US: Democratic Presidential Candidates Field Questions On Nuclear Arms, War, North Korea


(RFE/RL) — Foreign policy came in focus as the second round of the Democratic debate among 10 candidates was concluding ahead of closing arguments.

Like U.S. President Donald Trump, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders expressed his aversion to the United States being the “policeman of the world.”

Speaking in Detroit, Sanders said that what separates him from the incumbent is that he would improve the United States’ standing with the UN and focus on diplomacy in lieu of military action.

“What we need is a foreign policy that focuses on diplomacy and ending conflicts by people sitting at the table,” Sanders said.

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper mirrored Sanders’ response.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a former intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves, said he would withdraw troops in his first year in office.

“I thought I was one of the last troops leaving Afghanistan,” Buttigieg said of the 18-year war. “We’re close to the day when we will wake up to the news of a casualty in Afghanistan who was not born on 9/11.”

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke vowed to end foreign deployments in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Syria. He also promised to withdraw troops in Afghanistan in his first term.

“As president, I will end those wars and we will not start new wars, we will not send more U.S. service members overseas to sacrifice their lives and to take the lives of others in our name,” he said

Like Sanders, O’Rourke said the United States should focus more on peaceful diplomacy.

Regarding the threat posed by North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un, Ohio Representative Tim Ryan said, “I don’t think presidents of the United States meet with dictators.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota differed, saying that she believes one should always be open to meeting with “anyone at any place.”

“I do believe you meet with people but better have an agenda and put your interests of our country first,” Klobuchar said.

There was disagreement on whether the United States should preemptively use nuclear weapons.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock said he “wouldn’t’ take it off the table.”

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said the United States should use nuclear weapon only if another country uses it first.

“We need to say to say [this] to the entire world. It reduces the likelihood someone miscalculates…Our responsibility is to keep ourselves safe.”

Ten more democratic candidates will debate on July 31. A total of 24 democratic candidates are looking to unseat Trump who is running for a second term.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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