World Watch Today

President Obama to visit Israel this week...

Steven LeBlanc

The above video is a good representation of the frustration some Israeli leaders have expressed concerning President Obama waiting so long to visit Israel.

The President will arrive in Israel on March 20th and has scheduled hours of meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, President Shimon Peres, Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and King Abdullah of Jordan. The President will also make visits to Yad Vashem, The Israel Museum and Har Herzl, where he will lay a wreath on the burial sites of slain premier Yitzhak Rabin and Zionist father Theodor Herzl.

The Israeli public is angry with the President—because it took him over 4 years to visit Israel—America’s staunchest ally in the Middle East. Prime Minister Netanyahu plans to address Israel’s biggest concern with the President: Iran getting a nuclear weapon.

It is clear that Mr. Netanyahu wants to deal with the Iranian threat this year and not wait any longer. The end time prophecy found in Genesis 49 reflects the approach of end time Israel, and expresses the desire of Prime Minister Netanyahu to deal with Iran—Israel’s greatest enemy today [Genesis 49:8-9]:

Judah, …your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; … You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?

What We Know About Pope Francis...

Steven LeBlanc

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a 76 year old Jesuit intellectual who is the new Pope [266th Pope]. Here is what we know about him:

•First non-European Pope elected in over 1000 years.
•Born in Argentina, Pope Francis is the first Latin American to lead the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the first Jesuit. He was born in December 1936 [76 years of age] in Buenos Aires, of Italian descent.
•For decades, he has lived with only one functioning lung, although he is said to be in good health.
•Francesca Ambrogetti, who co-authored a biography of him, said, “His lifestyle is sober and austere,” “That’s the way he lives. He travels on the underground, the bus, when he goes to Rome he flies economy class.”
•He appeals to both Church conservatives and reformers, being seen as orthodox on moral issues like women priests, gay marriage and contraception [against all of these]. Yet he strongly supports the poor and those who live in the 3rd world.
•His Most Famous quote: “The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”
•First pontiff to adopt the name of Francis, the rich young man from Assisi who renounced wealth and founded the Franciscan order of friars in 1290.
•He is expected to clean up the Roman Curia, which is saturated with corruption. The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See– the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church.

We continue to watch the most powerful church in the world—a church system that appears to be Christian but is a counterfeit:

“And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:5).

Italy's Resentment of Germany

Steven LeBlanc

The dust is still settling after the recent Italian elections. Germany’s leaders do not like what they see coming out of Italy. The elections there have revealed a country that is extremely unstable, a nation that is becoming increasingly anti-German. Germany now fears that instability in Italy could rattle international markets and ignite a possible contagion among the rest of the Eurozone.

Josef Janning, of the German Council on Foreign Relations, said the outcome was very disappointing for Berlin whose biggest hope before the election had been that “the outcome will yield a mandate for further reform policy”.

Why should we care about what is happening in Italy? It is simple: Italy’s bond market is enormous; making it too big to fail and too big to rescue. If Italy leaves the Eurozone or defaults on its debt Europe will panic driving the world financial markets into hysteria.

Bloomberg financial service reports that Italy’s bond market is the third largest in the world at $2.1 (USD) trillion in outstanding debt, behind the US and Japan with $11.2 trillion and $10.1 trillion in debt each. Italy has been experiencing its worst recession since the 1930’s, and enraged by German led austerity programs, the Italians voted for change. Almost 30% of the popular vote went to Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister who had been plagued by scandal and lawsuits for his entire term. 25% voted for a former comedian, Beppe Grillo.

With Grillo and Berlusconi’s faces painted white with red noses, the mass circulation German newspaper daily Bild asked, “Will these Italian political clowns destroy the euro?”

The shocking support of the Five Star Movement and Silvio Berlusconi’s strong showing in the recent election exposed just how much anti-German sentiment exists in the country. The Five Star Movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo is very much opposed to the austerity solution Germany has proposed to fix the Eurozone crisis. As many as two-thirds of Italians rejected the whole Idea of a reform agenda. Berlusconi and Grillo have both criticized German leadership— these days criticism of Germany goes over well in Italy. In effect the Italian elections sent a message to Germany: “we do not want you leading Europe”.

Italians increasingly resent the German approach to “their” problem. That approach is to cut government spending and press for central oversight over nations whose economies are in trouble [which would include Italy]. This means Germany has a big say in how much money is lent to nations who are drowning in debt [Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy].

After nearly two decades of prosperity, the European fiscal mess is threatening the European Union’s survival. Germany is the leading economic power in the European Union and has assumed leadership during the crisis. After all Germany has the biggest and most robust economy in Europe and therefore has been dictating to weaker nations such as Ireland, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy what actions they must take in order to continue to receive debt refinancing to keep their economies afloat. This relationship of servant to lender is breeding bitterness and contempt—the borrower is slave to the lender—Proverbs 22:7.

