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Out of the Ashes – The Rise of Europe – Part 1

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Out of the Ashes

The Rise of Europe – Part 1

Some said it would take Europe 100 years to rebuild after the Second World War. Others maintain that it will never rival the United States in terms of economic, technological and military might. History indicates otherwise. Are you willing to learn about this coming United States of Europe? It is upon us now! Will you believe it? Will you prepare? Will you watch?

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The spring of 1945 found Europe in a smoldering ruin. By the end of April, Mussolini and Hitler would be dead, Germany would surrender on May 7th, and Japan would follow on August 14th. World War II—the greatest war of history in terms of expended human life and national resources—would be finally over. Sixty million people lay dead. More than one trillion dollars had been spent.

Nearly six years of the Second World War, in addition to the remaining effects of the Depression and the First World War, had devastated most European economies, industries, agriculture and societies. The German Blitzkrieg had wreaked havoc on military instillations or infrastructure of most all neighboring countries that laid in its path. Much of the natural resources of all participating countries had been plundered in the war effort. Starting in the summer of 1944, British and American bombers had carried out daily and nightly missions that decimated most German cities and other strategic targets. 

The result of this mammoth conflict was a pile of burning rubble—a continent so severely crippled during that final fateful summer that many insisted it would take 100 years to re-build. Yet we will see the incredible, almost miraculous, recovery and rebuilding of Europe, owing to its own resiliency plus generous American aid.

Few had taken seriously Mussolini’s boasting that he was leading the restored Roman Empire during the course of the war. But the core of the Axis powers—the German-Italian alliance—was historically the sixth of seven restorations of the Holy Roman Empire.

Over the span of history, there have been six restorations of the Holy Roman Empire since the imperial restoration by Justinian in A.D. 554. It was considered a renewal of the former Roman Empire, but now with the recognition of the supremacy of the Pope over the secular emperors.

The second restoration of the Holy Roman Empire was led by Charlemagne in A.D. 800, followed by the third restoration by Otto the Great in A.D. 962. Fourth in this series was Charles V of the Hapsburg dynasty in 1530. Fifth was the restoration by Napoleon with his French-based kingdom in 1804.

This brings us to the sixth restoration discussed above, as it related to the Axis powers in World War II. The foundation was laid for the manifestation of this phase of the Holy Roman Empire by the unification of Italy in 1870 and the unification of Germany, both occurring in the wake of the Peace of Prague, Austria of 1866. Although Mussolini declared himself emperor of this restoration, Hitler was the one who wielded power over this German-Italian alliance, as culmination of the sixth restoration of the Holy Roman Empire ended in 1945.

In each phase or restoration, the secular emperor acknowledged the supremacy of the pope. Never in history has such an arrangement of rulership existed as was introduced at the inception of the Holy Roman Empire by Justinian.

The Necessity to Rebuild Europe

From both sides of these smouldering ashes, two new superpowers emerged—the United States and the Soviet Union. Britain, France, Germany and Japan essentially ceased to be significant military powers in the traditional sense. The balance of power had shifted, leaving Europe divided—and between two powerful enemies.

The United States undertook the financing of the effort to rebuild Europe. In June 1947, then U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall unveiled what would be called the “Marshall Plan.” Over the next five years, $13 billion of aid would be given to Britain, France, Italy and what was then West Germany. The U.S. was compelled to underwrite this for two reasons: (1) Europe had been a great market for American goods, and it was in the interest of sound economic policy to restore this capacity as soon as possible; (2) there was a new threat from the east—Communism and the Soviet Union.  Europe had to be strengthened and even re-armed for its own survival as a free society. A strong rebuilt Europe would stand as a bulwark against expansion from this new enemy.

Germany, historically the “hub” of economic and industrial strength in Europe, was the essential core of this bulwark. Germany would drive momentum for the renewal of the continent. For Europe to succeed, Germany had to succeed. American dollars and American arms were earmarked to guarantee the success of this frontier bastion of the free world as it faced the threat of Soviet expansionism.

The Beginnings of Cooperation

The Marshall Plan was complete by 1952 and, shortly thereafter, European voices of dissent began to be heard. Some were uneasy with the powerful embrace of America. One of the most outspoken in this regard was the famous General Charles de Gaulle, who was elected President of France in 1958. He strongly disliked what appeared to be the permanent presence of American troops on European soil. He therefore suspended French cooperation with NATO and started his country off on her own race for a nuclear weapon. De Gaulle’s stance of European control of its own destiny, free of American hegemony, reawakened the latent desire of a number of influential European political and industrial leaders who long dreamed of European Unity.

