PEGGY NOONAN: Trump’s Defining Speech:
The White House description of Donald Trump’s speech Thursday in Warsaw was simply, “Remarks by President Trump to the People of Poland.” In truth, Mr. Trump’s remarks were directed at the people of the world. Six months into his first term of office, Mr. Trump finally offered the core of what could become a governing philosophy. It is a determined and affirmative defense of the Western tradition.
To be sure, Mr. Trump’s speech also contained several pointed and welcome foreign-policy statements. He assured Poland it would not be held hostage to a single supplier of energy, meaning Russia. He exhorted Russia to stop destabilizing Ukraine “and elsewhere,” to stop supporting Syria and Iran and “instead join the community of responsible nations.” He explicitly committed to NATO’s Article 5 on mutual defense.
But—and this shocked Washington—the speech aimed higher. Like the best presidential speeches, it contained affirmations of ideas and principles and related them to the current political moment. “Americans, Poles and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty,” he said. This was more than a speech, though. It was an argument. One might even call it an apologia for the West. . . .
This is a warning to the West and a call to action. By remembering the Poles’ invocation of God, Mr. Trump is clearly aligning himself with the same warning issued to Europe some years ago by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict.
Cardinal Ratzinger’s argument was that Europe needed to recognize that its turn toward aggressive secularism posed a real threat to its survival. In Mr. Trump’s formulation of that threat, we are obliged to “confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.” He warned about a “lack of pride and confidence in our values.”
Mr. Trump is taking a clear stand against the kind of gauzy globalism and vague multiculturalism represented by the worldview of, say, Barack Obama and most contemporary Western intellectuals, who are willing, even eager, to concede the argument to critics of the West’s traditions.
This is the speech Mr. Trump should have given to introduce himself to the world at his Inauguration.
Actually, if you go back and read that speech, they’re not as different as you might think.