Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, offered views on key foreign policy and national security issues in written responses to questions posed of their campaigns by The Associated Press. A summary of some of their responses:
Brown said levels of defense spending should be based on what military leaders believe is needed to keep America safe at home and protect its interests abroad. ‘‘Our defense spending plan should not be a ‘numbers game'’’ he said. Brown, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said he supported the Pentagon’s goal of identifying $500 million in defense savings, but warned against cutting programs ‘‘indiscriminately.’’
Warren said national security was essential in a dangerous world, but said with the winding down of two major wars it should be possible to downsize the Army and make other cuts in the defense budget, adding: ‘‘We should be making smart, targeted changes that align our budget with our strategy, our priorities, and the threats we face.’’
THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN
Warren called for leaving Afghanistan as ‘‘quickly as possible,’’ though doing so in a way that protects U.S. troops. She said it was important to transition to Afghan control because Afghans must take responsibility for their own future. She added the money spent on the war could be invested at home.
Brown said he backed President Barack Obama’s current troop withdrawal plan but was less concerned about the timing of the drawdown as with doing it in a responsible fashion. He said Afghanistan must not be allowed to become a terrorist haven in the future and that the U.S. must continue after the troop withdrawal to assist the Afghans in transitioning to a stable democracy.
Brown said he believes the prison at Guantanamo Bay should remain open to detain and try terrorism suspects in military tribunals. ‘‘Terrorists who plot or carry out attacks against our citizens and our country should be brought to justice under military law,’’ said Brown, who serves on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. He also said he backed legislation to help protect the nation’s computer systems and critical infrastructure from attack.
Warren said few would have believed a decade ago that Guantanamo Bay was a permanent solution. ‘‘Today, the military commissions process is taking place — and 9/11 terrorists are being tried,’’ she said. Warren also praised Obama’s ‘‘strong leadership’’ in the war on terrorism, citing the death of Osama bin Laden and the elimination of other senior al-Qaida leaders. Warren also supports greater investment in cybersecurity.
Warren called China’s rise to global prominence ‘‘rapid and dramatic,’’ and warned against policies that might trigger a new Cold War with China. But she also said that while the U.S. should seek stronger connections with China, it must not turn away when China ‘‘does not play by the rules.’’ She said the U.S. should stand up for human rights and fair trade even if it causes friction between the two nations.
Brown said the U.S. should never shy away from demands that China ‘‘respect human rights, stop stealing U.S. intellectual property, and trade fairly.’’ He said he supported legislation in the Senate that would punish China for manipulating currency.
Brown said the U.S. must keep all options on the table — including the possibility of military force — to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. He called on the Obama administration to apply ‘‘severe pressure’’ aimed at destabilizing Iran’s economy and currency. He also sharply criticized Warren for her previous use of the word ‘‘nuanced’’ to describe the U.S. approach to Iran.
Warren also said she would not take any options off the table when dealing with the regime, saying a nuclear Iran would threaten the U.S., its allies and the entire world. She said if elected she would push for even tougher sanctions against Iran, while adding: ‘‘Like President Obama, I believe that we must not rush to war.’’
Warren said the ongoing violence in Syria is a ‘‘terrible tragedy’’ and said President Bashir Assad must be replaced, but added that accomplishing that goal remained a question. She supports President Obama’s drawing of a ‘‘red line’’ on the possible use of biological or chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Warren said she would consider further options such as providing weapons to rebel forces or establishing a no-fly zone. But she warned that lethal assistance could have ‘‘complex and unintended consequences’’ and should be weighed carefully.
Brown called Assad a ‘‘murderer and brutal dictator who is butchering his own people’’ and said the U.S. has a responsibility to help dissidents oust the regime. In addition to providing supplies, training and intelligence, Brown said the U.S. should also identify ‘‘moderate elements’’ within the opposition and provide them with weapons to fight the Syrian Army.