After months of pushing for a permanent U.S. military presence in Poland as a bulwark against Russia, the Polish president offered President Donald Trump a new incentive tailored to his real estate sensibilities: naming rights.
“I would very much like for us to set up a permanent base in Poland, which we would call Fort Trump,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday in a joint press conference at the White House. “I firmly believe that this is possible. I am convinced that such a decision lies in the Polish interest and in the interest of the United States.”
Standing nearby, Trump smirked and raised his right eyebrow before pursing his lips as he appeared to consider the possibility of an American military base in Poland emblazoned with his name.
It had been a paper mill and a regular mill, but built by a creative builder in the form of a castle. A Ukrainian philanthropist took over in 2009 and now it is a hotel, tourist attraction, and museum of ancient Ukrainian society and religious life.
Part of the structure is built without a foundation on the natural granite:
The museum included religion icons organized by region. The blue skies with radiance are from Poltava. The icons with leather clothing attached to the them are from Luhansk. The black and blue halos are from Kyiv. The red backgrounds are from Chernivtsi. The naive style art is from the Carpathians. The three-piece fold-out icons are also Hutsul.
These straw pitchers were waterproof and held wine:
My toddler used to correctly answer “two”, when asked his age. But he was told that some other boys were four. Now he answers “five”, when asked about his age.
Tonight we played chess. His favorite part of the game is when I hide a black pawn in one fist, and a white pawn in the other and ask him to choose colors. We (mostly I ) set up the pieces. Sometimes we make a few moves. Then he runs the board over with one of his toy cars. This evening, he walked to the other room to get one, having mistakenly sat down to chess without it. Several times I started putting the pieces away, but he kept insisting that we play again. I was tired. We played several more times, and I, trying to wind things down, suggested we read a book. We went together to the other room, and returned with a book to sit on the sofa and read. He was more attentive than usual, really looking at every picture and listening. When we finished, he took the book and threw it. Then he said “more book”, and climbed off the sofa. “I’ll wait here,” I said. He ran to the next room, and returned with another, his smile beaming as he returned. When we’d read this one, he also threw it, and went for a third. This time he waved and said “goodbye”. “Goodbye,” I replied. “Will you come back?” “Yes,” he said. During the fourth book, he fell asleep on my shoulder. I continued reading, and then talking to myself when I reached the end of the book, until he seemed pretty sound asleep. Then I carried him into the bedroom from where he’d been getting the books. His mother was collapsed there on the bed, amid the toys she was putting away.
1. We’ve been telling our son to expect a trip to the US by airplane to visit “baba Maria.” Yesterday we were sitting by a lake near his mother’s town here in Ukraine. His grandfather, standing in the shallow water near the shore pushed him around in a canoe. A small prop plane puttered over us from the nearby flying school, we pointed it out to our son. He said “i dania bude letity do baby mariji . . . jisty kobasku.” (“And Danny will fly to baba Maria to eat Keilbasa.”)
2. When I was grabbing his nose, he said: “Romchyk, ne chipai.” (“Romchyk [diminutive Roman] – don’t grab me.”)
3. Somehow, he learned that ice cream was a thing. Apparently not wanting to be forward, he made a general inquiry with his mother. In a cautious voice, he asked “mamu, a morozevo liudy jidiat?” (“Mom, ice cream is eaten by people?”) She asked him where he’d seen ice cream. He’s two and a half and doesn’t really go anywhere without his mother. “In restaurants,” he answered.
I walked through the city center with my wife, and with my son on my shoulders. Cafes, street musicians, dancers — swing in the center square, and tango on the porch of a small unexpected corner coffee shop near the Dominican church – it’s statues lit blue, purple and pink.
People everywhere. Trams. Young couples sitting on park benches.
Lviv is everything Paris used to be, and pretends like it still is.
Now we are home. I’ve build a fortress for my son out of couch cusions. Outside the open window, we can hear girls singing a Ukrainian folk songs. We couldn’t spot them when we looked out the window, though they seem quite close.
I speak from personal experience on this topic: In 2012, Russian intelligence services interfered in the Georgian parliamentary elections, boosting the Kremlin’s preferred candidate through disinformation operations.
Thus, my opinion of President Trump’s policy vis-à-vis Russia is perhaps more positive than one might assume from my background. My reasoning is two-fold: After a lifetime of firsthand experience with Russian aggression, I must evaluate Trump’s actions against the proper historical context. In doing so, I have found that Trump’s actions speak for themselves.
The Outrage Seems Selective
On the first point, I consider it unfair that Trump’s performance in Helsinki has garnered harsher criticism than other incidents in recent memory. In 2012, for example, a hot microphone at a global nuclear security summit picked up then-President Barack Obama assuring Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” to negotiate with Putin after the presidential election.
During a debate with GOP opponent Mitt Romney the same year, Obama casually dismissed the Russian threat, quipping: “The 1980s called; they want their foreign policy back.”
. . . .
This brings me to my second point: Trump’s actions toward Russia speak louder than words—and so did his predecessor’s. Indeed, the Obama administration’s foreign policy undermined America’s credibility in my region, which Putin considers Russia’s “backyard.” There are many opinions about Trump’s rhetoric on Crimea, but it is a fact that the Russian land grab in Ukraine happened on Obama’s watch.
How, exactly, did this happen? During and after Ukraine’s revolution of 2014, which ousted a Kremlin-backed dictator, on a daily basis the United States cautioned Ukraine not to escalate in response to Russian aggression. Thus, Putin saw an opportunity to annex Crimea without risking a direct confrontation with the West—and he seized it. Putin is a bully, but not a fool.
What a Difference Two Years Makes
Rather than changing his course after Moscow redrew the borders of Europe by force, Obama doubled down. Despite bipartisan consensus in favor of selling lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine, and vocal support from his own administration officials (including Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton), Obama repeatedly refused to authorize the sales.
Instead of anti-tank weapons, the Ukrainians defending their territory from Russian invasion received hot blankets and canned goods from the Obama administration. At the same time, Obama asserted that the Ukraine conflict had “no military solution.” With these words—and more importantly, these actions—he was perceived by some on the Russian side as accepting the Kremlin’s sphere of influence in Ukraine.
Despite my warnings, the Obama administration also essentially turned a blind eye to Russian meddling in Georgia’s 2012 elections.