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Rubio’s Disqualifying Recklessness on Syria

Rubio has also endorsed “a safe zone that includes a no-fly zone” in Syria (relevant part of video starts around 8:10). When asked about Russian forces in Syria, Rubio asserts that he doesn’t think the Russians would test a “no-fly zone” established by the U.S., and goes further by saying that if they did “that would be a problem” but would be “no different than any other adversary.” As he always does, he assumes that the other government in question will back down when threatened and challenged, because he is wedded to an ideology that prizes “resolve” and showing “strength” above all else.

He takes for granted that Russia wouldn’t test a “no-fly zone” because Moscow doesn’t want armed conflict with the U.S., but by the same reasoning the Kremlin would assume that the U.S. would never actually shoot down Russian planes because our government doesn’t want a war with Russia. Assuming that the other side isn’t stupid enough to risk escalation is a huge gamble, and it’s an assumption that no remotely responsible leader would make. That’s especially true when there is nothing in Syria that is important enough to the U.S. to take that risk.

In short, Rubio is prepared to risk a war with Russia for the sake of his more aggressive Syria policy, and to make matters worse he doesn’t acknowledge the enormous danger that he would be courting by doing this. Russia is obviously not the same as “any other adversary,” and putting the U.S. on a collision course with Russia over Syria is one of the most irresponsible things that a presidential candidate could promise to do. Rubio is hardly the only presidential candidate to support a policy like this in Syria, but I suspect he is the one most ideologically committed to following through with such an irresponsible and reckless policy.

P.S. A little later, Harwood presses Rubio by asking, “Don’t you think the prospect of potential military, hot military conflict with Russia would scare the American people?” Rubio’s answer is delusional: “Sure, but the consequences of not doing anything would scare them even more.” That exchange sums up everything wrong with Rubio’s worldview and reminds us why he should never be allowed the chance to become president.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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