The insider: How national security mandarins groomed Pete Buttigieg and managed his future

Pledging to “end endless wars,” Pete Buttigieg claims he has “never been part of the Washington establishment.” But years before he was known as Mayor Pete, an influential DC network of military interventionists placed him on an inside track to power.

By Max Blumenthal

In his quest for front-runner status in the 2020 presidential campaign, Pete Buttigieg has crafted an image for himself as a maverick running against a broken establishment.

On the trail, he has invoked his distinction as the openly gay mayor of a de-industrialized Rust Belt town, as well as his experience as a Naval reserve intelligence officer who now claims to oppose “endless wars”.  He insists that “there’s energy for an outsider like me,” promoting himself as “an unconventional candidate.”


This July 11, Buttigieg rolled out his foreign policy platform in a carefully scripted appearance at Indiana University. Introduced by Lee Hamilton, a former Indiana congressman who was a fixture on the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees, Buttigieg blended a call to “end endless wars” with Cold War bluster directed at designated enemies.

Before an auditorium packed with the national press, he rattled off one of the more paranoid talking points of the Russiagate era, blaming President Vladimir Putin for fueling racism inside the US. He then attacked Trump for facilitating peace talks in Korea, slamming the president for exchanging “love letters” with “a brutal dictator,” referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

More recently, Buttigieg’s campaign pledged to “balance our commitment to end endless wars with the recognition that total isolationism is self-defeating in the long run.” This was the sort of Beltway doublespeak that defined the legacy of Barack Obama, another youthful, self-styled outsider from the Midwest who campaigned on his opposition to the Iraq war, only to sign off on more calamitous wars in the Middle East after he entered the White House.

On the presidential campaign trail, “Mayor Pete” has done his best to paper over the instincts he inherited from his benefactors among the national security state. But as the campaign drags on, his interventionist tendencies are increasingly exposed. Having padded his resume in America’s longest and most futile wars, he may be poised to extend them for a new generation to fight.