World Watch Today

Why Europe's fixation on a European Union of nations

Steven LeBlanc

03 29 2015

The political tremors impacting Europe are significant. The fear is that the European Union may fracture; if it does the world’s financial markets will take a severe hit—stock markets do not like uncertainty. The driving problem in Europe is unemployment—which remains high in most countries—people are angry, afraid and restless. The result– Europe is seeing the rise in popularity of extreme parties, both left and right parties that are anti-Immigration, anti-Germany, and anti-European Union.

Recent elections in France and a regional election in Spain showcase the extent to which the employment emergency in Europe continues to threaten division in Europe. In France, former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right Union for a Popular Movement, or UMP, received the most votes, but the anti-immigration National Front party placed a strong 2nd. In Spain, two anti-establishment parties emerged: the left-wing Podemos and the centrist Ciudadanos. Spain will see national elections in late 2015 and France is scheduled to hold its presidential election in 2017, extreme parties could possibly come to power in both these countries.

The rise of the new anti-establishment parties can be traced directly back to Europe’s economic crisis. Many Europeans have had enough with spending cuts, high unemployment and austerity programs promoted by Germany. Spain’s increasingly popular Podemos party, for example, opposes austerity measures and demands a renegotiation of Spain’s debt, while the National Front party in France questions France’s embrace of Islamic immigrants and German leadership in Europe. But above all it is high unemployment and economic stagnation that has created fertile ground for these extremist parties.

GERMANY

Germany has always been, when united, a very powerful country. It is also a nation that is surrounded by countries that are frightened of it. Today, as the leading economic and political power in the European Union, Germany is working to keep the European Union from fragmenting. Along with economic tensions, how to deal with Russia is creating division among EU members. The events in Ukraine have highlighted the European Union’s divisions. Imposing sanctions on Russia requires agreement, which is hard to find in Europe’s amalgam of nations. Over the past year, countries within the European Union differ regarding what to do about Russia— There are hawkish anti-Russian countries such as Poland and the Baltics, then their are countries with a very different set of strategic priorities such as Spain and Italy who have a good relationship with Russia. Russia continues to court countries such as Greece, Cyprus and Hungary, promising greater economic cooperation in exchange for voting against extending EU sanctions against Russia.

It becomes more challenging for Germany to successfully accommodate the very different interests among EU members while also maintaining close cooperation with the United States, remember individual nations within the European Union do significant trade with Russia—and many nations within the EU rely on Russia’s natural gas. Germany is not interested in Russia’s economic decline and will resist any moves from America that could escalate the violence in Ukraine or give the Kremlin a pretext to boost its military activities inside Ukraine.

Why Europe is so invested in the European Union

Winston Churchill, Britain’s Prime Minister during WWII, suggested a solution to the seemingly endless wars of Europe, wars that were inflicting a devastating toll on women and children. In a speech in Zurich, Switzerland in 1946 he said: “we must build a kind of United States of Europe.” Churchill was repeating the age-old vision of a Europe united in a peaceful union; a union that would finally drown out the individual ambitions of nations (such as Germany, Italy and France), and replace national sovereignty with a super-national European super state composed of many nations. It would be a union that would encourage trade, tourism, and mutual respect.

European leaders thought that if Germany could be included in a greater European structure, this union of nations could keep in check German power. Finally the continent would be at peace, and Europe would never again have to endure a devastating world war. That was the great European hope. Movement toward this dream began with The Treaty of Rome, signed in 1957, bringing the European Economic Community (EEC) into existence.

The Treaty removed economic barriers between the original member states (the Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). This Treaty became the seedling that has grown into the 28 member states of the European Union today with a population of 515 million citizens, the greatest trading bloc in the world today.

Nevertheless, European leaders with all of their good intentions will not prevent another world war. Prophecy paints a picture of an end-time Europe that is described as a beast that wages war on a scale far greater than what took place during World War II. (see Revelation 13 & 17 and Daniel 7).

Daniel 7:7 reveals that a great European power, a particularly ambitious and cruel power, will conquer millions, enter and take control of much of the Middle East (Daniel 11:40-45), and draw the nations into world war. This beast is described as a military beast that will be “dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong…(with) huge iron teeth, it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet.”—Daniel 7:7. This European entity will be led by a cruel and ambitious dictator who will act as the 7th head of the final resurrection of the Roman Empire. This means that Germany will once again dominate Europe politically and militarily.

Analyzing events taking place on the European continent is high on my list of “trends to watch”.

Netanyahu warns the world about Iran

Watch the video of Netanyahu’s speech before Congress—he is stating what even most of the Arab world concedes; Iran cannot be trusted to honor any agreement. The President promises it has Israel’s back and will deal with Iran in Israel’s best interest. Netanyahu has told the world that though President Obama is a friend of Israel, he will not trust the President’s deal with Iran. The Prime Minister warned—that he is ready to go to it alone if necessary (meaning he is contemplating bombing Iran’s nuclear sites).

