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Biden-Trump Debate Reveals Sharp Divide in U.S. Foreign Policy Approaches

The recent debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump showcased starkly different visions for U.S. foreign policy, with significant implications for international relations. The contrasting approaches, rooted in their respective administrations' core principles, suggest potential shifts in America's role on the global stage depending on the outcome of future elections.

Biden's Foreign Policy

President Biden underscored the importance of rebuilding alliances and re-engaging in multilateral institutions. This approach aligns with the 2022 National Security Strategy (NSS), which emphasizes coalition-building to enhance collective influence and address shared global challenges. Biden stressed that America is strongest when it works with its allies and that rebuilding trust and cooperation is essential for effective international relationships.

Biden highlighted his commitment to promoting democratic values and human rights worldwide, resonating with the NSS's focus on defending democratic principles and countering authoritarian threats. He believes that democracy and human rights are not just American values but universal ones, and that the U.S. has a responsibility to uphold these ideals globally. A key element of Biden's strategy is international cooperation on climate change. He reiterated the NSS's view that environmental challenges are integral to both national and international security. Biden views climate change as an existential threat that requires a united global effort to address for the security and future of the planet.

Trump's Foreign Policy

Former President Trump reaffirmed his "America First" stance, emphasizing national sovereignty and a reduction in U.S. involvement in international agreements. This approach contrasts sharply with Biden's multilateralism and suggests a shift towards a more isolationist foreign policy. Trump focuses on protecting American interests first and foremost, avoiding agreements that do not serve national interests.

Trump focused on renegotiating trade deals to benefit American workers, reflecting a strategic pivot towards economic nationalism. This may lead to strained international relations as the U.S. seeks to prioritize its own economic interests. Trump's emphasis on fair trade over free trade highlights his commitment to ensuring every deal benefits American workers. Trump also stressed the importance of a robust military and strong defense policies, advocating for a more unilateral approach to national security. He believes that a strong military ensures national safety and deters adversaries, and that relying on others for security is not an option.

Strategic Implications

Biden aims to restore U.S. leadership and credibility on the global stage by leveraging alliances and promoting democratic values to address global challenges. He views alliances as America's greatest strength and believes that tackling the world's most pressing issues is more effective through collaboration. Trump's strategy prioritizes American interests, potentially at the expense of international cooperation. This could lead to a more transactional foreign policy that focuses on immediate national gains rather than long-term global partnerships. Trump's approach suggests dealing with the world on American terms, avoiding unfair deals or one-sided agreements.

Expert Opinions

Experts are divided on the long-term impacts of these contrasting strategies. Dr. Samantha Greene, a professor of international relations at Georgetown University, commented that Biden's approach seeks to restore America's traditional role as a global leader and coalition builder, crucial for addressing transnational challenges like climate change and global pandemics.

In contrast, Mark Thompson, a political analyst with the Heritage Foundation, argued that Trump's focus on economic nationalism and military strength resonates with a significant portion of the American electorate who feel left behind by globalization. According to Thompson, it's a pragmatic approach that prioritizes American interests in an increasingly competitive world.


The debate illuminated a clear divergence in foreign policy strategies. Biden advocates for a collaborative approach, while Trump emphasizes a more America-centric strategy. As the U.S. navigates these contrasting visions, the implications for international relations and global stability remain profound. The future direction of U.S. foreign policy will likely hinge on which vision the American public and its leaders choose to embrace in the coming years.


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