Like morphing patterns in a kaleidoscope, 13 powerful changes shifted world affairs last year—creating a substantially modified global outlook for 2014.
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Former member of British Parliament Paddy Ashdown set forth his view of changing global superpowers in a lecture titled “The Global Power Shift” at a December 2011 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) convention in Brussels, Belgium.
Mr. Ashdown stated, “My guess is…that the United States will remain the most powerful nation on earth for the next 10 years, 15, but the context in which she holds her power has now…radically changed.”
“We are coming out of 50 years, most unusual years, of history in which we have had a totally mono-polar world, in which every compass needle for or against has to be referenced by its position to Washington—a world bestrode by a single colossus. But that’s not a usual case in history. In fact, what’s now emerging is the much more normal case of history. You’re beginning to see the emergence of a multi-polar world.”
How the world has changed in the nearly two years since Mr. Ashdown uttered those words!
A “multi-polar” reality is lining up like images in a kaleidoscope—one dynamic shift at a time. Events in 2013 further defined it. It was a year in which not only were international relations transformed, but also the economy and society were altered. These significant changes mean a substantially different global landscape at the onset of 2014.
Here are 13 shifts that made headlines in 2013.
Think back to 12 months ago. The fight in Washington was in full swing to keep America from casting itself off the dreaded fiscal cliff. The nation did eventually go over the precipice with expired Bush-era tax cuts and sequestration cuts for the first minutes of the new year before politicians relented with a last-minute bipartisan deal in the Senate.
But a seemingly worse crisis loomed. January 15 went “down as the first day European policy makers fired a shot in the 2013 currency war,” Chris Turner, the head of foreign-exchange strategy at ING Groep NV in London told Bloomberg.
The article warned of how the dispute could “lead to a clash of G-20 finance ministers and central banks” during a meeting in Moscow, “three months after reiterating their 2009 pledge to ‘refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies.’”
Then a report arrived from professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). At the time, Telegraph reported: “Britain will be overtaken by Mexico and Indonesia in the next four decades to push the nation’s GDP to 11th place in world rankings…”
“PwC’s report, BRICs and Beyond, projected a rapid rise of the so-called E7 of emerging economies, also pushing the US, Japan, Germany, France and Italy down the league table—although only the UK and Italy lost their top ten status.”
These events begin to illuminate the transition to a world of multiple economic powers—each grappling for their own interests.
Another significant shift came about a month later, but not in the realm of economics.
“Like a bolt from the blue overnight,” The Sydney Morning Herald described Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. The choice of words alluded to a lightning bolt that literally struck St. Peter’s Basilica on the same day, leaving many to wonder if it was “a sign from above.”
The election of his successor Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis also came with its own mystical “signs.”
“Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, who was himself widely tipped as a possible successor to Pope Benedict, said he had personally had two ‘strong signs’ that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was ‘the chosen one’ in the run up to vote,” Telegraph reported.
The article added: “Speaking to an Anglican conference in London, he also said the Archbishop of Canterbury [leader of the Anglican church]…had a ‘strange similarity’ to the new Pope…[and] that the two churches should work towards closer unity.”
Since the world was markedly fixated on the Vatican, many missed the next shift.
News in February confirmed Chinese exports surpassed America’s. Financial newspaper Mint, which collaborates with The Wall Street Journal, reported: “China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s biggest trading nation last year as measured by the sum of exports and imports of goods, official figures from both countries show.
“U.S. exports and imports of goods last year totaled $3.82 trillion, the U.S. Commerce Department said…China’s customs administration reported…that the country’s trade in goods in 2012 amounted to $3.87 trillion.”
Later in the year, Beijing acknowledged that the world should “de-Americanize” amid fears of another global financial crisis.
Yet the U.S. was not the only nation under economic duress in 2013.
Depositors with over 100,000 euros in their accounts at one of the two largest Cypriot banks were forced to pay a chunk of the bill when the nation became the fifth to be bailed out by the European Union.
The transfer of cash prompted warnings that the unexpected grab could become the new norm in an ever more financially fragmented world.
“It will happen everywhere in the world, in Western democracies,” investment analyst Marc Faber told CNBC. “You have more people that vote for a living than work for a living. I think you have to be prepared to lose 20 to 30 percent. I think you’re lucky if you don’t lose your life.”
Meanwhile, back at the Vatican…
If Pope Benedict was known as ultra conservative, his successor Pope Francis quickly gained an avant-garde reputation as he sought to make the Catholic Church less “Vatican-centric.” His breaks from protocol caught the world’s attention.
Ad-lib address: “As [Francis] made his first Sunday window appearance from the balcony of a papal apartment high above St Peter’s Square, he delivered off-the-cuff remarks about God’s power to forgive instead of reading from a written speech” (Sky News).
