Buttigieg Outlines Foreign Policy Views, Urging End to ‘Endless War’
Pete Buttigieg lashed into President Trump on Tuesday for conducting foreign policy by tantrum and by tweet, as he called for the United States to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, cease the “endless war” in Afghanistan and meet “the clear and present threat” of climate change.
Outlining his foreign policy views as a 2020 Democratic candidate, Mr. Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., repeatedly invoked the America of 2054 — when he would be Mr. Trump’s age, 72 — in a speech that shared his broad campaign message of generational change.
It seemed aimed at quieting any voters’ qualms about whether he had the experience and maturity to serve as commander in chief, or running the show in the Situation Room, in a race featuring candidates with far more foreign policy experience.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. served eight years as vice president. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. And Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has long honed an anti-interventionist message based on his opposition to the Iraq War and to the current war in Yemen.
Mr. Buttigieg, whose political experience is limited to two terms as mayor of a midsize city, also repeatedly invoked his military service to suggest a battle-tested heft on the global stage. He was a Navy Reserve officer deployed in Afghanistan for seven months in 2014, midway through his first term. He described himself as an American forged by 9/11, when “war came to our generation.”
Early in his campaign, Mr. Buttigieg was criticized for introducing himself based on personality, rather than policy, and his address Tuesday, at Indiana University in Bloomington, was his most substantive policy speech to date. Nonetheless, he said, “I do not aspire to deliver a full Buttigieg Doctrine today.”
But he went on to offer prescriptions on a broad range of international issues.
He said the “mission drifted” in Iraq and Afghanistan, at a cost of great “moral authority” to the United States, and he called for Congress to repeal its authorization for the president to wage war in those countries. “I fear that someday soon we may receive news of the first U.S. casualty of the 9/11 wars who was born after 9/11,” Mr. Buttigieg said.
Throughout the nearly hourlong speech, Mr. Buttigieg launched broadsides at the president, though not by name. Russia, he said, should be viewed “not as a real estate opportunity” but as an adversary that disrupted an American election. On North Korea, he promised, “You will not see me exchanging love letters” with its brutal dictator. China poses far more of a threat than “the export-import balance on dishwashers,” he said, ripping Mr. Trump’s obsession with tariffs and the trade balance.
Mr. Buttigieg drew a picture of a more internationally connected United States than Mr. Trump’s America First policies, which have questioned longstanding security alliances and sought to stem the tide of globalization through tariffs.
“Globalization is not going away,” he said.
“The world needs America,” he added. “But not just any America. Not an America that has reduced itself to just one more player, scrapping its way through an amoral worldwide scrum for narrow advantage.”
He called for reversing what he described as Mr. Trump’s transactional foreign policy and replacing it with one based on American values of democracy and human rights.
He singled out the administration’s tacit acceptance of Saudi Arabia’s killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Mr. Buttigieg also criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel for “turning away from peace.” He warned Mr. Netanyahu not to annex West Bank settlements.
Mr. Buttigieg, who earlier released a plan for tackling climate change, called for engaging other countries diplomatically to confront the perils of a warming planet.
“The balance of my lifetime will play out in an era of climate-driven international instability,” he said.
He predicted pandemics, food shortages and mass migration. And he concluded on a note of generational urgency. “We will not have to wait until 2054 to feel the judgment of history on this season,” he said.