Foreign Policy Positions of 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates

Unfortunately our options for the next U.S. President are quite limited, and although candidates have suspended their campaign or dropped out of the election, we’re continuing to include their positions since they may influence the election and the next administration through their endorsements, interviews, and other means of networking.

U.S. foreign policy can feel complicated and overwhelming to keep up with. That’s why we’ve broken down a comparison of the candidates’ stances, ranging from specific tensions in Iran to conflict in Syria and Russian interference in elections, to broader subjects such as military interventionism, immigration, and international trade.

This fact sheet does not provide context for the issues. It is our hope that this can at least guide you for what additional information you would like to educate yourself about, or to have a better sense of where candidates stand on issues that are most important to you.

The next presidential term is crucial for the nation and the world. The United States will need international cooperation to deal with pressing global issues such as climate crisis, international trade, nuclear treaties, ending slavery and genocide, drug trade, and ensuring stability in volatile regions such as the Middle East and South America. While our choices may be limited on who leads the country for the next four to eight years, it is still crucial that the electorate is informed about these issues and able to hold the next administration accountable.

What are the candidates’ stances on the Middle East?

What are the candidates’ stances on Central/South America?

What are the candidates stances on BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)?

What are the candidates’ stances on broader foreign policy topics?

*Sources can be found on this sheet. Sources include speeches and interviews, campaign pages, debate answers, specific bills, floor votes, and statements made by the candidates.


What are the candidates’ stances on the Middle East?

Candidates are listed for each topic based on information that we could find. If we couldn’t verify a candidate’s stance, we did not include them and assume they do not have a stance or do not support that particular topic.

  • Conflict in Syria
    • Candidates who want the conflict in Syria to end (in general).
      • Castro
      • Sanders
      • Warren
      • Yang
    • Supports pulling U.S. troops out of Syria (in general).
      • Castro
      • Klobuchar
      • Sanders
      • Warren
      • Yang
    • President Bashar Al-Assad
      • Supports removing Assad from power
        • Biden
      • Condemns Assad for crimes against the Syrian people and calls to hold him accountable for his actions.
        • Biden
        • Booker
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren: Assad should be brought to justice under the International Criminal Court (ICC)
      • Does not see Assad as an enemy of the United States
        • Gabbard
    • Sarin Gas Use (aka Red Line)
    • Military Intervention
      • Opposed Trump’s unilateral decision to pull troops out of Syria prematurely and abandoning our Kurdish allies
        • All candidates stated that we betrayed/sold out/abandoned our allies
      • Candidates against intervention
        • Buttigieg: needing to act but should use diplomatic coalition with other countries
        • Gabbard: against U.S. military intervention to overturn Assad.; advocates instead for diplomacy
        • Sanders: against U.S. military involvement in Syrian war; advocates for diplomatic coalition with foreign allies.
        • Steyer: build a coalition like Obama built in Iran instead
        • Warren: believes more than military action needed to end war
    • Other positions on conflict in Syria
      • Biden believes the U.S. can work with Russia to take back parts of Syria to create places of safe harbor for Syrian people.
      • Gabbard wants to keep Assad in power to maintain stability, advocating for working with him diplomatically after the war.
      • Steyer is against reopening negotiations with Syria if Assad stays in power.
      • Warren wants to bring Assad to justice under the International Criminal court (ICC).
      • Sanders, Yang, Warren signed the “end the forever war “ pledge.
    • Those against Trump making military moves for oil
      • Biden
      • Gabbard
      • Sanders
      • Warren
  • Iran
    • De-escalating tensions with Iran
      • All candidates are in favor of de-escalating tensions with Iran
    • Qassem Soleimani – candidate reactions to Trump’s ordered airstrike that killed Iran’s Senior Military Officer
      • Candidates who made clear, unequivocal statements opposing the assassination:
        • Gabbard
        • Sanders
      • Those who voiced opposition, after discussing Soleimani’s crimes:
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
        • Steyer
        • Warren
    • Positions on re-entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the Obama administration nuclear agreement with Iran that Trump reneged on
      • Those who support re-entering the Iran nuclear deal with updates, improved terms
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Warren
      • Those who support re-entering the Iran nuclear deal with no mention of changes
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
  • Iraq War
    • Those critical of the invasion
      • Biden
      • Buttigieg
      • Gabbard
      • Klobuchar
      • Sanders
      • Warren
  • Saudi Arabia
    • Candidate positions on U.S. relationship with Iran in general
      • Those in favor of pulling back relationship
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
    • Oil
      • Those who criticize Trump’s military action to protect Saudi oil
        • Gabbard
        • Sanders
      • Those with no public remark specifically on Saudi oil dictating military action
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
        • Steyer
        • Warren
    • Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)/Khashoggi Assassination
      • Those criticizing the administration (mostly on violations of international law and human rights record)
        • Biden
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
      • All candidates condemn Saudi Arabia for the assassination
    • Weapons Deal 
      • Those wanting to prevent further weapons deals between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
  • Yemen 
    • Those criticizing the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen
      • Biden
      • Buttigieg
      • Gabbard
      • Klobuchar
      • Sanders
      • Steyer
      • Warren
  • Israel
    • Positions on Palestine and Israeli relations in general
      • Those favoring Israel as an important ally over Palestine
        • Biden
        • Klobuchar
        • Warren
      • Those favoring equal treatment of Israel and Palestine
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Steyer
      • Those favoring condemnation of the Israel government
        • Sanders
    • Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS)
      • Those in favor of blocking BDS 
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
      • Those in favor of allowing BDS 
        • Sanders
        • Warren
      • Those with no public remarks 
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Steyer
    • 2-State Solution
      • All candidates support a 2-state solution
    • Returning to the 1967 Borders
      • Klobuchar has voted against Israel returning to 1967 borders.
  • Turkey
    • Positions on Turkey’s actions and allyship 
      • Those who consider Turkey an ally
        • Buttigieg
      • Those who condemn Turkey’s invasion of Syria against the Kurds
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Warren
      • Those who condemn the Kurds for being a terrorist threat to Turkey
        • Biden
  • Armenian Genocide
    • Those who have recognized the horrors of the Armenian Genocide
      • Biden
      • Buttigieg
      • Gabbard
      • Klobuchar
      • Sanders
      • Warren

