- Kacper Pempel/Reuters
President Donald Trump used his speech in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday to lay out his vision of the ongoing struggle to protect Western civilization and its values “at any cost.”
Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd, many of them bused in from Poland’s more conservative countryside, the president lauded the Polish people’s history of rejecting fascism and communism while speaking in Krasinski Square, which contains a memorial to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis.
“I am here today not just to visit an old ally, but to hold it up as an example for others who seek freedom and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization,” Trump said.
The president seemed to apply his “America First” framework to the larger Western world, arguing that the West must protect its borders and reassert its values “at any cost.”
Trump noted that “as the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have.”
“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” Trump continued. “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 civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
Trump also turned his criticism toward “the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people,” but has not been critical of Poland’s current government, run by a conservative nationalist party, which has been accused by human rights advocates for being hostile to democratic ideals.
An administration official who briefed reporters ahead of the speech said the “core theme” was a “defense of Western civilization,” according to a pool report.
“The speech is very philosophical,” the official said. “It obviously deals with the current events of the day.”
Trump’s language echoed the bleak picture of “American carnage” he painted in his inauguration speech, in which he described urban communities ravaged by poverty and violence and “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones” across rural America.
“We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own,” Trump said in January, adding, “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”