Monday, April 15, 2024
World

Narratives scorning Trump are a tool to push the Americans out of Europe

Disagreement: US And EU Road Sign Pointing In Different Directions Against A Cloudy Sky, 3d illustration (iStock – cbies)

European governments are taking advantage of the ignorance of public opinion in their countries in order to criticize Donald Trump at every opportunity. Trump’s consistent pressure on Europe to increase its commitment to military spending is constantly portrayed as threats to abandon the Old Continent to Russia’s mercies. Leading European capitals are playing a double game: pressing the Republicans in the USA to support Ukraine, while hoping that the success of these efforts will buy the time needed to push the Americans out of Europe. This is a dangerous idea.

 

Tomasz Rowiński, writing for Ordo Iuris

 

New round of attacks on Trump

‘One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said: „Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we are attacked by Russia, will you protect us?” I replied: „No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them (Russia) to do whatever the hell they want. You’ve got to pay.”‘ Thus said Donald Trump at an election rally in North Carolina on 9 February 2024.

It is no coincidence that this recent statement by the Republican candidate for President of the United States was exploited by politicians of Poland’s ruling camp to whip up anti-American sentiment. Firstly, this was because Donald Trump once again – indirectly – criticised the European Union and the policy of the European capitals, including Berlin, which refuse to increase defence spending even to the minimum level expected by NATO. Secondly, the Tusk government seems to be intensively searching for a new theme with which to escalate the political climate in Poland. A vacuum was created in this respect following the attempt to divide Poles over the controversy about whether the Central Airport (CPK) should really be built in Baranów in the Mazovia region, which turned out to be misguided. A broad coalition of politicians – from the right to the left, as well as among citizens holding an array of views – has knocked the issue out of the government’s hands, for some time at least, as a tool for dividing Poles.

The decision to open a new narrative front against Trump was not at all triggered by the Republican presidential candidate’s own statements, but came directly from the European Union’s decision-making circles. Indeed, the words recently uttered by Trump do not particularly differ from what he has been preaching about NATO for a long time. It could even be said that Trump has not given the reluctant Europeans any particular pretext to attack him. Apparently the need has arisen in Europe to reinforce resentment against the Republican politician, whose very possible second term as President of the United States is looming on the horizon, which means that Europe must increase its economic efforts when it comes to defence. So much for Trump’s ‘alarming’ words.

In this context, the 12 February comment on this matter by Joseph Borell, the head of EU diplomacy, sounds downright absurd: ‘NATO cannot be a military alliance that works depending on the humour of the president of the U.S.’ The best remedy for this kind of threat is for the European signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty to actually increase their expenditure on armaments.

Will Trump abandon Europe?

Before considering Trump’s words, however, let’s go back to the beginning. The political spin against the former and possibly future US president started with a post by Donald Tusk on X (formerly Twitter) on 8 February that was widely commented upon, in which the Polish prime minister wrote in English: ‘Dear Republican Senators of America. Ronald Reagan, who helped millions of us to win back our freedom and independence, must be turning in his grave today. Shame on you.’ This tweet has indeed proved to be extremely popular, as it had received 7.8 million views as of 12 February 2024 and has also been repeatedly retweeted by English-speaking users of X.

His comment was meant as a reaction to the US Senate’s rejection of a financial package combining such issues as protecting the US border from illegal migration, assisting Kyiv in its war with Russia, and helping Israel with its operations in Gaza. It was mainly the migration crisis on the US-Mexico border – or rather the solutions to it proposed in the bill – that led Republicans to vote against the entire package.

What is worth mentioning on this occasion is that the reluctance of some Republicans to generously support Ukraine is also due to the manner in which the funds allocated to it by the ruling Democrats are being distributed. As early as 2022, one could read even in Polish publications – for example, on the website of the Warsaw Enterprise Institute in the article by Dariusz Matuszak entitled ‘Do Republicans Not Want to Help Ukraine?’ – that the ruling left in the US is using the war in Ukraine to promote the agenda of the political homosexual movement as well as gender ideology in that country.

The Ukrainian elite’s desperation to save their country certainly provides fertile ground for the effectiveness of propaganda aimed at institutionalising social solutions that must inevitably result in the disintegration of public order in our eastern neighbour. Some of the funds transferred to Ukraine since the beginning of the war are supposed to be channelled to NGOs implementing the American policy of cultural colonisation with a shade of rainbow radicalism that is characteristic of President Biden’s party. This kind of activity provokes opposition from the Republicans. But Donald Tusk’s reaction, preying on the low level of understanding among Europeans – including Poles – concerning American politics, has become the beginning of a new impulse to strengthen the already strong conviction in public opinion across the Old Continent that Donald Trump intends to abandon his allies on the eastern side of the Atlantic and hand them over to Russia.

