Saturday, January 1, 2011

Year in Review 2010

After looking back on the past 12 months, Joe Klein concluded in Time last week that “nothing much happened in 2010.”
“Oh, I know there was a lot of frothing and screaming,” he wrote. “There was outrage aplenty. There was an election. Wars were fought. Humongous pieces of legislation were passed.” But in time, he predicted, “2010 will be regarded by historians … as something of a neon hologram.”
It makes you wonder what planet Joe Klein has been living on for the past 12 months.
The following is a digest of the most pertinent world events of 2010. Considered in the context of Bible prophecy, it is impossible for a person to read about these events and conclude that “nothing much happened in 2010.”
Europe Remodeled
The financial crisis that began in Greece in 2009 overflowed to other eurozone states. Across the eurozone, but especially in the Mediterranean, contracting economies and extreme public and private debt pushed governments to their limit. In May, with riots erupting, Athens went to fellow eurozone states for a bailout. In November, it was Ireland. As 2010 came to a close, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Italy were lined up on the cusp. As the financial crisis worsened, it became clear that the existence not just of the eurozone, but also of the European Union itself, was at stake. Europe needed to be saved.
Germany Rides to the Rescue
As the financial crisis unfolded, Europe turned to Germany for the solution. Over the year, Berlin exploited the financial crisis to gain control of the euro, the eurozone, and the entire European Union. Stratfor analyst Peter Zeihan wrote that if “the euro is essentially gutting the European … economic base, then Germany is achieving by stealth what it failed to achieve in the past thousand years of intra-European struggles” (March 16). Since March, Germany has continued to refashion Europe. Berlin agreed to give Greece and Ireland a bailout, and then imposed strict conditions. In December, Germany convinced EU counterparts if the need to create a permanent eurozone debt fund, which would require amending the Lisbon Treaty.
As Trumpet Editor in Chief Gerald Flurry wrote at the end of the year, “What is happening in Europe is not merely a game-changer—it’s a world changer!” (emphasis his). “We are witnessing one of the most significant moments ever in the history of Europe,” he said. The collapse of European economies is handing Germany control of the taxing and spending policies of once-sovereign nations. The euro has turned out to be a tool for economic conquest by Germany. A German-led Europe is emerging from this financial crisis, and war is coming with it.
“Watch closely,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “Germany will use this crisis to force Europe to unite more tightly. In the process, some eurozone countries will be forced out of the union. When that happens, the pundits will say European unification is dead, that the European Union has failed. Don’t listen to them! Every country that leaves the EU puts us one step closer to seeing the German-led 10-nation European superstate!”
Germany Grows in Nationalism
At the grassroots level, the German populace grew increasingly frustrated with Muslims. In the summer, a prominent former board member of the country’s central bank, Thilo Sarrazin, showed the popular support in Germany for confronting Islam: His new book, Abolishing Germany—How We’re Putting Our Country in Jeopardy, details what he calls Germany’s “demise,” saying that with constant immigration and higher birth rates among immigrants, Germany is “turning Muslim.” An Allensbach Institute poll found that 60 percent of Germans believe Sarrazin said “many things that are correct.” A mere 13 percent disagree with him. Spiegel featured the author on its cover, calling him a “people’s hero.”
In October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the multiculturalist approach in Germany “has failed, utterly failed.” Horst Seehofer, leader of Bavaria, said that the two parties are “committed to a dominant German culture and opposed to a multicultural one.” Stratfor analyst George Friedman remarked, “The statements were striking in their bluntness and their willingness to speak of a dominant German culture, a concept that for obvious reasons Germans have been sensitive about asserting since World War ii. The statement should be taken with utmost seriousness and considered for its social and geopolitical implications.”
He continued, “It must also be remembered that this is Germany, which previously addressed the problem of the German nation via the Holocaust. In the 65 years since the end of World War ii, the Germans have been extraordinarily careful to avoid discussions of this issue, and German leaders have not wanted to say things such as being committed to a dominant German culture. Simply put, Germany is returning to history.”
Germany is following a Europe-wide trend. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’s anti-immigration Party for Freedom is working with the ruling coalition after winning 24 parliamentary seats out of 150 elections on June 9. The far-right, anti-Semitic party Jobbik won 17 percent of the vote and 26 seats in Hungary in April. Switzerland banned the construction of new minarets after 57.5 percent of voters supported the measure in a national referendum. France and Belgium both passed laws against women wearing burkas.
