Scott Brown on foreign policy

The Globe asked Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown a series of questions about their foreign policy stances. Below are Brown’s answers.

1. Under what circumstances should Congress declare war?

The Constitution is the guiding document that outlines the President’s authority over our Armed Forces and Congress’ responsibility as elected representatives to declare war. I do not subscribe to a guiding rule of thumb to define any one “type” of circumstance under which the United States should go to war or to authorize the use of military force. What I can say is that the decision to go to war — to put our service men and women in harm’s way — is a decision that should be taken by elected members of Congress with the highest degree of prudence and care possible.


2. Do you agree with Mitt Romney that Russia is our number-one geopolitical foe? How would you engage and/or compete with Russia?

I do not consider Russia our number-one geopolitical foe. However, I am greatly concerned about Russia’s continued efforts to water down and stymie international actions aimed at preventing the country that does pose the greatest threat to international security, Iran, from becoming a nuclear power. We need to do more to make it clear that Russia would be better off cooperating with the West against regimes like Iran and Syria.



3. Are you in favor of supplying arms to the rebels in Syria? If arms are not enough, would you impose a no-fly zone? If that is not enough to stop the bloodshed, would you send in ground troops?

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Assad is a murderer and brutal dictator who is butchering his own people and he has to go. I believe we have a responsibility to help the rebels, including providing them with supplies, training and intelligence. I also believe it is appropriate to identify moderate elements within the opposition and provide them with weapons so they can fight back against Assad and the Syrian army. With so many innocent Syrians being slaughtered every day, we should do what we can to level the playing field. However, I do not at this time support sending in U.S. ground forces or the imposition of a no-fly zone.


4. Whose fault is it that we haven’t had peace between the Israelis and Palestinians? Why has the Obama administration not gotten more done in advancing peace between the two? What new strategies should be pursued?

 I stand with Israel and the majority of world leaders in support of a two-state solution as the greatest hope for a lasting peace plan. Unfortunately, Israel has not had a partner for peace that can negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians. Hamas' original charter states unambiguously that it is determined to destroy Israel.  It is a mistake to believe that we can achieve peace with Hamas until that organization recognizes Israel and disavows terrorism.  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 so-called 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.


5. What steps would you take that the Obama administration has not taken to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon? Is it worth going to war to prevent that? If Israel requests bunker busters, refueling assistance, or direct cooperation in a strike, what would you say?

Iran is the most serious threat to world peace and stability. The Iranian regime’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and support for terrorist groups around the world is a dangerous combination.  Congress has given President Obama the tools to apply severe pressure to destabilize their economy and their currency.  The Administration should use those tools to their fullest potential.   I was a strong supporter and sponsor of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and an original co-sponsor of an amendment to sanction the Central Bank of Iran which are both now laws.


Sanctions and diplomatic efforts have slowed Iran’s nuclear program somewhat.  While it may have bought us some time, Iran’s stockpiles have grown despite international efforts.

To be clear, the last thing we need in the case of Iran is to express “nuance,” which Professor Warren has called for.  President Obama attempted a more nuanced approach to Iran early in his term, and he quickly discovered it didn’t work.  Our strongest ally in the region is Israel and I would stand with Israel and against tyranny.  Iran has stated clearly that they want to wipe Israel off the map.  We cannot allow them to obtain the means to accomplish that goal.  We must use every tool available to us, up to and including armed intervention, to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. 

6. How would you prevent a Cold War with China? Do you believe, as Romney does, that the US should declare China a currency manipulator, which would allow the US to impose tariffs on products? 

 The United States should never shy away from demanding that China respect human rights, stop stealing U.S. intellectual property, and trade fairly.  With exchanges such as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China it will be possible for the United States and China to prosper together, but we must manage our disagreements and use strong diplomacy to maintain stability in the region.

I am very concerned about China’s trading practices, which are costing us jobs at home.  China is stealing our intellectual property, blocking access to their markets and manipulating their currency to obtain a trade advantage over the United States. I supported bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would have imposed penalties on China for its currency manipulation.  Unfortunately, the House of Representatives did not take up the Senate passed bill.  I am hopeful that the U.S. can use the levers at its disposal to convince China to trade fairly with us.

7. What’s your assessment of the current state of the war in Afghanistan? Do you agree with Obama’s timetable for withdrawal? Would you speed it up, or slow it down?

I supported President Obama's surge of troops into Afghanistan as well as the President’s current withdrawal plan under the Strategic Partnership Agreement.  I’m concerned less with the precise pace of the withdrawal in Afghanistan than I am with doing it responsibly, defeating the enemy, rooting out corruption, and improving the Afghan military and police forces so that we can leave Afghanistan in a better position than when we arrived.  I’m focused on ensuring we capitalize on the gains our troops have made while responsibly withdrawing our forces, building the capacity of the Afghan security forces and improving Afghanistan’s governmental institutions to fill in the gaps once we’re gone. 

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I will continue to monitor the situation and consult with our commanders on the ground.  Afghanistan must not become the terrorist safe haven it once was to launch attacks on our country.  To be sure, Afghanistan will not be perfect when we leave, but we have an obligation to assist the government and the Afghan people in their transition to a stable democratic society.

8. What should the US to do address the change of leadership in North Korea?

In light of North Korea’s repeated missile tests and the subsequent breakdown in talks between the new regime and US negotiators, I am doubtful that we can make progress with the current regime in Pyongyang.  We should continue to pursue diplomacy, ideally in cooperation with China, the major power in the region, but in the meantime I believe we need strong missile defenses to protect against potential North Korean aggression.


9. How do you assess Obama’s tone on foreign policy? Republicans have accused him of conducting an “apology tour” that set a weak tone at the outset of his term. Democrats say he is trying to repair an image of the US that they say was battered under President George W. Bush.

I’ll let the pundits characterize how the President’s “tone” is perceived abroad.  I’m focused on working with President Obama on keeping our country safe and secure, achieving victory in Afghanistan so our men and women can return home to their families, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and strengthening the bonds we hold with our friends and most sacred allies.  

President Obama has had some notable successes in his foreign policy, including the battle against terrorism around the world. I know that every American cheered when we killed Osama Bin Laden. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also deserves a great deal of credit for her outstanding work around the world. 


10. Are there any other areas that you believe are particularly important for the Senate to consider in foreign affairs in the next six years? If so, please discuss why you think so, and what your approach would be.   


I continue to believe global terrorist groups and the regimes that support them are the number one threat to the United States.  Al-Qaeda and their affiliates continue to spread and prosper in weakly governed areas around the world, particularly in Africa. Boko Haram, al Shabaab, AQIM, and other smaller extremist groups are using Africa to spread their extremist ideology and conduct attacks against civilian targets.  I look forward to working in the next Congress to ensure the necessary tools and resources are provided to our counterterrorism forces, so we can continue to be on the offensive against these threats.  Finally, as a separate issue, Congress needs to immediately reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which is the federal government’s central effort to combat human trafficking.  I am a lead sponsor of the reauthorization and the legislation is badly needed to end slavery, which amazingly is still practiced in places around the world.


11. What should the US response be to Libya?

First and foremost, I agree with President Obama and Secretary Clinton when they vowed to bring the killers to justice.  The attack on the U.S. Consulate was a horrific act of violence against our diplomatic representatives.  The people of Libya fought and died to oust a dictator and to get a chance at a getting a peaceful, democratically elected government, and the best way to respond to these senseless attacks by a group of extremists is to build on Ambassador Chris Stevens legacy and to work with the Libyan government to improve the security and stability in that nation.