AMERICA’S TROUBLE — AND NO END IN SIGHT
SPACE SHUTTLE CATASTROPHE
The world was stunned and saddened to learn about the most recent space shuttle Columbia disaster, causing the deaths of all of the seven astronauts on board. At this time of mourning, USA Today asked some poignant questions in its editorial of February 4:
“Clear vision… was lacking in America’s space program long before Columbia shattered into pieces on its journey home this past Saturday. Since Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon in 1969, the space program has lost its way… In 1986, the Challenger exploded on takeoff, and no shuttle flew for nearly three years. The nation had an opportunity then to redefine the program’s goals. Instead, it focused on making the fixes needed to save the shuttle program. Now a second disaster offers another chance… Risking lives requires clear reasoning… Tuesday, the president praised the seven lost astronauts for possessing ‘the daring and discipline required of their calling.’ America needs a measure of both to define a space mission worthy of their memories.”
NORTH KOREA THREATENS THE UNITED STATES
As USA Today reported on February 6, 2003, “preemptive attacks on North Korea’s nuclear facilities would trigger a ‘total war,’ the communist state warned Thursday after U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld labeled the North’s government a ‘terrorist regime.’ The harsh rhetoric came a day after North Korea said it was putting the operation of its nuclear facilities on a ‘normal footing,’ triggering fears it was about to produce weapons materials.” The magazine also quoted a spokesman of the North Korean government, stating that North Korea was capable, willing and entitled to launch a preemptive strike against the United States.
COLIN POWELL ADDRESSES UN SECURITY COUNCIL
On Wednesday, February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N. Security Council, giving America’s strongest presentation so far against Saddam’s dictatorship and his possession of weapons of mass destruction.
As USA Today reported, Mr. Powell claimed “that weapons inspections are futile because Iraq has perfected the art of concealment and has no intention of voluntarily offering up its weapons… He asserted for the first time that an active cell of the al-Qaeda terrorist network has been present in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, for the past eight months, and that it has ties to operatives in five European countries.” Mr. Powell also quoted from unidentified sources, showed slides and played audio tapes of phone conversations between Iraqi officials, allegedly proving the existence and concealment of weapons of mass destruction.
The reaction to Mr. Powell’s presentation was mixed – both in the United States and internationally. A Gallup Poll in the U.S. showed that 57% favor war, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points, according to USA Today. Members of Congress in both parties described Mr. Powell’s presentation as “compelling.” Several key senators, however, stated that the President needs to do more to explain to the American people the war’s likely aftermath. Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware said many voters don’t realize how long the United States is likely to be engaged in the region after military action is over. “But Johnny will not be marching home,” he said. Rather, Americans should be prepared for a long and expensive period of establishing political stability in Iraq.
The world reaction was even more cautious. Iraq, of course, dismissed Mr. Powell’s presentation as a “fabrication,” containing nothing but lies.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stated that Iraq is in further material breach. At the same time, a majority of the British people is opposed to a war with Iraq, at least without a further UN resolution.
France’s Foreign Minster Dominique de Villepin wants to give Mr. Hans Blix more time to verify Mr. Powell’s claims [Another report of Mr. Blix is due on February 14. German newspapers have joked about his first report, stating, “Blix weiss nix.” (“Blix knows nothing.”)]. Virtually all of the French newspapers reacted sarcastically to Mr. Powell’s speech, stating that he did not present any facts that would warrant military actions, according to the French correspondent of the Today Show.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov also advocated more time for the weapons’ inspectors. He thereby accurately reflected the overwhelming sentiment of the Russian people. They are strongly opposed to war.
China’s Foreign Minster also agreed with the reactions of Russia and France.
Even Canada’s Foreign Minister Bill Graham did not feel that the evidence presented by Mr. Powell justified an immediate assault.
On the other hand, ten Eastern European nations signed a joint declaration, stating that Mr. Powell gave compelling evidence of Iraqi deception and evasions. These nations are: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who was also presiding over the Security Council Meeting, stated that the United States’ evidence needs to be studied. He pointed out that Saddam is a cruel tyrant whose activities need to be stopped. The German newspapers reacted in a more differentiated way. Der Spiegel Online called Mr. Powell’s presentation “a matter of faith.” The article stated, “If the U.N. Security Council’s session proved anything, then it proved the determination of the United States to immediately eliminate the problem Hussein Saddam… Are there enough proofs, which justify a war? Perhaps there are – perhaps there are not. “
The German tabloid, Bild, reacted quite differently. In its commentary, it pointed out: “The facts are grave. They convict Saddam of lies and intentional deception…. [German Chancellor Gerhard] Schroeder becomes a laughing stock when he pretends that it is irrelevant to him what the Americans lay on the table…. The material is… dangerous… Who can deny that? Are the inspectors to continue to search in the Iraqi haystack? Powell’s presentation was not a declaration of war, but a final warning. If Saddam does not reveal his poisons, a military [intervention] cannot be avoided.”
This mood swing in at least some influential German papers, beginning to support the United States’ position regarding Iraq, coincides with Gerhard Schroeder’s devastating defeat in two state elections (This “protest vote” was mainly due to Germany’s high rise of unemployment and the perceived lack of vision of the German government as to how to change the situation). Unfortunately, at the same time, U.S. Minister of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, compared in a speech before the U.S. Congress Germany with Libya and Cuba. The German press responded furiously. Bild (the very same paper that had just supported Mr. Powell’s speech), wrote: “Rumsfeld shoots again against Germany… He had already attacked Germany last month… What does he think to gain with his criticism?… Is he going to repeat his bad attack?”
Der Spiegel Online wrote, “The German-American friendship is again being tested…. The Greens [German coalition party] stated that Rumsfeld’s comments were rude.” Der Stern wrote that U.S. Ambassador in Germany Daniel Coats distanced himself from Rumsfeld’s remarks, pointing out that “Rumsfeld does not speak for the government of the United States.”
The position of the Catholic Church and many Protestant Churches remains unchanged. As Zenit reported, the Vatican Newspaper L’Osservatore Romano strongly criticized the concept of a “preventive war” and drew attention to the plight of the Iraqi people. It also stated that the presidency of the Swiss Episcopal Conference appealed to all believers to redouble their prayers so that war will not break out and that common sense would triumph. The bishops said, “For years, the Iraqi people, most especially the children, have suffered atrociously from the consequences of the international embargo against this country. Let us not martyr them still more…”
Zenit also announ
ced that John Paul II will meet on February 14 with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. Aziz is a member of the Christian minority. The fact that Aziz seeks support from the pope is interesting, given the fact that some of the descendants of the ancient Assyrians live in Iraq.
This world is at the brink of war. New alliances are being formed against the United States. Bible prophecy is marching on. We need to watch and pray that we can escape all those things that are surely going to come to pass soon.