Pete Buttigieg just rolled out details on his foreign policy plan. Here are the big takeaways.
On a rainy afternoon in South Bend, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced that he is joining several others in seeking the Democratic nomination for President. Robert Scheer, email@example.com
BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg rolled out his foreign policy and national security plan to a packed auditorium Tuesday at Indiana University.
It was Buttigeig's first address detailing a specific piece of his presidential agenda. While Buttigieg has been mayor of South Bend for two terms, he indicated afterward he wanted to drive home his experience as an intelligence officer in the war in Afghanistan.
On the issues: Here's where Buttigieg stands
Buttigieg's address was light on details about specifically how he would implement many of plans, and some were familiar refrains from past interviews. But in general, he called for an end to open-ended wars, for the United States to fight authoritarianism abroad, to treat climate change as a security threat, to recommit to former President Barack Obama's Iran nuclear deal, to deter Russia from interfering in U.S. elections and to be a world leader.
He spoke for the hour, often drawing loud ovations from the crowd of more than 1,800 in Bloomington, a liberal college town in what's a largely conservative state.
Here are the big takeaways:
Recommit to the Iran nuclear deal
Buttigieg said he believes the Iran-nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration was preventing that nation from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"Whatever its imperfections," he said, "this was perhaps as close to the real 'art of the deal' as diplomatic achievements get," he said, referencing the title of President Trump's business-oriented memoir.
A year ago, Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran by withdrawing the U.S. from the 2015 deal.
Buttigieg said a nuclear Iran poses too great a threat on Israel and Europe.
United States Navy fighter jets were flying missions from an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea on Saturday, a signal to Iran of America's global military reach. (June 8) AP, AP
He would take on Russia
Buttigieg said he would use diplomatic, economic and cyber tools to ensure Russia doesn't exploit weaknesses in U.S. elections.
"Their unacceptable interference in our elections weakened America both by helping to elect an unstable administration and by eroding confidence in our democracy itself," he said.
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End endless wars
Buttigieg thinks Congress should reassert its authority over the authorization of wars, including both Afghanistan and future conflicts. He said the United States needs a clearer definition of the missions and the aftermath when it sends troops into conflicts.
He said he fears one day we will receive news of the first U.S. casualty of the war on terrorism who was born after Sept. 11, 2001.
"As someone who deployed to that war on the orders of a president — who believed, way back in 2014, that our involvement in Afghanistan was coming to an end — the time has come for Congress to repeal and replace that blank check on the use of force and ensure a robust debate on any future operations."
He would fight climate change
Buttigieg didn't drop an elaborate a "Green New Deal," but he said he would prioritize combating climate change. That would start, but not end, with rejoining the Paris climate accord, he said.
As mayor of South Bend, he oversaw emergency operations in two historic-level floods. He also referenced recent tornadoes in Alabama, fires in California, and the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.
"Despite what we hear from this administration and far too many Republicans in power, climate disruption is here," he said. "It is no longer a distant or theoretical issue, it is a clear and present threat."
He's also called for a carbon tax and dividend to create other economic incentives to fight climate change, and to quadruple U.S. spending to at least $25 billion a year to research renewable energy, energy storage and carbon storage.
He also said he wants to find ways to empower rural Americans to help by managing soil and implement 21st-century farming techniques, without providing details.
Climate change is real and it's already impacting humans. Mike Thompson, Detroit Free Press
Be a voice in the world
Buttigieg said Trump hasn't had much of a foreign policy position at all, and called for renewed American leadership abroad. He also wants to fight authoritarian regimes.
He also said many Democratic administrations didn't have much of a foreign policy agenda.
"While the current administration lacks a coherent policy, it does show a pattern—a troubling one—when it comes to its conduct abroad," he said. "This administration has embraced and emboldened autocrats, while alienating democracies and allies around the globe. It has undermined America’s alliances, partnerships, and treaties."
Fight right-wing terrorism at home
Buttigieg drew loud applause for saying the U.S. needs to fight terrorism by Americans at home.
"Knowing that in the past decade, more Americans in America have been killed by right-wing extremists than by Al-Qaeda or Isis, we need to acknowledge this threat too and redirect appropriate use of ..." he continued to speak, but his words were drowned out by the sound of cheering and clapping.
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Compete with China as it expands influence
Buttigieg said China is attempting to promote what he called authoritarian capitalism across the world, and the U.S. should counter with its own economic value system. He said the Chinese government also is expanding its intelligence efforts, calling it a surveillance state, and the U.S needs to counter that.
He said China is filling a vacuum left by America's withdrawal from the world stage and criticized Trump's tariffs on the country, which he said is raising prices on Americans. He said 20th Century policies won't work in today's world, and the problem is bigger than the cost of a home appliance.
But, he pointed out, the U.S. also should look for areas with which it can work with China, such as combating climate change.
Tougher policy toward Israel
Buttigieg said the United States needs to encourage what he called the right-wing government in Israel to use military force only when necessary and to preserve the rights of all of its citizens.
He said the closer an ally, the more important it is to speak truth to them, noting the security and survival of Israel is vital to the United States.
Buttigieg said the Netanyahu government is turning away from peace. He also said Israeli citizens should be able to criticize that government, just as U.S. citizens can criticize their own government.
He supports a two-state solution, which involves an independent state of Palestine alongside Israel. Buttigieg said he would take steps to ensure American taxpayers won't foot the bill to help Netanyahu annex settlements, should that occur.
Fight for stability in Central America and Africa
Buttigieg spoke on the need to help promote economic security and social stability in various nations in Central America and Africa, but was light on the details.
He said the U.S. should address the crime, corruption and poverty in South America, especially, that leads to mass migration. He said the U.S. should work closely with Mexico to help it become more prosperous.
He suggested the U.S. could isolate dictatorships to promote Democracy.
In Africa, he said local economies are growing and people are seeking social reform. He said millions are being lifted out of poverty and people are demanding greater transparency and accountability from leaders. He said the U.S. should stand ready to promote its values.
He took on Trump
Buttigieg took numerous shots at Trump during the speech, all to raves from the crowd.
He referenced policy by tweet as a bad idea, he suggested foreign governments could curry power by staying at Trump-brand hotels, he said he hoped to retire when he was the president's current age, accused the president of exchanging "love letters on White House letterhead" with Russian President Description Vladimir Putin.
It's not a one-way street. Trump likes to call the mayor "Alfred E. Neuman," the Mad Magazine mascot.