Controversial foot washing: “While popes have for centuries washed the feet of the faithful on the day before Good Friday, never before had a pontiff washed the feet of a woman. That one of the female inmates at the prison in Rome was also a Serbian Muslim was also a break with tradition” (Telegraph).
Papal media sensation: “Pope Francis has broken protocol once again, appearing with a puzzled look on his face in a ‘selfie’ photo taken with a group of teenagers visiting the Vatican. The picture appeared on the Facebook page of one of the youngsters, who used it as his profile picture, and was going viral on social media on Saturday” (Agence France-Presse).
The Boston Marathon bombings, the first such attack against the public on U.S. soil since 9/11, and the Kenyan shopping mall hostage crisis that took place more recently, continued to shift the mindset of public safety—that anyone at anyplace at any time is a possible target.
Though not all considered terrorist attacks by definition, the increase in mass shootings in America has further solidified this belief.
Of the Nairobi attack, International Business Times stated: “The perpetrators of the Westgate attack chose their target strategically. The shopping center is a popular destination not only for well-heeled Kenyans but also for international tourists and dignitaries. It has been reported that among those killed were the Ghanaian poet, professor and former ambassador Kofi Awoonor, a Canadian diplomat, and nationals from countries including India, the U.K., France and South Africa. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said his own nephew was also among the dead.”
It seemed nothing was more unexpected than the new Pope’s popularity. Then certain poll results came in: “The survey, carried out for the BBC, polled 26,000 people in 25 countries and asked them to rate 16 countries and the European Union as a whole on whether their influence on the world was mainly positive or negative,” CNBC reported.
“Germany came out on top, with 59 percent of survey participants giving it a positive rating. The country moved up three percentage points from its 2012 position. It displaced Japan, which saw its positive rating fall from 58 percent last year to 51 percent, going from first to fourth place.”
The German nation has effectively gone from being watched with a wary eye to being beloved by the masses.
More long-held beliefs changed with the next shift.
Uruguay, France and New Zealand all legalized same-sex marriage, joining more than 12 other countries and several sub-national jurisdictions worldwide.
In America, “A duo of landmark Supreme Court decisions legalized same-sex marriage in California and granted [homosexual] married couples access to hundreds of federal benefits—related to employment, taxes, and immigration, for example—that had long been denied to them,” France24 stated.
The article added: “A look at the gay rights ‘landscape’ today reveals the sweeping changes the past few years have seen…Same-sex marriage is now legal in 13 states, plus Washington DC (a considerable chunk of the country, accounting for 30% of the US population).”
New Jersey became the 14th state to approve same-sex marriage as of October.
Then another financial shift occurred…
Bankruptcy is expensive. “The uncharted scale of Detroit’s bankruptcy—it is the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in the nation’s history in terms of both the city’s population and its debt—suggests that it may also become the costliest, experts say,” The New York Times reported.
“City officials offer no estimate for a final tab, but some bankruptcy experts say the collapse could ultimately cost Detroit taxpayers as much as $100 million.”
While Detroit’s fate came into focus, the Middle East stole the spotlight.
Some called it a coup d’etat when the Egyptian military toppled President Mohammed Morsi and installed army chief General Abdul-Fatah el-Sisi into power. While the event itself was a shift, so was America’s tiptoe reaction.
Labeling it “rhetorical gymnastics,” Reuters reported in October how “Congressional aides said officials from the State Department, Pentagon and Agency for International Development who discussed Egypt on Capitol Hill still refused to use what they wryly termed ‘the C word’ to describe the ouster of [Morsi], an Islamist and Egypt’s first freely elected president…”
Washington has avoided using the term coup because it would then be forced to cut off financial and military aid to its longtime Middle Eastern ally.
Reuters continued, “The language issue illustrates what some analysts see as a tortured U.S. policy toward Egypt, where the desire to be seen as supporting human rights and democracy has clashed with a hope of retaining influence in a strategically vital country and not upsetting the Egyptian army.”
Egypt remained center stage until another shift flipped the attention back to the U.S.
In July, the pursuit of CIA whistle-blower Edward Snowden dominated the world conversation. Snowden is accused of sharing information related to numerous top-secret programs to the press.
“Snowden has enough information to cause [more] harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had,” [Glenn] Greenwald said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro with the Argentinean daily La Nacion.”
“The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing [happens] to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare” (Reuters).
More recent reports have begun to question the potency of the information Snowden shared and its ability to bring real damage to U.S. interests.
Snowden was eventually granted one-year temporary asylum in Russia. This shift segued to…
Appalling news that chemical weapons were used on citizens during Syria’s two-year-plus civil war was another unprecedented shift that left the world grasping for a fitting response.
Controversy ensued about how the United States should react, including President Barack Obama’s request for approval of some “limited” strike—without “boots on the ground.”
But, once more, times have changed: “When the commander-in-chief wants to go to war, Congress is usually happy to comply (if it is even asked for permission, which is rare),” the Guardian stated.