Revival of Germany’s Economy and Industry
Of all countries on the planet, Germany is the one where everything seems to be going right! As the rest of the world suffers with high unemployment and massive debt, Germany is weathering the global financial crisis just fine. Economists are predicting annual economic growth of 3.5 percent in 2010; the German economy expanded in the second quarter at a phenomenal annual rate of 9 percent. Exports are soaring and factories are bustling, which has resulted in the unemployment rate falling to 7.5 percent, the lowest in 18 years. (Elsewhere in the eurozone, unemployment is above 10 percent. Real unemployment in America is nearing 20 percent.) Berlin has emerged in recent years, particularly through the financial crisis, as a regional and international powerhouse.
Until May this year, building up large-scale defense companies has been taboo in Germany. That month, two of Germany’s top military manufacturers, Rheinmetall and Mann Group, merged their military vehicle production. The resulting combine will produce a new national champion and leading supplier for wheeled military vehicles in Europe. MarketWatch columnist David Marsh said the German government “has been providing behind-the-scenes assistance to make sure industry goes in the right direction.” The new combine “meets the long-held German desire to build industrial companies with world scale in the defense field” (January 18).
Germany Remodels Military
Last August, German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg presented plans designed to transform his nation’s military services. Military conscription will be suspended, and the Bundeswehr will be reduced from 250,000 to about 160,000 troops. Given a passing glance, Germany’s military power may appear to be diminishing. However, conscription was designed to ensure that the Germany army would be “immune to the kind of elitist force that dominated state affairs during the years of the Weimar republic and before,” as the New York Times put it (August 30). When it comes to military reform, and specifically suspending conscription, Guttenberg is simply trimming the fat. His ultimate goal is to forge the German military into a trimmer, more efficient, more powerful fighting machine. Watch closely to see how Guttenberg chooses to use it. Considering Merkel’s plummeting popularity and Guttenberg’s meteoric rise, the man currently leading the German Defense Department may soon be leading the entire nation.
The Vatican Raises Its Voice
On November 11, Pope Benedict xvi released an “apostolic exhortation” Verbum Domini (“The Word of the Lord”) that was a direct attack on all who believe the inerrancy of the literal Scriptures as inspired by God. Pope Benedict “criticized ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘literalist’ interpretations and urged renewed appreciation for the symbolic and spiritual interpretation techniques used by the ancient fathers of the church” (ibid., emphasis mine).”An authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic Church,” he said. The pope is restoring the kind of archaic and conservative theology that gives the Catholic hierarchy control over its subjects. The Vatican has also been bringing conservative church leaders to the fore as it establishes greater control over Catholicism around the world. And it has been progressing in bringing Anglicans back to Rome. The creation of an organization within the Catholic Church for disgruntled Anglicans will be complete next year.
A mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East continued. “Across the Middle East, it is the same story of despairing—sometimes frightened—Christian minorities, and of an exodus that reaches almost biblical proportions,” wrote the Independent’s Robert Fisk. “In short, a creeping religious genocide is taking place,” wrote Jeffrey T. Kuhner in the Washington Times. On October 31, in Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church, 10 gun-wielding terrorists detonated suicide bomb vests, killing 58 men, women and children, including two priests, and wounding 80 more people. These events are reminiscent of the 11th century, when the persecution of Christian pilgrims triggered the first crusade. Once again, the Vatican is preparing itself as the West’s champion against Islam. “Europe has denied its Christian roots from which it has risen and which could give it the strength to fend off the danger that it will be conquered by Muslims—which is actually happening gradually,” said the outgoing archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, in an interview published January 6. “If Europe doesn’t change its relation to its own roots, it will be Islamized,” he said. In his homily at the close a synod on the Middle East on October 24, Pope Benedict said that the synod showed “the need for a new evangelization for the Middle East.” Russia Extends Global Reach
Last January, Russians made a world-changing move as they completed a new oil pipeline and port complex that sets their nation up to become a more powerful oil exporter than Saudi Arabia. The pipeline allows Russia to transport 250,000 barrels of central Siberian oil per day to the energy-hungry economies of China, Korea and Japan. By unlocking these central Siberian oil fields to Oriental markets, Russia is simultaneously binding Asia together and lighting a fire under Europe. Until now, Moscow has had to let its oil reserves sit dormant every time it had a pricing dispute with Europe. With this new oil pipeline and port complex, however, Moscow can turn off the tap to Europe and still pump in the profits by opening the pipe wide to its oil-thirsty Asian partners. This will hasten the development of an Asian alliance of Russia, China and Japan. Europe is sure to start looking for alternative sources of oil and natural gas in Africa and the Middle East.
