World Watch Today

Germany favours “more Europe, not less”

Until recently there was much reticence amongst European leaders to broach the subject of greater consolidation in Brussels of finances and power. However, at a Christian Democratic Union party meeting on Monday Chancellor Merkel said that Europe presently faced its “toughest hour since the second world war” and that “a radical change in thinking was needed in Europe to overcome the eurozone debt crisis”, according to the Financial Times. The radical change in thinking Chancellor Merkel was proposing is what she described as “more Europe, not less” – greater European integration.

Until recently Chancellor Merkel didn’t have the domestic political capital to make such proposals – more Europe has always been seen by the German populace as Germany bankrolling the “club-Med” states. However, as the reality of the eurozone crisis has hit the German public, it has become clear that there is no longer a choice: Germany must help its struggling European counterparts, knowing that if one fails the whole European project is at risk. So, now we are starting to see the beginnings of Germany’s quid pro quo.

Chancellor’s Merkel’s proposals (and her party) are numerous. Most notable was the proposal to introduce a new financial transactions tax – the so-called Tobin tax – in the 17-member eurozone. This would be a significant step towards providing Europe with a financial independence from its member states that it has not previously enjoyed. As well as this step towards fiscal union, members of the CDU included a radical political union reform proposal – the direct election by EU voters of future presidents of the European Commission. Also proposed was the consolidation of certain fiscal controls in Brussels – amongst other things the power to impose sanctions on countries that fail to meet agreed budget guidelines.

While Chancellor Merkel is reportedly for “more Europe not less”, the same cannot be said for Britain’s Prime-Minister David Cameron. He too views this crisis as an opportunity for reform of Europe and is said to support closer union within the 17-member eurozone that Britain is not a part of. He realizes that he doesn’t have a choice – Britain needs a strong eurozone as much as Germany. But in respect of the 27-member European Union which Britain forms a part of, his reform proposals stress deregulation and repatriation of power from Brussels to member states – apparently contradictory aims.

But while Britain remains a chicane in the road for Germany, it is unlikely to be a roadblock. As Prime Minister Cameron remarked this week at the London Lord Mayor’s banquet, if Britain wants to keep its seat at the EU negotiating table, it will risk becoming further removed from the Brussels power-base if the core eurozone group consolidates leaving it in the second-tier group of EU members. But if it doesn’t agree to German reforms, Germany may not be prepared to loosen the purse strings for its fellow eurozone members. Britain may not have much choice but to agree or leave the EU, and Prime Minister Cameron has made clear for now that leaving the EU is not an option.

Eye on Europe

THANKSGIVING - SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Recently a relative sent me pictures taken from America’s national archives of life during the depression years of the 1930’s and 40’s. They were pictures from across America of our distressed citizens going about their lives during tough times. Many of the pictures portrayed people in ordinary settings that demonstrated their social activities, their work, and their family life. I noticed it was rare to see someone smiling. The quality of life was in most instances very grim in comparison to what we enjoy today. I could relate to some of what I saw. I was born in 1946 and things weren’t so great when I was a child either. I see similar pictures of my very early life with family around me. No one was smiling much then either. But things soon began to change.

I have read stories about some of my ancestors. They came to America in the early 1600’s, arriving in a boat from Holland. They were not wealthy by any means, and their first home in the new world was most likely in a root cellar, dug into the ground. That sounds so foreign to how we live, but those people were willing to put themselves through great deprivation and hardship to attain the wonderful opportunities they hoped were waiting for them. It is my understanding they found what they were looking for, and they became a reasonably successful family.

America, unlike most nations, was founded by people like my ancestors who were not only looking for opportunity but were also fleeing oppression and religious persecution. The nation was given stability by those wise enough to establish her laws upon Biblical principles, and was given strength by God’s favor. Many of our citizens who have served this country are quick to recognize that today. Though she was not perfect, America excelled because she acknowledged God’s protection – our national motto clearly states, “In God we trust.” And many still proudly proclaim “One nation under God” as they recite their national Pledge of Allegiance. Many proclaim this, but too many are forgetting their humble beginnings as they allow a different spirit of greed, perverseness, and rebellion to sweep over our land.

With Thanksgiving coming along in just a few days, maybe it’s time we give thought to how much living in America has done for us. This is a land designed to have long arms that can embrace the many who are seeking a better life. Aren’t we all living proof of her generosity, no matter how we arrived on her shores? I say that, believing America was planned by our creator to give comfort and blessings to those He knew would be longing for freedom and opportunity and who would be willing to work hard for it. The nation has shed vast quantities of blood in order to secure those privileges for all her citizens.

Thanksgiving is a time set aside by our own people to turn inward and reflect upon the blessings we have received. It’s a pause we need in our busy lives that begs the question – To whom and for what are we thankful? We should all try to answer that, and as we do, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at those pictures I mentioned earlier. They are amazing and also very sobering. You can find them at http://extras.denverpost.com/archive/captured.asp. I hope you will take a moment to look at them. It just might change your outlook for the coming year.

