Golfing for Remembrance and Intensifying Confrontation
On September 1 there was a remembrance ceremony in Poland to commemorate the beginning of the World War II in which so many millions were killed because the maniac Hitler imagined he could rule the world. As detailed in History.com, his philosophy was that “In order to fulfil its destiny, Germany should take over lands to the east that were now occupied by ‘inferior’ Slavic peoples — including Austria, the Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia), Poland and Russia.”
It was expected by most people that the leaders of major countries involved in the war would be invited and that they would accept. But the entire affair collapsed into vulgar farce.
The indecorous and even boorish behaviour of some of those we expect to be models of courtesy attracted many sighs but little surprise. To begin with, the Polish Government insulted President Putin, leader of the country that lost 24 million citizens in the fight against Nazism.
To put this figure of Russian deaths in perspective, we should bear in mind that Italy, the US, Britain and Hungary each lost between four and five hundred thousand people, while Germany’s total was some eight million and that of Poland about six million. It is historical fact that the Soviet Union had a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1939, and that was strange, indeed — but has no relevance to the fact that eighty years on, we in Europe are lamenting and commemorating the beginning of a war that changed the world and caused staggering misery and disruption as well as the many millions of deaths.
And, barely believably, Russia was not represented at the ceremonies in Poland. In a fit of immature malice, the government in Warsaw, which was responsible for organising this solemn commemoration, did not invite him to attend.
Germany’s President Steinmeier was invited and declared in German and Polish that “I bow my head before the victims of the attack on Wielun [the town wiped out by the German assault on 1 September]. I bow my head before the Polish victims of Germany’s tyranny. And I ask forgiveness.” This was right and proper, and in his attendance and general sentiment he was joined by Chancellor Angela Merkel and many other national leaders, but not those of Britain and the United States.
Trump of America was invited and accepted and then decided not to go, saying that because there was a storm in the Caribbean he would stay at home. He announced that “To ensure that all resources of the federal government are focused on the arriving storm, I have decided to send our vice president, Mike Pence, to Poland this weekend in my place.”
And over that US holiday weekend (it was Labour Day on September 2) he played golf. It was reported that he “arrived at his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia shortly after 10 a.m. A CNN camera crew managed to catch Trump in the act of golfing with three other people. The White House didn’t reveal who Trump’s golfing buddies were, but press secretary Stephanie Grisham insisted the president received hourly updates on Hurricane Dorian.” But he wasn’t given any briefings on the ceremonies in Poland.
While not golfing, Trump spent a lot of time tweeting insults to people, and in Warsaw his vice-president gave little priority to marking the beginning of the most catastrophic war there has ever been, taking the opportunity to increase tension in Europe by making such confrontational statements as “’Now is the time for us to remain vigilant about the intentions and the actions being taken by Russia”.
He went further during his discussions with Polish President Duda, by criticising Germany for not spending enough on weapons and for working to improve its economy by engaging with Russia in the Nord Stream gas pipeline. His words were uncompromisingly insulting to a supposed ally, in that “It simply makes no sense for people of the United States to bear the lion’s share of the burden of defending Europe… to see Germany become dependent on Russia for their energy needs is another point that President Trump will continue to raise” — and reaction in Germany was understandably robust.
It is apparent, however, that the US is not in any way perturbed by the reaction of any other nation to its erratic foreign manoeuvres, and that Washington’s aim continues to be to isolate Russia and build up military forces in western Europe. While Trump played golf, and the hurricane raged, destroying the Bahamas, Greg Ulmer, the vice president of the arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, told Defence News that his company is intent on supplying F-35 Lightning multi-role combat aircraft to Poland. He said that “If Poland decides to buy the F-35, it will receive Block 4 aircraft… Once Polish companies are approved as our supplier partners, they could make parts not only for the Polish aircraft, but also for those supplied to other countries, such as the US or Japan.”
Not only this, but as reported by Deutsche Welle on 2 September, the US vice-president and Polish president “also discussed the reinforcement of US troops in Poland from about 4,500 to 5,500 soldiers.” This is in addition to the proposed establishment of a large US base which Stratfornoted was discussed by Trump and Duda last year when the latter “offered the United States $2 billion in financing for a division-sized US base by the Vistula River on Poland’s eastern border, even suggesting to name it ‘Fort Trump’.”
It seems that Poland has a friend in the president of the United States, even if he is not prepared to attend solemn ceremonies of remembrance in its capital, and this is not surprising, because the Warsaw government has taken control of the justice system, an action strongly disapproved by the European Commission which noted in July that “Polish law allows ordinary court judges to be subjected to disciplinary investigations, procedures and sanctions on the basis of the content of their judicial decisions.” For his part, Trump is taking control of the US judicial system by packing the courts with ultra-conservatives.
The attitude of Warsaw to the media is also curiously similar to that of Trump, who tweeted on 2 September that “the LameStream Media has gone totally CRAZY! They write whatever they want, seldom have sources (even though they say they do), never do ‘fact checking’ anymore, and are only looking for the ‘kill. They are now beyond Fake, they are Corrupt.” Warsaw doesn’t do tweets, but as recorded by Foreign Policy, the right wing government in Warsaw is “also gutting public broadcasting, firing hundreds of journalists at Poland’s public television and radio networks, and installing staunch party loyalists.”
Trump is a vulgar boor, verging on the psychotic, and it can never be predicted how he will react to international developments. His obsession with vast military expenditure and his virulent criticism of Germany (for example) for supposedly not spending enough on weaponry seems to be at variance with one of his most recent pronouncements in which he tweeted “Russia and Ukraine just swapped large numbers of prisoners. Very good news, perhaps a first giant step to peace. Congratulations to both countries!” This was indeed a most positive statement — but he has not contradicted his vice-president’s confrontational declaration that “Now is the time for us to remain vigilant about the intentions and the actions being taken by Russia.”
Trump insulted two generations of Europeans by playing golf rather than commemorating the outbreak of the World War II. He permits and even encourages his representatives to make hostile comments and even threats against China and Russia. Nobody knows where he stands concerning US foreign policy. What is clear, however, is that nobody can trust him, and that US-NATO confrontation of Russia will continue in Europe, with Poland as a willing client of the US Military-Industrial Complex.
By Brian Cloughley
Source: Strategic Culture