Top Candidates for National Security Employees:  Sanders and Buttigieg

Bernie Sanders

This surprising finding comes from Foreign Policy’s C.K. Hickey.

Foreign Policy examined how much money was donated to campaign committees from employees of the State Department, the military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Justice Department, drawing on data from the Center for Responsive Politics. When combining contribution amounts together, Sanders is the biggest beneficiary of national security support, followed by Buttigieg and Warren. Democratic front-runner Biden and President Donald Trump trail behind those candidates….

Source: U.S. National Security Employees Prefer These Democratic Candidates in the 2020 Presidential Election

Ex-Marine Seth Moulton Focuses on National Security

Seth Moulton (Credit - Twitter)
Seth Moulton (Credit – Twitter)

On the Campaign Trail:

Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachussetts is an ex-Marine, one of three military veterans in the 2020 Democratic race. If he runs (he says he’s in “exploratory” mode until May), military service and national security issues will be central to his candidacy.

Moulton is a self-described moderate. His abortive challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was based on his view that the party was skewing too far to the left.

This is the conventional wisdom of the Washington blob, suggesting that President Moulton’s national security agenda would follow the contours of traditional Clinton-Bush-Obama policies. Like Clinton and Obama, he tends to avoid ideological choices by saying he’ll be “smarter.”

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

On North Korea: Trump ‘Making World More Dangerous’

We need to move away from a situation where we are solely focused on achieving an overall, all-encompassing agreement—an incredibly difficult task to achieve—while North Korea uses the time we’re negotiating to continue advancing its program. Given that North Korea has an estimated 20 to 30 nuclear warheads, fissile material for 30 to 60 more, and a progressing nuclear program, we must work toward an interim agreement that halts North Korea’s program in exchange for limited sanctions relief. We don’t yet know whether the North Koreans would agree to any deal that dismantles their nuclear program in exchange for significant economic incentives. We need to test that proposition while halting Pyongyang’s progress, and an interim agreement would do just that.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Hong Kong and China:

Human rights must be a key focus of our foreign policy, both with China and around the world. The United States should publicly condemn China’s human rights abuses and continually raise them at the highest levels in diplomatic dialogue. We should also pursue targeted sanctions on entities and individuals who are involved in repression, and make clear that we support Hong Kong’s autonomy. On China policy writ large, we need to take on China but do so in a smart way. That means working towards a trade deal that helps Americans and American workers; building a cyber wall to keep our intellectual property safe in the face of Chinese aggression; and establishing a Pacific version of NATO to counter the growing security threat China poses to the region. 

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Israel and A Two-State Solution:

‘Yes, I unequivocally support a two-state solution. Israelis deserve to live in peace and security, and the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. 
Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East and will continue to be. But we cannot continue to support their current right-wing government’s policies that have made a two-state solution virtually impossible. There’s certainly a lot of blame to go around in this conflict, but the Israelis have failed to live up to the standards we demand from our allies, and that needs to change. ‘

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On NATO: ‘Strengthen For A New World’

On issues of war and peace, Moulton says the United States must break with the policies of the past, most significantly on NATO. Far more explicitly than other candidates, he calls for rethinking America’s military alliance with Europe.

In a February 2019 speech at the Brookings Institution, Moulton said:

In the wake of Trump’s handling of NATO many will call for re-strengthening that alliance, and I am among them. But NATO was established under 1949 rationale … We need to rethink the strategic role and purpose of NATO. Now is the opportunity presented to us ironically by this Administration to renovate and strengthen it for a new world.

On Russia: We Need an Effective Strategy

‘The United States needs to hold Russia accountable for its ongoing aggression against Ukraine. We should do so by increasing sanctions to impose costs on the Russian government—ones that specifically impact Vladimir Putin and his close allies—and by continuing to provide lethal aid to Ukraine, a step the Obama administration should have taken. The actions we take against Russia must also be part of a broader strategy to counter Moscow’s malign behavior. That means strengthening NATO’s military capabilities and modernizing it to counter cyberattacks with the same resolve we’ve used to stop tanks from rolling into Europe.’

Council on Foreign Relations interview

Russia’s desperate situation is precisely what makes it so dangerous – and precisely what should concern us here in the US – an emboldened President Putin increasingly driven towards rash, short term calculations. Without a proactive, effective strategy to meet Russia on the advanced battlefield of hybrid warfare and counter President Putin’s whole-of-government strategy against NATO, Russian influence will only continue to grow despite their fundamental economic weakness.

