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Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Joshua Lott/Getty Images, David McNew/Getty Images, and Mario Tama/Getty Images

If a Democrat wins back the White House in 2020, they'll face steep obstacles to turning their domestic agenda into reality.

But, but, but: In foreign affairs, particularly when crises arise, they will wield immense power.

There's a week left before Iowa, and Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — easily the top three candidates in national polls — have recently produced a flurry of recent writing and rhetoric on foreign policy.

  • I took a close look, and these are my key takeaways:

Biden's foreign policy centers around restoring America's global leadership and alliances.

  • He argues that will allow him to repair global institutions, defend the international rules of the road, confront China — which he increasingly cites as a priority — and rein in Russia.
  • Biden sounds more prepared to support foreign intervention and free trade deals than his leading rivals, though less than some Democrats (including himself) in cycles past.
  • Key policies: Biden wants a cautious withdrawal from Afghanistan, more military aid to Ukraine and sanctions on those responsible for China's mass detentions in Xinjiang.
  • Between the lines: His pitch boils down to, essentially, everything you liked about Obama's foreign policy and less of what you didn't.

Sanders is more likely to condemn American imperialism than launch into Biden-style celebrations of American greatness — though he also emphasizes re-establishing U.S. moral authority.

  • Sanders has made common cause with leftists around the world for decades, sometimes controversially.
  • But his foreign policy platform is not as radical as some might imagine. He supports U.S. membership in NATO (though, like Trump, he wants allies to foot more of the bill) and won't rule out using military force (though he sets a high bar).
  • Key policies: Sanders wants to scale back the U.S. drone program, drastically cut the military budget and increase foreign aid. He hates most proposed trade deals, including the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trump's NAFTA replacement (which Warren backed).

Warren contends that America has hurt itself and the world by promoting globalization, big corporations and a model of capitalism that drives inequality and resentment.

  • She's skeptical of the IMF, wants to break up "multinational monopolies" and "crack down on tax havens."
  • Warren plans to slash the Pentagon's budget and increase the State Department's. Like Sanders, Warren frames many U.S. interventions as harmful to the countries concerned and the Americans funding them.
  • Key policies: Warren says she'd need a clear national security imperative and congressional approval to use military force. She has ruled out "first use" of a nuclear weapon and vowed not to appoint donors as ambassadors.

Between the lines: Warren and Sanders have similar diagnoses in terms of the failures of U.S. foreign policy, and many of the same prescriptions.

  • Sanders places more emphasis on righting historical wrongs and on the global struggle against injustice and "oligarchy."
  • Warren, meanwhile, says America needs to renew itself at home first if it hopes to lead abroad.

Common ground:

  • All three want to return to the Paris Climate Accord and spur international action on climate change.
  • They all support a two-state solution in the Middle East and think the U.S.-Saudi partnership must be scaled back.

Go deeper

Federal court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for health workers in 10 states

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant following a meeting with his COVID-19 response team. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

A federal court in Missouri has blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers at federally-funded facilities in 10 states.

Why it matters: Monday's decision is the first victory for opponents of the rule, which requires health care workers to get vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. The case is one of four lawsuits challenging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) rule and argues that the mandate will exacerbate staffing shortages.

Twitter's next act

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey is exiting the company he helped build at a time when its future has never been so uncertain.

Why it matters: The person who controls Twitter controls the de facto public square — with implications for politics, media and free speech.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC strengthens COVID booster recommendation

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday strengthened its previous recommendation for booster shots, saying that everyone 18 and older "should" receive a booster dose.

Why it matters: Last month, CDC director Rochelle Walensky accepted a key advisory committee's recommendation that adults "may" get the shot. The slight, but strengthened, change in wording comes amid the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant.