Fact Check: Biden Says Trump ‘Pokes His Finger in the Eye of All Our Allies’

USTV Pool

CLAIM: During the second 2020 presidential debate, former Vice President Joe Biden criticized President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy by saying: “What’s he do? He embraces guys like, the thugs like, in North Korea, and the Chinese president, and Putin, and others, and he pokes his finger in the eye of all our friends, all of our allies.”

VERDICT: FALSE. Trump has deepened and improved relationships with multiple key American allies during his tenure.

To take a notable example highly relevant to China, which Biden was discussing when he made his accusation, Taiwan has profusely thanked Donald Trump for his friendship and support. Even NPR, which is attempting to protect Biden from damaging allegations about business deals with hostile foreign powers by refusing to report on them, ran an article on Wednesday entitled “How Trump Is Winning Hearts and Minds in Taiwan – Risking China’s Wrath.” 

The Trump administration approved the latest in a string of major arms sales to Taiwan on that same day, enraging Beijing.

President Trump’s close relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was much discussed on both sides of the Pacific. Abe’s successor Suga Yoshihide is also publicly pleased with the state of U.S.-Japanese relations and has acted to support Trump’s Pacific Rim foreign policy – again, to the great displeasure of China.

With Israel, Trump kept a promise made and broken by his predecessors, including the administration Biden served, by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Biden’s party warned against the move, but Israel is now in a stronger diplomatic position than ever before, not mired in the regional war Democrats predicted.

Trump brokered the historic Abraham Accords that have brought unprecedented peace to the Middle East, securing landmark diplomatic recognition for Israel from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and reportedly Sudan in the near future. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump as “the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the White House.”

Over on the Russian frontier, Trump’s policies have been a tremendous success for Poland, which has indisputably moved closer to the United States than it was during the Obama-Biden administration. Trump moved quickly to shore up Poland’s defenses with a massive missile deal – the largest arms procurement in Poland’s history, and a very stiff finger in the eye of Russia.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, enraged Poland (and Hungary) during his televised town hall meeting last week by lumping them in with Belarus as “totalitarian regimes.”

Biden’s comments implicitly downplayed the importance of all these vital American allies because he wanted to score points against Trump for playing hardball with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Democrats have condemned Trump’s policies towards NATO in part because Trump has repeatedly demanded that other NATO member states abide by their responsibilities as part of the founding treaty to spend at least two percent of their GDP on defense.

On that score, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Trump for his leadership on defense spending, praised Trump for recognizing the importance of contributing “more to our shared security,” and confirmed that the NATO allies are now “spending more on defense.”

“Your leadership on defense spending has really helped to make a difference,” Stoltenberg told Trump.

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