In a Feb. 12 article titled "3 Western Pillars Already Shaken," The International Herald Tribune stated: "Before a shot has been fired, the political tensions ahead of a looming Iraq war are inflicting grievous wounds on the triad of institutions that embody aspirations for multilateral security cooperation among Western democracies: the European Union, NATO and the UN Security Council.
"This combination of interlocking security arrangements, which has enabled the West to ride out trans-Atlantic tempests for decades, faces a simultaneous challenge from within that could spell change or even irrelevance for all parts of the system."
German-American relations were already strained due to anti-American rhetoric on the part of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in his reelection campaign last year. And then, when it came to actually enforcing UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, U.S. insistence on military action was met by hard resistance from Germany as well as France—a stance that was then countered by support from the majority of European national leaders.
The Tribune explained: "The crisis is so hard to manage, experts said, because it calls into question, simultaneously, all three load-bearing pillars of cooperation: European unity, the U.S.-led alliance and relations among the United States and other veto-empowered Security Council members, including France and Russia.
"Before, if confrontation arose in the Security Council, NATO would close ranks, and splits among the European countries never threatened NATO unity, but this time the trans-Atlantic fault line is fissuring all three of the organizations that emerged intact from the Cold War," according to a cabinet-level British official."
Where is this all leading—and why?
The end of NATO?
The Wall Street Journal came out with a surprising editorial on Feb. 10 titled "The End of NATO." It stated: "France and Germany continued this weekend to gamble with the institutions that have kept something called the Western alliance united for half a century. The question to contemplate now is whether that alliance, formally known as NATO, continues to serve the interests of the United States.
"This may seem a radical thought," the opinion piece continued, "but it is certainly warranted by the astonishing recent behavior of nations thought to be U.S. allies. Three countries—France, Germany and their mini-me minion, Belgium—have moved from opposition to U.S. policy toward Iraq into formal, and consequential, obstructionism. If this is what the U.S. gets from NATO, maybe it's time America considered leaving this Cold War institution and re-forming an alliance of nations that understand the new threats to world order."
Reference was made to Germany"s suggestion that Iraq be turned over to UN peacekeepers while allowing Saddam Hussein to remain in authority—ostensibly to keep the United States from invading the country. "The real point of this exercise," stated the Journal, "is to prevent the U.S. from enforcing the U.N.'s own resolutions . . . The fact that Germany would even consider offering it suggests an agenda aimed less at defusing war than at actively promoting American defeat."
Worse still, in the Journal's opinion, was Belgium's announcement "that it would do Paris's bidding and veto Turkey's request for NATO resources to defend itself against Iraq . . . For Belgium to block such a request for self-defense from another NATO ally is to drive a stake into the heart of the alliance." France, Germany and Belgium had argued that they could not yet make such a commitment, as it would have implied approval to U.S. military action before official Security Council sanction.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said it was "shameful, for me it's truly shameful." And, telling journalists at a defense conference in Munich that America and the other NATO countries would defend Turkey anyway, he stated, "What will be hurt will be NATO, not Turkey."
Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel remarked that Mr. Rumsfeld's "attitude of 'teaching the old Europe' is insulting. Mr. Michel praised the Europe of democratic values, humanist Europe, the Europe of the Age of Enlightenment. He accused the Bush administration of trying to impose 'a valet-lord' relationship with Europe" ("Belgium, Germany and France Cause NATO Split," EUObserver.com, Feb. 10). Clearly there are huge differences in perspective.
Many members of the U.S. Congress were outraged at what they viewed as a betrayal by key allies. At Congressional hearings, "some lawmakers suggested the survival of the alliance may be at stake—a concern also voiced by [Secretary of State Colin] Powell. He told senators Tuesday [Feb. 11] that NATO and UN alliances could fall apart because of a reluctance to provide military support sought by Turkey" (Associated Press report, Feb. 12).
In a House International Relations Committee meeting the next day, the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Tom Lantos, said that he was "particularly disgusted by the blind intransigence and utter ingratitude" of France, Germany and Belgium. "If it were not for the heroic efforts of America's military, France, Germany and Belgium today would be Soviet socialist republics," Lantos said. "The failure of these three states to honor their commitments is beneath contempt" (ibid.).
