Election 2020

Why Aren't Democratic Presidential Candidates Criticizing Trump's Foreign Policy?

Perhaps the biggest compliment to Trump's foreign policy is his political opponents largely want to make the 2020 election about domestic issues.

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Where's the Democratic critique of President Trump's foreign policy?

You'd think that with more than 20 Democrats running for President, at least one of them would try to differentiate herself, or himself, from the rest of the field by focusing on the president's role in diplomacy and national security.

It's still early in the campaign. But none of the major Democratic candidates has made foreign policy a focus. Instead the politicians are out there talking mostly about climate change, health care, income inequality, student loan forgiveness, national service, drug rehabilitation, racism—anything, it seems, except for geopolitics or grand strategy.

Part of the reason is that the foreign policy threats seem distant. The Soviet Union is gone and the Cold War is over. The 18 year-olds who will be voting for the first time in the 2020 presidential election were not even alive during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

When it comes to handling China, the Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.), has been cheering the president on. "Hang tough on China, President @realDonaldTrump. Don't back down. Strength is the only way to win with China," Schumer tweeted Sunday.

Trump hasn't started any wars, so the Democrats can't really fault him for that. It's not a Vietnam or Iraq War type situation where headlines of U.S. combat deaths dominate politics.

Democrats might be critical of Trump's handling of North Korea, but previous Democratic administrations have also tried to negotiate nuclear issues with Pyongyang.

Occasionally you hear Democrats fault Trump for alienating America's allies. Perhaps Trump wouldn't win the election if the foreign ministries of Germany, France, Canada, or Mexico were the ones voting. But it's not up to them.

Democrats also do complain sporadically about Trump pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal or the Paris climate accord. Pressing those complaints, though, risks relitigating the merits of those agreements.

Russia does get invoked on the campaign trail, but as part of a narrative of Trump corruption or the theft of the 2016 election. It's not as part of any  substantive claim that a Democratic administration would be meaningfully tougher on Moscow in terms of political pressure or economic sanctions.

I've heard Democratic candidates fault Trump for leaving key diplomatic posts, including ambassadorships, unfilled. Without a crisis, though, it's hard to see precise evidence that the lack of representation has damaged American interests.

A Democrat might fault Trump for mismanaging the situation in Latin America to the point where it puts pressure on our southern border. But that requires critics to cede the point that refugee flows approaching the U.S. border are a potential threat rather than an opportunity to welcome new talent. In other words, it's not a line of argument that Democrats are particularly eager to open up.

Trump's dealings with Saudi Arabia, whose agents apparently killed and dismembered a Washington Post columnist, are another possible line of attack. There's not much downside for a Democratic primary candidate in Saudi-bashing. If Trump can make the case, though, that friendly relations with the Saudis have contributed to low retail gas prices for American drivers, this too may be a futile theme for the Democrats.

It's not that Trump has been a surpassingly brilliant foreign policy president. It is true, though, that he's been cautious about committing American troops. He's kept his promises to withdraw from the Iran deal, move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and try to renegotiate better trade deals with Canada, Mexico, and China.

Trump's harshest critics on the right suggest that the reason he's not attracting a lot of foreign policy criticism from Democrats is that his threats of trade tariffs, combined with hesitance to use military force, mean that Trump has been governing with a Democrat-style foreign policy. Yet the presence of experienced Republican policy hands like national security adviser John Bolton has reassured conservatives, as has the increased economic pressure on Iran.

All it would take is one or two large-scale terrorist attacks against American targets, or a trade-war-related stock market slide, for Trump's critics to begin arguing that the president's policies have made America less safe. So far, though, it hasn't happened.

Perhaps the biggest compliment to Trump's foreign policy is that in an economy with the lowest unemployment in 50 years, 3.2 percent GDP growth, and stable prices, his political opponents largely want to make the 2020 election about domestic issues. If the Democrats can't find some way between now and Election Day to make Trump seem vulnerable on national security, it will make retaking the White House that much tougher for them.

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of JFK, Conservative.

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56 responses to “Why Aren't Democratic Presidential Candidates Criticizing Trump's Foreign Policy?

  1. It is true, though, that he’s been cautious about committing American troops.

    I’ll take it.

    1. And the Dems aren’t criticizing it much because, as usual, they have no solutions of their own.

    2. If he keeps feral, predatory animals like Pompeo & Bolton around, that won’t last long.

    3. The only thing the Dem’s have is that he is not necessarily charismatic. Dem’s / Progressives are stuck on running candidates that fit some type of charismatic narrative. They go long on that and short on substance.. Obama/Clinton were perfect examples of this. Trump is a brazen, braggadocios, typical New Yorker with really bad hair. Love him or hate him he is getting results much to the chagrin of Progressives and sadly even Libertarians. You can disagree with the policies but much of it is an improvement over what we would have had with Clinton.

  2. sounds like (D) is boned.

