American Elephants

Here’s the Full Video & Text of Donald Trump’s Speech in Poland by The Elephant's Child
July 7, 2017, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Europe, Freedom, History, National Security | Tags: , , , ,

President Donald Trump delivered the following remarks to the people of Poland from Warsaw’s Krasiński Square after being introduced by first lady Melania Trump.

Thank you very much. That’s so nice. The United States has many great diplomats, but there is truly no better ambassador for our country than our beautiful First Lady, Melania. Thank you, Melania. That was very nice.

We’ve come to your nation to deliver a very important message: America loves Poland, and America loves the Polish people.

The Poles have not only greatly enriched this region, but Polish-Americans have also greatly enriched the United States, and I was truly proud to have their support in the 2016 election.

It is a profound honor to stand in this city, by this monument to the Warsaw Uprising, and to address the Polish nation that so many generations have dreamed of: a Poland that is safe, strong, and free.

President Duda and your wonderful First Lady, Agata, have welcomed us with the tremendous warmth and kindness for which Poland is known around the world. Thank you. My sincere — and I mean sincerely thank both of them. And to Prime Minister Szydlo a very special thanks also.

We are also pleased that former President Lech Walesa, so famous for leading the Solidarity Movement, has joined us today, also. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

On behalf of all Americans, let me also thank the entire Polish people for the generosity you have shown in welcoming our soldiers to your country. These soldiers are not only brave defenders of freedom, but also symbols of America’s commitment to your security and your place in a strong and democratic Europe.

We are proudly joined on stage by American, Polish, British, and Romanian soldiers. Thank you. Thank you. Great job.

President Duda and I have just come from an incredibly successful meeting with the leaders participating in the Three Seas Initiative. To the citizens of this great region, America is eager to expand our partnership with you. We welcome stronger ties of trade and commerce as you grow your economies. And 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.

Mr. President, I congratulate you, along with the President of Croatia, on your leadership of this historic Three Seas Initiative. Thank you.

This is my first visit to Central Europe as President, and I am thrilled that it could be right here at this magnificent, beautiful piece of land. It is beautiful. Poland is the geographic heart of Europe, but more importantly, in the Polish people, we see the soul of Europe. Your nation is great because your spirit is great and your spirit is strong.

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A Fine and Moving Speech Celebrating a Strong Europe and Western Values by The Elephant's Child

There’s an odd kind of disconnect going on. President Trump spoke to the people of Poland yesterday, reaffirming the long-standing bond between our two countries, and the bond with our European allies. He reaffirmed his commitment to Article 5, the NATO mutual defense pact, and noted that the United States had demonstrated not just with words, but with our actions, our commitment  to our allies. When our commitment to our allies is unsaid, the media climbs all over it, when it is included, it gets no mention at all. One might be inclined to think there is something to President Trump’s complaints about his treatment by the media.

If you recall, President Trump criticized the members of NATO who were not paying their agreed-upon share of the costs of NATO. NATO countries have agreed to spending  2% of their GDP to support NATO, but only 5 nations are contributing that much. It’s a longstanding complaint. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned NATO members back in January that if they do not boost their commitment, the United States might “moderate” its commitment to the alliance.

“I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” Mattis said during a meeting in Brussels with defense ministers from other NATO countries. “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense. No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values.”

The U.S contributes 3.61 % of GDP. Greece 2.39%. UK 2.21, Estonia 2.16, and Poland 2.00. Canada contributes only .99%. The amount contributed is a goal — not a legal pact. America spent an estimated $650 billion on defense in 2013 which is more than double the amount contributed by the other 27 nations put together.

The problem is not just the defense spending, but underlying attitudes. Europe has been unwilling to face up to Russian aggression, and the problems of Islamic migration. The European Union has ordered EU nations to accept large numbers of migrants, and only a few are firmly resisting. Much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil. The initial push to accept heavy migration was based on the idea of “refugees,”empathy and compassion.

In his speech to the Polish nation, and to the world, President Trump offered a “determined and affirmative defense of the Western tradition. He assured Poland that it would not be held hostage to a single supplier of energy. He exhorted Russia to stop destabilizing Ukraine and elsewhere, to stop supporting Syria and Iran and ‘instead join the community of responsible nations.”

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.”

Donald Trump was taking a firm stand against the fuzzy multiculturalism and globalization of Barack Obama and Western intellectuals who are all too ready to surrender to the critics of the traditions of the West. He spoke of a nationalism rooted in the rule of law, freedom of expression, religious faith and freedom from oppressive government. It was an important speech.

Peter Beinart, who I was astonished to discover is an associate professor of journalism and political science, wrote for the Atlantic about “The Racial and Religious Paranoia of Trump’s Warsaw Speech.” It’s the clearest example of what sometimes passes for thought on the left that I’ve seen in some time, and even more silly than usual. It reminds me of what one might expect from a college freshman in love with his own newly discovered intellectual promise, and trying to impress a lefty professor, might produce. See, see how I can tear this speech apart—embarrassing.

Beinart found George W. Bush’s 2003 speech in Poland useful for contrast, because Bush referred to democracy 13 times, and Trump mentioned it only once. By taking each word very, very literally, and insisting that since “the West” is not correctly a geographic term nor ideological or economic, then obviously it’s a white nationalist screed. The editors at National Review summed it up nicely:

It’s a strange day when praising the Warsaw uprising, the Solidarity movement, and Pope John Paul II makes you a neo-Nazi, but that day is, apparently, today, following President Trump’s speech to an assemblage of dignitaries, alongside a cheering crowd, in Poland, on his way to the G20 summit.

A Tone-Deaf and Classless White House. by The Elephant's Child

America’s highest civilian award is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In the ceremony last Tuesday, while presenting World War II Polish resistance hero Jan Karski with a posthumous medal,  President Obama  made a reference to” Polish death camps.”  It was Jan Karski who brought evidence of the existence of Nazi Death Camps to America.

You can’t go stumbling along in foreign relations without an understanding of history. Europeans have long memories, and Poland was a Nazi-occupied country, and a great many Poles were executed at Auschwitz and Birkenau. The presence of the Nazi concentration camps in Poland was a deep affront.  To suggest that the camps were Polish when awarding a medal, posthumously, to a resistance hero is more than tasteless. To assign the task — not of apologizing — but of saying oh, the President just misspoke, is a greater insult.

But then Obama is the one who notified the Poles with a midnight phone call on September 17, 2009, the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, that we were pulling the plug on our missile defense base they had stuck out their necks to host.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk responded: “I am certain that our American friends are capable of a more explicit reaction than issuing a correction and the spokesperson of the White House expressing regret. When someone says “Polish death camps,” it’s as if there was no Hitler. That is why our Polish sensitivity in these situations is so much more than just simply a feeling of national pride.”

Embarrassing incidents can be smoothed with a real apology.

ADDENDUM:Lo and behold. “The issue hasn’t gone away just because he wants it to,” and, as Jim Treacher at the Daily Caller reports, “in an undoubtedly ego-bruising development, he’s been forced to publicly apologize.” The Hill reported:

President Obama has penned a letter of apology expressing “regret” over using the phrase “Polish death camps” in a ceremony earlier this week, which has drawn heavy criticism from Polish officials.

“In referring to ‘a Polish death camp’ rather than ‘a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland,’ I inadvertently used a phrase that has caused many Poles anguish over the years and that Poland has rightly campaigned to eliminate from public discourse around the world,” Obama wrote in a letter released by the Polish government. “I regret the error and agree that this moment is an opportunity to ensure that this and future generations know the truth.”

Improving Our Foreign Relations, One Step At a Time. by The Elephant's Child
April 19, 2010, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Europe, Foreign Policy, Liberalism | Tags: , ,

The President’s golf game is not playing well in Warsaw.  World leaders assembled in Poland for President Kaczynskis’ funeral.  The headline in the Warsaw Business Journal read “Obama goes golfing instead of attending Kaczynskis funeral.”

“On a cool but sun-drenched day, the president and three golfing companions head[ed] to Andrews Air Force Base on Sunday to play 18 holes. It is the 32nd time Mr. Obama has played golf since taking office Jan. 20, 2009, according to CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller,” reported the Washington Times on Sunday.
In an article posted on its website, the newspaper also reported that while US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden had taken the time to visit the Polish Embassy to sign a book of condolences, President Obama had not yet taken the time out to do so.

The Warsaw paper went on to detail how other world leaders did manage to travel to Warsaw, and noted that although the plumes of volcanic ash kept German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkosy away from the funeral — there was no evidence that they too had taken to the links.  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev managed to fly in for the occasion — “a gesture of solidarity that reinforced Polish hopes for improved ties with their communist-era master.”

Betraying Our Friends and Appeasing Our Enemies Is Not the Way to a Successful Foreign Policy. by The Elephant's Child
September 18, 2009, 1:24 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Middle East, National Security | Tags: , ,


Today, September 17th, was the 70th Anniversary of the Soviet Invasion of Poland.  President Obama celebrated by scrapping the missile defense sites that were planned for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Poland was informed in a midnight phone call.  The issue of the missile defense sites had caused constant bluster and threats from Putin and his fellows in the Kremlin who pretended to believe that the small number of interceptor missiles was somehow a threat to Russia although the system is purely defensive.

Obama’s case is that the Iranian ballistic missile threat “has not emerged” as soon as originally estimated, and that currently proven tactical antimissile capability  is better suited and more ready for deployment against the current threat.  This refers to the Aegis-missile ship patrols in either the Black Sea or the Baltic.

Unfortunately this was also the day that the International Atomic Energy Agency experts expressed their agreement that Iran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead, according to a secret report  seen by the Associated Press.

Obama spoke about the decision today with a lot of  bluster and little clarity, but what it seems to boil down to is an attempt to pacify Putin in the hopes that he will help out with Iran, which Putin  has declared that he has no intention of doing.

The Russians seem to think that they should be free to threaten Europe with anything from nuclear annihilation to cut-off of energy, and that anything that interferes with that is provocative.

The concession to Russian sensibilities will gain America nothing, and weakens America’s bargaining position.  Obama’s justification is weak in its assumption that defense against a longer-range missile is not needed  on Obama’s planning scale.  There isn’t any basis for this assumption, and it makes Obama appear weak and easily manipulated.

The missile-defense site in Eastern Europe  which as well as protecting our European allies was meant to be the third arm of defense against long-range missiles approaching North America from the Arctic, the Far East and the Middle East. The idea of more than one defense seems to have escaped consideration.

It’s hard to understand the Obama view.  He has pandered to Saudi Arabia, which has rejected his approaches.  Approaches to Syria have resulted in increased violence in Iraq, interference with Lebanese democracy and encouragement of Palestinian extremism.  Russia’s reset seems to leave them free to interfere with their neighbors. Cuba has rebuffed Obama’s approaches.  Anti-Americanism has increased in Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey.  It seems that it has little to do with the America’s imperial ambitions and does not relate to specific administrations.

American actions have much farther-reaching consequences that the Obama administration seems to grasp.  Perceptions by other nations and their national interests may have little to do with Obama’a charisma and speechmaking gift.  Our friends want to know that they can depend on us.  Our enemies need to know that we are stalwart, and mean what we say.

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