Floridians need to have a clear conscience and not have the sort of guilt ten-fifteen years from now that Germans or Italians did after World War II and the horrors that brought. Stopping Marco Rubio’s reelection to the United States Senate might have the same implications long-term, as hyperbolic and crazy as that might sound to many. Rubio is an unreconstructed neoconservative that has never met a military intervention that he didn’t embrace, even if it isn’t in our national security interests. He has never missed an opportunity to undermine our current administration’s efforts to use American soft power abroad. His world view and style are completely incompatible with 21st Century American society.
Neoconservatism became in the 1990’s and 2000’s the most predominant post-Cold War philosophy among American foreign affairs thinkers. The “Pax Americana” really didn’t mean American peace, but a unipolar world with no consequences for American actions abroad, moral or immoral and global domination for the economic and political system that had “won” the Cold War.
In the 1990’s, neoconservatives backed Tony Blair and Bill Clinton’s intervention in the Balkans (this was a moral war it must be noted) as well as the Clintonian bombing raids on Sudan and Afghanistan. After 9/11, the neocons were anxious to use a mandate from the frightened American public and shifts in global economy to consolidate American military and economic hegemony across the globe. The goal was to leverage a unipolar world and global sympathy to rearrange the deck starting in the Middle East and Central Asia.
But following the Iraq War debacle, a conflict created out of thin air by the neoconservative wing of both the GOP (who was in power) and the Democrats, neoconservatism faded as the predominant foreign policy doctrine in the US.
The neo-conservative doctrine today is advocated on campaign trail and in the US Senate (when he actually bothers to show up for work) by Florida’s Junior Senator. These are policies that has led this nation into an endless state of war with multiple ongoing conflicts and American interventions that the public isn’t even paying attention to (like the drone war in Pakistan).
In late 2015, Foreign Policy in Focus wrote the following about Rubio:
Beyond his veneer of reasonableness, however, Rubio has established himself as the most adept of the Republican candidates at regurgitating the militaristic talking points of the party’s neoconservative wing. His competency in this regard has earned him the favor of influential hawkish donors like Sheldon Adelson, as well as an array of neoconservative political operatives.
In February Daniel DePetris wrote in The National Interest that:
The notion that the senator (Rubio) is a moderate standing up to extremism in the GOP has it backwards.
At the time Donald Trump was cast as the villain that would get the United States into a war if elected President. But in reality, Rubio was the far more dangerous choice. This is not to claim Trump isn’t very dangerous as he’s unleashed with his raw rhetoric, angry dogs that have exposed the fault lines in American society. But as far as keeping Americans out of war is concerned, Rubio is the most dangerous individual in high public office.
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 is far from a seasoned and reasonable foreign policy operators he has 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.
Strangely this fall, Hillary Clinton and some Democrats have echoed a few neoconservative themes articulated by Rubio during the GOP Primaries. But that’s a matter for another day.
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 criticism 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 they had made by Donald Trump yet they 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. This inability to deal with a man making such claims in the GOP Presidential primaries allowed Rubio to play “born-again-Floridian,” and reemerge as a serious candidate for reelection. But Rubio’s neoconservative positions could in fact win him some swing in his direction some ticket-splitters, voting Clinton for President and Rubio for Senate. This is a threat that must be countered and exposed.
The critiques I offer of Rubio are not per se defenses of President Obama. I completely understand the disappointment in a few of President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, which has been at times very naive and based around idealistic goals, such as the “Russia reset.” 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. The narrative pushed bv Rubio and his ideological soulmates including “Independent” Presidential Candidate Evan McMullin does not take into account this perspective.
A future 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 neoconservatives 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. Yes, we need to talk about a Rubio Presidency because following the Trump debacle the GOP is likely to run back toward Florida’s Junior Senator claiming he is more “mainstream” and level-headed. The surest way to stop a Rubio Presidency is to defeat him here in Florida this year.
But Rubio is a charlatan, a chameleon who tries to use soothing rhetoric to mask the danger he poses to the republic. But make no mistake about it – his views and ideas about foreign policy and the use of American force abroad have long remained consistent.
During the Presidential primaries, Marco Rubio’s answers to foreign policy questions were reflexively to blame President Obama, by saying he’ll intervene aggressively and “lead,” with a strong implication of unilateralism. He also used the opportunity to use these foreign affairs 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.
Rubio’s use of the gun issue to push neoconservative themes was creative – and shows how dangerous his domestic AND foreign policy beliefs are particularly since they can be fused together as one coherent right-wing ideology.
Marco Rubio presents a clear and present danger to our safety as a global community. Floridians have the opportunity on November 8 to retire him from public office and need to do so.