Terrorism fight framed as clash of civilizations
WARSAW, POLAND» President Donald Trump’s speech in Warsaw cast the fight against terrorism as a clash of civilizations, adopting a framework that his two predecessors determinedly had avoided and linking it to his controversial policies on immigration.
Thursday’s speech offered extended praise for what Trump described as the unique virtues of Western civilization, which he said faced “dire threats.”
Those, he said, emanate from the “south or the east” — apparently a thinly veiled reference to the Islamic world — and could “erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.”
“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he said, one of nearly a dozen times that he invoked the idea of “will” during the course of the approximately 40-minute speech.
Trump expressed similar ethnocentric ideas during his presidential campaign but had never before described them at such length.
“If we are looking for a Trump doctrine, this is as close as we are going to get,” said Michal Baranowski, the director of the German Marshall Fund office in Warsaw and an expert on Polish and European politics.
The speech marked a shift from the rhetorical stance Trump took just a few weeks ago when he was in Saudi Arabia. In a speech on terrorism in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, he said that “this is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.”
The more pointed language of his Warsaw speech reflected the influence of the two strongest advocates of populist nationalism among Trump’s advisers, strategist Stephen Bannon, and policy adviser Stephen Miller, who wrote much of the speech. Although Miller had a strong hand in the Saudi speech as well, the language in that address was heavily negotiated in advance.