Pete Buttigieg attacked President Donald Trump for conducting foreign policy by tweet and laid out his own vision for U.S. policy abroad in a speech Tuesday morning, highlighted by his call to repeal the 2001 law that has been used to launch countless military interventions over nearly two decades since the start of the war in Afghanistan.
In an hour-long address at Indiana University, the South Bend, Ind., mayor and 2020 presidential candidate committed to returning to the nuclear deal forged with Iran, reentering the Paris Climate Accords and finding a two-state solution to conflict in Israel. Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan as a Navy intelligence officer, also framed parts of his foreign policy platform, particularly around military engagement, through personal terms.
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“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,” Buttigieg said. “We should never again send troops into conflict without a clear definition of their mission and an understanding of what comes after.”
Buttigieg sees foreign policy as a potential area of contrast in the Democratic presidential primary, which has largely focused on domestic policy so far. The mayor jabbed at Congress for being “asleep at the switch” by not addressing the “endless war” — though all seven of the Democratic senators running in 2020 did join Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) failed push to repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in 2017.
But Buttigieg trained much of his criticism on Trump, who he slammed as having “little regard for strategy and no preparation for their long-term consequences.” He also attacked Trump’s relationship with North Korea’s Kim Jung Un.
“You will not see me exchanging love letters 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,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg also chided his own party for lacking a coherent foreign policy strategy of its own.
“For the better part of my lifetime, it has been difficult to identify a consistent foreign policy in the Democratic Party either,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg also emphasized the United States’ need for “next-generation” leadership, a message the 37-year-old has leaned into during his presidential run.
“In our lifetimes, the choices of the generations now living may well fashion more than our share of history,” Buttigieg said. “The world needs America to be the best we’ve ever been, and America’s path falls to us.”
Buttigieg also touched on a smattering of other national security-related topics in his speech, including improving veterans’ health care, upgrading defense systems for cyberwarfare and increasing diversity in hiring for foreign policy positions.