the use was on a relatively small scale, and did not elaborate further.
“The regime, whose allegation was backed by ally Russia, said 31 people were killed in what it said was a rebel attack, including 21 civilians and 10 soldiers. Rebel forces denied the allegation and blamed the Assad regime.
“If confirmed, this would be the first known use of chemical weapons in the 2-year-old civil war and a glimpse of one of the nightmare scenarios for this conflict.
“One of the international community’s top concerns since fighting began is that Syria’s vast arsenal of chemical weapons could be used by one side or the other or could fall into the hands of foreign jihadi fighters among the rebels or the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which is allied with the regime.”
Testing the Union of Europe!
The Guardian wrote on March 20, 2013:
“Cyprus ordered its banks to remain closed until next week as the cabinet held emergency talks on Wednesday in an effort to strike a deal with the EU or Russia to avert financial meltdown and stave off bankruptcy.
“After the country’s parliament rejected a plan to provide €5.8bn (£5bn) by seizing a portion of bank deposits from anyone with a bank account, [thereby abandoning an earlier decision, due to public outrage]Cyprus is struggling to come up with a plan that will let it access an EU bailout to stop its banks failing.
“The country’s eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are ready to provide €10bn in an emergency bailout if Cyprus comes up with an extra €7bn itself. Most of the bailout money is needed to shore up the country’s oversized banking sector, with the rest for government finances.
“No clear ‘plan B’ had emerged after meetings between politicians and representatives of European partners and the IMF. The Cypriot cabinet was said to be discussing ideas including the nationalisation of pension funds of semi-government corporations, which hold €2bn-€3bn, and another form of levy on deposits. The talks were due to resume.
“Another option debated may have been natural gas bonds linked to hydrocarbon reserves discovered off Cyprus, which remain uncertain and will not be exported until at least 2019.
“It was unclear whether European partners would accept the idea of turning to pension fund assets, which could leave the government exposed to further debts.
“‘We don’t have days or weeks, we have only hours to save our country,’ Averof Neophytou, deputy leader of the ruling Democratic Rally party, told reporters as crisis talks in Nicosia dragged on into the evening…
“The uncertain situation in Cyprus is ‘very damaging’ and needed to be addressed immediately, the EU Council president, Herman Van Rompuy, told the European parliament.
“Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said Cyprus’s banking sector, which through foreign funds attracted by low tax deals has swelled to eight times the country’s GDP ‘is not sustainable’.
“The European Central Bank’s chief negotiator on Cyprus, Jörg Asmussen, said the ECB would have to pull the plug on Cypriot banks unless the country took a bailout quickly. ‘We can provide emergency liquidity only to solvent banks and … the solvency of Cypriot banks cannot be assumed if an aid programme is not agreed on soon, which would allow for a quick recapitalisation of the banking sector,’ Asmussen told the German weekly Die Zeit on Tuesday. Austria’s chancellor, Werner Faymann, said he could not rule out Cyprus leaving the eurozone, although he hoped its leaders would find a solution for it to stay.”
With the tempestuous financial crisis raging among several European countries, commentators are quick to proclaim the end of the European Union, the end of the Euro and the collapse of the plans to make the countries of Europe a dominant player in the world! Nothing could be further from the truth, and biblical prophecy declares that Europe will emerge as a powerful force exerting its influence as a new world power! Our booklet, “Europe in Prophecy – The Unfolding of End-Time Events,” shows what the Bible reveals for Europe–and the ominous consequences for the entire world!
The Lost War in Iraq
Der Spiegel reported on March 20, 2013:
“Germany opposed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and little has changed about that stance a decade later. German editorialists on Wednesday gauge the effects of the war on the global balance of power, and their conclusions aren’t positive.
“On the 10th anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, the conflict’s complicated legacy continues to unfold.
“One day ahead of the anniversary, President Barack Obama paid tribute on Tuesday to the nearly 4,500 United States soldiers who died in the conflict, in addition to the more than 30,000 who were wounded before troops left the country in 2011.
“The scale of these personal sacrifices, however, pales in comparison to the price paid by the Iraqi population, of whom more than 100,000 are estimated to have been killed. While Obama opposed the war and campaigned for office with pledges to pull US troops out of Iraq, the situation in the country they left behind remains fragile at best.
“A recent spike in ongoing political unrest and sectarian violence in the country was highlighted once again late on Tuesday when terrorist group al-Qaida claimed responsibility for a series of suicide attacks that left some 65 people dead. ‘We will have our revenge,’ read an al-Qaida statement on a jihadist website.
