World Watch Today

German/American Tensions continue

07072017
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s announcement that Europe can no longer rely on America as a partner and “must take our destiny into our own hands” marks a major turning point in America’s relationship with Germany. Chancellor Merkel no longer uses the word “friend” to describe the United States in her talks to the German people; this is not a small rupture in friendship between the leadership of the two nations.

American and German priorities are different, and this is creating enormous stress between President Trump and Angela Merkel. Germany has built its power on economic rather than military muscle. Given the focus of German power, Berlin has little desire to become snared in American global actions (such as action against Russia regarding Ukraine). The United States has no patience in working through Brussels and wants Germany to be more responsive to the American agenda in the Middle East and Eastern Europe– seeing that America is a major export destination for German goods. In essence the Trump administration sees Germany as not being grateful for the open door it has to the thriving American consumer market.

Remember, that Germany needs the American market for its exports; more than 30 percent of German exports are sent to four countries: the U.S., France, the U.K. and China. The U.S. has been Germany’s most important export market in the last 3 years. Last year, the American market accounted for 8.8 percent of Germany’s total exports and 3.4 percent of its GDP. (As a comparison, France accounted for 8.3 percent of total exports, the U.K 7.14 percent and China 6.2 percent.)

Business tension between the two nations is continuing: For example; Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, lectured German Chancellor Merkel about buying American raw materials rather than buying Russian goods. Also of note, after the U.K., the U.S. is the second-largest market for the German car industry. The German BMW, Daimler-Benz and Volkswagen manufacturers produced more than 800,000 automobiles in the United States alone. German companies are the third-largest foreign employer in the United States, with over 670,000 workers. Both countries need each others business.

Another area of stress; The U.S. wants NATO to be a military alliance with all members having a substantial military capability. Germany wants NATO to be predominantly a political organization with a secondary military role; it boils down to the fact that Germany does not want President Trump telling it what it should be doing within the NATO alliance. Germany sees itself as the leader of NATO…not America.

Until now, the pivotal relationship in American foreign policy in Europe has been with Germany. That tie appears to be on the verge of breaking. It will be no small paradox if President Trump has provoked many of the nations of Europe to begin the process of converting itself into a cohesive great power. Meaning, that many European countries will seek to form a greater and even stronger Union (based upon German leadership), as a result of disagreements with America. American leadership in Europe is in decline—someone must fill that leadership vacuum—only Germany can do that.

Bible prophecies describe the final revival of the Roman system as a mysterious beast (Daniel 7:7, 19–20; Revelation 13:1–10; 17:3–8). We believe that history and biblical patterns tell us that this final beast system will be a European system that emerges just before Christ returns—so continue to watch what is taking place in Europe, no doubt Germany will be the leader of this end-time “monster”. Germany is not an aggressive power today—but that will change in the near future—Steven LeBlanc

President Trump says patience with North Korea is over

07 03 2017
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un shows off what is claimed to be a spherical nuclear bomb in early 2016.

The U.S. doesn’t want war, but it thinks North Korea has already crossed a red line. North Korea is estimated to possess up to 20 nuclear weapons and a wide-ranging arsenal of ballistic missiles, all capable of striking neighboring countries. The United States already has over 100 F-16 fighter aircraft in South Korea. They have been conducting exercises in South Korean airspace regularly for some time — we need to watch this as these kinds of exercises often take place before an attack. Such was the circumstance before Operation Desert Storm.

Asked by Congressman Tim Ryan why we don’t launch a war to end this threat, Defense Secretary James Mattis replied that, while we might “win … at great cost,” such a war would “involve the massive shelling of an ally’s capital … one of the most densely packed cities on earth.” Seoul has a metro-area population of 24 million. South Korea, which would endure the brunt of the war, is looking for a way to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. If Washington is compelled to move resolutely toward war, the South cannot prevent it. But Seoul will try to stall the U.S.

There’s still much we don’t know. For example we don’t know how exactly North Korea would counter an attack by the U.S. Its leaders are seemingly swaggering in their behavior, which has all but taunted Washington to attack. Either they are bluffing or they have doable options for a counterattack. Maybe they are further along in their nuclear program than the U.S. thought. Maybe their ballistic missiles can reach Japan and Guam. They don’t seem to be afraid of a war.

This is a very dangerous situation that we are watching closely on a daily basis. President Donald Trump, speaking alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a statement from the Rose Garden, declared, “The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed, And, frankly, that patience is over.” Let us hope that we are only dealing with the rumor of war and not a future war between North Korea, the United States and South Korea. Such a war would result in massive casualties (Matthew 24:6).

Proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia

06 20 2017
PRESIDENT TRUMP WITH ARAB LEADERS

What we are seeing in the Middle East is a blatant proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  This brawl has been devastatingly fought out across Syria’s many cities, and also in Yemen, nearly 600,000 people have died in Syria and Yemen combined.  The region’s two most ruthless centers of power — the house of Saud and the Ayatollahs in Iran — find themselves fighting each other not just for influence but for the position of who will be the leader of the Muslim world.

