Joe Sestak: Military Members Essential

Joe Sestak

Former congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania’s 7th District recently became one of the many candidates running for the Democratic nomination for President.

Besides his 4 years in the House of Representatives, during which he sat on the Armed Services Committee, Sestak’s foreign policy experience comes from a 31-year career as a naval officer and served in the National Security Council during Bill Clinton’s administration.

On the Campaign Trail:

On U.S. Foreign Policy:

On China and Human Rights:

Human rights in China should absolutely play a role in broader U.S. policy toward China. When we look the other way on fundamental issues of human rights, we are also responsible. I want to restore U.S. leadership within a rules-based liberal world order that collectively holds nations accountable for their illiberal behavior, whether in foreign or domestic spheres. Importantly, we must not do this alone. Rather, we must regain our leadership of the values-based world order from which we have retreated. Our absence has permitted China, Russia and emerging autocrats to act with impunity, with no concerns about consequences. In fact, it has even encouraged former allies and friends to provide support for China’s illiberal behavior. For example, Greece ceded its political voice to China — vetoing a European Union condemnation of China’s human-rights record — in exchange for Chinese investment in the port of Piraeus.
Collectively, we must find points of leverage in order to convince China to improve their treatment of Uighurs, Tibetans, and other minority groups, to ensure the autonomy of Hong Kong, and to continue to protect democracy in Taiwan, among other issues. At the same time, we must improve our own human rights record — such as our treatment of migrants and refugees at the border, and our support for the war in Yemen — so that we have credibility to take on other countries for their human rights record. Ultimately, we need to restore our standing in the world and renew our commitment to multilateral action and the international institutions we built in the 20th century to establish and enforce global human rights standards.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On the Military:

On the Intelligence Community:

On Venezuela:

The situation in Venezuela is tragic. President Maduro has led his nation’s economy to ruin and corruption, and created a disastrous humanitarian situation. We must convene the regional Organization of American States (OAS) — and other international organizations as appropriate — to compel changes in Venezuela that will bring about a political settlement that avoids a civil war while bringing about just governance.  This is not about military force at all. Rather, we must recognize that individual and human rights and a fair and just government, the values the liberal world order once stood for, can only flourish in Venezuela if the world comes together and provides the incentives and disincentives required to bring Venezuela back.. Disincentives should include appropriate financial sanctions against those in government who are looting their nation — often in conjunction with drug traffickers — and travel sanctions against the same. We must do our part to ensure that injustice does not prevail in Venezuela, and prevent a civil implosion that destabilizes the hemisphere.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Iran:

On Russian Aggression in Ukraine:

‘The territorial aggression of Russia and other bad actors on the world stage must not be allowed to continue. It is a threat to global peace and security, and it is an affront to the values we hold dear. Ukraine, from the perspective of Russia, is merely a domino that may lead to further “near abroad” gains. If it fails in one of several ways — from internal dissention that shatters its frail democracy to incursions by “insurgents” supported by clandestine Russian support —Russia will feel empowered to assess where it may find further success in neighboring nations once part of its orbit. This is a prime example of why US leadership of a rules-based global order is so important that also recognizes the value and need of allies for their equal contributions in different ways. We need new leadership here at home in order to re-establish that the United States is committed to democracy’s values, and that we will not turn our backs on democratic countries under threat from autocrats like Vladimir Putin. Putting Russia on notice will require demonstrating that we are serious. We can accomplish that through expanding sanctions, through curtailing Russia’s participation in international organizations and efforts, and even through more active deterrence measures, including cyber activity.’

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Israel and a Two-State Solution:

‘I support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are no easy solutions to this decades-long conflict, but we must begin by affirmatively re-engaging in the region. We must maintain our steadfast allied support of Israel, but we must also work much harder to be an honest broker and deal fairly with the Palestinians as we lead the brokerage of peace between them. While Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East — and I have worked hard with and on behalf of Israel for decades, both during my time in the Navy and as a Congressman — we must also work to ensure the Palestinian people know that we are committed to a just solution to the conflict. This means returning our embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, because it has always been accepted that this would be part of a two state solution, not a unilateral decision.  It also means restoring humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. But at the same time we must deal with the bias against Israel in key United Nations organizations and make clear that our support for Israel as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people is sacrosanct. While Israel may be safe today, it will not be permanently secure without a peace agreement that includes a two state solution, and that is only possible if outcomes are not decided unilaterally beforehand. Otherwise, the cycle of violence will only continue. The United States is the one indispensable nation that can work with both sides to reach a just peace deal., and only the full weight of the Presidency will be able to bring it about. Our own interests demand it as challenges elsewhere increase – but we must secure Israel’s permanent security to do so, and can only do that with a fair, honestly brokered process.’

