Rubio spoke in New Hampshire yesterday, and among other things had this to say:
The Middle East, “after 3,800 years of instability, is now more unstable than ever” [bold mine-DL] because of an ascendant Iran and the growth of jihadist groups, the presidential candidate asserted during a speech that blamed President Barack Obama for a world in chaos.
It is fairly common for hawks to exaggerate how disorderly and dangerous a region or the world is, but Rubio’s statement stands out for being even more misinformed than the usual fear-mongering claims. The region has not suffered from “3,800 years of instability,” and if Rubio were pressed on this he would have to admit that this phrase is silly. No region is continuously convulsed by political upheaval and conflict, and the history of every region is marked by periods of warfare and disorder as well as extended periods of relative peace. While several countries in the region are suffering from armed conflict and political turmoil, most are not. Some parts of this region are very insecure and unstable, but it is clearly untrue that regional instability is greater now than it has ever been. It is certainly much more stable than it was a century ago when the Ottoman Empire was disintegrating and being carved up into the many states we see today. So Rubio’s claim is easily refuted. Another part of his speech shows us that his concern for regional stability is phony.
Elsewhere in his speech, Rubio commented on the possibility of attacking Iran: “We may have to decide at some point what is worse: a military strike against Iran or a nuclear-armed Iran.” Mind you, this is not really a choice between two alternatives, since an attack on Iran would likely lead in short order to the production of an Iranian nuclear weapon. He says that “we may have to decide” on this, but he’s talking about starting a war of choice against another country. There is no necessity that would require this attack. Rubio is showing us that he is so indifferent to regional stability that he is prepared to entertain the possibility of launching an illegal war against Iran–one of the more stable countries in the region–in a counterproductive effort to “prevent” an Iranian bomb. A war with Iran would damage Iran and the Gulf monarchies, it would likely escalate into a wider regional conflict, and all in the name of “preventing” an outcome that it would cause.
Then again, it’s not surprising that Rubio isn’t interested in shoring up regional stability. He was a vocal advocate for regime change in Libya, he was an early supporter of sending arms to rebels in Syria, and he evidently has no problem with the Iraq war. Trying to preserve stability is something that neoconservatives and other hawks have frequently derided as misguided and undesirable. When it comes to his policy preferences, Rubio seems to share this disdain for trying to maintain stability. Prior to the Iraq war, it was common for supporters of the invasion to mock anyone that worried about the destabilizing effects the war would have. Back then, they were only too glad to see instability and disorder, which in their delusions they believed were part of the democratic regional “transformation” that the invasion would cause. Having backed one destabilizing intervention after another, hawks now feign concern about regional disorder and then in the next breath talk about how the U.S. might need to start another unnecessary war. Rubio and other hawks like him want the U.S. to sow disorder through military action and support for insurgencies, and then they will cite the same disorder that their preferred policies have helped create as a reason for even more meddling and intervention.