Just one day later – on Wednesday, 7 February – when the issue of allied support for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan was separated from domestic US problems in the proposed bill, many Republicans in the Senate voted in favour of continuing the proceedings concerning the aid package intended for the besieged country. It would be fair to say that, were it not for the election campaign hampering the debate, the situation in the Senate was not particularly critical. Yet, Tusk decided to take an absurd diplomatic swipe at US policymakers nonetheless.

‘Serious politicians and experts in Washington know that Donald Tusk is a front man for the German plan to push the US out of Europe and invite Putin into the Defence Union envisaged in the amendments to the EU treaties,’ wrote Jerzy Kwaśniewski, president of the Ordo Iuris Institute, on X on 12 February. Although almost a month has passed since those events, the narrative tropes outlined at the time continue to persist.

Prof Zbigniew Lewicki stated on RMF FM radio on 24 February that Ukraine is peripheral to US policy and that Washington has already achieved its war aims: namely, to weaken Russia militarily and economically as well as to test new armaments. This opinion could easily be interpreted as foreshadowing the American departure from Central and Eastern Europe that many expect – a departure coinciding with the start of the new president’s term of office.

What does the EU say about this?

Strengthening the feeling of insecurity in societies by conjuring, via the media, the view that there is alleged instability in US foreign policy is of great importance to the European Union’s elites, to which Donald Tusk also belongs. These elites currently have one goal: to convince European societies that their security depends on agreeing to the centralisation and strengthening of supranational power on the old continent. This process, for the sake of obfuscation, is called ‘federalisation’.

Brussels or Berlin’s narrative policy in this regard, although rather far-fetched, is not devoid of a certain logic. Attacking Donald Trump and the Republican Party is meant to discourage the potential future US president from engaging in Europe, while at the same time pushing for the American right’s continued endorsement of supporting Ukraine. Indeed, American aid to Ukraine buys the dominant European capitals time. Is it time to rearm and prepare for a prolonged cold, if not hot, war with Russia? Not necessarily.

From Berlin’s perspective, it is arguably primarily a question of the time needed to end the sovereignty of the European nations and pre-emptively consolidate the project of a federal Europe. Success in this regard would open up new opportunities for establishing a new order in the western part of Eurasia that would be more favourable to German interests. It is not without reason – as Marek Wróbel, chairman of Poland’s Republican Foundation, recently noted – that ‘in every other action and word by the EU’s leaders and its members there is the message „CHANGE THE EU TREATIES”‘. The Ordo Iuris Institute devoted a recently-published comprehensive report, ‘Why Do We Need Sovereignty?’, to the threats posed to Poland by the project of European ‘federalisation’.

It can be hypothesised that the EU elites, together with those in Berlin and Paris, assume that the increased political mass that a united federal Europe, freed from the influence of American interests, would represent will prove sufficient to set the terms for peace and cooperation with Moscow. In such a political arrangement, Poland and the other countries of our region would become mere objects of an imperial policy pursued by the centres that have dominated the continent since the 19th century. Central Europe, which to a large extent covers the territory of the former First Polish Republic, also known as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, is currently being offered – practically without the possibility of refusal – a return to a model of subordination analogous to the one experienced during the Partitions of Poland from the late 18th century to the early 20th century.

The 20th-century experience, on the other hand, shows that it was in fact the American interests in Europe, as well as the willingness of the peoples of our region to determine our future for ourselves, that proved to be a lever of relative independence for countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This was the case both after World War I and after 1989. The current political task for Warsaw is therefore to maintain the conviction among the American elites that having a loyal geopolitical buffer between whimsical Western Europe and Russia is beneficial to their interests.

 

The threat to Poland

Representing the European elite’s objectives as outlined above were the recent statements by Polish politicians who belong to the pro-federation faction. Let us simply recall the words of the Speaker of the Sejm, Szymon Hołownia, about ‘hammering Putin into the ground’, or the undeniably brilliant critique of Russia by Radosław Sikorski in the United Nations Security Council. It has garnered applause from politicians and commentators from different political camps, both in Poland and in the Western world.

This strong rhetorical anti-Russianism, combined with Sikorski’s attempt to lobby Republican senators to support another large aid package for Ukraine, may have the effect of convincing at least part of the Polish public that the European Union, in the event of Trump’s victory in the presidential election, will become the main guarantor of Polish security.

