Do 2020 Democrats have a foreign policy?

What exactly does Elizabeth Warren and company think should happen in Syria?

Democratic candidates.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Mario Tama/Getty Images, Scott Eisen/Getty Images, Sara D. Davis/Getty Images, str33tcat/iStock, -slav-/iStock)

We all know what Donald Trump thinks about foreign policy. America should not fight a war on behalf of the Kurds because they "didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy." Both of these things are true, despite the fact that there is no meaningful logical relationship between the premise and the conclusion. (I do wonder, though, what Trump thinks Japan was doing circa June 1944.) Still, in his bumbling inconsistent way, the president manages to get more things right about foreign affairs than any of his predecessors since George H.W. Bush, which is admittedly a low bar. His response to Turkey's recent campaign against Kurdish militants — doing nothing, while vaguely insisting that President Erdogan not do anything out of line — is essentially in keeping with this.

What about his Democratic challengers, all 19 of them? Foreign policy has not been a major theme so far either on the campaign trail or in their televised debates, which have focused either on the president's character and scandals or on domestic issues such as health care. It doesn't help that keeping track of where this party is supposed to be — No Blood for Oil, closing Gitmo, droning random funerals in Pakistan, invading Libya on a whim — on all of these issues has been almost impossible for the last two or so decades. My sense is that what Democrats think depends mostly on the news cycle and what rhetorical advantages they think they have over the GOP at any given moment.

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Matthew Walther

Matthew Walther is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has also appeared in First Things, The Spectator of London, The Catholic Herald, National Review, and other publications. He is currently writing a biography of the Rev. Montague Summers. He is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.