Watching Donald Trump speak in Warsaw today, in the shadow of that city’s memorial to the gallantly doomed Polish resistance heroes of World War Two, Virgil thought of another Western leader of indomitable resolve: Winston Churchill.
Seventy-seven years ago, on June 18, 1940, Churchill told Britons, and the world, that they would have to fight Nazi Germany—alone. “The Battle of France is over,” he said as Hitler’s legions swept into Paris, “The Battle of Britain is about to begin.” At the time, the United States had yet to enter the war, and Stalin’s Russia was aligned with Germany. Indeed, just the year before, the two evil empires had cooperated in the conquest of Poland.
Knowing full well the immensity of the godless forces arrayed against his country, Churchill described the high stakes: “Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization.”
And yet, Churchill continued about the Führer, “If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.” But if not, he warned, “Then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age.”
That was the speech, of course, that Churchill closed with a ringing exhortation to his fellow Englishmen: In the future, he pledged, the Battle of Britain would be remembered as his country’s “finest hour.” And so it has been.
Indeed, even after all these decades, Churchill’s memory and achievements still live; he is routinely rated as the greatest figure in British history, and hardly a day goes by without some new book, movie, or TV show further lionizing that great lion.
Of course, Churchill wasn’t always so highly regarded: In the 1930s, he was in political eclipse, regarded as a sixty-something has-been. In particular, his stern warnings about the danger of Nazi Germany were regarded as shrill and irrelevant. Back then, the grandees of London thought that they could make a deal with Herr Hitler; thus Churchill was dismissed, even as Hitler was appeased.
Yet then the war came anyway, because Hitler was unappeasable—he wanted bloody conquest, starting with Poland. All the high hopes of the would-be peacemakers meant nothing to his wicked mind. In the meantime, on October 1, 1939, Churchill took note of Poland’s suffering at the hands of both Hitler and Stalin, in a worldwide broadcast over the BBC’s airwaves:
Poland has been again overrun by two of the great powers which held her in bondage for 150 years but were unable to quench the spirit of the Polish nation. The heroic defense of Warsaw shows that the soul of Poland is indestructible, and that she will rise again like a rock which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave but which remains a rock.
The Poles, crouching by clandestine radios amidst their cruel subjugation, were heartened to hear those words; the West—of which the Poles were proudly and defiantly a part—had not forgotten them.
Soon thereafter, Britain turned to Churchill as its political savior. In the spring of 1940, he was ushered into power at 10 Downing Street—and into historical greatness. So we can see: Because he never lost sight of his steadfast patriotic principles, Churchill was vindicated.
Now today, to Trump. He, too, has a steadfast message about the defense of the West. Even his bitterest critics—and there are plenty of them—have to admit that he has been stoutly consistent on that theme. History has yet to make a judgment on Trump’s presidency, but this much of a verdict is already manifest: He has an iron determination to speak plainly about the mortal threats we confront. In fact, Trump has never been more Churchillian as when, in Warsaw, he said:
For two centuries, Poland suffered constant and brutal attacks. But while Poland could be invaded and occupied, and its borders even erased from the map, it could never be erased from history or from your hearts. In those dark days, you have lost your land but you never lost your pride.
Continuing in that vein, Trump declared that the ultimate questions of defense and survival were about both heart and spirit:
Poland is the geographic heart of Europe, but more importantly, in the Polish people, we see the soul of Europe. Your nation is great because your spirit is strong.
Trump was just getting warmed up. The ultimate question for Poland and the West, he continued, was about the strength of our moral spirit:
We can have the largest economies and the most lethal weapons of anywhere on Earth, but if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak and we will not survive. If anyone forgets the critical importance of these things, let them come to one country that never has.
To put it mildly, these were not the words that the Western elites, including those in the United States, typically use to express themselves. Those elites, including Trump’s predecessor in office, Barack Obama, and his rival in 2016, Hillary Clinton, find it hard, if not impossible, to unabashedly praise our own collective Western heritage.
Moreover, in the eyes of that globalist upper crust, Poland is regarded as a freakishly right-wing Catholic country, to be judged drastically wanting on issues ranging from abortion rights to immigrant influx—that is, Poland has too few abortions and too few immigrants. And so, in the lofty eyes of these planetary policymakers, the politically correct goal should be to force Poland to become more in the mould of the Brussels-based European Union. After all, within the EU, it’s bureaucracies and institutions, not histories and cultures, that determine fates.
But Trump, never a part of that globalist groupthink, knew his Warsaw audience better. He proclaimed, to those who doubt the country’s dogged determination to survive, “Let them come to Poland, and let them come here to Warsaw and learn the story of the Warsaw Uprising.”