Atlantic Council Speech — 2.2.2016

On Iran: ‘Remains An Enemy’

Let me be clear, the Iran Nuclear Deal is an important step towards preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. But Iran remains our enemy and the deal will only be effective if it is strongly enforced.

Just within the context of our relationship with Iran we can see how “no better friend, no worse enemy” can be effectively employed. Where Iran is compliant, we uphold our diplomatic commitments without compromise; where they continue to flout international agreements outside the nuclear deal, supporting international terrorism and threatening us and our allies, we will stand strongly against them.

Source: Moulton’s Remarks at the Atlantic Council

On Venezuela: No Use of Force

The Trump administration’s approach to Venezuela is a throwback to the Cold War: intervene in support of a coup, blame Cuba for everything, and in the process, make America a foil for Maduro to use with his people as the reason his economy is faltering. 
Maduro is a dictator who is killing his own people, and he has lost the legitimacy to lead. But we have learned from experience that when the United States tries to dictate outcomes in other countries, we often end up provoking a backlash and uniting different factions against us as the outsider. Moving forward, we should continue to sanction Venezuelan leaders and encourage the opposition. But if my time in the Marines taught me anything, it’s that the United States is not the world’s policeman. Nor should we try to be. 

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On February 6th, Moulton signed onto House Resolution 1004: Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Act as a co-sponsor.

On War: Alliances for Arms Control

In summary, it’s time to completely re-imagine our arms, our alliances, and our arms control for this new and rapidly changing world. All three are indispensable to meet the challenges of the new world order, which emphasizes the importance of an all hands-on deck approach to national security. Russia and China have embraced this, terrorist groups embody it, but here in America we have regressed.

On Afghanistan:

On Trump’s Foreign Policy:


In sum, Moulton is a self-conscious “national security” candidate whose military service is central to his identity and his agenda. He is a hawk on Russia, less so on Iran.

On the interventionist/anti-interventionist spectrum, President Moulton would be closer to the reluctant interventionist end, probably along the lines of Obama.

In the Eyes of ‘the Blob’ and the Secret Intelligence Agencies:

President Moulton would probably work well with policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders disenchanted with Trump, thanks to his military experience and conventional views on national security issues.

Research: Daniel Ortiz

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

Bernie Sanders: End Disastrous Wars

Bernie Sanders

On The Campaign Trail:

The gruff socialist from Vermont is the quintessential Washington outsider a radical reformer. Along with his foreign policy adviser Matt Duss, he says the 2020 election is an opportunity to “reconceptualize” the global order.

In his 2016 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders avoided issues of war and peace. Now he embraces them.

Last October, Sanders laid out a vision for U.S. foreign policy that he says he will bring to the White House. In a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Sanders depicted “global struggle” between the “movement for democracy, equalitarianism, economic, social, racial and environmental justice” and a “growing worldwide movement towards authoritarianism, oligarchy and kleptocracy.”

This perspective shaped his views on the hottest issues of the day.

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

On North Korea:

Yes, and then continue negotiations. Every step we take to reduce North Korea’s nuclear force, to open it up to inspections, to end the 70-year-old Korean War and to encourage peaceful relations between the Koreas and the United States increases the chances of complete denuclearization of the peninsula. Peace and nuclear disarmament must proceed in parallel, in close consultations with our South Korean ally. I will work to negotiate a step-by-step process to roll back North Korea’s nuclear program, build a new peace and security regime on the peninsula and work towards the eventual elimination of all North Korean nuclear weapons.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Venezuela: No To Regime Change

My administration would support the negotiations between the Maduro government and the opposition, and work with other countries in our region, and the international community, to support the Venezuelan people’s right to build their own future. The United States should support the rule of law, fair elections and self-determination in Venezuela, as we should elsewhere. We would condemn the use of violence against unarmed protesters and the suppression of dissent. We would also listen to the voices of Venezuelan activists themselves who warn against broad sanctions, such as the Trump administration’s oil sanctions, that mainly punish the people, not the government. My administration would not be in the business of regime change. The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries; we must not go down that road again.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

Sanders does not support the Maduro government but rejects the Trump policy of regime change.

The Vermont Senator also signed onto the Senate Joint Resolution 11: Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Resolution of 2019 as a co-sponsor on March 25th.