  3. Because polls, m.f.er.

  4. Drumpf has been so disastrous on domestic issues that criticizing him on that basis is already a full time job. Just look at his record — economic ruin, dangerous right-wing extremist Supreme Court justices, a draconian war on immigration, literally turning this country into The Handmaid’s Tale.

    However once the Democrats have settled on a nominee, I expect that candidate to incorporate foreign policy critiques. Specifically, the fact that Drumpf’s foreign policy serves the interest of Russia, not the US.

    1. Handmaid’s Tale? Awesome. How many broads do I get?

    2. ..smells like this bait has been sitting in the sun…

    3. wtf? Where do you live? I think you have been eating too many Magic Mushrooms.

  5. What lower gasoline prices?

    The Ignorant Savage’s foul threats and grunts of one syllable or less towards Venezuela and Iran, not to mention doing everything he can to keep their oil off the market have sent them skyrocketing.

    Just as Prince Bone Saw, who commands him in all things, ordered.

    1. I thought it was Putin.

    2. Have you been keeping track of the price of crude? Or do you just bash the keyboards incessantly repeating “Orange man bad Orange man bad”? His tariff war on China soften the market and while a war with Iran would boost prices right now it is simply speculation. While not good for some, America as the number producer of oil / gas will likewise benefit from higher prices. The Saudi’s are in trouble and the Chinese are running to assist them .. sorry that doesn’t fit your narrative.

      1. I keep track of when I fill up every week. The results are not good.

        And no good will come from his asinine trade war. It never does. Going back to the days of Jefferson & Madison, it leads to real war more often than not

        Granted, Mr. Tangerine Man made a few semi-coherent burbles on foreign policy that sounded kinda/sorta good during the campaign. But it turns out he neither believed nor understood any of it. Because, even though as Stoll says, he hasn’t started any new wars yet, he has surrounded himself with people who fully believe in the Cheneyite-Clintonoid foreign policy.

        1. https://tinyurl.com/yd6eqg5n

          Only goes through 2015. Currently it is $2.88 (nationwide), lower than yearly average for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

          Media makes you think it is now higher than it has ever been, not the case. It has been lower for the last couple of years but not even close to the higher averages of some years past.

          1. “lower for the last couple of years”.

            I strongly suspect, although can’t prove, that a lot of this had to do with Obama’s Iran deal which got more oil onto the market, and which the Ochre Ogre ripped up.

            1. I strongly suspect, although can’t prove,

              The progressive mantra.

            2. Actually, one thing Obama got right; under his watch the US increased its oil output significantly – towards the end of his term. It was kept quite because it went against progressive ideals.

              For most of his two terms prices where artificially high because of policies.

            3. “I strongly suspect, although can’t prove”

              Nobody cares.

        2. I keep track of when I fill up every week. The results are not good.

          That’s price for living in your progressive paradise. I’m paying about $2.50-$2.75 a gallon where I live. That’s about average for the last 15 years or so nationwide, and dirt-cheap when accounting for inflation. Don’t cry like a bitch just because you’ve chosen to live somewhere that gas prices are higher than the national average.

          The rest of your spiel is the same drool-afflicted shitlib gobbled-gook I can get on any lefty bubble site.

          1. What in the blue hell are you yammering about? As stated elsewhere, I vote Libertarian. The belief that liberals are the only ones with reason to despise Trump is the product of a deranged imagination.

            1. You’re crying like a little bitch because you’re supposedly paying slightly more for gas than the rest of the country.

              Maybe if you weren’t such a solipsistic moron, your TDS wouldn’t affect your sense of perspective so badly.

              1. What makes you think you have any idea where I live?

                1. What makes you think you have any idea where I live?

                  I keep track of when I fill up every week. The results are not good.

  6. Well, the best person one would expect to be able to do that is Tulsi Gabbard. However, she’s not been crazy enough to get into the headlines since her presidential candidacy announcement or that gay conversion thing.

  7. It has been decades since the parties had a meaningful disagreement on foreign policy.

  8. Trump has them in a corner. The economy is strong and he didn’t start a war. He has brought criminal and tax reform and now, as per a NYT article, has them turning in his favor on immigration reform – specifically there is in fact a crisis at the border.

    Mix that in with the DNC going batshit full moonbat – be it through The Three Stooges including the McMarxist from the Bronx, the incoherent totalitarian Harris, Grandpa Gulag whose idea of a nice honey moon is in Soviet Russia, Spartacus, Uncle Joe and his war on drugs and creepy groping baggage, the Fake Indian, a Mini-Macron multi-lingual gay guy (NTTAWWT) and some guy who dresses up as a rabbit in a rock group with a couple of DUI’s under his belt.

    1. (cont’d)

      NEVER MIND, that Pelosi just, astonishingly, said she worries about Trump not accepting a result in 2020.

      The party that has done nothing but seek to take down a President through endless pointless investigations, fabricated narratives and threats of impeachment for the last three years is worried Trump won’t abide by a result? They’re already planting that seed?

      The same party that has its losing corrupted sociopath candidate do nothing but go on a pathetic ‘woe is me’ tour blaming everyone and everything under the sun and moon except her own corrupted soulless self?

