BUTTIGIEG ENTERED THE ANTI-ISRAEL ECHO CHAMBER
adopted Obama’s foreign policy.
Date: June 17, 2019
Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an
investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic
Last year, Pete Buttigieg, then the mayor of a failing
Indiana city with a small Jewish community, and with unlikely aspirations for
higher office, visited Israel. He suggested that Israel's approach to security
offered "a very important lesson in that that hopefully Americans can look
Buttigieg had joined an American Jewish Committee
delegation of mayors and came
back with a seeming understanding of Israel’s precarious security
situation and the danger of simplistic solutions.
“One of the first things that was very clear to us
is that there is not a unified or single voice for the Palestinian people. Most
people aren’t aware of the difference between what’s happening in Gaza, run
by Hamas in a way that is contributing to a lot of misery there, but also
totally different than an environment where you would have a negotiating partner
across the table," he observed.
Fast forward a year and Buttigieg is running for president
and threatening to cut aid to Israel.
In his foreign policy address, he falsely claimed that
"the Netanyahu government is turning away from peace" and warned
Israel, while, referring to himself in the third person, that "President
Buttigieg would take steps to ensure that American taxpayers won’t help foot
What happened? There are two answers.
When Buttigieg was running a conservative city with an
active Jewish and Christian community, where it’s not unusual to see churches
flying the Israeli flag, it was safe for him to be more pro-Israel. On the
campaign trail of a radical primary, where anti-Israel protesters dogged his
steps, things changed.
But the bigger answer goes inside the foreign policy
factory to see how the sausage gets made.
Buttigieg’s foreign policy team is headed by Doug Wilson.
Wilson, Obama's Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and the
highest-ranking gay Pentagon official, is an obvious choice. Wilson chairs the
Board of Advisors at the Truman National Security Project making him the guy to
talk to for 2020 Democrats like Buttigieg interested in developing a foreign
policy position at the national level.
The second member of Buttigieg’s foreign policy advisory
team named in the media is Tarek Ghani, the son
of Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, a Paul and Daisy Soros
Fellow, who is a senior economic advisor to the other Soros’ International
Crisis Group. There is an obvious conflict with the son of the president of
Afghanistan advising a man running to be the president of the United States.
But the most crucial name on the team list is Ned Price.
Price was the deputy of Ben Rhodes. As Obama’s National
Security Council spokesman, Price worked closely together with Rhodes, who had
boasted of creating an echo chamber in the media.
That echo chamber manufactured a pro-Iran and anti-Israel
A New York Times story profiled the echo chamber
in action as Rhodes used Price to spin the crisis that ensued when Iran took ten
American sailors hostage and humiliated them in front of the world.
Ned Price, a former Clinton donor, threw $1,200 to
Buttigieg. It was the largest donation to come from a member of the Obama
foreign complex topping Susan Rice’s cool thousand. Price had
previously backed Hillary Clinton. But he broke out a $250 check to
Buttigieg in January and then another $1,000 in March.
Those were Price’s only donations in the 2020 race.
Rhodes’ deputy had picked his man.
When Buttigieg delivered his speech bashing Israel and
touting the Iran Deal, the echo chamber’s fingerprints were already all over
it. The 2016 election didn’t kill the echo chamber. It just morphed into
National Security Action, a group co-chaired by Rhodes, which included Price,
aimed at, among other things, preserving the Iran Deal which protected the
terror regime’s pathway to nuclear capabilities.
That’s what Buttigieg promised in his foreign policy
The attacks on Israel and support for the Iran Deal are a
staple of Rhodesian foreign policy. Prime Minister Netanyahu had defined his
foreign policy by opposition to Iran’s nuclear program, Obama had defined his
support for aiding Iran’s nuclear ambitions with sustained attacks on
Netanyahu. Buttigieg has followed the same pattern of repeatedly attacking
Netanyahu to protect his standing on Israel.
After his Israel trip last year, he seemed to understand
that simplistic solutions like negotiations were not a real answer. As he
conceded at the time, there wasn’t even a single voice to negotiate with.
Now, Buttigieg has embraced the Obama tactic of accusing
Israel of refusing to negotiate a solution.
Buttigieg’s lines of attack on Israel, the false claims
that Israel had gone far to the right, that it did not care about peace, and
that the two-state solution was the only way it could survive as a Jewish state
are cut and pasted directly from the Obama foreign policy scrapbook. They’re
flashbacks to 2015.
That’s not because Obama is whispering in Buttigieg’s
ear. But the guy whispering in Obama’s ear is.
A memo profiling the echo chamber had been passed around
the National Security Council last year. Price had appeared in the memo as one
of a number of “likely operations officers”. Ronan Farrow, a co-author of a New
Yorker piece attacking the memo, had just released a new book, War on
Peace which repeatedly quoted Rhodes. Farrow has also authored a number of
hit pieces targeting Israeli supporters.
The chamber was alive and well. And had plenty of media
The Atlantic claimed that Buttigieg’s foreign policy
speech channeled Truman, not Obama. The claim was so absurd that it might have
come from the echo chamber. Buttigieg’s foreign policy was not only being
shaped by Obama vets like Price and Wilson, but the actual policies he proposed,
treating global warming as a national security crisis, crawling back to Iran and
bashing Israel, were Obama classics.
Even his call to end the AUMF, the authorization of
military force passed after 9/11, is an Obama policy.
Buttigieg’s speech called for repealing the AUMF to end
“endless war”. Obama’s 2015 speech calling for the AUMF repeal had also
warned of “endless war”. Even the rhetoric consists of the same dated clichés.
Media accounts touting Buttigieg praise his original policy
vision. But a leader with an original policy vision doesn’t need to surround
himself with Obama retreads like Wilson and Price. If Buttigieg really wanted to
define a new foreign policy vision, he wouldn’t sound exactly like an Obama
The echo chamber speaking through Buttigieg’s pursed lips
is praising its puppet for his original vision.
Buttigieg hasn’t outsourced his foreign policy to
Obama’s echo chamber because he knows what he’s doing. Despite the media
spin about his experience, his knowledge of foreign languages, and his time
abroad, he’s so clueless that he just signed on the dotted line for every
failed Obama foreign policy.
That may be one reason the echo chamber chose him. Another
is that he sounds so much like Obama. The pros who wrote for Obama don’t have
to bother learning to shape their message to another voice.
Buttigieg’s rhetoric, the warnings that the clock cannot
be turned back, the impossible call for a holistic worldview for dealing with
world problems, disguising military cuts as modernization and veiling the lack
of a meaningful policy in sermonizing are all the classic parts of an Obama
foreign policy speech.
There’s a good reason for that.
As the New York Times documented, what we think
of an Obama’s voice was often Rhodes’ voice. At one point, Rhodes wonders,
“I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.” It’s getting harder
to tell where Obama ends, where Rhodes ends, where Ned Price ends and where