Ter­ror­ism fight framed as clash of civ­i­liza­tions

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By David Lauter and Brian Ben­nett

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.

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