Last week President Donald Trump’s address to the Polish people was a powerful speech on many different levels, with Trump’s embrace of Western principles and faith. But while the mainstream media was focused on creating controversy on the speech, they of course gave limited to no coverage of one of the more startling aspects of the speech: Trump’s calling out of Russia from Polish soil.
Imagine the President of the United States speaking in a country invaded and occupied by Russia and which is now a full dues-paying member of NATO while criticizing Russian actions in Ukraine and Syria, reaffirming his commitment to the Article 5 mutual defense clause of NATO and applauding Poland for acquiring the Patriot missile defense system.
It becomes even more amazing when we remember that President Obama in 2009 undid the deal in which both Poland and the Czech Republic planned to acquire the Patriot missile defense system. Why? Obama wanted to “reset” the relationship with Putin and Russia.
It was the beginning of the Democrats’ appeasement of Putin; it began with Hillary’s reset button and Obama’s “we’ll have more freedom after the elections” but culminated in Hillary’s approval of the sale of 20% of our uranium supply to Russia, helping Putin towards his stated goal of controlling the uranium supply chain worldwide while the Obama Administration stood down as Russia launched “soft” wars in Ukraine and Syria.
After eight years of total failure to deal with Putin’s growing regional and global ambitions, it’s encouraging to see President Trump take a strong stand for Western values and put Putin on notice.
Donald Trump seeks anything but appeasement with Russia, as his words in Poland made clear: “We are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.” While Russia’s energy exports aren’t a large player in America’s consumption, they are crucial to the European energy portfolio. In 2015, 30% of Europe’s crude oil came from Russia. For comparison, Saudi Arabia accounts for just 11% of Americanpetroleum imports.
The outlook for Europe is even more concerning when you consider Russia’s natural gas resources. Russia has the largest proved natural gas reserves in the world and in 2015 almost 90% of their exported natural gas went to Europe. 40% of Germany’s natural gas is imported from Russia, a problem that will grow more acute as Germany needlessly shutters their coal-fired and nuclear power plants. President Trump clearly recognized the dire situation Europe faces and his statement reiterated what he had said in his first speech that day, a speech to the Three Seas Initiative.
The Initiative, an association of twelve central and eastern European nations that stretch from the Baltic and Adriatic Seas to the Black Sea, is committed to creating a north-south corridor of infrastructure in telecommunications, energy and transportation. While Trump’s speech to the Three Seas Initiative conference didn’t receive nearly the coverage of his second, in many ways it had more import on the future of Europe and the relationship between the United States and Russia.
In that speech, Trump made it very clear that he intended to help break up any hold that Russia might have over those countries in regards to access to energy supplies and their strategic energy policy: “The Three Seas Initiative will not only empower your people to prosper, but it will ensure that your nations remain sovereign, secure, and free from foreign coercion. The Three Seas nations will stand stronger than they have stood before. When your nations are strong, all the free nations of Europe are stronger, and the West becomes stronger as well.”
For years Russia has used energy as a weapon of coercion in Europe, yet Trump addressed this issue head on in both of his Polish speeches. In fact his words were focused on the very foundations of power for the Putin regime: Russia’s oil and gas exports. Almost 70% of all Russian export revenue and roughly half of the Russian government’s revenue come from oil and gas exports. In 2014 the New York Times reported that Russian gas interests were likely funding anti-energy campaigns in Romania and Lithuania.
Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen even claimed that “Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations—Environmental organizations working against shale gas—to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.”
Does that sound familiar? It should because the Russians are likely engaging in the same strategies to undermine American energy production. Congressmen Lamar Smith and Randy Weber highlighted “an elaborate scheme that funnels money through shell companies in Bermuda” to fund radical environmental groups like the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club. This is all part of Putin’s destabilization playbook, but fortunately some of our friends in Europe are fighting back and Trump has signaled his willingness to stand alongside them.
If you look at the map of the twelve Three Seas Initiative nations, they stretch the entire north-south length of Russia’s western border, from Bulgaria to Estonia, providing a wall between Russia and Western Europe. This Initiative and coalition, while not currently a formal association, is actually not a new idea: Polish leader Josef Pilsudski was advocating for this type of coalition shortly after WWI, a concept known as Intermarium. By showing up and addressing the conference, Trump was tacitly endorsing the concept.
What Trump really did with his Three Seas Initiatives speech is put Putin on notice and then President Trump doubled down in his second speech, as if asking how Putin liked that and would he like some more.
These are the real foreign and domestic policy issues that are actually happening, yet such topics are not convenient to the mainstream media’s narrative. The mainstream media wants to focus on absurd witch hunts with the fairy tale of Russian collusion and supposed obstruction while continuing to churn out innuendo and the breathless repetition of anonymously sourced stories in an attempt to undermine Trump. But there has been, and there will be, no appeasement of Putin and Russia.
Trump has been forceful in Syria, and enacted new sanctions against 38 Russian individuals and organizations for their role in the incursion of Ukraine at the end of June. With his speeches in Poland, President Trump made it abundantly clear he always will be his own man, driven by the singular vision of America First, that America is back in a very real way on the international stage and that its priorities will be accommodated.