This dream is almost as old as Europe itself. Certain visionaries could see the power such a union could wield. Both Charlemagne (the second of the seven heads or restorations) and Napoleon (the fifth of seven) ruled empires that encompassed most of the continent. But those two, along with the one ruled by Hitler and Mussolini, failed because they were based upon forced subjugation instead of fully participating partners. The post World War II scenario provided the right conditions for real union, but this time cooperation would come first. The prospect of future subjugation has been discounted by the number of junior participants intoxicated by the prospect of their inclusion within the security of a European economic combine.

In 1951, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). By 1957, the same group signed another treaty in Rome to establish the European Economic Community (EEC), which, for all intents and purposes, was the beginning of the new United Europe. Henri Spaak, former secretary general of NATO had this to say in a BBC documentary about that significant event: “…we felt like Romans on that day…We were consciously recreating the Roman Empire once more” (Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature of God, 1996, pp. 190-191). As we will see, each step forward on this path toward unity essentially forced the next step and, although there would be the occasional step backward, these were typically followed by several steps forward.

Other countries were invited to join the EEC. Britain was initially interested, though concerned about the loss of sovereign control. By 1961, however, they were economically forced to seek membership. But, due to their close ties with the U.S., they were denied membership by a veto from President de Gaulle, once in 1963 and again in 1967.

In 1967, the ECSC, EEC and a third organization (Euratom), controlling atomic energy, were merged to form the European Community (EC). Finally in 1973, the UK, Denmark and Ireland joined, Greece in 1980, and Portugal and Spain in 1986 (Austria, Finland and Sweden would join in 1994, bringing the union to its current total of 15 states).

Progression Towards Eventual Union

Of course, economic cooperation among a “community of nations” was still just that, and not much different from previous economic alliances and other similar agreements also being established in various regions of the world. An eventual union of states would require actual integration of economies, currencies, governments, etc. The pace of integration accelerated during the 1970s.

In 1970, the original six nations set in motion plans to establish (by 1980) an Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) to integrate the member states’ economies and currencies. In 1979, they created the European Monetary System (EMS), linking the exchange rates of members’ currencies to the exchange rate of the strong and stable German deutsche mark. Interestingly, made formal by German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and French President Giscard d’Estaing (current chair of the Convention on the Future of Europe and thus the main author of the upcoming European Constitution) was the selection of the small German city of Aachen as the site for the signing of the EMS documents. You may recall that Aachen is where the throne of Charlemagne was—and remains to this day.

In 1986, the EC introduced the Single European Act (SEA), which sped up the process of removing all trade barriers and customs frontiers by setting the completion date for this as 1992. In addition, the SEA stepped beyond the usual economic guidelines, and began to create common policies regarding such areas as employment, health and the environment.

Events at that time would immediately influence and expedite European unity. In late 1989, the infamous Berlin Wall came crashing down. Less than a year later, East and West Germany were united as the Federal Republic of Germany. Soon, the powerful Soviet Union began to be dismantled, leaving a dozen eastern European nations free to pursue membership in the EC. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, communism ceased to be a unifying threat for Europe. To the European mind, the Cold War was now over, although unpredictable leaders of Russia still controlled the same vast nuclear arsenal, as before.

It now appeared that the U.S. was the only remaining world superpower. The Soviet Union had virtually collapsed. However, in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a series of diplomatic blunders, spanning the mid-to late 1990s set the U.S. at odds with her former allies. This also further exacerbated an existing rift between the U.S. and former European allies.

In December 1991, EC members established the Treaty of European Union (often called the Maastricht Treaty), giving birth to the European Union (EU). It committed the EU to the aforementioned EMU, specifically that all member states would unify their economies and currencies by 1999. In addition, the Maastricht Treaty created new structures to begin integrating such areas as foreign policy and security, as well as police and judicial matters.

In May 1998, eleven of the fifteen EU members agreed to relinquish their national currencies by January 1, 1999, for a new single European currency—the Euro. Along with this decision came the creation of the European Central Bank (ECB) and, by January 1, 2002, the Euro would replace the physical currencies of those eleven nations.

