Home | All Candidates | Arms Trade Treaty | Arms Sales to Saudi Coalition | Firearms Export Oversight
Peter Buttigieg was born in 1982 and graduated with an A.B. from Harvard University in 2004 and a B.A. from Oxford in 2007. He served in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer from 2007 to 2017 and has been mayor of his native town, South Bend, Indiana, from 2011 to the present.
Arms Trade Treaty
Buttigieg's position on this issue is unknown. He has stated that he values many of the principles underlying the Arms Trade Treaty, but in the Amnesty International questionnaire that explicitly discussed the treaty, his response did not mention it.
Response to Amnesty International questionnaire, June 2019
“Arms sales are not simply a commercial transaction but an act of foreign policy. The US has a responsibility to ensure that what we sell doesn’t contribute to humanitarian crises and human rights abuses.
- Arms sales: In 2019, the United States announced it would revoke its signature of the Arms Trade Treaty, a landmark instrument that ensures arms transfers are not used to fuel conflicts, atrocities, and abuses. Two of the United States’ largest weapons importers are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have used weapons to commit human rights violations against Yemeni children and civilians and to blockade ports of entry to restrict aid from entering Yemen, thereby placing 11 million Yemenis at risk of famine. Nonetheless, the U.S. continues to build the military capacity of the Saudi-Emirati coalition, making the U.S. complicit in creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
- What can the U.S. do to ensure U.S. arms are not used to perpetuate human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law?
Potential arms transfers should be vetted and conditioned on recipients’ human rights records. This means applying the Leahy law to arms sales and greater scrutiny to sales in high-risk or conflict areas, and knowing how American weapons are used once they leave our shores. When conditions on the ground change, so should the conditions on our sales — which may mean a willingness to reject transfers that don’t reflect our values.
Transparency around potential transfers must also be improved, and affected stakeholders in both the US and the recipient country should be consulted for their views.
We need not be overly concerned that some partners will turn to others for their weapons on the basis of these minimal requirements: partners prefer to buy American goods for their quality, interoperability, and “total package” approach of training and maintenance. If our partners cannot abide by basic human rights standards, it’s better they find others to supply their arms. There’s scant evidence that more responsible arms transfers would damage the American economy or cost American jobs. We know from recent experience that the costs of not fully taking partner behavior into account are much higher."
Arms Sales to Saudi Coalition
Buttigieg explicitly supports ending arms sales and military support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. He opposes most forms of indirect assistance, with the exception of intelligence-sharing.
Response to Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, July 30, 2019
“The United States must halt military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. The brutal war has brought the country to the verge of famine and killed tens of thousands of civilians. As president, I would suspend all arms sales to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the Yemen war, but also cut off the spare parts and maintenance for equipment needed to prolong that war. Ending our own involvement in the war in Yemen is just a first step. We need to increase our diplomatic efforts and work with our allies to end the conflict itself, which has generated the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and helped to spread extremism.
We must also reset our relationship with Saudi Arabia, so that our interests and values drive the relationship -- not the other way around. Our strongest alliances must be founded upon shared commitments to international law and human rights. We must be pragmatic about intelligence-sharing: totally stopping such cooperation could hinder our ability to detect and thwart threats emanating from Yemen, including from the regional al-Qaeda affiliate. But the Saudi government should not get a pass on the state-sponsored murder of an American resident abroad, nor should they be able to buy our silence on human rights abuses -- including killing civilians in Yemen and supporting extremist ideology across the Muslim world -- through purchases of US weapons.”
Firearms Export Oversight
Buttigieg’s position on this issue is unknown. He supports banning assault-style weapons domestically, but has not directly addressed broader export oversight rules.
"An Action Plan to Combat the National Threat Posed by Hate and the Gun Lobby", published in Medium, August 5, 2019
“Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. In the two decades since Columbine, America has barely changed its national gun laws, besides letting an assault weapons ban expire. As a veteran, I know that military-grade weapons have no place in our neighborhoods. The same is true for high-capacity magazines, some of which can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition and significantly increase a shooter’s ability to injure and kill large numbers of people quickly without needing to reload. We’ve already decided that certain weaponry — like tanks and rockets — are unacceptable in civilian hands. Congress should similarly reinstitute a federal assault weapons ban and ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition."