Though many people would little suspect it, I have a great personal interest in prophecy, little suspected because I have spent far too many years of my life dealing with people whose continual half-baked speculations on end-time prophecy were designed (it appeared) to induce a permanent state of panic and anxiety. Being a somewhat panicky and anxious person by nature, I have tended to avoid dwelling too long on a subject I know to be important but at the same time find to be abused by legions of false prophets seeking followings of their own and wish to avoid being in their company.
That said, I received an e-mail today that reminded me that often when it comes to prophetic fulfillment, perhaps we are looking in the wrong places. An e-mail from Stratfor that I received earlier today demonstrates this point in a very profound (though probably unintentional) way. Statfor chose as its significant event in geopolitics for the week the establishment of a regional defense group in Eastern Europe, called Visegrad, something that even prophecy buffs in Europe would not pay much attention to but which reveals something notable both in history and in prophecy.
When futurists, especially among that group of futurists in terms of biblical prophecy who believe that the beasts of Revelation refer to a revitalized Roman Catholic Church and a revived Roman Empire of sorts in what is now Europe, with a likely core of Germany, think of the future, they look to the core. This is a natural and mistaken human tendency. We look to the core because we know that is where power is generally held, where the important people are, and so we expect history to be made there. This is a mistaken view, though.
What is truly significant in history usually happens not in cores but on the peripheries, not in the center but on the edge. World War I started not because of a problem between Germany and France (the two “cores” of the competing alliances) but because of a conflict on the periphery over a Serbian-supported terrorist group in Bosnia who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in a botched operation. The Seven Years War did not start because of a fight between France and England in Europe over Hanover or the Channel, but because of the desire of one George Washington to defend the rights of Virginia to some backwater territories he surveyed for a land speculating company, starting a quarrel with some French & Indian fighters in a backwoods skirmish that became a world war.
There are other examples that prove the point as well. World War II started in Poland, and the US became involved because of a Japanese attack on its periphery, in Pearl Harbor. The Civil War became basically inevitable once a national crisis begun in Bleeding Kansas (on the periphery of the United States at the time), and increased by the attack of one abolitionist terrorist John Brown on the periphery of the slave power in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia led to the election of a candidate from the edge of the North, Springfield, Illinois, and the division of the United States into a Civil War on a line from Kansas past Illinois and through Virginia. It was events on the edges and periphery that were more decisive than dithering in the core.
If you want to continue, one finds that Jesus Christ was not from the core of the Roman Empire, but from the periphery, one small province named Judea. David was not from the core of Israel, but from its periphery, in Bethlehem Judah, and he made his capital in Jerusalem, which was at the “edge” between Judah and the Northern tribes, the line of division between the two unstable internal cores of Israel in Ephraim and Judah. The turbulent history of Israel and Judah throughout the Bible was because their territories often sat at the edges between the lands of Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Life at the edge means instability and insecurity, and those realities create conflicts between the core regions of those areas and the core regions their neighboring peripheries belong to.
Having given this very lengthy historical introduction, to demonstrate that throughout history it has been the periphery and note the core that has driven much of the conflict we find in world history, contrary to the expectations of many, let us now turn, fully armed, to our subject of discussing the prophetic importance of the military alliance known as Visegrad to the future of Europe.
First, we must identify what Visegrad is. Currently, it is a military sub-alliance of four Eastern European nations (Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and Hungary) who have joined together in collective defense against the threat of Russia and its satellite states to the East. Feeling a lack of commitment from the United States to its defense and a lack of unity within the European core of France and Germany, divided over the Libya issue (Germany has not supported the effort, which has shown the deep fractures within NATO between various nations). The resurgence of Russia, shown when it defeated Georgia in a conflict and engineered the dominance of pro-Russian parties in both Belarus and the Ukraine, combined with the weakness of Germany in opposing Russia to date and in defending its own interests as part of a unified Europe, has led these nations to defend themselves through cooperative effort under the leadership of Poland.
This move is significant because it was the least preferred option of these nations, which preferred a strong presence in NATO and a strong European Union. But continued economic weakness and a lack of trust in Germany and a fear of Russia have led the four nations to combine themselves into a regional military alliance that, like the Nordic bloc to its North, seeks to ensure its independence from an encroaching Russia. The alliance is even seen to expand someday to Romania and Bulgaria, and perhaps even Turkey.
What makes the action of the Visegrad nations so decisive it that it signals warning bells from these nations that they fear an aggressive Russia, cannot trust the United States to defend its interests and survival (the United States in its recent military planning only committed a brigade to defend the entire Northern European Plan, far below regional needs), and worries about the unity and cohesion of Europe. A lack of trust in the European (Germany) and NATO (United States) cores has led them to defend their own interests themselves.
This becomes relevant because a strengthened regional bloc such as Visegrad could very easily trigger conflict between a European core and a Russian core over issues in places like Moldova or the Ukraine or Belarus. The Ukraine in particular is divided between a pro-Russian East and a pro-European West and if it splits between the two sides that may prompt increased tensions between Europe and Russia over the valuable border nation. Again, like the Libya crisis, or Bahrain, this would be a problem on the edges and peripheries of a culture group, not within the core. This suggests that the periphery of Europe is uncomfortable and making what could be provocative acts that may prompt cores to act in response, at least eventually.