“Ignoring fierce opposition to the invasion from many countries abroad — including Germany and France — the United States, under then-President George W. Bush, began bombing the Iraqi capital Baghdad on March 20, 2003, calling the operation ‘shock and awe.’ The aim of the war was to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and take out his ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ Though Hussein was eventually found, tried and executed, no WMDs were ever found.
“The war went on to cost the US government hundreds of billions of dollars, and, according to German editorialists, a great deal of credibility. On the anniversary of the invasion, they take a look this week at the state of America and the Middle East one decade after the war.
“Center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“‘Ten years ago when the US armed forces attacked Iraq with a few allies who served as alibis, then reached Baghdad after a few days and drove out Saddam Hussein, the US experienced a collective feeling of satisfaction. Iraq was revenge for New York. One can put it that bluntly today because naturally there was a need for retaliation, for a demonstration of strength. The public justifications for the war were periphery by comparison: chemical weapons, a nuclear program and Saddam as the long-time bogeyman. No, America wanted to re-establish its authority.
“‘Today, American policy has largely recovered from its perspective of hyper-hegemony. But at what price? No one would claim any longer that order and stability, much less democracy, can be achieved by force of arms. And the country wouldn’t even inwardly admit to the immense debts it has piled up in the shadow of its wars. No one wants to gauge the loss of credibility that America and the West have suffered in the rest of the world, either. However, those in Germany who would triumphantly wag their fingers should think twice. Elegant statecraft was nowhere to be found in the divisive opposition to George W. Bush.
“‘In history there is not always a clear sequence of causalities. … But the Iraq war generated a powerful break — both for the people in the region and America. It marked the start of a phase of deep societal shift in the Arab world, and the beginning of a new world order for the US. Proof of this comes with President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel this week — the first of his presidency, and one that is largely powerless. The Statue of Liberty still stands in the New York harbor, announcing America’s mission to the world. It’s a mission that has become unimaginably large in the Middle East — so big that even the US must humbly acknowledge its limits.’
“Left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung writes:
“‘The Iraq war serves mainly as yet another lesson that domestic and regional balance of power can’t be changed by even the most oppressive foreign military power. It’s a lesson that is constantly forgotten.
“‘The balance of power in the Arab world won’t be sustainably altered through foreign intervention, but from the inside — and even that is a difficult undertaking, as we’ve seen in the last two turbulent years of upheaval. The Iraq war probably delayed change in the Arab world by several years because the Arab dictators were able to discredit their indigenous democracy movements with a simple: “Do you want to become like Iraq?”. Because Iraq represents much of what the Arabs do not want: a society destroyed and polarized by foreign intervention with a traumatized population. It was in spite of the Iraq war, not because of it, that a decade later the Arab world indeed began to change. It’s chaotic, turbulent, and there’s an unknown outcome. But this time it’s autonomous.’
“Conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
“‘It was a war that the United States basically chose for itself, and then decided upon quickly based on its military superiority. But they failed to achieve peace, if it’s to be defined in broader terms than just Saddam Hussein’s fall. They had no plan for it. Its motives, circumstances and results have made the Iraq war a strategic failure in the eyes of many. … The Iraqis have to bear the consequences, but so do the Americans. George W. Bush’s government was so convinced of its ‘mission’ that it managed to create a huge rift in the Western community. The approach led to an intra-Western confrontation about its conformity to international law, which damaged the reputation of the US. The skepticism of interventions that President Obama faces is in part due to the country’s moral discreditation, in addition to the country’s economic depletion.’
“‘In any case, an episode that began on a late summer day in September 2001 has come to an end. Without the “attack on America,” the Bush administration would not have gone after the al-Qaida leaders and their Taliban helpers in Afghanistan, and the US would not have marched into Iraq after Saddam Hussein (whose overthrow had been the official goal of American policy since the late 1990s). Thousands of American soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqis died. Hundreds of billions of dollars were devoured by both wars. From now on, because the achievements have been so limited compared to the costs, the US will practice greater restraint. Its role in the Libya uprising and the Syria conflict have shown that already. America is unlikely to engage in war again “only” for the sake of democracy in the troubled Arab world. This kind of idealism — or neoconservative furor — won’t be mustered again anytime soon. The question is whether global power is now swinging from one extreme to another.'”