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On North Korea:

With respect to North Korea, I believe we must maintain the goal of complete denuclearization until it has been achieved. But that does not mean I think we will be able to quickly reach an agreement that achieves that goal. Our first step should be re-initiate six-party talks involving the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States, along with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), because each of the other countries in the region will play critical roles in any negotiations — Russia and China, in particular, have leverage over North Korea as their main economic partners — and the IAEA will need to be involved in any inspections regime ultimately agreed upon. Negotiations will likely lead to some sort of preliminary agreement involving partial sanctions relief in exchange for some dismantling of the North’s nuclear weapons program. The eventual success of that initial deal should lay the groundwork for total denuclearization, along with some improvements to North Korea’s human rights standards. As with Iran, we need to build trust between North Korea and the rest of the world – and we know that will take time. We also need to live by President Reagan’s adage: “Trust, but verify” (as we did with the Iranian accord). Diplomacy like this is a slow process, but the peace and stability it leads too will be well worth the wait.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

Elizabeth Warren Stands up for the Rohingya

Elizabeth Warren Washington Times

On The Campaign Trail

[Do you like Elizabeth Warren? Tell us why in the comments section. Or DM us @jeffersonmorley. We will publish your comments with minimal editing.]

Claiming the Mantle of JFK

Sen. Elizabeth Warren at American University, November 29, 2018

For her debut speech on issues of war and peace, Senator Elizabeth Warren chose the symbolically potent setting of American University in Washington DC.

In June 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave one of the most famous speeches in the same spot, calling for a “strategy of peace” to end the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war. The speech was controversial at the time because is signaled JFK’s dovish intentions toward the Soviet Union and the world.

By speaking in the same spot, Warren was placing her foreign policy in the tradition of President Kennedy’s last year in office. She was positioning herself, like JFK, as an agent of responsible change in U.S. foreign policy.

Warren has taken more explicit policy positions than any other Democratic candidate with the possible exception of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Like Sanders, her foreign policy is rooted in her views on the national and world economy where she sees the power of corporations and the wealthy as a threat to ordinary Americans.

President Warren, she says, would pursue “a foreign policy for all. “

On the Military Industrial Complex:

On Hong Kong:

On Diplomacy:

On Iran: No War Without Congress

“I’m very concerned about a slide towards war with Iran. I want to remind this administration that the administration cannot declare war on its own. It has to come to Congress and make that case and ask for an authorization for a use of military force. That’s not politics, that’s a point of the Constitution of the United States of America….{…}…Part of the problem we’ve got right now is that the president backed out of a deal that the United States had committed to and he does it with no coherent alternative strategy. …{…}…He’s continued to poke at Iran but then back off. At one point we hear an announcement there’s going to a huge troop buildup, then no troop buildup. It’s not possible to tell where the president is headed and if we can’t tell that here in the United States, it means our Congress can’t fulfill its Constitutional function.” — Fox News from Manchester, N.H.

Warren endorses the Iran nuclear deal and does not talk about “getting tough.”

It’s obvious that Iran isn’t our friend. It sponsors terrorism, engages in human rights abuses, tests missiles, and takes other destabilizing actions. But one area where we’ve made real progress is the nuclear deal, which put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program and placed it under monitoring and inspections. Enforcing this deal is better than no deal at all, and even skeptics like Trump’s Secretary of Defense agree.

Facebook

On Venezuela: Sanctions Hurt Everyday People

Warren is against the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and the threat of U.S. intervention, another sign that she is not a candidate of continuity in foreign policy. The sanctions are supported by other Democratic candidates and the Washington foreign policy establishment.

“The Venezuelan people deserve free and fair elections, an economy that works, and the ability to live without fear of violence from their own government,” she said. “Instead of reckless threats of military action or sanctions that hurt those in need, we should be taking real steps to support the Venezuelan people.”

Where Democratic Presidential Contenders Stand On The Venezuelan Crisis — Huffington Pos
Defense donations only make up 0.1% of all campaign donations

On the Defense Budget: Reduce the Bloat

President Warren would cut defense spending.

