John Delaney's plan for Foreign Policy

“As a great nation, we must be a responsible nation. As leaders, we have a responsibility to tell the truth. To lead. To find common ground. To tackle problems and to engage in the world.”
– John Delaney at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on May 1, 2019.


China has become one of the most pressing challenges facing the United States.  The Asian power has grown into the second largest economy in the world by doing three things – making smart investments, working hard, and not playing by the rules.

As China continues its predatory and expansionist agenda, the United States must put forward a whole of government strategy to address the growing friction with China geopolitically, economically, and militarily. We cannot allow them to disregard international standards and norms during this next wave of transformative innovation. As president, Delaney would work with our allies and multilateral institutions to hold China accountable for their bad behavior. 

While President Trump has rightfully focused on China’s unfair trade and economic practices, he has pursued the wrong and reckless prescription. Instead of working multilaterally, with our allies, Trump has entered into a bilateral trade war and is improperly relying on tariffs as his sole solution. Trump will sadly settle for short-term concessions but not address long term concerns. The United States must focus on China’s widespread and systematic theft of intellectual property that has undermined American businesses. Delaney supports rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership to prevent China from setting the economic rules of the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, in order to remain ahead of China, we need to reinvest in our own country through increased efforts in advanced technology, education, infrastructure, and manufacturing. 

Since China is pursuing a predatory and purely transactional foreign policy agenda, the United States must be able to offer an alternative that is centered around good policy and abide by commonly held values. This can include offering robust foreign aid and increasing foreign direct investment to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Reasserting U.S. engagement and leadership in the world will allow us to push back against China’s expansion in the South China Sea, use international organizations in pressuring China to follow the rules of the road, and promote human rights and democratic initiatives in China. 


Iran is one of the most destabilizing and dangerous regimes in the world. As a leading state sponsor of terrorism, the government continues to threaten the U.S. and our allies.

We must do everything we can to avoid military conflict and pursue multilateral diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions. That is why Delaney supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because while imperfect, it was successful at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. As president, he would rejoin the JCPOA, but insist on a longer duration to ensure long-term compliance. The JCPOA was the best arrangement that six of the leading nations in the world, plus the European Union, could reach to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. At the time the Trump Administration withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran was in compliance with the terms. U.S. withdrawal has become a provocation for the Iranians to not feel constrained to abide by the JCPOA, which has made the situation with Iran inherently more dangerous. 

In addition, Delaney would make clear to the Iranian regime that, while the JCPOA does not address Iranian ICBM developments or Iranian complicity in terrorist activities, the United States will independently of the nuclear deal take strong measures to respond to any such conduct. Iran is a bad actor that funds proxies, threatening U.S. allies and contributing to regional instability.  A Delaney Administration would use all diplomatic and economic tools at its disposal to hold Iran accountable.


The United States was the first to recognize the Jewish state in 1948 and Israel continues to be our closest ally in the Middle East and one of our stronger allies generally. 

The United States-Israel relationship is strong and resilient. Public and congressional support for Israel has traditionally been a bipartisan issue. Our friendship and alliance with our ally, Israel, is based on our support for Israel as a democratic Jewish state, the only democracy in the Middle East, and a lasting commitment to working together for peace and security.

As president, Delaney would work with Democrats and Republicans to:

  1. ensure Israel continues to maintain its qualitative military edge;
  2. denounce anti-Semitism at home and abroad; and
  3. use U.S. leadership on the international stage to oppose delegitimization efforts.

Peace Process

While Delaney strongly supports a continued peace process and two-state solution, he recognizes that a peace agreement cannot be imposed upon Israel and the Palestinians by a third-party. The U.S. should not predetermine what a final agreement should look like. Instead, Delaney supports direct bilateral talks and will support such efforts by offering to facilitate negotiations as the U.S. has successfully done in the past.

Energy and Water Technology cooperation

Delaney supports continued funding for U.S.-Israel energy and water research to improve efficiency, desalinization technology, and clean energy technology.  This joint work with scientists in our countries is beneficial to each nation and ultimately to the entire world.

