On Tuesday, Nov. 6, voters in Massachusetts will go to the polls to vote for their next U.S. senator – either the incumbent, Republican Sen. Scott Brown or Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
We wanted to know about their stance on foreign affairs, particularly, on issues related to the Middle East.
Here is what they had to say:
LEDGER: How would you describe your support for Israel and the relationship between Israel and the United States?
BROWN: I will continue to be a leading voice in the U.S. Senate for a strong U.S. – Israel relationship. My first overseas trip as a senator, after visiting our troops in Afghanistan, was to Israel, where I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and discussed the challenges that Israel faces. I also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and encouraged him to find common ground with Israel so that a lasting peace settlement could be achieved.
I have advocated for crippling sanctions against Iran, including its central bank, to deter it from pursuing a nuclear weapon. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am engaged on joint U.S. – Israel military issues. After the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, I wrote to military leaders in Egypt about the importance of a secure border between Egypt and Israel. I stated: “The Egypt – Israel Peace Treaty has served as an excellent example to other governments in the Middle East. Egypt’s monitoring of the border has been instrumental in limiting the flow of guns, rocket launchers and other weapons to terrorist groups in the Gaza strip. I am hopeful that the new government formed in Egypt will continue to honor treaty commitments that have provided relative stability to the region for more than thirty years.”
Supporters of Israel can count on me to advocate for the security of Israel. I know the challenges that Israel faces and I am prepared to do all I can to protect it.
WARREN: Since its founding more than 60 years ago, Israel and the United States have been steadfast, trusted, and reliable allies. I unequivocally support the right of a Jewish, democratic state of Israel to exist, and to be safe and secure. The U.S.-Israel relationship is rooted in shared values and common interests, based on a commitment to liberty, pluralism, and the rule of law. These values transcend time, and they are the basis of our unbreakable bond.
I am also deeply proud that Israel and Massachusetts are natural economic allies. Like Massachusetts, Israel has a real commitment and advantage in high-tech and innovative industries. There are approximately 100 companies in Massachusetts with Israeli founders or based on Israeli technologies – creating $2.4 billion in value and thousands of jobs for our economy.
As a United States Senator, I will work to ensure Israel’s security and success, and I will support active American leadership to help bring peace and security to Israel and the region.
LEDGER: What are your thoughts on how the Israelis and Palestinians might be brought back to the negotiating table? What are your views on the so-called “two-state solution”?
BROWN: I strongly support a “two-state” solution. Let’s be clear: Israel wants a partner for peace, but it cannot negotiate with itself. The Palestinians can be brought back to the negotiating table by making it clear that a negotiated settlement by the two sides is the only chance for peace. A negotiated peace is more likely when the United States stands firmly behind Israel so that the world understands that Israel has a right to peacefully exist. Ultimately, I support a “two-state solution” that:
· Is premised on security for Israel and is not imposed by outside parties;
· Recognizes that a strict return to the 1967 borders is both unrealistic and unsafe;
· Requires the Palestinians to abide by agreements signed by past Palestinian leaders; and
· Reaffirms Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.
WARREN: I am also a strong proponent of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which I believe to be in the interest of Israel and the United States, with a Jewish, democratic state of Israel and a state for the Palestinian people. The U.S. can and should play an active role in promoting a diplomatic resolution to the conflict that is agreed to by the parties, but I do not believe that a lasting peace can be imposed from the outside or that either party should take unilateral steps – such as the Palestinians’ application for UN membership – that move the parties further away from negotiations.
LEDGER: In terms of Iran’s push to develop nuclear weapons, do you think that sanctions are working? Do you ever see a time or conditions under which you would support military action against Iran, either on the part of the U.S. or Israel?
BROWN: Shortly after I was elected I published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal titled “Want Middle East Peace? Deny Iran Nukes.” I stated then and continue to believe that “Iran’s actions threaten not only Israel and its immediate neighbors, but ultimately the world. They send a signal to other rogue nations with nuclear ambitions to continue their reckless pursuits. Possible proliferation of nuclear weapons to terrorist groups affiliated with Iran—and the almost guaranteed nuclear arms race that would break out among Iran’s Arab neighbors—would embody our greatest fears and present the gravest national security threat to American security.”
In the Senate, I have repeatedly backed tough sanctions against Iran and introduced bipartisan legislation of my own to combat Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. I believe that targeted sanctions are working to disrupt the development of nuclear weapons in Iran. Sanctions must continue to be used in conjunction with diplomatic pressure from a coalition of regional countries that share our concern about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In addition, the United States must engage asymmetric measures that can slow or stop Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
Professor Warren has stated that we need a “nuanced” approach to Iran. This is a naïve and dangerous view and I strongly disagree with her. We must make abundantly clear to Iran, Israel, and every other country in the world that the United States believes it is unacceptable for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon and that we stand on the side of Israel. It is a game changer for Iran to obtain the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. Professor Warren apparently does not realize that the world is not a classroom, and that Israel cannot live with a nuclear armed Iran that is led by a mad man who has pledged to “wipe Israel off the map.”
As a thirty-two year member and Colonel in the Army National Guard, I believe that all options should be on the table, but military action must be a measure of last resort. I understand the sacrifices involved. We must exhaust all diplomatic and asymmetric options before military action.
WARREN: I support the approach President Obama – joined by a bipartisan consensus in Congress – has taken in working to prevent Iran from obtaining of a nuclear weapon. A nuclear Iran would be a threat to the United States, our allies, the region, and the world.
Like the President, I believe that we should not rush to war, and like the President, I wouldn’t take anything off the table – you don’t do that when walking into a negotiation. Right now, I believe the United States must take the necessary steps to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. I support biting economic sanctions in conjunction with other countries, as well as vigorous diplomacy to try to resolve the situation through negotiations.
LEDGER: What role should the U.S. take with regard to the ongoing crisis in Syria? Should we intervene to save lives?
BROWN: No one should ever doubt where the United States stands when it comes to human rights. Assad is slaughtering thousands of innocent Syrians and he needs to go. Syria is a puppet state of Iran, a major destabilizing force in the region, and designated by the State Department as a State Sponsor of Terror. There are many things we can do before sending in U.S. troops: provide support to the rebels, impose international sanctions, and apply pressure to Syria’s allies. I agree with President Obama that the U.S. should take a more direct role if Assad uses or begins to position chemical or biological weapons.
WARREN: The ongoing killing of civilians in Syria is a terrible tragedy, and Assad has got to go. The unfolding question is how to accomplish those goals. The President is right to try to work with others in the region and in the international community to influence Syria. Because assistance can have complex and unintended consequences, we should not act unless we are confident that we can do more good than harm and that we have a clear plan and achievable goals.