Trump and Biden: Differences in Foreign Policy

How Trump, Biden compare on foreign policy

Trump and Biden: Differences in Foreign Policy

Candidates hold different views on many foreign policy issues

As candidates from rival political parties, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden hold different views on how the United States should interact with the rest of the world. At a basic level, the gap can be seen in Trump’s America First slogan and Biden’s drive to expand international cooperation..

Here are some highlights that illustrate the differences in the two candidates’ approaches to foreign policy issues..


Trump began criticizing the alliance during the 2016 election campaign, demanding more defense spending from other members. By the time Trump was elected, some countries had met the spending targets set by NATO in 2014, but many did not, and earlier this year, the president withdrew 12,000 troops from Germany, accusing it of abusing US support..

During a debate in June 2019, Biden called NATO “the most significant alliance in the history of the United States” and warned that it would disintegrate if Trump was re-elected. Former VP wants to prioritize restoring international partnerships.


Biden pledged to file complaints with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russian interference in American elections and other malicious activities.

“I don’t understand why this president is unwilling to fight back against Putin as he pays rewards for the killings of American soldiers in Afghanistan and is engaged in activities aimed at destabilizing NATO,” Biden said..

Trump rejected the findings of the American intelligence services that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections in an effort to help him win. The issue that led to the launch of the impeachment procedure against him, the president called “falsification” and “witch hunt.” As proof of the decisive position of his administration, he recalls the sanctions imposed against Russia..

“Nobody has been tougher with Russia than Donald Trump,” he said.


Trump’s China policy has evolved over the course of his presidency. Soon after his inauguration, he held a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, subsequently a trade war broke out, and in January of this year, the first phase of a trade agreement was reached. Amid the spread of the coronavirus in 2020, Trump blamed China for the pandemic, while pushing to ban the popular Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat.

“President Trump has confronted China and will continue to take a bold approach,” Vice President Mike Pence said during the October debate..

Biden advocates tougher stance on human rights in China and Hong Kong and continued pressure on Beijing over trade.

Senator Kamala Harris, who is running alongside Biden, said during a debate with Pence that the Trump administration has “lost the trade war.”.

“Because of this, farmers are being ruined. Because of this, we are in a manufacturing recession, ”said Harris..


Biden served as vice president when the United States and five other world powers signed an agreement with Iran in 2015 limiting its nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions. Trump withdrew from the deal, calling it “the worst deal in history,” and imposed new sanctions that hurt Iran’s economy and pushed it to increase nuclear activity.

Biden, if elected, is going to return to the agreement, believing that in this case Iran will again begin to comply with its terms.


Both candidates support a two-state solution following peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump and Biden: Differences in Foreign Policy

Trump actively supports Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and moves the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Biden condemned this step, but does not plan to cancel it. He proposes to open a US consulate in East Jerusalem to interact with the Palestinians.

The Democratic candidate did acknowledge the Trump administration’s credit for brokering agreements to normalize Israel’s relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. But Biden said Trump still lacks a “coherent foreign policy plan,” beyond putting US interests first..


The Trump administration has entered into an agreement with the Taliban, providing for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by mid-2021. In October, he tweeted that he wants to complete the withdrawal by the end of 2020..

Biden prefers a more cautious approach given the developments in the situation in Afghanistan.

North Korea

Trump held two rounds of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and met with him at the inter-Korean border as part of efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Negotiations have yielded no deal, but Pyongyang has not tested nuclear weapons or ICBMs since 2017. Trump says he has a “very good relationship” with the North Korean leader. Administration hopes to host another summit.

Biden states that he will not date Kim Jong-un without preconditions. Biden administration’s strategy will be to use sanctions pressure to nudge Pyongyang into negotiations.


Biden is proposing to lift the travel bans imposed by Trump shortly after taking office, including a ban that has seriously affected several countries with a predominantly Muslim population, including Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia. Trump insists bans are necessary to ensure national security.

Both candidates’ strategies are aimed at boosting the continent’s economic development, as well as collaborating with young African leaders and members of the diaspora..

Central America

In 2019, the Trump administration entered into agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, according to which migrants must first seek asylum in these countries. If they arrive at the US-Mexico border without having done so, they will be sent back. Presidential adviser Stephen Miller said similar agreements with other countries are planned during Trump’s second term..

Biden criticizes Trump’s tough immigration policies, accusing him of trying to undermine existing asylum and refugee laws. The former vice president pledged to resume some aid to the region so that governments can take action to reduce the flow of migrants to the United States..

Under the Trump administration, the number of refugees from all over the world allowed into the country has fallen sharply: in the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency there were 85,000, and this year it was only 15,000. The State Department said the restriction is necessary for the “safety and well-being of Americans, especially in in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic “.

Biden promised to change course abruptly, raising the limit to 125,000.

International efforts

Trump, following his principle of “America First”, pulled away from a number of international initiatives: withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement and negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and stopped funding the World Health Organization.

As vice president, Biden supported both the Paris Agreement and the TPP. If elected, he plans to join them, as well as renew WHO funding..

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