The neo-conservative doctrine advocated most forcefully today in the Presidential campaign by Florida’s Junior Senator is something that has led this nation into an endless state of war. Some may be surprised to know that neoconservatism is actually a liberal idea that originated on the Democratic side of the aisle in the office of the late Senator Scoop Jackson (D-Washington) and eventually was adopted by elements of the Republican Party. Historically, Republicans had been less willing to use force than Democrats but that radically changed during the administration of George W. Bush. While Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are far from seasoned and reasonable foreign policy operators both have shown a degree of independence from the neocon orthodoxy – Rubio on the other hand is down the line on every foreign policy matter where those who see the US military as the world’s police sit.
The neocon takeover of GOP foreign policy realigned where the major parties stood on foreign affairs and during the Obama Administration, persistent criticisms of the President’s policy have come from the neo-conservatives. We have also seen persistent critiques from Democrats – I personally have felt the President has been naive in how he’s handled parts of the global picture including Putin’s Russia which I have long felt was a major threat to American and western interests. The neoconservative critique of the President seems to be particularly appealing to some Democrats in south Florida, whether it be on the issue of Cuba, Iran or the Middle East/Persian Gulf region. However, Rubio goes beyond the normal critiques by accusing the President of sedition without giving any real evidence as to why this is the case. Strangely, the national media who would be all over similar claims if made by Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz have allowed Rubio to skate by in saying all sorts of terrible things about the President and Americans who disagree with his point of view.
The critiques I offer of Rubio are not per se defenses of President Obama. I completely understand the disappointment in President Obama’s foreign policy which has been at times very naive and willing to sacrifice American interests for idealistic goals. This is similar to the idealism of the Bush years which promoted the spread of democracy in the Middle East even though in retrospect it was clearly in American interests to keep the most despotic and right-wing regimes in power if they were secular (like Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Syria) or not associated with major terrorist organizations (Iraq and Egypt). Some people like myself warned before the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 that Iranian influence would grow in the region. This happened, and instead of becoming partners with Iran given the reality, saber-rattling towards Tehran intensified despite the truth that the US had empowered pro-Iranian regimes in both Baghdad and Kabul by use of force. The pivot towards Iran that President Obama and Secretary Kerry recently engaged in was badly needed in American foreign policy and in time it will serve to add layers of security for Israel that they do not currently enjoy.
A Rubio Presidency would likely create a context in which American ground troops would again be fighting wars in far flung places with little or no national security interest beyond what the foreign policy elite and neo-conservatives talking points. America is less safe today than it was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 before the neoconservative doctrine of interference in the internal affairs of secular Middle Eastern states really kicked off.
Marco Rubio’s answers to foreign policy crisis is to blame President Obama, say he’ll intervene aggressively and “lead,” with a strong implication of unilateralism and to use these matters to push his views on domestic issues such as guns. Lacking intellectual curiosity is an important staple of the neoconservative doctrine, and since Rubio doesn’t understand the world, but just how to repeat talking points, he’s a perfect neocon.