On China and Human Rights:

China is engaged in a program of mass internment and cultural genocide against the Uighur people. It has also been steadily eroding liberal democracy in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the United States has limited options when it comes to pressuring Beijing to change its policies. But that does not mean that we should, as the Trump administration has done, abandon our role in promoting human rights, whether at the United Nations or as part of our ongoing trade negotiations with China. My administration will work with allies to strengthen global human rights standards and make every effort to let Beijing know that its behavior is damaging its international standing and undermining relations with the United States.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Democracy: Strive for Better

We need to counter oligarchic authoritarianism with a strong global progressive movement that speaks to the needs of working people, that recognizes that many of the problems we are faced with are the product of a failed status quo. We need a movement that unites people all over the world who don’t just seek to return to a romanticized past, a past that did not work for so many, but who strive for something better.

On Foreign Policy: ‘A New Global Order’

Bernie Sanders announces.

On Defense Spending: Cut it!

Sanders would cut it to fund anti-poverty campaign.

Defense donations only make up 0.15% of all campaign donations

Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s leading experts on economic development and the fight against poverty, has estimated that the cost to end world poverty is $175 billion per year for 20 years, about ten percent of what the world spends on weapons.

Donald Trump thinks we should spend more on these weapons. I think we should spend less.

On Immigration: Deterrence is Cruelty

Migrants and refugees should be treated with compassion and respect when they reach Europe or the United States. Yes, we need better international cooperation to address the flow of migrants across borders, but the solution is not to build walls and amplify the cruelty toward those fleeing impossible conditions as a deterrence strategy.

On Russia: Trump Sympathetic to Strongmen

‘The framework put in place by the Obama Administration—the European Reassurance Initiative and multilateral sanctions—seems to have helped contain Russian aggression in Ukraine. My administration will make clear to Russia that additional aggression will force the United States to increase pressure, including expanding beyond current sanctions. For now, our main priority should be to work closely with our European allies to help the new Ukrainian government make good on its promises to reform the economy, improve standards of living, and substantially reduce corruption.’

Council on Foreign Relations interview

We face an unprecedented situation of an American president who for whatever reason refuses to acknowledge this attack on American democracy. Why is that? I am not sure what the answer is. Either he really doesn’t understand what has happened, or he is under Russian influence because of compromising information they may have on him, or because he is ultimately more sympathetic to Russia’s strongman form of government than he is to American democracy.

In the Eyes of ‘the Blob’ and the Secret Intelligence Agencies:

The election of Bernie Sanders in 2020 would represent a fundamental challenge to policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders, on par with Trump. With his unyielding criticism of the system of American-led capitalism and military intervention which they have defended for decades, President Sanders would be viewed with suspicion, if not hostility in many power centers in Washington.

On Yemen: Diplomacy, Not Militarism

On Iran:

Sen. Sanders: ” Attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman are unacceptable and must be fully investigated. But this incident must not be used as a pretext for a war with Iran, a war which would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States, Iran, the region and the world. The time is now for the United States to exert international leadership and bring the countries in the region together to forge a diplomatic solution to the growing tensions. I would also remind President Trump that there is no congressional authorization for a war with Iran. A unilateral U.S. attack on Iran would be illegal and unconstitutional.” – official statement from the Senator’s office can be read here.

On Israel:

‘Yes, the parameters of that solution are well known. They are based in international law, in multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, and are supported by an overwhelming international consensus: Two states based on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states. Ultimately, it’s up to the Palestinians and Israelis themselves to make the choices necessary for a final agreement, but the United States has a major role to play in brokering that agreement. My administration would also be willing to bring real pressure to bear on both sides, including conditioning military aid, to create consequences for moves that undermine the chances for peace.’

Council on Foreign Relations interview

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

Tulsi Gabbard’s Crusade Against ‘Regime Change’

Tulsi Gabbard

When it comes to issues of war and peace, no 2020 Democratic presidential campaign is more impassioned or articulate than Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

To be sure, other 2020 Democrats are beginning to speak out on war and peace issues. Elizabeth Warren seeks the mantle of JFK, the insider as reformer. Bernie Sanders puts a socialist spin on Republican Dwight Eisenhower who warned about the military-industrial complex. Beto O’Rourke called Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “racist.” Pete Buttigieg has stood up for Israel . Kirsten Gillibrand is well-spoken in Mandarin.

