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By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Continuing John Ubaldi’s look at the major 2020 Democratic candidates, we turn to one of the frontrunners, Elizabeth Warren
The 2020 presidential race is well under way, with all candidates espousing their domestic policy proposals. But one issue has been mostly absent for any discussion is national security. In this ongoing series, we will examine the national security vision of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
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Warren’s Long Career as an Academic
If elected president, Senator Warren would bring a long academic career and domestic experience to the White House. She has taught public school children with disabilities and has been on the faculty at various universities including Harvard, where she taught law.
Additionally, she sat on the five-member Congressional Oversight Panel that helped produce the various stabilization efforts passed by Congress in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis. Warren advocates a progressive foreign policy that focuses on redressing economic inequality, which she believes has weakened democracy. To that end, she places a strong emphasis on combating climate change, which she sees as a national security threat.
If elected president, Warren would use trade negotiations to push multinational companies to ensure they are held accountable for avoiding paying their fair share of taxes. She has stated that the extra revenue generated by this policy and others could be applied to education, infrastructure and committing America to a “21st century industrial policy.”
Questions Remain about Warren’s China Strategy
Warren’s opponents for the Democratic presidential nomination have stated that her China policy is a bit thin on details. She cites China’s theft of intellectual property and forced technological transfer as a serious issue. But her opponents want her to put forth a solid strategy on China, one that is different from President Trump’s approach.
The one area where most Democratic presidential contenders find near total agreement is to end the “endless wars” that the U.S. is engaged in across the Middle East. All of the Democratic candidates have admonished Trump for various actions related to that region. In fact, the frontrunners, including Warren, have stated that they would alter the President’s Middle East policies.
Warren Articulates Foreign Policy Vision
Last November, Warren penned an op-ed in Foreign Affairs outlining her national security vision. She stated that “It’s time to seriously review the country’s military commitments overseas, and that includes bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. They have fought with honor, but additional American blood spilled will not halt the violence or result in a functioning democratic government in either place.”
If U.S. troops are brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan, what would prevent Iran from exploiting the vacuum left by the American withdrawal? Also, what would prevent an Islamic State-like terror organization from rising up just as happened after the United States left Iraq in 2011?
As President, Warren not only would remove U.S. combat forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, but would return the United States to the Iran nuclear agreement that President Trump withdrew from in 2018.
The Hill quoted Warren as tweeting, “Our intelligence community told us again and again: The #IranDeal was working to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. If Iran continues to abide by the terms of the deal, you bet I will support returning to it.”
Would Warren Lift Sanctions against Iran?
Many of her opponents ask if the United States returns to the agreement does this mean Warren would lift the crippling sanctions against Iran? After all, Tehran has stated it would not return to the negotiating table until all sanctions are removed. Would Warren lift the sanctions on Iran?
If the U.S. returned to the nuclear agreement how would she prevent Iran from utilizing its new revenue source to strengthen its proxy forces inside Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere throughout the Middle East?
The other aspect that Warren mentioned in her Foreign Affairs op-ed is that “Defense spending should be set at sustainable levels, and the money saved should be used to fund other forms of international engagement and critical domestic programs. The Pentagon’s budget has been too large for too long. It is long overdue for an audit that would allow Congress to identify which programs actually benefit American security and which merely line the pockets of defense contractors.”
Warren to Reduce Defense
Warren speaks about reducing defense spending to sustainable levels, but what is that level, and what areas should be reduced? History is rife with examples of the price the United States has paid when it reduced its defense spending. One example would be the massive military drawdown that took place after World War II, which left the U.S. unprepared for the Korean War in which it soon found itself.
Much of her op-ed is a repudiation of past polices by both Democratic and Republican administrations; how economic policies have favored the elites and multinational corporations in contrast to implementing policies that help the working class. She would seek to overturn these past policies as president.
In basic terms, Elizabeth Warren wants to do the exact opposite of what President Trump wants to do or has done with regards to foreign policy. If she ends up as the Democratic presidential nominee, it will be another interesting two-person race for the White House in 2020.
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