Since its inception in 1934, The Plain Truth has consistently warned that an end-time union of ten nations in Europe a "United States of Europe" would rise within the bounds of the old Roman Empire. Now Europe's most powerful leaders are appealing to the past as a guide for the future. In Europe, big events often occur with the New Year.
Twenty-one years ago, on January 1958, the European Economic Community was officially launched, tying together the fortunes of continental Europe's most important and economically advanced powers West Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux nations.
On another New Year's Day, this time in 1973, the Community was enlarged to nine member states with the addition of Great Britain, Ireland, and Denmark.
January 2, 1979 was to have been yet another milestone in Europe's long quest for economic and political unity. On that day the European Monetary System was to begin operation
At the very last minute on Friday, December 29, 1978 the French government forced a delay in the launching of the EMS. French Prime Minister Raymond Barre demanded that related Common Market agricultural pricing problems be solved to France's satisfaction before the EMS could start up. West German Agricultural Minister Josef Ertl vetoed the French demands, setting off the crisis.
Spokesmen from various European capitals assured the press that the EMS was not dead, only delayed. "Technically everything was ready" said one official, adding that what stood in the way was a "political problem" between the two pillars of the EMS, France and West Germany. The temporary setback to the EMS, many felt, was true to form, confirming postwar Europe's agonizing "two steps forward, one step backward" march toward unity.
Enter the "ECU" The details of the EMS were covered in the October-November 1978 issue of The Plain Truth, in the article "How the Dollar Crisis Is Forging a United Europe." Briefly, the scheme entails binding the component national currencies within close tolerances in an arrangement similar to previous, and generally unsuccessful, alignments.
The EMS, when enacted, will be a departure from the past. It has some real teeth to it. Backing up the arrangement will be a pool of gold and national currency reserves (including Eurodollars) estimated at roughly $32 bill ion. The sheer size of the fund is expected to take the wind out of the sails of currency speculators attempting to profit unduly from the rise or fall of EMS currencies. The fund is intended to be the forerunner of a European central bank.
The core of the new system will be an artificial currency unit dubbed the "ECU." West Germany's weekly newsmagazine, Der Spiegel, notes the coincidental historical association of this acronym: "Its initials stand for the English-worded 'European Currency Unit,' but the experts pronounce the word in French ekuh. and are thus polishing up the glorious past: the ecu was the French gold or silver coin from 1266 to 1803."
Settlements between the EMS members will be denominated in this initially artificial currency. But many believe the ECU will become a genuine European currency at some later date and a formidable challenger to the floundering U.S. dollar.
Britain Isolated? Some of the glitter surrounding the EMS (which was endorsed at the Common Market summit on December 5) rubbed off when Italy and Ireland decided at the last moment to opt out initially from the scheme. The two weaker Common Market members felt they were not getting enough financial assistance from the stronger economies.
Every delegate gathered in Brussels for the summit knew that Britain was not going to join. The decision on the part of the Italians and Irish, however, was unexpected.
Eight days later, the fluid situation changed again when the Italian parliament voted favorably on membership. The Italian decision spurred the Irish, who voted to link up on December 15.
The British, however, are not likely to change their minds. The Labour government (many of whose members loathe the Common Market and anything smacking of European federalism) objects to being forced into what it considers a straitjacket of German-imposed fiscal restraints. Thus, if or when Britain does join (the way is still open for future membership), it will have had only marginal influence on the structure of the EMS. "If we muff this one," remarked a columnist in the London Times of November 14, "as we muffed the inception of the [EEC] in the late 1950's, we could find ourselves once more standing on the platform while the European train moves off."
Bold Franco-German Move British officials argue that the EMS is incomplete; that it deals only with exchange procedures and doesn't attempt to harmonize national economic and monetary policies. They point out that economic conditions in Europe look even less favorable for currency linkage at this time than, say, ten years ago, when national inflation rates were similar and before the chaos of floating exchange rates began.
The Germans and the French the two nations calling the shots in Europe now argue from the exact opposite viewpoint. They reply that the skidding U.S. dollar and the widespread lack of confidence in America's economic management is forcing Europe to act now, however imperfectly. A Wall Street Journal editorial of November 24, 1978, sums up the continental approach. The EMS, it said, is "Europe's response to U.S. monetary profligacy. It is being hatched, mainly by the Germans and French, out of weariness with the trade disruptions and capital market instabilities caused by the flight from dollars into marks, Swiss francs and yen."
