Europe Gets Involved in the Middle East…
The EUObserver wrote on January 2 that “Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told national TV on Thursday (1 January)… ‘It is up to the European Union to take over the initiative [on the Middle East]…'”
… But May Have Little Success–For Now!
Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 5:
“Europe is trying to step into a diplomatic vacuum left by the US… because the government in Washington is in limbo for the coming two weeks until President George W. Bush formally hands power over to Barack Obama. But Europe’s many envoys are a hindrance to each other, German media say…
“Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… This chaos won’t result in any order, let alone lead to peace. In the Middle East, strength is what counts…’
“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘… The chances of the EU [of] mediating successfully between the Israelis and Palestinians are already poor, but the chances of the Czech presidency doing so are virtually zero…'”
How divided, bumbling and INCONSISTENT the politics of certain European countries are–especially the Czech Republic and France–can be seen in the following article by the EUObserver, dated January 5:
“The Czech EU presidency this weekend retracted its support for Israel amid the ground attack on Gaza, while France switched its criticism from Israel to Hamas… ‘Even the undisputable right of the state to defend itself does not allow actions which largely affect civilians,’ [the Czech government said]… Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who last week complained about Israel’s disproportionate use of force, laid the lion’s share of blame on Hamas in an interview on Monday.”
The article continued to report about growing anger amongst “ordinary Europeans.” It stated:
“Pro-Palestinian marchers took to the streets of the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Austria, Sweden, Poland, Greece and Cyprus, with reports of skirmishes outside Israeli embassies. In Paris, 20,000 people marched in support of the Palestinians on Saturday, while a crowd of 12,000 showed its solidarity with Israel on Sunday.
“Pro-Palestinian protests also took place in Turkey, Iran, Syria, India and Lebanon, with Israel tightening security on its northern border amid fears that Lebanese militants Hezbollah may fire rockets in the coming days.”
All of this shows Europe’s DESIRE to become the world’s policeman. However, Europe is still divided, and therefore, Europeans realize that a STRONG European leader with REAL powers would be necessary to fill the vacuum left by the USA. Bible prophecy reveals that such a STRONG European leader will arrive soon. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”
Will America Stab Israel in the Back?
The New York Post wrote on January 1:
“As world leaders and international organizations rush to rescue Hamas, Israel faces complex battlefield challenges – while fearing a stab in the back from the incoming Obama administration…
“Even the timing of Israel’s strike at Hamas has been driven, at least in part, by the coming power transfer in Washington. The immediate trigger was the hundreds of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel after the terrorists refused to renew an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, but Israel’s leaders also counted on steadfast support from the Bush administration in its final days.
“Obama’s an unknown quantity, though. While hysterical claims that he’ll be pro-Islamist from start to finish are absurd, even minor shifts away from supporting Israel’s struggle against terrorists could have catastrophic consequences. And Israel’s vaunted intelligence services can’t tell their superiors what Obama will do, since few (if any) of the president-elect’s supporters know what he intends to do.
“In fact, the president-elect may not know himself. He’s a babe in the woods, and the woods are full of wolves. Fighting political rivals doesn’t prepare you for fighting terrorist fanatics… his all-too-coy insistence that ‘we have only one president at a time’ has been selective from the start. Glad to pontificate on stimulus packages and union benefits, Obama has used the one-president mantra to avoid taking stands on difficult issues that bedevil or bewilder him.
“Our president-elect needed to make a clear, prompt statement in support of Israel. He didn’t. If I were an Israeli leader, I’d be worried, too. Obama [is] notorious for avoiding firm stands that might alienate any important constituency. But you can’t have it both ways in the Middle East. He needs to stand up in support of Israel. Now. Israeli soldiers should not have to go into battle worrying about an American bullet in the back.”
The Deafening Silence of Barack Obama
The Times wrote on January 2:
“As the new year begins to the depressingly familiar noise of war in the Middle East, a pregnant silence is all that can be heard from Barack Obama… The whole world is waiting impatiently for Mr Obama to start making good on his promise of change. Of all the issues that have separated the US from the rest of the world during the Bush presidency, the Israeli-Palestinian one might span the largest chasm.
“Europeans and Arabs have simply not been able to believe at times the virtually unyielding pro-Israel line that the US has taken since 2001, whether over Jewish settlements, Ariel Sharon’s security fence, the war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 or the present fighting with Hamas, or on any number of lesser but pointed issues.
“There are lingering hopes in Europe and much of the Middle East (suspicions in some parts of America) that the new president will seek to rebalance US policy. No one really thinks that Mr Obama is about to ‘get tough’ with the Israelis… a sharp change in direction in the Middle East is not going to be high on the new President’s agenda.
“The challenges confronting him – put simply, rescuing the US economy from a possible depression and winning wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – won’t leave much time for eye-catching new initiatives on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And that’s before he has to decide how to deal with the emerging Iranian nuclear threat.”
A Jewish Rabbi’s Grief for Gaza
On January 5, The Times published the following editorial by Rabbi Michael Lerner:
“Israel’s attempt to wipe out Hamas is understandable, but stupid. No country in the world is going to ignore the provocation of rockets being launched from neighbouring territory day after day. If Mexico had a group of anti-imperialists bombing Texas, imagine how long it would take for America to mobilise a counterattack. Israel has every right to respond.
“But the kind of response matters. Killing 500 Palestinians and wounding 2,000 others (at the time of writing) is disproportionate. Hamas can harass, but it cannot pose any threat to the existence of Israel. And just as Hamas’s indiscriminate bombing of population centres is a crime against humanity, so is Israel’s killing of civilians (at least 130 so far in Gaza, not to mention the thousands in the years of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza)…
“How do we get out of this destructive spiral? The first step is for the world to demand an immediate ceasefire. That ceasefire should be imposed by the United Nations and backed unequivocally by America…
“It breaks my heart to see the terrible suffering in Gaza and in Israel. As a religious Jew I find it all the worse, because it confirms to me how easy it is to pervert the loving message of Judaism into a message of hatred and domination. I remain in mourning for the Jewish people, for Israel and for the world.”
Civilians Suffer the Most in Israel’s Proxy War Against Iran
Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 5:
“Israel hopes to critically weaken Hamas with its attacks in the Gaza Strip. Governments in the West and even in the Arab world can understand Israel’s aims, but civilians are the ones suffering the most from the bombardment. How much bloody retribution is legitimate?…
“What happened in Lebanon two years ago and is happening in Gaza today can also be seen as a proxy war — as operations against Iran’s spiritual little brothers, who deny Israel’s right to exist…
“The Arab world is divided more than ever in its position toward the war between the Israelis and Hamas. Egyptian President Mubarak blames the Hamas leaders for the attacks… Most Arab governments feel antipathy toward the mullah regime in Iran, which seeks to develop itself into a hegemonial power in the region. But their populations are enthusiastic about Tehran’s aggressive rhetoric, such as the words of the Iranian revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: ‘Can there be a catastrophe greater than the behavior of the Muslim states who strengthen the Zionist regime?’
“The hero of the Arab street is Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.”
EU Warns Israel Is Destroying Its Image
The EUObserver wrote on January 7:
“Pressure to obtain a ceasefire in Gaza has been mounting, with the EU warning Israel it was ‘destroying’ its image, while Israeli forces on Tuesday (6 January) killed at least 40 people during an attack on a United Nations-run school in Gaza… The bombing has drawn international condemnation, with the EU calling it “completely unacceptable’… The Israeli military however argued Hamas fighters had fired mortar shells at their forces from the school and they had to return fire…
“‘We have come to Israel in order to advance the initiative for a humanitarian ceasefire and I will tell you, Mr President, that you have a serious problem with international advocacy, and that Israel’s image is being destroyed,’ EU foreign affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told Israeli President Shimon Peres during the visit of an EU delegation in the region.
“But Mr Peres retorted that Israel was fighting other wars and a public image one was not among them. ‘Europe must open its eyes. We are not in the business of public relations or improving our image. We are fighting against terror, and we have every right to defend our citizens,’ he told an EU ministerial delegation…”
“EU Must Stop to Support Israel”
Deutsche Welle reported on January 7:
“The European Union must put all hopes of building a closer relationship with Israel on hold until the fighting in the Gaza Strip ends, a group of leading aid agencies said Wednesday… It would be ‘inconceivable’ for the EU to work for closer ties with Israel at a time when the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has been ‘pushed to crisis point’ by Israel’s assault on the salient, the statement by groups including Oxfam and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said…
“On June 16, the EU accepted an Israeli request to upgrade bilateral cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, environmental protection and research. However, in December the bloc stressed that that cooperation should include working towards a peaceful settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Given Israel’s massive offensive against the Islamic group Hamas, which the EU lists as a terrorist organization, the 11 aid agencies who signed the statement demanded that the upgrade be put on hold. Instead, ‘the EU must now apply real pressure to convince Israeli and Hamas leaders to accept (a truce) and redouble its efforts to achieve sustainable peace in the region,’ Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International, said.”