In 2010, Russia reversed the Orange Revolution that swept Ukraine toward the West with the narrow victory of their puppet Viktor Yanukovych in national elections on February 14. With some almost certainly unconstitutional maneuvers, Yanukovych used his shaky victory to gain firm control over the nation. He quickly guaranteed that Russia could station its Black Sea fleet in the Crimea until 2042, cementing Ukraine in the Russia camp for decades to come. Yanukovych then turned Ukraine’s intelligence serves over to Russia. He took steps to bring Ukraine into Russia’s alternative to nato, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. All this amounts to a peaceful takeover of Ukraine by Russia.
China Gobbles Up World Resources
This past summer, the world woke up to the fact that China controls 97 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals, which are essential for nearly every piece of advance technology from iPods to hard drives, guided missiles to smart bombs. China showed the power this control brings by forcing Japan into a humiliating climb-down in a spat over a disputed border. The rest of the world is scrambling to end China’s monopoly, but catching up to China will take years. China continued its policy of buying up raw materials, as well as port and transit facilities, worldwide. This year, China’s trade with Africa passed $100 billion for the first time.
China-Europe Axis Forms
China’s biggest trade partner is the EU. These two organizations are the world’s top two exporters. Today’s global power centers of manufacturing and trade have swung back to Europe and China. The most important and lucrative trade routes are once again between the old world’s East and West. The most recent example of this trend is China’s growing partnership with Greece. Encouraged by government incentives and rock-bottom prices, China is pumping hundreds of millions and on the road to billions of euros into Greece, even as Americans and other investors head for the exits. According to the Washington Post, the cornerstone of those plans is the “transformation of the Mediterranean port of Piraeus into the Rotterdam of the south” that will create a “modern gateway linking Chinese factories with consumers across Europe and North Africa” (June 9). Greece’s severe economic woes created an opportunity that China is exploiting. Strapped for cash, the Greek government is privatizing the economy in blitzkrieg fashion, which has opened the doors to rich Chinese investors. “The Chinese want a gateway into Europe,” noted Greece’s Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos. Even Germany—which as a major economic exporter is increasingly in competition with China for market share—seems content to allow the Eastern merchant powerhouse more access to Europe. Angela Merkel came out in support of China being granted “market status” on October 8. During a joint press conference with Wen, she said, “Germany will continue to actively support the quick awarding of the market status to China from the EU. China will intensively continue to dialogue with the EU on this issue.” This coming year, control of the global economy will continue to shift away from the U.S. and toward the EU and China.
Iran, the Cancer of the Middle East
A cable dated April 28, 2009, released by WikiLeaks shows that Egypt views Iran as its top strategic threat. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he sees “Iranian influence spreading like a cancer from the gcc [Gulf Cooperation Council countries] to Morocco,” according to the cable. That trend certainly continued in 2010. Intelligence officials have warned that Iran is releasing al Qaeda terrorists from prison so they can fight nato in Afghanistan, according to the Times of London, December 24. The Iranians have been secretly pouring millions of dollars into the office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. They have also become more assertive in bossing around Pakistan; Iran threatened Islamabad with unilateral action if it failed to hand over Islamic terrorist that had attacked Shiites in December. They continued to fund Hezbollah and Hamas and build them up as threats to Israel. On October 14 Iran was elected head of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Iran’s nuclear program may have been set back by Stuxnet, but its more important program of Middle East domination has continued unabated.
Iraq Falls to Iran
As the year closes, Iraq is the in the process of cobbling together a government that will favor Iran. The coalition will be headed by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a man United Press International calls “Iran’s choice to rule in Baghdad.” The most important ministries, including the Oil Ministry, have been promised to Shiite and Kurdish parties—except the Finance Ministry, which has been given to Iraqiya. Watch Iran’s take over of Iraq to continue in the coming year.
