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Marco Rubio Invades the World

As a Cuban-American attorney from Miami who shares much in common with Sen. Marco Rubio—we’re both Florida Gators—I am naturally expected to support his presidential candidacy. But Rubio’s frightening foreign-policy views prevent this conservative from doing so.

There is a war brewing on the right, one arguably more fierce—and fateful—than the usual “conservative vs. liberal” contests. In the summer of 2004, Christopher Hitchens wrote in Vanity Fair of a “Rumble on the Right” among the interventionists and realists. That rumble continues in the form of a proxy war, largely between those who support Sen. Rand Paul’s sensible approach to foreign policy and those who support Senator Rubio’s.

But before examining Rubio’s foreign-policy stances, one must ask: is he even much of a conservative? For those who define conservatism as big business, big government, and war-happy, sure. For the rest of us? We’re not buying it. Rubio’s amnesty push alone should have been the nail in the coffin of any presidential ambition: it’s a position advanced mostly by crony businessmen seeking cheaper, wider labor pools. And perhaps therein lies the key. Rubio is the billionaire’s candidate—a blank slate with a Colgate smile, a company man, be it for amnesty or more wars. And though he has backed off of pushing amnesty, what does it say about the man’s character that he has turned on his own signature legislation, which he swore was of the utmost importance?

Then there is Rubio’s inability to speak in anything other than vague slogans, his Hallmark card-isms. As Glenn Greenwald remarked on Twitter: “Whenever Marco Rubio speaks policy, [he] seems like a 9th grader who read a biography of Reagan & is giving a book report.” Something else you’ll notice in Rubio’s speeches and social media postings? His intense focus on foreign policy. Rubio has even bizarrely stated that foreign policy is domestic policy.


To be fair, foreign policy is the issue over which an American president has the most control, and it’s therefore of prime importance in any presidential candidate. In that spirit, let us examine the foreign-policy views of Marco Rubio, he whom the data-journalism website Vox describes as “the biggest hawk in the GOP field.”

First, there’s Iraq. While most presidential contenders sensibly admit that the Iraq invasion was a mistake in hindsight, Rubio steadfastly insists it was not. This, despite over 4,400 dead Americans, half a million dead Iraqis, a staggering $2 trillion price tag—10 percent of our national debt—and the creation of a power vacuum that has enabled the rise of ISIS. Rubio would even commit our troops yet again. “Anytime there’s a vacuum created anywhere in the Middle East,” he told CNN without a hint of irony, “it becomes a magnet for these sorts of terrorist groups to come in and operate from.” And if the Baghdad regime we set up the last time proves unable to check the Islamic State, “this might require some element of U.S. ground power in order to finish the job.”

Second, there’s Syria. In 2013, the establishment’s drums beat loudly in favor of intervention on the side of the Syrian rebels and against Bashar al-Assad. Many grassroots conservatives opposed getting involved, some purely because Obama—who, like Bill Clinton, is no stranger to interventionism—favored it. For whatever perfect storm of reasons, this time noninterventionism prevailed, thanks to public pressure on Congress, and the choice was soon vindicated. In aiding the rebels against Assad, we would have been aiding ISIS, too—not least because even the “good” rebel groups have proved to be hotbeds for Islamic State recruiting. But who was loudly calling for that intervention? Marco Rubio. thisarticleappears [1]

Third, there’s Libya. Here again Rubio agreed with Obama’s interventionist impulse—in fact, Libya highlights just how much Rubio resembles an establishment Democrat, sharing nearly identical foreign-policy positions with Hillary Clinton. Right-wing interventionists often attempt to smear Rand Paul as a liberal whenever his view coincides with Obama’s—e.g., in opposing the embargo on Cuba. But the truth is Rubio’s foreign policy has much more in common with the Clintons and President Obama than it does with a conservative like Ronald Reagan.

Fourth, we have Ukraine. Rubio has called for arming Ukraine and even supports the country’s prospective entry into NATO, which would obligate us to defend Ukraine militarily under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. You know, just your run-of-the-mill policy position that could lead to World War III with Russia. No big deal. This, even though most Americans have no interest defending in Ukraine.

But wait, there’s more! Fifth is Yemen, where he’s also advocated intervention. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Rubio suggested that U.S. support for a fight against Shi’ite rebels there should not only include “U.S. logistical and air support” but “I think ultimately you could embed Special Operations Forces.”