Germany is the second-largest exporter in the world. It exports to many countries, but its biggest export market is Europe. Germany needs the European Union to remain intact for its economy to thrive. The birth of the Euro aided German exports. A fractured, economically depressed Europe means Germany losses its best market for exports. Also remember, a divided Europe threatens the world economy as the European Union is the world’s largest trading partner—bigger than the United States or China.

Scripture tell us that another revival of the Roman Empire is to come immediately prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Revelation 17 tells us that a final union of 10 kings (leaders) will come together and “will make war with the Lamb [Jesus Christ, at His return]” (verses 12-14). We believe history and prophecy make clear that this end-time Beast power is a European power—with German as the dominant nation. That is why what happens in Europe matters. We continue to watch German activity within the European Union.

Vice President Speaks to Friends of Israel About Iran

Steven LeBlanc

US Vice-President Joe Biden addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) this week and insisted that President Barack Obama was not bluffing about using force to halt Iran’s nuclear threat. He said there was still time for a diplomatic solution, though he warned “that window is closing”.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, speaking soon after the Vice President [via satellite from Jerusalem], stirred up the crowd:

“Words alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail,” Netanyahu said to loud cheers from the conference.

Vice President Biden urged caution to avoid losing international solidarity against Iran, which faces tough sanctions. “If, God forbid, the need to act occurs, it is critically important for the whole world to know we did everything in our power, we did everything that reasonably could have been expected to avoid any confrontation,”.

Israel appreciates the comments by the Vice President, but doubts that President Obama will be willing to confront Iran when diplomacy runs its course. The Prime Minister is greatly concerned that the American leadership may never recognize that the time for war is fast approaching– “…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”—Ecclesiastes 3:8.

Japan Becoming A Military Threat

North Korea launched a rocket in December. Japan viewed this act as a threat to their national security. Japan is now showcasing its world-class military. North Korea is not the only concern for Japan. China is a growing menace to Japan’s sea-lanes. Japan is extremely vulnerable because it depends on shipping which it depends on for survival because it lacks sufficient natural resources.

The key catalyst behind Japan’s military resurgence is the rise of China. China’s maritime ambitions and its immense naval buildup are considered a serious challenge to Japan’s ability to control its surrounding islands and seas. This has led to maritime flare-ups– [the dispute over the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands that continues to this day]. Matthew 24:6 speaks of “wars and rumors of war”—do not be surprised if a limited flash fight takes place between China and Japan in the South China sea over the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

As a maritime nation, Japan depends on imports for 82 percent of its energy supply. Japan depends on the Middle East and Southeast Asia for more than 90 percent of its oil and natural gas imports, leaving it vulnerable to both regions’ political chaos. Japan’s dependency on imports also extends to raw materials, such as steel, copper and zinc.

With the United States guaranteeing the security of Japan’s sea-lanes after World War II as part of the U.S.-Japanese alliance, Japan was able to focus on economic goals during the Cold War. Japan gradually was able to rebuild its armed forces for self-defense. Japan’s now maintains the third largest Military Defense Budget in the world.

It is a mistake to think of Japan as a docile military power. Japan has sixteen Patriot firing units and is the only country in the world besides the United States to have SM-3 intermediate-range missile interceptors, which are on its four Kongo class destroyers.

Targeting Japanese business in China

These territorial disputes have had considerable economic impact on Japan, such as China’s embargo on rare earth exports to Japan and violent demonstrations targeting Japanese business in China. Trade between the two nations has been hurt.

The Obama Administration is not willing to get involved in local affairs, though it has made clear that it would intervene on Japan’s behalf in the event of actual combat. Nevertheless, the United States’ intentional distance from the issue has caused a slight schism in the U.S.-Japanese alliance and has made Japan aware that it needs to take on more responsibility for guarding its vital sea-lanes to the Middle East through the South China Sea.

In late 2010, Japan responded to its tension with China by introducing a new military doctrine known as “dynamic defense,” which aims for sustainable deterrence that exploits the full spectrum of Japan’s well developed and technologically advanced military. This doctrine can also be used to defend the Ryukyu Islands, which could have significant regional implications.

These geopolitical challenges provoked a genuine sense of insecurity among many Japanese, who have recently been channeling their frustrations into a nationalistic movement. Nationalistic fervor has increased considerably in both nations. 90 percent of the Japanese population holds the military in a positive light after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters.

Japan’s past military aggression continues to shape public opinion in many of its neighboring countries. South Korea, in particular, is alarmed by Japan’s militaristic fervor. China’s bold moves in the surrounding seas continue to upset not only Japan, but other countries in the region, it is likely that Japan’s normalized armed forces will be seen by some Asian countries as a welcome buffer against China’s own increasing military might. This will help Japan expand its military influence abroad and increasingly drive its renewed nationalistic pride.

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