Pete Buttigieg on War & Peace

Democratic Presidential Challenger; IN Mayor


I stand with the people of Idlib against Syrian dictator

Q: The city of Idlib in Syria is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The Syrian regime and Russia are targeting schools, bakeries, and hospitals. What would you do as president to push back regime and Russian forces and stop the killing of innocent civilians?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, first of all, I stand with the people of Idlib, who are being targeted, as you said, in a brutal fashion by a dictatorship that has already been so brutal for so many years. And this is one of the reasons we have got to change the balance of power in the region, because the president has basically vanished from the stage when it comes to even playing a role in the future there. Turkey, Russia, Iran all have so much more of a say than we do. We don't have to be invading countries to be making a difference, working with our international partners, in order to deliver peace and support those who are standing up for self-determination.

Source: 10th Democratic Primary debate on eve of S.C. primary , Feb 25, 2020

Taking out a bad guy is not always a good idea

It's also the case that if we learned nothing else from the war in Iraq, it's that taking president has moved us this much closer to the brink of war. This is not an episode of 24. This is a situation that requires that you evaluate the entire intelligence picture. This president has insulted the intelligence community, but they put their lives on the line to gather the I don't think he even reads it.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Biden made wrong decision on Iraq War

I believe that I have the judgment to help us get through these situations where obviously the vice president made the wrong decision when it came to such an important moment in our foreign policy. It's not just about dealing with the aftermath of the war in Iraq, it's about preventing a war with Iran.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Biden made wrong decision on Iraq War

I believe that I have the judgment to help us get through these situations where obviously the vice president made the wrong decision when it came to such an important moment in our foreign policy. It's not just about dealing with the aftermath of the war in Iraq, it's about preventing a war with Iran.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

No Iranian nukes, via reinstating joint nuclear deal

Q: President Trump said, "As long as I am president, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon." Would a President Buttigieg make that same promise?

BUTTIGIEG: Ensuring that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons will, of course, be a priority, because it's such an important part of keeping America safe. But unfortunately, President Trump has made it much harder for the next president to achieve that goal. By gutting the Iran nuclear deal--one that, by the way, the Trump administration itself admitted was working, certified that it was preventing progress toward a nuclear Iran--by gutting that, they have made the region more dangerous & set off the chain of events that we are now dealing with as it escalates even closer to the brink of outright war. We've got to work with our partners. The Iran nuclear deal, the technical term for it was the JCPOA. That first letter "J" stood for "Joint." We can't do this alone, even less so now after everything that has happened.

Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

If troops go to war, will include 3-year sunset clause

When we lost troops in Niger, there were members of Congress who didn't even know we had troops there. Often, Congress has been all too happy to leave aside its role. Now, thanks to Democrats, that's changing. When I am president, anytime I am compelled to use force and seek that authorization, we will have a three-year sunset, so that the American people are included not only in the decision about whether to send troops, but whether to continue.
Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

Would use force, but need to think of the consequences

I would never hesitate to use force if it was necessary in order to protect American lives. The question is, was it necessary, and was it better than the alternative? When you're dealing with the Middle East, you need to think about the next and the next and the next move. This is not checkers. I'm not sure any of us really believe that this president and the people around him is really going through all of the consequences of what could happen next.
Source: CNN SOTU 2020 interview of presidential hopefuls , Jan 5, 2020

We have betrayed our allies & values by exiting Syria

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: We've got to understand the reality of the situation [in Syria], which is that the slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war that we've been waging in Syria.

Mayor Buttigieg: Well, respectfully, Congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it's a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal, by this President, of American allies and American values. Look, I didn't think we should've gone to Iraq in the first place, I think we need to get out of Afghanistan, but it's also the case that a small number of specialized special operations forces and intelligence capabilities were the only thing that stood between that part of Syria and what we're seeing now, which is the beginning of a genocide, and the resurgence of ISIS.

Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate , Oct 15, 2019

Syrian withdrawal undermines our soldiers' honor

V.P. Joe BIDEN: I would not have withdrawn the troops [from the Kurdish areas of northern Syria, under threat from a Turkish invasion].

Mayor Pete BUTTIGIEG: Soldiers in the field are reporting that, for the first time, they feel ashamed of what their country has done.

Rep. Tulsi GABBARD: What you're saying is that you would continue to support having US troops in Syria for an indefinite period of time to continue this regime change war?

BUTTIGIEG: You can put an end to endless war embracing Trump's policy as you're doing.

GABBARD: Will you end the regime change war is the question?

BUTTIGIEG: What we were doing in Syria was keeping our word. Part of what makes it possible for the United States to get people to put their lives on the line to back us up is the idea that we will back them up too. When I was deployed, not just the Afghan National Army Forces, but the janitors put their lives on the line just by working with US Forces. It is undermining the honor of

Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate , Oct 15, 2019

No open-ended commitment to ground troops in Afghanistan

Q: We heard in recent days from General Joseph Dunford, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said in recent days, "I'm not going to use the word withdrawal right now. It's our judgment the Afghans need support to deal with the level of violence." Would you withdraw?

BUTTIGIEG: I served under General Dunford, way under General Dunford, in Afghanistan. And today, September 12, 2019, means that today you could be 18 years old, old enough to serve, and had not been alive on 9/11. We have got to put an end to endless war. And the way we do it is see to it that that country will never again be used for an attack against our homeland, and that does not require an open-ended commitment of ground troops. Let me say something else, because if there's one thing we've learned from Afghanistan, it's that the best way not to be caught up in endless war is to avoid starting one in the first place.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston , Sep 12, 2019

Make sure we have right kind of settlement in Afghanistan

Are we going to leave well, or are we going to leave poorly? To do it right, we need to make sure we get basic assurances about counterterrorism, and that the Afghan government is on the table, so that there's a formula for stability. We have leverage in this conversation. It is in the interest of even the Taliban to make sure that we have the right kind of political settlement. But there has to be an actual strategy. It has to be driven by our ability to get a deal that makes sense.
Source: CNN State of the Union interview for 2019 Democratic primary , Aug 18, 2019

Rejoin Iran deal with 6 other countries

Walking away from the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and 6 countries] was a strategic mistake. We didn't develop the deal as a favor to Iran; we did it because it was in our national security interest. I would revive P5+1 diplomacy and direct US-Iran dialogue to pursue follow-on agreements that extend the timeframe of certain nuclear restrictions, cover Iran's missile program, and address its role in regional conflicts, all in return for targeted sanctions relief.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary , Jul 30, 2019

N. Korea: Step-by-step process for peace & denuclearization

We have to accept that denuclearization will not happen overnight and will require a sustained, step-by-step approach spanning a significant number of years. I believe the most realistic way to get there is a framework for complete, verifiable denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula that is comprehensive in scope, with steps on both fronts implemented step-by-step and in tandem.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary , Jul 30, 2019

Keep the troops deployed abroad

Buttigieg on Overseas Deployments: Keep the troops deployed.

EIGHT CANDIDATES HAVE SIMILAR VIEWS: Michael Bennet; Joseph Biden, Jr.; Cory Booker; Peter Buttigieg; Amy Klobuchar; Seth Moulton; Tim Ryan; Eric Swalwell; Andrew Yang.

Other candidates have urged restraint, warning that allies in nations such as Afghanistan and Iraq still need American military support. Withdrawing all U.S. troops, they assert, could be a grave mistake and only make the situation worse.