A strong military should act as a deterrent so that most of the time, we won’t have to use it.

We should also leverage all the tools of our national power, not just our military might. That means cutting our bloated defense budget and ending the stranglehold of defense contractors on our military policy.

Source: Issues| Elizabeth Warren

On Afghanistan: ‘Going in Circles’

We’ve “turned the corner” in Afghanistan so many times that we’re now going in circles.

On Russia: Arms Control Before its Too Late

Warren talks more about pursuing arms control with Russia, as opposed to “getting tough.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “testing Donald Trump“ to see how far he can go without punishment, Warren said, and Trump is “failing.” “He is not responding with strength,” Warren said of the mercurial Republican president, who has at times overtly sought friendly relations with the Russian strongman.

Warren also noted,however, that Trump has threatened to engage in a new nuclear arms race against Russia. She insisted that is a foolish idea because the U.S. does not need more nuclear weapons.

Warren said the U.S. should pursue more arms control initiatives, and she came out in favor of a “no first use” doctrine, which means the U.S. would pledge not to be the first to use a nuclear weapon in a conflict. 

‘A moment of crisis’: Warren lays out foreign policy vision — Politic

On the Intelligence Community:

On North Korea: Patience and Experience Needed

We’re at the beginning of a diplomatic process that will require patience, experience, and close coordination with our allies. I want to see the President succeed, but a handshake is no substitute for a binding, verifiable deal.”

Warren Statement on the United States-North Korea Summit — 6.12.2018 Press Release

In the Eyes of ‘the Blob’ and the Secret Intelligence Agencies:

President Warren’s left-liberal policy views might disturb policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders. But as a process-oriented insider with deep policy experience, Warren would also work within the Washington system while seeking to change it.

Elizabeth Warren announces her candidacy.

Research: Daniel Ortiz

Return to Insider’s Guide to the 2020 Democrats on War and Peace

Amy Klobuchar Supports European Alliances

Amy Klobuchar (Credit - Creative Commons)
Amy Klobuchar announces. (Credit Washington Post.)

On the Campaign Trail:

The “National Security” vertical of Klobuchar’s web site shows that the senior senator from Minnesota does not stray far from the Washington orthodoxy.

While her public statement on issues of war, peace and the secret agencies are not detailed, they indicate Klobuchar is a candidate of continuity, not change.

President Klobuchar would most likely pursue a foreign policy in the Obama tradition: global military intervention, preferably not with U.S. troops.

(Fun fact: Amy Klobuchar’s father Jim, whom she describes “as a newspaper man,” was the best-known sports columnist in the state of Minnesota for decades. She entered politics with name recognition.)

[Do you like Amy Klobuchar? Tell us why in the comments section. Or DM us @jeffersonmorley. We will publish your comments with minimal editing.]

On Venezuela: Supports Trump/Bolton

“I support the people of Venezuela standing up against Maduro, installing a new leader, and restoring democracy in Venezuela,” Klobuchar said in an email.

Where Democratic Presidential Contenders Stand On The Venezuelan Crisis — Huffington Post
Defense donations only make up 0.1% of all campaign donations

This statement doesn’t explicitly address the crucial issue of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. Sanctions are an interventionist strategy that seeks to bring down the Maduro government by making life increasingly difficult for the people of Venezuela. The anti-interventionist strategy is to pursue diplomatic solution without seeking to do further harm to the people of Venezuela.

On Hong Kong:

On Russia: Influenced by McCain and Graham

Klobuchar is hawkish on Russia.

… the United States must hold Russia accountable for its attack on the 2016 elections and its continued interference in our democracy.

Ahead of Today’s Election Security Meeting, Klobuchar leads letter Urging National Security Council to hold Russia Accountable, Improve Federal Coordination, and Support States

There is a lot to look at when you have, as I learned on my trip to the Baltics and Ukraine and Georgia with Senator McCain and Graham, Russia’s been doing this for a long, long time. And there is no question, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have told us they attempted to influence our election.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar On Investigating Trump And Russia
Amy Klobuchar
2020 Democratic Party Candidate Amy Klobuchar (Credit: Wikipedia)

Klobuchar’s reliance on two Republican hawks for guidance on Russia is another measure of how conventional her geopolitical views are.

