How Pete Buttigieg went from war protester to serving in Afghanistan

He was the brainy son of two Notre Dame professors, but the armed forces held an allure.

…After graduation, he continued to work in party politics, campaigning in Arizona for John F. Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid. When Kerry lost, Buttigieg’s boss, future assistant defense secretary Doug Wilson, invited him to Washington.

“I think he was interested in coming back with me because he saw this as an opportunity to learn about foreign policy and international affairs.”

…He became increasingly active in Democratic politics and increasingly opposed to the national security policies of President George W. Bush.

…Buttigieg quickly fell in with Democrats who were supportive of military power even as they condemned the way it was wielded by the Bush White House. They called themselves the Truman National Security Project.

…Buttigieg finished his degree in economics at Oxford in 2007 and moved to the Chicago office of McKinsey & Co. For the next year, the consulting gig that would make him an expert in grocery pricing also gave him his first taste of a war zone. Buttigieg visited Iraq and Afghanistan as part of U.S. government-funded projects to stimulate private-sector development in countries still engulfed in violence.

…It was only after Barack Obama was elected, and just months before Buttigieg would launch his own political career, that he finally walked into the recruiting office.

Only then did he decide to join a conflict that six years earlier he had denounced from the stage of an antiwar rally.

…Buttigieg, Peter, 27-year-old Harvard grad. Polyglot Rhodes scholar. McKinsey management consultant. Nordic poetry fan.

…Because of his pedigree, Buttigieg glided straight into the Navy Reserve’s direct-commission officers program, bypassing the more time-consuming training route of other branches.

…Buttigieg was sworn in as an ensign in September 2009. A few months later, he announced he would challenge Indiana’s Republican state treasurer, Richard Mourdock, in the 2010 election. 

…Buttigieg made little of the fact that he was a Midwestern mayor, not even telling the roommate who shared his trailer. His liberal politics were also a mystery to his commander, a Mormon and staunch conservative.

…He [now] believed that the Afghan war was a necessary response to the 9/11 attacks but that it had gone on too long.

How Pete Buttigieg went from war protester to serving in Afghanistan – The Washington Post


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