Source: Politico "2020Dems on the Issues" , Jul 17, 2019

Restore Iran deal; work with allies in Europe and the region

If we want to see stability in the Middle East we should be engaging with our partners there as well as allies like our European partners who are such an important part of the Iran nuclear deal. Another thing I would never have done is to get us out of the nuclear deal setting off a chain reaction that has destabilized the regional security framework and the politics of that area, and making it that much harder for any moderates that are still in the Iranian regime to get anywhere.
Source: CBS Face the Nation 2019 interview , Jun 16, 2019

Deal with Iran; consult with intelligence

When you look at the destabilizing chain reaction when this president withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, I'm concerned about the stability of the region. I would consult with the intelligence community, and not politicize their findings. There's no question that the U.S. has an interest in maintaining security and freedom of movement in those shipping lanes. There's no question that we need to make sure that we're not contributing to a dynamic that could become more unstable.
Source: CNN State of the Union 2019 interview , Jun 16, 2019

Never should have left Iran deal, will do something new

Q: What would you do about Iran?

BUTTIGIEG: First of all, engage our allies. We are not alone. At least we shouldn't be acting alone. Another thing I would never have done is to get us out of the nuclear deal setting off a chain reaction that has destabilized the regional security framework and the politics of that area. We need to have a completely different approach. We're going to have to do something new. The point is that we never should have left it in the first place.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2019 interview series , Jun 16, 2019

We've learned how hard it is to end a war

I think we have learned as a country in my lifetime just how hard it is to end a war. We'd better be working very hard to make sure we don't start one. When you look at the destabilizing chain reaction that appears to have been initiated when this president withdrew us from the Iran nuclear deal, I'm very concerned about the stability of the region and the possibility that this is a dynamic that even the president won't be able to control.
Source: CNN "SOTU" 2019 interview series , Jun 16, 2019

Never send troops without clear definition of their mission

The greatest strategic advantage for America has always been the fact that our country has stood for values shared by humanity, touching aspirations felt far beyond our borders. The lesson of the Iraq disaster is not that there is anything wrong with standing for American values, but rather that any action in the name of such values must be strategic, legitimate, and constrained by the premise that we only use force when left with no alternative.

We should never again send troops into conflict without a clear definition of their mission and an understanding of what will come after.

I believe we should use force when there is a clear and present threat to the US; when it's necessary to deter and defend against an attack on or imminent threat against the United States, our citizens at home or abroad, or our treaty allies; and when we act as part of a legitimate international coalition to prevent genocide or other atrocities. But when we must use force, we must also have an end game.

Source: 2020 presidential campaign website, PeteForAmerica.com , Jun 11, 2019

Small steps forward in North Korea; no "love letters"

So rather than a zero-sum insistence on full and complete denuclearization before any peace is possible, we can recognize that the two processes can be mutually reinforcing, with small steps leading to bigger ones. You will not see me exchanging love letters on White House letterhead with a brutal dictator who starves and murders his own people. But you will see my administration work to create the conditions that would make it possible to welcome North Korea into the international community.
Source: 2020 presidential campaign website, PeteForAmerica.com , Jun 11, 2019

Be more judicious when committing troops

Buttigieg thinks there should be a higher standard for committing American troops overseas. He's criticized the threat of sending ground troops to places such as˙Venezuela or Syria, though he would support targeted military action in Syria. "There has to be a pathway to ending endless war." He thinks America is losing credibility overseas and should re-establish itself as a world leader through diplomacy. The current policy of America˙first, he has said, is leaving America isolated.
Source: Indianapolis Star on 2020 presidential hopefuls , May 6, 2019

Don't let Iraq war supporters plan Venezuela invasion

Buttigieg fired on Trump foreign policy official John Bolton, who has long advocated and defended the invasion of Iraq. (Buttigieg served during the war in Afghanistan.). "I don't understand how somebody leading us into the Iraq war is allowed that near the situation room to begin with," Buttigieg said in an answer about conflict in Venezuela, where Bolton has suggested military force could be an option.

Bolton was an early supporter of the Iraq War and pushed for the initial invasion during his time, after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as President George W. Bush's undersecretary of State for arms control and international security.