The Warsaw Uprising, of course, was the valiant effort by the Polish underground Home Army to strike against the Nazis. After two months of fighting, in which some 15,000 Poles were killed, the rebellion was crushed. If untimely death came to those Polish heroes, so, more importantly, did eternal glory
Then, the following year, the Soviet Red Army entered Warsaw, and the brutal Nazi occupation was replaced by the only-slightly-less-brutal Soviet occupation. Yet even so, as Trump recalled, the long-suffering Poles held out:
Through four decades of Communist rule, Poland and the other captive nations of Europe endured a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity—indeed the very essence of your culture and humanity. Yet, through it all, you never lost your spirit. Your oppressors tried to break you. But Poland could not be broken.
And a crucial part of the spirit that could not be broken, the President added, was spiritual faith. Trump recalled the day in 1979, when a million Poles came to hear a mass by the new Polish-born Pope, John Paul II; they chanted, “We want God!” As Trump put it:
In those words, the Polish people recalled the promise of a better future. They found new courage to face down their oppressors. And they found the words to declare that Poland would be Poland once again.
In other words, faith doesn’t just redeem in the hereafter, it redeems in the here and now.
Trump’s emphasis on the earthly importance of spiritual power is familiar to Breitbart News readers; here, many figures have emphasized this point. One such is this site’s former executive chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, now the chief strategist in the Trump White House.
In a 2014 speech to the Vatican, Bannon began by declaring we are in the “beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict,” because jihadist Islam is “going to come to Europe.” And yet this civilizational challenge, he continued, was, at its core, “a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West.”
We might note that Bannon’s perceptive words of warning came a year before Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel mindlessly decided to throw open the borders of her country to a million Muslim refugees. Not only was this horde not subject to “extreme vetting”—it wasn’t vetted at all. Thus we can see that a part of the spiritual crisis is simple empty-headedness.
Germany is now paying the price for its open-borders folly; yet to make matters worse, it is now seeking to force other European countries, including Poland, to suffer, too, by taking in still more refugees.
In other words, the Poles are once again being victimized by the Germans. Fortunately, the Poles have a friend in Trump. The 45th President, having won the White House on a platform of border security and national sovereignty, still embodies that strong spirit—and then some:
The triumph of the Polish spirit over centuries of hardship gives us all hope for a future in which good conquers evil, and peace achieves victory over war. From the farms and villages of your countryside to the Cathedrals and squares of your great cities, Poland Lives, Poland Prospers, and Poland Prevails.
So today, that valiant country stands as a beacon, “as an example for others who seek freedom and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization.”
And yet, Trump continued, the struggle is, in fact, far larger than Poland, because all of the West is under threat. Yes, fascism and communism has disappeared from Europe, but jihadism is on the rise. So once again, a Western leader must defend the things that we hold dear—or should hold dear. Just as Churchill did seven decades ago, Trump took a moment to extoll the Western virtues that need defending:
We are the freest and the greatest community of nations the world has ever known. We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover new frontiers. We reward brilliance, strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law—and protect the right to free expression. We empower women as pillars of our society and our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.
And yet, as we all know, these values are under siege. As Trump put it, “We are confronted by another oppressive ideology—one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe. America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another.” That is, even those who, for reasons of liberal ideology, wish they could simply ignore the threat can no longer do so: “We must stand united against these shared enemies.”
Indeed, in light of these enemies, Trump continued, we must be cautious about whom we let into our midst:
While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism. We cannot accept those who reject our values and use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.
Virgil might note that Trump said, “we will always welcome new citizens,” as opposed to “new migrants,” or some other word that fudges the distinction between legal and illegal.
If other countries, such as Germany, don’t care about such distinctions, well, that’s yet another part of the current crisis. As Ronald Reagan, and, before him, Franklin D. Roosevelt might have said, we cannot escape this rendezvous with destiny. Or as Trump put it:
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 their borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?
So this is what we must do—we must defend ourselves:
Just as Poland could not be broken, I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph. . . . So, together, let us all fight like the Poles–for family, for freedom, for country, and for God.
Trump really laid it on the line: It’s all about the defense of the West. We will not only stand up for our Judeo-Christian civilization, we will also, if need be, fight for our Judeo-Christian civilization.
Thus we come back to that earlier defender of our ways and our faith, Winston Churchill. He was right when he said, those 77 years ago, “Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization.” We can expand that concept to included like-minded non-Christians, as Trump rightly did, but the underlying idea is the rock-solid same.
So if Churchill was right then, Trump is right now. If we stick together, we’ll win, and if we don’t—we won’t.
The elements of a new strategy for the West’s survival are thus coming into place. And if there’s not yet a Trump Doctrine, there will be soon enough. And here’s a prediction: Most likely, it will embody the motto of the U.S. Army: “This we’ll defend.”