      The same party who as directed by Obama spied on Trump and American citizens thus sparking a chain of events culminating into the lie of the century in the Russia-Trump collusion narrative that essentially brought the dignity of a justice to its sad knees?

      The same party that called for the removal of the electoral college not out of principle but because they lost?

      That same illiberal, ideological party?

      Boy, the projection. It burns.

      No, you’re – we’re fine. It’s the DNC (and Liberals in Canada) who have been pulling left to give the illusion we’ve gone ‘far right’.

      They’re fucken mental. And you’re an idiot and a useful idiot if you support these mental cases.

      1. It’s time to disband the democrat party and run the progressives out of America.

        1. “It’s time to disband the democrat party and run the progressives out of America.”

          One party rule always works out well.

          1. You know that Libertarian’s actually have a party, right?

        2. I wouldn’t get rid of all of them we need their insane voices to remind us just how loco their policies are. I mean I love to hear from AOC she is the gift that keeps on giving.

      2. “The party that has done nothing but seek to take down a President through endless pointless investigations, fabricated narratives and threats of impeachment for the last three years is worried Trump won’t abide by a result? They’re already planting that seed?”

        This is normal in politics.

        1. To some degree, sure.

          But they’ve turned it up to eleventy.

          1. Nigel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…

            Martin: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
            Nigel: These go to eleven.

      3. The Dems also lost their shit over GW Bush, Reagan, and Nixon. All three were re-elected, the last two by landslides. I don’t think Trump has as easy a shot at it, but it will be a lot harder to defeat him than they think.

        1. I’d be fine with a Trump victory if it resulted in a lefty rage spiral that leads them to cluelessly destroy their own communities and commit mass seppuku.

          If they’re just going to continue bitching on the internet, where’s the fun in that?

  9. “All it would take is one or two large-scale terrorist attacks against American targets, or a trade-war-related stock market slide, for Trump’s critics to begin arguing that the president’s policies have made America less safe.”

    Which the Democrats are hoping for as surely as they are for another mass shooting. They eagerly exploit tragedy and death to further their agenda. Another 9/11 would make them cum.

    1. Really? Well let’s take a look at who was running things when the actual 9/11 happened. If you took every bad thing Trump, Obama & B. Clinton did and piled them one by one on top of one another they would not begin to equal the damage done to this republic that Cheney & his simian sidekick caused with their vanity war and their Enabling (oh, sorry, Patriot) Act.

      1. “Really?”

        Yes, really.

      2. “Their” Patriot Act? You mean the one that 123 Democrats and 49 Independents voted for in the House? The one that 48 Democrats and 1 Independent voted for in the Senate?

        1. Oh, no question, most of them spent 8 years crawling on their bellies like reptiles chanting, “We have no king but Cheney!”. That’s why I vote Libertarian.

          But they didn’t lead the charge in pushing through that horror. And I doubt Gore or Kerry, although far from good, would have been quite as bad on civil liberties.

          1. Fuckin’ LOL at this shitlib sockpuppet LARPing as a libertarian.

            Cry more about your high gas prices, child.

            1. *sigh* You know no more about my age than you do about where I live.

              If you think protectionism/trade wars are a good idea, your economic ignorance rivals Sanders’ and Warren’s. And if you think any foreign policy good can come from listening to psychopathic peacocks like Pompeo and Bolton, well, I hope you don’t know anyone who’s in danger of being deployed in yet another presidential vanity war.

              In any case, your act has grown tiresome. Time to leave this thread. Toodles.

              1. *sigh* You know no more about my age than you do about where I live.

                Infantile personality disorders are easy to spot.

              2. When Trump commits more troops instead of drawing down or even maintaining the status quo, let us know. Otherwise, you’re just pissing about nothing.

          2. I doubt Gore or Kerry…would have been quite as bad on civil liberties.

            You can’t be serious. Either of them would have creamed their jeans at the prospect of not letting a crisis go to waste after 9/11. Their “Patriot Acts” would have been at least as tyrannical.

  10. They let the media criticize Trump’s foreign policy, for being dangerously “isolationist”. The Dems (minus Tulsi) want to reserve the military option for “humanitarian” missions around the globe as the World Police.

    1. Who doesn’t love a little unending conflict where trillions are spent and thousands come home either in a bag or severely damaged. Thanks progressives (on both sides)

  11. I wouldn’t get rid of all of them we need their insane voices to remind us just how loco their policies are. I mean I love to hear from AOC she is the gift that keeps on giving.latest news headlines for today

  12. I guess Reason is going to pretend Tulsi Gabbard doesn’t exist too.

    She seems to be getting the Ron Paul treatment.

  13. RUSSIA!! OBSTRUCTION!!

  14. Trump doesn’t have to be brilliant to be better than the clowns we have had running foreign policy since about when Madeline Albright replaced Warren Christopher at State, under Clinton. Merely halfway intelligent plus prudent, and committed to serving the US’s interests, is a big improvement.

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