Source: CNN KFile on 2019 SXSW conference in Austin , Mar 11, 2019

U.S. not the guarantor of peace in Afghanistan

There may need to be some residual intelligence or special operations capability to make sure there is never an attack against the United States. I'm encouraged to see the peace talks taking place in Doha. If the Taliban are really serious about being ready to lay down their arms, that's a good sign. But I'm also concerned that the Afghan government seems to be an afterthought, because the peace needs to be sustainable. We can't be the guarantors of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Source: CNN Town Hall: back-to-back 2020 presidential hopefuls , Mar 10, 2019

Pull troops out of Afghanistan, but not Syria

Buttigieg says his experience serving as a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan helped shaped his views. Buttigieg supports pulling troops out of Afghanistan, but has criticized Trump's plans to withdraw from Syria.
Source: PBS Newshour on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 15, 2019

Afghanistan war was "outsourced" to the few in uniform

[After 9/11], little was said about personal sacrifice at home for the purpose of winning a national conflict. Kids in World War II saved tinfoil from gum wrappers for the war effort, women reused nylon stockings as many times as possible, and everyone then knew why they were being asked to pay much higher taxes. This time around, it seemed that the war effort was wholly outsourced to those few Americans who served in uniform. America tripped over itself to salute them, without seeming to consider the possibility that civilians, too, could accept some risk or pay some contribution into the cause of freedom.

We might have had, in those years, a more serious conversation about what each of us owes to the country in a time of conflict.

Source: Shortest Way Home, by Pete Buttigieg, p. 49 , Feb 12, 2019

Not realistic to demand "with us or with the terrorists"

Soon president [Buh in 2002] was telling us that "either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists," a dictum impossible for America to uphold or enforce in the case of Pakistan and many other states playing the three-dimensional chess game of geopolitics in the Islamic world. Next it was an "Axis of Evil," and so on. For the home front, the message was that we would be kept safe through the deployment of force and the acceptance of some encroachments on our freedom and privacy. And also, for some reason, we would need to invade Iraq.

Democrats, unsure of themselves, were afraid to sound like an opposition at all, and many carefully avoided opposing the Iraq War for fear of looking unpatriotic. (Some, particularity Hillary Clinton, would come to regret this posturing.) Instead they tried to change the subject, emphasizing Social Security and Medicare, even though global security was the dominant issue of our moment--even in Indiana.

Source: Shortest Way Home, by Pete Buttigieg, p. 50 , Feb 12, 2019

2002 Iraq War made no strategic sense, even if WMDs existed

[In 2002] our president declared that Saddam Hussein must disarm his chemical and biological weapons, and vow, "If he won't do so voluntarily we will disarm him."

The tough talk was rousing, but it made no strategic sense. Saddam was a notoriously sinister dictator whose top priority, as with all dictators, was his own survival. It followed that he viewed his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons (as most of us believed he had) as an insurance policy to keep him in power. He would only part with them voluntarily if it would benefit his personal security--an unlikely course for someone who did not trust America. But actually using them would almost certainly lead to his destruction, so he had every reason to sit on his weapons if he had them. The only scenario where he might use them would be if he had nothing to lose by doing so--and now by invading, we were poised to create that very situation.

He didn't have any WMDs--and so they were not there to be used against American troops.

Source: Shortest Way Home, by Pete Buttigieg, p. 51-2 , Feb 12, 2019

2002: opposed Iraq War because believed WMDs would be used

It turns out that most of us, for and against the war, were wrong about the Saddam's WMDs. He didn't have any--and so they were not there to be used against American troops.

Iraq fell quickly, and for a moment it seemed that the invasion was a vindication of American intervention abroad. Protesters like me looked foolish. Sure, the pretext for war was actually false, but who could quibble over that, as a brutal dictatorship was being turned into a model democracy at relatively little cost to America?

Then the suicide bombings began. We were not, as the administration had promised, "greeted as liberators." A well-functioning democracy did not emerge. And the ensuing chaos made it clear that the administration had not planned for the aftermath of the invasion, as Iraqi cities became a kill zone for our troops. We who were against the invasion had been wrong about the weapons, but right about the war. The administration had been wrong about both.

Source: Shortest Way Home, by Pete Buttigieg, p. 52 , Feb 12, 2019

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