President Trump received an “enthusiastic” welcome upon his arrival in Warsaw, with throngs of people chanting his name and waving US and Polish flags ahead of his speech. It was the welcome Trump was promised by the Polish government, and they delivered.
But while Trump basked in the applause, there was a lot of effort behind the scenes by the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) to make sure it happened, which isn’t necessarily easy in a country where only about 23% of the Polish public is confident in the US president.
Polish leaders are old hands at this sort of thing, however, with the PiS busing its own party supporters from around the country into Warsaw for the occasion as a “great patriotic picnic.” The tactic immediate draw comparisons to Cold War-era welcomes for visiting Soviet officials.
None of this is being done remotely secretively, though coverage to the Trump visit still focuses heavily on the number of Poles applauding the president, as opposed to the elaborate method by which people willing to cheer for Trump ended up packing the streets of Warsaw.
The why of all of this is even better understood, as President Trump struggles to get along with leaders in many European nations, but the PiS sees him as a kindred spirit, particularly in their mutual hostility toward Muslim immigrants, and their general distaste for the private media.
Indeed, while liberal Europe looks askance at the PiS government for some of its excesses, Trump is seen as a natural ideological ally, and one liable to throw substantial military support behind them, so long as they continue to dutifully play up the myth of a “Russian threat.”
Getting NATO troops permanently stationed in Poland has been a priority for governments of all stripes there, and Trump may be the path of least resistance for the PiS, with Trump’s government eager to prove support for NATO and Poland an easy target to throw that support at, particularly so long as they can make with the cheering crowds, and sign lucrative missile deals for US arms dealers.