Former Obama Admin Foreign Policy Officials Endorse Pete Buttigieg In Letter

Foreign policy and national security professionals who worked under former President Barack Obama endorsed South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for president Monday.

The endorsement letter, signed by more than 200 people, said Buttigieg's intelligence, steadiness, demeanor and understanding of the world were characteristics that were necessary for a president to possess. Shared with USA Today, it said Buttigieg could lead America past President Donald Trump without returning to life before Trump, claiming they had "great respect" for Obama's administration but there are new challenges and issues that need to be addressed.

"We believe in America's international leadership, and in the values that underpin its capability to bring about collective security and prosperity, as well as change for the greater good," the authors said in the letter. "So we cannot stand by and continue to watch all that we have stood and worked for tweeted away."

To implement consistent and effective national and foreign policy, the signatories said a leader must be able to see the big picture and play the long game, two "essential traits" Buttigieg holds. The signatories included former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, former Deputy CIA director David Cohen and former Assistant Secretary of the State Philip Gordon, who all worked under Obama.

Buttigieg outlined some of his foreign policy plans at a speech in June at Indiana University. Among his presidential plans are to recommit to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, rejoin the Paris climate accord and combat right-wing extremists within America's borders.

On his campaign website,Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran, declared it was time to "put an end to endless war," requiring the reinvention of institutions of international engagement. Part of achieving this goal, Buttigieg said in his June speech was repealing and replacing a 2001 law that authorizes military action against Al Qaeda and "affiliated groups."

pete buttigieg obama admin endorsements
Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a campaign event on December 8, 2019, at Washington Middle School in Washington, Iowa. On Monday, several foreign policy officials who worked under former President Barack Obama endorsed Buttigieg for president. Win McNamee/Getty

His June speech won over the signatories of Monday's letter and they wrote it demonstrated he had a grasp of the "integrated idealism and pragmatism" that's key to American foreign policy success.

"This Midwestern native's vision for the future of American global engagement–grounded in these values and in the interests of his fellow Americans in communities throughout the country–defines the framework necessary to restore our country's leadership abroad," the authors wrote.

As the letter propped up Buttigieg, it also lobbed criticism at Trump for his approach to leading America at home and abroad. Once a country that was a global beacon for the contribution of immigrants, the United States has become a place where Trump has replaced the Statue of Liberty with a wall, the authors wrote. Instead of bringing nations together, preventing nuclear weapons from spreading and fighting climate change, Trump has withdrawn from treaties, berated allies and praised authoritarian leaders, they said.

"We have proudly represented a nation that has long stood for the
values, opportunities and promise to which so many around the world have aspired," they wrote. "...That is why we have all watched with alarm and disbelief at the loss of American credibility and leadership around the world over the past three years."

In contrast, Buttigieg is the son of an immigrant father, "engaged deeply" to learn about cultures outside of his own and understands that change can not "victimize some among us but works for all of us."

Buttigieg's risen in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, two key states, making him a target of the other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. Considered a moderate on the Democratic stage, Buttigieg leads with voters over the age of 50, according to The Hill.

Nationally, Buttigieg still trails behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who received his own share of Obama official endorsements, and as well as behind Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. On Sunday, actor Kevin Costner endorsed the Indiana mayor for president at a rally.