The fact is, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany and President Giscard d'Estaing of France have been determined to bring the EMS about ever since the plan was recommended by Schmidt at the Common Market summit in Bremen, West Germany, last July.
The two statesmen, who enjoy an intimate, almost brotherly relationship, conversing with each other in colloquial English, have brushed aside the arguments of the British. They have also rejected contrary advice from within their own countries from academic economists (whom Schmidt disdains) and even from Germany's powerful central bank, the Bundesbank, which had grave reservations about kicking so much of Germany's gold, deutsche marks and dollars into the EMS kitty.
For the French, the political arguments behind EMS superseded the economic ones. "For President Giscard," reported the London Times, "it is a matter of prestige that France should keep abreast of Germany in the leadership of Europe, and this apparently justifies an economic gamble at least as great for France as it would be for Britain."
And what particular political urge is impelling Herr Schmidt? Der Spiegel analyzed the Chancellor's apparent motivation: "Schmidt is striving for higher things than exchange rates. [He] wants to advance to a European statesman; he is looking for a new run toward European unity. For him it has to do with political leadership over the old Continent, if not over the Western hemisphere. His analysis of the situation is this: Europeans must take up the room that the North Americans have vacated."
Der Spiegel then explained the unique relationship' between Schmidt and Giscard. Lingering resentments in Europe against dominant German figures force Schmidt to be very cautious. For this reason, reported Spiegel, Schmidt deliberately occupies a public position a half step behind Giscard. "Schmidt is thinking and directing, Giscard is representing al)d presiding." A Bonn minister adds: "Giscard is to march in front; Schmidt lets him have the leadership quite intentionally."
"Inspired" by Charlemagne Never in the history of post-war Europe, not even in the heady days of French-German cooperation epitomized by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, have the interests of the Continent's "Big Two" converged so well.
During their day, de Gaulle and Adenauer launched the tradition of annual head-of-government consultations to deal with French-German relations. In mid-September 1978 their successors, Giscard and Schmidt, continued the tradition. This time, however, the agenda was the EMS and European matters, not just relations between the two nations.
After Schmidt called for the EMS plan at Bremen last summer, it fell on some hard times. Proposals and counterproposals flew back and forth. Compromises were floated. Schmidt and Giscard finally took all the differing ideas in hand in September, went off by themselves at their own minisummit, ironed everything out, and produced the EMS structure as it now stands.
Where they conferred in their exclusive minisummit is as significant as the results they achieved. The two leaders met in Aachen, the German city near the Belgian and Dutch border. The French prefer to call it Aix-la-Chappelle. Reports Maclean's, the Canadian newsweekly: "The choice of the ancient... border
"The founders of the new Europe have asserted all along that economic integration was not an end in itself but rather a means to a political end, the goal being a United States of Europe."town as the site for a summit tete-a-tete between France's President Valery Giscard d'Estaing and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt did not go unnoticed..
"There, on the spot where Charlemagne once presided over his united European empire, the two close friends and former finance ministers hammered out the technical framework for a new European Community currency system...."
The West German daily Hannoversche Allgemeine on September 18 added: "Helmut Schmidt deliberately chose Aachen as the venue: Aachen, the city of Charlemagne, an emperor whom both Germans and French claim as their own. It was the first Franco-German summit concerned almost entirely with a European project, the European Monetary System, which is the brainchild of Giscard and Schmidt and an outstanding political achievement."
At Aachen, according to the German-language newsweekly Der Report, "The descent of the dollar and the luckless politics of [President] Carter... may have caused Schmidt and Giscard to invoke the spirit of Karlder Grosse [Charles the Great, or Charlemagne] to lead 'East and West Franks' at least in currency politics together."
At one of the Aachen meetings, Maclean's reported, Giscard actually made such an invocation, referring to "the spirit of Charlemagne which has blown through this summit."
"Unity Concert" Also during this critical summit which set Europe on its present course, a very unusual event took place. On Thursday evening, September 14, the two most powerful democratic leaders of Europe today paid homage, as it were, to the Continent's autocratic (and theocratic) past.
On this particular night, Schmidt and Giscard, accompanied by their official parties, attended a concert in the ancient (dating from A.D. 796) Cathedral of Aachen.
The scene was almost straight out of medieval times. They were seated in front of the golden bust of Charlemagne, the Frankish king who united in one superstate practically all the Christian lands of Western Europe, the British Isles being the major exception. (In the year 800, in Rome, Pope Leo II crowned Charlemagne and bestowed on him the Roman title of Emperor.)