What are the candidates’ stances on Central/South America?

Candidates are listed for each topic based on information that we could find. If we couldn’t verify a candidate’s stance, we did not include them and assume they do not have a stance or do not support that particular topic.

  • Chilean Protests
    • Those who have voiced concern regarding the protests in Chile
      • Sanders
  • Removal of President Evo Morales of Bolivia
    • Candidates voicing concern
      • Gabbard
      • Sanders
      • Warren
    • Those who denounce the coup and talk about Morales alleviating poverty
      • Sanders
    • Positions on Bolivia’s interim president: Jeanine Anez 
      • None of the candidates have made public remarks about Anez
  • Venezuela
    • Positions on military action and Venezuelan citizens
      • None of the candidates support military intervention in Venezuela.
    • Those in favor of offering Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans
      • Biden
      • Buttigieg
      • Klobuchar
    • Opinions on recognizing Juan Guiado as Venezuela’s interim president
      • Those who recognize Juan Guiado as interim president
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
      • Those who do not recognize Guiado
        • Gabbard
        • Sanders
        • Warren
  • Northern Triangle 
    • Every candidate is in support of financial and/or governmental assistance with the goal of improving safety and security in the Northern Triangle

What are the candidates stances on BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)?

Candidates are listed for each topic based on information that we could find. If we couldn’t verify a candidate’s stance, we did not include them and assume they do not have a stance or do not support that particular topic.

  • China
    • Candidate positions on China in general
      • Those who state China poses a direct threat to U.S. democratic values or economic positions
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
      • Those who specifically condemned China’s human rights abuses
        • Biden
        • Warren
    • Hong Kong Protests
      • Those who support the protesters
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
      • Those with no public remarks
        • Gabbard
    • Cyber Warfare
      • Those who have urged China to stop cyber-stealing
        • Biden
        • Steyer
      • Those in favor of enhancing election infrastructure to prevent cyber warfare
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Warren
    • Trade
      • Those critical of Trump’s tariffs/trade war
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Steyer
      • Those less critical of the tariffs/trade war
        • Klobuchar
        • Warren
      • Those critical of the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement
        • Sanders
    • Opinions on reacting to Intellectual Property Theft
      • Those in favor of working with international institutions/other countries
        • Biden
        • Sanders
      • Those in favor of tariffs
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
  • Russian Interference
    • Ukraine
      • Those in favor of aiding Ukraine against Russian annexation of Crimea 
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Warren
  • Syria
    • Those who blame Trump’s foreign policy on Russia’s influence in Syria
      • Klobuchar
    • Those who want to use diplomacy to set Putin straight in Syria
      • Sanders
    • Those who do not want to get involved with Russian airstrikes in Syria
      • Warren
  • Georgia
    • Those who condemn Russian aggression
      • Biden
      • Buttigieg
      • Warren
    • Those wary of spreading NATO too thin
      • Sanders
  • Election Interference
    • Those who acknowledge and/or condemn Russia for interference in 2016 elections
      • Biden
      • Buttigieg
      • Klobuchar
      • Sanders
      • Steyer
      • Warren
  • India
    • Kashmir
      • Those who are “concerned” about the recent attacks on human rights, but offer no action
        • Gabbard
        • Warren
      • Those in favor of lifting the communication blockade by the U.S.
        • Sanders
  • Positions on Prime Minister Modi
    • Those who support Modi
      • Gabbard
    • Those who do not support Modi
      • Sanders
  • Brazil
    • Positions on the Brazilian Administration 
      • Those critical of the Brazilian Administration
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Warren
    • Imprisonment of Lula 
      • Those in support of Lula 
        • Sanders
        • Warren
    • Bolsonaro 
      • Those critical of Bolsonaro/his administration 
        • Buttigieg
        • Sanders
    • Amazon forest fires
      • Those who point the blame at the Bolsonaro government in Brazil and/or support sanctions
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
      • Those who made vague comments on the fires, mostly using them as proof that the climate crisis is real
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
      • Those who have not made any comments on the fires except the danger they pose
        • Biden
        • Gabbard

What are the candidates’ stances on broader foreign policy topics?

