Warren lays out foreign policy agenda ahead of 2020

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Manufacturing shrinks, raising questions for Trump Volatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties MORE (D-Mass.) outlined a sweeping vision for America's role on the world stage in a speech Thursday that appeared aimed at bolstering her foreign policy credentials amid growing speculation of a White House run in 2020.

Warren's speech at American University’s Washington College of Law both rebuked and, at times, echoed some of themes espoused by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE.


Warren decried what she described as the empowerment of “right-wing demagogues” and the retreat of “movements toward openness and pluralism.” She also called to renegotiate lopsided trade deals she said benefit a handful of wealthy elites and corporations.

“It’s no wonder that Americans have less faith in democratic government today than at any other time in modern U.S. history,” Warren said to a crowded room of students.

“Our country is in a moment of crisis decades in the making; a moment in which America’s middle class has been hollowed out, working people have been betrayed and democracy itself is under threat.”

But Warren also said the country’s current global challenges — economic inequality, protracted military engagements and increasingly aggressive adversaries — were systemic and traced their roots to long before Trump took office.

“It’s easy to blame President Trump for our problems, the truth is that our challenges began long before him,” Warren said. “Without serious reforms, they are just as likely to outlast him.”

Warren called for the U.S. to “reinvest in diplomacy,” lamenting that the Defense Department, rather than the State Department, had been given too much influence over the country’s foreign policy decisions.

And she demanded a swift end to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, saying that the prolonged intervention has proven ineffective.

In her speech, the Massachusetts Democrat came out against Trump’s renegotiated trade deal with Mexico and Canada — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — just as the president is set to sign the new pact at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Warren said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the deal the USMCA is intended to replace, needs to be reworked. But she said the new pact fails to address NAFTA’s most glaring problems.

“Trump’s deal won’t stop the serious and ongoing harm NAFTA causes for American workers,” she said, vowing to vote against the pact. “It won’t stop outsourcing, it won’t raise wages and it won’t create jobs. It’s NAFTA 2.0.”

Warren’s address comes as the Trump administration faces a growing number of international challenges, including ongoing hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, criticism over America’s support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and backlash for the White House’s response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

Warren accused Trump of refusing to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia 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.”

She also asserted that Russia is trying to reassert itself as a world power by “provoking the international community with opportunistic harassment and covert attack.”

Warren’s speech was accompanied on Thursday by a companion essay published online by Foreign Affairs magazine.

The address is the latest sign that Warren is considering a possible challenge to Trump in 2020. She defeated her Republican opponent, Geoff Diehl, by 24 points earlier this month.

The Massachusetts Democrat, whose work has largely focused on tackling economic inequality and cracking down on Wall Street, has sought more recently to expand her influence in foreign and military policy — two areas seen as crucial for any potential White House hopeful.

She secured a spot in late 2016 on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, giving her a seat at the table in approving Trump's Pentagon and military nominees.

There are other signs that Warren may be gearing up for a presidential run.

Two of the senator’s aides decamped earlier this year to work for the state Democratic Party in New Hampshire — one of the first states to vote in presidential primaries. Staffers for other would-be presidential candidates have made similar moves in years past.

At a town hall event in her home state in September, Warren told constituents that she would “take a hard look at running for president” after the midterm elections wrapped up.

She has also sent fundraising emails for Democrats across the country, including in Iowa, the first presidential caucus state, and rolled out a comprehensive plan to "eliminate the influence of money in federal government."

But Warren also faces the possibility of a crowded primary field.

Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Steve King to Gillibrand: Odds of me resigning same as yours of winning presidential nomination We need a climate plan for agriculture MORE (D-N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Volatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties Conservative commentator rips Shapiro over criticism of people with multiple jobs MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersVolatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' British Bookmaker: Warren has replaced Biden as Democratic primary favorite MORE (I-Vt.) have fueled speculation of potential White House runs. So have former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Volatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties British Bookmaker: Warren has replaced Biden as Democratic primary favorite MORE and Democratic mega-donors Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg, to name a few.

Several of those would-be contenders have already made trips to early presidential-voting states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyPoll: Nearly 4 in 5 say they will consider candidates' stances on cybersecurity Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Head of flight attendants group claims 'broad support' for 'Medicare for All' among union members MORE (D-Md.), who has been openly campaigning for the White House since last year, is slated to make his 20th trip to Iowa on Sunday.

The Des Moines Register reported earlier this week that Bloomberg will pay a visit to Iowa on Dec. 4 for a screening of his new film about climate change. Steyer announced on Thursday that he make a trip to Charleston, S.C., for a town hall event.

Warren has yet to travel to the state this year, though she could see a sort of home-field advantage in New Hampshire, given its close proximity to Massachusetts.