Above the two contemporary figures hung the magnificent bronze chandelier presented by the later Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I (Barbarossa), in 1168. The music for the occasion, selected by the bishop of Aachen, was most appropriate. The cathedral choir presented an evening of medieval polyphonic compositions.
A reporter for the West German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine recorded the flavor of this unique event: "The perfect architecture, the stone witnesses of European history and the rich tones of old music or the Occident created an atmosphere that visibly moved the statesmen in their easy chairs in front of the golden shrine of Charles. And it is to let the European public know that a new era in the development of the European Community is being rung in."
At the end of the conference, the Bonn General-Anzeiger (September 16) commented: "In Aachen, the cooperation of both neighbors reached such a level that it can scarcely be improved upon, and their joint European will has never before been manifested so convincingly.... Not even de Gaulle and Adenauer, in whose tradition Schmidt placed this meeting, swore to German-French unity with such strong words and dared, in a similar manner, to appeal to Charlemagne as key witness."
One thing is for sure. Schmidt and Giscard went to the right place to find the "inspiration" they needed to propel Europe further, and at greater speed, down the road of unity.
Roman Empire's Revival The events surrounding the unique conference in Aachen, not widely reported in the English-language press, should not come as a surprise to longtime readers of The Plain Truth magazine. Over the years the editors of this publication have repeatedly warned its readers in North America, Britain, Africa, Australasia and elsewhere that the Bible prophesies there will arise an end-time powerful economic-military-religious union in Europe a power so awesome that it will astound the entire world when it finally takes shape (Rev. 17:8). This union, moreover, will represent a final revival of the ancient Roman Empire.
In the June-July 1934 issue of The Plain Truth only the fifth issue of the magazine Editor Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, on page 6, that "Scripture prophesies TWO GREAT MILITARY POWERS to arise in the last days one the revival of the Roman Empire by a federation of 10 nations in the territory of the ancient Roman Empire; the other, 'Gog,' or Russia with her allies...."
Mr. Armstrong further stated that "the 17th chapter of Revelation tells us the ancient Roman Empire will once more be revived, this time by a federation of 10 nations...."
Shortly after World War II, while Europe and especially Germany lay prostrate, Mr. Armstrong made the amazing prediction based upon Bible prophecy that Germany would rise again. and that America 's wartime enemy would lead a European power bloc. Note the significance
"Emperor Charlemagne, crowned by Pope Leo in A.D. 800, united practically all of Western Europe under his rule."of these "predictions."
"The Germans are now rearming! A new Germany is rising on the ruins of World War II. America's main enemy will soon be on her feet again" (The Plain Truth, June 1952, p. 2).
"Germany is destined to be the leader in any European union. She is the economic heart of Europe and is rebuilding faster than any other European nation" (The Plain Truth, September 1953, p. 3).
These predictions have come true. In 1978, West Germany at last surpassed the United States as the world's greatest exporting nation! And it is the German industrial powerhouse around which all the other member states of the Common Market revolve.
West Germany and her partners in Europe, to be sure, are democratic nations today. But in the long march of European history, democracy as a form of government, especially in Germany and Italy, is of comparatively short duration. More-over, democratic institutions in Europe have yet to pass the test of a severe national crisis, such as an economic depression.
And now, at the very height of democratic development in Europe, we witness the strange spectacle of key political personalities harking back to Charlemagne the "King Father of Europe" for inspiration to guide them in the here and now.
Role of the Papacy In the October 1951 issue of The Plain Truth, Mr. Armstrong made another rather startling prediction. On page 13 of that issue he said that "the pope alone can provide the leadership, the unifying, solidifying element to make this United States of Europe this resurrected Roman Empire a reality."
This rather bold assertion might still seem startling to some. But it must be realized that the power of the Roman Catholic Church, if or when marshaled, is very likely the only cement that can hold the nations of Western Europe together. Even today, Europe's two major powers, France and West Germany, remain seriously divided as to how a "United States of Europe" should be constructed. The Germans favor a tight federated Europe; the French remain committed to a looser confederated Europe in which each nation (especially France) will retain. its own identity.
The French, moreover, despite their current close ties with West Germany, remain suspicious of their powerful neighbors. The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 1978, reported: "Underneath the present relationship remain latent French fears of Germany. France has made plain that it's entering the EMS currency plan partly to keep Europe from becoming a Deutschemark zone, as a means of countering Germany's economic domination of Europe and of France. At the same time, the European bloc is becoming more Catholic in nature. Spain and Portugal are drawing closer to membership in the Common Market, along with Greece (which is Orthodox), while Protestant Britain is on the verge of dropping out. Catholic Ireland, however, is "in" Europe.
