Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is about saving the country — and the world — from President Trump, and that message runs through the plans he has to reshape U.S. foreign policy, too. Should he win the presidency, Biden would in his first year convene a “summit of the world’s democracies” in an effort to strengthen the ties between leaders of foreign democracies, private industry executives, and heads of U.S. technology companies. 

Biden’s globalism is an answer to Mr. Trump’s “America first” pronouncements, which the Biden campaign says has resulted in “America alone.” The explicit inclusion of the technology sector in Biden’s 2021 summit presents a contrast with Thursday’s White House social media summit, which is not expected to include Twitter, Google, Amazon or any of the major tech companies. However, a number of conservative websites and organizations that have complained of liberal bias by big tech will be attending Mr. Trump’s summit.

The outline for Biden’s global democracy summit was described by a senior campaign official ahead of the unveiling of the former vice president’s foreign policy plans on Thursday in New York.

Biden wants to challenge social media companies to take responsibility in upholding Democratic values, including addressing the abuse of technology by “surveillance states facilitating oppression and censorship, spreading hate, stirring people to violence,” the campaign official said. 

At the same time, Biden is expected to point out that President Trump’s foreign policy approach to Iran, North Korea, Russia and Saudi Arabia has in fact “made the risks of new arms races, new proliferation, and even the use of nuclear weapons greater than they were before,” according to the official.

Iran announced this week that it has for the second time breached the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, enriching uranium to beyond the level of purity allowed under the agreement struck during the Obama administration. Last year, President Trump pulled the U.S. unilaterally out of the 2015 agreement and imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran.

On the trail, Biden often talks about his experience with foreign policy while he served in the Obama administration. At a fundraiser in South Carolina in May, Biden compared himself to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and said that since he announced his candidacy, at least 14 heads of state have contacted him.

“I think, whether I’m right or not, I know as much about American foreign policy than anyone around, including even maybe Kissinger,” Biden said, adding, “I say that because I’ve been doing it my entire adult life.”

Even though foreign policy has not yet emerged as an issue voters are eager to hear about this cycle, Biden is at least the fifth candidate to focus a speech entirely on foreign policy. John Hickenlooper, John Delaney, and Pete Buttigieg have given foreign policy addresses since launching their campaigns, and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren gave speeches in 2018 before announcing their candidacies and have written essays on foreign policy, too.

Like Sanders and Warren, Biden is expected to address how to draw down “forever wars” and the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Syria. 


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