Iran and Saudi Arabia remain deeply hostile to one another. As one of Saudi Arabia’s most significant figures, Prince Turki al-Faisal, said on a recent visit to London, ‘Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the birthplace of Islam. As such, it is the foremost leader of the wider Muslim world. Opposing the Saudis is Iran; Iran portrays itself as the leader of not just the minority Shiite world, but of all Muslim revolutionaries interested in standing up to the West.’  Saudi Arabia despises Iran—the feeling is mutual.

Prince Turki condemned Iran’s ‘meddling’ and its ‘destabilizing efforts in the countries with Shia majorities — Iraq and Bahrain — as well as in those countries with significant minority Shia communities such as Kuwait, Lebanon and Yemen.’ As he asserted, ‘Saudi Arabia will oppose any and all of Iran’s actions in other countries, because it is Saudi Arabia’s position that Iran has no right to meddle in other nations’ internal affairs, especially those of Arab states.’

Clearly tensions between the two nations are swelling.  Saudi officials more recently called for the Iranian leadership to be called to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes. And what is most disturbing is the rumors that the Saudis will buy nuclear bombs ‘off the shelf’ from their contacts in Pakistan if Iran ever reaches anything approximating the nuclear dawn.

This proxy war is not a rumor of war—it is a real war being fought out between these two nations, and the war is escalating.  It is only two years ago that the Iranians attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. The plan was foiled only because the two suspects — an Iranian-American and an officer from Iran’s Quds Force — ignorantly connected with an informant from US Drug Enforcement Administration.   Remember Matthew 24:6 tells us we will hear of more wars—it seems like this proxy war is far from over and will continue to destabilize the Middle East.

To add to the current Middle East chaos we have a break in Saudi Qatari relations.  In early June Saudi Arabia led a six-nation effort to cut ties with Qatar (on June 5th).  The nations in question – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and the Maldives – also banned all travel to and from Qatar and, with the exception of Egypt, and ordered their citizens living in the country to leave.  Why the breakdown?  The Saudis believe Qatar is supporting terrorist organizations that are hostile to the Saudi Royal family; also Qatar has become too friendly with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s great enemy.  The Saudis have had enough!

To add to the mess, and it is a BIG mess… The United States is supportive of Saudi Arabia and angry at Qatar as well because the U.S believes that Qatar gives money to terrorist groups—which it does.  But this gets complicated—remember the Middle East is layered with complications.  America is supportive of Saudi Arabia but the regional headquarters of the U.S. Central Command is in Qatar, and the Qataris have helped the United States not just in the Middle East but also in South Asia, where they assist in peace negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.  So America is in the middle of the disagreement between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, looking to maintain friendly relations with both countries.

Adding yet another layer to this row… Iran has sent hundreds of tons of food to Qatar in recent days, because Qatar is almost entirely dependent for food from foreign exports.  So this means Iran is now more engaged in the affairs of the Arab world because they are helping Qatar; remember most of the Arab monarchies loathe Iran.  The food was meant to help relieve Qatar from its economic isolation after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Doha and closed their air, sea and land borders to the tiny Persian Gulf state.  Qatar needs to get food somewhere so now they are relying on Iran.  This proxy war will only get worse in the months ahead.  I am watching this proxy war very closely—there is no solution in sight!

One Middle East nation that has not abandoned Qatar is its long-time friend Turkey. Turkey has constructive dealings with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well; but Turkey sponsors Qatar’s efforts to stand up to Saudi Arabia’s authority in the Middle East; Why– because Turkey wants to become the dominant Sunni power in the region.

As we continually see, Middle East relationships are layered with intrigue and complications. Expect greater pandemonium in the Middle East!—Steven LeBlanc

America planning for war with North Korea:

Expecting the next European war

When we think of Europe most Americans think of fashion, quaint cafes, the Eiffel tower, fascinating architecture and endless historical sites. But history thinks of Europe very differently… Europe’s past is the location of massive wars, ethnic cleansing and brutal concentration camps.
05 05 2017

Berlin, Germany devastated by allied bombing during World War II

Europe’s history of fighting is far from over.   Europe remains a small continent, fragmented into many parts and crowded with many ethnically dissimilar nation-states.  It has a history of resentment and bitterness and ethnic violence.  Europe’s anger against other Europeans is still very much alive.   The fact is all nations have memories, and all but the most powerful nations feel wronged by some crime that cannot be made right.  This will help you understand Europe today and why there will be future European wars.

Suffering on the continent over the past 100 years has been staggering.  For example Poland in the past has been brutalized by both Russia and Germany; the Serbs killed thousands of Croats and Bosnians in the decade of the 90s; and during World War II the Ustaše regime in Croatia viciously killed thousands of Serbs at the Jasenovac concentration camp outside of Zagreb.  Revenge killing is a well-known modus operandi in Europe.  No nation really trusts others.  Friendships between nations are shallow and superficial at best.

