BUTTIGIEG BEHIND THE SCENES: Pete Buttigieg's expansive foreign policy speech was designed to prove that he's more than just a millennial mayor from South Bend, Indiana. The former naval intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan, who has skyrocketed from a relatively unknown commodity to a top-tier Democratic candidate, clearly wants to be seen as commander in chief material.
That's also why Buttigieg is staffing up with boldfaced names in the foreign policy realm, while many of his peers in the Democratic primary have yet to do so.
Doug Wilson, the campaign's co-lead on national security and foreign policy, says the advisers — whose names will be familiar to many in Washington — are drawn to Buttigieg because they see his campaign as “a vehicle for intelligent engagement.”
- “On issue after issue and certainly, I think as a result of this speech — Pete has proved he is definitely an adult in the national security room,” Wilson told Power Up.
- The timing of Tuesday's speech: Concerned that Buttigieg's foreign policy credentials and passion for international engagement would be overshadowed by the “misperception that somebody who was the mayor of a Midwestern city would not interested in nor capable of engaging on international issues, all of us agreed with Pete that was important to disprove that early on,” Wilson said.
Wilson himself, who served as assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs during the Obama administration, is a known commodity in town. He's the first openly gay individual to be confirmed by the Senate to a senior Pentagon position and played a key role in the repeal of “don't ask, don't tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military. He has known Buttigieg for 15 years when they first met working on John F. Kerry's presidential campaign.
Others leading and advising Mayor Pete on a range of national security issues include:
- Ned Price, former National Security Council spokesperson in the Obama administration
- Ambassador Robert Holleyman, the U.S. Deputy Trade Representative under former president Barack Obama
- Amanda Sloat, former deputy assistant secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs at the State Department
- Tarek Ghani, a nonresident fellow of the global economy and development program at the Brookings Institution
- 100 experts: Politico's Elena Schneider reported that Buttigieg's “foreign policy brain trust. includes more than 100 experts, largely working in a volunteer capacity.”
It's many of the younger leaders who are flocking to Buttigieg, who has described himself as a “product of the 9/11 generation” and fixates on a vision for what the country should look like beyond 2050, even as former vice president Joe Biden secured some of the most experienced former Obama senior officials on his campaign team.
- They can relate: “[Buttigieg] sees the world that they live in, and he sees it as it is. And — like him — they have thoughts about how to engage productively in it,” Wilson said.
- Seeking new ideas: “They are putting forth those ideas, and are not being asked for conventional, canned talking points . . . This is an opportunity for them to convey their ideas, and hopefully make them happen.”
Wilson says that “people of Pete's generation” need to focus on international issues today that will have consequences 50 years down the line. Here are some of the key elements of Buttigieg's plan in a nutshell:
- Rejoin the Paris climate accord: He's prioritizing climate change as a national security issue.
- Rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement: Buttigieg said in his speech it's “perhaps as close to the real ‘art of the deal’ as diplomatic achievements get.”
- Repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force: Buttigieg wants “an end to endless war.” He wants to narrow the president's authority for unilateral use of force abroad, which he said must reach an “exceedingly high bar” in order for the U.S. to intervene.
- Israel: Block U.S. funding for any action by Israeli that supports the annexation of the West Bank.
- “Get tough with China”: Buttigieg wants to call them out for “authoritarian capitalism” and undermining of liberal values, while engaging with them as a partner to combat international issues like terrorism and climate change.
- Think about what's going on at home: “The world needs America to be in touch with our own communities,” Buttigieg said in his speech. “A foreign policy for 2054 must be grounded in the everyday lives of communities across the United States . . . In my White House, we will.”
- “This is a framework speech,” Wilson told us. “Not a laundry list of the kitchen sink. It’s a direction for thinking. A sense of how we can approach the world on issues as current as the Iran JCPOA and as long-term as climate change.”
While Buttigieg's speech provided obvious contrasts and jabs to Trump — ahem, saying he would never exchange “love letters with a brutal dictator” in an obvious allusion to North Korea — he also diffentiated himself from the rest of the pack in the Democratic primary.
- Buttigieg's generational approach is getting noticed: It's clear Biden has not sought to “revisit any of his assumptions,” a foreign policy expert who is advising another Democratic candidate told us. “[Biden] is about pre-Trump restorationism — let's go back to the way things were. We had it right.”
- Warren and Sanders, meanwhile, focused on a “narrative about stepping up against the so called axis of authoritarianism,” the expert said.
- A third way: Buttigieg “very smartly carved out a third way by crafting a foreign policy that is future oriented, moderate, and pragmatic but doesn't frame things in ideological terms.”
- 'Implicit contrast': “Biden will have to answer for the Iraq War, use of force and a record that the American people might be pretty unhappy with so what he is doing is setting up an implicit contrast,” the adviser added.
Buttigieg is also earning plaudits for taking specific international issues and making them relatable to everyday Americans — making them “kitchen table kind of issues,” Graham Brookie, a National Security Council adviser in the Obama administration, told us.
- One policy in particular: “He was able to take an issue that has effected millions of Americans and defined two decades of American foreign policy around one very specific thing in Congress, and talk about it in a way that connects with real people — that's the 2001 AUMF,” Brookie told us. “It wasn’t just platitudes about forever wars: he connected it to the very specific policy, and said that if the next Democratic administration doesn’t repeal the AUMF, we will be fighting al-Qaeda on Mars in the year 3000.”