If you don’t need a cigarette after all that, and aren’t worried about the prospect of this being our commander in chief, I tip my hat to your nerves’ resilience.

Much like Sen. John McCain, Rubio appears to be a man who never met an intervention he did not like. The irony is Rubio—unlike McCain, Lindsey Graham, or either of the George Bushes—never served in the armed forces despite being perfectly able. During Rubio’s eligible years, America engaged in five wars. Rubio took a pass.

Yet no-military-record-be-damned, he wears his interventionism proudly. And it has paid off, with Rubio receiving much praise from the mainstream media and insider buzz around his candidacy. He tied Scott Walker as the Weekly Standard’s pick for the candidate most likely to get the Republican nomination, and early polling puts him close to Walker and Jeb Bush at the head of the field. The powerbrokers and tastemakers are still the interventionists and, as such, a realistic foreign policy remains something of a handicap, while interventionism makes a career.

But despite the fanfare, the chinks in Rubio continue to show, with an embarrassing appearance on Fox News recently where Rubio, defending his vision for Iraq, stated: “It’s not nation building. We are assisting them in building their nation.” Even a Fox News host called the answer “confusing.” 

Rubio bills himself as the candidate of the future, yet his “New American Century” platform might instead best be described as “Turn of the Century.” If you’re clamoring for the ‘Murica, “Democracy can flourish in the Middle East!” policy of the George W. Bush years, Rubio’s your guy. If you want something pensive, positive, and fresh—he probably isn’t.

In 2012, Rubio made perhaps his most worrisome statement: “I disagree with voices in my own party who argue we should not engage at all, who warn we should heed the words of John Quincy Adams not to go ‘abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.’” There you have it. Next up: “Marco Rubio on why Thomas Jefferson’s ‘entangling alliances with none’ was foolish nonsense.” Rubio breaks rank with the Founding Fathers’ tradition and believes in globetrotting monster-destruction—or monster-making, judging by our Mideast record.

Voters will need to choose between this dumbed-down Woodrow Wilson or an alternative. Eleven years in, the Rumble on the Right continues. 

A.J. Delgado is an attorney, author, and television commentator and a conservative columnist for the Miami Herald.

25 Comments (Open | Close)

25 Comments To "Marco Rubio Invades the World"

#1 Comment By AGD On July 6, 2015 @ 12:21 am

So Rubio wants America to intervene in Yemen — on the side of Al Qaeda. Presumably Jamie Fly knows that the Saudis have been arming Al Qaeda in Yemen?

American foreign policy is completely insane right now. Are the Gulf states just sending money directly to the Republican party now?

#2 Comment By AJ On July 6, 2015 @ 12:40 am

You didn’t mention his good looks, which along with his bellicosity might in the realm of conceivability gain him the nomination.

However if he is nominated somehow or other, expect the GOP to go down in flames in the general election. Again. Americans are sick of this unending more-than-Vietnam-ever-was war. Even Republicans.

#3 Comment By Cornel Lencar On July 6, 2015 @ 2:35 am

No opinion on China?! What a shame…

#4 Comment By FerCryingOutLoud On July 6, 2015 @ 6:50 am

When the Republican party calls, I just hang up. My only vote is “no confidence”.

#5 Comment By CJ On July 6, 2015 @ 9:03 am

You didn’t mention his good looks

Definite case of YMMV, but the author did mention his “Colgate smile.”

#6 Comment By Crprod On July 6, 2015 @ 9:09 am

He should direct his post-Senate career towards working for the current incarnation of Blackwater.

#7 Comment By RMThoughts On July 6, 2015 @ 10:07 am

Those that fund him want war.

#8 Comment By bacon On July 6, 2015 @ 11:59 am

I’m not convinced Rubio wants war. I think he wants to be president so badly that he’s willing to send another crop of
young Americans off to crippling injury and death in order to get the job.

#9 Comment By Personal Standards On July 6, 2015 @ 12:52 pm

“Rubio breaks rank with the Founding Fathers’ tradition and believes in globetrotting monster-destruction—or monster-making, judging by our Mideast record. “

In a nutshell.

Plus, his personal finances are a trainwreck, and he had to be bailed out by his pro-Israel sugar daddy. What could possibly go wrong with a Rubio presidency?

#10 Comment By JTK On July 6, 2015 @ 1:07 pm

Whether going into Iraq was a mistake is irrelevant at this point. We went. It’s done. The relevant question is whether, having won the war, was it a mistake to do as Obama did and withdraw. There’s no argument to be made on behalf of that decision (hence the desire not even to raise that question). The situation we face today in the Mid East is the legacy of Obama.

