The ruling party of Poland hired Trump supporters in the country’s rural Warsaw – a movement familiar to the most populist men. “A large crowd with Polish and American flags gathered in the square to Trump’s statements,” my colleagues wrote. “At least one person waved flag ‘make United States Big Again’ campaign, and another waved a Confederate flag.”
Then Trump spoke about what is now a familiar topic. He warned against the dangers facing his country and Europe, especially those of Islamic extremism and immigration. They are, in your mind, existential challenges. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” Trump said.
This near-apocalyptic sense of fatalism possessed Trump rhetoric for months, even during his inaugural address, which invokes the specter of “American carnage.” His message is the perennial fear of a dark and dangerous world.
Undisguised hostility towards Islam and indigent immigrants seems deeply ingrained among White House nationalist ideologues, including advisers Stephen K. Bannon and Stephen Miller, who wrote the last speech. In an essay published last year, Michael Anton, director of communications for the National Security Council, suggested that increasing immigration in a country is a sign of “a people, a civilization that wants to die.”
In Warsaw, Trump has called for nationalism and blood on the floor and Christian triumphalism that defines its brand policy and one of the far right in Europe. “We can have the biggest economies and the deadliest weapons on Earth. But if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak and we will not survive,” he said.
“I declare today that the world understands that the West will never break,” Trump said in a final form of bravado. “Our values prevail, our people prosper, and our civilization will triumph.”
But what values? Which people? And what civilization? Trump, after all, said that his vision of the West is different from that invoked by the establishment in force.
“I’m going to work with our allies to revitalize Western values and institutions,” Trump said during the election campaign last April. “Instead of trying to spread” universal values ”that everyone disagrees with, we must understand that the strengthening and promotion of Western civilization and its achievements inspire more positive reforms in the world than military interventions.”
Anton, Bannon, Miller and their colleagues are not only right-wing nationalists but also a deep skepticism of the international order. They are hostile to multiculturalism and the very notion of universal values; They feel the multilateral commitments that have defined the development of US policy for more than half a century.
The most obvious omission in Trump’s speech – although this is more surprising – was a discussion of democracy or human rights. (Jewish groups were upset because, for the first time since 1989, an American president coming to Warsaw did not surrender to the sacred site of the Warsaw Ghetto). Unlike other presidents who extol the virtues of democratic norms and the free press, Trump stood next to his Polish counterpart, President Adrzej Duda, and beat major media in the United States as “false news.”
The irony, of course, is that many in Europe see the Polish government itself as a threat to Western values. Last year, the EU executive has given Poland a formal warning that changes imposed on the Constitutional Court posed a “systemic risk to the law.”
Critics have also pointed to the new restrictions facing independent journalists and the total transformation of the national broadcaster from a government spokesman.