As of today, however, the EU has no possibility of deterring or containing Russia other than to transform itself into a single huge state organism, within which the interests of individual nations will be ignored and sold off in exchange for political stability. In the short-to-medium term, however, the strengthening of anti-Russianism may pay off for Tusk and his political allies in Europe.

With this achieved, he is likely to seize the resulting rise in public support and seek to cash it in as support for the federalisation project. Once these goals are achieved, a renewed reset with Moscow as part of the broader construction of a European-Russian axis is no longer difficult to imagine. Such a development would be historically extremely dangerous for Poland.

A slightly different, albeit analogous, policy is being pursued by Paris, for which a return to free trade with Russia is less appealing than for the Germans, but it is rather the issue of European strategic autonomy that remains of particular importance for the French. ‘France, by speaking of European strategic autonomy as a concept that in a way treats all powers, including the US, in the same fashion, disavows the importance of NATO and US security guarantees for Europe,’ said Marcin Terlikowski, an analyst of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, in April 2023.

French President Emmanuel Marcon’s statement on 26 February that Paris has not ruled out sending Western countries’ troops to Ukraine falls in line with the logic of French political objectives. The rhetorical radicalisation of the French president’s stance towards Russia may be intended to achieve a certain deterrent effect against Moscow, but above all it looks like an ‘autonomous’ initiative by the leader of one of Europe’s nuclear powers to raise Paris’ profile in future peace negotiations. This interpretation can be seen, for example, in Polish President Andrzej Duda’s dissociation from this proposal.

This perhaps means that the subject was not first discussed with the only serious guarantor of security in the Central and Eastern European area: the United States. European ‘strategic autonomy’, in view of the European states’ relatively weak military capabilities, would probably mean an increase in the impact of Russian influence in the countries of our region.

In early March, the question of who had actually proposed that troops from Western countries should be dispatched to Ukraine remains shrouded in an information fog. More countries, including Poland; Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO; and US President Joe Biden have all denied that such a possibility exists.

 

Donald Trump in the face of war

Finally, it is worth looking – with the help of some more extensive quotes – at what Donald Trump thinks the role of NATO should be in the years of his possible second term as President of the United States. Many commentators have clung to words allegedly showing the Republican candidate’s desire to encourage an attack by Putin on one of the NATO countries. Almost completely ignored in the mainstream political coverage was another part of Trump’s statement. The unnamed leader, in the conversation cited by Trump, directly suggested that the United States has a duty to fulfil its North Atlantic security responsibilities, while dismissively referring to every member’s obligation to contribute to the common defence, which is of course incumbent on his own country as well.

The project of collecting all the elements of Donald Trump’s political doctrine concerning NATO, global conflict, and the war in Ukraine that are scattered across various texts and statements in one place was accomplished on X by Rafał Michalski, a well-known Polish observer of American politics as well as a researcher of American law. He published his insights on 11 February.

Trump’s perspective is arranged into a certain consistent political strategy, which should be analysed in Poland without any indignation. In Trump’s campaign programme, known as Agenda 47, we find the Republican politician’s familiar stance towards the war in Ukraine. We can begin our analysis with this extract.

‘If I were president, the Russia/Ukraine war would never have happened […] But even now, if I were president I’d be able to negotiate an end to this horrible and rapidly escalating war.’

Simultaneously, in the same document Trump makes it clear that it is the role of the United States to assume responsibility for the fate of its allied states that are spread across the globe.

‘We must be able to defend our homeland, our allies, and our military assets around the world from the threat of hypersonic missiles – no matter where they are launched from.’

Although the text refers to the threat of missiles ‘wherever they are launched from’, it is clear that only the Russians have hypersonic technology at their disposal today. So Trump himself, as well as his advisers, are well aware that Russian imperialism cannot be ignored.

Trump has declared mitigation of the smouldering threat of World War III to be a goal of his global policy:

‘Every day this proxy battle in Ukraine continues, we risk global war,’ according to the US presidential candidate’s website.

This statement must be regarded as a realistic expression of the lack of readiness – in the opinion of Republican leaders – of the United States to wage and, more importantly, control a ‘scalable’ world war in the world’s many hotspots.

America needs time, it needs reform, and it needs to optimise its policies in such a way as to prepare for a clash of superpowers that is more likely to play out in the Pacific. The desire to avoid a world war that would spell a humanitarian and economic catastrophe for the entire world should be considered as one of the most important demands on Donald Trump’s agenda.

In this context, it is particularly interesting to note the criticism that the Republican presidential candidate has addressed to the neo-conservatives:

‘In addition, there must also be a total commitment to dismantling the entire globalist neo-conservative establishment (…) which is constantly dragging us into endless wars, pretending that we are fighting for freedom and democracy abroad.’

