P.G. Sittenfeld on War & Peace
A: Iran is very much in the news; you all might expect somebody like Rob Portman to exercise thoughtful, sensible leadership, but we saw anything but that when he signed on to Tom Cotton's letter to the leaders of Iran [taking a hard line against nuclear development and against President Obama's nuclear deal]. So much of this is about judgement -- not about whether you're in your early 30s or 75, or whether you've been in Washington for a quarter of a century.
Q: We're not talking about age as much as about experience. How would you prepare for issues like Iran and ISIS, and for issues that you have not faced?
A: The same way that you all would: you study; you talk to experts; you think things through; you engage stakeholders; you listen to your constituents. For something like Iran, how I would actually approach that, the current framework lets us continue the conversation.
A: There are three big things that we need to be looking for: (and this is a glimpse into my judgement and how I would approach something):
We should ask 'what are the alternatives?' We have three possibilities: sanctions; war; or walk away. I don't think Rob Portman has thought about those alternatives. The last time we walked away, Iran went from 3,000 centrifuges to about 17,000.
A: There is evil in the world, and ISIS is perpetuating a lot of it. I look with the same horror when they videotape beheadings and other brutal acts of violence -- I share that horror and I understand he natural reaction of people saying, 'We need to do something about this.' But it's also important to be mindful of the fact that ISIS wants to goad America. They want to goad us into a certain course of action, part of which is putting ground troops into the region. The reality is that ISIS is a serious threat, but they are a much more immediate threat to some of our allies in the region -- Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan. So I support the current policy of targeted airstrikes, but in terms of boots on the ground, those need to be supplied by some of our allies, by our friends in the Muslim world.
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Retiring in 2014 election:
Retired as of Jan. 2013:
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AK: Murkowski(R) vs.Begich(D) vs.Lamb(R) vs.Stevens(L)
AL: Shelby(R) vs.Crumpton(D) vs.Bowman(R)
AR: Boozman(R) vs.Eldridge(D) vs.Gilbert(L) vs.
AZ: McCain(R) vs.Ward(R) vs.Kirkpatrick(D) vs.Mealer(I)
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WI: Johnson(R) vs.Feingold(D) vs.Lorge(R)
Senate Votes (analysis)