Thursday, July 06, 2017

Trump just got a hero's welcome in a country that may have underestimated his defining trait

One the best days of Donald Trump's nascent presidency unfolded 4,400 miles away from the White House, where he was greeted Thursday by party leaders whose nationalistic instincts mirror his and a bused-in crowd of Poles whose chants of his name punctuated his lofty speech about patriotism and the clash of civilizations. The last-minute trip was, in a way, Trump's attempt to eat dessert before dinner. At the Warsaw Uprising Monument in the city's Old Town, Trump was greeted by American flags, chants of "USA! USA!" and banners reading "Make Poland Great Again." The US president and Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party share a distrust of international organizations and are wary of accepting refugees — two qualities that set them apart from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a staunch globalist with an open-door immigration policy who has been called the new leader of the free world. Trump's visit was meant to show Merkel, whom he met later on Thursday, and other European leaders who have clashed with him on issues ranging from his controversial travel ban to his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, that he has allies elsewhere. Poland's minister of internal affairs, Mariusz Błaszczak, went as far as to compare Trump to Ronald Reagan. But the Poles, who have been urging Trump to visit since November and went to enormous lengths to impress him, may have underestimated his transactional and capricious approach to virtually everything. At a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday morning, Trump said the 5,000 American troops currently stationed in Poland to ward off any aggression from Russia would stay, for now. But there was never "a discussion of guarantees" that they would remain long-term, he said. Later, at the Warsaw Uprising Monument in Old Town's Krasiński Square, Trump laid a wreath at the landmark erected in honor of Poland's resistance to the Nazis' occupation during World War II. Supporters carrying American flags and banners lined the streets, crowding bleachers and periodically booing Polish opposition figures. Trump spoke to them directly, loudly, and often. "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 of any kind," Trump said to loud chants of "Donald Trump! Donald Trump!"...more

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