Marco Rubio wants to remind us just how reckless and aggressive he would be if he were president:
The U.S. should undertake a systematic effort to isolate Iran in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic, its clients and proxies, should find no sanctuary in the region. The U.S. must do all it can [bold mine-DL] to counter Iran’s nefarious plots in places like Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, Syria or Yemen.
It is striking that Rubio’s vision of an aggressive and ambitious U.S. policy in the region never really touches on how any of this serves American interests. He says that the U.S. “must” counter Iran everywhere that it has influence (and even in Yemen, where it has very little), and should not allow Iran to have any “sanctuary.” That would seem to imply that his agenda extends into Iran as well. There is no attempt to weigh the costs of this extremely confrontational policy, and likewise no attempt to identify benefits that the U.S. is supposed to get from all this frenetic anti-Iranian activity. If the U.S. must “do all it can” to counter Iran, that suggests that Rubio favors an escalation of U.S. involvement in multiple conflicts. We already know he thinks the U.S. hasn’t done enough to back the Saudis in Yemen, and he has long favored a more interventionist policy in Syria, and it’s anyone’s guess how many more unnecessary conflicts he would be prepared to have the U.S. join in the name of “countering” Iran.
U.S. interests are an afterthought for Rubio in this argument, and it’s no surprise. If he had to demonstrate some connection between this aggressive foreign policy agenda and keeping the U.S. secure, he wouldn’t be able to do it, because it doesn’t exist. Neglecting U.S. interests is what an “indispensable leadership role in the world” seems to require, and maintaining that role is the only justification that Rubio needs. The good news is that Rubio’s consistent identification of “indispensable leadership” with constant war and confrontation should help drive most Americans to oppose this role for the U.S. in the world.