 

Trump’s stance on the Ukraine question

As concerns NATO, Rafał Michalski quotes longer excerpts from Trump’s statements which also include an assessment of US policy towards Ukraine. Trump directs particular criticism towards ‘people like Victoria Nuland’. Until very recently, Nuland was Assistant Secretary of State at the US Department of State as well as head of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs:

‘We have to finish the process we began under my administration of fundamentally re-evaluating NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission. Our foreign policy establishment keeps trying to pull the world into conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia based on the lie that Russia represents our greatest threat. But the greatest threat to Western civilization today is not Russia.’

And further:

‘For decades, we’ve had the very same people, such as Victoria Nuland and many others just like her, obsessed with pushing Ukraine toward NATO, not to mention the State Department support for uprisings in Ukraine. These people have been seeking confrontation for a long time, much like the case in Iraq and other parts of the world. And now, we’re teetering on the brink of World War III.’

There is no denying that Trump’s words quoted above easily resonate with Russian and Chinese descriptions of the ongoing conflict. When Pope Francis quoted a statement by an anonymous leader of one of the countries of the global South about ‘NATO barking at Russia’s door,’ he was subjected to intense criticism. The difference between Trump’s words and those of the Pope almost two years ago is fundamental, however. The former, contrary to his own teaching, never condemned or even criticised Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Trump’s position on this aggression is unequivocal:

‘None of this [what has been said so far – author’s note] in any way justifies the outrageous and horrific invasion of Ukraine a year ago […]. America’s main interest in Eastern Europe is peace and stability. We want people to stop dying. This war should never have happened, but it is long past time to put an end to senseless death and destruction.’

If Francis’s words can be regarded as a not-so-successful attempt to join the orchestra of a new concert of powers, the statements by Trump, who may indeed soon be in charge of the policy of one of those powers, must be seen from a different perspective. Being sceptical of US imperialism does not necessarily imply abandoning allies, but rather – as I have already mentioned – scaling up one’s own capabilities and optimising the Western security system. Trump’s rhetoric should therefore rather be seen as an attempt to compel a more proportionate commitment from Europe to financially maintain North Atlantic civilisation’s supremacy in global politics and economics. Trump’s diagnosis is that, given the US’s growing tensions with China as well as its domestic problems, the issue of North Atlantic security must be taken seriously by America’s European allies.

Here, indeed, Donald Trump did not mince words when he said a year ago:

‘I will ask Europe to reimburse us for the cost of rebuilding the stocks sent to Ukraine. The fact is that we have spent almost $200 billion to help Ukraine, and Europe has spent only a fraction of that amount.’

Europe’s biggest countries, however, do not want to pay for security, as is increasingly obvious today. They want to be secure at the expense of others – namely, the American taxpayer and the Central and Eastern European countries.

 

Where to look for guarantees of security?

Pressure from the United States to force Europe to contribute more to the North Atlantic security system may reinforce the tendency among some European leaders to think that the alternative to an alliance with America is the idea of “Eurasia from Lisbon to Vladivostok” that was proposed by Putin years ago. The bargaining chip in this game would probably be the sovereignty, and perhaps even the independence, of the Central and Eastern European countries. From Poland’s perspective, putting pressure on America’s European allies to start investing in the continent’s security without succumbing to daydreams of peaceful coexistence with Russia, especially at a time when a global conflict in the Pacific is possible, should be crucial. For Poland, Russia will in any case remain a threat. Thus, with the usual caveats Donald Trump should be treated as a potential ally – at least as far as the goal of improving NATO’s defence capabilities is concerned – rather than as an enemy urging Putin to attack any of the countries on our continent. One thing is certain, however: no American president, be it Biden or Trump, will ensure that we achieve the now fundamental goal of preserving our sovereignty, for which the main threat today remains – without underestimating the Russian threat – Western European imperialism and the political pincers in which it can trap us together with the Moscow giant.

 

 

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Tomasz Rowiński is a senior research fellow of the project ‘Ordo Iuris: Civilization’ by the Ordo Iuris Institute, as well as an editor at Christianitas and the portal Afirmacja.info. He is also a historian of ideas, a columnist, and an author of books, among them: Bękarty Dantego. Szkice o zanikaniu i odradzaniu się widzialnego chrześcijaństwa, Królestwo nie z tego świata. O zasadach Polski katolickiej na podstawie wydarzeń nowszych i dawniejszych, Turbopapiestwo. O dynamice pewnego kryzysu, and Anachroniczna nowoczesność. Eseje o cywilizacji przemocy. He lives in Książenice, near Grodzisk Mazowiecki, in Poland.