Candidates are listed for each topic based on information that we could find. If we couldn’t verify a candidate’s stance, we did not include them and assume they do not have a stance or do not support that particular topic.

  • Troop Withdrawal/Foreign Wars
    • Candidate positions on withdrawal of troops in general 
      • Those in support of withdrawing all forces abroad responsibly 
        • Gabbard
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
      • Those opposed who signed the “End The Forever War Pledge”
        • Sanders
        • Warren
      • Those in support of withdrawing most forces but open to leaving residual forces
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
    • Iraq
      • Those in favor of withdrawal
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Warren
    • Afghanistan
      • Those who opposed further escalation of forces
        • Biden
      • Those in favor of withdrawal
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
    • Syria
      • Those prepared to use military force or keep existing troops in Syria
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Steyer
      • Those opposed to military force and in favor of withdrawal
        • Sanders
        • Warren
    • Saudi Arabia
      • Those who are opposed to U.S. involvement in Saudi aggression against Yemen and are in favor of ending support
        • Biden
        • Gabbard
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
  • War for Oil
    • Those opposed
      • Gabbard
      • Sanders
      • Warren
  • War Powers Act (WPA)
    • Those in support of invoking the WPA to suspend support of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen
      • Gabbard
      • Klobuchar
      • Sanders
      • Warren
    • Those who oppose intervention without congressional authorization
      • Steyer
  • Terrorism
    • Positions on Terrorism in general
      • Those with statements about believing the war on terror was irresponsible
        • Biden
        • Sanders
      • Those with statements about wanting to take a proactive approach
        • Klobuchar
        • Warren
      • Those with statements about wanting to limit or repeal/replace the broad Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) on Al Qaeda (AQ)
        • Buttigieg
      • Those with statements about wanting to stop funding terrorist groups
        • Gabbard
      • Those with statements about wanting captured terrorists to have constitutional rights
        • Steyer
    • ISIS/ISIL
      • Those with statements criticizing Trump’s withdrawal from Syria because they believe it will leave a foothold for ISIS
        • Biden
      • Those with statements in favor of ending the funding of terrorist groups
        • Gabbard
      • Those with statements in favor of going after ISIS leaders responsible for the death of Americans
        • Biden
        • Klobuchar
      • Those with statements in favor of a coalition to go after ISIS, rather than America alone
        • Sanders
      • Those with statements about wanting to stamp out ISIS
        • Warren
      • Those with no stated opinion or approach other than supporting troops involved in fighting ISIS 
        • Buttigieg
  • Immigration
    • Positions on immigration in general
      • Those tough on immigrants
        • Biden
      • Those in favor of immigration reform
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
    • Border Wall
      • Those in favor of a border wall
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
      • Those who oppose a border wall
        • Gabbard
        • Sanders
        • Steyer
        • Warren
    • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
      • Those who are calling for the break-up of ICE functions to separate departments
        • Sanders
      • Those who are critical of ICE and are calling for reforms
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Steyer
        • Warren
    • Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)
      • Those who are calling for the break-up of CBP
        • Sanders
      • Those critical of their treatment towards immigrants and who call for reforms or changes
        • Gabbard
        • Klobuchar
        • Warren
      • Those with no stated opinion
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Steyer
  • Refugees/Asylum Seekers
    • Opinions on refugees in general
      • Those who would increase a floor for refugee limits
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
        • Sanders
        • Warren
      • Those who would look at root causes of the refugee crisis
        • Gabbard
      • Those who would increase authorities on the border to deal with those seeking asylum
        • Biden
  • Economic/Climate Change Refugees
    • Those who would recognize climate refugees
      • Sanders
    • Those would look into the root causes of climate refugees to deal with the problem
      • Gabbard
      • Warren
    • Those who would provide support for climate refugees at home and abroad
      • Steyer
    • Those without a stated opinion
      • Biden
      • Buttigieg
      • Klobuchar
  • Foreign Aid
    • Those who would withhold aid from countries that discriminate against LGBTQ communities
      • Biden
    • Those with general statements of support to using foreign aid without stated stipulations
      • Klobuchar
      • Sanders
    • Those who would use foreign aid to build alliances, preventing costly wars and addressing anti-democratic forces
      • Warren
  • Trade
    • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) / United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA)
      • Those in support of NAFTA
        • Biden
      • Those against USMCA until it is renegotiated to strengthen labor protections, environmental standards and/or access to drugs
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg
        • Klobuchar
      • Those who will vote for the updated USCMCA because the updated version of the deal improves upon the previous version
        • Warren 
      • Those against NAFTA
        • Gabbard
        • Sanders
    • Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
      • Those against TPP
        • Gabbard
        • Sanders
        • Warren
      • Those who support(ed) TPP
        • Biden
        • Buttigieg supported but was critical of it
      • Those with no stated opinion or an unclear opinion
        • Klobuchar
        • Steyer

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