World Watch Today

The German conundrum that threatens Europe

02 16 2015

President Obama with Angela Merkel of Germany (EU flag; blue with yellow stars)

George Friedman writes a great piece on the power of Germany in Europe, entitled Germany Emerges.  He is the Chairman of Stratfor, a company he founded in 1996 that is now a leader in the field of global intelligence.  His book Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe is well worth reading.  Here are some excerpts from the recent article he wrote that may be accessed from the following web address [emphasis throughout is mine]:

The world that Merkel [leader of Germany] faces today is startlingly different. The European Union is in a deep crisis. Many blame Germany for that crisis, arguing that its aggressive export policies and demands for austerity were self-serving and planted the seeds of the crisis. It is charged with having used the euro to serve its interests and with shaping EU policy to protect its own corporations. The vision of a benign Germany has evaporated in much of Europe, fairly or unfairly. In many places, old images of Germany have re-emerged, if not in the center of many countries then certainly on the growing margins. In a real if limited way, Germany has become the country that other Europeans fear.

It is important to understand the twin problems confronting Germany. On the one hand, Germany is trying to hold the European Union together. On the other, it wants to make certain that Germany will not bear the burden of maintaining that unity. In Ukraine, Germany was an early supporter of the demonstrations that gave rise to the current government. I don’t think the Germans expected the Russian or U.S. responses, and they do not want to partake in any military reaction to Russia. At the same time, Germany does not want to back away from support for the government in Ukraine.

There is a common contradiction inherent in German strategy. The Germans do not want to come across as assertive or threatening, yet they are taking positions that are both. In the European crisis, it is Germany that is most rigid not only on the Greek question but also on the general question of Southern Europe and its catastrophic unemployment situation. In Ukraine, Berlin supports Kiev and thus opposes the Russians but does not want to draw any obvious conclusions. The European crisis and the Ukrainian crisis are mirror images. In Europe, Germany is playing a leading but aggressive role. In Ukraine, it is playing a leading but conciliatory role. What is most important is that in both cases, Germany has been forced — more by circumstance than by policy — to play leading roles. This is not comfortable for Germany and certainly not for the rest of Europe.

The Germans are trying to find some sort of cover for the role they are playing with the Greeks. Germany exported more than 50 percent of its gross domestic product, and more than half of that went to the European free trade zone that was the heart of the EU project. Germany had developed production that far exceeded its domestic capacity for consumption. It had to have access to markets or face a severe economic crisis of its own.

But barriers are rising in Europe. The attacks in Paris raised demands for the resurrection of border guards and inspections. Alongside threats of militant Islamist attacks, the free flow of labor from country to country threatened to take jobs from natives and give them to outsiders. If borders became barriers to labor, and capital markets were already distorted by the ongoing crisis, then how long would it be before weaker economies used protectionist measures to keep out German goods?

The economic crisis had unleashed nationalism as each country tried to follow policies that would benefit it and in which many citizens — not in power, but powerful nonetheless — saw EU regulations as threats to their well-being. And behind these regulations and the pricing of the euro, they saw Germany’s hand.

This was dangerous for Germany in many ways. Germany had struggled to shed its image as an aggressor; here it was re-emerging. Nationalism not only threatened to draw Germany back to its despised past, but it also threatened the free trade essential to Germany’s well-being. Germany didn’t want anyone to leave the free trade zone. The eurozone was less important, but once they left the currency bloc, the path to protectionism was short. Greece was of little consequence itself, but if it demonstrated that it would be better off defaulting than paying its debt, other countries could follow. And if they demonstrated that leaving the free trade zone was beneficial, then the entire structure might unravel.

Make sure you read the full article at… viewing of the article is free.  And remember, as I have stated time and again, numerous prophecies indicate that a charismatic despot (also called the “beast”) will eventually lead a European-based power, deceitfully gaining influence as a peacemaker and then becoming a Hitler-type figure—(following the historical model of Antiochus Epiphanes as stated in Daniel 11:20–32). The revival of this Satan-directed, beast-power, with ties to Rome, will surprise the world (Revelation 13:1–7). Prophecy tells us that 10 kings voluntarily surrender their sovereignty to a powerful leader (Revelation 17:12–13).  Germany will play a leading role–Steven LeBlanc

Europe's Dangerous Disagreement

Steven LeBlanc

02 10 2015
Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Gemany’s Angela Merkel

I am watching Europe closely—viewing a Union of nations (European Union) that is attempting to work through a serious disagreement.

