By Charlie Johnston
Once everything is revealed, there must either be repentance and conversion – or desperate confrontation.
One of my primary goals at my old website, “The Next Right Step,” was to hearten people so they would prepare well to live faith with fidelity under all circumstances, including the most extreme. In the last post at that site (and the first post at this site), I wrote that the power of the satan has been broken. He can no longer hide his malevolence from the world behind syrupy sounding sentiments. I emphasized that he remains deadly dangerous, but I suspect a lot of people didn’t pay much attention to that. One regular commenter here, Al, has clearly understood that we have entered a terribly dangerous period. Most animals are at their most irrational, deadly dangerous phase when wounded and cornered. That is the situation that anti-God ideologues are finding themselves in as this year kicks off.
A primary purpose of this website is to encourage people to live with fidelity what they have prepared for as extreme circumstances manifest themselves throughout the year, to literally be a sign of hope in trying times. In this part, I consider the global milieu in which challenges of the year will play out.
North Korea – Most have considered it a welcome sign that North and South Korea have agreed to participate in the Olympics under a single flag. It surely is better than setting off nuke tests, but we have seen this movie before, just over a decade ago. Unfortunately, while such episodes raise hopes in South Korea and the West that North Korea is softening, N. Korea uses them not to make peace, but to buy time. US fecklessness has made it more unlikely that Kim Jong Un will ultimately stand down. In late 2003, confronted with the US toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Mohamar Gadaffi renounced weapons of mass destruction and invited in international inspectors from the US, Great Britain and others to oversee the dismantling of its chemical and nuclear weapons programs. He became an unexpected ally of the west in working for non-proliferation. For his troubles, he was deposed and killed eight years later, with US collaboration and the then US Secretary of State mocking him. This perfidious lesson was not lost on other dictators who might otherwise consider standing down from their brinksmanship. After over 20 years of nuclear tensions, the situation with N. Korea is poised to come to a head in the next year. Let us pray that false missile alerts in Hawaii and Japan earlier this month turn out to be aberrations rather than foreshadowings.
Middle East – Several Muslim Arab countries have quietly resolved to work together to suppress or wipe out radicalized Islamic Jihadists in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraq are the most notable countries to conclude that Jihad is not a safe tool to use against others, but is a threat to their own existence. The ISIS Caliphate collapsed as stunningly as it rose once the U.S. changed the rules of engagement and let soldiers fight. Iran, which supported the Caliphate, has worn out its welcome among other Islamic-majority states…and with its own people. Ironically, the fanatical brutality of ISIS and Iran have served to discredit Jihad (if not Islam, itself) among Muslims. Watch it fall…and a surprising rise of Christianity in the Middle East as the year progresses.
Europe – The most secure stronghold Jihadists have is now Western Europe. That is because, even as Muslim leaders of Muslim nations target Jihadist radicals, Western European leaders coddle them so as not to appear “intolerant.” Great Britain authorities turned their heads as some 1,400 children were groomed by Islamic pedophiles in Rotherham – and are now prosecuting ordinary citizens who noted, on Facebook, that it was radical Muslims who had sexually molested the children. Instead of protecting its citizens, Germany has issued advisories to German women on how to avoid being raped in public places (by radical Muslims) while continuing to welcome without screening all who want to come from the Middle East. In WWI and WWII, the reckless aggression of Germany made the whole of Europe a primary battleground. If wide-scale war unfolds this year, the feckless submission of modern Western European leaders threatens to make Europe a primary battleground once more. It is in Eastern Europe that civilization is being defended. Hungary and Poland have refused to take in unlimited numbers of unvetted immigrants from the Middle East. Ah, but the bitter, small-minded European elites are striking back. Last November, the European Union took the first steps to declare Poland in “material breach” of its obligations to the EU – for outlawing abortion and for giving money once earmarked for pro-abortion groups to Catholic social service organizations. Of course, England voted to leave the EU and French President Emmanuel Macron conceded recently that, if a vote were held, France might do the same. Watch leadership shift away from Western European elites who will not defend their citizens to Eastern European leaders who will – and for the EU to continue to unravel.
China – After Tiananmen Square, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping embarked on a course of vigorous technological and military advancement under the slogan, “Hide Your Brilliance,” in order to conceal from gullible westerners what it was up to. Last October, Chinese President Xi Jinping cemented his grip on power and abandoned all stealthiness in his pursuit to make China the premier global power, militarily and economically. I suspect that, like Hitler, he has dropped the veil too soon and has bitten off more than he can chew. But he is likely to cause quite a few convulsions in the world before China’s brutal power is safely contained.
Russia – Russia is always at its worst when it believes itself the strongest, and at its crafty best when it recognizes its own vulnerability and manages ambiguity. Despite the chimera of President Trump colluding with Russia, a fantasy designed to discredit him and allow Democrats to retake power, relations between the US and Russia in the last year have been rocky, but manageable. Formally an ally of China, Russia knows that if China is determined to be the Asian hegemon, ultimate confrontation between the two nations is irrepressible. Russia desperately needed such an alliance to buy time, given the witlessness of the last Anerican administration when it came to geo-politics. The unraveling Russia collusion narrative has kept Russia in a precarious situation. Much of its diplomacy in the last year has seemed – and is – contrary to American interests. But it has been contrary without much of a sting. Russia carefully nurtures its alliance with India, and embarked two years ago on a sustained diplomatic push to build alliances in Southeast Asia. Just recently, it has been credibly accused of helping North Korea skirt international sanctions. If one were to watch all this with the sound down, cutting out all the rhetoric, it would be hard not to notice that the alliances Russia gives the most attention to are almost all useful buffers with and counterbalances to China. And brutal as its leadership is (and has been for near a millennium) Russia is the only state that has reliably given more than lip service to helping persecuted Christians around the globe. I would not be surprised to find this become a unifying element between Russia, the US, and Eastern Europe in the coming year.
Central and South America – The most under-reported story of the last few years has been the implosion of Venezuela, a land with a remarkable wealth of natural resources, under the burden of socialist authoritarianism. Early in this decade, such luminaries as Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and a host of Hollywood activists were paying tribute to the leadership of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, citing him as a role model for what the US should become. A whole generation of millennials has been hoodwinked into thinking socialism is a fair system that provides for all. The reality is that socialism is the ideology of the death camp – and atheism is its religion. You don’t have to study some medieval philosopher to be persuaded of that. You simply have to consider the history of the last century – almost 300 million people murdered by their socialist overseers. Yet recently I got a note from a lady from Mexico who, charmingly, called Mexico Our Lady’s home because of the presence of the tilma of St. Juan Diego there. It stuck with me. Central and South America have been hotbeds of corruption and dysfunction for a very long time. Yet it would be consistent with the Lord of surprises to kindle new hope and faith through this hotbed – so I keep an interested eye out there.
Africa – Africa is another continent beset with corrupt socialist and authoritarian governments. Yet at a time when the Church is riven with controversy, Africa has become a veritable beacon of orthodox fortitude. Africa has a bigger role, I think, in the future of the Church than anyone can imagine right now.
Australia – Sometimes it acts like Texas, sometimes like California. Australia is a wild card in geo-politics, kind of like frontier America with progressive streaks running through it. Though far away from most flash points, it is on the front lines of any confrontation that China might provoke. Where it will ultimately come down remains a mystery.
The world is in as much turmoil as it has been in generations. Besides the major tensions between globalists and nationalists, North Korea and the United States, China’s effort to flex its muscle, and Jihadists with everyone, including other Muslims, there are significant minor flashpoints that could erupt. With the collapse of ISIS, Turkish President Recep Erdogan has visions of establishing the Caliphate, himself.
It will require the greatest skill, clarity and shrewdness to get through this year without significant strife on the world stage. Even that may not be enough. Meantime, the West, particularly the U.S. and Europe must decide who we are. Are we a post-Christian technocracy or will we re-embrace the classically liberal traditions of our Judeo-Christian heritage to re-establish a functional, healthy culture? That is the discussion I will take up in part II.