Israel Cyber Attacks Iran

Iranian security has uncovered evidence of the Duqu computer virus — found to be infecting computers at Iranian nuclear sites. The virus is called, “Son of Stuxnet” by cyber experts. Duqu appears, based on its code, to have been written by the same authors as the Stuxnet virus that was used to cripple an Iranian nuclear-fuel processing plant.

Both virus’ are widely believed to be the work of Israel and the United States. Experts who looked at the program were awed at its ability to penetrate Iran’s highly protected security system without the malware being detected.

Duqu secretly penetrates computer systems.  The virus then creates “hidden” weaknesses that can be exploited to destroy the networks at any time its creators believe is best. The Duqu Trojan Horse records every keystroke used on a system, allowing it to learn passwords to systems inside the network, making future penetration much easier.

Israel and Iran have been at war for some time.  Iran uses proxy terrorists to strike civilians.  Israel uses assassination and sophisticated cyber-war tactics to attack Iran.

The question is:  Will the war escalate to include aircraft strikes and troop clashes.

The Bible tells us that there is a spirit war going on in a parallel world that we do not see.  After Daniel had been fasting to seek greater understanding, God sent an angel to speak with him (Daniel 10:10–12). The angel gave Daniel an explanation about why it had taken him so long to answer Daniel’s prayers. “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia” (vv. 13–14).

Later, this same angel relates further details of the unseen spiritual world. “Then he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince’” (vv. 20–21).  Michael is the prince watching over Israel (Daniel 12:1).

Clearly, this passage is speaking of spirit wars. It is describing the struggle that goes on behind world affairs in the spirit world. That Prince of Persia (Iran) exists today.  Satan is stubborn in his pursuit to stir up trouble against Israel.

Steven LeBlanc

ISRAEL'S NEW DEFENSE

Israel’s new “Iron Dome” mobile short-range missile defense system was used in a combat operation for the first time in April, Israeli officials say.  A battery located near the southern coastal town of Ashkelon brought down what was thought to be a Grad rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

The firing of an anti-tank missile against an Israeli school bus has again prompted a strong Israeli response, with reports that a number of Palestinian civilians have been killed in air strikes.

At first sight, this engagement by the Iron Dome system appears to be a game-changer in the struggle between the Israelis and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza.

The Israelis have tried various means, ranging from air strikes to a full-scale ground operation to re-enter the Gaza Strip, but none of these efforts have permanently halted the rocket fire.

Iron Dome represents a different approach to the missile threat.  It is a very expensive system – each interceptor missile costing some $70,000 (£43,000) a shot with much of the funding may well come from US military aid.

Military and technological measures only tackle the symptoms of the problem.  As so often in the region, it is the underlying political situation that is the real issue. And this looks to be as intractable as ever.  Jerusalem will be the flash point of a final battle where the nations battle Christ.

“For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:1–2).

Israel to Strike Iran?

An Israeli attack on Iran is now, once again, back on the front burner.  Wars and rumors of war describe the talk that is going on in the Middle East. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet—Matthew 24:6.

Reports in the Israeli press reveal that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are pressing members of Netanyahu’s cabinet and Israeli security chiefs to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear stations.

According to Haaretz, the liberal Israeli daily newspaper, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently convinced ultra-hawkish Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to support an air attack against key Iranian targets.

Last week Israeli Air Force pilots engaged in a large-scale joint exercise with the Italian Air Force. The drills focused on long-range refueling. The only need for Israel to require its fighters to refuel mid-air is a possible attack on Iran.

On Thursday, Israel’s Home Front Command conducted a major drill in the Tel Aviv region simulating a long-range enemy missile strike on Israel’s population centers. Iran has warned that if Israel strikes, missiles will fall on Israeli cities.

The British newspaper The Guardian reported on Wednesday that the British military is “accelerating” preparations to take part in a US-led strike on Iran. A strike on Iran is not certain, but the obvious preparations have Israelis talking.

If Israel attacks, Iran would use its proxies against US and Israeli targets across the region.  Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon, would strike Israel, leading to what would end up being an Israeli war against both Syria and Lebanon. Iran’s allies in Iraq and Afghanistan could launch attacks against US forces in the region. Oil prices would soar (in the range of $150 to $180 per barrel).

Israel is not alone in talking about military action against Iran. Among the state department documents disclosed by WikiLeaks was one where Saudi Arabia called for action to chop what it called “the head of the snake”.

Don’t expect Washington to support a strike by Israel.  America is trying to decrease its footprint in the Middle East, a war with Iran will send oil prices much higher—and after Afghanistan and Iraq Americans do not want to be involved in another war.

Israel has long veiled its plans for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.

But the last week has seen the most intense speculation in years that Prime Minister Netanyahu is losing patience with Israel’s policy of waiting on Iran to comply with international rules.

Steven LeBlanc

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