Pete Buttigieg, a Former Intel Officer Who Embraces the Israel Lobby

Pete Buttigieg, former naval intelligence officer, announces his candidacy.

On the Campaign Trail:

Pete Buttigieg (say “Buddha-jidge”) , the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and rising star of the Democratic field, is a former naval intelligence officer. Unlike the other military veterans in the race–Tulsi Gabbard and Seth Moulton–Buttigieg has not made national security or foreign policy the centerpiece of his campaign.

When talking to PBS News Hour, Buttigieg sounded conventional themes of the Washington foreign policy establishment.

Like other 2020 Democratic candidates, he has criticized Trump for conducting foreign policy by tweet. Buttigieg supports pulling troops out of Afghanistan, but has criticized Trump’s plans to withdraw from Syria. He has also said Iran poses the greatest threat to Israel in the Middle East.

These are the conventional positions of the national security policymaking elite, known informally as ‘The Blob.”

The Blob is a term coined by President Obama’s former adviser Ben Rhodes to describe the Washington foreign policy elite that has a relatively narrow range of views on what the United States should do in the world.

While some candidates (Sanders, Warren, and Gabbard) have made clear they would break with the Blob, Buttitieg seems to lean the other way: toward the foreign policy consensus as executed by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama.

[Do you like Pete Buttigieg? Tell us why in the comments section. Or DM us @jeffersonmorley. We will publish your comments with minimal editing.]

On the War Powers Act: ‘Frighteningly Vague’

One issue where Buttigieg has staked out new ground is the War Powers Act. Ignored by Presidents Bush and Obama, the law requires the president to get congressional authorization for military actions lasting more than 90 days.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Buttigieg was asked “Should the 2020 Democrats all pledge not to go into war without congressional authorization?” He responded:

I think that’s appropriate. Probably the single biggest thing in foreign policy and security the next president has to do is clarify what the standard will be for the commitment of U.S. troops. It’s frighteningly vague right now.

This would be a significant break with Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump foreign policy. None of the last four presidents have respected the War Powers Act, instead assuming virtually unlimited executive power to go to war. The result has been endless war in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and now Somalia

On Israel: What U.S. Could Learn

Mondoweiss says that Buttigieg’s visit to Israel in May 2018 demonstrates that he is more pro-Israel than other Democratic candidates.

Last May, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg went to Israel with the American Jewish Committee and two weeks later discussed his trip with that organization. At the time Israel was killing Palestinian protesters at the Gaza fence– 60 on one day within days of Buttigieg’s visit, getting global attention — yet Buttigieg repeatedly praised Israel’s security arrangements as “moving” and “clear-eyed”, said the U.S. could learn something from them, and blamed Palestinians and Hamas for the “misery” in Gaza.

Biggest Threats: Cyber and Climate

“And by the way, I also think it’s a mistake to believe that security in general in the 21st century is as simple as military and border security matters. At a moment like this, when 21st century threats, from cyber-security to climate security are demanding action, many especially the majority party in the Senate, don’t seem to show any interest in tackling that at all.”

From PBS News Hour

How would he get along with the secret intelligence agencies? President Buttigieg would probably get along with The Blob of foreign policymaker who have served Presidents Bush and Obama

Research: Daniel Ortiz

Return to Insider’s Guide to the 2020 Democrats on War and Peace


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