Current Events

Germany and the United States

On September 22, 2003, Der Spiegel Online published a very insightful lengthy article on the German-American relationship. The article was titled, “Schroeder’s New Center,” discussing the German Chancellor’s search for a “German direction” in foreign policy. The article, which was published only days before Mr. Schroeder’s visit with President Bush, pointed out the following:

“There is hardly a region that escapes [German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s] interest, particularly as German troops are currently serving in EIGHT countries… So far no consistent foreign policy discernible to the man on the street has emerged from the loose ends of Schröder’s various activities. Unlike former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer with his connection to the West, Willy Brandt with his reconciliation with the East, or Helmut Kohl, who was a clear proponent of Germany unity, the current German head of state is still searching for solid ground… Although Schröder wishes to embody a ‘self-confidence without arrogance’ to serve the interests of an enlarged Germany, his approach so far has been characterized by questions:

“Just how much of a friendship with France can the German-American relationship tolerate? Could the close ties within Europe that Schröder currently values so highly isolate him worldwide as well as on the continent?
“What will become of German-British relations, as difficult as they are important? In light of growing British skepticism about the Euro and a pronounced anti-war mood in Germany, where does future common ground lie? Should the expansion of the European court system be advanced without London, given the fact that every EU convention only serves to widen the rift between the continent and the island kingdom?

“Added to all of this is the complicated relationship with the United States, that stubborn and often self-loving world power, without which neither NATO nor the UN can survive. Even Schröder knows that the cool relations of the recent past cannot be allowed to continue. However, a return to the old German-American friendship is also UNLIKELY… [About] 60 percent of the EU population feels that the UN and NATO represent the strongest guarantees of German security – well ahead of the United States, which only 38 percent of respondents felt was capable of guaranteeing German security… Germans are essentially in favor of a course diverging from that taken by Washington… [Two-thirds] were even in favor of Europe becoming a ‘counterweight’ to America…

“A German delegation visiting the White House heard Condoleeza Rice, the President’s powerful National Security Advisor, utter a sentence they had not expected to hear for some time: ‘OUR RELATIONS WITH GERMANY ARE OUR CENTRAL RELATIONS WITH EUROPE.’… Schröder, until recently an unwelcome guest in Washington, seems to be making an effort to tone down his cockiness. He knows that his sudden popularity is not a result of his own performance, but rather of the poor fortunes of the Americans, who have managed to get themselves into an untenable situation in Iraq and are now desperately seeking partners… [In] Berlin last Thursday, Chirac loudly and enthusiastically proclaimed that the GERMAN-FRENCH PARTNERSHIP represents ‘the FUTURE of our people and OF EUROPE,’ then promptly moved closer to his German partner…”

Before addressing the United Nations and meeting with Gerhard Schroeder, President Bush stated that he understands the German resistance to the war with Iraq, since the “Germans are fundamentally pacifists” (Der Spiegel Online, September 23, 2003; Die Welt, September 24, 2003). This questionable assessment, judging by the long history of the German peoples, was undoubtedly prompted by Mr. Bush’s wish to normalize the American-German relationship and to gain support from Mr. Schroeder. Before meeting with Mr. Schroeder, President Bush spoke on September 23, 2003, to the United Nations, following U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s address, who had “criticized Bush’s ‘pre-emptive’ attack on Iraq” (USA Today, September 24, 2003). Reactions to President Bush’s speech were overwhelmingly negative — both in the U.S. and abroad.

The “Tages-Anzeiger” in Switzerland commented, “The United Sates are not able to stabilize Iraq. Bush wants financial and military help from the world community. At the same time, he does not want to… admit mistakes… Under those conditions, he will not get much support.”

The “Financial Times” in London stated that President Bush did not show an inkling of repentance, when talking about the right of the US to act alone. The paper also pointed out that he did not clarify that he would not go alone again — and that is what the world fears the most.

“de Volkskrant” in The Netherlands commented that Mr. Bush “presented a picture of a powerful president over a powerful country, who is standing more and more alone.”

The “Washington Post” pointed out that President Bush missed an important chance to gather international support in a decisive matter.

After his speech, President Bush and Chancellor Schroeder met for 45 minutes on September 24 — the first meeting between the two leaders in 16 months. They were accompanied by Colin Powell and Joschka Fischer. After the meeting, both leaders declared that they had left any differences behind, and that they both wanted to look into the future together. These declarations should not prompt one to think that from now on, everything will be fine between the two countries. Der Spiegel Online stated on September 24, 2003, that there was little agreement between the two leaders in regard to the issues. “Schroeder continues to consider Bush’s Iraq policy as wrong,” the magazine pointed out.

