12 votes

Which US presidential candidate do you think has the best foreign policy?

The nice thing about electability being uncertain is that you can choose the candidate you think is best.

Unfortunately I have lost faith in my ability to decide that. Studying candidates' policies seems useless since, after all, Congress makes the laws. We are likely to see either stalemate or centrist legislation regardless.

Maybe I should decide based on foreign policy instead? Most people don't do that but I don't see why not. Any recommendations for interesting articles to read?

12 comments

  1. [5]
    Durallet
    Link
    Will the 2020 Candidates End Our Pointless Wars? (The American Conservative) The Problem at the Core of Progressive Foreign Policy (The Atlantic) Joe Biden Jumped at the Chance to Help George W....
    8 votes
    1. [2]
      skybrian
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      The American Conservative link is a good question for the candidates, though it doesn't mention any by name. [Still reading the other articles. I decided to put quotes from each article in a...

      The American Conservative link is a good question for the candidates, though it doesn't mention any by name.

      [Still reading the other articles. I decided to put quotes from each article in a separate comment.]

      4 votes
      1. Durallet
        Link Parent
        That article illustrates the costs of the blob's endless wars. It is relevant to put the long term picture into perspective, especially since foreign policy is where the President has the most...

        That article illustrates the costs of the blob's endless wars. It is relevant to put the long term picture into perspective, especially since foreign policy is where the President has the most discretion and influence on government policies.

        6 votes
    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      From the Atlantic article: Wait, what? But then again, I guess it makes sense as a rare bipartisan initiative. Nice! [...] [...]

      From the Atlantic article:

      The newly formed Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft—founded with large grants from the Charles Koch Foundation and George Soros’s Open Society Foundations—is the latest addition to this effort. Quincy seeks to bring together progressives with anti-intervention conservatives to “restore the pursuit of peace to the nation’s foreign-policy agenda,” as its co-founder Andrew Bacevich put it.

      Wait, what? But then again, I guess it makes sense as a rare bipartisan initiative. Nice!

      Sanders opposed the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the Iraq War of 2003, as well as numerous U.S. interventions in Latin America and the Middle East. However, he also voted for the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 and later called Saddam Hussein “a brutal dictator who should be overthrown.” He opposed Operation Desert Fox, a bombing campaign in Iraq in 1998, primarily because it did not have congressional or United Nations approval, but also because he did not think it would bring about regime change. He voted for the 1999 Kosovo War and subsequently supported the NATO bombing campaign, even as he argued that President Bill Clinton’s failure to secure congressional support meant it was unconstitutional. He voted for the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and did not oppose the 2011 intervention in Libya in its initial stages, when the sacking of Benghazi by Muammar Qaddafi’s forces seemed imminent.

      [...]

      A Warren adviser, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to engage in a broad-ranging discussion on the senator’s worldview, told me that Warren sees force as a last resort, and that when it is employed, she believes there should be an exit strategy, it should be limited, and it should be multilateral, preferably through the United Nations. It’s a position that sounds almost identical to Obama’s.

      [...]

      True restraint—whereby the United States significantly reduces its military commitments overseas—will be all but impossible for a Democratic president to achieve in a deliberate and orderly fashion. It would involve too many compromises of core principles. Progressive presidents will not want to pursue the destruction of the alliance system, acquiesce in nuclear proliferation, or embrace the imperialist notion of spheres of influence. They will be unable and unwilling to promise credibly never to intervene militarily.

      4 votes
    3. skybrian
      Link Parent
      The Jacobin article is a book excerpt from a forthcoming book: Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden [...] [...] In 1990: Although this is the case against, the main thing I'm getting from...

      The Jacobin article is a book excerpt from a forthcoming book: Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden

      [In 2002,] [h]aving sat on the similarly prestigious Foreign Relations Committee since 1975, an investment by the Democratic leadership in the brash, young senator from Delaware, [Biden] was about to serve his first full year as its chairman.

      Biden was in a thorny position. It was just four months after the September 11 attacks had allowed the previously flailing President George W. Bush to ride a wave of anger, grief, and militaristic nationalism to soaring poll numbers, fundamentally reorienting US foreign policy toward what nonsensically came to be known as the “war on terror” along the way. Biden, fiercely critical of Bush’s foreign policy the previous year, had two choices: he could use his new position to stymie Bush’s alarming plans; or, as the Wilmington News Journal put it, he could “downplay differences, smooth the way for the president’s agenda and cede the foreign policy headlines to the administration.” Looking, no doubt, at Bush’s triumphant approval ratings and at his own impending reelection, he chose the latter.