Will Germany Send Troops to Gaza?
Deutsche Welle reported on January 7:
“There have also been calls by politicians for German peacekeepers to be sent to Gaza. Eckart von Klaeden, a foreign policy spokesman in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said the use of German troops was feasible but they must have ‘robust’ powers. However, government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the discussion about sending German troops in blue UN helmets was premature.”
“Attack on Israel from Lebanon Threatens 2nd Front”
The Associated Press reported on January 8:
“Lebanese militants fired at least three rockets into Israel early Thursday, threatening to open a new front for the Jewish state as it pushed forward with a bloody offensive in the Gaza Strip that has killed nearly 700 people. Two people were lightly injured, and the rockets that exploded in Israel’s north raised the specter of renewed hostilities with Hezbollah…”
Deutsche Welle added on January 8 that “Hezbollah has denied firing” these rockets.
Germany’s Interests in Iran May Necessitate U.S. Military Action
Deutsche Welle reported on January 2:
“A US think tank has warned that diplomacy would not stop Iran’s nuclear program and that harsher sanctions against Tehran should be adopted, a move that could drive a wedge between the White House and Germany.
“… a new round of sanctions risks magnifying the diverging interests between the US and its allies such as Germany, which still has firm financial connections with Iranian banks and which continues to do business with the Islamic republic of around 70 million inhabitants. In fact, some 75 percent of all medium and small businesses in Iran use German-made equipment… In November, the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce met in Hamburg to discuss the UN sanctions and how they could affect German firms doing business in the Islamic country. Some of the advice included ways of obtaining German government guarantees for trade with Tehran… The reaction to this in the US has been one of growing anger, particularly in the conservative press.
“‘Germany loves Iran,’ the Wall Street Journal said in a commentary by editorial writer Dan Schwammenthal. He pointed out that German-Iranian trade had increased 14.1 percent in the first seven months of 2008. Germany, he said, was less worried about an Iranian nuclear bomb than it was about tighting [sic] sanctions that could negatively affect trade between the two countries.
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly emphasized Germany’s special responsibility to protect Israel. She insists that Germany is only obliged to obey the UN sanctions and will not undertake any further unilateral action against Iran at this time. Thus, Iranian banks such as the government-owned Melli and Saderat banks — which have been accused by Washington of funding terrorists and weapons research — do flourishing business in Germany…
“With such vested interests, it is a matter of debate among conservative thinkers as to whether a peaceful solution can be found to the Iranian question. Phillips, the Middle East expert, noted the years-long efforts by Europeans as part of talks involving Germany, Britain and France have showed [sic] that negotiations bring nothing. He added that the situation was not helped by the fact that, for example, the German government still undertook credit guarantees for Iranian business…
“As for the role of the Europeans in a new sanctions effort, many US analysts believe that they are more worried about keeping the US from invading Iran than they are about Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.”
War Between USA and Iran–“Sooner Than You Think”?
Newsmax.com reported on January 8 about Iran expert Kenneth R. Timmerman’s publication, “Six Days to War,” which lays out the scenario likely to unfold if the U.S. and Iran go to war. It was stated:
“In Timmerman’s report you’ll find out why ‘Six Days to War’ could happen sooner than you think — as many American assets are already ‘in position’ for an attack… As the Bush administration ratchets up the pressure, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs says the military option is still on the table and warns Iran that the U.S. can launch massive strikes using Navy and Air power.
“The new American commander in the region, Gen. David Petraeus, has also told Congress that Iran is supporting Iraqi insurgents killing Americans. President Bush said in a White House address that Iran, along with al-Qaida, are ‘two of the greatest threats to America.’
“Timmerman’s report on the looming war with Iran is based on sources including top Israeli intelligence officers, military and political leaders interviewed in Israel and Washington, D.C., and a key planning document… developed by the Iranian navy.”
