Anniversary of Destruction of Dresden
As the Associated Press reported on February 13, 2005, “Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder warned Germans not to forget their Nazi past Sunday as far-right supporters rallied in Dresden on Sunday to protest a devastating Allied bombing in Second World War that killed an estimated 35,000 residents 60 years ago. Schroeder said the anniversary was an occasion for people everywhere to unite against the ‘inhumanity of war.’ But the rally – and fears of street clashes – cast a shadow over a day of remembrance and reflection on the U.S.-British air raids, which set off firestorms and destroyed the centuries-old city centre. ‘Today we grieve for the victims of war and the Nazi reign of terror in Dresden, in Germany and in Europe,’ [Schroeder] said in a statement. ‘We will oppose in every way these attempts to reinterpret history. We will not allow cause and effect to be reversed.'”
The article of The A.P. continued: “Some 5,000 far-right activists later rallied at the Saxony legislature and then marched through the city. Heading the march were leaders of the nationalist, anti-immigrant National Democratic party, which won seats in the legislature last fall. Dozens of marchers carried flaming torches and loudspeakers blared music by Richard Wagner, Hitler’s favourite composer. Banners described the attack as a ‘bomb Holocaust’ and said, ‘The day of revenge will come.’
“At least 4,500 people demonstrated against the far right, and police were out in force to keep the two sides apart. At dusk, residents in the old town lit 4,000 candles that were arranged to spell ‘This city is sick of neo-Nazis’ in Germany.”
According to the German press, including Bild Online and Der Spiegel Online, the number of those who demonstrated against the Neo-Nazis was FAR GREATER than the figures reported by the Associated Press. Bild Online stated that more than 50,000 (!) residents of the city of Dresden [not, as stated by The A.P., 4,500] demonstrated AGAINST the Neo-Nazis.
Chancellor Schroeder is absolutely right, when he warns against the abominable activities of Neo-Nazis in Germany; the re-writing of history; and the attempt to reverse cause and effect. He is also to be applauded for pointing out the inhumanity of war — ANY war! The Bible agrees with this assessment — war only leads to more war and terrible suffering, pain and death of many innocent people. The death of 35,000 civilians in Dresden 60 years ago is only one example of the many cases of history, which prove this point beyond the shadow of any doubt. And still — have we learned the lesson of history? Sadly, the answer is a resounding, NO! Man still thinks that war may solve ANYTHING — and so, we still hear of wars and of rumors of wars (compare Matthew 24:6). Paul’s words are still true today: “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:15-17).
Election Results in Iraq — Good or Bad?
As The Associated Press reported on February 13, 2005, “Clergy-backed Shiites and independence-minded Kurds swept to victory in Iraq’s landmark elections, propelling to power the groups that suffered the most under Saddam Hussein and forcing Sunni Arabs to the margins for the first time in modern history, according to final results released Sunday. But the Shiites’ 48 percent of the vote is far short of the two-thirds majority needed to control the 275-member National Assembly… Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the secular Shiite chosen by the United States to lead this country for the last eight turbulent months, fared POORLY – his ticket finishing a distant third behind the religious Shiites and Kurds. ..
“The election results highlighted the SHARP DIFFERENCES among Iraq’s ethnic, religious and cultural groups – many of whom fear domination not just by the Shiites, estimated at 60 percent of the population, but also by the Kurds, the most pro-American group with about 15 percent. The results also draw attention to the close and longtime ties between now-victorious Iraqi Shiite leaders and clerics in neighboring IRAN. The Shiite ticket owes its success to the support of Iraq’s clerics, including Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.”
In spite of the optimistic reactions to Iraq’s elections, the fact that the person supported by the US fared poorly; that the different groups in Iraq are sharply at odds with each other; and that the elected Iraqi Shiite leaders have close ties with Iran raises cause for concern regarding the future developments in Iraq.
Iran and the West
The Associated Press reported on February 13, 2005, that “Germany appealed Saturday for the United States to join Europe in ending Iran’s isolation, saying economic and security incentives were needed to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions… Germany, France and Britain are leading European efforts to persuade Iran to drop activities that could be used to develop nuclear weapons, and have been offering technical assistance and trade talks as incentives… The United States has worried Europeans by refusing to rule out military strikes if diplomacy fails. Washington has urged the Europeans to take a tougher line by threatening Tehran with U.N. sanctions.”
