(February 20, 2020 / JNS) After a string of the Democratic presidential debates that included or at least alluded to U.S. foreign policy, including Iran, the Democratic candidate forum on Wednesday night at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas ahead of the Nevada caucuses barely mentioned the international arena, save for statements encouraging the United States to re-enter the Paris Agreement dealing with climate change and greenhouse-gas emissions.
“I’m always concerned when a discussion of who should be the next president of the United States doesn’t include a conversation about rising anti-Semitism or virtually anything about Middle East policy,” former National Jewish Democratic Council head Aaron Keyak told JNS. “And I was disappointed. On these issues, the moderators need to do better.”
The debate, televised by NBC News, was moderated by five journalists.
Aaron David Miller, who advised on Middle Eastern issues at the U.S. State Department for 25 years and serves as a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, echoed Keyak.
“Not a single foreign-policy, other than the climate, issue was discussed, which separates this debate from all others,” he told JNS. “Fact is, there is a reasonable amount of consensus among [Democrats] on foreign policy in opposition to Trump’s view of the world.”
It was “much more relevant and entertaining,” he noted, “for the moderators to focus on domestic and political issues.”
The candidates onstage included former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and for the first time, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Unfortunate that tonight’s #DemocraticDebate didn’t feature any foreign-policy questions beyond climate change, trade and brief discussion on Mexico. Moderators need to do better next time. #DemDebate,” tweeted United Against Nuclear Iran policy director Jason Brodsky.
Unfortunate that tonight’s #DemocraticDebate didn’t feature any foreign policy questions beyond climate change, trade, and brief discussion on Mexico. Moderators need to do better next time. #DemDebate
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) February 20, 2020
Hudson Institute senior fellow Rebeccah Heinrichs tweeted, “Senators who just voted to remove a sitting president from office mere months from an election over his foreign policy/ ethical decisions never brought it up to explain why he/she deserves to replace him as Commander in Chief.”
Senators who just voted to remove a sitting president from office mere months from an election over his foreign policy/ ethical decisions never brought it up to explain why he/she deserves to replace him as Commander in Chief.
— Rebeccah Heinrichs (@RLHeinrichs) February 20, 2020
The Democratic debate—the ninth so far—included candidates attacking one another, especially targeting Bloomberg over his late entry into the race, his wealth, his record as mayor and the alleged mistreatment of women at his company.
Policy issues discussed included health care and the push for universal coverage, the environment, the economy, trade and immigration.
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