We see in a prophecy in Daniel chapter 2 a human model representing the succession of human empires, the ten toes, the final empire to rise in Europe, are portrayed as part iron and part clay. So the final Gentile kingdom will be “partly strong and partly fragile” (Daniel 2:42). Note that iron does not mix well with clay (verse 43). Europe is a mix of ethnic groups with various agendas. In the near future the Bible says that these diverse nations will put aside their national differences for a short time to astound the world. A European dictator will receive support and funding from various leaders (Revelation 17:12-13). This has not taken place yet, but it will take place in the near future. The timing of the rise of this European dictator is in God’s hands, it is God who sets up and takes down leaders and nations (Daniel 4:25; 5:21).

With prophecy telling us to look for a revived European Beast syndicate—let’s review what is taking place in Europe right now.

Europeans are very nervous… will Europe and Greece agree on a new strategy for handling Greece’s huge debt problem? Will the European Union (EU) begin to fragment creating a wave of panic that pummels the world financial markets?

At the moment all eyes are on Germany to see if it will cave to Greece’s demands. Greece’s current program of loans ends on the 28th of February. Be sure to view the news that day, to see what the outcome will be in Europe.

The eurozone crisis has confirmed that Germany, with the most vibrant economy and the deepest pockets, is the supreme power player in the European Union. As the British Foreign Office has rumored to have said, ‘In today’s Europe, you can’t change things unless Germany is with you.’ Even if nations were to leave the EU, Merkel and Germany would determine the exit terms.

Pundits who are following the European debt storm say the German position is simple: If Greece wants to leave, let it go. A German economist on the BBC’s Today program described Greece as a man standing on a roof threatening to jump, with Germany as a concerned bystander offering to help him with his problems. This image fails to mention that the bystander is tied to the potential jumper and is likely to suffer significant injury should the man jump—BBC World Service.

The Great Fear
What is called the Grexit (Greek exit of the Eurozone) would severely shake the confidence of Greece and the Eurozone members. If Europe kicks Greece out, then Alexis Tsipras of Greece could turn to Russia for financial help. The thought of Russia gaining influence in Europe’s backyard would be extremely destabilizing. Greece would lose its relatively cheap access to lending, and easy access to Europe’s trade matrix. What is most problematic is that if Greece leaves this could excite Spain to follow, and then Italy, a contagion could spread within the European Union igniting fear in global markets.

Newly appoint leader of Greece, Alexis Tsipras has promised to stop what he has called the ‘fiscal waterboarding’ at the hands of Germany. But northern European leaders, led by Angela Merkel, are glacially opposed to any compromise with Greece. They fear that if Greece gets its way, voters across the eurozone periphery will turn to anti–austerity parties in the hope of securing better bailout terms.

The European political scene is dangerous and unpredictable, new political Parties can be formed and lead the polls within months. Look at what has happened in Spain—Podemos is only 12 months old but it consistently tops the polls in Spain. Podemos, like Syriza in Greece, is opposed to the German austerity measures that were imposed upon Spain over the last few years to blunt the swelling debt within the country. There are elections in Spain this year, Podemos has come from nowhere to become a major player in Spanish politics with huge popular support—this is a very disturbing tide that Germany fears—the rise of anti German/anti-austerity parties in Europe. But let’s keep in mind that the Greek debt crisis is just the tip of the iceberg.

Worried about France
James Forsyth makes this clever observation in his recent column in the British Spectator magazine (31 January 2015):

The country that really keeps European policy makers up at night isn’t Greece or Spain, but France. Its economy is sinking, with no signs of a sustained or sustainable recovery. Its unemployment stands at a record high of 3.5 million, it has had to abolish the much-hyped 75 per cent tax rate on the rich after it turned out to be an abysmal failure, and its tax revenues are so weak that it’s now looking at a deficit of 4.1 per cent of GDP — far outside the 3 per cent limit supposedly demanded of EU member states. If the European Commission applied its own rules properly, France would be fined for this continuing inability to get its books in order.

The great debate is whether France is, in economic terms, part of northern Europe or stagnating southern Europe. Tellingly, the day after the Greek result, François Hollande invited Tsipras to the Elysée while Nicolas Sarkozy went to Berlin to see his old ally Angela Merkel, reflecting the division between the current president and the past president over what role France should try to play in Europe.

Everyone seems to be focused on Greece debt at the moment, but the truth is the big nations of Europe such as France and Italy are on the verge of drowning…Europe is truly in trouble.