In a related article, The Associated Press reported on February 13, 2005, that “Iran rejected a European demand to stop building a heavy-water nuclear reactor that provides a simpler way of extracting weapons-grade fuel, and it warned the United States on Sunday ‘not to play with fire’ by repeatedly threatening Tehran. Iran has indicated previously it will keep its heavy-water reactor, but Sunday’s announcement that it will not replace it with a light-water reactor was the clearest statement yet of its nuclear plans and represented a hardening of its position… The statement underscored the unresolved differences between Iranian and European negotiators, who are continuing their talks over Iran’s nuclear program even as the United States escalates its criticism of Iran.”
It is interesting that it is, again, Germany, in alliance with France and Britain, which is taking a leading role on the world scene. It is also noteworthy that Europe (especially Germany and France) and the United States are, once more, in disagreement — in this case, as to how to deal with Iran. If European peace efforts fail (as the U.S. contended happened in the case of Iraq), will the U.S. once again pursue its course of action toward Iran without, or even against, the interests and concerns of the Europeans? The distinct possibility exists — and we are called upon to watch events like these, as they could very well lead to a further fulfillment of end-time prophecy.
NATO Forces in the Middle East?
The Associated Press reported on February 12, 2005, that “NATO should be ready to play a major role in supporting any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, if the two sides ask for its help, the alliance’s top diplomat [Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer] said Saturday… Also, German Defense Minister Peter Struck told the conference his country was ready to take part in any NATO peacekeeping mission in the region… In Munich, [Scheffer] underlined NATO’s long peacekeeping experience and its ability to bring together the United States – Israel’s close ally – and Europeans, who are perceived as closer to Palestinians… However, officials from France and some other European nations have expressed caution about entering the Middle East. Israeli officials are wary about bringing in a NATO force, and some Arab leaders have doubts about an alliance led by the United States… The EU’s foreign affairs chief, Javier Solana, also called for increased international assistance for the revived peace process, particularly by supporting the Israeli pull out from Gaza and aiding economic development for the Palestinians.”
The Bible prophesies that Jerusalem WILL BE surrounded by armies — in the future (compare Luke 21:20, 22, 24). We also know from Scripture that it will be a mighty European military force, under German leadership, which will enter the Middle East, perhaps with the declared goal to create or maintain peace in the region. The present discussion, as reported in the quoted article, is therefore worth observing.
As RFE/RL reported on February 14, 2005, “German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder surprised participants at an international security conference over the weekend by suggesting the NATO alliance is outdated. Speaking through Germany’s defense minister [Peter Struck], Schroeder [who did not attend the meeting] told the meeting in the German city of Munich that NATO no longer is the main vehicle for setting trans-Atlantic strategy… ‘[NATO] is no longer the primary place where trans-Atlantic partners consult and coordinate their strategic ideas,’ Struck said. ‘The same goes for the dialogue between the European Union and the United States, which in its present form does not correspond with the growing weight of the alliance or the new challenges of trans-Atlantic cooperation.’… Schroeder’s comments came as a shock. Several European and U.S. delegates [including U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld] told the conference they regretted Schroeder was not present to explain his remarks. Struck said he was not in a position to do so but added that it was not Schroeder’s intention to put NATO in the grave but to improve international cooperation. [Struck] began by saying circumstances in both Europe and the United States had changed with the end of the Cold War and Europe wanted to be more deeply involved in decision-making.”
Whether or not Chancellor Schroeder’s comments are “premature,” the Bible clearly reveals that in the future, NATO will indeed lose more and more importance and influence, and it will be replaced by a powerful European power bloc, which will be ultimately at odds with the United States.
Assassination in Lebanon
As The Associated Press reported on February 15, 2005, “An angry mob attacked Syrian workers in southern Lebanon Tuesday and another group threw stones and set fires outside a Syrian government office in Beirut, blaming Damascus for the bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria has denied any involvement in Hariri’s assassination, which raised fears that Lebanon might revert to the political violence of the 1970s and ’80s, and the U.S. Embassy in Beirut warned Americans in the Lebanese capital to exercise extreme caution. Condemnation and expressions of shock came from around the Arab world and beyond. The United States called Monday’s attack ‘a terrible reminder’ that Lebanon still must shake free of occupation by Syria, which maintains 15,000 troops [there]… since the civil war ended in 1990 and has the final say in internal Lebanese politics. Before his assassination, Hariri had positioned himself in opposition to a faction more solidly backed by Syria.”