Over the years France has been repeatedly invaded by Germany; the British do not trust the French, the Greeks despise the Germans…Germany believes it must protect itself from Russia and western Europeans.  In Belgium the Walloons do not trust the Flemish, the Flemish look down upon the Walloons; the Greeks despise the Turks, the Turks believe they are part of Europe, when no one else in Europe believes Turkey should be considered European.  And lets not forget…the Hungarians and Romanians dislike one another immensely. The differences and old wounds are almost endless when it comes to Europe.  Old wounds have a way of reopening.  War will be part of Europe’s future—the old wounds will chafe again.

Let’s not forget that the First World War was essentially European; 16 million people died in World War 1, most of the dead were Europeans.  The Second World War was truly global, but it was Europe that suffered the most during World War II.  No one can be certain of exactly how many died in Europe in World War II, but a conservative number is 51 million, this included soldiers and mostly civilians.  In 1939, Europeans numbered about 550 million.  An astounding 10 percent of all Europeans perished during the six years from 1939 to 1945.  But numbers do not capture the awfulness of war—the starvation, millions killed, the sadness, and the fear, the millions of orphans.

Poland lost over 16 percent of its population during the 2nd world war, Germany more than 10 percent; the Soviet Union lost 14 percent.  The greatest losses took place in the “Bloodlands” of Eastern Europe; Poland and the area we call today Belarus were hit particularly hard.  Between 1942 and 1947, 17 million people died in Eastern Europe, killed by Stalin or Hitler.  By Eastern Europe I mean the general area that encompasses what is now Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, and western Russia.  But even countries to the west like France lost half a million, and Italy and Britain lost almost a half million during the 2nd world war.

Geopolitical analyst George Friedman sums up the devastation that overtook Europe this way in his outstanding book, FLASHPOINTS, “combining the 55 million dead from World War II and over 16 million from World War I, in the thirty-one-year period from 1914 to 1945 approximately 71 million Europeans died in general warfare. When you add roughly 20 million killed or starved under Stalin, the number rises to 91 million. Add in the Russian and Spanish civil wars, and sundry other conflicts hardly worth mentioning, such as Turkey’s war with Greece and Armenia, and the number of 100 million is conservative.

The Balkans and ethnic cleansing

And there have been recent European wars.  In the Balkans, there were about a quarter of a million casualties in the 1990s thanks mostly to the aggression of Slobodan Milosevic a Serbian and Yugoslavian president.  The term ethnic cleansing originated in former Yugoslavia in the 90s.  It bears repeating… all nations have memories, and all but the most powerful nations feel injured by some wrong that cannot be made right.  This is especially true of the Balkans. By the Balkans I am talking mostly about former Yugoslavia.  Catholic Slovenia and Croatia, Orthodox Serbia and Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina (thought of as Muslim but with a large Serbian Orthodox population) these merged together into a temporary nation whose ethnic hostilities boiled beneath the surface; this became the communist state of Yugoslavia headed by Marshal Josip Broz Tito who suppressed in-house ethnic conflict with an iron fist.   But he died and 25 years ago the Balkans erupted into a vicious war.

The Balkans is important to European history. We should remember what Bismarck said in 1888: “If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans.”  How prophetic that statement was.  When Gavrilo Princip, a member of “Unification or Death,” a Serbian group, assassinated Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo (Bosnia) in 1914, it set in motion the 1st world war.  Today the nations of former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo) are at peace, but the peace will not last long.  As we have learned over the centuries, in the Balkans peace is fleeting.

The European Union intended to achieve what the Romans, Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Hitler had all failed to do: create a united peaceful Europe.  Today Europe is relatively peaceful.  But Prophecy tells us it will not remain that way.  The peace in Europe today is simply the calm before the storm.  Keep in mind that conflict in Europe can occur quickly.  Let’s not forget the recent past.  Germany was weak, divided, and barely armed in 1932.  By 1938 it was the great military power on the Continent.  Nightmares can come to pass quickly.

In the not too distant future– we are told that political turmoil in Europe (Revelation 17), will lead to a newly formed confederation of states that will be beastlike (terribly destructive).  We are told in the book of Daniel, that God often removes and sets up leaders according to His purpose and insights: Daniel 2:21– He controls the course of world events; He removes kings and sets up other kings…thus we watch Europe with this in mind, and with intense interest!

European leaders will eventually choose one single dictator, the prophesied “beast,” which will set up a system that will be extremely brutal (Revelation 17 verses 12 and 13).  European extremism will return to European cities.  Jesus Christ himself will destroy this end-time empire, and then Christ will establish the Kingdom of God on earth, that Kingdom will rule the nations with justice and force.  Europe is important—we will continue to watch this year’s important election process on the Continent with a discerning eye—Steven LeBlanc

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