Rubio Presents Vision of American Power

When I have interviewed Marco Rubio over the years, I have been highly impressed by his command of a broad range of foreign policy issues. I consider him the strongest candidate in the 2016 field, of either party, on foreign affairs..

Yesterday, Rubio addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He spoke for 25 minutes, then answered questions posed by Charlie Rose for another 35. Rubio hit hard at the Obama administration’s foreign policy disasters:

This deterioration of our physical and ideological strength has led to a world far more dangerous than when President Obama entered office.

In just the last two years, we’ve seen an emboldened Russia invade Ukraine. We’ve seen ISIL sweep across multiple states, commit brutal atrocities, and attempt to establish a caliphate. We’ve seen one of the most devastating humanitarian catastrophes in decades as hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been slaughtered at the whim of a tyrant. We’ve seen the largest migration of refugees since World War II, bringing instability to an entire region and putting whole generations at risk of radicalization. We’ve seen China rapidly expand its military capabilities and take aggressive action in the South and East China Seas. We’ve seen North Korea expand its nuclear arsenal and continue its brutal human rights violations. We’ve seen cyber-attacks against our allies and our own people. We’ve seen peaceful protestors met with violence from their governments.
And most threatening of all, we’ve seen Iran expand its influence throughout the Middle East and threaten to annihilate Israel as it moves closer to a nuclear weapons capability. The president’s proposed deal with Tehran will likely lead to a cascade of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and could force Israel to take bold action to defend itself, making war with Iran even more likely. President Obama’s desperation to sign a deal — any deal — has caused him to elevate politics over policy, legacy over leadership, and adversaries over allies.

The likely impacts of this deal, along with the broader unraveling of global order, underscore a truth we must never again forget: America plays a part on the world stage for which there is no understudy. When we fail to lead with strength and principle, no other country, friend or foe, is willing or able to take our place. And the result is chaos.

He briefly ripped Hillary Clinton:

We simply cannot afford to elect as our next president one of the leading agents of this administration’s foreign policy — a leader from yesterday whose tenure as Secretary of State was ineffective at best and dangerously negligent at worst. The stakes of tomorrow are too high to look to the failed leadership of yesterday.

Rubio articulated a “doctrine” with three pillars: “American strength,” “protection of the American economy in a globalized world,” and “moral clarity regarding America’s core values.”

In response to questions from the somnolent Rose, Rubio said, among other things, that knowing what we know now about Iraq’s lack of substantial WMD capacity, he would not have authorized invading that country (nor, he added, would President Bush). He also said that conditions for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians do not now exist, echoing Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach.

You can both read the speech and watch the entire video, including the dialogue with Rose, here.