There will be seven Democratic names on the Tuesday, Oct. 15 ballot. They are Sen. William Brownsberger, Sen. Katherine Clark, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Martin Long, Paul Maisano, Rep. Carl Sciortino and Sen. Karen Spilka.
Patch asked each of the candidates a series of questions. The answers to those questions will be published now through Sunday. Long did not respond to Patch's request.
Today's report focuses on foreign policy. Patch asked: "What experience do you have in foreign policy? What are your views on Israel and Syria?"
Clark: "Our country must take advantage of smart power, improving and expanding our diplomatic ties through humanitarian aid, international institutions, and partnerships. Using smart power will help us consistently pursue peaceful remedies in international relations whenever possible. I support the work prioritized by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State to lead with diplomacy while promoting investment in the education and empowerment of women and girls around the world, that is the best investment we can make toward peace and economic growth.
I strongly support a two-state solution as the best means to achieving a lasting peace and a secure and prosperous future for both Israel and the Palestinian people. I believe that the United States can play a crucial and constructive role in this process and am hopeful that Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent efforts to renew and advance negotiations will lead to a peaceable agreement. A viable agreement must include recognition of Israel’s right to exist and cessation of violence and attacks against it.
I do not believe that the case was made that US military action in Syria was the best response to the use of chemical weapons, and would have voted “no” on a resolution calling for military intervention. I am glad that progress has been made with the United Nations, and I believe that we must stay vigilant to ensure that Syria’s chemical weapons are indeed destroyed. I also believe that greater international aid must be directed toward the two million Syrian refugees who are now crowding into neighboring countries, creating a tragic humanitarian crisis and risking further instability in an already challenging region.
Maisano: " I have traveled to many parts of the world for over forty years. I speak three languages, my English is not bad either. Don't print the latter it's a joke. Point is to understand foreign policy you must understand the various cultures which many times elected officials do not. Israel is a true friend of the U.S. and has been since it's creation in 1948. I support my friends. Syria is a country that has no stability and adds fuel to middle east turmoil. They are not our friends, nor should we support their efforts to spread their issues to us. I continually talk about global economy to be supported by global responsibility. It's time for all world leaders to support what is best for the entire world , not just the U.S."
Sciortino: "I immediately took a strong stance against military intervention in Syria, while the rest of my opponents waited to see which way the political winds were blowing before joining me in the same position. I felt that diplomatic options had not been exhausted, and now we can see that they had not been.
I applaud the recent steps taken by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to come to the table with the United States in order to discuss a pathway to peace. I also applaud John Kerry for making the peace process a priority and ensuring the United States will continue its historic obligation to Israel and peace in the region. Furthermore, I applaud President Obama, not only for supporting the peace process, but for having the political courage to critique our ally on moves he believes will endanger it. The opportunity for the United States to facilitate a peaceful two-state solution is real and it is vital to the security of Israelis and Palestinians."
Spilka: "Israel: The friendship between the U.S. and Israel is critical; our two nations share both a desire to see a peaceful, stable Middle East and a fundamental belief in a free, open, and democratic society. Strong, unwavering U.S. support for a safe and secure State of Israel is the bedrock of our Middle East policy.
I believe a two-state solution with a secure, Jewish, democratic State of Israel and a demilitarized Palestinian State meets both sides’ shared interests – but the two sides must decide terms themselves. I am encouraged by, and fully supportive of, Secretary Kerry’s recent efforts to bring both sides back to the table, and, in Congress, I would serve as an ally to Secretary Kerry in these efforts.
Syria: The actions taken by the Assad regime are appalling and deeply disturbing. The horrific video of the aftermath of the use of chemical weapons were extremely hard to watch. I was relieved to see a diplomatic solution pursued and I am hopeful that the Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles will be successfully dismantled under international supervision and subsequent inspection and monitoring."
Koutoujian: "Although my years in elective office have taken me all over the world from Ireland to Haiti to Israel, my area of expertise has not included foreign policy. If elected to Congress, I intent to provide a fresh perspective to foreign policy issues with a focus on the values of the voters of the 5th Congressional District.
Israel: The United States and Israel share a vital friendship and alliance that stems from common values, a shared culture of innovation, and deep strategic, economic, political and diplomatic ties. This relationship is a fundamental aspect of our foreign policy in the Middle East, and sustaining it will be one of my top priorities as a United States Congressman.
When I visited Israel as a State Representative, I was struck by the beauty and strength of its people. Its cities are vibrant and full of smart people and companies on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. It’s also a country full of spirituality and culture, and I hope to be able to visit again soon.
Economically, Massachusetts and Israel are inextricably linked, with thousands of jobs that have resulted from a deep understanding of each other’s shared values, spirit of innovation, and entrepreneurship. Today, there are nearly 100 companies with Israeli founders or Israeli-licensed technologies in Massachusetts. In 2009, these companies employed nearly 6,000 people and generated $2.4 billion in direct revenue for the state. Local firms exported over $180 million worth of goods to Israel in 2009.
