What is the significance of the defense crisis in Europe?
THE TOPIC dominating the news in Europe IS defense. Big changes loom ahead. Western Europe is engaged in its most fervent discussion of military matters since the re-arming of West Germany almost 30 years ago. Because the military power of Western Europe figures so prominently in Bible prophecy, Plain Truth readers deserve an update.
The Soviet Union, remembering World War II, has spent the past decade building up its military might so as to be able to roll over any American or European resistance. The immediate cause of alarm among leadership circles in Western Europe is the awesome Soviet SS-20 missile. The SS-20 is a revolutionary weapon. It comes with a portable launcher, a 50-ton tractor-trailer, which can be reloaded. It has three nuclear warheads. It is deadly accurate: capable of striking any airfield, weapons depot or command headquarters. From bases in the Soviet Union, it can hit anywhere in Western Europe. Military planners believe the highly accurate SS-20s are intended to destroy NATO bases far behind the front lines — of any invasion. Of course, should an SS-20 warhead stray off target, it could easily kill 50,000 civilians. In the last year the Soviets have "roughly doubled" the number of war-ready SS-20s. In fact, the Soviets fooled NATO intelligence, which expected SS-20 production to taper off in 1981. "They are now going beyond the number we projected in 1979," says an American defense official, quoted by The Associated Press. Currently; the Soviets have 250 SS-20s targeted on Western Europe and elsewhere. By 1985, they should reach 300. Another way to look at the constant threat hanging over Western Europe is the number of warheads each side has. Each warhead has many times the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. By counting the warheads on the older Soviet missiles, as well as those of the newer SS-20s, European leaders cannot help but realize that there are more than a thousand nuclear weapons targeted on their nations! NATO doesn't really have operational medium-range missiles to balance the Soviet forces. NATO does have the Pershing I missile, with a comparatively short 400-mile range. (The SS-20 has a range almost six times as far.) NATO forces in Europe do not have weapons that can strike significantly deep into the Soviet Union, according to the defense official quoted by AP.
In 1979, faced with the awesome Soviet lead in medium range missiles (since grown!), the NATO allies agreed to deploy a combination of 572 Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM, or, as strategists call them, "glickems"). Unlike NATO's present firepower, these missiles would be able to strike important targets in the Soviet Union, though the Pershing IIs wouldn't be able to reach Moscow. And these 572 missiles wouldn't be ready until 1983, at the earliest. The Pershing IIs will have a range of about 1,000 miles — enough to reach as far as Kiev. It is a fast, accurate missile. The glickems have a longer range (1,500 miles), are slower, but even more accurate. Even when NATO has all 572 missiles in place, it will still be outnumbered in warheads, because its missiles have only one warhead, whereas each Russian SS-20 has three. NATO plans to spread the new missiles throughout Western Europe: West Germany to receive 204, the Netherlands 48, Belgium 48, Britain 160 and Italy 112.
The reaction of a significant and vocal part of the Western European populace has been different from that of their leaders. While many Europeans did sit back and greet the news of the SS-20s with a bored yawn, the vocal part of the younger generation is terrified of the new NATO missiles! Specifically, Europeans are afraid the new missiles will make them the targets of a Soviet surprise attack. Europeans, particularly West Germans and the Dutch, have greeted NATO's attempt to redress the situation with mass demonstrations and loud protests about nuclear weapons. To some degree, this response has been the result of a calculated Soviet propaganda campaign. According to diplomatic sources quoted by Reuters, the Soviets are appealing over the heads of Western governments to public opinion in those countries. The Soviet tactics, according to a report in the London Times, include a steady stream of Soviet press attacks, meetings with "detentnik" Western politicians, and support of Western Europe's pacifist movement. The aim of the propaganda campaign is to stop the deployment of the new NATO missiles. The Soviet propaganda campaign was just achieving a full head of steam when the Reagan administration announced its decision to build the neutron bomb. The decision has caused much anguish on the part of the Soviets! "Cannibalistic," "barbaric," "extremely dangerous," "inhuman," and like charges were hurled by Soviet commentators. The propaganda campaign heated up even more. The neutron bomb is, charged the Soviet Union, the ultimate "capitalist weapon" because it destroys people but leaves property. One Western wag retorted that the bomb is really a "communist weapon" because it destroys a whole "class" of people (tank crews) but leaves the "means of production" intact. At the same time as the Soviet propaganda campaign has come a Soviet disarmament proposal. The Soviets want a "missile freeze." This means the U.S.S.R. would keep the SS-20s it already has while NATO would drop its plan to deploy its own missiles in 1983. Western observers do not believe the Soviet Union would agree to remove its SS-20s in exchange for NATO dropping its missile plans. Thus the "freeze" would only "freeze" Soviet superiority! The Soviet propaganda campaign has borne fruit in Western Europe. The disarmament bandwagon (disarming the West, not the East) is in full swing. In the words of the Daily Telegraph, "Never has there been such an impressive parade of noncommunist worthies from all walks of life, wittingly or unwittingly, to allow themselves to be exploited by the apparatchiks [professional Soviet propagandists]." It has come to the point, the same paper reports, that many pastors solicit signatures for antinuclear petitions as their parishioners leave church services! The Soviet campaign has been successful in other ways as well. About 120,000 demonstrators staged a big anti[-Western] nuclear rally in Hamburg. Demonstrators in skeleton suits have picketed defense offices in Bonn, West Germany. West German newspapers give prominent space to the "peace movement."