      [...]

      That Biden went all in on what critics warned was a tragic repeat of Vietnam would have surprised Delawareans of the 1970s. Though at first hesitant to make it an issue in his 1972 Senate campaign, Biden swiftly became an out-and-out opponent of the original Vietnam War, calling for its immediate end and assailing his opponent for “clearly contradictory votes on the issue.” He remained its ardent foe once in office, voting repeatedly to choke off money and aid to not just the war in Vietnam but the one in Cambodia Nixon had secretly been waging since 1969. Biden at one point denounced the Senate sending military and economic aid to the country as “damned asinine.”

      [...]

      Like other leading Democrats, Biden spent much of the 1980s fighting Reagan’s attempts to funnel arms and aid to homicidal counterrevolutionary forces south of the border, most notably in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Stressing “the avoidance of war” (as well as, less altruistically, “maintaining our interests”), Biden over and over voted for or put forward measures to block or limit US troops, weapons, and money being sent to aid Reagan’s favored sadists or to force negotiations in the ongoing Nicaraguan civil war. He was often in the congressional minority, sometimes even virtually alone.

      In 1990:

      While war hawks cast Saddam as the next Hitler, Biden was calling on [the first] Bush to let an international embargo on the country play out first, charging that Bush hadn’t made a persuasive case for war just yet and finally demanding that the president let Congress vote on authorizing war. After Bush agreed and Biden and forty-six other senators failed to stop him, Biden declared he was giving Bush his “total support.”

      “Bush took a real political chance,” Biden said. “This could have been a long war based on what we knew, with 40,000 casualties. But the president said `I don’t think so,’ and gambled the whole presidency on his decision. For that he deserves credit. That’s leadership,” Biden concluded about a war that left 110,000 civilians dead, more than half of them children under fifteen.”

      Although this is the case against, the main thing I'm getting from this is that Biden has seen a lot, at times being for or against war.

      2 votes
  2. patience_limited
    Link
    For a relatively even-handed review of the candidates' foreign policy positions, the New York Times issued a questionnaire that all the then-extant candidates could respond to. I've gotta say, I...

    For a relatively even-handed review of the candidates' foreign policy positions, the New York Times issued a questionnaire that all the then-extant candidates could respond to.

    I've gotta say, I like Elizabeth Warren's answers here because she actually answered the questions, instead of fobbing the process off on staff, as Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and others apparently did.

    5 votes
  3. [3]
    meme
    Link
    Sadly I think all the candidates are weak on foreign policy. At the very least I would trust all of them to not muck up relations with our allies like Trump does. He gutted the State Department...

    Sadly I think all the candidates are weak on foreign policy. At the very least I would trust all of them to not muck up relations with our allies like Trump does. He gutted the State Department and our foreign policy is in horrible shape because of it, but none of the dem candidates are really excited to release policy platforms for how they'll reform diplomacy. You'll have to sift through what info is available (for example, their stances on israel) and choose whichever candidate aligns with your values. Basically you and I are nerds for an issue most voters don't care about, so candidates have little incentive to make and release policies.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      timo
      Link Parent
      Exactly. The last thing that voters care about is what happens outside their country's border. Fix domestic stuff first, then start looking outside.

      Exactly. The last thing that voters care about is what happens outside their country's border. Fix domestic stuff first, then start looking outside.

      1 vote
      1. Litmus2336
        Link Parent
        -Neville Chamberlain, probably The biggest issue with isolationism, if that if you don't take interest in foreign affairs, foreign affairs will take interest in you.

        -Neville Chamberlain, probably

        The biggest issue with isolationism, if that if you don't take interest in foreign affairs, foreign affairs will take interest in you.

        2 votes
  4. [3]
    ThatFanficGuy
    Link
    What sort of foreign policies do they even have? All the superficial headline info I'm getting is about Bernie's "socialism" and Yang's UBI.

    What sort of foreign policies do they even have? All the superficial headline info I'm getting is about Bernie's "socialism" and Yang's UBI.

    1 vote
    1. vord
      Link Parent
      https://berniesanders.com/issues/responsible-foreign-policy/ It's a stub relative to some of the bigger plans he's laid out, but he is definitely on the side of 'end the endless wars.'

      https://berniesanders.com/issues/responsible-foreign-policy/

      It's a stub relative to some of the bigger plans he's laid out, but he is definitely on the side of 'end the endless wars.'

      6 votes
    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      Exactly. I'm sure they have some, though. It seems like an interesting topic for discussion and research.

      Exactly. I'm sure they have some, though. It seems like an interesting topic for discussion and research.

      4 votes