Power & Control Within the Union

The European Union currently operates within what is commonly referred to as the “pillar system.” The main pillar—the European Community (EC)—contains the major governing bodies of the EU, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, and the Court of Auditors. Two other pillars, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), flank the main EC pillar.

It is the CFSP that has failed Europe thus far. During both the Gulf War in 1991 and the Yugoslavian crisis of 1991 and 1992, the Union was unable to find and present a common position on foreign and security policy. It is the CFSP, however, that holds the greatest potential for execution of military policy.

When an economically strong Union can speak with one voice in regards to foreign and security policy, and back that up with military might, then we will witness a legitimate superpower. Dr. Habsburg, in his book entitled Macht Jenseits des Marktes; Europa 1992 (Power Beyond the Market; Europe 1992) wrote: “We need, especially in the area of foreign policy, a genuine European government and a European army.” It is this “one voice” that is currently lacking, but it is destined to develop in the course of time.

Above, and influencing, all three pillars, is the European Council, a grouping of the national government leaders. It is in a position to shape and coordinate all EU initiatives, and has been essentially responsible for all developments. Its decisions are almost always unanimous but require the typical and intensive political bargaining and compromise.

As previously stated, the main EC pillar consists of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, and the Court of Auditors. The European Commission is the most powerful administrative body of the Union. It differs from the European Council, in that it focuses solely on the EC pillar. It initiates, implements and supervises policy. It is also responsible for the financial management of the EU, as well as being the driving force behind integration. Member governments appoint 20 commissioners (2 each for Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain; one each for the other 10 member countries) to operate this body.

The Council of the European Union (formerly the Council of Ministers) is the primary decision-making power of the EU and is, thus far, the most important and influential body. It essentially adopts proposals and then issues instructions to the European Commission. When this Council meets, member governments each send the appropriate minister to discuss the issue at hand. So, for example, if one Council meeting were defense-related, it would consist of 15 defense ministers, but a judicial meeting would consist of 15 justice ministers.

The European Parliament consists of 626 members, elected by EU citizens, and is the ultimate “Tower of Babel” in terms of inefficiencies due to the language barrier. Although it is the only true democratic body of the EU, it is largely powerless. It can block legislation but rarely introduce it. It was designed as a consulting body but can be simply ignored; and it has no power over the Council of the European Union. It can, however, dissolve the European Commission through a vote of non-confidence.

Finally, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) oversees all judicial matters for the Union. Each member country appoints one judge to the ECJ. Although it currently has no direct control over national courts, it has, interestingly enough, established that EU law is above national law.

Sitting outside of the three pillars is another powerful EU body—the European Central Bank (ECB). A six-member executive board, chosen by EU member governments, runs the ECB, and has complete power and control over all EU financial policy.

Recent Problems and Frustrations

As we have seen, there are a few governmental bodies within the EU with some power, but not one unified, overriding and controlling influence. Agreement among 15 nations has been, in general, easier in terms of economic cooperation, but much more difficult in foreign and security policy. Europe has lacked the “one voice” on international issues that the United States of America has, for example, in its President. In addition, the accountability of certain bodies has been called into question, causing much embarrassment and consternation for the EU. For example, the EP initiated in 1999 an independent review of the European Commission’s activities. The report cited corruption, cronyism, and poor oversight among several commissioners, which, in turn, caused the entire Commission to resign. Although these are steps backward, they should only be considered “growing pains,” and opportunities for the EU to learn and to strengthen itself.

Paul Kennedy indicates (The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, 1987, p. 439) that military and political strength tends to follow economic strength: “And despite their recent woes, the EU since 1993, consists of the world’s largest economy” (Lester Thurow, Head to Head, pp. 24-25.)! “As such, they are the ones writing the rules of the new economic game” (p. 65). “Britain was in this position during the 19th century, the U.S. during the 20th, and now during the 21st century, Europe is writing the rules. All others will have to play along” (p. 75).

Thurow goes on to indicate that the prospects for Europe are just too good to pass on: “An opportunity as good as this one hasn’t existed since the fall of the Roman Empire” (pp. 69-70), and that Europe is essentially forced to become larger and stronger, just to financially survive and compete with the American and Japanese economies. William Pfaff had this to say in the June 23, 1986 edition of The International Herald Tribune:

“Count France and Britain, or France and Italy together with West Germany, and you have an industrial agglomeration of Soviet size or bigger, and one infinitely more flexible, innovative and technologically sophisticated. If the European Community is considered all together, it makes up the most powerful economic and industrial combination on earth.