State of Disrepair
Yet for all the protests, NATO forces hardly pose any threat, offensive threat, to the Eastern bloc. Consider just how weak NATO has become. NATO is outnumbered 4 to 1 in tanks, 2.3 to 1 in tactical aircraft. It is down by more than 200,000 in troops, and 4 to 1 in overall nuclear weapons. The alliance suffers from chronic shortages of ammunition. It suffers shortages of fuel, missiles, infantry, vehicles, aircraft (which work), guns, trucks, howitzers, replacement parts. A secret Pentagon report, revealed by respected investigative reporter Jack Anderson, admits: "At present, war reserves in Europe are inadequate to support a strong initial defense." And given Soviet and Warsaw Pact strategy, an "initial defense" is about all NATO would have time for should the Soviets move west. Soviet strategy emphasizes surprise attack and blitzkrieg war. Not only do the Soviets and their allies have an overwhelming lead in quantity — but the quality of their forces is at least as good as NATO's. As General Bernard Rogers, supreme commander of all NATO forces, declares, "The Warsaw Pact's weapons are equal or superior to any fielded by U.S. and NATO forces." Newer Soviet weapons, in particular, are of the highest quality. Soviet planners intend to win the next war quickly. Given emphasis on speed, surprise and other offensive tactics, Soviet forces will have the war won before supply lines from the United States could be established! In 1979, this sorry state of affairs was revealed through the NATO military exercise Nifty Nugget. It simulated a hypothetical Soviet blitzkrieg invasion. It revealed that NATO supplies and ammo would not last 30 days of intensive fighting. No wonder the commander of the American troops in Europe, General Frederick Kroesen, has said 15 years of defense cutbacks have created a "hollow army."
But despite the Soviet's almost ridiculous advantage over NATO, a full scale invasion does not look immediately likely, for two reasons. One, Poland. The Soviets may be progressive militarily, willing to win by using the old American military adage, "by getting there 'fastest' with the 'mostest.'" But they are cautious at the same time. They will probably not strike while their supply lines might be endangered. And Poland sits astride the supply and communication routes to the Soviet's forward position in East Germany. Two, the neutron bomb. The reason the Soviets "squealed" (President Reagan's word) about the American decision was that neutron bombs possibly can put an effective end to their dream of being able to politically dominate all of Europe. The Soviets have gone to extraordinary pains to build up their military lead. Their tanks are sealed. NATO could devastate its countryside with deadly nerve gas — and it still wouldn't stop a Soviet invasion! Yet the neutron bomb could — and without reducing all of Europe to a rubble to do it! The neutron bomb is considered by military analysts to be the perfect defensive weapon, because it cannot sensibly be used for a surprise attack. The soldiers of the defending power who receive the dosages of radiation that it delivers can still keep on fighting. Only after a prolonged period, when the effects of radiation begin to take effect, do they die. This is why Soviet bluster about developing their own neutron bombs makes no impression on Western defense analysts. Since the allies obviously aren't going to take their "hollow army" and invade Eastern Europe, the Soviets can build defensive neutron bombs up to their ears and it wouldn't threaten NATO! Of course, the neutron bomb is only as good as the Western will to use it. The opponents of the neutron bomb decry it precisely because it can be used without destroying too much city or countryside — thereby making "nuclear" war more possible. (The neutron bomb is after all simply a hydrogen bomb with a small blast area and radiation that goes away quickly.) But NATO has always said it would resort to small nuclear weapons in the event it was invaded and defeat was probable. Soviet military doctrine also declares that in any invasion, they will use small nuclear weapons to wipe out NATO bases behind the lines. So it is still possible the neutron bomb could fail to deter a Soviet invasion, for the bombs are based in the United States at the moment. Western Europeans don't want them on their soil. To be used against a Soviet tank force the bomb would have to be flown across the Atlantic under wartime conditions. Were the Soviets to strike NATO bases with their SS-20s at the start of any invasion, there might be no bases in Europe where the bomb (actually artillery shells) could be loaded and fired.
