Pete Buttigieg on Homeland Security
Democratic Presidential Challenger; IN Mayor
BUTTIGIEG: We need to re-prioritize our budget as a whole and our military spending in particular. It's not just how much, although we certainly need to look at the runaway growth in military spending. It's also where. Right now, we are spending a fraction of the attention and resources on things like the artificial intelligence research that China is doing right now. If we fall behind on artificial intelligence, the most expensive ships that the United States is building just turned into bigger targets. We do not have a 21st century security strategy coming from this president. After all, he's relying on 17th century security technologies, like a moat full of alligators or a big wall. There is no concept of strategic planning for how civilian, diplomatic, and military security work needs to take place for the future.
And so when I am president, an authorization for the use of military force will have a built-in three-year sunset. Congress will be required to vote and a president will be required to go to Congress to seek an authorization. Because if our troops can summon the courage to go overseas, the least our members of Congress should be able to do is summon the courage to take a vote on whether they ought to be there.
I'll tell you, as a military officer, the very first thing that goes through your mind, the first time you ever make eye contact with somebody that you are responsible for in uniform, is do not let these men and women down. This president is doing exactly that. I will not.
EIGHT CANDIDATES HAVE SIMILAR VIEWS: Michael Bennet; Joseph Biden, Jr.; Cory Booker; John Hickenlooper; Amy Klobuchar; Seth Moulton; Beto O`Rourke; Tim Ryan.
Other Democratic contenders align with the more moderate--or even hawkish--wing of the Democratic party and support larger defense budgets, especially in key areas they consider high priorities.
Why it matters: This is a new window into Buttigieg's unusual experience of serving as a 32-year-old, then returning to resume his job as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. "Of course, it's the effect of having been exposed to danger," Buttigieg said. "I think, also, some moral pressure." He continued, "Any time, in any way, you are even remotely involved in killing, it takes something out of you, and it takes a lot of work to process that." Buttigieg told me the feeling lasted about a year, and that he never felt he needed medical treatment.
Buttigieg, who was an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve, noted that "It's the displacement--the fact that you are trying to come back into a civilian world whose rules are just different than when you were deployed."
In the coming decades, we are more likely than ever to face insurgencies, asymmetric attacks, and high-tech strikes with cyber weapons or drones. Yet our latest defense budget calls for spending more on 3 Virginia-class submarines-- $10.2 billion--than on cyber defenses. It proposes spending more on a single frigate than on artificial intelligence and machine learning. We need to look not only at how much we're spending on our military but what we're prioritizing.
History was back, and our generation's project had been abruptly reassigned--that yesterday we had been absorbed in Clinton-era concerns around globalization, the distribution of wealth, and the consequences of technology. Like laws of physics, these forces were animating our affairs all along.
The responses were largely knee-jerk; a PATRIOT Act that undercut the freedoms that define America, and several quick steps down the slippery slope to torture. So slow were we to realize how fundamentally different this was than wars we had studied in school or seen in movies that by October we were bargaining against our own values, moving steadily and surely into the jaws of a trap that Al-Qaeda had laid for us.
The Iraq troop surge was winding down but not yet over. Afghanistan, mostly out of view, was simmering. Yellow ribbons were everywhere, and more than once I would knock on a door and get into a conversation with a young man who told me he would love to go to the caucus on Thursday and vote, but couldn't because he was packing up for Basic Training. [He signed up].
In 1956, a majority of the graduating classes of Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton joined the military. But in the decades that followed, the once-diverse makeup of our military shifted drastically , especially after Vietnam.
As I reflected on it, I realized that my arrival at Harvard coincided with the near-disappearance of my own childhood interest in serving. At a younger age, when I had hoped to be an astronaut or a pilot, service in uniform was very much on the table. Indeed, on my mother's side, it was a family tradition. [He signed up for the military].
Recognizing Vietnam Veterans Day has only begun in the last few years, but it quickly became another occasion for me to see how important a symbolic act can be. Some of the vet's eyes water. It's clear to them the honor however late in their lives, is meaningful. One of them tells me he was 18 when he went, "They called me a baby-killer when I got back," he says, staring into the distance.
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Incoming 2021 Biden Administration:
Domestic Policy:Susan Rice
Public Liaison:Cedric Richmond
Former Trump Administration:
Former Obama Administration:
Former Bush Administration:
Pres.:George W. Bush
Former Clinton Administration: