Sen. Warren's Foreign Policy And Possible 2020 Presidential Run
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
What does it sound like when Democrats who are critical of President Trump begin to sketch out an alternative vision for the country? Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a foreign policy speech yesterday. She was at American University here in Washington. Warren is a leader of her party's progressive wing. And on one issue she can sound, on the surface, rather like President Trump.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)
ELIZABETH WARREN: For decades, leaders of both parties preached the gospel that free trade was a rising tide that would lift all boats. It's great rhetoric, except that the trade deals that they negotiated mainly lifted the yachts, and they threw millions of working Americans overboard to drown.
INSKEEP: President Trump too critiques free trade deals and today signs a revised North American Free Trade Agreement with a new name. Senator Warren says she will oppose that in the U.S. Senate. In essence, she says nice concept, bad execution. In this foreign policy speech, Warren also questioned U.S. efforts to trade with authoritarian countries such as China.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)
WARREN: Policymakers promised that open markets would lead to open societies. Wow, did Washington get that one wrong. Efforts to bring capitalism to the global stage unwittingly helped create the conditions for anti-democratic countries to rise up and lash out.
INSKEEP: Now, Senator Warren is considered one of many possible Democratic challengers to President Trump in 2020, so her views matter a bit more. And we're going to talk them through with Ian Bremmer, who is founder and president of the Eurasia Group - will help us analyze them. Hey there.
IAN BREMMER: Hey, Steve.
INSKEEP: First, I want to note that Senator Warren seems to identify some of the basic problems as President Trump does when she talks about American workers hurt by free trade and so forth. What similarities and what differences do you see?
BREMMER: Well, sure. I mean, if you're going after people that are disaffected and disenfranchised, you're going to have to tell folks that the system is rigged against them. I mean, she didn't say that term, but you got that sense. You got it from Trump. You got it from Bernie Sanders. You're getting it from Elizabeth Warren now. The fact that she's tarring, basically, Trump with the post-NAFTA brush that Trump has been tarring with Obama - I'm not sure that's all that different.
I think the big difference is the fact that she's really focused on democracy and values. And so, I mean, she didn't talk much in her speech about, for example, Trump's willingness to cozy up with dictators all over the world. But that's something, clearly, that Warren will be much more uncomfortable with.
INSKEEP: And she did talk in this foreign policy speech a good deal about strengthening democracy but then put it back in terms of trying to fix a rigged system. She does, as Trump does, talk about the system as being slanted against people but identifies, I think, a different culprit. Rather than saying that government bureaucrats are to blame, that elites are to blame, that illegal immigrants are to blame, she says that corporations and wealthy people have gradually tilted the system in their own favor.
BREMMER: There's no question that there's truth in that. But also, the fact that she seems to think that the big problem is globalization and free trade I think is a little late, right? I mean, most Americans that were losing their jobs and getting displaced 10, 20, 30 years ago were being displaced by trade agreements. Today, that's not true.
Today, overwhelmingly, to the extent that Americans are losing jobs and having them displaced, it's coming from automation and robotics. And even as, you know, investment in capital comes back to the U.S., it's largely jobless. She didn't address that in her speech at all, which kind of shows her dangerously out of sync with what's happening right now. And saying that she's going to oppose a trade agreement that's going to help the U.S. economy grow isn't a solution to that.
INSKEEP: In a few seconds, does she express a bipartisan bafflement with China? People thought that open markets in China would lead to an open society - clearly hasn't happened. And maybe neither party knows what to do about that.
BREMMER: I think that's exactly right. That was - that's not just a Washington problem. That's been - everyone in the West kind of assumed that they were going to become, as Hillary Clinton used to say, responsible stakeholders as they got wealthier. Now, they're absolutely doing more than any other country in the world to promote global growth. They're almost 40 percent of global growth today. And yet they're not in any way becoming like the United States. In fact, power is consolidating.
INSKEEP: Ian Bremmer, pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much.
BREMMER: Good to be with you, Steve.
INSKEEP: He is founder and president of the Eurasia Group. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.