by John J. Metzler
Weirs Times Contributing Writer
NEW YORK–In a stirring and substantive foreign policy address, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) presented his presidential vision for a new America. Calling for transformative leadership in the 21st century, the Republican primary hopeful spoke passionately about the need for a reinvigorated American policy posture at a time when as he said, “Foreign affairs never mattered more.”
Addressing an overflow audience at New York’s prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, Senator Rubio (43) painted a broad-brush vision in which a renewed American military and economy would face global challenges. He warned that during the Obama administration military levels have dropped precipitously, to where the U.S. Army is smaller than before WWII.
Invoking American leadership in the post-war era from President Truman through Kennedy and Reagan, he intoned, “American strength is a means of preventing war, not promoting it. Weakness is the friend of danger and the enemy of peace.”
“The Prosperity of our people now depends on their ability to interact freely and safely in the international marketplace…turmoil across the world can impact American families almost as much as turmoil across town. Today as never before, foreign policy is domestic policy, ”Rubio advised.
Regarding the incumbent Obama Administration, the Senator stressed, “From his reset with Russia, to his open hand to Iran, to his unreciprocated opening to Cuba, he has embraced regimes that systematically oppose every principle our nation has long championed. “
Rubio added, “This deterioration of our physical and ideological strength has led to a world far more dangerous than when President Obama entered office.”
The Senator stressed, “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.”
Rubio put special focus on Islamic Iran, “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.” He added that President Obama’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.”
As to the pending nuclear deal with Iran, Senator Rubio warned “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.”
Significantly Senator Rubio said that the U.S. should have offered support for Iran’s “Green Revolution” democracy movement which rose in reaction to the Islamic Republic’s fraudulent presidential elections in 2009.
Rubio, the charismatic son of poor Cuban immigrants, spoke of “Cuban dissidents devastated by the President’s concessions to the Castro regime for nothing in return.” He emphasized the importance of U.S. policy towards Latin America, something largely neglected by the current Administration.
Addressing the challenge from presumptive Democrat Party nominee Hillary Clinton, the Florida Republican opined, “We simply cannot afford to elect as out 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.” He did not mention Hillary by name, nor did he address the Benghazi, catastrophe or the current Clinton cash scandals.
Rubio presented his three-pillar plan which focuses on American strength through military modernization and refunding, second, the Protection of the American economy in a globalized world which would include signing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The third point would be moral Clarity regarding America’s core values.
He stated, “Just as Reagan never flinched in his criticisms of the Soviet Union’s political and economic repressions, we must never shy away from demanding that China allow true freedom for its 1.3 billion people. Nor should we hesitate in calling the source of atrocities in the Middle East by its real name, radical Islam.”
This is an early stage on the long road to the presidential primaries and then the 2016 election campaign. Yet, Rubio’s clear, if hawkish, stance offers a coherent policy platform. He’s a serious contender for a marathon which ends at the White House on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism The Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014)