When I was in Israel, I witnessed first-hand the hardships of life in such a dangerous region. Every Israeli family sends its sons and daughters to serve in the military, and bomb shelters are scattered across every city, town, and kibbutz. As the lone democracy in the region, Israel’s safety and security is paramount to me personally, and as an American. That is why I am committed to a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East. This vision includes two states for two peoples – each enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and security.
For Israel to thrive as a Jewish and democratic state, there must be an independent Palestine. I believe that core issues can only be negotiated through candid and honest talks between the parties, and with a continued central role for the United States as a mediator in this process. I applaud Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent accomplishment of reinstating peace negotiations. We are fortunate in Massachusetts to know Secretary Kerry and his abilities as a statesman to bring these parties together in a meaningful way. As a Congressman, I will fully support his efforts to continue this critical work.
Syria: As the grandson of genocide survivors, I find the actions of Syrian President Assad to be horrific. After using chemical weapons on civilians that killed hundreds, he should be held accountable for his actions by the international community and charged with war crimes before The Hague.
At the time President Obama asked for the approval of Congress to take military action in Syria, I would have voted no. President Obama wanted the United Sates to take a firm line against allowing Assad to continue to use chemical weapons on his own people. Given my family’s history, I believe the President’s goal was laudable. However, I strongly believe that all diplomatic options should be exhausted before any military actions are considered and consensus among the international community is essential before we approve military strikes."Brownsberger: "My views on foreign policy have been developed in consultation with a broad range of experts. Although I have traveled and worked abroad, I have no foreign policy experience.
Israel: Israel and the United States have a critical alliance that is rooted in our mutual democratic values, common security interests and deep economic ties. Israel is alone in the Middle East in its commitment to democracy, religious tolerance, political freedom, women’s rights, LGBT rights and a free and open society. Israel provides the United States with an invaluable ally in a region of great strategic and economic importance.
The fundamental barrier to peace for Israelis is the continued threat of violence from elements in the Palestinian population who seek to destroy Israel. Israel has a right to defend itself and to control territory necessary to protect its civilians from attack. The Israeli side has also hampered progress toward peace by continuing to build settlements in Palestinian territory.
The only hope for peace lies in a negotiated two state solution. Both sides will need to make uncomfortable concessions, however, the terms must assure that Israel is secure from attack and that Palestinians retain territory sufficient to support their population.
I am glad that Secretary of State Kerry is engaged in a trust building process and I support his efforts, but I feel personally humble in commenting on the U.S. role with respect to the peace process. And I believe more broadly that Americans need to approach every conflict among other peoples with humility.
Since we are not in a position to directly enforce a peace ourselves, Arab and Israeli leaders will need to enforce a negotiated peace. Their ability to enforce a peace depends on their own internal politics, which are beyond our ability to fully comprehend, much less to effectively manage. Arab and Israeli leaders are the parties who must define the contours of an agreement in a way that is politically sustainable for both sides.
I believe that the United States has a role to play in the peace process and recognize that peace in this region is a goal of great international importance. I also support the maintenance of America’s historically generous aid to Israel. I generally support foreign aid as the foundation of American soft power, and I believe Israel is a deserving recipient. In a region rife with instability, Israel has been a stable strategic partner and friend.
Syria: I would not have supported the resolution before Congress to authorize the bombing of Syria. I believe it is in America’s long term interest to take a consistently principled approach to foreign policy and that the proposed bombing cannot be justified on such a basis. Military power should be used in Syria only with broad backing from other democracies within a ratified treaty framework.
Of course, assuming our intelligence is credible, there are many principles enshrined in international conventions which could be invoked to justify the bombing — norms against not only chemical weapons, but also against torture and the conventional mass slaughter of civilians (bordering on genocide). However, we have not applied those principles in a consistent way or through any international deliberative framework. They therefore lack credibility as a justification for bombing. Further, unilateral bombing serves to undermine our international agreements.
America’s security does depend on America’s global credibility. But America’s global credibility depends on the predictability of American foreign policy. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, our foreign policy has drifted into incoherence. We enter some conflicts, but not others, without a coherent framework for making the choices. The choices depend, to a large extent, on the perceptions and inclinations of the current President and his or her dominant advisors. While, through ad hoc decision-making, a President may maintain short-run transactional credibility in dealing with other leaders, our nation has slowly lost credibility before the global public.
The best way to build a coherent policy framework that Congress will support financially and through the ratification of relevant agreements is through robust public debate. I applaud the President’s decision to submit the Syrian question to Congress — a decision that fosters robust debate.
Rather than engaging in a unilateral military response, I believe America should respond to the outrage by increasing humanitarian aid to refugees, by expanding military aid to moderate factions with Syria (if we can reliably identify them) and by setting in motion sanctions and other forms of pressure, perhaps including an international criminal indictment of Assad."