World Watch Today

U.S. Draws Red Line with Iran

The United States government reportedly sent a letter to Iran via several mediators last week warning Tehran that any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz constituted a red line for Washington. It appears that the U.S., Israel and Iran are inching their way closer to military conflict.

Many assume, that the assassination of the Iranian scientist associated with the country’s nuclear program last week was either a U.S. or most likely an Israeli operation. The recent killing of an Iranian scientist has generated fear and morale problems among those working on the nuclear program.

Mark Helprin writing for the Wall Street Journal (January 18th), makes these sensible conclusions about Iran’s grab for power:

Without doubt, Iran has long wanted nuclear weapons—to deter American intervention in its and neighboring territories; to threaten Europe and thereby cleave it from American interests in the Middle East; to respond to the former Iraqi nuclear effort; to counter the contiguous nuclear presences in Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. in the Gulf; to neutralize Israel’s nuclear deterrent so as to limit it to the attrition of conventional battle, or to destroy it with one lucky shot; to lead the Islamic world; to correct the security imbalance with Saudi Arabia, which aided by geography and American arms now outclasses it; and to threaten the U.S. directly.

The Iranians are quite willing to obstruct the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 40 percent of seaborne crude and 20 percent of the world’s traded oil passes daily. Doing so would hurt the Iranian people. If an air attack takes place Iran would move quickly to close the Strait. Obstructing the flow of oil could rapidly create a global financial panic -–world stock markets would swoon.

The Chinese and Indians — Iran’s No. 1 and 3 buyers of crude oil, will continue to buy from Iran. Beijing is the largest importer of Iranian oil in Asia, accounting for almost 20% of all shipments from Tehran. Turkey, an American ally, will continue to trade with Iran—so will Russia, an important trading partner. The Europeans claim they will participate in much stronger sanctions against Iran, but they already have delayed implementing action against the Iranians. Italy and Greece are large importers of Iranian oil and do not want to see harder sanctions.

Iran warned Saudi Arabia against delivering additional oil to world markets should oil supplies to the world market shrink due to sanctions against Iran. Saudi Arabia is in favor of air strikes against Iran. Saudi princes believe Iran is trying to topple the Saudi Kingdom—there is bad blood between the two countries. The warning from Tehran came a day after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister promised to boost the kingdom’s production by as much as 2.7 million barrels a day if Iran attempts to close down the Strait of Hormuz.

“The way of peace they have not known” (Isaiah 59:8). War is more likely than not. Jesus Christ warned that man would eventually come to the point of self-destruction, except that Christ Himself will intervene to save mankind (Matthew 24:21-22). Christ will then establish the Kingdom of God, the focus of His teaching (Mark 1:14).

Steven LeBlanc

Israeli Assassins Strike Iran

Israeli assassins are sending a message to Iran’s nuclear scientists, the message is, ‘We can get you anywhere, any time.’

Two men on motorbikes attached a magnetic explosive device to a car containing Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a 32-year-old chemist who was deputy director for procurement at the Natanz nuclear plant.

Israel has emerged as the most likely source in the assassination. Mossad (Israeli intelligence) is skilled at carrying out assassinations abroad and is gravely concerned about Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The editor of Iran’s hard-line Kayhan newspaper, Hossein Shariatmadari, penned a column urging revenge for the killing. “Assassinations of Israeli military and officials are easily possible,” he wrote. Four Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in the past two years and a fifth was seriously injured.

In the last 18 months Iranian computers organizing the enrichment process have been paralyzed by two computer viruses—Stuxnet and DuQu. In the past year three explosions have initiated destruction at Iranian military sites believed to be connected to the nuclear program.

These attacks are meant to strike fear among Iranian nuclear workers. They are also causing young scientists to think twice about becoming involved in Iran’s nuclear program, says an Israeli espionage expert.

The covert war against Iran continues. America and Europe have intensified economic pressure on the Iranian regime. And a mounting war of words is flowing from Iran.
Wars and rumors of war abound (Matthew 24:6). The question now… is when and if rumors of war transitions into actual war between Iran and Israel.

Steven LeBlanc

The model Muslim nation: One step closer to dictatorship?

On 5 January 2012, General Basbug, former head of the armed forces–an institution seen by most as the essential guarantor of democratic secularism in Turkey–was arrested and charged with involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the government. The General is just one of approximately 400 people, including military and security officers, prominent academics, journalists and lawyers, that have been arrested in a wide sweeping investigation which government critics say targets the opposition.

The conspiracy that General Basbug is alleged to have been involved in, called Ergenekom by prosecutors, is linked to an alleged coup plot in 2007 which was said to have been uncovered when explosives were found in the home of a former military officer. The investigation springing from that discovery has spanned over five years. During the Ergenekom investigation, it is alleged that another conspiracy dating back to 2003 was discovered, called Operation Sledgehammer, which planned to overthrow the government by using terrorist acts to create conditions for a military takeover. When over 200 military officers were detained in relation to this investigation in 2011, the heads of Turkey’s army, navy and airforce resigned in protest.

In 2011 during the Arab Spring many championed Turkey as the model Muslim nation. An example of a successful Muslim democracy–what Muslim countries in north Africa and the Middle East might look like on the other side of the political upheaval they were experiencing. However, Turkey’s “model nation” status looks increasingly doubtful as the secular democratic institutions that were established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk–the father of the modern Turkish nation–are being slowly eroded by the present day government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodogan.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which Prime Minister Erodogan heads, was established in 2001. Since its establishment, it has won three elections in 2002, 2007 and most recently in 2011, with increasing proportions of the vote. This increasing popularity of the APK has strained relations with the army which has not hidden its distrust of what it regards as the APK’s Islamist agenda, a claim that the APK denies.