On Israel: AIPAC Speaker

Klobuchar has addressed the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the past, according to AIPAC.

On Iran: Get Tougher

Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is one of the most important objectives of our national security policy and I strongly advocated for and supported the economic sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table.  While the agreement is by no means perfect, I have concluded that it is our best available option to put the brakes on Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon and that is why I will support it.

Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Statement On Iran Nuclear Agreement

Klobuchar’s opinion of the Trump’s termination of the Iran nuclear deal: the United States should stay in the deal but get tougher with the Islamic Republic.

I also believe we should be negotiating a more comprehensive agreement moving forward that includes Iran’s ballistic missile tests and destabilizing activity that pose a direct threat to Israel, which we can do without withdrawing from the agreement.

Source: Twitter

This is the interventionist view, widely (but not universally) shared in the policymaking Blob: the United States need to coerce Iran.

The anti-interventionist view is: Iran’s military is tiny and weak, vastly inferior to Israel’s. Comprehensive arms control agreements in the Middle East are a good idea but is an illusion to think Iran will be bullied into them.

This is another indication that President Klobuchar would position herself to the right of President Obama, who pursued the nuclear deal and rejected the idea of including other issues as impractical.

On Bush: A Dishonest Administration

Whether it was their categorical (but false) assertions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or their repeated (but unsupported) claims of Iraq’s ties to Al Qaeda, or their frequent (but untrue) assurances that America would go to war only with broad international support, or their constant (but divisive) attempts to “spin” the war by going after those who disagreed with them, the Bush-Cheney administration did not give honest information to the American people. This conduct has not only damaged America’s credibility throughout the world, but also undermined the American people’s confidence in our own government.

Source: 2006 Senate campaign website, www.amyklobuchar.com, “Issues”

On North Korea: the ‘Dictator Next Door’

On Election Security:

In the Eyes of ‘the Blob’ and the Secret Intelligence Agencies:

President Klobuchar would probably be acceptable to policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders disenchanted with Trump. At least she is a politician who works within the system.

Research: Daniel Ortiz

Return to Insider’s Guide to the 2020 Democrats on War and Peace

Kirsten Gillibrand, Hawkish Critic of Endless Wars

Kirsten Gillibrand

On the Campaign Trail:

Sen. Gillibrand speaks Mandarin at town hall

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand opened her CNN town hall by speaking a little Mandarin and sharing a brief story about her college years.Gillibrand said she learned Chinese in college and traveled throughout the country. https://cnn.it/2Upni7q

Posted by CNN on Tuesday, April 9, 2019

——————-

Foreign Policy Vision: ‘Strong and Strategic’

The junior senator from New York says “America needs a strong and strategic foreign policy, not endless wars.

Gillibrand combines opposition to U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria with hawkish positions on Venezuela and Iran.

[Do you like Kirsten Gillibrand? Tell us why in the comments section. Or DM us @jeffersonmorley. We will publish your comments with minimal editing.]

Defense donations only make up 0.7% of all campaign donations

On Venezuela: Supports Trump’s Sanctions

Gillibrand supports the Trump administration’s sanctions on Venezuela.

“Senator [Kirsten] Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) supports working with our allies to recognize Juan Guaidó – who was legitimately elected – as the interim president under the Constitution until Venezuela can hold new elections,” said Meredith Kelly, communications director for Sen. Gillibrand’s presidential exploratory committee. “And while she believes economic sanctions are the appropriate response to achieve this, she does not support sending troops to Venezuela.”

Where Democratic Presidential Contenders Stand On The Venezuelan Crisis — Huffington Post

I want to see free and fair elections in Venezuela – monitored by international experts so that the will of the Venezuelan people is reflected in their government. But more than that, I want to see a fair judiciary, an open press, and other aspects of a truly thriving democracy. So I support the efforts of the international community to impose a combination of sanctions and humanitarian aid and diplomatic pressure on President Maduro, and to take steps to lessen the humanitarian disaster ordinary Venezuelans are suffering. Almost 4 million Venezuelan refugees have fled and we must provide humanitarian and refugee assistance.Venezuelans, like other asylum seekers who reach our shores, deserve our protection. But I do not support military intervention. We cannot allow Trump’s warmonger advisors get us into yet another war. It would not be good for the American people,Venezuelans or our other friends in the region.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Iran: Trump’s ‘Shortsighted, Dangerous Mistake’

While she opposed the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, she co-sponsored a bill introduced by opponents of the deal.

