Do The Democrats Offer Any Real Change To America’s Foreign Policy?


We know Trump’s foreign and military policy is not going to ensure world peace, but do his potential rivals inspire hope? Below is a rough outline of two of the main Democratic candidates, who generally represent the views of all candidates, one being Obama -era orthodoxy and the other, new liberal change.

Bernie Sanders

So, where does Sanders stand? Widely seen as the most progressive and liberal candidate in the field, he would appear to be the most peaceful. The New York Times reports that Sanders, among many other candidates such as Elizabeth Warren, does generally support cutting military spending. Politico reports that Sanders supports stepping back from overseas deployments and bringing troops home. He has also signed a pledge to “end our forever wars,” a pledge in line with the previous two stances, according to Foreign Policy.com. So far, that all seems promising, but what casts doubt over his commitment to peace, is his reply in The New York Times, to the question of whether they [the democratic candidates] would consider using force to pre-empt an Iranian or North Korean nuclear or missile test — in other words, to prevent a launch that was meant to prove a country’s capability, but not to attack American territory, troops or interests. Most of the candidates campaigning as moderates said they would consider it…Mr. Sanders, said the same.

So, it remains to be seen what exactly his foreign policy would look like, were he to be president, but I would argue whatever it would be, it would be a step in the right direction.

Joe Biden

By contrast, Biden is seen as the consummate insider, being Obama’s vice president, he is the epitome of democratic orthodoxy. The only real solace that could be taken is that he cannot be any worse than Trump, one would imagine.

The Washington Post quotes him on military spending, as saying, “We can maintain a strong defense and protect our safety and security for less…The real question is not how much we invest — it’s how we invest. We have to make smart investments.” This stands in stark contrast to Sanders view, “we should not be spending more on the military than the next 10 nations combined. We should not be engaged in endless wars.” While not a wholesale commitment to peace – a very high expectation of any politician – it holds more promise. There would at least be change. Biden promises little change to the way the U.S.A. operates. Politico reports that he supports keeping the troops deployed. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as we saw with ISIS, it was a power vacuum and the sudden withdrawal of troops that created this group and allowed them to foment conflict. While it does not represent a change, it is not necessarily a view that hampers world peace. There are some occasions when force is necessary, the Middle East perhaps demands some force, simply due to how great the mess is there.

I would say that those who support world peace ought to be looking to Sanders and other candidates like Warren. It remains to be seen what exactly their policy will be, the specifics of their proposals could dash hopes.

Angus Wilson