Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani applauded President Trump’s Warsaw speech for kicking NATO “in the ass” and waking it up.
“I have friends that, I won’t mention the countries, that say the countries contributed observers, not soldiers” during the Iraq war, Giuliani said at Global Forum 2017 in Warsaw on Thursday. “So somebody has to kick NATO in the ass and wake it up – wake it up to the fact that we all have to contribute and we have an existential threat of, and notice he used the words ‘Islamic extremist terrorism.’ Our prior president of eight years never used those words – really important to defeat an enemy to identify them.”
“If you can identify them you are halfway on the way to defeating them if you have the kind of resources that we have,” added Giuliani, a Trump surrogate during the campaign. “Here’s the thing that surprised me and that I loved about the speech – it was a ringing endorsement of Western civilization and, boy, do we need that.”
Zbigniew Lewicki, chairman of the board of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, also praised Trump’s Thursday address.
“I was thrilled with the speech. I think it was a great speech, very well written and very emotionally delivered. And as I listened to it and commented on it and I walked back from the site to this building, there were quite a few people, ordinary Warsaw Polish people, who had the same feeling – great speech, wonderful, we loved it and so on,” he said.
“Then I came into this place and I talked to some people. ‘Well, yeah, but you know, not strong enough, not weak enough, not this, not that, not whatever,’ which, I think, is a good summary of why Trump won the election but is so strongly disliked by the politicians, commentators and so on – a totally different take on what I think was a historic speech,” he added.
Lewicki continued, “All sophisticated politicians may always say, ‘well, I could have said it better’ – but I don’t think anybody could have said it better, not now and not here.”
Giuliani pushed back on a comment from a student in the audience about Trump’s attitude toward the First Amendment.
“President Trump doesn’t attack the freedom of speech. He exercises freedom of speech. Attacking freedom of speech is taking away your right to speak. Well, the American media speaks a lot and a lot of them are very hostile to him. He hasn’t closed them down,” Giuliani said. “What you just said is an absurd insult to the president of my country that he would close down a newspaper. First of all, he couldn’t.”
He continued, “Number two, although the president criticizes very strongly, sometimes, the decisions of courts, as I did when I was the mayor; there were a lot of court decisions that I criticized and thought were wrong. I’m a lawyer more than a politician. I think if the courts are right half the time that’s pretty good, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to close the courts. President Trump has never advocated changing our judicial system or closing down the courts or following the orders they issue that he disagrees with.”
Rafał Trzaskowski, deputy chairman of the Commission on EU Affairs and member of the Polish Parliament, shared a similar view.
“I’m reading his tweets. I’m familiar with some of his opinions, which to put it mildly are not my cup of tea, but at the end of the day he’s not really undermining the values of the democratic society,” he said. “I mean, I’ve never seen him try to rip the Supreme Court apart or to question the highest judicial authorities of the land, whereas that is exactly what it is happening in Poland.”
Trzaskowski said Poland has “serious problems with the rule of law,” which is “inflicted” by the current right-wing government.
“If you were to hear the propaganda that we have in the media in this country you wouldn’t believe your ears,” he said.
Giuliani said he endorsed the idea of Trump speaking in Poland before attending the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, because he knew Trump would be well-received there.
“I seriously doubt he’s going to get a really good reception in Germany and, by the way, he’s not going to give a damn and, number two, I thought it was important he reaffirm NATO and the importance of NATO and Article 5, although he did it once before when he met with the Romanian president in Washington,” he said. “I thought he covered every base beautifully.”
Giuliani said Trump has a “particular love” for the Polish people.
“It was a perfect place to make the point that everybody should contribute their fair share to NATO since you do, and I know that irritates the hell out of Germany and a couple of other countries, but as an American I can’t understand why no other American president had the courage to say, ‘Hey, if we’ve got an alliance and you’ve got standing behind that alliance the greatest military in the history of the world, the United States of America, hey, you put in your fair share too.’”
During the forum, Giuliani described Russia President Vladimir Putin as a “really bad guy” with whom Trump would be able to negotiate, a change from President Obama.
“We had a president who was basically a pacifist negotiating with him and giving away the nuclear defense of Poland and Czech Republic to reset the relationship with Russia and asking for nothing in return,” he said. “Donald Trump will not ever give you anything without getting something in return. It’s not of his nature. I would love to be a fly on the wall between the two of them negotiating.”
Toward the end of the discussion, Giuliani asked Trzaskowski why the European Union does not believe each country should be able to decide what is best for their future. Trzaskowski explained that the creation of “separate institutions” outside of the EU is not best for Europe.
“We cannot afford fragmentation in any way,” Trzaskowski said. “This is a great threat now in Europe.”
He told Giuliani he “mourned Brexit more than anything else in the past two years,” as “we need Brits to be as close to us as possible.”
Giuliani responded, “I thought you needed that warning to straighten out some of your socialist economies in Europe. Straighten our your socialist economies and you will be far stronger.”