By walking away from the Iran Deal, President Trump has made a shortsighted, dangerous mistake. The deal gave us the ability to aggressively monitor and verify Iran’s behavior. This move only opens the door to Iran going back to developing a nuclear weapons program.

Twitter

She was a co-sponsor for the Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination Act which sought to deny the Iranian government access to its foreign exchange reserves.

On Afghanistan: Bring Troops Home

She favors U.S. withdrawal.

“America cannot afford an endless war in Afghanistan,” Gillibrand said. “After nearly a decade at war, with still no equal commitment from the Karzai government, and after all the lives we’ve sacrificed and the billions we’ve spent on this war, it’s time to start bringing our troops home.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Presses Administration For Clear Withdrawal Plan From Afghanistan — Huffington Post

On Yemen: ‘End This Humanitarian Crisis’

Saudi Arabia is using American-made bombs to terrorize Yemeni civilians with airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians – and millions are without food and access to medical care. The Senate must do everything it can to end this humanitarian crisis.

Facebook

On North Korea:

When it comes to North Korea, we must base our actions on a clear understanding of what has and has not worked in the past, and make a commitment to peace on the Korean Peninsula. I would come to an arms control summit prepared with facts based on seasoned policy and intelligence advice. I would strategically leverage diplomatic steps to curb aggression. And I would carefully articulate our national security goals, rather than send mixed signals. I would work together with our allies, including through incremental measurable steps designed to limit the North Korean threat, with the ultimate goal of a nuclear-free and peaceful Korean Peninsula.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Syria: Don’t Arm Rebels

Unlike Hillary Clinton and many in the foreign policy establishment, Gillibrand opposed arming the anti-government rebels.

I don’t think arming the [Syrian] rebels in this instance is necessarily going to be productive.

CBS News

On Arms Control: Back Towards Stability

Gillibrand is not a Russia hawk. She was one of 26 senators who opposed Trump’s decision to leave the INF Treaty. The letter (which was also signed Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar) stated:

A collapse of the INF Treaty and failure to renew New START would lead to the absence of verifiable limits on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces for the first time since the early 1970s. We ask you to reverse the recent course set by your administration and instead point our nation back towards stability.

Kirsten Gillibrand’s Senate Website; Press Release — 12.13.2018

On Israel: Careful of First Amendment

‘Yes. In my trips to Israel and through conversations with U.S. experts and Israeli leaders, I have learned that Israel’s security and the prosperity of both Israelis and Palestinians is best achieved through a peace based on two nations living side by side. But that lasting peace and security can only be achieved by those on the ground, and the U.S. must remain engaged, but balanced, in order to foster direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The Trump administration has dangerously undermined U.S. ability to foster such negotiations. As president, I would seek to restore it by continuing America’s strong relationship with our ally, Israel, ensuring its meaningful military edge allows Israel to defend its people, while at the same time reversing the Trump administration’s damaging policies toward the Palestinians. This means reopening the diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, restoring our USAID presence in the West Bank and restarting USAID programs that President Trump has cut.’

Council on Foreign Relations interview

Senator Gillibrand withdrew as a co-sponsor from the Senate Israel Anti-Boycott Act on August 1, 2017 for 1st Amendment concerns.

On Human Rights in China:

I am deeply troubled by the alarming reports of widespread human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim Chinese citizens. I have called on U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to update U.S. export controls on American technology to ensure that neither China nor other repressive regimes can use American technology to commit human rights violations. I have further supported targeted sanctions against those responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture and other abuses of human rights, and have cosponsored the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. America must pursue a variety of goals in the bilateral relationship with China, including holding them accountable for currency cheating, unfair trade practices, and cyber theft of American technology and Americans’ data. But history has taught us that we never ultimately advance our interests when we ignore human rights abuses. I believe we can support human rights in the context of addressing our country’s vital national security and economic interests.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Russia:

