My wife, sons and I have just returned from a wonderful trip to Australia and New Zealand, combining the visit to four Feast sites with acquiring first-hand knowledge of that part of the world for future Plain Truth and Good News articles. We greatly enjoyed meeting the brethren in both countries and we wish to thank all those in the ministry and office staff who helped make our visit so profitable.

The Feast is over for this year. But the world moves on, with even greater speed toward the climax at the "close of the age."

While we were all "dropping out" of this world to observe God's festivals, the U.S. dollar continued its plunge. Before we left for the Feast the dollar was worth about 1.94 West German marks. Now it is close to 20 cents lower. Today the Japanese yen reached another record high against the U.S. currency — 175.

Nothing seems to help the dollar. Reports TIME magazine: "Confidence in the dollar has so eroded that it sometimes plunges sharply these days with no specific news at all to account for the drop."

The Los Angeles Times editorialized on October 27: "The dollar isn't what it used to be... A visitor from Europe asks, over lunch, why Americans seem to care so little about the value of their dollar when the people of Europe care so deeply, and worry so much about how it affects their lives. It is clear from the tone of voice that the real question is: 'Have you no pride?'"

Tragically no. Much of the pride of the U.S. was once concentrated in its powerful currency, the "Almighty Dollar." The pride in that power is fading as fast as its value.

Also while we were at the Feast, China's most influential policymaker, its Deputy Prime Minister Teng Hsiao-peng, made a history-making eight-day trip to Japan. It was the first ever to Tokyo by a top Chinese Communist official. He journeyed across the Japan Sea specifically to formalize the August 12 China-Japan friendship treaty.

Teng, however, went a lot further than mere formalities. He praised the Japanese over and over, emphasizing that his visit marked the official end to recriminations and ill feelings brought on by war between the two powers over 40 years ago.

The Japanese realize they are being brought, almost against their will, into much closer relationship with China, and against China's number one rival, the Soviet Union. As the big Tokyo daily Asahi Shimbun editoralized, "Regardless of what Japan may think of this treaty, it has pulled us more deeply into the power politics of the Sino-Soviet confrontation."

Japan's industralists, however, are not that much concerned. Worried over loss of sales in the West, they are counting on the new Peking connection to lift Japan's depressed industries out of the doldrums.

As the memories of bitter fighting between the two Asian giants fades, there is another more ominous development. The Chinese have abandoned their traditional opposition to Japanese rearmament and have recently been encouraging Tokyo to build up its fledgling defense forces. Even the shrewd prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, stated before the Feast that his government and the others in the ASEAN grouping (Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand) would not be opposed to a moderate buildup of Japanese military strength.

Two other events of major importance occured during the Feast — the election of Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II and the overwhelming victory of Franz Josef Strauss in Bavaria's provincial elections. The analysis of these two events will appear in the next issue of the Good News.

Also during the Feast, the United States reluctantly permitted Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith, along with one of the black co-leaders of Rhodesia's transitional multiracial government to visit the U.S. Smith was invited by a group of U.S. Senators and Congressmen who have been irked by the State Department's obvious favoritism shown toward the guerrilla leaders of the so-called Patriotic Front and its unwillingness to lift the trade embargo against Rhodesia — even though it said it would do so if the embattled country moved toward majority rule, which it is doing.

One of these senators is California's S. I. Hayakawa, who fulminates against the insipidness of U.S. foreign policy, specifically the fearfulness of "offending" America's new "friends" in Africa, especially the so-called "front-line" states of Zambia, Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, and Mozambique.

In the October 30 issue of U.S. News & World Report Hayakawa was asked: "Do you believe the U.S. would jeopardize its relations with all of black Africa by doing business with the present Rhodesian government?" His answer: "Not one bit. It seems to me the administration continues to frighten itself with bogymen. They say, 'What will the front-line states say?' Well, it's not what they're going to say that matters; it's what they're going to do that matters.

"Just in the past few weeks, Zambia opened up its borders to Rhodesia because they're just having such a terrible economic crisis there. Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique — all depend enormously either on South Africa or Rhodesia, or both. And so, front-line states can make all the angry noises they like, but they're still dependent upon the advanced nations like Rhodesia and South Africa."

And then, in a conclusion which shows that sanity has not totally departed from U.S. officialdom yet, Hayakawa thundered: "As it is, the United States is so frightened of the disapproval of the so-called front-line states — those miserably weak, economically fragile front-line states which put on a big front, backed up by Russian weaponry, but have no inner strength — that we don't dare do anything. And we're peculiarly paralyzed by our own fears.

"I am very much ashamed at the present time that the United States is frightened of Russia. D—- it, Russia should be frightened of us. But every move we take we say, 'What will the Russians say?' 'What will the Russians say?' The h—- with what they say. They should be asking about every move they make, 'What will the Americans say?'"

— Gene H. Hogberg, News Bureau

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Pastor General's ReportOctober 31, 1978Vol 2 No. 40