At the White House
SANDERS OUT: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is leaving the administration at the end of June after 23 months on the job.
- “She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job!” he wrote. “I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas — she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”
- At an unrelated event later that day in the East Room, Trump thanked Sanders on stage before planting a kiss on the side of her head: “We’ve been through a lot together. She’s tough and she’s good... She’s a warrior,” Trump told the crowd.
KIM KARDASHIAN WEST RETURNS TO THE WHITE HOUSE: This time it was "to join President Trump to talk about improving former inmates’ lives and their transition home following incarceration," our colleague Sarah Polus reports. "Sporting a chic bob and an oversize deep-green blazer, Kardashian West spoke alongside a host of criminal justice advocates and Trump to highlight his administration’s second-chance hiring and reentry initiative."
- KKW announces additional support: She "announced a new ride-hailing program that will allocate gift cards to former inmates and allow them to use the rides to get to job interviews and their workplaces," Sarah writes, as a way to address the difficulty former inmates encounter in searching for employment. "Kardashian West thanked Trump for his dedication to the cause she’s devoted herself to. 'To get the president’s support and see it come to fruition was magic."
IRAN TENSIONS: “The perilous contest between the United States and Iran for influence in the Middle East escalated dramatically on Thursday as two tankers were targeted in suspected attacks near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway for global oil shipments,” our colleagues Erin Cunningham, Anne Gearan and Carol Morello report.
- “The blasts appeared to be a coordinated attack, damaging the hull of a Japanese-owned tanker and striking a Norwegian-owned vessel, which caught fire and was left adrift in the Gulf of Oman,” Erin, Anne and Carol write. “The incidents were similar to suspected acts of sabotage carried out against tankers near the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah last month and looked to be the latest salvo in the mounting confrontation between the United States and Iran.”
- “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the 'blatant assault' on the vessels and said the United States would defend itself and its allies against Iranian aggression in the region. But he provided no evidence that the explosions had been the work of Iranian forces.”
- Iran denies any involvement: “Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the incidents Thursday as 'suspicious,' and Iran’s naval forces said they were investigating the ‘accident’ in the Gulf of Oman."
- Experts say we’re creeping toward conflict: “This is a way station to a wider conflict breaking out between Iran and the United States,” Ali Vaez, senior Iran analyst and Iran project director for the International Crisis Group told our colleagues.
ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD: Protests are set to continue this weekend in Hong Kong over a proposed extradition bill with mainland China while the State Department is sending a special envoy to Sudan after government forces implemented a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters earlier this month.
The latest on Hong Kong:
- Congress steps in: A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), from both sides of the Capitol reintroduced legislation on Thursday that would require an annual justification for the special treatment Hong Kong receives in U.S. trade relations.
- The fight over extradition: Protesters have panned the bill saying it would erode the semiautonomous power Hong Kong holds in its relationship with mainland China, an agreement rooted in the city’s distinct political and cultural history and also open the door to Beijing to crackdown on political dissidents.
- The government is not backing down: Thus far, while Hong Kong’s legislature has delayed consideration of the extradition bill, in part due to protesters blocking access to the building lawmakers have not backed down for the bill itself.
The latest on Sudan:
- Diplomatic track: Diplomatic veteran Donald Booth joined the top America diplomat to Africa, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tibor Nagy who is in Khartoum for meetings with both parties, NBC News’s Abigail Williams reports. “State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the U.S. representatives will be urging the Sudanese security forces to end the attacks on civilians, withdraw the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) from Khartoum, and allow an independent investigation of the recent violence,” Williams writes.
- The situation on the ground: Longtime President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown after months of protests in April by the military, but negotiations between pro-democracy protesters and security forces broke down on June 3 after the military scuttled an agreement that included a three-year transition to civilian rule. That announcement, according to the BBC’s helpful guide, came shortly after security forces attacked protesters killing at least 61 people, the government’s claim, or possibly as many as 118.
EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Trump tells @GStephanopoulos he never suggested firing special counsel Robert Mueller—and what ex-White House counsel Don McGahn told Mueller “doesn’t matter." https://t.co/KcBTRmDQHH pic.twitter.com/wG3z1TqJIw— ABC News (@ABC) June 14, 2019
In the Media
IN OTHER NEWS:
- 5 years and counting...: Mich. Prosecutors Drop Charges In Flint Water Investigation, But Promise New Probe. By NPR News’s Richard Gonzales.
- Long read: The Leaders of These Sinking Countries Are Fighting to Stop Climate Change. Here's What the Rest of the World Can Learn. By Time Magazine’s Justin Worland.
- She “knows photo op when she sees one”: Louise Linton, aka Mrs. Steven Mnuchin, Is Sorry. By Los Angeles Magazine’s Maer Roshan.
- Swamp update: Elaine Chao Sells Vulcan Stock Holdings. By the WSJ’s Ted Mann and Brody Mullins.
- 'You Need to Calm Down': Swift calls out homophobes on new song, announces 7th album. By the Associated Press’s Mesfin Fekadu.
- Must read: Nazis Killed Her Father. Then She Fell in Love With One. By the New York Times’s Katrin Bennhold.
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal: The Story of My Abortion. By Pramila Jayapal for the New York Times.
Dear President Trump...
I would not have thought that I needed to say this. pic.twitter.com/T743CsXq79— Ellen L Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) June 13, 2019