It remains yet to be seen what role the new head of the Roman Catholic Church will play. John Paul II, the former Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, has spent most of his adult life behind the Iron Curtain. He knows the Communist mentality well, bearing the scars of church-state confrontation in Poland.
In his first address he asserted that "we have no intention of political interference, nor of participation in the working out of temporal affairs." But some observers feel that the pope cannot escape his unique background and training. In fact, Eurocommunism expert Carl Marzani, writing in the October 28, 1978, issue of The Nation, goes so far as to say: "The probable influence of John Paul II on East-West relations, on the Common Market, on Washington, is awesome and unpredictable."
Perhaps it is significant that the very "spirit of Charlemagne" has been invoked in these modern times. Charles, or Charlemagne, was the very prototype of a "Christian king" and emperor. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, volume 4, pages 44-45 (15th edition), "Charles early acknowledged the close connection between temporal power and the church; he had a high regard for the church and the king's duty to spread the Christian faith.... Given the indissoluble tie between temporal power and the Christian faith, this meant they [his subjects] had to be converted."
With this "political resurrection" of Charlemagne, will the revivification of Europe's religious heritage follow not too far behind?
In November 1975, in a little recognized event, the late Pope Paul VI told a gathering of Roman Catholic bishops, cardinals, and prelates in Rome that it was their mission to "reawaken Europe's Christian soul, where its unity is rooted." It was the Catholic faith "that made Europe" in the past, the Pontiff stressed.
Indeed, the Holy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages held forth the pretension, at least, of political unity, but its primary unity was found in the religious sphere. The Roman church was the real rallying point, providing a unifying theme among the diverse national and political elements on the Continent.
As far as today's Common Market (as well as the EMS, which is virtually the same grouping) is concerned, one thing is painfully obvious: It is composed of member nations who are politically and economically strong, mixed in with those who are weak. It is a coalescing group the Bible portrays as being "partly strong and partly weak" and as "iron mixed with miry clay" (Daniel 2:42). More than mere monetary coordination as evidenced by the last-second French-German dispute over EMS is needed.
Objective: "Super-Europe" All along, the founders of the new Europe under construction since the end of the Second World War asserted that economic integration was not an end in itself but rather a means to a political end.
In the declaration which in 1950 projected the European Coal and Steel Community (forerunner of the Common Market), Robert Schuman called it "the first concrete foundation of a European federation."
The real guiding light behind what came to be known as the Schuman Plan was Jean Monnet, the so-called "Father of the Common Market." Monnet is now 90 years of age. In his memoirs, recently completed, Monnet proclaims that the objective of his life's work remains the same today as it has been all along: the creation of "the United States of Europe."
Some Americans, too, when they weren't focused on problems in Asia, have been able to see, at least in part, where Europe was headed. When the Common Market was still less than four years old, McGeorge Bundy, a special adviser to the late President Kennedy, said that the "new Europe" was destined to become a great power, on equal terms with the United States and the Soviet Union.
"We have in prospect," Bundy said, "a new Europe, with the economic strength, the military self-confidence and the political unity of a true great power."
Other events, however, had to transpire before Bundy's prediction could begin to come to pass. The will of the United States had yet to be tested and crushed in Southeast Asia. The "Almighty Dollar" had to be toppled from its pinnacle.
Now the stage is being set for a powerful Europe to come into its own. Writing in the New York Times of November 9, 1978, Mary Kalder, author of the book The Disintegrating West, makes these very significant observations: "The events of the last few weeks [the dollar's skid] merely confirm America's decline and the growing importance of Western Europe, dominated by West Germany ... a financial giant whose monetary reserves and manufactured exports greatly exceed America's.
"Western Europe has all the potential of a superpower. The success of attempts to achieve monetary union depends on the success of related endeavors to achieve political union and military integration, for only these would provide the necessary legitimation for a European state able to uphold a stable European currency.
"A European state, since this is what it amounts to, would represent a powerful challenger to the United States, a competitor that could resist American parochialism."
Europe has come a long way. The EMS, when it comes into force, will represent another milestone toward superpower status. What happens from now on will not be to the advantage of the United States and Britain.
Keep reading The Plain Truth magazine to stay abreast of these remarkable trends. And if you have not yet done so, read Mr. Armstrong's free booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last. It explains the biblical symbolism surrounding the big news of today.