Military Future of Western Europe
Western Europe cannot avoid facing up to Its defense crisis forever. Either it will spend enough money on arms to keep back the Soviet bear, or it will become practically a colony of the Soviet Union. Bible prophecy reveals that at the time just before the return of Christ, Western Europe will be independent of the Soviet Union. Prophecy shows political entities occupying the European and Russian areas pursuing different courses of action in the " last days." This means that eventually Europe is going to get its military act together. Now consider another long-range trend. The United States cannot go on being Europe's defender forever either. One of these days Western Europe is going to see the need to acquire sufficient weapons of its own to defend itself! America spends a higher percentage of its gross national product on defense than any other major NATO ally. Americans are becoming increasingly impatient with spending money to defend allies who are now more affluent than they are. Many see it as ridiculous that the United States • still has a large standing army in Germany 36 years after World War II. Moreover, just as many Europeans would prefer to stay out of the next war and simply let American and Soviet missiles fly overhead, Americans don't relish the idea of seeing their own cities nuked because of a war that could be confined to Central Europe. As the saying goes, what American President would "push the button," dooming Chicago or St. Louis in order "to save Rotterdam"? Thus, many Americans would like to see Europe have its own independent defense force. It's much cheaper — and, as long as the United States and Western Europe are on friendly terms — no less safe. What Europe as a whole has yet to do, France has already done to a limited degree. France has five missile submarines, and 18 of its own medium-range nuclear missiles. France's submarine-launched missiles theoretically can put a nuclear warhead 1,800 miles away from any place in the ocean that its submarines can reach. France also has. Its own neutron bomb, and is developing another medium-range missile to be mounted on a truck. French forces, including nuclear submarines, would probably form the core of an independent European defense. Britain has a nuclear force similar to that of France's. Bible prophecy would lead us to believe, however, British forces will not join any future independent continental European force. Britain simply occupies a different role in the prophetic scheme than continental Europe (as is demonstrated in our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy). Certain items give credence to the idea that British forces will not be part of Europe's. In the March-April, 1981, issue of Europe, a magazine devoted to the Common Market, George Buis, a retired French general and director of the Institute of Advanced Study of Defence and Military Instructions, proposes that Europe acquire "a powerful, diversified, and credible nuclear armament." But he also declares that "Britain must be kept out." Britain, Buis says, has always refused to consult with Europe's other nuclear power, France; besides "France and Germany remain, in principle, the only countries big enough for the job." For the time being, of course, the Europeans, with the exception of the French, want no part of any independent military force. The West Germans, for example, after agreeing to station Pershing IIs and glickems on its soil, want no German troops on the launching sites and nothing to do with the decision to use those missiles! One West German diplomat, voicing his countrymen's sensitivities, said, "In order not to have it charged that there is a German finger on the nuclear trigger, we want the use of the new weapons introduced into NATO to be entirely an American decision." Such an attitude simply cannot last. It is not human nature. People just don't sit still, indefinitely, for foreigners having the control over life-or-death matters! Given current attitudes, it will probably be the Americans who succeed in creating an independent European defense force. Jack Anderson, in another investigative expose, has uncovered the existence of a secret Pentagon strategy report that advocates almost total U.S. withdrawal from Europe! The report speaks of an "unhealthy dependency" by Europe on the United States. This very dependency itself helps erode European will. The report suggests that America should seek "an autonomous European defense and deterrent capability." Other military thinkers suggest that, given Europe's reluctance to defend itself, about the only way to shock it into a greater defense effort would be the bold announcement that U.S. troops were going to be pulled out, period. So where do we stand? The troubles in Poland and the neutron bomb may have bought time. But the deep European reluctance against putting neutron weapons on their soil — and continued Soviet superiority — still gives Europe incentive to build up its own forces. The American control of European defense is simply unnatural in human affairs, and cannot go on forever. Sooner or later, all of Western Europe will have its own independent defense. That development is one of the most important specific waysigns in Bible prophecy before the beginning of the prophesied Great Tribulation — which will plunge the whole world into chaos. The eleventh chapter of Daniel is clear in revealing that the final latter day European political successors to the ancient Greek and Roman Empires will militarily move into the Middle East to protect Middle East lifelines. Other prophecies, basically from the book of Revelation, indicate that this same political power will engage in much fighting around the world in the latter days of man's civilization just before God intervenes in world affairs to save man from extinction! A more detailed outline of these prophecies is found in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. For the time being, watch the military situation in Western Europe very closely. When Europe becomes a military superpower, the end of the world as we know it could be very near.