Negotiations must be based upon hard truth and this is what is so worrisome to Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu sees Iran outmaneuvering America regarding its nuclear program—willing to tell Washington half-truths that Washington seems to embrace. Netanyahu has had enough. Netanyahu’s defiance against the President imposing his agenda on Israel has pa forerunner. On June 7, 1981, Prime Minister Menachem Begin ordered the destruction of the Iraqi Osirak reactor just before it would become operational. The Prime Minister is sending a certain trumpet…we will deal with Iran, and will not accept a bad deal. On Tuesday Netanyahu called on the President to stop sounding an uncertain call (1 Corinthians 14:8), and to wake up to the harsh reality about Iran.—Steven LeBlanc

Netanyahu believes the President is Passive

Steven LeBlanc

Netanyahu lashed out at the Administration this week concerning the Iran Nuclear deal:

“It appears that they have given up on that commitment and are accepting that Iran will gradually, within a few years, will develop capabilities to produce material for many nuclear weapons,” he said in Israel.

“They might accept this but I am not willing to accept this,” he said in remarks delivered in Hebrew and translated. “I respect the White House, I respect the president of the United States, but in such a fateful matter that can determine if we exist or not, it is my duty to do everything to prevent this great danger to the state of Israel.”

The Administration despises Netanyahu and is enraged that the Prime minister is going to speak to Congress on March 3rd. Secretary of State John Kerry effectively called Netanyahu a serial alarmist, and warmonger. National security adviser Susan Rice denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to a joint meeting of Congress, calling it “destructive” to the relationship between the United States and Israel.

As the clock ticks toward an Iranian/US agreement, Netanyahu has absolutely no trust that America under President Obama’s leadership would act in a timely manner to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold. The Israeli Prime Minister cannot help but to notice that the President has demonstrated a pronounced lack of US will when dealing with international conflict. President Obama embraces what he calls “Strategic patience” which is a synonym for passivity. Mr. Netanyahu sees that Russia pushes deeper into Ukraine and that Iran now extends its hegemony over Sanaa, Beirut, Bagdad and Damascus (a total of four Arab capitals). And there of course is ISIS—the President has responded with extreme slowness and a consistent lack of clear strategy.

Many in Israel are overwhelmed with worry. US intelligence agencies do not have a good track record when it comes to appreciating nuclear advancement of world powers; they were taken by surprise when India, Pakistan and North Korea joined the nuclear club. Iran is next. Netanyahu will seek to warn the world yet again when he speaks on March 3rd. Netanyahu’s focus on the Iranian threat is a continual reminder of Washington’s double mindedness (I Corinthians 14:8), its lack of strategy regarding international conflict and its confusingly slow response to global bullies.

Panic...Greeks pulling money out of Greek Banks

Steven LeBlanc

02202015a

Greek depositors—overwhelmed by the fright of a Greek default or an exit from the Euro zone (which would mean a return to the drachma)—have been pulling millions of Euros out of the nation’s banks over the last few days. Nearly 900 million Euros flowed out of Greek banks on Tuesday alone.

Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble and Greece’s Yanis Varoufakis met IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who heads the Eurogroup. It looks like a temporary agreement has been reached but disagreement can enter at the last moment and talks could collapse. Talks continue through the weekend.

Germany does not want Greece to leave the Eurozone, but neither will Chancellor Merkel cave to Greek whining. If Greece leaves the Eurozone Germany stands to lose over 80 Billion Euros, not a pleasant thought, but not hopeless. But the odds are that Greece will yield to the ECB [European Central Bank] rules to restructure Greek debt…after all, a Greek exit would threaten the newly elected Greek Syriza government, given that most Greeks say they want to keep the euro. If Greece were to leave the short-term impact on Greece would be financial chaos–Already Greeks are withdrawing huge sums of their money from Greek banks.

02202015b

There is endless debate as to what would happen to the European Union if Greece leaves the Eurozone. Some say if Greece leaves then it is just a matter of time before Spain and possibly Italy would leave, wreaking havoc in the world financial markets. Others say, let Greece leave, a Grexit will only strengthen the remaining members of the Eurozone, and finally the European Union will be rid of one of its most difficult members. I simply do not know what will happen should Greece leave—so we wait and watch.

What is especially interesting is the leadership role we are witnessing out of Germany. Angela Merkel’s ascendency to become the most powerful leader in Europe is linked closely to the euro crisis. It was European leaders who had to make money available for the bailout of Greece. Given that Germany had the most money to offer, Germany’s Angela Merkel quickly became the most important leader in Europe. All eyes are on the German Chancellor.

Many Greeks consider Merkel to be an economic Nazi, and they hate her. But Greece takes little responsibility for its wild spending, so Greece should not complain—let’s remember the truth of scripture: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender”—Proverbs 22:7. Germany is very rich and Greece is very poor—whose fault is that!

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]:

https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/germany-emerges

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 Stratfor.com… 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

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