2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden has a stark message for the American people: President Donald Trump’s foreign policy is uniquely dangerous.
In advance of a speech in New York on Thursday in which Biden will lay out his own views on foreign policy, the former vice president released a short video slamming Trump’s handling of world affairs.
The video presents the five core elements of what Biden calls “The Trump Doctrine”:
- “Embrace dictators” — illustrated with clips of Trump saying he “fell in love” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, stating that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials about interfering in the 2016 US election, and parroting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s insistence that he had nothing to do with the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- “Threaten war” — depicted by a screenshot of a Trump tweet from 2018 in which he promised to impose “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE” on Iran if that country ever threatened the US again.
- “Rip up international agreements” — demonstrated using footage of Trump announcing in 2018 that he was pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal and declaring in 2017 that he was withdrawing the US from the Paris climate accord.
- “Launch trade wars” — portrayed with a screenshot of a Trump tweet claiming that “trade wars are good, and easy to win” juxtaposed with the voice of a news anchor reporting that American farmers are suffering from the trade war with China.
- “Embarrass the US” — shown with a quick supercut of Trump being friendly with those dictators again as MSNBC’s Brian Williams quotes a “veteran US diplomat” describing an unspecified Trump appearance as “the single most embarrassing performance he’s ever seen on the world stage.”
The video ends with a close up of Trump’s face, then a cut to a black screen and the words “Reclaiming American leadership starts here.”
Put together, Biden’s political ad is a five-point broadside that is sure to make Democrats nod and Republicans scoff.
The problem is it comes up short in two big ways.
First, it lacks any specifics about what the former vice president would do to reverse Trump’s foreign policy. The roughly 100-second video effectively boils down to “Trump is bad” without offering why “Biden is good.” (Biden will hopefully offer a bit more detail on how he would conduct foreign affairs differently than Trump during his speech later on Thursday.)
Second, it conveniently overlooks some of Trump’s successes on the world stage. For example, his administration destroyed ISIS’s physical “caliphate,” improved ties with Israeli’s government (though angering Palestinians), began peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan that seem to be bearing (some) fruit, and renegotiated and updated the North American Free Trade Agreement known as NAFTA.
Which means Biden’s challenge on Thursday will be to go beyond criticism of Trump’s foreign policy and actually explain how he’d do things better.
The hope is that the video serves as an opening line, and not the entire message.