The Success of the Euro
Welt-On-Line wrote on January 2:
“The introduction of the euro a decade ago may be the most successful product to date of European integration. Now used by sixteen countries -with the addition of Slovakia on Jan. 1- and 325 million people, the users and guardians of the euro have reason for optimism for a stable currency over the next ten years.
“The Eurozone, the sixteen-nation group of countries now using the common European currency, may be in recession, with the worst of the global financial crisis yet to come; but experts agree that without the euro, the financial situation of its users would be worse still.
“Introduced into world financial markets and for accounting purposes on Jan. 1, 1999, the euro and its caretaker, the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, can now look back over ten years of contributing to the comparatively stable economic conditions prevailing in continental Europe.
“Perhaps the most significant flattery as the euro turns ten comes from that Euroskeptic nation par excellence, Great Britain, where some commentators are now wondering aloud whether adopting the euro (and ditching the age-old symbol of British financial prowess, the pound) would be a boon to the country’s economic future. But despite the pound’s nearing parity with the euro at the New Year, and a comment by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso that the UK is ‘closer than ever before’ to entering the Eurozone, such a move does not appear imminent.
“Not surprisingly, it was first British, then American observers who predicted the failure of the currency… Today, even those Britons most adamantly opposed to merging with ‘Euroland’, as it is derisively called there, would be hard pressed to argue that the euro has failed. On the contrary, adopting the euro has not only provided a stable currency for its users; it has also become the world’s second most popular currency reserve. Though the dollar remains king, representing two-thirds of all reserves compared to the euro’s one-quarter, some have suggested that this relationship might be reversed in the future.
“… it is hard to underestimate the importance of the stability provided by the single currency, especially in times of turmoil such as the present. The main strength of the euro is the solidity that comes with the vast size of the European economy standing behind it. This powerful economy strengthens the euro, while the prudent monetary policy of the ECB helps strengthen the economy in general.
“Thus it looks likely that the benefits of the currency will continue to attract European countries not yet members of the Eurozone. Denmark, which has already rejected the euro twice, is considering a third referendum which would likely pass. Eight eastern European countries and Sweden are required by the conditions of their membership in the EU to adopt the common currency sooner or later. The stalwart UK may hold on to its exemption negotiated into the Maastricht Treaty for now…”
The Euro–a Milestone of European Unification
Time Magazine wrote on January 1:
“Europe’s single currency has come of age early. The euro turns 10 on Jan. 1, a milestone for one of the most powerful symbols of European identity…
“It’s a remarkable achievement for a currency whose only global rival is the U.S. dollar. The greenback has more than two centuries of history behind it. But it wasn’t until Jan. 1, 1999 that 11 E.U. countries locked their national currencies together into a fixed exchange rate. Three years later, physical coins and notes became available, replacing national cash in a massive changeover operation.
“The euro zone is now 15 members large and has a combined population of about 320 million. However, many more people are directly affected by the currency, from would-be members whose money is already pegged to it, to countries like Montenegro and Kosovo, whose effective national currency is the euro. France’s former African colonies also peg their common currency to Europe’s. That means about 500 million people rely on the euro or euro-pegged currencies…”
Consider what might just be in our near future–the total collapse of the dollar. The US government is proposing spending at such an alarming level that it seems even the average Joe is beginning to question things (Compare our next article, “The Ever-Climbing American Debt”).
However, too many think that the things happening on such a wide front are just hic-ups and the normal ups and downs of a country’s fortunes. The truth is that events of the current moment are absolutely unprecedented! For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
Russia Is At It Again…
The Independent wrote on January 7:
“Fears of a deep chill spread across Europe yesterday after a row between Russia and Ukraine over gas prices cut supplies to the rest of the continent on a day of plummeting temperatures and heavy snowfalls. The European Union said the situation was ‘completely unacceptable’ as thousands of businesses were urged to switch fuels, and households struggled to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures. But there was no sign of an end to the standoff between Russia’s energy monopoly Gazprom and Ukraine, locked in battle since New Year’s Day.
“Gazprom stopped pumping gas to Ukraine for domestic consumption on 1 January after the two countries failed to agree on a fixed price for 2009. The pipelines that cross Ukraine also carry gas to Europe but that continued to flow, until Moscow accused Ukraine of siphoning off Europe’s fuel and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin retaliated by ordering Gazprom to cut EU-bound exports by the amount being stolen.