After the meeting with President Bush, Chancellor Schroeder addressed the United Nations. Reuters reports:

“German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder appealed Wednesday for a DECISIVE ROLE FOR THE UNITED NATIONS in the reconstruction of Iraq but softened past differences with the United States…. Schroeder said Germany was prepared to provide humanitarian, technical and economic aid and train the Iraqi security forces. Berlin has ruled out sending its own troops… [Schroeder] warned against states going it alone in crises and said the United Nations’ monopoly on the use of force must be strengthened… Schroeder also said the International Criminal Court, which the United States strongly opposes, was an important instrument of global justice against war crimes… Schroeder spelled out Germany’s ambition to win a permanent seat on the Security Council… ‘On behalf of Germany, I repeat that we are prepared to take on more responsibility in the framework of such a reform,’ he said.”

He who has ears to hear, let him hear…

The Jesus Box–Fact or Fake?

The scientific discussion regarding the genuineness of the “Jesus Box” continues. Christianity Today published in its October 2003 (Vol. 47, No. 10, page 42) edition an insightful article by Ben Witherington, professor of the New Testament, titled, “Bones of Contention — Why I still think the James bone box is likely to be authentic.”

In the lengthy article, the following was stated:
“The press conference of the Israeli Antiquities Authority was announced with much fanfare, and headlines went out around the world — JAMES OSSUARY DECLARED HOAX, INSCRIPTION SAID TO BE CERTAINLY A MODERN FORGERY… Two months later, as I am writing this, only a summary of the findings has been released (though it is called a ‘final report’). One must wonder why the IAA is holding back the data, when the commission finished its work nearly three months ago… Something is rotten in Jerusalem, and this whole investigation begins to look more and more political… No internationally known scholars on this commission were from anywhere outside Israel. Nor were there any Christian scholars on this commission, even though some outstanding ones live in Jerusalem. Christian participation would have assured us that theological agendas were not at play…

“There are serious problems with a self-chosen body like the IAA commission, especially when several of the members on the commission spoke publicly against the authenticity of the ossuary inscription before they conducted scientific tests on it… it is simply mind-boggling that the IAA can be so confident that the inscription cuts through the patina on the ossuary, when the Toronto team (which also examined the letters carefully under electron microscope) says it does not… There are some glaring omissions in the summary report… Why has the IAA ignored the data presented by other scholars?… I am still convinced the inscription is likely to be genuine, and will be vindicated as even further study and testing is done. In the meantime, let the scholarly debate continue, and let no one think that the IAA report is anything like the definitive word on this issue….”

Canadian Christians Accused of Hate Crimes?

Christianity Today published an article on September 15, 2002, reporting that the Canadian House of Commons “passed a bill adding sexual orientation to the country’s hate-propaganda law.” The bill must still pass the Canadian Senate and be given royal assent. The article continued, “‘Canadians who are speaking out against the redefinition of marriage are already being accused of “hate” speech by homosexual activists,’ Canada Family Action Coalition executive director Brian Rushfeldt told The Vancouver Sun. ‘[Under C-250,] the activists will begin to insist on prosecution to silence their critics with criminal sanctions.’… Under the law, promotion of hatred is punishable by up to five years in prison.”

Saudi Arabia and Nuclear Weapons

“Saudis consider nuclear bomb,” according to the headline of an article published by The Guardian in the U.K., dated September 18. The article pointed out, “Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons, the Guardian has learned. This new threat of proliferation in one of the most dangerous regions of the world comes on top of a crisis over Iran’s alleged nuclear programme.”

These and similar announcements serve as a reminder that we will yet see a mighty and unified power bloc emerge as described in the Bible as the King of the South. This will happen despite all the good intentions of the US and its allies to “fix” the Middle East with Western Democracy.

The Vatican and the World

Zenit reported on September 21 that “the Holy See would be prepared to become a full member of the United Nations, says the Vatican’s secretary of state [Cardinal Angelo Sodano]… Currently, the Holy See is a permanent observer of the United Nations, which allows it to address meetings called by that organization. But it has no voting power. Since 1978, the Holy See has established diplomatic relations with 82 countries, INCREASING THE TOTAL NUMBER TO 174… ‘Papal sovereignty in the international realm is not determined by its temporal power,’ [Sodano] said.”

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