During his visit to Warsaw, Poland, President Trump delivered a speech on Thursday that positioned the Eastern European country and the United States as fighting for Western civilization against "terrorism and extremism." Trump told the crowd — which consisted in part of people who had reportedly been bused in from the more conservative countryside — that the West's fight against "radical Islamic terrorism" was necessary to protect “our civilization and our way of life.”
Trump addressed a welcoming crowd in Warsaw's Krasinski Square, the site of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation. In his speech, Trump also suggested that he would be taking a tougher stance on Russia, just one day before his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He also cited Poland's resistance under the Nazi and Soviet occupations as an example of the West defending its traditions and values. “As the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means, but also on the will of its people to prevail,” Trump said. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”
Moreover, Trump used his speech as an opportunity to discuss allegations about Russian interference in the American presidential election. He finally conceded that Russia may have interfered, but was not entirely convinced.
“I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries,” Trump said. “Nobody really knows for sure.”
However, given that Trump had to assuage Polish concerns about Russia, the message he ultimately delivered was mixed. On the subject of Ukraine, Trump assured the crowd that “we are working with Poland” to deal with “Russia’s destabilizing behavior.”
Although the crowd at Krasinski Square was largely supportive of both Trump and conservative Polish President Andrzej Duda, Trump's visit to Warsaw was still met with some resistance — though less than is anticipated at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Environmental activists projected the slogan “No Trump, Yes Paris" onto Warsaw's tallest building to protest Trump's decision to withdraw the United States the Paris climate accords, while Jewish leaders criticized Trump for not visiting a monument to the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Activists from a left-wing party also held a protest, during which they protested Trump's stance on women's rights by dressing up as characters from The Handmaid's Tale.
Nevertheless, those who came to hear Trump speak received his discourse with enthusiasm. His discussion of terrorism and extremism was well-received by the generally pro-Duda crowd. It was during this discussion of terrorism that Trump brought up Syria's use of chemical weapons (like the Trump administration, the Polish government has been opposed to admitting Syrian refugees).
In his speech, Trump also called on Poland and other Western countries to confront the threat of "radical Islamic terrorism," insisting that "we will win."
"We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory, their funding, their networks, and any form of ideological support," Trump told the crowd at Krasinski Square. "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."
"We cannot accept those who reject our values," Trump added, "and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent."