Trump in Poland: The fundamental question of our time is whether the west has the will to survive
The most memorable line from today’s speech. Usually when a U.S. president swings by Warsaw to discuss civilizational threats, there are three topics on the menu: Russia, Russia, and Russia. Not this time. Trump does touch on Moscow “destabilizing” Ukraine but Putin’s not the main west-wrecking villain he has in mind. This passage, written by top border hawk Stephen Miller, is obviously aimed at the EU’s policy of absorbing massive numbers of Middle Eastern migrants. The “civilization” rhetoric has American liberals huffing about this supposedly being an “alt-right manifesto,” with the line “For family, for freedom, for country, and for God” causing special offense. That’s the core of alt-right identity, is it? Huh. Define those things as fascist and don’t be surprised if fascism loses even more of its stigma.
Trump had a receptive crowd for this message today:
A majority of Poles would be ready to give up their generous financial aid from the European Union or leave the bloc altogether to ensure the country can shut its borders to Muslim refugees, a poll showed.
Coinciding with a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, the poll of 1,000 people showed more than half of respondents, or 57 percent, said they would be willing to do without EU development funds to maintain the stance of rejecting refugees from Muslim countries. Fifty-one percent said they’d be ready to surrender membership in the 28-member trading bloc. The June survey, conducted by the pollster IBRiS and published in the Polityka weekly, had a margin of error of 3 percent.
Depending upon how well Trump’s meeting with Putin at the G20 goes, critics will point back to this speech as evidence that he’s using the refugee crisis to distract from a forthcoming alliance with Russia that’ll end up undermining Polish interests. I don’t know, though. Would an administration that’s preparing to sell out Poland to Moscow do something like this?
The Trump administration will announce Thursday an agreement with the government of Poland to sell the Eastern European ally American-manufactured surface-to-air missile systems. The agreement comes seven years after the Obama administration removed a group of missile launchers from near the Russian border with Poland after Moscow objected to their placement…
Putin’s anger with both the missile launchers in Poland and a planned American missile-defense radar system in neighboring Czech Republic prompted the Obama administration to pull back from these commitments, originally made during the George W. Bush administration.
The answer to my question, I guess, is “Let’s wait to see if the deal actually goes through.” Threatening to sell missiles to Poland may be a leverage play against Russia a la Putin violating the INF Treaty by deploying intermediate-range land-based missiles earlier this year. Trump might propose a quid pro quo at the G20: Pull those missiles back and maybe we’ll rethink our deal with Poland. If Putin plays ball, Poland won’t get its missiles after all — but it’ll be rid of a threat from Russia, which was the point of having the U.S. missiles in the first place. It’s a key early test of Trump’s resolve in playing hardball with Russia.