‘Russian aggression toward Ukraine – whether in the Crimean Peninsula, Eastern Ukraine or in the Kerch Strait – is dangerous, not only toward Ukraine, but broadly, because it emboldens Russian aggression elsewhere. Russia’s cyber hacks of Ukrainian infrastructure gave it a testbed, and its lessons could be used to target the U.S. We must be very clear with President Putin that Russia’s illegal attempts at annexation are not acceptable. That is why rather than warmly greet Putin in confidential conversations, or weigh his assertions above U.S. intelligence assessments, I would continue a policy of sanctions aimed at the group of Russian leaders who have undermined Ukraine’s democracy, security and territorial integrity, and closely coordinate our policy with our European allies to deepen their impact. And I would once again deepen our NATO ties because this alliance presents one of the strongest bulwarks against Russian aggression.
And because Russia has demonstrated its willingness to invade its neighbors, it is all the more reason that we must ensure we have arms control agreements in place to limit Russia’s nuclear and strategic forces. I had opposed President Trump’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement because its absence opens the door to a new and dangerous arms race. It is all the more critical that we extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to limit Russian nuclear weapons and provide information to the U.S. intelligence community.’

Council on Foreign Relations interview

In the Eyes of ‘the Blob’ and the Secret Intelligence Agencies:

President Gillibrand would probably be acceptable to policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders in the same way Obama was. Like Obama, she resists calls to use U.S. military force but otherwise does not advocate fundamental change in the national security system.

Research: Daniel Ortiz

Return to Insider’s Guide to the 2020 Democrats on War and Peace

Where Democrats See Danger in the World

Donkey - Democrats
The second debate of Democratic presidential candidates June 27, 2019.

When it comes to the biggest geopolitical threat facing the United States, the Democratic candidates are divided. In contrast to the Iran issue, where the Democrats are united, the threat issue

In the first debate, moderator Chuck Todd put the question point blank to the ten candidates. “Who is the geopolitical threat to the United States?” World issues figured less in the second’s night discussion but several candidates spoke to the issue, and the party’s tendencies are evident.

Democrats, as a group, are moving away from the traditional view that nation states are the chief threat to the United State, and the from the post-9/11 belief that non-state terrorist groups are the chief threat to the country. A plurality of the 2020 candidates cited climate change as the biggest threat to the country. Because the deployment or use military power is not a solution to climate change, this threat assessment points to a trend: Democratic foreign policy is becoming less militaristic.

America’s traditional rivals, China or Russia, are cited by several candidates as the chief threats. But even here, the use or threat of military force, is less relevant.. The threat of China is economic, low-wage competition and theft of intellectual property. The threat of Russia is political–electoral interference and disinformation–

Meawhile, the perception of terrorism as the chief threat has all but vanished under the reign of Trump.

Climate

If you believe climate change is the biggest threat to America, then you might consider voting for Cory Booker, Kamala Harris Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, or Elizabeth Warren. O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, called climate change an “existential threat.” Harris, the California Attorney General, recast the issue as the “climate crisis.”

Cory Booker, junior senator from New Jersey, qualified his response, “Nuclear proliferation and climate change,” while Castro, the former cabinet secretary, said, “China and climate change.

China

If you think China is the biggest threat, you’ll want to look at Castro, John Delaney, Pete Buttigieg, or Tim Ryan. They all made a priority talking about taking action to counter China’s influence on the U.S. economy and the world. This too, is a new trend, highlighting the emergence of global trade–and its impact on American workers–as a foreign policy issue.

Russia

If you think that Russia is the biggest threat, then Michael Bennett, Bill DeBlasio, and Andrew Yang may appeal to you. All but Biden said Russia is the biggest threat to the United States, citing interference in the 2016 election as the reason.

This trend is something of a surprise. While Russia looms large in the cable TV/Twitter discourse around the Mueller investigation and, to a lesser extent, impeachment, Russia is not a big issue on the Democratic campaign

Authoritarianism

Bernie Sanders didn’t address the threat issue in debate but in his speeches he has emphasized the threat of “oligarchic authoritarianism,” which encompasses both Russia and China. The authoritarian axis,” says Sanders:

“is committed to tearing down a post-World War II global order that they see as limiting their access to power and wealth, it is not enough for us to simply defend that order as it exists. We must look honestly at how that order has failed to deliver on many of its promises, and how authoritarians have adeptly exploited those failures in order to build support for their agenda. “

Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has sounded a similar theme about rising authoritarianism.

Trump

While calling for action on the climate crisis, Inslee and Harris both described Trump as the biggest national security threat. Biden didn’t address threats in the debate but he has said Trump is “an existential threat” to the country.

As the planet warms, terrorism has receded as a perceived threat and Trump has emerged.