Friday, July 7, 2017

Trump's Defining Speech

At WSJ, "In a presidency-defining speech in Poland, Mr. Trump defends the faith and freedom of the Western tradition":
The White House description of Donald Trump’s speech Thursday in Warsaw was simply, “Remarks by President Trump to the People of Poland.” In truth, Mr. Trump’s remarks were directed at the people of the world. Six months into his first term of office, Mr. Trump finally offered the core of what could become a governing philosophy. It is a determined and affirmative defense of the Western tradition.

To be sure, Mr. Trump’s speech also contained several pointed and welcome foreign-policy statements. He assured Poland it would not be held hostage to a single supplier of energy, meaning Russia. He exhorted Russia to stop destabilizing Ukraine “and elsewhere,” to stop supporting Syria and Iran and “instead join the community of responsible nations.” He explicitly committed to NATO’s Article 5 on mutual defense.

But—and this shocked Washington—the speech aimed higher. Like the best presidential speeches, it contained affirmations of ideas and principles and related them to the current political moment. “Americans, Poles and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty,” he said. This was more than a speech, though. It was an argument. One might even call it an apologia for the West.

Mr. Trump built his argument out of Poland’s place in the history of the West, both as a source of its culture—Copernicus, Chopin—and as a physical and spiritual battlefield, especially during World War II. The word Mr. Trump came back to repeatedly to define this experience was “threat.”

During and after the war, Poland survived threats to its existence from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Mr. Trump believes that the West today confronts threats of a different sort, threats both physical and cultural. “This continent,” said Mr. Trump, “no longer confronts the specter of communism. But today we’re in the West, and we have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life.”

He identified the most immediate security threat as an “oppressive ideology.” He was talking about radical Islam, but it is worth noting that he never mentioned radical Islam or Islamic State. Instead, he described the recent commitment by Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations to combat an ideological menace that threatens the world with terrorism. He compared this idea of mutual defense to the alliance of free nations that defeated Nazism and communism.

But the speech’s most provocative argument was about our way of life. It came when he described how a million Poles stood with Pope John Paul II in Victory Square in 1979 to resist Soviet rule by chanting, “We want God!”

“With that powerful declaration of who you are,” Mr. Trump said, “you came to understand what to do and how to live.”

This is a warning to the West and a call to action...
Still more.

And President Trump tweeted, "Thank you!"