Opinion | Trump Has Scrambled America’s Foreign Policy. Can the Democrats Do Better?

Opinion | Trump Has Scrambled America’s Foreign Policy. Can the Democrats Do Better?


What voters have been more likely to hear is reflexive condemnation of whatever Mr. Trump does or does not do.

His meeting late last month with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarized Zone is a case in point. Ms. Warren faulted Mr. Trump for “exchanging love letters with a ruthless dictator.” Senator Kamala Harris admonished him to “take the North Korean nuclear threat and its crimes against humanity seriously. ” Julian Castro, a former secretary of housing and urban development, said, “It is all show. It’s all symbolism. It is not substance.”

Such criticisms are reasonable, but they are not policy. Mr. Biden has said he will refuse to deal with Mr. Kim until North Korea takes some unspecified first step. Most Democratic candidates have yet to put forward comprehensive proposals on how to deal with the nuclear threat from North Korea.

Virtually all of the candidates support a greater role for Congress in deciding whether to initiate war and expressed alarm about the potential of stumbling into military conflict with Iran. Many have endorsed rejoining the Iran nuclear deal that Mr. Trump abrogated, without saying how they intend to tackle this complex problem.

A typical answer came from Senator Amy Klobuchar, who said that, while imperfect, “It was a good deal for that moment,” and, “What I would do is negotiate us back into that agreement, stand with our allies and not give unlimited leverage to China and Russia, which was what he has done.” More detail is needed.

While there is a strong proclivity among the candidates to reduce the nation’s military commitments, with at least half saying they would bring the troops home from Afghanistan, nuance can make a difference. “I believe we should bring back our troops from Afghanistan but I also believe that we need to have a presence there” to support the Afghan leaders and deter terrorists from returning, Senator Harris told The Times.

Asked the greatest threat facing America at their debate in June, there was little consensus. One candidate, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, identified Mr. Trump; others were more predictable, citing Russia, China, nuclear weapons and climate change.





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