This was the heading of an article by well known commentator, Mark Steyn, on the outcome of the seizure and subsequent highly publicised release by the Iranians of fifteen British Navy and Marine personnel at the head of the Persian Gulf. Steyn noted that The Associated Press reported the story under the heading: “Analysis: Hope for more Iran Compromises”. He comments: “Well, if by compromise you mean Tehran didn’t put them up for a show trial and behead them, you might have a point. With this encouraging development, we might persuade them to wipe only half of Israel off the map…”

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, doing his best Neville Chamberlain impersonation, declared that the hostages had been released “without any deal, without any negotiation, without any side agreement of any nature”. But Steyn observes:

“Tehran didn’t want a deal. It wanted the humbling of the Great Satan’s principal ally. And it got it. Very easily. And it paid no price for it. And it has tested in useful ways the empty pretensions of the UN, the EU and also NATO, whose second largest fleet is now a laughing stock in a part of the world where it helps to be taken seriously.”

Mark Steyn’s commentary is mild compared to that by Melanie Phillips, the noted British (and Jewish) commentator on political and social issues. Consider just a few extracts from her article “Britain on its Knees”:

“Relief at the safe return of the 15 sailors… cannot mitigate the sickening realisation that the hostage fiasco is another terrible milestone in the West’s current suicidal trajectory of decadence and moral collapse.

The Iranians now know from this debacle that they can make trouble for the West with impunity. They can take hostages, smuggle arms into Iraq, blow up British soldiers and even go nuclear—and no-one will do a… thing to stop it.

This affair has strengthened Iran in its nuclear stand-off. It has strengthened its grip over its own subjected people who have looked to the West to help them rid their country of its terrible regime. It has strengthened its appeal to the Muslim and Arab masses who are already worked up to a state of murderous frenzy against the West. It has given them the message that the West is theirs for the taking. What a disaster.”

When Ezekiel documents the formidable confederacy that will come “against the mountains of Israel” he mentions first “Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal” (38:2 RV). The very next name in the list of confederates comprising a “great company, and a mighty army” (v15) is Iran, or Persia (v5). We are witnessing the latter day developments which amply justify Iran’s position at the head of that list. Here is a nation taking an aggressive and leading position in the opposition to the west among Islamic States. She is close to becoming a nuclear power. She holds Europe in thrall. Russia is increasingly at her side. And now she mocks Britain with impunity.

The very manner in which Ezekiel depicts the two opposing forces of chapter 38 rings true with the developments we are observing today. The Gogian confederacy, Russo-European Catholic, in an alliance of convenience (and necessity) with militant Islam depicted as aggressive, militaristic, and driven with murderous intent, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Tarshish powers, young lions there to be sure, but first and foremost, merely “merchants” (38:13), mentioned briefly in that verse and then forgotten as entirely inconsequential to the outcome of that great battle.

Russia—Europe’s Natural Ally, Says Vladimir Putin

Russia’s President Putin marked the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome on 25 March 1957, with a major statement published on March 25th 2007 in The Sunday Times. “It was in Rome, the Eternal City, where 50 years ago treaties were signed that laid the foundation for a new association of European nations, based not on force or coercion but on common aspirations and values,” he wrote He continued: “But it was only the end of the cold war that brought about real conditions for the fulfilment of the ‘fundamental’ European idea—the unification of the continent. This was the ‘peace dividend’ following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The Russian people’s choice in the early 1990s did not merely expand the space of freedom on the continent but actually determined the path of further European integration.”

Although declaring that Russia has no desire for membership of the EU, Putin refers at length to the mutual interests of Europe and Russia. He advocates instead a “new treaty on strategic partnership. The treaty should become an instrument capable of ensuring a higher level of economic integration and interaction, providing for freedom and security on the European continent.”

These friendly words from the Russian President should not disguise the underlying reality of Russia’s emergence as an energy and economic giant in world terms, and continued progress in re-establishing itself as a first rate military power. The EU is effectively hostage to its growing dependency on Russian oil and gas supplies. Russia is the world’s leading source of natural gas, with Germany sourcing about 60% of its gas supplies from Russia. The map below highlights Europe’s vulnerability.