Back to the Greek Crisis—so how do you solve the Greek debt crisis? Germany and Greece have two very different ideas. Greece Syriza’s party leader, the 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras — a former Communist youth member — favors an irresponsible approach: Writing off most of Greece’s debt, a weight he describes as “not just unbearable, it objectively cannot be repaid.” But Germany has drawn the line on Greek debt. Germany is against writing off more of Greek debt, someone has to pay for those write-offs, and Germany is not in the mood to use its money to throw at the Greek problem.

German leader Angela Merkel told the Hamburger Abendblatt: “I do not envisage fresh debt cancellation. “She said: “There has already been voluntary debt forgiveness by private creditors, banks have already slashed billions from Greece’s debt.” Greece still has a debt of €315bn – about 175% of gross domestic product. At the same time Angela Merkel asserted she did not want Greece to leave the eurozone. She said: “The aim of our policy was and is that Greece remains permanently part of the euro community. Europe will continue to show its solidarity with Greece, as with other countries hard hit by the crisis, if these countries carry out reforms and cost-saving measures.”

Tensions are rising in Europe, and European and American stock markets swoon daily depending on the latest news out of Europe—the financial markets are jumpy. The ECB (European Central Bank) threatens Athens with bank funding cutoff on February 28th unless Greece yields to the ECB’s rules. The next few weeks will see volatility in the press and world financial markets—all linked to what will happen to Greece and how the EU responds to the Greek debt challenge. This European debt impasse is very important—pay attention to Europe!

Dangerous Europe

Steven LeBlanc

The European Union is struggling to survive. Below is the latest thinking from Statfor intelligence founder George Friedman. Statfor is one of the world’s premier intelligence services. Mr. Friedman has just released a book entitled The Emerging Crisis in Europe:

Possible Seismic Changes Ahead
There are then three drivers in Europe now. One is the desire to control borders — nominally to control Islamist terrorists but truthfully to limit the movement of all labor, Muslims included. Second, there is the empowerment of the nation-states in Europe by the European Central Bank, which is making its quantitative easing program run through national banks, which may only buy their own nation’s debt. Third, there is the political base, which is dissolving under Europe’s feet.

The question about Europe now is not whether it can retain its current form, but how radically that form will change. And the most daunting question is whether Europe, unable to maintain its union, will see a return of nationalism and its possible consequences. As I put it in Flashpoints:

The most important question in the world is whether conflict and war have actually been banished or whether this is merely an interlude, a seductive illusion. Europe is the single most prosperous region in the world. Its collective GDP is greater than that of the United States. It touches Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Another series of wars would change not only Europe, but the entire world.

To even speak of war in Europe would have been preposterous a few years ago, and to many, it is preposterous today. But Ukraine is very much a part of Europe, as was Yugoslavia. Europeans’ confidence that all this is behind them, the sense of European exceptionalism, may well be correct. But as Europe’s institutions disintegrate, it is not too early to ask what comes next. History rarely provides the answer you expect — and certainly not the answer you hope for.

This is a perceptive observation by Mr. Friedman.

Let me state emphatically that this is not to say that Europe is about to implode immediately, but it is important to watch the stress that is in play in Europe.

You need to watch Europe closely because the Bible tells us that in the future a European –centered “beast” power is the final resurrection of the Roman Empire, one of the four great gentile empires of Daniels’ vision (Daniel 7)—it will be the final manifestation of the empire that fights Christ as His return (Revelation 17:12-14).

In one of Daniel’s visions, God pictured four empires as rapacious beasts. The fourth beast (Rome) is pictured as a predatory, war-making creature, having 10 horns—indicating 10 successive resurrections (Daniel 7:19–25). A tyrant will change times and laws, and will persecute true Christians (Daniel 7:21–25). Other prophecies indicate that a charismatic despot (also called a “beast”) will eventually lead this European-based power, deceitfully gaining prestige as a peacemaker and then becoming a Hitler-type figure—(following the historical model of Antiochus Epiphanes as stated in Daniel 11:20–32). The revival of this Satan-directed, beast-power, with ties to Rome, will surprise the world (Revelation 13:1–7). Prophecy tells us that 10 kings voluntarily surrender their sovereignty to a powerful leader (Revelation 17:12–13).

This European matrix will dominate the global economy (Revelation 18). The Prophets including Amos and Hosea, and Isaiah (chapter 10) and Jeremiah 30, disclose that this German-dominated structure of nations will attack America and British-descended peoples, and will carry them into captivity because of their national sins.

