Rubio likes to answer questions with questions:
The next question I am asked is why doesn’t someone else lead for a change? Why do we always have to be taking care of all the problems in the world? Isn’t it time for someone else to step up?
I always begin my answer to that question with a question of my own. If we start doing less, who will start doing more? For example, would a world order where China, at least as we know it right now, was the leading power be as benignly disposed to the political and economic aspirations of other nations as we are?
Here Rubio repeats the false opposition between U.S. hegemony in which virtually everything is “our business” and a world in which China or some other undesirable authoritarian regime becomes the world’s leading power in place of the U.S. It is unlikely that there would be a world order in which China is the “leading power.” The correct answer is that if the U.S. allows other major powers to take up their share of the burdens for regional and international security, the U.S. will have fewer burdens to bear. Most of the world’s major and rising powers are not authoritarian regimes such as China or Russia, but whenever Rubio or Ryan or Romney wants to create fear about a multipolar order he falls back on the specter of Chinese global preeminence.
Burden-sharing is desirable for the U.S., and multipolarity is in the interests of the United States. Contrary to the Blair quote Rubio uses at the end of his speech, the U.S. is not “destined” to fulfill this role forever, and it is not solely or primarily America’s “task to do.” Rubio pretends that the current U.S. role is a natural and inescapable one, that it is something to which Americans must resign themselves as their lot, but this is actually something that that American leaders keep forcing the U.S. to do. Relative decline may not be a choice, but the continued pursuit of hegemony is.
Some might also question Rubio’s rosy portrayal of the U.S. role as one “benignly disposed to the political and economic aspirations of other nations.” The U.S. role Rubio has in mind is not one of being benignly disposed to the political and economic aspirations of the Chinese, the Russians, or the Iranians. Those aspirations are viewed as things to be limited and checked. U.S. “leadership” is supposed to counterbalance them. Talk to the Iraqis and Serbs about the benign disposition of U.S. foreign policy and see what they say. It isn’t likely to be an endorsement of the idea that America is the indispensable nation.