by Juliana Dauchess
For President Trump, last month was a European whirlwind; first, spending two days in Poland, then traveling to Germany for the G-20 Summit, and finally visiting France to celebrate Bastille Day. Each of these trips had a specific purpose, but they all share a common goal of strengthening relationships between Western nations.
The media was harshly critical of the president’s actions and speeches during each of these trips, the headlines declaring the United States to be reverting back to a white-supremacist, nationalistic outlook on the world and international relations. Rather, the president is doing what should be expected of all presidents: publically supporting Western values and the ideals that America stands for.
In today’s politically-correct culture, it is not surprising that some took offense at President Trump when, speaking about Western civilization, he declared that, “We are the fastest and the greatest community…The world has never known anything like our community of nations.” It would appear to some that the president should be more respectful of nations that do not think like our own but, upon more reflection, it is evident that the president of the United States of America is entitled to be proud of his country. It is right for the president to praise his country’s achievements and hold other nations to our standards of virtue and excellence.
What bothered critics the most during President Trump’s foreign trips was the fact that he was so unabashedly pro-West. He repeatedly praised historic military successes, the beauty of European cities, and the newly-found American strength. He called upon the European nations to join the U.S. in its fight against international terrorism and to work to eradicate funding and network support systems for terrorist groups. Yes, President Trump did speak more boldly than we are accustomed to hearing from our leaders, but this is a positive change.
Public officials are elected because they promise to fix things within their country. Their duty is to put their own nation first, and then look to those around them. In the case of America and Western Europe, there are incredibly deep ties that bind the nations together. The Western world has historically been united by the common struggle for freedom and democracy, the most basic values of our civilization. In this regard, it makes sense that our “community of nations” first looks inward. We look first to each other for mutual support, and then consider our responsibilities towards other nations. Our common ideologies provide a natural inclination for teamwork among Western countries, a trend that we have seen both throughout history and in modern times.
In President Trump’s speech in Poland and press conference in France, he declared that the United States would focus in the coming years on strengthening our nation domestically while at the same time responding to outside threats. The Leftist headlines have declared these speeches to be racist; however, the president did not talk about race whatsoever. He simply stated that he would be putting the American people first.
By creating these priorities, the president is restoring balance to the world stage. The United States is known for being a world leader – our popular culture has spread throughout the globe, we fight to defend liberty in other nations, and we have welcomed millions of immigrants throughout our history. This being said, it is only practical to help others to a certain extent. At some point, we cannot provide support if we are not strong internally. President Trump is focused on re-invigorating the American people’s morale so that we can become that “shining city on a hill” again.
The president’s international visits also allowed for the strengthening of our ties with other Western countries. French president Macron stated that he respected the United States’ decision to leave the Paris Agreement, and President Trump in turn said that America would still lead the energy business, but on our own terms. In the G-20 Summit, the leaders affirmed the right of sovereign nations to control their own borders, under the rationale that one must be strong internally in order to resist external threats. This agreement proved that each world leader has the responsibility to prioritize the unique needs of their own nation so that they can then assist the rest of the world in the most effective way possible.
None of these successes were reported in the mainstream media. Instead, the public was barraged with headlines discrediting the president’s remarks, referring to them as “populist”, “far-right”, “disturbing”, “bizarre”, and “nationalist”. Yet again, this is proof that the media injects too much of its own biased analysis into its reporting, almost as if it didn’t trust the American people to think for themselves.
By caring for the U.S. independently, President Trump understands that this is how he is best able to help the Western alliance. Some measures have already been taken to assure the other nations of our continued concern about their wellbeing. The president noted that American soldiers in Poland were placed there in order to demonstrate America’s commitment to their defense against the encroaching power of Russia. The U.S. also wants to extend its partnership with Poland to create stronger commercial ties and allow their economy to grow.
French President Macron and President Trump promised together to launch cooperative diplomatic initiatives in Iraq and Syria to lay foundations to ensure terrorism never surfaces again. In a final show of good will, American soldiers marched beside French troops in the Bastille Parade to commemorate both France’s fight for democracy and the 100 year anniversary of American troops entering World War I. These initiatives of the president illustrate his continued commitment to working with other nations, despite his primary focus on American interests.
These efforts at teamwork demonstrate the unique, unspoken alliance between Western nations – despite our differences, we continue to work together because we share common ideals. It is important to note that “Western civilization” is not based on a geographic map. Rather, Western nations are countries who have adopted the values of liberty and democracy – under this definition, Japan is considered by some to be western. Likewise, President Trump visited the Eastern nation of Poland and held it as an example of freedom to the rest of Europe.
Poland has a long history of oppression and conflict, yet they admirably united around the ideals of freedom and religion which enabled them to finally win sovereignty. The president argued that the world powers attending the G-20 Summit should look to Poland for inspiration on how to remain faithful to the ideals of a free and virtuous society. Throughout his international visits, President Trump has constantly upheld the idea that Western civilization is rooted in belief in God, the dignity of the human person, and liberty. These values, he stated, are the most noble and are worthy of defending against the attacks from the East. The very foundation of the West is being attacked daily, and it is no sin to defend the values which have built it.
Our commitment to Western ideals should be unshakable, because if we refuse to sacrifice for what we believe in, why would any other nation choose to adopt those values? In this regard, the United States cannot be afraid of offending others by the values that have guided us as a nation through history. In the same way, it is not a weakness to align with others who share similar values. Instead, it is a strength because the shared respect and commitment towards the same goals will prove to be an unbreakable tie that will help to guide the world.
With that said, is it wrong to put the defense of the West first, as the media suggests? Absolutely not. Western nations have made plenty of mistakes throughout history, but they are not defined by their weaknesses. Rather, the West is known for always fighting to become better and to defend the values that we hold dear. Instead of attacking the president for his pro-American remarks, we should understand that he is putting his citizens first. Because by doing so, he will be able to help the rest of the world.
Juliana Dauchess, a 2017 CBLPI Fellow, is a rising sophomore at the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.