While President Donald J. Trump’s views and policies on national security issues dominate press accounts and are often articulated on the White House and Department of Defense websites as well as in the President’s Twitter feed, the views of his would-be Presidential challengers are less well defined and known.

Throughout the 2020 Election Cycle, DSJ will be following the Presidential candidates and keeping a running list of defense industry-related comments and policy proposals. Bookmark this page and continue to check back for updates:

July 19 – Joe Sestak: “Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have recently reached dangerous new heights — which could result in spiraling reprisals devolving into war. Having served in the military, I know that militaries can stop a problem, but they can’t fix a problem. This is why I supported the Iran nuclear accord, and still support it today as the best framework for maintaining peace and security for us and our allies. As tensions continue to ratchet up, we must own up to the fact that we are to blame. We broke our word…

“…The Iran deal was working. As a solution to the problem of Iran developing nuclear weapons, it was actually working quite well. We need to return to the negotiating table. Diplomacy fixed this problem before. Diplomacy can do it again.”

July 15 – Joe Sestak: “I believe a negotiated settlement based on a two-state solution is best for Israel — our closest friend in the Middle East — and for the Palestinian people. A lasting peace is in everyone’s interest, including the rest of the region and the United States.”

“It’s why I said President Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem was a mistake that created yet another roadblock to peace. As President, I will work with Israel to take the responsible action of moving the embassy back to Tel Aviv, where it should remain until the final status of Jerusalem is settled through a bilateral agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.”

July 11 – Joe Biden: “The threat that I believe President Trump poses to our national security and where we are as a country is extreme.”

June 25 – Bernie Sanders: “The American people don’t want endless war. Neither do we want a foreign policy that is based on the logic that led to those wars and corroded our democracy: a logic that privileges military tools over diplomatic ones, aggressive unilateralism over multilateral engagement, and acquiescence to our undemocratic partners over the pursuit of core interests alongside democratic allies who truly share our values.”

In a speech entitled “Ending America’s Endless War” delivered at George Washington University and published in Foreign Affairs magazine, Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-NH) warns that if the United States were to attack Iran, as the Trump Administration has threatened, it “would be many times worse than the Iraq war.” He notes that “Tehran could use its proxies to retaliate against U.S. troops and partners in Iraq, Syria, Israel, and the Persian Gulf area” and that the “result would be the further, unimaginable destabilization of the Middle East, with wars that go on year after year and likely cost trillions of dollars.”

June 23 – Joe Sestak (US Navy Admiral, retired), in announcing his 2020 Presidential run: “Our country desperately needs a president with a depth of global experience and an understanding of all the elements of our nation’s power, from our economy and our diplomacy to the power of our ideals and our military, including its limitation.”

He added. “So that, when faced with the decision on whether to use our military, our commander in chief will know how it will end before deciding if it is wise to begin.”

June 21 – Joe Biden: “Trump’s erratic, impulsive actions are the last thing we need as Commander-in-Chief. No president should order a military strike without fully understanding the consequences. We don’t need another war in the Middle East, but Trump’s actions toward Iran only make that more likely.”

From Joe Biden’s campaign website: “The world is facing inescapable challenges: a rapidly changing climate, the risk of nuclear conflict, trade wars, a rising China and an aggressive Russia, millions of refugees seeking shelter and security, and attacks on universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. The next president must repair our relationships with our allies and stand up to strongmen and thugs on the global stage to rally the world to meet these challenges. We can reclaim our longstanding position as the moral and economic leader of the world.”

June 11 – Pete Buttigieg: “We need to look not only at how much we’re spending on our military, but what we’re prioritizing.”

In an hour-long foreign policy speech on June 11, South Bend Mayor and former Naval Reservist Pete Buttigieg spoke about how he would transform the military budget:

“The US has long sought to maintain total dominance in conventional war. But in the coming decades, we are more likely than ever to face insurgencies, asymmetric attacks, and high-tech strikes with cyber weapons or drones,” Buttigieg said. “Yet our latest defense budget calls for spending more on three Virginia-class submarines, $10.2 billion, than on cyber defenses. It proposes spending more on a single frigate than on artificial intelligence and machine learning. To adequately prepare for our evolving security challenges, we need to look not only at how much we’re spending on our military, but what we’re prioritizing.”

June 10 – Elizabeth Warren: “The White House is handing over sensitive smart bomb technology to Saudi Arabia. Enough.”

On June 10, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted out a New York Times article about how the Trump administrated authorized Raytheon to build high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia. Along with the article, Warren said: “Saudi Arabia’s coalition has killed Yemeni civilians with bombs stamped Made in America. Now the White House is handing over sensitive smart bomb technology to Saudi Arabia. Enough. Time to end support for this cruel and senseless war.”

June 6 – Seth Moulton: “If you were kicked out of the service because you’re gay … We’re going to restore your discharge”

Appearing on CNN on June 6, Democratic Congressman and former Marine Seth Moulton said “If you were kicked out of the service because you’re gay or you engaged in homosexual activity, then we are going to right that wrong. We’re going to restore your discharge, upgrading it to honorable discharge if you received an other-than-honorable discharge or dishonorable discharge because of just who you are.”

June 4 – Elizabeth Warren: “Even Silicon Valley is cashing in on the Pentagon’s corrupt contracting system”

On June 4, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted out an article from The Intercept about Oracle’s complaint over alleged conflict of interest and favoritism within the Department of Defense concerning the $10 billion JEDI program. On May 16, Warren introduced a bill that would put a 4-year ban on defense industry partners hiring DoD officials who managed their contracts.

