Grave and ominous developments — with far-reaching implications — are under way in the Western Hemisphere. THIS is the time of the year when the Western world, at least, thinks of that most illusive of all human attainments — peace.
Peace, however, seems more distant than ever. And of all the turmoil, the intensified fighting in Central America is at the moment the most ominous.
Few people understand the real reason behind the fighting and what the worldwide implications of deteriorating conditions in the region portend.
Sudden Escalation This past summer, in a sudden and dramatic show of military force, U.S. President Ronald Reagan dispatched two aircraft carrier battle groups, along with the battleship New Jersey, to positions in international waters just offshore from the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines of the embattled region.
In early August, the first elements of as many as 5,000 U.S. troops began to arrive for long-term military exercises in Honduras.
The President was clearly attempting to send a message to both Havana and Moscow: Further meddling in the region, especially the support of guerrillas in El Salvador, can no longer be tolerated.
Since that time the poor and underpopulated Central American republic of Honduras — bordering both Marxist Nicaragua and strife-torn El Salvador — has mushroomed into Washington's nerve center in Central America.
At a new base in Honduras, U.S. advisers train El Salvador government troops. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) runs the affairs of several thousand anti-Sandinista contra rebels along the Honduran frontier with Nicaragua.
A radar base near the capital of Tegucigalpa monitors air traffic over the region. Runways are being enlarged to accommodate massive C-5A transports, which can carry 345 U.S. troops each.
Construction has begun on a $150 million air and naval base on the country's Atlantic coast — an ominous parallel, some believe, to the former U.S. base at Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam.
Meanwhile, U.S. pressure against Nicaragua is pushing that country increasingly into the arms of Moscow and Havana. War between Nicaragua and Honduras is a greater likelihood than ever — with the possibility, some believe, of pulling the United States right along with it.
Inching in to Disaster? President Reagan has tried to alleviate congressional and public anxiety over his Central America policy with the appointment of a bipartisan commission headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, to help shape a national consensus on Central America. At the same time, as in Vietnam, the United States is moving ahead militarily, step by step.
What is involved, noted one observer, is a big stakes gamble.
In this grim game, Mr. Reagan does not hold a strong hand, because of a Congress still shell-shocked over the Vietnam war, a skeptical press and an American public that, according to one poll, still knows precious little of the enormous implications of the struggle. Only 25 percent of those questioned could tell which side the Reagan administration supports in El Salvador.
Mr. Reagan is aware that a mere show of force may not be enough to moderate the views of either the Nicaraguan government or of the guerrillas in El Salvador who insist in a "share of power" in government before elections — a view totally opposed by Washington.
Moscow will do all in its power to "preserve socialism" in its newly gained possession, Nicaragua. "The Soviets, the Cubans, the Sandinistas," said journalist Patrick J. Buchanan, employing card-game terminology, "have shoved their stack in. They have accepted the risks inherent in establishing a Communist beachhead deep inside the hemispheric defense perimeter of the United States."
Unlike in Vietnam, it is the Soviets and Cubans who are overextended and overexposed. The strategic advantage lies with the United States — were the nation to employ its power wisely.
That the United States possesses the raw military power to win in Central America is questioned by nobody, not even Moscow, Havana or Managua. It's the will to commit that power to achieve a swift and sure result that is missing. America's will to win was lacking in Korea and Vietnam and is still lacking today.
Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, has warned that if the United States fails to use its power in Central America, or uses it ineffectively, "we will have revealed ourselves as a spent and impotent force."
If the United States is defeated, or abandons its allies in Central America after fruitless negotiations — as it did with its South Vietnamese ally in 1973 — it will indeed be revealed as a "spent force."
The ramifications are grave. A troubled President Reagan in an interview said that rebel leaders in Central America frankly told visiting U.S. Congressmen, "Make no mistake about it. We'll be at the Arizona-New Mexico, Mexico border sooner than you think."
In advance of revolution, millions of refugees will be driven northward.
At stake too are America's far-flung alliance commitments.
