Issue Position: Foreign Affairs

Issue Position

Date: Jan. 1, 2016


I grew up in a military family and as a result, have lived in and visited numerous foreign nations and experienced our world's diverse cultural, political and economic spectrum. America is, of course, not alone in the world and our nation has an important responsibility to engage in meaningful international relations.

In particular, stability in the Middle East, even more today than ever, is critical to global stability and is therefore of great interest to the U.S. The economics, political situation, and natural resources in the region have ripple effects that can be felt across the world, and which impact our vital interests.

The Massachusetts Third District is home to a diverse population that actively follows the affairs of foreign nations. In Lowell, for example, our Cambodian-American population--the second largest in the country-- has incorporated their rich tradition into the city's heartbeat. I traveled to Cambodia in 2012 to better understand the history that has shaped the culture for Cambodian-Americans and explore ways to further strengthen ties between our two countries while improving Cambodia's civil liberties and electoral process.

The Third District also has a strong military tradition, and I am proud to serve as a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. In this role, I have made it one of my top priorities to meet with our troops on the ground overseas, who are responsible for implementing and carrying out the President's policies in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

I have highlighted my position on a few international areas of interest below, but if you would like to know more about my position on a particular region or situation, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.


View Larger Map

I have made six trips to Afghanistan and two to Iraq as a member of Congress. Each time I have been moved by the professionalism, dedication and skill of our armed forces. These trips have also given me a vital opportunity to interact with civilians on the ground in these conflict zones, and to better understand just what is at stake.

As a co-chair of the Afghan Women's Task Force, a bipartisan coalition of women members of Congress who are committed to protecting the progress that has been made for Afghan women, I have always believed that one of the greatest success stories of our presence in Afghanistan is the unprecedented gains that have been made by Afghan women. The country has made some recent strides in bringing women into leadership and governmental roles, but it is important that Afghanistan continues to embrace a broader, more meaningful role for women.

As our military effort begins to wind down, women must be part of the peace process going forward. Afghan women will play a critical role in creating a stable Afghanistan and securing for the long term their right to participate in their country's public life.

As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, I spoke at a hearing in 2013 regarding this vital matter.

Ensuring that Afghan girls continue to have access to academic and economic opportunities, and more broadly, ensuring that women are able to participate in Afghan society as a whole, is not only good for the future of Afghanistan, it is good for the United States as well so that we can help ensure a more peaceful and just future there.

I have published several OpEds on the subject, running in national publications:

TIME: Afghanistan's Success Will Be Measured By Women's Progress

CNN: For women of Afghanistan, life is better

Wall Street Journal: Afghan Women Worry as the U.S. Departure Looms


View Larger Map

The situation in Syria and Iraq remains very fragile. In August 2010, President Barack Obama announced the end of the American combat mission in Iraq. He announced that "we've removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq, closed or transferred to the Iraqis hundreds of bases, and we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq."

Next door, over the past several years the humanitarian situation in Syria has become more and more unstable, displacing millions of Syrians due to the ongoing civil war. This situation has been further complicated by the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, otherwise known as ISIL and its presence throughout much of Syria and Iraq.

There is no denying that ISIL is a lethal terrorist organization; it believes in brutality and intolerance, as seen in its aggressive movements to secure territory in Iraq and Syria, its ruthless massacre of innocent people, and in the murders of Western journalists and humanitarian aid workers, including two Americans, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

On September 10, President Obama outlined his plan to begin an effort to disrupt and ultimately defeat ISIL in Syria and Iraq and asked Congress to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront ISIL. I voted against authorizing the arming and training of Syrian opposition groups because I thought it was a back door vote that had the potential to lead to an expanded and open-ended commitment spilling into future administrations. It called for us to make a near- term decision with long-term consequences, raising substantial and unpredictable risks that haven't been fully considered.

Both Democrats and Republicans have raised many significant questions regarding the cost, the commitment of American servicemembers, the timetable, the nature of the support we have from regional partners who must take more direct responsibility, the exit strategy, and how we will define success, to name a few. The multifaceted decisions underlying this all-too-simple vote require a much broader discussion and more robust debate in Congress than what it has received to date.

USA Today recently published an op-ed piece I wrote about this vote and my strong belief that a more comprehensive debate is needed. You can read my op-ed by visiting the following link:


View Larger Map

The ongoing conflict between Israel and its surrounding Arab neighbors has been a tragedy of epic proportions. Over the past several years, both sides have missed opportunities to build trust and move towards a lasting peace, and the Palestinian and Israeli people continue to suffer as a result.

