Consider what happened during those years: France invaded Spain; Russia fought Turkey; various German states fought with Denmark, Austria and France; Britain and Turkey fought Russia; and Greece fought Turkey. Those are just the “highlights”—and they don’t include the numerous internal conflicts, uprisings, declarations of independence and other political unrest that occurred. Even Switzerland had a civil war.
That is what “peace” in Europe looked like before the latter half of the 20th century.
The states of Europe spent 75 percent of the 17th century at war with each other, 50 percent of the 18th century, and 25 percent of the 19th. The periods of war became shorter—but more than made up for it with devastatingly more effective weapons.
This is why many are skeptical of the creation of a “European army.” How can a continent with such a long history of war and division form a united military force?
Such an effort has failed, many times. France blocked an attempt to form the “European Defense Community” in the 1950s. More recently, in 2011, Britain vetoed plans for a military headquarters. The threat of a British veto has thwarted many more attempts.
Yet despite all this historical division and history of failure, the Trumpet, and the Plain Truth before us, has consistently forecast that Europe would form a united military. Why?
Timeline: Europe’s Push Toward a Unified Military
A Real Danger
This subject is not merely of academic interest. Napoleon Bonaparte, Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolf Hitler have all engulfed the world in war through their plans of conquest. Since World War ii, Europe has been comparatively demilitarized. It is a legitimate concern whether a militarily revitalized Europe would return to its old ways.
Experts on geopolitics certainly think so. “A federal Europe would constitute an agglomeration of force that would completely alter our significance as an Atlantic power and greatly weaken our position in the Western Hemisphere,” warned Yale professor of international relations Nicholas Spykman in the 1940s.
“[A]lready one can see that the more united Europe becomes, the greater its tensions with the United States,” writes bestselling author Robert Kaplan. “A true European superstate with armed forces and a single foreign policy at its command would be both a staunch competitor of the U.S. and possibly the dominant outside power in the equidistant zone of southern South America.”
If Europe unites military, the world would have another superpower. Until now Europe has generally followed on with U.S. policy. It has had little choice: America has been its primary source of protection. But a Europe with a united military is a Europe that is both independent of the U.S. and capable of threatening world peace.
Is such a Europe possible?
The Latest Push
The latest push toward a European military began with the Paris attack on Nov. 13, 2015. Why should this push be any different from the failures in the past?
Several factors have come together, making this new push more likely than ever to succeed:
- Brexit: Until now, Britain’s veto has prevented any meaningful progress toward a European military. When the British voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, discussion in Europe about the opportunity to proceed with militarization was immediately kick-started.
- The migration crisis: The Schengen Area comprises 26 European nations that have abolished passport and other border controls. These nations share a border but do not currently share any means of protecting that border. It is now clear that a weakness in the border of one state affects the whole area. For Schengen to hold together in the long term, Europe needs some means of shared protection.
- Terrorism: From 2014 to 2017, European member states suffered more than 19 attacks, killing over 370 people—and foiled another 45-plus attempts at bombings, stabbings and shootings. Rising terrorism draws attention to the dangers inherent in a shared border. But it also demonstrates how an unstable Middle East and North Africa threaten Europe.
- The withdrawal of America: Until recently, thanks to American security guarantees, Europe hasn’t needed much of a military. But under U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, America has withdrawn significantly from the world. European leaders have spoken with greater and greater boldness over the need this creates for more robust European militarization.
- The rise of Russia: Nations in Central and Eastern Europe especially are looking to Germany for protection as their fear grows over the aggressive neighbor to their east.
Given all of these pressures, it is easy to see why Europe has taken dramatic steps toward creating a shared military in the last couple of years—and the pace of these steps is accelerating. The list is quite stunning:
- Nov. 13, 2015: Terrorists kill 130 in Paris. France invokes Europe’s self-defense clause for the first time.
- March 17, 2016: The Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade joins the German Army, putting two thirds of the Dutch Army’s command structure under German leadership.