“This time, Congress is refusing to bite…Public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans are strongly against US involvement in Syria.”
America’s indecision left a power vacuum. As a result, Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped in to broker a deal for Syria, allowing international control of its chemical weapons. This sudden development brought to a halt, at least temporarily, any final decision from Washington.
“Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the U.S. is ‘being led by the nose by’ Russian President Vladimir Putin,” National Post reported.
Congressman Rogers continued: “So, if we wanted a transition with Assad, we just fired our last round, and we have taken our ability to negotiate a settlement from the White House, and we’ve sent it with Russia to the United Nations,’ Rogers, R-Mich., said. ‘That’s a dangerous place for us to be if you want an overall settlement to the problems.”
Eyes also turned to Israel after Syrian President Bashar Assad’s pledge to retaliate on its neighbor if hit by America. Then U.S. political gridlock took center stage.
The potential global effect of the U.S. government shutdown had the world on its toes. BBC reported that International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde warned that a U.S. default “could tip the world into recession,” and cause “massive disruption the world over.”
In the U.S., all “nonessential” federal employees stopped working. Visitors were turned away from various national parks and monuments. Many industries, including crab fishing in Alaska, had to wait for permits until government offices reopened.
The 16-day shutdown eventually came to an end, but not before trust in American soundness took a serious blow. The Chinese credit agency Dagong, for example, “…lowered its ratings for US local and foreign currency credit from A to A-, maintaining a negative outlook, the agency said in a statement” (Agence France-Presse).
The shutdown cost at least $24 billion, equaling about $1.5 billion per day (ABCNews). This further accentuated America’s ongoing shift from a financially sound nation to one that cannot manage itself.
These and other similar developments made up the abstract “2013 kaleidoscope” of shifting global power.
If you have ever looked through the eyepiece of a kaleidoscope, you know its inner parts shift to reveal symmetrical patterns—patterns which precisely line up because the scope’s mirrors are set at a particular angle.
Likewise, the world scene emerging out of the 2013 kaleidoscope begins to “line up” when discerned from the right point of view.
Some try to make sense of events through filters of political or educational ideologies. Others look to the opinions of so-called experts or their own personal experience.
The Real Truth magazine uses the only reliable lens through which the kaleidoscope of world events can be understood: the Bible.
In the book of Job, we find an astonishing statement about God’s direct involvement in world events. Read carefully: “He [God] leads counselors away stripped, and judges He makes fools. He loosens the bonds of kings, and binds a waistcloth on their loins…He deprives of speech those who are trusted, and takes away the discernment of the elders…He uncovers the deeps out of darkness, and brings deep darkness to light. He makes nations great, and He destroys them: He enlarges nations, and leads them away. He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth, and makes them wander in a pathless waste. They grope in the dark without light; and He makes them stagger like a drunken man” (Job 12:17-25, Revised Standard Version).
Eroding credibility, lack of leadership and discernment, uncovered secrets, the rising and falling of nations, grasping for solutions, global power shifts—all major themes of 2013.
The Bible also shows where these events will lead. Luke chapter 21 recounts what Jesus Christ said would come about in our age. Notice that His disciples, like many today, wanted to make sense of what was ahead: “And they asked Him, saying, Master, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things will come to pass?” (vs. 7).
In verses 8-11, He warned of religious deception, wars, disasters and “great signs.”
Later, in verse 24, Christ references a specific period: “…until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
The Greek word translated “Gentiles” simply means non-Israelite.
Christ spoke these words to the Jews (those descended from Judah—one of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel) of His time. The other 11 tribes, called the “lost tribes of Israel” by many, are also not considered Gentiles. “The times of the Gentiles” is a period when non-Israelite nations will rise up and dominate world events. In effect, “the times of Israel” will be over!
Grasp this crucial understanding: the people of the United States, Britain and various nations of Western Europe are descended from the lost tribes of Israel—though they mistakenly consider themselves Gentiles.
Remember Paddy Ashton’s words: “We are coming out of 50 years, most unusual years, of history in which we have had a totally mono-polar world, in which every compass needle for or against has to be referenced by its position to Washington—a world bestrode by a single colossus.”
These “unusual years” we are “coming out of” are part of the times of Israel. They are coming to an end. We are moving into the “times of the Gentiles.”
The identity of the modern descendants of Israel can be traced through history and the Bible. In fact, proving this is a vital key in making sense of many more Bible prophecies being fulfilled in our time!
Real Truth Editor-in-Chief David C. Pack’s free book America and Britain in Prophecy, will help you see this in astonishing detail.
As increasingly drastic shifts come to the global political landscape, in 2014 and beyond, you do not need to be left in confusion. Continue to read The Real Truth magazine for world news in light of Bible prophecy. Also, watch The World to Come with David C. Pack, which is televised worldwide and available at rcg.org/worldtocome.
Like no others, this magazine and TV program will help you make sense of it all—and know for certain what the coming years will bring!