Foreign Aid 

Delaney strongly supports continued foreign aid to Israel and to other countries around the world.  There is a dangerous misconception about the size of foreign aid relative to the rest of the budget.  In fact, foreign aid is a tiny percentage of our budget and serves both our national security and humanitarian interests.  Delaney will continue to fight against efforts to cut foreign aid, including assistance we have agreed to under our 10-year Memorandum of Understanding with Israel.

Missile Defense

Israel is a small country and faces a continued threat of rocket attacks from many directions.  They have made great advances in missile defense which have saved many lives. Delaney supports continued military assistance through the Memorandum of Understanding to enhance Israel’s missile defense technology, including the Iron Dome system, David’s Sling, and Arrow-3. These programs improve the missile defense capabilities that help both of our countries. 


For decades, support for Israel has shared widespread bipartisan support, and it is disappointing that some, such as President Trump, have tried to turn Israel into yet another wedge issue in American politics.  This is not acceptable. The Democratic party supports Israel, and as president I will work to maintain and strengthen our longtime alliance and friendship with Israel.

Oppose BDS

Delaney strongly opposes the movement to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel which is an effort to delegitimize the state of Israel.  Efforts should instead be spent encouraging direct, bilateral talks between Israel and Palestinians in search of a lasting, two-state solution to end the bloodshed and allow two countries to live peacefully side-by-side.

North Korea

North Korea is one of the most difficult and complex challenges facing the international community.

The Kim family has led the country into isolation through dangerous and violent policies including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, systemic human rights violations, and support of illicit activities such as narcotics trafficking and cyber attacks. While there have been moments of progress in limiting its nuclear activities over the decades, none have had lasting success. While it was encouraging that President Trump wanted to engage diplomatically with Kim Jong un, the meetings were all pomp and circumstance. There was little to no substance involved and both summits quickly became wasted opportunities. 

The United States’ alliances with South Korea and Japan are critical components of the strategy to counter North Korea with approximately 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and approximately 54,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan. The Trump administration has undermined these alliances by belittling the strategic importance of multilateral efforts. As president, Delaney would reaffirm our treaty commitments to South Korea and Japan. 

With the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament of North Korea, Delaney would harness the power of his diplomatic, military, and economic teams to put forward a strategy for engagement with North Korea to deliver verifiable results. Progress will be incremental and we must not abandon prolonged diplomatic efforts that take meaningful steps toward the ultimate goal. This includes putting pressure on China to join efforts in demanding accountability in North Korea and upholding UNSC sanctions for both nuclear proliferation and human rights violations. Delaney would be firm in demanding verified progress before rolling back sanctions.

Plan Central America

The following article was originally posted in Fortune on August 24, 2019.

The roots of the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border are found in the tragic circumstances facing the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of the Northern Triangle countries of Central America: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. A poisonous and ruinous combination of poverty, unemployment, rampant corruption, weak judicial and law enforcement institutions, absence of the rule of law, and violence has forced many Northern Triangle citizens to seek safety and asylum in neighboring countries or as far away as the U.S.

In my foreign policy speech earlier this year at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, I called for launching Plan Central America with the same holistic approach that the U.S. brought to Plan Colombia. Plan Colombia, which ran from 2000 to 2015, was successful in helping the Colombian government counter FARC and other extremist groups with a whole-of-government focus on counternarcotics, counterterrorism, sustainable development, human rights, regional security, and trade. Violence was reduced, which encouraged investment to return and the economy to flourish.

It is time to bring that same approach to improve the conditions giving rise to the violence and instability that is sending so many Central Americans to our border. 

Read the full article on


Russia has defined itself as an adversary of the US by undermining our elections, threatening our alliances, and pursuing a dangerous military agenda. This cannot be tolerated.

The United States has to stand up to authoritarian leaders and negotiate with Moscow from a position of significant strength. If we approach Russia from a position of strength, with the backing of our allies, then we can have an honest dialogue about areas on which we must work together, such as arms control, and areas where we will hold them accountable. President Trump has weakened the American negotiating position and our allies are losing faith in our relationship. Trump’s actions are empowering Putin. 