The Soviets see a great advantage in tying down U.S. military forces close to home. In the long run this would entail a drawdown of American troops from Europe and Asia as a nervous American public would demand security along the porous southern U.S. border.
What, for example, will happen to the 40,000 U.S. troops still on constant alert in South Korea? The North Koreans have been undergoing a major buildup of ground and naval assault forces. The Pyongyang regime now has the world's largest commando force, 100,000 strong.
There is absolutely no chance for a peaceful solution of the conflict in Korea. The only factor that keeps the North from renewing the war is the certainty that the 40,000 U.S. troops would fight along with the South, triggering an expected larger U.S. response.
Take the American troops out and war is a certainty — with millions of Korean boat people clamoring to come to the United States and possibly Australia.
A weakened America would be tempted to run down its military commitment to Western Europe, in order to meet threats closer to home.
Such a possibility could give Europeans the impetus they've long lacked to fuse a biblically prophesied United Europe with its own nuclear defense capability.
Why America Flounders There is a reason why the United States failed to defeat the enemy in Korea, lost ignominiously in Vietnam and gives all indications of repeating the same mistakes in Central America.
In his book The United States And Britain In Prophecy, Herbert W. Armstrong, editor in chief of The Plain Truth, writes: "... the United States, even still 'possessing unmatched power, is afraid — fears — to use it, just as God said: 'I will break the pride of your power' [Lev. 26:19]...
"The United States has stopped winning wars.... America was unable, with all its vast power, to conquer little North Vietnam! The United States is fast riding to the greatest fall that ever befell any nation!." (Read our free copy of Mr. Armstrong's book today if you haven't read it.)
It is high time that we understood why the United States no longer enjoys God's protection and "strong arm" in battle, once very evident.
Of America today God exclaims, "Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters!" (Isa. 1:4, RAV throughout.)
God says of the nation, in verse 5, that "the whole head" — meaning its governing apparatus — "is sick" and that "the whole heart" — referring to its national soul and morale — "faints."
Of American society, God further says, "From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores."
Concerning America's low moral standing, God refers, with few exceptions, to its leaders and its citizens in explicit terms. "You rulers of Sodom," God thunders, "you people of Gomorrah."
Full-length magazine articles sympathetic to "homosexual rights" proclaim that a "new maturity" is occurring in the nation's homosexual community.
Homosexuals, it is editorialized, are on the verge of "real political gains in the 1980s."
Meanwhile, an unsure public and its officialdom — even much of the clergy — afraid of being labeled as prejudiced, fail to speak out on practices God clearly condemns as abominable (Lev. 18:22).
A retired U.S. Congressman claimed that homosexuals are high up in government, business, the professions — even the clergy itself.
"So what?" he commented. "We are everywhere."
The nation is being leavened with this and other deplorable sins such as pornography, drug addiction and abortion.. Meanwhile, God says that he is taking away " the mighty man and the man of war... the captain of fifty and the honorable man" (Isa. 3:2-3).
People of stature who could lead the country out of its impending doom are fast fading from the scene. "O My people!" God exclaims. "Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths."
God's Warning Apparent God is dealing with a sin-laden America in a way that few realize yet — but all will soon see clearly enough!
Back again to Central America, there is still residual pride in some quarters in the projection of U.S. power. Some believe events in Central America offer the opportunity to "refight the Vietnam War." The United States will win this time, they contend, and in so doing demonstrate the resolve which was so lacking in Vietnam.
But God says otherwise. He says he will break — once and for all — the pride in the nation's power.
And in connection with this, God will bring on other calamities in order to teach a sinful nation that it is going the wrong way. Note the second half of Leviticus 26:19 quoted earlier: "I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze."
There is now every indication that the so-called "Big Drought of 1983" — which suddenly descended upon an otherwise waterlogged country — could turn into a prolonged Dust Bowl — like situation. God, whether Americans fully see it yet or not, is beginning to deal with their country in a profound manner.
Strong words? Maybe to some in a culture that has gone soft — especially soft on sin. But God says to his true ministers, in Isaiah 58:1: "Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins."
It's time for America to repent — before it's too late!