Donald Trump, in Poland, Urges West to ‘Defend Our Civilization’

Glenn Thrush and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, New York Times, July 6, 2017

Donald Trump in Poland

July 6, 2017 – Warsaw, Poland – Meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda at the Royal Castle in Warsaw Poland. (Credit Image: © Imago via ZUMA Press)

President Trump cast himself as a defender of Western values in a clash of civilizations during a dark and confrontational speech in Warsaw on Thursday, rebuking the news media, American intelligence agencies and Barack Obama during his visit to the European capital most hospitable to his right-wing nationalist message.

Once again breaking with tradition by attacking American leaders and institutions while abroad, Mr. Trump told a friendly Polish crowd, including loyalists the governing party had bused in from the more-conservative countryside, that “radical Islamic terrorism” threatened “our civilization and our way of life.”

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Mr. Trump delighted his Polish hosts by recounting a popular narrative about the country’s resilience in the face of centuries of partition and oppression — including Nazi invasion and communist domination — but he said next to nothing about the right-wing government’s crackdown on judges, journalists and opposition parties, which has deeply alarmed other European Union leaders.

And although he spoke in Krasinski Square, where a monument commemorates the 1944 Warsaw uprising against the Nazis, he skipped a visit to a museum devoted to a 1943 uprising by Jews who had been forced into a ghetto. His daughter Ivanka went there on Thursday instead.

Mr. Trump praised Poland, a NATO ally, “as an example for others who seek freedom, and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization.”

He went on to employ the same life-or-death language as in his inauguration speech, which promised a war against the “American carnage” of urban crime.

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he said. “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

Mr. Trump also denounced “the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people,” citing the value of individual freedom and sovereignty.

The American president also had harsh words for North Korea, after its recent test of a new long-range missile, but he refused to say during a short news conference with his Polish counterpart, Andrejz Duda, what steps he would take to punish Pyongyang.

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“We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory, their funding, their networks and any form of ideological support,” Mr. Trump said. “While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism.”

The pro-Duda crowd at Krasinski Square, where many waved American and Polish flags, serenaded reporters from both countries with periodic chants of “fake news.”

That came about an hour after Mr. Trump tag-teamed with Mr. Duda in a transnational denunciation of journalists who write negative stories about them.

The American president criticized CNN and defended what he suggested was a lighthearted tweet of a video depicting him body-slamming a figure whose head was replaced by the CNN logo.

What made Mr. Trump’s sermon against the mainstream news media different this time was that Mr. Duda’s center-right party, Law and Justice, proposed restricting the media’s access to Parliament last year. The government backed down after street protests.

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Mr. Duda, responding to an American reporter’s question about his own actions toward the news media, blamed Polish journalists for intentionally distorting his record and for failing to include his positions in articles critical of his government.

After chastising CNN — a go-to move on both sides of the Atlantic — Mr. Trump went after NBC, his former employer. “NBC is nearly as bad, despite the fact that I made them a lot of money on ‘The Apprentice,’” he said.

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