As president, Delaney would prioritize arms control negotiations with Russia. New START is the last remaining major U.S.- Russia arms control agreement with major limitations and verification procedures.  Since it expires on February 5, 2021 – just days after the next president takes office, Delaney would put its extension at the top of his agenda. In addition, he would engage with Russia to reenter the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty, which President Trump wrongly withdrew from. The Trump Administration’s policies have increased the chances of a US-Russia arms race. 

Delaney is committed to prevent Russian interference in American elections and would ensure sufficient resources are dedicated to secure our election systems, deter hackers, and increase public confidence in the process. Russia is seeking to undermine American democracy which is unacceptable. To better protect against Russian cyber-attacks and foreign interference, Delaney has proposed the creation of a Department of Cybersecurity to bring all U.S. domestic capabilities under a single roof and develop a unified strategy to protect the homeland under a single chain of command. We need to be prepared to go on the offensive – to carry this fight to adversaries who have come to feel that they can attack us in cyber space with impunity. Russia will not be dissuaded from attacking our elections unless we make it too painful for them to do so. 

Additionally, the United States must recommit our support to our European allies that we stand with them as Russia continues to threaten their democracies and borders. Delaney would make clear to our NATO allies that the United States is committed to the Alliance and deliver a unified message to Moscow that such aggression will not be tolerated. He would engage with elected Ukrainian leaders to support their efforts to push Russia back, including military aide, training and support as appropriate. It is critical that the next president reverses the damage President Trump has done to our standing in the world and to stand up to adversaries who wish to undermine the United States. Delaney is committed to reasserting American leadership in the world and countering Putin’s predatory and dangerous agenda.


Delaney believes that rules-based trade is a critical component of United States foreign policy.

U.S. leadership in the world is not only important for diplomacy and our national security but for the economy. Trade opens up new markets for American businesses. At any international meeting, it is important to not only have representatives from the diplomatic and military communities but also have an economic advisor to ensure all decisions are holistic.

As president, Delaney would seek to reenter the Trans-Pacific Partnership and reject the isolationist views of the Trump Administration and those running in the Democratic presidential primary. Delaney was one of the few Democrats who supported President Obama’s efforts to pass the TPP and is the only presidential candidate who supports reentering TPP. Rejecting isolationist trade policies and engaging in the world is good for the economy and good geopolitically. The Democratic party has an opportunity to stand up for good trade deals with important environmental and labor protections.

TPP is a powerful response to China’s economic and geopolitical misconduct. It would have allowed the U.S. to help set the rules for a block of countries that make up 40% of the global economy. Withdrawing from the trade deal ceded the region to Chinese economic dominance. Delaney understands that the U.S. needs to engage in multilateral agreements to best counter China. Trump’s go it alone ideology is no winning trade strategy.  His bilateral trade wars and reliance of tariffs has damaged the country as bankruptcies in farm areas have skyrocketed and rural economies have suffered. Poorly designed and illegal tariffs are bad for workers, bad for businesses and bad for consumers. We should instead be embracing fair, rules-based trade that benefits American workers and businesses in addition to strengthening U.S. leadership in the world. To protect those who are impacted by trade, we have an obligation to step in and make sure that we are taking care of those communities by investing in them, in their infrastructure, in their schools, and in their entrepreneurs. As Delaney says, “we have to think globally, but we have to invest locally.”


The U.S. should respect the desires of the Venezuelan people. It is up to the people of Venezuela to decide who will lead their government.

Delaney believes that Nicolás Maduro is not the legitimate president of Venezuela as he declared victory in an illegitimate election. Delaney supports the elevation of Juan Guaidó to president following the Venezuelan constitution and will continue to speak out in favor of Guaidó’s leadership. To hold Maduro accountable for flawed and unfair elections, human rights violations, and for withholding humanitarian aid for the Venezuelan people, Delaney supports the use of economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure.  He has called for free and fair elections so the people’s voices are truly reflected in their government. As president, Delaney would provide substantial humanitarian support via USAID and through our participation in multilateral agencies such as the OAS and Inter-American Development Bank.

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