- - Sunday, July 9, 2017


For all his angry tweets and occasional bluster, Donald Trump can rise to the occasion, and say important things that millions want to hear but other “leaders” are too timid, too soft, or too intimidated to say.

His “Remarks to the People of Poland,” as the White House modestly labeled them, were an eloquent, unapologetic and ringing affirmation of the values and traditions of the West. Some Europeans, despairing of hearing such robust affirmation from their own, likened his remarks to Ronald Reagan’s demand, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

To the chagrin of certain lace-panty small-d democrats of the West, he aimed his words at those who need to hear them most, invoking history, faith and culture, and relating values and principles to the present moment fraught with common peril.

“This continent no longer confronts the specter of communism,’ he said, “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 did not identify in so many words the specter of aggressive radical Islamic terrorism, but his meaning was pointed and clear, comparing the mutual defense of the nations of the early 21st century to the United States and its allies of the 20th century who prevailed over the twin evils of Soviet communism and the Nazi brutality of a Germany now fading into history.

“You see what’s happening out there,” he told the Polish throng assembled in the sunshine of Krasinsky Square in Warsaw, where in 1979 Pope John Paul II urged a vast throng of Poles to resist Soviet tyranny and were answered with a deafening cry from a million hearts, “We want God!”

There are new threats, the president said, “and we will confront them. We will win. Our own fight 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 [on] 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, of culture, of memory.”

The defense of the West, and all that the West means to the rest of the world, “is not just a commitment of money, it is a commitment of will. The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.” America, he said, “will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, but our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.”

This was the needed rebuke of his host later in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose invitation to a million unvetted and unexamined refugees to Europe invited a peril of unknown size, to be with Europe for a generation. “Our [peoples] did not win freedom together, did not survive horrors together, did not face evil together, only to lose our freedom to a lack of pride and confidence in our values.”

Mr. Trump announced that the United States will sell advanced Patriot missiles to Poland, which reverses the policy of Barack Obama who, to the anger and disappointment of abandoned allies, withdrew missile batteries in Poland and the Czech Republic. Mr. Obama counted on his own eloquence and rhetoric to provide defense — why defend with a missile battery when a speech would do?

The new president is hardly known for his eloquence, but he says things that need saying, and his performance last week in Europe was a job well done.

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