On Senate Floor, Portman Praises President Trump’s Leadership in Addressing Iranian Aggression

January 8, 2020 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) delivered remarks praising President Trump for his leadership in protecting American forces in the Middle East.  

Last week, Portman stated that Iranian aggression must not go unchecked. President Trump authorized the killing of Quds force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader Qasem Soleimani earlier this month. Soleimani was responsible for the killing of more than 600 American soldiers and the wounding of several thousand more.

A transcript of his remarks can be found below, and a video can be found here.

I’d like to take a few moments today to talk about the current situation with regard to Iran. First, the decision to take out Qasem Soleimani. Let’s remember who he was. He was the leader of the Quds force and the Islamic Republican Guard Corps. Both of these groups, by the way, have been designated as terrorist organizations. He was responsible for providing the Shia militia in Iraq with explosively formed penetrators. What does that mean? These were the extremely deadly improvised explosive devices, so-called road-side bombs, that were responsible for killing over 600 American soldiers and injuring many more, at least a couple of thousand. Some of those maimed or killed were from my home state of Ohio. My heart goes out to their families and for their sacrifice. I got a chance to see some of these brave Americans in visits to the Landstuhl military hospital in Germany and the Walter Reed hospital here in Washington, D.C. We must never forget their courage and the sacrifices they and their families have made.

“Over the past two months alone, Soleimani helped direct more than 11 attacks against our forces in Iraq. In fact, he was found recently to be plotting for more. When he was killed, he was plotting additional and imminent attacks with the commander of the Shia militia, the same commander who directed both the rocket strikes that killed the American contractor and wounded four American service personnel in Irbil and the demonstration and assault against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Thankfully, that commander was taken off the battlefield, as well.

“For reasons I’ve outlined, the killing of Qasem Soleimani was both legitimate and justified. His history of fomenting terror and murdering innocents goes back for decades and the world is a better place without him. Some of my Democratic colleagues have been critical of the president’s actions on Iran to include the killing of Soleimani. Some argue that our actions have been unwarranted and belligerent. In fact, given the facts, I believe President Trump has shown restraint in the face of continued Iranian aggression over these past 18 months.

“By authorizing the killing of the leader of terrorist organizations that were actively plotting more violence against our brave men and women, I believe President Trump reset the concept of deterrence and fulfilled his duties as president. As General David Petraeus said after the Soleimani action, and I quote, ‘This was a significant effort to re-establish deterrence.’ I would call that peace through strength. Last evening’s Iranian missile attacks against our forces in Irbil and Al Asad was a continuation of their reckless and provocative approach. Thanks to the professionalism and capability of our armed forces, despite over a dozen Iranian missiles aimed their way, there were, fortunately, no American or allied troop or Iraqi casualties. Amazing. And there was only minimal damage to our bases. For that, of course, we are very thankful.

“I listened to President Trump this morning, and I agree that the maximum pressure campaign against Iran must continue and it should include additional sanctions. There’s a way forward for Iran to rejoin the international community rather than continue to be a pariah and the top sponsor of state terrorism in the world. President Trump has said on many occasions he’s willing to negotiate with Iran if they cease their belligerent actions in the region and come to the table. We do not desire war with Iran, but we cannot and will not stand idly by as they continue to attack Americans, continue to kill our forces in the Middle East. I’ve been in meetings with top administration officials today and yesterday, and I look forward to continued discussions on their strategy moving forward.

“I will continue to pray for the safety of our men and women in uniform who are forward-deployed, who put their lives in danger for all of us and do so for the sake of peace and stability.”