Wow. I listened to a lot of Barack Obama’s speeches, with all the empty platitudes about how we all can get along, even as the planet caught fire and burned while he sat back and dithered.
I don’t remember any of Obama’s speeches approaching the profundity and understanding of the world that President Trump displayed in remarks delivered today, appropriately enough, in Warsaw, Poland.
For those who think Trump is a buffoon, if they watched today, they witnessed a president with a rare understanding that ideas and principles matter, far more than bombs or feel-good false assurances.
Poland is a nation that has been confronted time and again with existential threats, and survived. And survival is what the West, even if few in Europe and many in the United States don’t yet understand it, must fight for today.
In a remarkable statement that I fear will fall on too many deaf ears, Trump asserted that, yes, there is an enemy from without trying to destroy us, Islamic extremism, and a potentially lethal enemy from within as well, statism and the bureaucratic state.
Our own fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield — it begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls. Today, the ties that unite our civilization are no less vital, and demand no less defense, than that bare shred of land on which the hope of Poland once totally rested. Our freedom, our civilization, and our survival depend on these bonds of history, culture, and memory.
Trump began his remarks by detailing the heroism of the Polish people through the scourges of Nazism and communism.
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 your humanity. Yet, through it all, you never lost that spirit. Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken.
Poland, Trump noted, has a lesson for the world today.
I am here today not just to visit an old ally, but to hold it up as an example for others who seek freedom and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization. The story of Poland is the story of a people who have never lost hope, who have never been broken, and who have never, ever forgotten who they are.
And that is the crux of the problem we face now. That we are abandoning our values, the very Western civilization that made us great, and which is the only thing that will rally us to defend ourselves. Poland survived because it didn’t shed its culture, including belief in God.
Together, with Pope John Paul II, the Poles reasserted their identity as a nation devoted to God. And with that powerful declaration of who you are, you came to understand what to do and how to live. You stood in solidarity against oppression, against a lawless secret police, against a cruel and wicked system that impoverished your cities and your souls. And you won. Poland prevailed. Poland will always prevail.
In a passage echoing John F. Kennedy’s “Let them come to Berlin” stanza at the Berlin Wall, Trump upheld Poland as the example for the world to follow: a nation that has survived by standing for its values.
We have to remember that our defense is not just a commitment of money, it is a commitment of will. Because as the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have. 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 desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?
We can have the largest economies and the most lethal weapons 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. Let them come to Poland. And let them come here, to Warsaw, and learn the story of the Warsaw Uprising.
The West can prevail too, Trump asserted, by recognizing and standing against Islamic terrorism . . .
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. We’re going to get it to stop . . . 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 of any kind. We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail.
And by defending freedom against the internal threat of statism.
On both sides of the Atlantic, our citizens are confronted by yet another danger — one firmly within our control. This danger is invisible to some but familiar to the Poles: the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people. The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.
Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty. We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are. (Applause.) If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.
The West, Trump declared, will succeed.
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.
I hope he is right. I’m not sure that he is, at least with respect to Europe. But maybe. The first step is recognizing the problem, which Trump is trying to help us do. God willing, America and Europe are listening.