Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg refused to say whether he supports current levels of military aid to Israel or keeping troops in Afghanistan, two of the many important foreign policy questions he dodged in a New York Times survey.
Every major remaining Democratic presidential candidate responded to a Times survey featuring 36 questions on 11 foreign policy topics, but the former South Bend mayor was the only one who did not answer a majority of the questions.
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Among the 19 questions Buttigieg left blank:
- "Should respect for Hong Kong’s political independence, under the terms of the handover agreement with Britain, be a prerequisite for normal relations and trade with China?"
- "Should normal relations and trade be contingent on China’s closing its internment camps for Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups?"
- "Should the United States maintain its current level of military aid to Israel? If not, how should the level of aid change?"
- "Would American troops be in Afghanistan at the end of your first term? If so, would you limit those troops' mission to counterterrorism and intelligence gathering?"
Buttigieg did not answer a single question on China, U.S. cyber policy, NATO, or Afghanistan.
Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar and former vice president Joe Biden each declined to answer three questions. Klobuchar did not answer questions about using military action to protect oil supplies, preempting North Korean and Iranian nuclear tests, or whether she would give nonmilitary aid to opposition efforts in Venezuela. Biden did not answer questions about the legality of Trump's military strike that killed Iranian terror leader Qassem Soleimani, whether he would rule out any type of attack on Iran, or whether he would gradually lift sanctions on North Korea.
Foreign policy is considered a potential weakness for Buttigieg, whose highest public office was serving as mayor of Indiana's fourth-largest city. Sarah Palin, former Republican governor of Alaska, faced similar criticism during her 2008 vice presidential run. With his surprise strong finish in Monday's Iowa caucus—he remains virtually tied with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) as tallying continues—Buttigieg is the only Democratic candidate who has won delegates but never held office at the federal level.
The Buttigieg campaign has responded to these criticisms by soliciting the endorsement of more than 200 Democratic foreign policy experts, who noted that the Navy veteran "travelled the world and served his country abroad" and "has engaged deeply to learn about other cultures and learn their languages."