NATO convenes its biggest military exercises since the beginning of the cold war. A meeting of the heads of NATO is taking place in Brussels preparing for its conference in Poland in two weeks. Nations being asked to wake up and increase their spending, making preparation for war with Russia
After a relative calm during the past generation, the nations of the world are waking up to the fact that they are on the brink of war. They do not have the scriptures at hand to guide them, but are being overtaken by events that are unraveling around the world. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:1–2:
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).
As Bible students, we have the word of God which is to enlighten us. Thessalonian’s continues:
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:4)
The light of scripture is sure and provides us with confidence in a troubled age, as the Apostle Peter described:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts… (2 Peter 1:19)
The scriptures are clear that the great conflagration at the time of the end will be preceded by a lulling to sleep of the nations in a false sense of security. This has been the case over the last generation. While there have been wars, they have been largely remote. A spirit of complacency has enveloped much of the western world. However, this is all about to change, and we see the signs of it today. The scripture speak of the proclamation that will go out to the nations of the world:
Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, And your pruninghooks into spears: Let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, And gather yourselves together round about…. (Joel 3:9–12)
This process of “waking up” the might men and preparing war is being seen all around us in the news.
In the past two weeks the biggest NATO military exercise since the end of the Cold war has been taking place in Poland. Anaconda 2016 is a 10 day military exercise involving 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles from 24 countries.
The Polish foreign minister, told reporters during a visit to Slovakia that Russia is more dangerous than Islamic State. The Guardian Newspaper article cited him as stating:
“By all evidence, Russia’s activity is a sort of existential threat because this activity can destroy countries…. We also have non-existential threats like terrorism, like the great waves of migrants… [but this] it is not an existential threat for Europe”.
This week we witnessed NATO hold a conference ahead of the general meeting it is to hold in Poland in a few weeks. General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO held a press conference to describe what challenges NATO was facing. His call is for the nations to wake up and prepare for war:
In just a few weeks we will hold a NATO summit in Warsaw. Our countries face unprecedented security challenges from the east and from the south. So at this landmark summit we will take decisions to strengthen our deterrence and our defence across the lines against threats from any direction. We will also step up our efforts to project stability beyond our borders.
Over the next two days, we will pave the way for summit decisions. We will agree on the deployment, by rotation, of four robust, multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. We will also take decisions on tailored presence for the south-east region, with a land element built around a multinational framework brigade in Romania. We will also adapt a framework for NATO’s further adaptation to the challenges from the south. We will look at ways to further improve the freedom of movement for NATO forces across Europe, we will strengthen our cyber defences, and we will review progress on ensuring the necessary resources for our defence.
The nations are currently facing what Stoltenberg called “unprecedented challenges.” They are looking at boosting their defences against a resurgent Russia, across Europe’s borders with her.
The Stoltenberg calls for the nations to wake up and prepare for war, stating that after years of defense spending decrease, spending is on the rise again, and he implores the member states to increase it even more:
For the first time in many years, in 2015, we registered a small increase in defense spending amongst European allies and Canada. Our estimates for 2016 indicate a further increase of 1.5% in real terms this year. This is progress, but I will call on allies to keep the momentum and to do more because we need to match our defense spending with the security challenges we face.
Tonight we will meet with the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, as well as our partners from Finland and Sweden to discuss how we can make our cooperation even stronger. For instance, to boost maritime security and to fight hybrid threats. Tomorrow, we will look at the broader arch of instability beyond our borders, and consider what more NATO can do to project stability. For instance, in Iraq, in providing further direct support to the global coalition fighting ISIL, and in the Central Mediterranean. We will also meet in the NATO-Ukraine commission, we will assess the latest security developments, Ukraine’s progress on the path for reforms, and stepping our support.
In their goal to “project stability” Canada is identified as an ally in this regard. What is interesting is Justin Trudeau ran on a policy of decreasing Canada’s military involvement in the world, but events have been compelling the Canadian government to do otherwise.
Russia Preparing for War
The NATO allies are not the only ones preparing for war. A 104 page security analysis released last week by the Canada’s spy agency indicated that Russia is also making its own preparations:
“Russia is not modernizing its military primarily to extend its capacity to pursue hybrid warfare, it is modernizing conventional military capability on a large scale; the state is mobilizing for war…. Russia is adapting to adversity; the economy is deliberately tilted to security rather than economic freedom.”
Russia is doing this on all fronts. The Arctic is an area of special interest to Russia. This week Russia launched the worlds biggest icebreaker, NPR reported on Thursday.
The Arktika is 568 feet long and powered by two nuclear reactors. It can break through ice 13 feet deep. She is one of several new icebreakers planned for Russia’s growing fleet — a fleet already bigger than all other countries, combined.
Russian interest in the Arctic is rising, as global warming opens up shipping routes and access to mineral resources.
In addition to launching new icebreakers, Russia is building new bases in the Arctic Circle and modernizing its nuclear submarines. The steps are “unmistakable signals of Russia’s intent to reassert itself on the global stage,” according to Mary Louise, NPR’s national security correspondent.
This type of activity is leading Canada to become more involved in the Baltic region, as a member of NATO. CBC news reported on Tuesday,
Canada’s participation in the Baltic operation was discussed Tuesday by the military alliance’s defence ministers, including Canada’s Harjit Sajjan, at a meeting in Brussels.
