Urges more money for cancer research and pancreatic cancer treatment.
“A number of military leaders…have said publicly and pointedly that an actual full-scale war with Iran would be incredibly costly, very long and of uncertain outcome. Iran is larger, more populous, has more hardened military experience, has combat troops with experience throughout the region, so compared to Iraq, I think it would be an even harder country,” said Coons.
On pancreatic cancer:
My father passed two years ago from pancreatic cancer. We also lost my uncle years before.
And my pastor, Jeff Krehbiel, also two years ago. My uncle and pastor had less than a month from when they were diagnosed to when they passed, and that’s one of the real challenges.
Partly why the survival rate is so low, just 9% in five years, it’s the third leading cause of cancer death in America because the signs are often detected so late that folks have stage four cancer and it’s very hard to intervene.
My friend Harry Reid, who was a long serving Senate leader, also seems to be doing quite well with pancreatic cancer treatment, like Alex Trebek, thank God, but tomorrow I’ll be meeting with advocates from Delaware who have either lost loved ones or who are living with pancreatic cancer. Mika, we have to invest more in cutting edge medical research. I’m advocating for $10 million in our defense medical research program. In the House they just increased it from $4 to $6 [million]. But this is still a very tiny percentage of the amount needed in order to develop a new detection technique.
Funding for cancer research:
Well, first, Joe, over the last two years, despite budget proposals that would have cut NIH, on a bipartisan basis, we’ve added $2 billion each year to NIH research, but that’s across every possible disease state for basic and advanced medical research, to affect everything from Alzheimer’s to psoriasis, and so frankly, getting more money into critical, deadly cancer research is my focus.
We can encourage the NIH to make it a priority. There is this defense military research program I mentioned, where I’m trying to direct, this year, $10 million, but I think we can and should do more. I hosted Dr. Francis Collins, the head of NIH, here in Delaware just a few months ago and made a point of talking with him about the significance of NIH research because it is so hard to get the private sector to invest in research for a disease that is so difficult to study because so few of the subjects who they might work with in trials survive more than a few weeks.
A Trump administration briefing on what war with Iran would look like:
We just had a briefing last week and, frankly, my colleagues asked questions right along those lines and were frustrated that there wasn’t more specific and relevant details. I can’t go into what was said in a classified setting, of course, but I’ll tell you that I left that briefing underwhelmed with the clarity of the potential scenarios that were laid out.
A number of military leaders, who are not currently serving but who are former, have said publicly and pointedly that an actual full-scale war with Iran would be incredibly costly, very long and of uncertain outcome. Iran is larger, more populous, has more hardened military experience, has combat troops with experience throughout the region, so compared to Iraq, I think it would be an even harder country. If all we do is a small exchange of missiles, of jet strikes, and it remains contained, I can see how some would imagine that it would be less disastrous. The challenge is the possibility for escalation. And in the briefing and in discussions afterwards with colleagues, that’s what I have been focusing on is we don’t have a lot of running room for error here. We have other challenges in the world—North Korea, China, Russia—and we need to maintain some of the strategic flexibility and resources to tackle other challenges in the world, in addition to Iran.
Competition with China:
Well, the Huawei and 5G episode here should be a wakeup call for us. This is our Sputnik moment in terms of grasping the ways in which China is a pure competitor in technology. And I do think we need to do as much as we possibly can to ensure that our 5G system in the United States and with our core allies is built out in a way that doesn’t put our digital security and our national security at risk.
Unlike the Soviet Union, which had an almost completely separate technological system from the United States, the US and China are fairly closely integrated right now in terms of supply chains, economics, and research. It would be difficult to accomplish but I think it is well worth looking hard at an all-of-government and all-of-society effort by the West, in partnership with companies like Samsung and Nokia, to make sure that what gets deployed in the United States is secure and scalable and available on an affordable basis to our key allies. I do support moving in that direction.