Even several days before Belgium's action, "Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board, condemned French and German policy on Iraq in the strongest terms"—particularly the former. "France is no longer the ally it once was," he said. "I have long thought that there were forces in France intent on reducing the American role in the world" (United Press International report, Feb. 4).
"Very considerable damage has already been done to the Atlantic community, including NATO, by Germany and France," Perle went on to say. Yet he believes Schroeder is a "discredited chancellor" who is out of step with the rest of Germany. But is he? And what about the rest of Europe?
European majority opinion
There is no question that Europe is facing its own share of division. The president of the European Union—now of Greece, which presently holds the rotating leadership—said Feb. 12, "We are at a critical juncture." Unless the EU nations could resolve their differences regarding the Iraqi situation, he went on, "the European Union will enter a deep crisis." And Iraq surely will not be the end of the differences.
"Czech and Polish officials at the Munich meeting said that their countries saw the United States as a guarantee of their stability and position, even against larger European friends. They complained in identical language of 'arrogance' on the part of French and German policymakers, who upbraided Prague and Warsaw for publicly supporting Washington and challenging the line adopted by France and Germany" (Tribune).
Indeed, many have accused the United States for acting unilaterally. However, when most of Europe's leaders rallied around President Bush, France and Germany were suddenly the ones out of step. Washington was quick to label them the new unilateralists, obstructing cooperation among the allies through minority opposition that could force the United States to eventually abandon NATO.
But are France and Germany truly in the European minority?
Robert Kagan, author of the new book Of Paradise and Power: America Versus Europe in the New World Order, explained on a Feb. 7 Fox News program that America and Europe "have developed such different views about the legitimacy of the use of force and the kind of international order we would like to see that it's like that book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. We don"t even understand each other sometimes when we talk. We use the same words but come up with different meanings. There really has become a serious ideological divide between the majority of Americans and Europeans."
Asked about the level of rampant anti-Americanism in Europe, Dr. Kagan's response was that "some of it we can"t do anything about. It's the price of having more power than everyone else. Europeans have some resentment about their historic dependence on the United States and their resentment that the United States has all the power. "
Yet it's not just French and German leaders who oppose the United States. Kagan stated that "in France and Germany the governments and the people are together, clearly."In fact, a shocking article from Reuters on Feb. 10 reported that in a poll taken in Germany by the respected Forsa institute, "57 percent agreed with the statement: 'The United States is a nation of warmongers.'" While this view is understandably outrageous and incomprehensible to most Americans, it apparently represents what many Germans think. The survey further found that "93 percent believed Bush was ready to go to war in pursuit of his [own] interests, while 80 percent said the United States wanted war to boost its power."
But again, is this really representative of the rest of Europe? What about the opinion in the nations that early on gave their vote of confidence to the United States in the Iraqi situation? Dr. Kagan explained: "In a country like Spain where the prime minister has actually sided with Bush . . . [this] is against his own population, [as] 80 percent of Spaniards disagree with American policy." He went on to say that, "by and large, except for a few courageous souls like Tony Blair, and the Spanish prime minister, and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, there's pretty much unity in Europe. I live in Europe. But let me tell you, there is very little debate going on about this subject. Most people are just opposed."
The world is changing
The Wall Street Journal concluded its editorial: "We realize the end of NATO has been trumpeted prematurely before . . . But the Cold War is over, and the main threat to the West now is global terrorism employing nuclear and bioweapons. If NATO cannot adapt to this reality by moving its resources to meet that threat, then as currently constructed it has outlived its usefulness."
These are truly momentous times! We appear to be witnessing the beginning of the dismantling of the present world order. Bible prophecy foretells that in the years ahead a new European superpower will rise to dominate the globe for a short time. It is characterized as strong as iron and yet brittle too (Daniel 2:40-43 Daniel 2:40-43  And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: for as much as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that breaks all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
 And whereas you saw the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, for as much as you saw the iron mixed with miry clay.
 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
 And whereas you saw iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not join one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
American King James Version×)—evidently fragmented by the interests of the various nations that make it up.
Prophecy also speaks of a vanquished America and Britain and a series of calamities that will eventually send the human race crashing headlong to the very brink of self-annihilation (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×)—only to be rescued at the last moment by the dawning of a new and glorious age. You need to keep reading The Good News for understanding of the times in which we live. GN