This comes just days after the Canadian Security Intelligence Service quietly released an open-sourced global security analysis warning, among other things, that the hardline policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin are becoming more deeply entrenched and that Moscow is retooling its military for a fight.
When questioned by Canadian reporters about the need for Canada’s role in the Baltic states, NATO Secretary General Jans Stoltenberg responded:
Because we have to respond to a more dangerous security environment. We see a more assertive Russia in the East, a Russia which has implemented a significant military buildup, and which has used military force against Ukraine, illegally annexing Crimea, and destabilizing eastern Ukraine. So therefore, we have to respond to send the clear signal that we stand together, and that we are ready to defend all NATO allies against any threat….
We do not see any immanent threat against any NATO ally, but we see a Russia which has invested heavily in its military capabilities over many years, it has tripled its defense spending, and which has acquired new modern military systems, weapons, and capabilities. That is exactly why we are both increasing our presence in the eastern part of the alliance, in the Baltic countries and in Poland, but also that we have increased the readiness of our forces so we can reinforce if needed.
CBC news also reported that there is great doubt the force would be effective anyway:
The Rand Corporation, a non-partisan U.S. think-tank, released a report last winter suggesting the proposed NATO force would simply be a speed bump for the Russian army should fighting take place. It said the Baltic states — Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania — could conceivably be overrun within 60 hours unless the West was willing to station several, heavily armoured brigades in the tiny nations.
When questioned by this report, General Stoltenberg responded:
We have to understand that this is part of a broader response. We have some increased presence of NATO forces in the eastern part of the alliance, Poland and the Baltic countries. But add to that we have also tripled the size of the NATO response force that can then reinforce, be deployed on a very short notice. We are also investing more in infrastructure, in pre-positioned equipment supplies, and we have also established a small headquarters enabling rapid reinforcement. So altogether this is a very strong and firm response, but a very measured response, because we don’t want a new cold war, we don’t want to provoke conflict, but we want to prevent the conflict, and that is exactly what we are doing.
So the theme of “Preparing War” is exactly what this conference is all about.
Obviously, to every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. The response from Russia has included a social media propaganda war. In an article in the AMJ News, entitled, “Lawmakers pressing for information war with Russia, China,” the following was stated:
When NATO revealed this week in Brussels that it would be expanding its presence in countries that used to be part of the former Soviet Union, Russia launched a social media counterattack, turning to Facebook and Twitter to denounce the move in flowery language….
The art of war is evolving so much that it needs a dedicated intergovernmental panel to keep up with it, congressional advocates say…
“During World War II, it was leaflets and radio. During the early parts of the Cold War and now, it’s mostly television and Twitter and other social media…. So the tactics, the techniques need to develop and be modified, but the core issues of influence are always the same.”
Some members of Congress are pushing for the administration to do more to develop a strategy for combating misleading portrayals of world events that emanate from Russia and China…. The group also wants to expand the role that Voice of America, the government-funded broadcast organization, plays in other countries — specifically in Eastern European countries that share a border with Russia.
However, this isn’t just a war of “clicks” and “likes” but of tanks and strikes. Responding to the increase of NATO forces in the Black Sea area, Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko was reported by AP as stating on Thursday:
“It is clear that we are going to react to such things with an aim to ensure reliable security on Russia’s southern borders.
Proposals have been made to create a permanent naval group, which will involve NATO countries that are not directly located in the Black Sea region, as well as partner countries.
From our point of view, this idea will negatively affect the already complicated situation in the Black Sea caused by NATO’s increased military activity. It may further undermine the existing cooperation formats in the Black Sea region. US attempts to conquer this water area with the help of ships, which are equipped with the Aegis Combat System and have a serious anti-missile and strike potential, are carrying additional destabilization risks.
Greatest Threat in a Generation
This saber rattling by Russia is seen as a credible threat by NATO, and the greatest threat in a generation, as Stoltenberg stated in his interview with CBC:
I think that NATO is more relevant than it has been in many, many years, because we are faced with new threats and new challenges, unprecedented threats and more challenging security environment than we have seen in a generation. NATO is responding both with our enhanced military presence in the eastern part of the alliance, in Europe, but addressing the terrorist threats. We support, for instance Iraq, we have started to train Iraqi officers so they can be better in stabilizing their own country and fight ISIL. What we do in Afghanistan is a direct response to terrorist attack on the United States on 911. European NATO allies and Canada have contributed for many many years, with forces to Afghanistan. I think also that two world wars have learned us all that peace and stability in Europe is important for Europe and is also important for the United States.
So the nations are waking up to the immanent threat of war, and are making their preparations to be drawn, inevitably, into the Middle East.
With all these events going on, the purpose of the Bible in the news is to help Bible believers all around the world to prepare themselves. This is why God gave prophetic vision in the first place, as the Prophet Habakkuk was instructed:
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, That he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, But at the end it shall speak, and not lie: Though it tarry, wait for it; Because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (Habakkuk 2:2-3)
It has been a long time since these things were written down, but the appointed time has come, and now is the time for us to make the necessary changes in our lives, so that we can be a people prepared for the Lord when he comes (Luke 1:17).
As the nations wake up and make preparation for war, we need to wake up and make preparation for our Lord’s return:
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:11–14)
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.
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