One of my least favorite tasks each year is any kind of year in review project. My usual tactic is to not say anything and hope everyone else forgets about doing one. It never works.
But this year even I am forced to conclude that it’s a worthwhile exercise. Having spent most of the afternoon looking over every article we’ve written on the website for the past 12 months, I am surprised by how much I’d forgotten of the fast-moving events of 2017.
There were a number of dramatic changes. Trumpet executive editor Stephen Flurry will cover many of them on his Trumpet Daily Radio Show on Friday. But one trend that stood out to me is how quickly the rest of the world is militarizing.
North Korea is the most dramatic example. This time last year we were wondering if it would dare test a missile that could reach the West Coast of the United States. Now it has proved again and again that almost the entire United States is within its range.
But North Korea is not the only one. Consider these stories from around the world:
April 26: China launches its first homemade aircraft carrier.
June 28: China launches its first homemade destroyer.
August 1: China opens its first overseas military base, in Djibouti.
March 3: Shinzō Abe announces that his government will throw off its self-imposed military spending limit. The Diplomat wrote that this “was, next to the Constitution itself, one of the most tenacious obstacles restricting meaningful defense reform in Japan.”
March 14: Japan announces its biggest show of military force since World War II, as it dispatches its Izumo helicopter carrier on a three-month tour through the South China Sea.
October 22: Abe and allies win two-thirds majority in Japanese election, paving the way for him to continue to remilitarize Japan.
February 16: Germany signs agreements to absorb a brigade from the Czech Republic and Romania into the German Army. Most of the Dutch Army is already in the process of being integrated into the German military.
March 7: German troops return to German streets for the first time since World War II, as soldiers assist police in joint antiterror exercises.
April 1: Germany launches Cyber and Information Space Command, a massive cyberware center that will dwarf those of other nations—including Britain.
May 18: The EU agrees to form a military headquarters.
June 7: The German cabinet agrees to open up a military base in Jordan.
November 5: The German Air Force returns to Israel for the first time in 100 years, taking part in combined military exercises.
December 11: Twenty-five EU nations sign an agreement for their militaries to work more closely together, continuing to pave the way for an EU military.
That’s quite a lot of firsts—some more significant than others. And these are just the milestones. We had several stories this year about China’s steady conquest of the South China Sea and its development of advanced weapons, such as hypersonic missiles.
It’s clear that the world is militarizing. And that’s a trend set to continue into 2018. Next year, global defense spending will reach its highest level since the end of the Cold War, according to a forecast from Jane’s Defense Budget Reports. All around the world, defense spending is expected to grow—even in Western Europe, where spending has spent years shrinking.
Bloomberg wrote on December 19: “The world needs a new way to encourage peace, security and mutual trust. Instead, it’s getting more weapons.”
It’s inaccurate to say that more weapons mean more danger. If this were the case, then disarmament would be a path to peace—and history has proved that it isn’t. But this is an important and quantifiable symptom of a vital trend.
In foreign-policy circles, it’s described as “the rise of the West” or “the post-American world.” In all these different regions, the one common trend is the declining presence of the U.S. Europe no longer believes America will defend it, so it is looking to itself. The same is true for U.S. allies in Asia.
Meanwhile, Iran’s military budget is at its highest level since the 1979 Islamic Revolution—thanks to American weakness. China and Russia both feel empowered to throw their weight around.
It is a dangerous time. In his book A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, Andrew Roberts warned that “the most costly wars in modern history have arisen whenever there is confusion about which is the world’s preeminent power.”
No wonder there are so many “firsts” in the military events of 2017. Nations are getting ready for a new era.
The Bible talks about this new era too. It calls it “the times of the Gentiles.”
It’s not a pleasant time, to put it mildly. But Jesus Christ Himself lists it as a major milestone on the way to His return (Luke 21:24). If we want to follow and understand what He says, then we need to know what He is talking about.
When you do, it makes all of these news events really come alive—as it shows they’re all part of a plan God foretold thousands of years in advance. To learn more about these times of the Gentiles and this new post-American world, read Joel Hilliker’s article “What Happens After a Superpower Dies?”