“Common American perceptions of Western Europe as a comparatively weak and declining force in world affairs are justified by neither the indices of productive power nor those of potential military strength. The military capacity of Western Europe, collectively, is equivalent to that of either of the superpowers—should the Europeans wish to make use of it.”

The development of a European Constitution, slated for introduction by mid-2003, along with which will come a sort of “European President,” will no doubt provide some, if not all, of this missing “one voice.”

A Common Identity

In addition to lacking a strong leader, Europe currently lacks a socially binding force. Derek Urwin, in the Encarta Encyclopaedia 2001, summed up the EU’s problem:

“Almost all EU activity has been devoted to building the equivalent of a state. Little effort as been focused on how to created a European nation with a strong bond of identity across national electorates, making them feel they have much, including a future, in common. The issue of a European identity will be a major challenge in the next century.”

The historical sequence of the seven restorations of the Holy Roman Empire, discussed earlier, relates directly to the European power now riding its momentum to its destiny as a world power. This historical phenomenon is actually the realization of an event prophesied in the Bible.

A parallel prophecy of the whore-ridden beast of Revelation 17 is the fourth (ten-horned) beast from Daniel 7. The ten horns represent each revival of the Roman Empire, of which the last seven are the Holy Roman Empire—the Roman Empire controlled by a mysterious “little horn” (Dan. 7:8), which is none other than the Vatican! Religion, more specifically Roman Catholicism will soon provide this strong bond of identity. The conditions are approaching ripeness. Much of the European population believes that materialism and capitalism have failed—there is a certain feeling of emptiness, and a loss of direction and morals.

The Roman Catholic Church is aware of this, and is biding their time, waiting for the right moment to once again provide their faith to the nations of Europe, as a way of hope. Pope Pius XII had this to say about Europe and religion: “Europe…had its eras of greatness when a common faith had animated the hearts of its peoples…” and that it “could have its geopolitical greatness again…if it could create a new heart” (Windswept House, 1996, p. 2). Also, in November 1975, Pope Paul VI stated to a gathering of bishops, cardinals and prelates in Rome, that it was their mission to “reawaken Europe’s Christian soul, where its unity is rooted.” He stressed that it was Catholicism “that made Europe” great.

The current pope, John Paul II, has from near the beginning of his papacy (1978), exhorted Europeans to return to their roots—their religious heritage. In October 1988, he had the opportunity to address the European Parliament and said that Europe had “invested…much in the domain of its economic cooperation,” but now “this part of Europe…[should] be more and more intensely involved in the search [for] her…spiritual cohesion.”

Otto von Habsburg, member of the European Parliament and son of the last empress of Austria (Zita), told editors of The Plain Truth in 1989, “The Community is living very largely by the heritage of the Holy Roman Empire, though the great majority of the people who live by it don’t know by what heritage they live.” Again, time and opportunity will provide the Catholic Church circumstances to educate those people.

In addition, Popes and the Vatican historically seek protection from their enemies, especially during times of trouble, and have typically found this protection in Europe. In addition to defense and support, the papacy considered one of the empire’s main responsibilities to be the enforcement of doctrine and the elimination of all heresies. Those who did not conform were dealt with harshly. Conversely, “kings” have often sought legitimacy and/or authority from this “little horn” that sits in Rome. We will discuss this further in Part II.

Coming Next – The New Europe

We have seen the speed at which Europe has arisen out of the smoldering ashes of World War II. It obviously did not take 100 years as some had thought. We can see now the structure of its government and how the upcoming Constitution and proposals for a European President will affect it and the entire world.

In Part II, we will more closely examine the height that Europe will ultimately attain – current events that are creating a more desperate European people, events that will lead to the sound of this powerful “one voice,” and events that will once again bring about the resurgence of the Roman Catholic Church. We will see how “the kings of the earth have committed fornication” and “have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Rev. 17:2). We will see how and why “the woman drunken with the blood of the saints” (vs. 6) rides the power of the beast.

We will see how the seventh and final restoration of the Holy Roman Empire will affect the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the entire world. We will see how it will affect you and me. We will see how it perfectly fulfills that part of God’s Great Plan, and how it will lead up to the Return of Jesus Christ.

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