We are watching closely the European Debt Crisis to see how it impacts the world economy. Remember, the European Union’s economy is the largest trading bloc in the world.

King of the North will take control of Jerusalem

01 18 2015
Belgian soldier guards outside U.S. Embassy in Brussels

The terrorist attacks in France and Belgium serves as the latest example of the clash between Europe and Islam. With growing tensions between Europe and Islam, God revealed to the prophet Daniel what would happen in the “latter days” (Daniel 2:28). The suspected Islamist terrorists who had a shootout with police on Thursday in Verviers, Belgium, have ties to ISIS-linked cells in other European countries, a senior Belgian counterterrorism source told CNN on Friday. The two suspects who died in the shootout are thought to have fought with ISIS in Syria. So what should we be looking at in terms of prophecy?

Daniel was told that at “the time of the end” a king of the South [Islamic dictator] will attack the king of the North [European leader], “and the king of the North will come against him like a whirlwind… and he shall enter [many] countries, overwhelm them… He [European dictator] shall also enter the Glorious Land [Israel], and many countries shall be overthrown” [Daniel 11:40–41]. This European Tyrant will take control of the temple mount. The countries that the king of the North will enter and overthrow include the Muslim nations of the Middle East and North Africa. The king of the North will gain possession of the resources of Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia (and part of Sudan)—including their gold, silver, oil and natural gas. Psalm 83 reveals that the king of the South will consist of a confederacy of Muslim nations—including among them Edomites, Ishmaelites, Amalekites and Moabites—who will conspire to “cut off” Israel “from being a nation”—this King of the South will be an Islamic leader—a type of Mahdi, or savior in the eyes of many in the Islamic world.

Who, then, is this king of the North? Prophecy describes the final revival of an empire with tie-ins to ancient Rome that is composed of ten kings (leaders of nations) who will surrender their sovereignty to a leader called the Beast, just before the return of Jesus Christ (see Daniel 2; 7; Revelation 17:12). The Roman Empire, and its revivals, is a fact of European history. We look to Europe as the location where the final revival of the Beast power will materialize. The king of the North will be an end-time leader who will arise in Europe and be closely linked with a charismatic Catholic leader (Revelation 13:11). This outcome will resemble the Europe of the Middle Ages, when emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and Popes of the Roman Catholic Church ruled over European nations. This was the Europe that launched the Crusades to regain the Holy Lands from the Muslims. Bible prophecies indicate that a “final battle” will involve another confrontation between forces from “Christian” Europe in the north, and the Islamic world to the south. Israel will be caught in the middle of this conflict.—Steven LeBlanc

The West's Weakness in the Face of Islam

01 09 2015
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times out of London…she writes a very insightful article (see below)—[emphasis throughout is mine]

As I See It: The Paris massacre and Western funk

A core western value, freedom of expression, was snuffed out with contemptuous ease along with 12 innocent lives in Paris this week.

Is this a tipping point? Has the West finally been shaken out of its complacency? The horrific massacre in Paris, in which al-Qaida terrorists systematically targeted and gunned down journalists, cartoonists, and policemen at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in revenge for its mockery of Islam, has shocked Europe by its barbarism and its symbolism.

A core western value, freedom of expression, was snuffed out with contemptuous ease along with 12 innocent lives, among them some of France’s most iconic and beloved cartoonists.

The emotion behind the “Je Suis Charlie” demonstrations, as an expression of solidarity with the murdered Charlie Hebdo staff, was very understandable. But did anyone actually mean it? For what Charlie Hebdo did was what very few people have ever done. In continuing to publish its scurrilous images of Islam and Islamists, Charlie Hebdo had refused to be cowed by Islamist terrorism.

Plainly, therefore, very few people indeed mean “Je Suis Charlie,” since the media response to the massacre has been carefully to obliterate the images Charlie Hebdo published that so offended al-Qaida.

The French have also been declaring defiantly that free speech will never be surrendered. But there has been no free media expression about Islam ever since the 1989 Iranian fatwa calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie over his book, The Satanic Verses.

That was when the West sold the pass. In Britain, people supporting Rushdie’s murder were never prosecuted. As his book was burned on British streets, establishment figures turned on the author for having offended Islam.

In 2006, riots following the publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons left scores dead around the world. But virtually every media outlet – except for Charlie Hebdo – refused to republish them.

In 2004, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered on a Netherlands street for making a film criticizing Islam. In 2012, Lars Hedegaard, who founded the Danish Free Press Society after the Muhammad cartoons affair, was shot point blank on his doorstep, although he miraculously survived.