“Even Silicon Valley is cashing in on the Pentagon’s corrupt contracting system,” Warren tweeted. “My … Ethics & Anti-Corruption Act … would lock the revolving door so that the Pentagon isn’t working for the benefit of past-and-future employers.”

June 3 – Julián Castro: “End the … 1033 program”

In a news release corresponding with his appearance at the MoveOn Ideas Forum, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro announced his three-pronged plan to reform policing and eliminate racial bias.

His plan included issuing “an executive order to end the transfer of tracked and wheeled armored vehicles, high-caliber rifles, aircraft equipped with weapons, grenade launchers, and other military weapons, vehicles, and equipment under the federal government’s 1033 program.” The 1033 program allows the Department of Defense to transfer excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies.

June 2 – Bernie Sanders: “We have got to stop endless wars. We have to cut military spending”

Appearing at the MoveOn Ideas Forum, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders talked about the need to stop the policy of endless wars which “has undermined the United States’ moral authority, caused allies to question our ability to lead, bankrupted our Treasury, and corroded our democracy.” Sanders also said:

  • He would “do everything in [his] power to stop a war with Iran”
  • Congress should repeal the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force

June 2 – Tusli Gabbard: “We cannot separate foreign policy from domestic policy”

In a Twitter video from an appearance on FoxNews, Hawaii Rep. and former Army National Guard officer Tulsi Gabbard argued that foreign policy and domestic policy cannot be separated: “Stupid regime change wars suck badly needed funds from our domestic needs such as healthcare, infrastructure, protecting the environment, and more.”

June 1 – Kirsten Gillibrand: “I would immediately rescind Trump’s … ban on transgender people serving openly in our military.”

On Sunday, the first day of Pride month, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand unveiled her LGBTQ platform in a post on Medium. Included in it, Gillibrand said she would:

  • “Immediately rescind Trump’s hateful and harmful ban on transgender people serving openly in our military”
  • “Charge the Department of Defense to end discrimination against service members in our military living with HIV.”

May 31 – Marianne Williamson: “America should embark on a 10- to 20-year plan for turning a wartime economy into a peace-time economy”

In a new National Security policy page unveiled on May 31, American Author Marianne Williamson released a plan that would “flip the script” to spend more on conflict prevention than the military. She also proposed reducing the military budget and re-inventing a “peace-time economy.”

“It would be ill-conceived and irresponsible to simply starve the beast of bloated military spending,” her website states. “Rather, America should embark on a 10- to 20-year plan for turning a wartime economy into a peace-time economy, repurposing the tremendous talents and infrastructure of our military-industrial complex in such a way as to leave us strong enough to deal with America’s legitimate needs for military preparedness, yet moving on to the urgent task of building a sustainable society and sustainable world.”

May 27 – Tulsi Gabbard: “It’s Time to Bring Our Troops Home”

In a new video released for Memorial Day, Hawaii Rep. and a former Army National Guard officer Tulsi Gabbard called for bringing American troops home and ending “regime change” wars. According to her new website page, “Tulsi is running for president to stop sending our troops to fight in costly, interventionist regime change wars, work to end the new Cold War and nuclear arms race.”

May 16 – Elizabeth Warren: “It’s Time to Reduce Corporate Influence at the Pentagon”

Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, unveiled 12 proposals centered around three key areas:

  1. Limit the Revolving Door and Restrict Contractor Influence
  2. Limit Foreign Influence
  3. Ensure Contractor Transparency

The proposals are the most direct and concrete policy proposals that any of the 2020 candidates have outlined so far in the election cycle.

May 15 – Elizabeth Warren: “Our military can help lead the fight in combating climate change”

In a Medium post published on May 15, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced several policies charging the Pentagon and armed services with getting more environmentally-conscious. They include:

  • Ensuring the Pentagon achieves net zero carbon emissions for all its non-combat bases and infrastructure by 2030
  • Creating a dedicated source of funding to adapt military bases to the changes of the climate
  • Charging a fee—1% of total contract value—on any contractor who hasn’t achieved net zero carbon emissions (presumably by 2030)
  • Investing billions of dollars into a new, ten-year research and development program at the Defense Department focused on microgrids and advanced energy storage

May 2 – Bernie Sanders: “As president, I would certainly look at a very different military budget.”

In an interview with Vox, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders — without getting into details — said that the U.S. should not be “spending more than the 10 next nations on earth … [while] you have veterans sleeping out on the streets, major crisis after major crisis in affordable housing, infrastructure.”

April 30 – John Delaney: “I will not seek reductions in defense spending”

In a speech at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies on April 30th, Maryland Congressman John Delaney outlined his foreign policy, which included “not seek[ing] reductions in defense spending” and “put[ting] arms control at the top of my national security agenda.” He also emphasized the importance of diplomacy, allies, multinational organizations, the intelligence community, and ending “ill-advised” wars. Delaney has sought to separate himself from other primary contenders as the only candidate outlining foreign policy goals.

March 26 – Andrew Yang: “Modernize Military Spending”

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Yang has unveiled several defense proposals centered around “modernizing” the Pentagon’s budget. Yang’s proposals include:

  • Refocusing the military’s focus on modern threats, such as loose nuclear material and cyberterrorism
  • Rechanneling 10% of the military budget—approximately $60 billion per year—to an infrastructure project.
  • Regularly auditing the Department of Defense
  • Appoint a new Secretary of Cybersecurity