The world is about to explode, and something must be done to stop it.
This was the general consensus of experts at the February 2018 Munich Security Conference. But at the end of the three-day conference, these foremost international relations experts from around the world found themselves with lots of problems—and no solutions.
Mankind has once again proved incapable of solving its problems.
Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, said on the last day of the conference (emphasis added throughout):
The motto of this conference was “To the Brink and Back?” I was hoping when I opened this conference on Friday that in concluding the conference, I would be able to say we can delete the question mark—in other words, we are back from the brink. I’m actually not sure we can say that. I have not been fully reassured by the discussions over the last two and a half days. We have heard excellent analytical work. We have heard what’s wrong. We have heard what the challenges are, what the nuclear risks and dangers are. We have also heard some wonderful visions, nice ideas about the future of Europe. …
We also know what we don’t like, what we want to avoid. … We know we want to get away from the brink. My friends, the bad news is, we haven’t heard enough [about], at least as far as I’m concerned, what are the concrete steps that our leaders—those who have spoken here and those who have not spoken here—what are the concrete steps that are actually going to be taken in order to implement the good visions and in order to prevent the bad perspectives that we have been discussing here.
This is Ischinger’s big takeaway from his own conference! In three days of speeches, they heard a lot about the challenges the world is facing, but no one had any concrete, workable solutions! This is one of the most prestigious international affairs conferences in the world. These leaders see a lot of the problems, but where are the solutions?
Some news outlets have emphasized the paradox that came out of this conference. The Berlin Policy Journal wrote in an article titled “The World Is at the Brink … And the West Doesn’t Know What to Do About It ”: “The clearer the picture of the dangers facing the West became over the three days [of the conference], the more worrisome the lack of any concrete strategy to minimize these risks.”
Defense One chimed in with “Global Elites Cannot Save a World in Turmoil .” According to this article, these so-called international relations “experts” have “nothing of substance to offer.” Carnegie Europe had the same takeaway. In “After Munich ,” author Judy Dempsey wrote that the Munich diplomats were unable to deal with the threats that were brought to their attention.
Do you receive a boost of encouragement from headlines like that? The experts of today are great at seeing the problems, but they have no solutions.
The conference is not the only example of expertise failing to produce answers. Stephen Walt, an international relations professor at Harvard, gave an interesting perspective in Foreign Policy , writing: “[T]he growth of professional education in international affairs in the last 50 years does not seem to be inspiring consistently better foreign-policy conduct or producing better outcomes. I’m not blaming schools of international affairs for all these failings, but is it possible we aren’t helping as much as we think we are?”
We’re training more experts. Around the world, negotiations are being carried out by the best-trained, most-educated diplomats in mankind’s history. Yet we’re no closer to bringing peace to the world. Why?
Part of the problem comes from the way America’s diplomats are educated, as Walt pointed out. Herbert W. Armstrong spoke a lot about how education has drifted from a balanced, liberal arts education toward getting locked into highly specialized topics. Students learn a lot about a specific field but very little about the bigger picture. That is what is lacking in these experts today. They are highly specialized, but they have no context for their knowledge. Today’s experts are not grounded in history as true experts were generations ago. This is a problem with education across the board—but the problem is far more serious when you are pursuing a field of study like international relations. Walt continued:
How could one possibly comprehend the crisis in Ukraine—or get an intelligent bead on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behavior—without knowing a lot about the history of Ukraine, Crimea and Russia itself? Could anyone possibly grasp the complex relationship between the United States and Iran, or between Israelis and Palestinians, without knowing how these relationships evolved over time? Ever wonder why South Korea and Japan don’t get along very well? If you don’t know their history, you won’t have a clue.
How can you weigh in on these conflicts if you don’t know about the history? Walt went on to indicate that if these experts had been trained in history, they would have a better understanding of human nature. That is the missing dimension in the international relations studies of today. If you understand history, then you know that the history of man is the history of war.
This is plainly revealed in the Bible. Jeremiah 17:9 states that the mind of man is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” In Jeremiah and the Greatest Vision in the Bible, my father writes that “desperately wicked” means dangerously or incurably sick!
Today’s educational system may not be the direct cause of this sickness, but it certainly hasn’t provided any healing. Our nations, diplomats and international relations experts are products of an educational system that teaches the opposite of Jeremiah 17:9. It teaches that in general, human nature is pretty good. According to this utopianist view of international relations, you should be able to sit down and talk some sense into the world’s madmen because they are fundamentally good.
But that is not what God’s Word says! The Bible tells us that our hearts are incurably sick—that we cannot know them at all—and that we are cursed if we trust in ourselves or in other men to guide us (verse 5).
Mr. Armstrong said in a World Tomorrow program in 1980:
But do you know we can’t solve our problems? We’re absolutely helpless when it comes to our problems. We can’t get along with one another: husband can’t get along with wife, parents with children, children with parents. We can’t get along with our neighbors. Management and capital can’t get along with labor. And nation can’t get along with nation. We have troubles. This world is full of troubles. It’s full of violence, full of war. And our troubles are all spiritual in nature.
