In a Thursday foreign-policy address, billed as a vision “that works for all Americans,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is expected to link President Trump with authoritarian regimes throughout the rest of the world.
“We must face reality head on: President Trump’s actions and instincts align with those of authoritarian regimes around the globe,” the senator and possible 2020 presidential candidate will tell an audience at American University this afternoon, according to prepared remarks provided to The Daily Beast.
“He embraces dictators of all stripes. He cozies up to white nationalists. He undermines the free press and incites violence against journalists. He attacks the independence of our Judiciary. He wraps himself in the flag and co-opts the military for partisan purposes—but he can’t be bothered to visit our troops in harm’s way.”
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who has traveled overseas extensively over the past five years, Warren’s speech lays out a broad progressive prescription for foreign policy, including advocating for a new approach to trade, re-upping nuclear-security deals, reassessing the costs of international military action, and leveraging access to U.S. markets as a means to insisting on environmental protections.
The address functions as a fusion of her experience on the committee with her domestic economic views, which she argues are intrinsically linked to foreign policy of the United States.
A broad majority of the address will stress that the limitations to American foreign policy success precede Trump’s ascendance to the White House.
“While it is easy to blame President Trump for our problems,” she says, “the truth is that our challenges began long before him. And without serious reforms, they are just as likely to outlast him.”
She notes that “globalization of trade has opened up opportunity and lifted billions out of poverty around the world,” but “our trade and economic policies have not delivered the same kind of benefits for America’s middle class.”
In advocating a new approach to trade, Warren says that she would not support NAFTA 2.0 and that there need to be new rules for “global capitalism in the 21st century,” including greater transparency, firmly protected data rights, and a serious effort on fighting climate change.
Warren also discusses America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, the focus of bipartisan outrage in the weeks following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as continued U.S. involvement in Yemen.
Part of the speech addresses cutting the “bloated defense budget,” and uses Saudi Arabia as an example of “the stranglehold of defense contractors on our military policy.”
“If you’re skeptical that this a problem, consider this: the president of the United States has refused to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia in part because he is more interested in appeasing U.S. defense contractors than holding the Saudis accountable for the murder of a Washington Post journalist or for the thousands of Yemeni civilians killed by those weapons,” the senator says. “The defense industry will inevitably have a seat at the table—but they shouldn’t get to own the table.”
These remarks follow a rebuke to President Trump in the Senate on Wednesday as 63 senators voted to advance a resolution ending U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led conflict in Yemen, which is estimated to have killed 85,000 children. The measure pushed by Sen. Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has earned Republican support as well.
In addition to being an early co-sponsor on the resolution, Warren also sent a letter Thursday to D.C. lobbyists asking for information on their current or prior work for the Saudi regime.
Hinting at a possible 2020 candidacy, the progressive senator has raised money for candidates and state parties, introduced sweeping legislation targeting corruption in the United States and openly said that she would “take a hard look” at pursuing higher office.
And in the final section of Warren’s foreign-policy speech, there are strong suggestions she may follow through with a presidential run.
“The time for holding back is over. Patriots of every political persuasion must stand up to this type of behavior. Americans must demonstrate to this President and to the world that we are not sliding toward autocracy—not without a fight,” Warren says. “Fifty five years ago, when President John F. Kennedy spoke here at American University, he said that, ‘Our problems are man-made—therefore, they can be solved by man.’ The same is true today. OK, I’d add that they can also be solved by women, too.”
“I believe in us. I believe in what we can do. I believe in democracy and in what we must do to save it,” she concludes.