Gabbard tops them all, at least in passion and detail. From Iran to Venezuela, the Iraq war veteran is speaking out against Trump’s foreign policy and its policies of “regime change,” that is, the U.S. policy of seeking to overthrow foreign governments that it does not like.

Gabbard served as a medic in the aftermath of the disastrous “regime change” war in Iraq. As commander in chief, she would not fight another one.

In her tweets, Gabbard uses her critique of “regime change” policies to bolster and explain her positions on domestic issues like energy, immigration, and infrastructure. Ending regime change wars, she says, will yield “a peace dividend.”


No candidate has said more about Venezuela than Gabbard.

She calls Trump/Bolton intervention in Venezuela intervention a bid to control oil. “Regime change,” she says, is corrupt.


“Regime change” wars, she goes on, are wasteful.

She does not spare fellow Democrats, like Joe Biden, who have supported wars of choice in the 21st century.

The Border

She links U.S. military intervention in Central America in the 1980s to the flow of immigrants fleeing those countries today.

‘Peace Dividend’

On the Eve of the Debates, a Guide to the 2020 Democrats on War and Peace

2020 Dems


Michael Bennet
Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado

MICHAEL BENNET: The Senator from Colorado has been light on foreign policy, but stands with our allies and criticizes reckless military spending…..MORE ON BENNET

Joe Biden (Credit - Creative Commons)

JOE BIDEN: The former Vice President was among the more dovish of President Obama’s aides but he sees no need for fundamental reform of the U.S. national security apparatus … MORE ON BIDEN


Cory Booker (Credit - Creative Commons)

CORY BOOKER: The junior senator from New Jersey has positioned himself as the candidate most opposed to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement that seeks to curb Israeli expansionism. … MORE ON BOOKER


Pete Buttigieg (Credit - AP Photo - Richard Shiro)

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Buttigieg, a former naval intelligence officer, supports Israel and the War Powers Act … MORE ON BUTTIGIEG


John Delaney (Credit - Creative Commons)

JOHN DELANEY A self-funding Congressman from Maryland, Delaney is a former CEO whose foreign policy flows from his faith in free-trade economics … MORE ON DELANEY


Julian Castro (Credit - Creative Commons)

JULIAN CASTRO: The former cabinet secretary and mayor has made a detailed immigration reform proposal the center of his presidential bid … MORE ON CASTRO


Tulsi Gabbard (Credit - Creative Commons)

TULSI GABBARD: The Hawaii Congresswoman and Iraq war veteran is the most outspoken anti-interventionist in the field … MORE ON GABBARD


Kirsten Gillibrand (Credit - AP Photos - Paul Sancya)

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: The New York senator combines opposition to U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria with hawkish positions on Venezuela and Iran … MORE ON GILLIBRAND


Kamala Harris (Credit - Creative Commons)

KAMALA HARRIS: The foreign policy views of the junior senator from California are unclear except on her signature issue, cybersecurity … MORE ON HARRIS


Jay Inslee (Credit - Creative Commons)
Jay Inslee (Credit – Creative Commons)

JAY INSLEE: The two-term Washington governor defines the U.S. security challenges with a single phrase “Defeat Climate Change.” MORE ON INSLEE.

Amy Klobuchar (Credit - Creative Commons)

AMY KLOBUCHAR: The senior senator from Minnesota does not stray far from the Washington orthodoxy … MORE ON KLOBUCHAR


Beto O'Rourke (Credit - Creative Commons)

BETO O’ROURKE: Where other candidates have gone along with the policy consensus in Washington, the former Texas Congressman sometimes broke with it … MORE ON O’ROURKE


SETH MOULTON: The congressman and ex-Marine from Massachusetts says military service and national security issues will be central to his candidacy if he runs … MORE ON MOULTON


Bernie Sanders (Credit - Creative Commons)

BERNIE SANDERS: The socialist senator from Vermont insists on a fundamental change in direction of U.S. foreign policy … MORE ON SANDERS


Elizabeth Warren (Credit - Creative Commons)

ELIZABETH WARREN: The Massachusetts senator positions herself, like President John F. Kennedy, as an agent of responsible change in U.S. foreign policy … MORE ON WARREN

Andrew Yang (Credit - Creative Commons)
Andrew Yang (Credit – Creative Commons)

ANDREW YANG: The Silicon Valley social entrepreneur has three foreign policy goals: make it harder for the U.S. to engage militarily, rebuild traditional alliances and control defense spending. MORE ON YANG