Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pirates Expose Shocking Shifts in Naval Power

December 17, 2008 | From

Revelations about three nations have emerged from events off the Horn of Africa.

Pirates are making headlines. And though their criminal acts might seem to belong to a dim past, they’re revealing some shocking truths about our 21st-century world.

That they are exposing the staggering lack of willpower in the world’s most powerful navy, we have already written. Stephen Flurry recently wrote about an astonishing example, in which Somalia pirates captured an oil tanker bound for America. The U.S. Navy knows where the ship is; it even has UN permission to chase it down. On top of that, as a retired Marine general put it, “the Navy would love to do it.” Only trouble is, he says, “there’s no stomach for it right now” (emphasis mine throughout).

The pirates are hearing that message loud and clear. They have since audaciously attacked an American cruise ship, one of 30 vessels they’ve gone after in just two months. They know good and well America has “no stomach” to stop them.

Biblical prophecy says this is exactly what would happen.

America’s broken will, however, isn’t the only prophetically relevant revelation emerging from these acts of piracy. It is also worth evaluating what is happening within two other nations in particular: Germany and Britain.

Germany’s response has been almost precisely opposite to America’s. The whole nation is up in arms. It is charging to the forefront of a European Union move to use piracy as justification for dramatically stepping up its naval power.

Last week, Europe’s foreign ministers launched the EU’s first-ever naval intervention, called Operation Atalanta. It is a huge step forward for the European Security and Defense Policy, a major instrument in giving Europe a unified military identity distinct from nato. In fact, Operation Atalanta will take over some of the anti-piracy duties that nato is already doing.

For some time, the German military has wanted to expand its authority to hunt pirates on the high seas, but has been hindered by legal constraints. Operation Atalanta circumvents these legal obstacles, since Germany’s constitution allows for such military activity within the context of a “system of collective security.” “The ‘robust’ operation that the German Navy has been hoping for, for so long, is now within reach,” says.

Berlin has approved deploying German warships to support the effort, granting them permission to fire in order to repel attacks. Still, military officials say Atalanta’s mandate is not broad enough, and they are asking for more: the authority to aggressively pursue pirates. These hawks have plenty of supporters in the German government. “Merely escorting ships is not enough. We must actively fight the pirates and above all take away their ships,” said Bundestag Defense Committee member Rainer Stinner. “There has to be a serious option to attack,” said Ulrike Merten, who heads the committee. The press and public agree. “Nearly unanimously, the media [are] calling for the Bundeswehr to operate as ‘robustly’ as possible against the pirates” (ibid.).

The situation is showing just how much the German public has overcome its skittishness about taking military action.

We’ve been watching Germany milk this same stratagem for years. Using a unified Europe as its cloak, and pointing to rising global security needs—some of which have been of its own making—Germany has gradually restored its legitimacy as a military power. You will be able to continue tracking this trend in the time ahead, as reasons for Berlin to expand its armed forces and increase its deployments multiply.

The prophetic significance of this development won’t be lost on our regular readers, nor even on students of Germany’s military history.

But perhaps most astonishing—particularly in light of Britain’s military history—has been the United Kingdom’s response to the Somalian piracy.

It appears Britain couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of joining Europe’s effort to fight Somali pirates, particularly since a Briton will be captaining it. “This initiative clearly demonstrates the EU’s determination to combat these criminal acts,” said Rear Adm. Phil Jones, whom the EU tapped to command the action. “It is also something of a privilege for the UK to be asked to lead such a milestone operation and it is an important step in reassuring the international shipping community that something is being done to protect our maritime interests.”

Here are a few reasons why that statement is so appalling.

Britain has already been fighting pirates off the coast of Somalia. Its frigate hms Cumberland has been deployed there under the nato umbrella. But it and three other nato vessels will now be replaced by the EU’s Operation Atalanta, including Britain’s hms Northumberland.

In essence, then, Britain is exchanging one frigate for another, expressly for the “privilege” of sailing for the first time under an EU flag, subject to EU political control!

In lieu of backing the Atlantic alliance, Britain is supporting the EU’s vainglorious effort to forge its own military identity—one that European leaders have openly stated is intended to check the power of Britain’s strongest ally, the United States. The UK acts like it can play both sides, but this approach is destined to hurt it in the end.

Yet here is where the story gets far worse.

Britain can hardly spare an extra ship. hms Northumberland is one of only seven British warships capable of deployment right now.

This frigate is actually being diverted to the Horn of Africa for Operation Atalanta—a mission to benefit Germany primarily. Before this came up, hms Northumberland was ready to head for the South Atlantic for six months—in order to secure the Falkland Islands.

Guess what happened the last time Britain reduced its naval presence there? It withdrew the ice patrol vessel hms Endurance from the seas around the Falklands in 1982. The Argentine military took the opportunity to invade. The Falklands War resulted.

The Falklands are a highly strategic sea gate guarding passage of sea traffic between the South Pacific and Southern Atlantic oceans and the Antarctic. Britain has claimed them since 1690 and defended its claim multiple times, in keeping with a prophecy that the end-time nations of Israel, of which Britain is a main one, would “possess the gate of his enemies” (read The United States and Britain in Prophecy). But prophecy also showed that a disobedient Britain would lose those gates (e.g. Deuteronomy 28:52). And so it has, one by one. Consequently, we have been watching for the Falklands to fall for some years.

Now, since the warship that Britain was going to send there will be tied up on an EU mission, it is sending a Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ship with a crew of civilian sailors. The Telegraph reports, “Royal Navy sources have said that the ship would be able to do little more than protect itself in the event of an emergency.” Easy pickings, in other words, should anyone decide it’s finally time to pry the Falklands from British hands.

That Britain would choose the German-inspired piracy mission over protecting the Falklands is ghastly. “What on Earth are we doing putting EU flag-waving ahead of our own security priorities?” the Tory shadow defense secretary Liam Fox wrote in the Telegraph. Excellent question. “It is outrageous that the British government would ever diminish the protection of our strategic interests in order to pay homage to the politics of the EU,” he also said. A stunning example of Britain fulfilling a prophecy we spoke of a couple of weeks ago.

How far Britain has fallen from the days of Pax Britannia! The Royal Navy once forged the British Empire—it extended and defined British power around the world. Under Lord Salisbury, the law mandated that it be larger than the world’s next two largest navies combined!

Today’s Royal Navy is like that of the past only in name. At the time of the Falklands War, Britain had 65 frigates and destroyers. After years of defense budget cuts, today it has a mere 22, only a third of which can participate in operations at any one time. “The Royal Navy has been pared to the bone,” a senior naval source told the Telegraph. “In any shooting war with a serious enemy the Royal Navy would cease to exist within a few weeks.”

That the European Union is encouraging and hastening this process, exploiting the resources of the Royal Navy in order to extend its own military footprint, is especially insidious. The inevitability of Britain’s severance from the EU is becoming plainer all the time—an event biblical prophecy strongly indicates and which we have spoken of often. It appears Britain could well lose the Falklands while trying to please Europe—only to then lose Europe as well.

Those Somali pirates are only chasing after short-sighted, selfish gain. But their crimes are uncovering so much that biblical prophecy has directed us to watch for: a weak-willed America, a weakened Britain that will be stripped of its possessions, and a German-led Europe growing in military strength at their expense.


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Need to promote latest film leads to apologies

In 2004, the Hollywood star made an infamous television appearance on the Today show in which he angrily sounded off about the “pseudoscience” of psychiatry and described host Matt Lauer as “glib”. The encounter prompted 10,000 viewer emails to the network.

Four years on, Cruise returned to the programme to cleared the air.

He said of the original interview: “I went back and looked at it and it was interesting… you know, it’s not what I had intended. Looking at myself, I thought, ‘Man, that came across as arrogant.’ It was one of those things where you go, ‘Ok, I could have absolutely handled that better.’ I didn’t communicated it the way that I wanted to communicate it. That’s not who I am, that’s not the person I am, coming across that way.”

On his controversial support for Scientology, the 46-year-old actor said he wouldn’t be talking about during movie interviews: “I’ve been a Scientologist for 25 years [but] I think there’s a time and a place for it because things can get misunderstood and twisted.”

The actor is promoting his latest film, Valkyrie, the true story of a German plot to assassinate Hitler.

- Source: Tom Cruise vows to stop talking about Scientology while promoting films, Anita Singh, Telegraph (UK), Dec. 16, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Tom’s mouth is still on cruise control

VANCOUVER - Tom Cruise is clear on one thing: He is an entertainer.

The mercurial A-list actor admitted as much Monday morning on NBC’s Today Show, the scene of his infamous meltdown on live television. Well, one of his infamous meltdowns.

During a dark and aggressive rant about actor Brooke Shields’s use of anti-depressants three years ago when she was diagnosed with postpartum depression, Cruise turned on Today host Matt Lauer, castigating him for his ignorance of the evils of psychiatry and declaring him “glib.”

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Lauer said Monday that Today normally receives a few hundred e-mails after a celebrity interview, but about 10,000 people wrote in about the Cruise conniption.

Cruise returned for Round Two on Monday and was more contrite than crazy, at least during the interview. But if he was trying to present a more sane version of himself while promoting his new film Valkyrie, he probably shouldn’t have wandered on to Today’s live set before his interview to hijack the news segment of the program.

Cruise stood beside co-hosts Lauer and Meredith Vieira and began reading from the teleprompter as both Lauer and Vieira mentioned on-air that his behaviour was “bizarre.”

The world’s news services are surprisingly sympathetic to Cruise. Asked how people responded to his savage antics during his 2005 appearance on Today, Cruise launched into a rambling, sweaty response that would have induced squirming in a brass monkey.

Reuters reported it thusly: “After looking at it, I really thought it’s not what I intended. I thought in looking at myself that I came across as arrogant,” Cruise said. “I absolutely could have handled that better.”

The actual quote went more like this: “You know, I mean it was, I went back and I looked at and I thought you know . . . it was interesting. And I think that, I thought at first you kinda go how and why and I thought about it a lot, obviously, and I was, it was, a subject matter that’s important and now it’s being debated by the public and that’s where it should be. But actually after looking at it I really thought you know it’s not what I had intended, in looking at myself, that I thought that came across arrogant. That’s one of those things where you go, ‘I could have handled that better.’”

That in answer to the one question he knew he would face before going on the air. In rambling so, Cruise leaves the impression that he knows what he thinks, but doesn’t know how to hide it very well, an odd failing for an actor.

Cruise fared better on a visit with Jay Leno last week, but Leno didn’t mention Scientology, psychiatric meds or Brooke Shields.


- Source: Tom’s mouth is still on cruise control, Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun via the Financial Post (Canada), Dec. 15, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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