World Assaults Dollar This past year, the world’s leaders vented their anger on the dollar. Leaders from France, China, Germany, Russia, and elsewhere all took turns bagging on the greenback, blaming it for causing the world’s economic imbalances. The world needs a new global reserve currency, they said. But alas, with the eurozone locked in economic crisis, and Greece and Ireland on the brink of bankruptcy, the world lacked a credible paper alternative. At the end of the year, the volatile dollar eked out a 1.2 percent gain against the dollar index basket of currencies. But Americans should not rest easy. According to Li Daokui, an academic member of China’s central bank’s monetary policy committee, the U.S. dollar will only remain a safe investment for so long. “For now, market attention is still on Europe and for the coming 6 to 12 months, it will not shift to the United States,” he said on December 8. “But we should be clear in our minds that the fiscal situation in the United States is much worse than in Europe. In one or two years, when the European debt situation stabilizes, attention of financial markets will definitely shift to the United States. At that time, U.S. Treasury bonds and the dollar will experience considerable declines.” Against gold, silver, copper, oil, cotton, coffee, and pretty much every other commodity, the dollar already slid by double digits over the past year. Over the long term, prepare for the dollar to resume its downtrend as the world looks for a new reserve currency. America: On the Road to Bankruptcy
Want to know the future? Look to Detroit. It is a ruined, decaying, post-industrial, almost post-apocalyptic ghost town. The city used to be synonymous with big salaries and high standards of living, just like America is today. But if the 2010 trend continues, it won’t be long before America is Detroit. Over the past year, the ranks of the unemployed have risen, and if truth be told, probably stand in excess of 20 percent. In Detroit, unemployment is over 50 percent.
Yet, on a national scale, America embraced more of the same policies that destroyed one of its formerly most prosperous cities: namely, expanding the social welfare state. As the year progressed, the “official” national debt grew by an astounding $1.5 trillion, taking the nation to European crisis levels. Forty three million Americans now take food stamps. Unemployment insurance was extended again, and legislation mandating that Americans sign up for health insurance (government-run or otherwise) was passed. The biggest difference between America as a whole and Detroit is that Detroit actually raised taxes to try and pay its bills. In 2010, the federal government embraced an alternative policy: debt monetization—simply printing money. Over the coming year, “quantitative easing” will cover approximately 75 percent of America’s projected deficit with funny money. It might work for a while, but history shows it will not end well. The Federal Reserve risks destroying the dollar to cover the social state, which means that ultimately America won’t just resemble Detroit, but Zimbabwe.
America’s Weakness Exposed America’s weakness and lack of will became all the more obvious in 2010. A massive dump of intelligence by WikiLeaks broadcast this weakness, as Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer noted, by demonstrating “the helplessness of a superpower that not only cannot protect its own secrets but shows the world that if you violate its secrets—massively, wantonly and maliciously—there are no consequences” (Dec. 3).
America’s broken will was also on display in its dealings with other nations. Take North Korea. It torpedoed a South Korean ship. The U.S. responded with delay and dithering. North Korea then shelled a South Korean island. The U.S. finally got around to holding joint military actions with the South. North Korea displayed stunning advances in nuclear technology to the world. The U.S. quickly forgot about it. These events made clearer than ever just how staunch is America’s refusal to confront North Korea, or its patron, China.
America’s collapse in will is directly connected to its moral slide, which was also clear to see. The U.S. struck down its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, a liberal procedure that allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they don’t indentify themselves as such. President Barak Obama said that his next target was the Defense of Marriage Act, a step toward making same-sex “marriage” legal around the country.
U.S.-Israel Ties Deteriorate
The historic alliance between the United States and Israel was rocked by diplomatic crisis this past year, and by all indications it will never be the same. In March, during a visit to Israel by Vice President Joseph Biden, Israel’s interior minister announced that construction of 1,600 housing in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem had been approved. The timing was awkward, but the Obama administration took the opportunity to launch a diplomatic assault against Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The president ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to upbraid Netanyahu, which she did during a much-publicized, 43-minute phone call. Later, a Clinton spokesman publicly questioned Israel’s seriousness with respect to the peace process. Netanyahu visited the U.S. later in the month to try to mend the diplomatic breach between the two countries. The trip, however, only further highlighted just how strained relations between the U.S. and Israel have become. The Israeli prime minister maintained his stance on the issue of “settlements,” getting a cold reception from Washington that included no photo ops and no official statements. The bond that once joined America and Israel has been shredded. Watch this relationship—and take note of who Israel turns to for help instead of the U.S.
Britain Surrenders Military Sovereignty
Britain announced drastic cuts to its military this year. The British military will shed 17,000 personnel; the army will lose 7,000 soldiers; 40 percent of its tanks and 35 percent of its artillery. The navy’s fleet of destroyers and frigates will shrink to 19. (In World War i Britain had over 300 destroyers alone, out of a fleet of nearly 600. After these cuts, the fleet will be smaller than it has been since the days of Henry viii.) The first of two new aircraft carriers, currently under construction, will be mothballed or even sold as soon as it is built. The Royal Navy’s 80-strong fleet of Harrier jump jets have been scrapped. This means the aircraft carriers will have—of all things—no jets to carry. New fighters won’t be available until 2020. Thus, these floating airbases will only be able to serve as helicopter pads and assist with humanitarian missions.