The Justice and Development Party claims that as a democratically elected government, it represents modern day Turkey, and whilst uniting around moderate Islam, it represents an alternative to the past of military coups and shadowy army influence. The army’s problem is that there is more than a grain of truth in the accusation. In 1960, 1971, 1980 it orchestrated coups, overthrowing the governments of the day and most recently in 1997, it forced the resignation of Islamist-led coalition leader, Necmettin Erbakan, precisely over a concern that Turkey was taking a path to Islamic theocracy which the army did not endorse.

Eye on Europe

Keeping an Eye on Germany

Europeans are rushing to place their savings into German banks in the tune of $15 billion a month. Greeks, Portuguese, French and Spaniards do not trust their governments; Germany presents a safer haven as the European Union struggles to survive.

123 million anxious Greeks, Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese are appealing to 83 million Germans to bail them out. The situation is very serious in Europe, and it seems only Germany is keeping the European Union together. Even the French government is being “nice” to the Germans. The angry French are lashing out at the British for their lack of support for the EU agenda, while at the same time they seek to appease their German neighbors.

Germans on average worked harder and smarter than their European neighbors. — saving rather than consuming, and spending less on vacations and expensive dinners. “The Germans have a different consumption mentality: They don’t get into debt,” says Hubertus Pellengahr of the German Retail Association in Berlin. The German Retail Association estimates that credit cards are responsible for only 5 percent of goods purchased annually. Germans do not like the concept of borrowing—they like to pay cash for their purchases—for many Germans it is a matter of honor.

Just 66 years ago, Hamburg was incinerated and Munich was a burned out hull, Berlin was demolished – today Germany is strong—even in the face of a severe world economic recession. Southern Europe looks to Germany to rescue them from their fiscal foolishness and greed.

Germany is on course to achieving peacefully what it failed to do in the two world wars of the 20th century: Dominate Europe.

If European nations want to be bailed out by Germany they will have to obey Germany. This means no longer can Europeans retire in their early 50s, no cheating on taxes, and no more 35 hour work weeks. The message to Europe is if you want our help you must learn to live like a German.

The Bible prophesies a coming coalition of nations in Europe that will be a great global superpower. “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings [leaders] who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast” –Revelation 17:12. The “beast” can mean this end-time European beast or its leader; the government will be a successor to the ancient Roman Empire pictured by a “beast” in Daniel 2 and 7.

Keep watching Germany as it is bound to play a dominant role in end-time events.

Steven LeBlanc

MAKING A BETTER YOU

Have you heard people talking about their New Year’s Resolutions? News programs, talk shows, entertainment programs of all sorts are now focusing on what we need to do to make 2012 a better year for ourselves. The idea seems to be we all need personal improvement, and now’s the time to get started. An awful lot of what we hear has to do with starting diet programs, getting our finances under control, or even, stopping smoking. But what’s really needed?

No one can deny 2011 had a lot of trouble erupting throughout it. We suffered from all the economic woes, saw horrid weather knock down large portions of towns and cities, wept over ghastly crimes, and suffered the angry, finger-pointing rhetoric of those seeking the presidency. We are plagued by our own self-caused problems, most of which have nothing to do with our physical appearance or the size of our bank accounts. The problems we suffer, for the most part, have to do with our personal and national character deficit.

What brought on all the economic woes we can’t seem to escape? Has anyone seen the movie, Margin Call? Remember how our financial institutions traded in mortgages that were worthless? Even selling them to our neighbors abroad just to “unload” them? What was the driving engine behind all that? Japan got it right when the Mayor of Tokyo, following their devastating earthquake and tsunami, stated they were being punished for their greed. Greed, in his mind, had over swept their nation, and now a horrible tsunami was over sweeping Japan.

It was greed that was also blamed for the economic disaster of 2008. Our national greed in overspending along with all the devil-may-care financial mishandlings by our financial institutions brought on the horrible economic problems that have nearly brought down the U.S. economy and is currently undermining the Euro as well. Overspending on any level is a critical error, citizens and governments alike. The most fundamental rule we all should live by is the need to have enough in our bank accounts to pay our bills. But that tiny bit of wisdom has escaped our national leaders and much of our citizenry, and here we are today, nationally broke – No, not broke, bankrupt.

On a recent trip to southern California I made a stop at a shopping mall, the South Coast Plaza. The shops in this mall, I was told, are numbered among the most expensive shops in America, and I would agree. Walking through them I felt I had stepped off a plane and landed in Geneva. The surprise for me was that even though Christmas had passed, mobs of people were shopping these stores. Later, on the news, I learned credit shopping was making a strong comeback because people have gotten tired of holding back on spending. It sounded to me like another greed cycle is starting up – big time.

So back to the buzz about making New Year’s Resolutions. A friend mentioned to me today that she has seen a huge influx of people at her gym since Christmas. She laughed, however, when she said it because her experience had proven to her the wave of newcomers will thin out quickly, and it won’t be long before she no longer has to stand in line to use any of the gym’s equipment. That kind of resolve for self-improvement, she noted, never lasts long. Nevertheless, maybe we should begin to think more deeply about our problems and how we can have a better year. Maybe avoiding the greed cycle is one important thing to think about.

Here is a suggestion that might just give you a better year in 2012. Rather than focusing on quick fixes, try making longer-lasting changes in how you approach life. Examine the rules you live by and make a concerted effort to especially examine your character, the part of you that drives everything else you do. You may find some big flaws, like greed, that you need to work on.

If you lack guidance, I suggest you open your Bible and take a long hard look at the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20. When you think about it, every evil we suffer from could be avoided, just by following those simple to understand, yet extremely powerful principles. And one other thing, instead of making temporary resolutions, start making it a habit to periodically examine yourself throughout the year. Work at becoming a better you all year long.

S. O’Malley

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