#11 Comment By CJ On July 6, 2015 @ 2:25 pm

Whether going into Iraq was a mistake is irrelevant at this point. We went. It’s done. The relevant question is whether, having won the war, was it a mistake to do as Obama did and withdraw.

You can’t have this both ways. If the question of whether to go is irrelevant, so is the question of withdrawal. We withdrew. It’s done.

And the question of whether we should have gone is still relevant because it helps to reveal whether a candidate is a reliable shill for the war party.

#12 Comment By Joseph R. Stromberg On July 6, 2015 @ 3:16 pm

The obvious opposite of interventionist is *non-interventionist.* So why do we have to keep hearing about these alleged “realists”?

#13 Comment By LJ On July 6, 2015 @ 3:36 pm

Rubio = chicken hawke

What a tawdry bunch of Repubs we have to choose from … again.

I’ll vote for Rand but I fear he’s un-electable.

Notice the NEOCON haven, Fox news, ran an interview with Chris Crisco, the NJ behemouth (yeah, I spelled it that way!), where he bloviated about Rand Paul’s foreign policy views.

#14 Comment By FL Transplant On July 6, 2015 @ 5:39 pm

JTK–the end result of the nation-building in Iraq was a puppet government so weak and unpopular that it couldn’t stand without massive US military support. If we must use our military to fight and die to prop up puppet governments it’s time to leave those countries sooner rather than later.

#15 Comment By Romerus On July 6, 2015 @ 5:45 pm

This ‘canary’ is controlled by the Miami emigre ancien regime, if they come into power or pressure enough those who do (this is after all the design)–then the U.S. windmill of subterfuge and undertowing (oligarchic) connivance tilts perforce with greater force to the Americas: the undermining of MERCOSUR, Venezuela above all.

#16 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 6, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

“For whatever perfect storm of reasons, this time noninterventionism prevailed, thanks to public pressure on Congress,”

Truth be told the President’s donorists wanted war. He wants whatever they want. What frustrated what was going to be the perfect propaganda storm front for war, was Vlad Putin, now popularly known as “Adolf” or old “Uncle Joe,” importunately getting Syria’s Assad to take up Kerry’s “impossible” demand for relinquishing chemical weapons. Then the foolish Cameron thinking he had the war vote sewn up in Parliament, only to be rebuffed. Obama then claiming he needed no approval to launch a war, but sensing this made him look like the warmonger his patrons are, backed down, temporarily. But only until the pesky Putin could be knocked from his perch as punishment for thwarting the plans of “the greatest nation the world has ever known” – not exactly true, since “the nation” actually has no say in these coups and we are never asked anyhow. Certainly none of us were asked about the “pivot” to Ukraine and the five billion dollar, plus cookies, “investment” to install U.S. sock ’em puppetry.

As for Rand, he’s only unelectable if you don’t vote for him. The alternatives are either the Rubes, or the duopoly dynasty candidates (Jebillary) of the managed democracy crowd, Superpower imperialism and the banksters’ donor-controlled inverted totalitarianism.

#17 Comment By Steve in Ohio On July 6, 2015 @ 8:03 pm

Rand is very electable in the general election. Capturing the nomination will be the challenge.

A president Rubio would be a disaster, but I think he might pull it off. His FP views will provide lots of funding and the rank and file will be excited about his Tea Party association (I have never figured out why the Speaker of the Florida House was considered an outsider.) He chooses Kasich as his running mate which gives the GOP a great shot at Florida and Ohio. Democrat and Clinton drama fatigue swings enough independents to the Republicans for a narrow victory.

#18 Comment By fast_Jimmy On July 6, 2015 @ 8:48 pm

It’s irrelevant that movement hacks are blaming Obama for ‘losing’ Iraq due to the withdrawal.

Obama could have stayed there indefinitely, pursued any course, killed any number or reached an agreement of various types and the result would have been the same- condemnation and revisionism.

Of course, this is made much easier by the extreme instability of the sectarian nightmare we created in 2003 and beyond.

Personally, I think it’s pretty important that U.S. troops are no longer being maimed and killed, even if it hurts the feelings of those who wantonly spread the lie, whether they believe it or not, that we had accomplished anything of consequence in Iraq.

#19 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 7, 2015 @ 9:37 am

“Personally, I think it’s pretty important that U.S. troops are no longer being maimed and killed”

It would be, if it were true, but it isn’t.