Now the law of God is a spiritual law. And that law is love—out-flowing love: love to God and loving your neighbor as yourself. Oh it’s alright to love yourself as long as you also love your neighbor as yourself. Not very many do. Do you? Not very many do. And so we’re in a world filled with troubles—a world just absolutely filled with troubles.
What if those delegates in Munich understood even that much about human nature? It would revolutionize their approach to international relations! But instead, we are on the brink of destruction—and Jeremiah 17 explains why. My father writes in the Jeremiah booklet: “Trusting sick human minds is why we live in such a sick, sick, sick world! … We must see the evil in human nature, or we can never solve our problems. …
“The greatest need is to understand God—to let Him reveal our own sickness and heal it. Until we learn this lesson, we are living under a curse (Jeremiah 17:5).”
In Jesus Christ’s day, the Pharisees failed to see their own sick minds and their need for a physician (Matthew 9:10-13). But this is not just the Pharisees’ problem. This is the number one problem of humanity today! People don’t see their own terminal sickness. They don’t yet see the need for a physician. But soon this world will be in a nuclear holocaust, created by sick human minds. Only then can God begin to teach them, because they will no longer be able to deny the fruits of their human reasoning.
As my father wrote, this is the greatest lesson that any of us can learn. We need God. That is what He’s trying to show us. But we don’t want to listen—because our carnal minds are enmity against God (Romans 8:7).
Mr. Armstrong said in a 1980 sermon:
I talk to heads of governments. And I’ve probably talked to as many as any other living man on the face of the Earth. I mean kings and presidents, and there’ve only been two over large nations—two emperors; and I have known them both personally and talked to them privately; and prime ministers over so many nations that are really heads of state and run the government. I’ve known them all over, and I talk to them in the terms that are simple. And they understand. All the troubles in the world, all of the evils in this world, have come from living the way of get!
That’s an assessment from the greatest international relations expert of the 20th century! Mr. Armstrong visited more heads of state in their own offices than any other diplomat or ambassador of his day. He was an unofficial ambassador for peace, an ambassador without a portfolio or an international relations degree. But he knew a lot more about international relations than the experts of his day, and many world leaders recognized that fact.
In 1973, Mr. Armstrong was invited to address the International Court of Justice at The Hague. He wrote about this meeting in the December 1973 Plain Truth. At the World Court, he rubbed shoulders with the same kinds of people that were in Munich this February—and he said exactly the same thing that today’s experts said after Munich. They recognized a multitude of problems, but they had no solutions.
In that Plain Truth article, Mr. Armstrong gave a history of international law and what the World Court was doing to try to bring peace. He explained that the World Court fundamentally will not work, because it only has jurisdiction over an issue if both nations bring the dispute to the court. And nations only bring issues when it is in their best interest to do so. Also, there is no world policeman to enforce the World Court’s decisions. So for the most part, nothing of substance is accomplished. It’s kind of like the United Nations—lots of rousing speeches, but no solutions.
Mr. Armstrong quoted the former secretary general of the United Nations, U. Thant, who said that in order for the UN to actually succeed, all the nations of the world would have to give up some of their sovereignty so that the UN can enforce its own rulings. However, that is never going to happen, if the nations themselves have anything to say about it. Each nation puts its own interests first, above all other nations.
Mr. Armstrong wrote: “It’s time we quit kidding ourselves. The nations are not going to act contrary to human nature.” Do you think the U.S. would give up its sovereignty and submit to the UN? What about Russia, China, Germany or Iran? This is why meetings like the Munich Security Conference fundamentally will not work. Mr. Armstrong continued:
World-renowned scientists say the world’s only hope, now, is for a world government—one superpower—one single military force—to rule all nations. In the same breath they say that’s impossible.
I say, at the same time, the world’s only hope of survival is to change human nature! And man is just as powerless to do that!
Yes, man is powerless to change his own nature. But a world super-government is coming! And that necessary “strong hand from someplace” is going to crush the rebellion of the world and force mankind to live the way of peace and happiness. The nature of man will change (Joel 2:26). That is the only way that we will ever have peace.
This is at the heart of the true gospel message. Christ came with the good news of the Kingdom of God—a future world government. He was an international relations expert, educated and trained in the ways of God. He understood the problem with man and man’s nature from the very beginning.
Godly education in the true way of life is what will fix these problems. Isaiah 2 shows us that instead of learning war, the nations of the Earth will finally learn how to have peace after Christ’s return. There is a way to peace, but as Isaiah 59:8 says, man just doesn’t know that way. That is why we have so many problems—and no solutions.
Mankind has been learning the way of war for 6,000 years. However, very soon a “strong hand from someplace” will bring a new government to this Earth—a new kingdom that will finally enforce peace around the world.
To understand more on this subject and Mr. Armstrong’s unique perspective on international relations, read Gerald Flurry’s free booklet Ambassador for World Peace . ▪