This energy dominance has seen Russia shake off the doldrums of the 1990s to emerge as a serious economic power. Boris Nemtsov, a minister in the government of Boris Yeltsin, now a businessman outside the political centre, notes: “We have $100 billion in the stabilization fund, $300 billion in the central bank, and one great person in the Kremlin who decides how to distribute this unlimited amount of money among people. Do you think such… a system needs democracy? No.”

The wealth flowing from the energy boom has spread in Russia. In Moscow modern shopping malls are springing up to meet the demand from cashed-up consumers, and luxury cars and western fashion items abound.

Russia is devoting more attention to its seriously depleted military. It is the second largest arms producer in the world behind the US. In many areas of strategic weaponry, including aircraft, and other weapons systems its armaments are seen as better performing than comparable US items. It is supplying air defence systems to Syria and Iran specifically to counter potential attack from the US or Israel. As well it has deployed anti-tank weapons to those countries which can penetrate the defences of the main US and Israeli battle tanks. But in one sense, which should also engage our attention, time is not on Putin’s side. He seeks to rebuild the Russian Empire, but the demographics of his country portend serious problems. Simply put, the population of Russia is in decline. Birth rates of ethnic Russians have plummeted. But there is one group in Russia which is dramatically increasing in numbers and as a percentage of the total population, and that is Russia’s Muslim citizens.

The population of Moscow is ten million, with two and a half million of them being Muslim. It is said that the Russian military is 25% Muslim and the Toronto Star, Canada’s biggest selling newspaper, reports that by 2015 Muslims will make up a majority of Russia’s army—that’s only eight years away. Birth rates of the Muslim peoples far outstrip those of ethnic Russians, with Muslim families having numerous children, often up to ten per family. In contrast, according to some surveys, seven out of ten Russian pregnancies are aborted. Vladimir Putin is a strong supporter of the Russian Orthodox Church. He acts ruthlessly to suppress Chechen Muslim insurgency. How will he respond to this demographic challenge? Perhaps by accelerating his program for Russian emergence as a power to challenge the US. There may well be twists and turns still to come, but there certainly seem to be strong pressures emerging to bring about soon, the formation of the confederacy foretold by Ezekiel and long anticipated in our community.

Jews Against Israel

In February 2007 an organisation was launched in Britain called Independent Jewish Voices. This was followed a month later by the launch of a sister organisation in Australia: Independent Australian Jewish Voices. These organisations provide a platform for Jews around the world to do as an organisation, what most have been doing as individuals for some time, that is to attack the Jewish State, its policies and its supporters. There has long been a strain of anti-zionist Jewish thought, often expressed in the most virulent terms. But this has been growing strongly in recent years to the point where many western Jews are declaring that not only are Israel’s policies wrong, but that the very existence of the State of Israel was wrong from the beginning.

So Jews become the vehicles of the identical arguments put forward by the most vicious antisemites— a quite breath-taking development.

Hear the words of this group’s founding declaration: “Those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries, consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of the occupied people.” To quote Melanie Phillips in response: “But the rights of the Palestinians are being infringed for one reason only: that they are intent upon destroying Israel and murdering its citizens. Israel’s legitimate self-defence in this war of annihilation being waged against it is thus represented here entirely falsely as aggression. That, of course, is the trick of Palestinian propaganda, which has appropriated the history of Jewish victimisation and turned it on its head, casting the Palestinians as the new Jews and the Israelis as the Nazis – a vile inversion which has been swallowed in its entirety by the signatories to this declaration and by many others on the left.”

It is now almost impossible to speak publicly on any United States University platform in support of Israel, without being shouted down and attacked by the anti-Israel crowd, a mixture of Muslims, Jews on the left etc. It is hardly worth speculating on the underlying origins of this suicidal impulse among western Jewry. There may be elements of fear and simple cowardice. There is perhaps a desire to fit in to the prevailing academic “politically correct” biases and a desire to be accepted as a valid intellectual rather than one of those thuggish Zionists.

What a task awaits our Lord at his return. Enemies to be defeated. A world to be subdued and then re-born. And his own people, both Israel in the land, and Jewry in dispersion, to be turned from blindness, pride and rebellion, to accept the “spirit of grace and of supplication” and to acknowledge their Messiah.

True Watchmen will be alert to all that is happening about them, observing and noting the signs of the times, and the steady unfolding of the prophetic timetable. If our desire as Watchmen, is to be with our Lord at that great day, to stand, like faithful Daniel “in his lot at the end of the days”, then “let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” that we might “obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5:6–9).