Tuesday, July 11, 2017


"Addressing a large crowd on Thursday in Warsaw, Mr Trump hit out at Russian actions in Ukraine and urged Moscow to “cease . . . support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran”. The remarks came just hours before Mr Trump flew to Hamburg for the G20 summit, which is expected to be fractious because of acute differences over issues from climate policy to trade and tackling North Korea. He will also hold his first meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at a time of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow.  While Mr Trump lavished praise on Poland for meeting the Nato goal of spending two per cent of GDP on defence, he renewed his criticism of other nations — such as Germany, albeit not by name — that have not met the target. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor who is hosting the G20 gathering, is due to meet the US president on Thursday. But in comments welcomed by the alliance, Mr Trump said the US strongly backed the mutual defence component of the Nato treaty, something he had controversially refrained from doing when he recently attended his first Nato summit. “To those who would criticise our tough stance, I would point out that the US has demonstrated not merely with words but with its actions that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defence commitment,” Mr Trump said.  In a speech that had some echoes of his inauguration address, Mr Trump cast the challenges facing the west in stark terms, saying “the fundamental question of our time is whether the west has the will to survive”, in reference to a range of threats that he said included “radical Islamistic terrorism” and government bureaucracy".
James Shotter & Demetri Sevastopulo, "Donald Trump criticises Russia ahead of G20 meeting with Putin". The Financial Times. 6 July 2017, in www.ft.com
"The key passage in the Trump speech went as follows: “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 civilisation in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” Read at face value, this passage seems exceptionally melodramatic. Does anybody seriously doubt that the west has “the will to survive”? Mr Trump’s underlying point only becomes clear in the context of the later sentence: “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders...?” It also means that Mr Trump is on a similar wavelength to the Polish government, which has strongly objected to accepting Muslim refugees, as part of an EU-backed resettlement programme. Finally, the Trump argument tacitly labels Angela Merkel as one of those who lack the “desire and courage” to protect western civilisation. After all, it was the German chancellor who allowed more than 1m refugees, mainly from Muslim countries, to enter Germany in 2015. But Ms Merkel’s supporters, in Germany and overseas, regard the German chancellor as the true defender of western values — and President Trump as the real threat. Beyond the personalities, the argument comes down to a question of what “the west” really means. In Warsaw, Mr Trump flirted with a civilisational view of the west. He argued that “we write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand new frontiers.” But for many western liberals, the west is defined less by cultural achievements and “timeless traditions” than by a set of political ideas. Those ideas include political pluralism, freedom-of-speech and — at least in modern times — a belief in the primacy of the individual, rather than the tribe. To be fair to Mr Trump, he also nodded in this direction, arguing that in the west “we treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression”. But, coming from a president who has sacked the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and who attacks the “fake media” at every opportunity, those words lack conviction."
Gideon Rachman, "Donald Trump’s speech on the west lacks conviction". The Financial Times. 7 July 2017, in www.ft.com.
Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw was and is worthy of at least two 'hurrahs'. It would of course have been an even better speech if it was delivered by someone, anyone else: Secretary Clinton, the ex-Junior Senator from Illinois with the absurd name, Mitt Romney, indeed almost anyone. As it is, the speech highlighted in a way that his predecessor singularly failed to do so in his Cairo Speech of 2009, the fact that Western Civilization has in comparison to everyone else much to be proud of and much to celebrate. And that the other nations and regions of the world, would be infinitely better off in adopting, in as organic and Burkean fashion as is possible, those self-same qualities which have raised North America and Europe to the eminent position that they occupy at present. A position which as Trump correctly stated is under threat due to our bien-pensant liberal, bourgeois, post-enlightenment elites (which Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times is a perfect example if not in fact a parody), forgetting the sinews of those values and truths: Christianity, political pluralism, free-enterprise, community, order, which have raised the West to its current position. As the scholar and political commentator, Victor David Hanson correctly noted, while it is truly ironic (and indeed au fond rather depressing) that Donald J. Trump of all people had to deliver this particular speech, that per se does not obviate the verity of its contents:
"The billionaire, thrice-married, and creature-of-luxury Donald Trump, in his 70th year, was warning the West in Poland that precisely because it is very rich, extremely wealthy, singularly leisured, and technologically sophisticated, it faces the most peril — amid failed enemies who hate those who are more successful for encouraging their own taboo desires for something that they cannot create. In sum, Trump’s anti-Cairo message is that only a disciplined, strong West — confident in its past and sure of its present success — will deter enemies, appeal to neutrals, and keep friends. Trump should not have had a need to deliver such a self-evident but now rare message. That he alone had the courage to state the obvious — and was criticized for doing so — reminds us that the corrective to our Western malady is seen as the problem, not the cure" 1.
1. Victor David Hanson, "Trump’s Anti-Cairo Speech". The National Review. 11 July A. D. 2017, in www.nationalreview.com.


Post a Comment

<< Home