Antiwar.com keeps a running feature about our soldiers still being maimed and killed. As the President just confirmed, this is a “generational” forever war. It is the permanent American position, the one the donorist predators have set anyone who is elected to pursue for their interests, regardless which of the duopoly parties holds office. Tweedle-dumb or Tweedle-she, in the bush or in the bag.

Is it at all important that policy and billions of dollars in our weaponry are still maiming and killing people in other lands, the victims mostly civilians?

Is it “important” even if people with joysticks in air conditioned cubicles half a world away, gorging on their Big Macs, can vaporize far away others with convenient impunity – again, killing innocents as well at cafes or in cars between sips of coke and bites of fries?

Push a button, and somewhere far away, mere nameless foreigners die, chosen by a computer algorithm. War as convenience shopping.

It certainly lends new meaning to the term, “armchair warrior.” Perhaps Purple Hearts can be given out for suffering repetitive motion disorders, i.e. “gamer’s thumb.”

#20 Comment By Uncle Billy On July 7, 2015 @ 10:18 am

Rubio would have the United States engaged in military action in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine and God only knows where else. He seems to think that the answer to any problem, anywhere in the world, be it political, religious, ethnic or economic, is US military force. After the debacles of Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc., a thinking person might be reluctant to invade, invade and invade, but not Rubio. Perhaps he is not really a thinking person?

#21 Comment By Barry On July 7, 2015 @ 12:35 pm

JTK says:

“Whether going into Iraq was a mistake is irrelevant at this point. We went. It’s done. The relevant question is whether, having won the war, was it a mistake to do as Obama did and withdraw. There’s no argument to be made on behalf of that decision (hence the desire not even to raise that question). The situation we face today in the Mid East is the legacy of Obama.”

This is a lie.

1) President Obama obeyed the treaty negotiated and signed by President Bush.
2) There were no circumstances where any significant US troop presence could be maintained. several hundred thousand deaths tend to do that.
3) The Iraq government was a duct-taped together temporary fix to allow a withdraw forces.
4) If you have an actual way of getting an army which won’t fight to do so, you’d be the first in US history.

#22 Comment By Cfountain72 On July 8, 2015 @ 11:08 pm

Please explain to me how support for the biggest U.S. foreign policy blunder of (at least) the last 20 years is ‘irrelevant’. Maybe we should allow all the murderers out of jail since, they killed, but ‘it’s done’, it’s irrelevant. Does the term ‘accountability’ mean anything to you? Have you ever done any hiring or interviewing? Would you hire a candidate for a job who, when asked “Why were you fired from your job a few years back?”, responded “Oh, it happened, but now it’s irrelevant”?

Essentially your statement would render any and all questions about the past of any candidate moot. “As governor, why did you implement Romneycare?” “Why did you choose to go to that particular Chicago church?” “Why did you support our intervention in Libya?” “Why did you raise taxes x years ago?” Are these simply irrelevant?

Peace be wth you.

#23 Comment By Siberian Conservative On July 12, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

Why one country military invades the other? Usually there are some serious reasons (you may justify them or not) – to prevent some serious threats to own safety, to defend your allies, to help to overthrow a regime that is pursuing a genocidal policy towards its people, to get some resources that are vital to your own economy.
In the case of Sen. Marco Rubio, it seems he has no clear reasons at all and that is frightening, If he has any chances in his presidential campaign. It seems that he wants to intervene for the sake of intervening, just to help the “good” guys versus the “bad” ones all over the world. And who is good or bad, say in Yemen? The Shi’ite rebels are bad because of their religious beliefs or because Saudis say so and they are friends? Not sure that Rubio has a definite answer to that question.

#24 Comment By John Carter On February 27, 2016 @ 10:54 pm

I’m in agreement with the article but in reference to Reagan being a non-interventionalist, that simply denies history. After Vietnam, he was unable to take troops openly into Central America but our CIA went and did the same counter-insurgency job on the population we did in Iraq … led by one of the same operators … Col. Steele.

#25 Comment By eddie On March 12, 2016 @ 3:14 pm

Since I am the son of a Cuban mother, I am scared that Rubio’s personal vendetta against Cuba might lead to an unnecessary war/invasion against Cuba with massive causalities on both sides. I have already been to Iraq and know that war is not pretty. But most Cubans in America are living in rainbow-land thinking that the Cuban population today would welcome an American invasion.