Marco Rubio: "I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business."
Tea Party Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is giving a speech today at the Brookings Institution about the need for "forceful" American policy. Some excerpts from that speech:
I am always cautious about generalizations but until very recently, the general perception was that American Conservatism believed in a robust and muscular foreign policy. That was certainly the hallmark of the foreign policy of President Reagan, and both President Bush's. But when I arrived in the Senate last year I found that some of the traditional sides in the foreign policy debate had shifted.
On the one hand, I found liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans working together to advocate our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and staying out of Libya. On the other hand I found myself partnering with Democrats like Bob Menendez and Bob Casey on a more forceful foreign policy. In fact, resolutions that I co-authored with Senator Casey condemning Assad and with Senator Menendez condemning fraudulent elections in Nicaragua where held up by Republicans. I recently joked that today, in the U.S. Senate, on foreign policy, if you go far enough to the right, you wind up on the left.
And I found this sentiment not just in the Senate, but back at home as well. For example, many loyal supporters back home were highly critical of my decision to call for a more active U.S. role in Libya.
The easiest thing for me to do here today is give a speech on my disagreement with this administration on foreign policy. I have many.
But I wanted to begin by addressing another trend in our body politic. One that increasingly says it is time to focus less on the world and more on ourselves.
I always begin by reminding people of how good a strong and engaged America has been for the world. In making that argument, I have recently begun to rely heavily on Brookings fellow, Bob Kagan's timely book, The World America Made.
Bob begins his book with a useful exercise: asking readers to imagine what kind of world order might have existed from the end of World War II until the present absent American leadership. Could we say with certainty that it would look anything like America's vision of an increasingly freer and more open international system, where catastrophic conflicts between great powers were avoided, democracy and free market capitalism flourished, where prosperity spread wider and wider and billions of people emerged from poverty?
Would it have occurred if, after the war, we had minded our own business, and left the world to sort out its affairs without our leadership?
So this is the world America made, but what is the role for America now? Is now finally the time for us to mind our own business? Is now the time for us to allow others to lead? Is now the time for us to play the role of equal partner?
I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of lives is directly impacted by global events. The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Our cost of living, the safety of our food , and the value of the things we invent, make and sell are just a few examples of everyday aspects of our lives that are direcly related to events abroad and make it impossible for us to focus only on our issues here are home.
The next question I am asked is why doesn't someone else lead for a change? Why do we always have to be taking care of all the problems in the world? Isn't it time for someone else to step up?
I always begin my answer to that question with a question of my own. If we start doing less, who will start doing more? For example, would a world order where China, at least as we know it right now, was the leading power be as benignly disposed to the political and economic aspirations of other nations as we are?
So yes, global problems do require international coalitions. On that point this administration is correct. But effective international coalitions don't form themselves. They need to be instigated and led, and more often than not, they can only be instigated and led by us. And that is what this administration doesn't understand. Yes, there are more countries able and willing to join efforts to meet the global challenges of our time. But experience has proven that American leadership is almost always indispensible to their success.
For example, we can't always rely on the UN Security Council to achieve consensus on major threats to international peace and security. As we've seen on North Korea, Syria and Iran, China and Russia simply will not join that consensus when they don't perceive the problem as a threat to their narrow national interests. Instead they exercise their veto or the threat of their veto to thwart effective and timely responses. The Security Council remains a valuable forum, but not an indispensable one. We can't walk away from a problem because some members of the Security Council refuse to act.
In those instances, where the veto power of either China or Russia impede the world's ability to deal with a significant threat, the U.S. will have to organize and lead coalitions with or without a Security Council resolution.
And this concept is neither novel nor partisan. President Clinton acted exactly in this way in Kosovo with the support of congressional leaders like Senator Lieberman.
Everywhere we look, we are presented with opportunities for American leadership to help shape a better world in this new century. We have to view these opportunities within the context of the fact that in every region of the world, other countries look apprehensively on the growing influence of newly emerging powers in their midst, and look to the U.S. to counterbalance them.
This has been your daily reminder that the differences between Democrats and Republicans are largely semantic.