President Donald J. Trump has said the West faces an existential challenge to “defend our civilisation”, “borders”, and “faith” – hailing Poland as an example of a nation ready to defend itself and its values in an address to the Polish people Thursday.
“We must work together to confront forces that threaten over time to undermine our values and erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition”, he said, capturing the theme of his landmark speech which warned of threats from within and abroad.
Talking on Krasinski Square at the symbolic monument to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising – the largest military effort taken by any European resistance movement to the Nazis during World War II – he continued:
“Because as the Polish experience reminds us – the defence of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail. The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive?
“Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the courage to preserve our civilisation in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” he questioned.
To relentless chants of “Donald Trump! Donald Trump!”, he answered: “Our freedom and our civilisation depend on these bonds of history, culture, and memory… Just as Poland could not be broken, I declare for the world to hear that the West will never ever be broken and our values will prevail, our people will thrive, and our civilisation will triumph.
“Let us all fight like the Poles. For family, freedom, for country, for God. God bless the Polish people, God bless our allies and God bless America,” he concluded.
The President sang the praises of the “faithful nation” of Poland, their “culture” and people, and their historic fight against Fascism and Communism, and the continued battle against “radical Islamic terrorism”.
“It is a profound honour to stand in this city by this monument to the Warsaw uprising and to address the Polish nation… A Poland that is safe, strong, and free,” he told the cheering crowd at the beginning of his speech.
Holding Poland up as an example, he gave a sweeping defence of Western civilisation – including its free speech, history, music, art, and science – and warned of the many threats it faces today, alluding to mass immigration.
He described how a million Poles had chanted “We Want God!” when the Pope visited in 1979 as the nation languished under Communist oppression, adding: “The people of Europe and America still cry out ‘We Want God’… reassert[ing] their identity as a nation devoted to God.”
On the threats of today, he said: “We are confronted by another oppressive threat – one that threatens to export extremism and terror all around the globe. The EU and America have suffered one terror attack after another. We are going to get it to stop… We must stand united against these shared enemies to rip them of their territory.”
During the speech, he also praised Poland’s leading role in NATO and criticised Russian’s “destabilising” role in the region.
“American knows that a strong alliance of free, sovereign, nations is the best defence for our freedoms and our interests. That is why my administration has demanded that all members of NATO finally meet their full and fair financial obligation. As a result of this insistence billions of dollars more have begun to pour into NATO,” he said.
Adding: “That is why we salute the Polish people who achieved the benchmark in commitment to our defence. Thank you, Poland!”
— Paul Wojciechowski (@AusAmbPoland) July 6, 2017
Poland’s conservative, populist, ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and Mr. Trump have similar views on migration and climate change and share a suspicion of international bodies and globalisation.
Mr. Trump backed Brexit and predicted the further breakup of the European Union (EU). He has promised to slash mass-migration – linking it to terrorism – and protect U.S. sovereignty from erosion in the era of globalisation.
Poland’s PiS government is also Eurosceptic and is currently battling the bloc to resist forced migrant quotas and to protect its own sovereignty.
Larger, more liberal, Western EU nations – led by France and Germany – forced through the migrant quota policy against the wishes of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, who argued it would expose them to terrorism.
After the Islamist Manchester bombing, the Polish prime minister slammed “the madness of the Brussels elite” who support mass-migration and urged the region to defend its “culture” and “traditions”.
Poland has emerged as a leader in the group of the ex-Communist, Eastern and Central EU nations (with largely right wing governments) currently fighting the migrant quota policy in the courts – all of them are also, incidentally, part of the Three Seas Initiative.
Ahead of a meeting with Mr. Trump Thursday morning, Polish President Andrzej Duda said the visit would strengthen their place in the EU. “This is the second foreign visit by President Trump and it starts in Poland. This shows we are a country that matters and it strengthens our position in the European Union,” he said on public radio.
Short after, during the meeting with Mr. Duda, Mr. Trump said: “[The U.S. has] never been closer to Poland than we are right now.”
Addressing the Three Seas Initiative Summit immediately after, Mr. Trump praised the resolve of Eastern European nations, and said he was “honoured to be here, in a city where – as its been said many times before – the impossible has become the possible”, in a reference to Poland’s fight against Fascism and Communism.
He said the “[Three Seas] Initiative will rebuild the entire region and ensure your infrastructure – like your commitment to freedom and the rule of law – binds you to all of Europe and indeed to the West.”
At the end of last month, it was reported that EU officials were worried Mr. Trump’s visit to Poland would bolster the populist, right wing government there, encouraging their defiance of the EU, and damage “European unity”.
“One cannot but feel a bit suspicious if it isn’t an attempt to break up European unity,” an EU diplomat said about the Three Seas project.