- March 17, 2016: German defense minister says Germany will set up a multinational panzer division to be the “nucleus of a European army.”
- April 6, 2016: French President François Hollande tells Germany’s Bild magazine, “Let’s not rely on another power, even a friendly one, to do away with terrorism,” referring to the U.S.
- June 23, 2016: British citizens vote to leave the European Union.
- June 24, 2016: French and German foreign ministers set out their vision of the European Union without Britain, proposing “a European Security Compact which encompasses all aspects of security and defense.”
- June 28, 2016: EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini publishes her long-awaited report on European foreign affairs—it calls for “a stronger Europe” and military cooperation.
- July 13, 2016: Germany publishes a 10-year review of its military, announcing that the nation “is striving to achieve the long-term goal of a common European Security and Defense Union.” It recommends the creation of an EU military headquarters and a council of defense ministers, and it calls for EU nations to produce and share military equipment.
- Sept. 14, 2016: In his “state of the union” speech, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker calls for an EU military as part of a solution to Europe’s “existential crisis.”
- Sept. 16, 2016: EU nations (minus Britain) agree on a timeline for developing military cooperation.
- Oct. 6, 2016: The European Border and Coast Guard Agency is established. The force starts with 1,500 personnel and will be able to deploy in any member of the Schengen border-free zone even without the host nation’s permission.
- Nov. 8, 2016: Donald Trump is elected president of the United States. Many in Europe respond by demanding accelerated European military cooperation in order to end Europe’s dependence on America.
- Nov. 30, 2016: The EU Commission announces plans for the EU to spend nearly $6 billion a year developing new military equipment and up to half a billion a year on research.
- Dec. 15, 2016: Europe’s satellite navigation system, Galileo, goes live. Support for EU military missions is a major motivation for the project.
- Feb. 7, 2017: Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland’s ruling party, says Poland would “welcome an EU nuclear superpower” and that the EU should “be prepared for huge expenditures” on its military.
- Feb. 16, 2017: The Czech Republic and Romania agree to integrate brigades from their militaries into the Germany Army.
- Feb. 16, 2017: Defense ministers from Belgium, Germany and Norway sign a declaration of intent to join a fleet of refueling aircraft created by the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
- March 6, 2017: EU leaders approve the creation of a new military headquarters. The headquarters will initially command only training missions, but as the EU Observer reported, some see the new HQ as “the nucleus of a future European army.”
- April 10, 2017: France and Germany sign an agreement to operate a joint fleet of transport aircraft.
Never in history has Europe achieved so many concrete results in the push for a unified military.
The launch of the Coast Guard Agency is especially historic. EU representatives in Brussels can now legally deploy armed soldiers within EU territory even against that nation’s wishes. This represents a genuine erosion of one of the most fundamental aspects of national sovereignty: a state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, something Encyclopedia Britannica calls “a defining characteristic of the modern state.” The Coast Guard and Border Force makes clear that European states are no longer fully sovereign. As a principle, this is a huge concession and a major step toward a shared military.
Alongside these grand European gestures, Germany has been making rapid progress on another front. In 2013, then German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière grew impatient with efforts to create an EU military through a long-imagined grand treaty of some sort. So he announced a different approach. Germany would build an EU military one nation at a time. It would work with its neighbors, integrating their forces into the German Army one by one. Once a handful or so of nations had signed up, the multinational force could form the core of a larger EU military.
The Dutch were the first to sign up, integrating two thirds of their Army’s command structures into the German Army. In 2017, the Czech Republic agreed that two combat brigades would join the German Army. The Romanians are also transferring a brigade to Germany.
European nations have already made vastly more progress toward a united European military than they have in the past 50 years combined.
These steps are just a start, but an important one. Europe has huge power potential. America is pressuring Germany to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on its military. If Germany follows through, it will have a military budget much larger than Russia’s. Start combining that with other nations and you have a force to be reckoned with. The European Union has an economy roughly the same size as America’s. France is already a nuclear power. The Netherlands, Germany and Italy host American nuclear bombs.
