Foreign Policy in the U.S. Presidential Debate, and Other Headlines of the Day

Foreign Policy in the U.S. Presidential Debate, and Other Headlines of the Day

The Daily News Brief

June 28, 2024 12:42 pm (EST)

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Catch up on today’s edition of the Daily News Brief, CFR’s flagship morning newsletter summarizing the top global news and analysis of the day. Edited with support from Diana Roy. 

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Top of the Agenda

Sharp Foreign Policy Contrasts in First Biden-Trump Debate

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Election 2024

United States

U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump laid out their contrasting views on foreign policy in last night’s first presidential debate, with Biden emphasizing the importance of global alliances and Trump arguing Washington should take more unilateral actions on matters such as trade. Trump claimed he could “settle” the war in Ukraine by January 2025 without making it clear how, and accused Biden of escalating the conflict, as Biden warned against Trump’s bashing of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Trump asserted his goals to draw down military engagement abroad; Biden played up the importance of global alliances, but in doing so, erroneously claimed his presidency was the only one this decade without any troop deaths overseas. Trump described immigration as uncontrolled and made repeated sweeping claims about migrants’ role in committing crime, while Biden defended steps taken both at the southern U.S. border and in the U.S. asylum system. Meanwhile, Trump said his proposed new tariffs would not increase prices for consumers, which economists dispute.

The event was the earliest presidential debate in U.S. history, pitting against each other the two oldest main party candidates ever to compete for the presidency. Trump also reiterated false claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election and suggested he was not responsible for the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. He did not unequivocally commit to accepting this year’s election result, saying he would accept the outcome if it was “fair” and “legal.” The debate was closely watched by U.S. allies for signals of potential political changes. (CNN, Foreign Policy, AP, NYT, Reuters)


"Trump and Biden are further apart on their approach to Washington's international relations than most presidential candidates in recent history have been, with Biden seeking to restore America's global standing and relationship with traditional allies while Trump espouses a far more isolationist doctrine," Foreign Policy's Rishi Iyengar and Christina Lu write.

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"The spectacle was alarming at a time when the next U.S. president's foreign policy choices matter more than ever. With two wars raging in Ukraine and Gaza, a rivalry with China that risks Europe's economic autonomy and is dividing the world, and a climate crisis that demands US leadership, the stakes are especially high," Chatham House's Leslie Vinjamuri writes.

This CFR election tracker compares the two presidential candidates on major foreign policy issues.

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Election 2024

United States

This issue of Foreign Affairs explores the future of global policy at stake in November’s election.

Middle East and North Africa

Iranians Begin Voting in Snap Presidential Election

Four candidates are running on today’s ballot to replace late President Ebrahim Raisi after his death in a helicopter crash last month. None of them are expected to secure an outright majority; Iranian conservatives have voiced concern that the three hard-line candidates running could split the conservative vote and yield a runoff against the one reformist candidate. A runoff, if triggered, would be held on July 5. (RFE/RL)

This article explains who calls the shots on Iran’s governance structure

U.S./Israel/Ukraine: The three countries are in talks about a potential deal to provide Ukraine with up to eight Patriot air defense systems, unnamed sources told the Financial Times. The deal would likely involve the launchers first being shipped from Israel to the United States, underscoring a shift in Israel’s posture toward Russia. (FT)

Pacific Rim

China’s Ruling Party Expels Two Former Defense Ministers for Graft

In a first, Beijing announced corruption investigations yesterday into Wei Fenghe and Li Shangfu. Both men’s disappearance from public life in the past year had yielded speculation that they could be facing disciplinary action. Since last year, more than a dozen high-level Chinese military officers and military-industrial executives have been removed from their public roles. (SCMP, WSJ, CNN)

CFR’s new China Strategy Initiative looks at how Washington should consider Beijing.

North Korea/South Korea: South Korea’s military released a video today of a North Korean missile exploding in midair, saying that Pyongyang’s claim of a successful missile test on Wednesday was “deception and exaggeration.” (Yonhap)

South and Central Asia

Indian Government Debt Debuts on Global Bond Index

India’s inclusion on finance firm JPMorgan’s emerging-market bond index is a step forward in the country’s connection to international financial markets. The move is projected to attract billions of dollars in investment for New Delhi. (Bloomberg)

Kazakhstan: The country’s presidential committee on clemencies rejected a request today to pardon Karim Massimov, a two-time prime minister who is serving an eighteen-year prison sentence for trying to take power during 2022 anti-government demonstrations, a lawmaker said. (RFE/RL)

Sub-Saharan Africa

ECOWAS Weighs Size, Cost of Regional Counterterrorism Force

Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met yesterday in Nigeria and discussed options for sustaining a regional security force. They considered a proposal for a force of 5,000 troops that would cost up to $2.6 billion annually, and another making up 1,500 troops totaling $481 million annually. West Africa has been rife with political rifts and coups since 2020, when several governments failed to stop insurgencies, which have led to junta-ruled countries withdrawing from regional cooperation. (Reuters)

Zimbabwe: Police beat and arrested opposition activists yesterday in the capital, Harare, as they demonstrated against the government denying bail to more than seventy of their fellow organizers, including the party’s organizer, who was jailed on June 16. (Reuters)


EU Leaders Formally Endorse Top Job Winner, Sign Support Pact for Ukraine

Ursula von der Leyen secured official support for a second five-year term as European Commission president yesterday as part of a deal that will tap former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa as president of the European Union (EU) Council and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as the bloc’s foreign policy leader. The bloc also committed to a deal to support Ukraine on security policy matters including weapons deliveries, military training, and demining. (FT, EU)

France: Paris will hold snap parliamentary elections on Sunday after President Emmanuel Macron called the surprise vote following EU elections earlier this month. The far-right National Rally party is leading the polls ahead of the contest, followed by a left-leaning alliance, and Macron’s centrists in third. (AFP)

This Expert Brief by CFR Senior Fellow Matthias Matthijs unpacks why France’s snap elections are pivotal for the rest of Europe.


Argentine Legislature Passes Milei’s Broad Economic Overhaul

President Javier Milei’s pro-market reform bill earned final approval in Argentina’s legislature last night after six months of negotiations. Among other measures, it approves the privatization of several state companies, loosens oil and gas regulation, makes it easier for firms to fire workers, and outlines foreign investment rules for critical sectors such as mining. (Bloomberg)  

Bolivia: Authorities have detained seventeen people following Wednesday’s failed coup attempt, including its apparent leader, former General Juan José Zúñiga. President Luis Arce said that retired military officers and people outside the military were also involved, though he did not offer further details. (AP)

Friday Editor's Pick

Reuters looks inside two little-known routes smuggling migrants into the United States by detecting unique patterns of charter flights.

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