To all these outrages, the West responded by blaming the victims for provoking their attackers. After this week’s Paris massacre, commentators on CNN observed that Charlie Hebdo had been “provoking Muslims” for some time. On The Financial Times website, Tony Barber wrote that “some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo… which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.”

(That last clause was subsequently removed).

The fact is that Islamic terrorism and intimidation against the West have been going on for decades, matched by displays of Western weakness which merely encourage an enemy it refuses properly to identify.

Over and over again, the West denies that these attacks have anything to do with Islam. First it blamed poverty and exclusion among Muslims. Then it blamed grievances around the world – Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine. Then it blamed isolated madmen whose Muslim identity was irrelevant.

In France before Christmas, attacks in which cars were used as battering rams against crowds amid shouts of “Allahu akbar” were said by French authorities to be unconnected with each other.

Yet Muslim violence in France has clearly been out of control for years. Just look at the repeated Islamic pogroms against French Jews, which have driven thousands of them to emigrate. Yet none of those attacks provoked the kind of outrage that followed this week’s atrocity. Is free speech more important than the lives of French Jews? But the West refuses to join up the dots. The Charlie Hebdo attackers shouted “Allahu akbar” and “We are avenging the Prophet Muhammad.”

Yet Obama, Cameron, and Hollande condemned the attack as merely “terrorism,” carefully omitting to say what kind of terrorism this was. This follows their absurd statements that the Islamic State terrorist group has “nothing to do with Islam” and that “no religion” condones that kind of barbarism.

Really? What links Islamic State, al-Qaida, Hamas, and Boko Haram? It’s a religion beginning with the letter I and ending with M.

A very senior British civil servant once told me that Islamist terrorism couldn’t be about Islam, because that would “demonize” all Muslims. This absurd non-sequitur was like saying the Inquisition had nothing to do with Catholicism, in order not to demonize Catholics.

For sure, many Muslims are not only opposed to Islamist terrorism but are its principal victims. But to pretend that it is not rooted in a legitimate interpretation of the religion, backed up by the historical evidence of centuries of aggressive and violent Islamic conquest, is ridiculous.

If the West cannot even bring itself to acknowledge what it is up against, then it will surely be defeated by it.

Both France and Britain in their different ways have given in to Muslim extremism. Multicultural Britain has allowed Islam uniquely privileged treatment: providing sharia banking, tolerating polygamy, converting school kitchens to halal. France, which pushed its Muslims out to peripheral housing estates to fester, has ceded control of those estates to Islamist radicals, thus creating in effect mini-states within a state.

At same time, the West has shown weakness by giving in to terrorism abroad. Thus France voted for the recent Palestinian ultimatum at the UN, thereby rewarding terrorism and Jew-hatred. Obama, who in the wake of the Paris massacre intoned “Free expression and a free press are principles… that can never be eradicated,” is busily appeasing the Iranian terrorist regime, which jails, tortures, and executes political opponents and is pledged to the genocide of the Jews and an Islamic takeover of the West.

What the West should be doing is drawing a very firm line in the sand to defend its own values. It should be fighting Muslim radicalization by establishing what should be considered totally unacceptable.

At present, for example, it ignores the Jew-hatred coursing through the Muslim world. Yet this is a driving force behind Islamist terrorists, who believe not only that modernity and the West must be destroyed, but that the Jews are behind both of them.

Europe has failed to learn the lesson of the Holocaust. This is that Jew-hatred is not some unpleasant but marginal aberration; it is not just a threat to Jews or to Israel. It is nothing less than a psychic derangement that drives the entire civilization show off the road.

Muslims must confront the beliefs in their own religion and culture that swell the seas in which terrorism swims. And the non-Muslim West must start to teach Muslims the hard truths that will force them to do so.

The problem is that another Western core value is the desire to compromise – even with those whose agenda brooks no compromise, and who see such a desire as a weakness to be exploited.

With the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, Europe stares into an abyss. But a tipping point? I fear not.

Although it’s not politically correct to say so, the descendants of Ishmael—the Arab peoples, who proudly proclaim their descent from Ishmael to this day…have created a religion that is very aggressive and hostile—what we saw in France this week is just another manifestation of the violence of Islam—expect to see more Islamic terrorist acts unfolding in European cities in 2015: Note the Prophecy found in Genesis 16, verses 10- 12—“He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility towards all his brothers”—Steven LeBlanc

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