Unfortunately, over the last several weeks, we have seen violence escalate on both sides. Echoing statements made by the President, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed resolutions condemning the attacks by Hamas against Israel and clearly stating that Israel has a right to defend itself. At the same time, I am also very concerned about the growing number of casualties, including the increasing number of Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza and the loss of Israeli soldiers and civilians. The recent Israeli bombing of two United Nations' schools being used as refugee centers that killed over 40 people, including an entire family of seven young children, is particularly appalling.

The United States can and should continue to play an active and constructive role to establish a fair and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians as quickly as possible. Too many lives have been lost or destroyed as a result of this ongoing conflict. I believe both sides understand that a continual state of war is unacceptable both for the parties involved and to the long-term interests of the United States. At the same time, we should not underestimate the challenges to achieving the goal of peace in the region. Peace will never be a reality without a clear commitment to ending violence and ensuring Israel's security and the aspirations of the Palestinian people. Both sides have genuine desires which I believe - and both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have stated they agree - can only be satisfied by the realization of two states living side by side in peace and mutual respect.

No one is under any illusion that this will be an easy path, but it is a path we must walk to bring an end to this tragic conflict. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to support initiatives that will create a stable and lasting peace for both Israel and the Palestinians.


View Larger Map

Iran continues to threaten its neighbors and destabilize the entire Middle East region and needs to be monitored carefully.

By failing to abide by repeated UN resolutions to clearly demonstrate that it is not developing a nuclear weapon capability, Iran continues to defy international law and the international community. Since last year, Iran has engaged in nuclear talks both directly with President Obama and the so-called "P5+1" powers (the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany).

While I do not favor using preemptive military action against Iran at this time, the possibility of military action should be kept on the table, but only to be used as a last resort. It is critical that we fully utilize our diplomatic and economic capabilities, including sanctions, so that Iran peacefully abandons its pursuit of nuclear weapons and joins the international community, which is why I cosponsored and voted in favor of the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, and most recently, Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012. I also cosponsored H.R.850 - Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013. It passed the House in July of 2013, and concerns additional and amended sanctions. These bills provide additional tools to the Administration as it continues to push Iran to abandon its nuclear arms aspirations and denounce terrorism.


View Larger Map

When President Obama arrived in Cambodia in November of 2012, he became the first ever sitting U.S. President to visit that country.

My own visit to Cambodia in February of 2012 opened my eyes to the harsh reality and budding hope that exists in this country still recovering from a past marred by unspeakable brutality. I visited Cambodia to better understand the history that has shaped the culture for Cambodian-Americans and explore ways to further strengthen ties between our two countries.

I was able to meet with Cambodian political, business and nonprofit leaders and discuss how our nations can learn from each other.

The significance of the President's visit cannot be understated given the growing number of Cambodian-Americans, including the families of the nearly 20,000 Cambodians who immigrated to the Third District in the 1980s, many to the city of Lowell.

If we are to build a lasting and productive relationship with Cambodia, we must see a meaningful shift toward universal human rights and a more transparent and accessible democratic process. The President's visit was an opportunity for the United States to encourage Cambodian officials to embrace individual rights and the right of Cambodians to peaceably assemble. Such progress will enable our mutually beneficial partnership with Cambodia to flourish further.

Read my op-ed about Cambodia following my visit in February 2012


View Larger Map

The resilience and optimism of the Greek people are reflected in the Greek-American community that I represent here in Massachusetts' Third Congressional District. My husband Paul's family emigrated from Greece to the city of Lowell when his father was three years old, and as a first generation Greek-American, Paul rose to become a candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

Since I was first elected, I have been a proud member of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, which has played a key role in bringing initiatives of significance to the Greek-American community to Congress' attention. I meet on a regular basis with representatives from Greece and Cyprus, including the Ambassadors, along with Hellenic-American advocacy groups.

Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have supported a variety of initiatives in support of Greece and the Hellenic region, including cosponsoring legislation and signing letters to the President and Secretary of State encouraging U.S. leadership in the negotiation for a just solution on Cyprus.

Our nation is still reeling from the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. And, we are all keenly aware that the crisis facing our nation is certainly not limited to the United States; it is global in nature, and the economic strength of many of our allies, including Greece, is being seriously impacted. Greece's economy is in a continuing state of unrest, and this has culminated in a significant amount of political unrest.

Greece is one of our country's oldest friends and staunchest allies and the bilateral economic relationship between the EU and the United States is one of the largest and strongest in the world. I will continue to monitor this situation closely and will work to affirm our nations' enduring relationship.