“Yesterday Russia stopped gas supplies through Ukraine to Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia. The government of Slovakia declared a national emergency; Austria and Italy reported falls of 90 per cent; France said Russian supplies had tailed off 70 per cent, and Germany also reported a decline although did not quantify it.
“The Czech Republic, which took over the EU presidency this month, had sharp words for Moscow… In Bulgaria, the government has declared a ‘crisis situation’. The country not only has the lowest GDP per capita in the EU, but relies on Russia for all of its gas… Most European countries say they have enough gas in storage to cover at least a few weeks of disruption. The 27-nation EU gets about a quarter of its gas from Russia, of which 80 per cent is pumped through Ukraine.”
Deutsche Welle added on January 7:
“The EU warns Russia and Ukraine that they face long-term consequences unless they immediately resolve a dispute that has cut gas supplies to Europe…”
The Ever-Climbing American Debt
The Washington Post wrote on January 3:
“With President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats considering a massive spending package aimed at pulling the nation out of recession, the national debt is projected to jump by as much as $2 trillion this year, an unprecedented increase…[U.S.]
“As of yesterday, the debt stood at nearly $10.7 trillion, of which about $4.3 trillion is owed to other government institutions, such as the Social Security trust fund. Debt held by private investors totals nearly $6.4 trillion, or a little over 40 percent of gross domestic product.
“According to the most recent figures, foreign investors held about $3 trillion in U.S. debt at the end of October. China, which in October replaced Japan as the United States’ largest creditor, has increased its holdings by 42 percent over the past year; Britain and the Caribbean banking countries more than doubled their holdings.
“[U.S.] Economists from across the political spectrum have endorsed the idea of going deeper into debt to combat what many call the most dangerous economic conditions since the Great Depression.”
“Investors Dump $89B in U.S. Securities in Historic Fire Sale”
Even though foreign investors hold huge debts in the USA, many begin to manifest their concern about the faltering U.S. economy by dumping their U.S. investments. USA Today wrote on January 5:
“As the global financial crisis grew more severe this summer, foreigners sold almost $90 billion of U.S. securities — the greatest quarterly fire sale by overseas investors since the government began keeping track in 1960. U.S. investors also are retrenching; they unloaded about $85 billion worth of foreign holdings in the quarter…
“In the first quarter of 2008, foreigners deposited more than $79 billion with U.S. banks. That flow reversed in the second quarter, as foreigners withdrew a staggering $256 billion, and the outflow continued in the third quarter with an additional $147 billion… ‘Institutional investors, including banks, across the board are pulling their capital back home,’ says economist Eswar Prasad of the Brookings Institution.”
US Wants to Send 20,000 to 30,000 More Troops to Afghanistan
As if America’s experience with the ill-conceived Iraq war wasn’t bad enough, we are now advised that American troops are to be increased in Afghanistan. However, Afghanistan has also been a total failure for American endeavors, and nothing indicates that a huge increase of U.S. troops will bring any solutions. In fact, the opposite for American interests and its prestige around the world may be the result.
The Associated Press reported on January 2:
“The U.S. is preparing to pour at least 20,000 extra troops into southern Afghanistan to cope with a Taliban insurgency… Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that Afghanistan could get up to 30,000 new U.S. troops in 2009… The infusion of U.S. power risks Americanizing a war that until now has been a shared mission of 41 coalition countries… In Canada and many European countries [including Germany], governments face low public support for keeping troops in Afghanistan combat zones.”
Violence in Mexico
The San Diego Union Tribune wrote on January 2:
“[Mexico’s border city with the USA] Tijuana marked its bloodiest year in 2008, with 843 killings, more than twice 2007’s total of 337… among the dead were children, spouses, co-workers and neighbors of suspected gang members who became caught in the [gangs’] crossfire. Also among the dead were 38 law enforcement agents from municipal, state and federal agencies. Authorities link some to organized crime, but say others were killed in the line of duty.
“Mexican authorities say that the killers are typically between 18 and 25, members of broken families lured by easy money into a life of crime, recruited in Tijuana and other parts of Mexico. They belong to a new generation of criminals…
“Drug-related violence has surged across Mexico, with 5,207 deaths in 2008 linked to organized crime, more than twice the 2007 total of 2,275… And while the violence is in Mexico, the problem is binational… It is the demand of U.S. consumers that drives the violence, and weapons from the United States that are used to carry it out…”