Trump and Sanders lack foreign policy expertise and don't seem to be seeking advice

The World
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (L) and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after winning the 2016 New Hampshire primaries.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, left, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after winning the 2016 New Hampshire primaries. 

Left: Rick Wilking/Reuters Right: Jim Bourg/Reuters 

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders each aspire to take the helm of the world's most powerful country.

But foreign policy isn't a strong suit for either candidate.  And neither seems to have assembled much of a foreign policy team. 

When Politico.com set out to determine who was advising Sanders on global affairs, editor Susan Glasser says she was "amazed" at the results. 

"The list that his campaign gave us included several people who denied ever speaking with his campaign, one person who is a Republican who said he gave one briefing and did so to many other candidates, and certainly wouldn't consider himself an advisor," Glasser says. "And (Sanders' staff) listed Ben Rhodes, the president's chief foreign policy speech writer and deputy national security advisor, who is absolutely not by any means a Bernie Sanders advisor."

Likewise, Trump doesn't seem to be leaning heavily on a well-vetted team for foreign policy advice.  

"He's his own chief strategist, he's his own media adviser, and he seems to be so far largely his own foreign policy advisor," Glasser says. 

Trump's world view contrasts dramatically with Sanders' perspective. 

Glasser calls the billionaire businessman "a muscular 'America-firster' in his rhetoric." But she notes, "How that would really translate to his policies is not entirely clear. He makes a few rhetorical nods to having a strong military and that sort of a thing, but in reality he seems to project a much more realist, pragmatic world view when it comes to entanglements."

And Trump, according to Glasser, has gone out of his way to alienate some of America's closest allies. 

"He is the quintessential unilaterialist, but he seems to be a unilaterialist who would be quite cautionary about using that military might," she adds. 

Sanders, on the other hand, sounds much more skeptical about American military engagement in the world. 

"The proposals that he's gravitated towards over the years are things like eliminating or radically reducing the nuclear weapons arsenal, dramatically cutting back on US defense spending, proposals that are unlikely to fly with this or any other Congress," Glasser says. "He doesn't want to talk about globalization even, he doesn't want to talk about international economics, he wants to talk about our domestic politics."

While neither candidate seems to have much time or inclination to talk about global affairs, they do share one bedrock foreign policy perspective — both opposed the US invasion of Iraq. 

Sanders and Trump agree that the resources spent on that military campaign would have been better spent back home.