The drastic cuts means that Britain now has to look to other nations for its defense. On November 2, France and Britain signed up to share aircraft carriers; collaborate on technology for nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines; work together on cyberwarfare; and commit troops to a joint rapid reaction unit, among other things. So Britain now trusts its defense to France, which in recent times has been, at best, an unreliable ally. In the next year it will only get worse. Like everything else happening in Europe, Anglo-French military cooperation is certain to become prey to the encroachment of EU regulation and bureaucratization, and eventually subsumed wholly into the common European defense. The Bible prophesies that Britain will be double-crossed by its European “allies.” By putting its defense in Europe’s hands, Britain is setting itself up for a nasty defeat.
Spotlight on South Africa
South Africa spent over $2.5 million in preparation for August’s World Cup. It sought to present a clean, positive image to the world. But the truth is ugly. Since the end of the apartheid regime in 1994, the South African murder rate has skyrocketed from 5,100 to an astounding 43,000 people per year. More white farmers were murdered in South Africa in 2009 than have been killed in Zimbabwe since Robert Mugabe came to power. According to human rights group Actionaid, one quarter of South African women can expect to be raped at least once in their lifetime. Twelve percent of South Africa’s population has been diagnosed with aids, making the country home to the world’s greatest concentration of the disease. South Africa’s leaders are only exacerbating these problems by encouraging further violence. Last March, Julius Malema, the radical leader of the African National Congress Youth League, whipped up black university students into frenzy by repeatedly chanting, “Kill the Boer, kill the Boer” in a song at a rally. South Africa has become a nation ruled by the law of the Serengeti.
Weather Strikes Back
As 2010 winds down, eastern Australia drowns under floodwaters, millions are fleeing floods and landslides in Colombia and Venezuela, Europe shivers in a “big freeze,” and a “monster blizzard” has shut down America’s East Coast. A fitting conclusion to a wild year of deadly natural disasters. More than a quarter million people perished in earthquakes, heat waves, floods and other such events. “This was the year the Earth struck back,” wrote the Associated Press. AP noted that natural disasters claimed more lives in 2010 than terrorism has in the last 40 years combined. The vast majority of deaths came in the devastating Haiti earthquake last January. Deadly quakes also hit China, Indonesia, Chile and Turkey. A typical year sees 16 earthquakes of at least magnitude 7.0. This year—one of the most seismically violent in decades—saw 22. A weather system this summer swept through Asia that brought a killer heat wave to Russia and caused epic flooding in Pakistan. All told, that system claimed nearly 17,000 lives. Floods killed over 6,300 people in 59 nations, according to World Health Organization statistics through September. The world’s biggest reinsurer, Swiss Re, estimates that worldwide, such disasters cost three times more than in 2009, totaling nearly a quarter trillion dollars. After the deadliest year of disasters in a generation, scientists are looking for lessons, and some say it’s man’s fault. The Bible agrees—but for much different reasons. It’s not poor urban planning or carbon emissions that are most to blame. It is the fact that we have angered the being who has power over these destructive phenomena. Not until we learn that lesson can we expect the disasters to subside, and the Earth to be at peace.
After Midnight
Of course, these aren’t the only major events of the year. Mexico experienced its deadliest year yet on its war on drugs, with over 11,000 killed. That’s still not as many as the number of violent deaths in Venezuela in 2009: 20,000 according to a human rights group. By comparison, there were 4,644 civilian violent deaths in Iraq in 2009. In Congo, the UN’s largest peacekeeping force failed to prevent 500 rapes in July and August.
The events have 2010 have made the world a more dangerous place. Germany is reverting back to the warlike nature that has characterized its history. Iran is growing stronger and more belligerent. Russia and China are increasing in power. And the U.S. and UK are becoming ever weaker.
On the clock measuring this age of man, midnight is drawing near. Yet, though it may not seem like it, this is a blessing. Because that clock has to strike midnight before the world can move into the warmth and light of a new day.
The events of this year have brought us closer to an all-out nuclear war—a war that will come frightening close destroying every human on the planet. But there is hope after midnight.