Herbert W. Armstrong warned of this military union for decades. In May 1953, he wrote that “10 powerful European nations will combine their forces.” In August 1978, he warned: “The Europeans are far more disturbed about their safety in relying on United States military power to protect them than Americans realize! …
“Europeans want their own united military power! They know that a political union of Europe would produce a third major world power, as strong as either the U.S. or the ussr—possibly stronger!”
A War-Making Union
Simple self-preservation provides a powerful motivation to watch Europe for any sign of a unified military power. But the ultimate reason the Trumpet watches this trend is Bible prophecy.
Mr. Armstrong based his prophecies on scriptures found in Daniel 2 and 7 and Revelation 13 and 17. These describe a European power made up of 10 nations or groups of nations that would appear in this end time.
Revelation 17:12, for example, describes “ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.”
“The seventh head” of this beast power, he explained, “with its 10 horns, in the 17th chapter, will be, as the 17th chapter explains, the revival of the beast, the Roman Empire, ‘out of the bottomless pit’ by a ‘United States of Europe,’ or federation of 10 European nations centered within the bounds of the old Roman Empire.”
These 10 kings will rule together as part of the beast power. This is an important point that you need to prove from the Bible. Ample scriptural proof of this can be found in Herbert W. Armstrong’s free booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?
This union of 10 kings is clearly a military union. The Bible says these kings shall “make war” (verse 14).
Many other passages warn of a great war-making power in this end time. In Isaiah 10:5-7, God says that He has raised up Germany—end time Assyria—to “destroy and cut off nations not a few.” Habakkuk talks about the same time period, calling the end-time European power “Chaldeans”—this time referring to the religious nature of this power. He describes them as a “bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs.”
The Bible is full of prophecies foretelling a military empire that will march in and conquer Israel. “I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the Lord: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say,” states Jeremiah 5:15. Ezekiel 6:3 states: “Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God; Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.”
Both these prophets were writing 100 years after ancient Israel went into captivity. Their warnings make no sense—unless you realize that they are intended for when God would “bring again the captivity of … Israel” during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:3, 7).
The military power building in Europe right now is the one God prophesied would “bring again” this captivity.
It is because of these prophecies that Mr. Armstrong forecast that Europe would become a military power. But Mr. Armstrong also saw from the Bible’s prophecies that this unification would not come easily.
“The nations of Europe have been striving to become reunited,” he wrote in the January 1979 Plain Truth. “They desire a common currency, a single combined military force, a single united government. They have made a start in the Common Market. They are now working toward a common currency. Yet, on a purely political basis, they have been totally unable to unite.”
How, then, will they unite? Mr. Armstrong went on to explain that it would happen through the addition of a religious force in Europe—the same one that has been associated with every major European empire in the past 15 centuries: the Roman Catholic Church. (Read our free book The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy.)
Yes, the unification project on the European continent will have serious obstacles. The Continent that has been repeatedly riven by warfare will not readily come together nor will it ever be a picture of harmony. In fact, even once its unification into a single empire is complete, the 10 nations of this superpower “will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay” (Daniel 2:43; New International Version). Prophecy reveals that it is a fractious and fatally flawed union that will only manage to hold together for a few short—but shockingly destructive—years.
These prophecies are accelerating toward their fulfillment. Though Europe has much to do before its military union is fully formed, Europeans are under great pressure. Major crises are driving this push for a European military. That is why it must be taken seriously, despite all past failed rhetoric. Terrorist attacks, the migrant crisis, Russia’s increasing aggression—none of these problems are going away. If Europe’s efforts stall, one or more of these forces will push Europe again toward its prophesied destiny: a superstate whose individual nations lose sovereignty but gain the power projection of a 21st-century superpower.
The arrival of an independent European military force will be one of the most radical developments in decades. At the same time, Germany is emerging as a clear leader in this drive to form an army.
Though, at present, many nations support Europe’s efforts to expand its military power, biblical prophecy shows that this trend is one of the most dangerous happening in the world today!