With the Obama administration apparently sneaking up on a decision to demand that Bashar Assad step down from power in Syria, Senator Marco Rubio told CBS News this morning that the US has been far too silent on the issue. Rubio told CBS that the world looks to Washington for leadership on issues of freedom and liberty, and that our voice has an impact on the ground. While rejecting the notion of military action, Rubio demanded action from the White House:
Jennifer Rubin has a two-part interview with Rubio, and in the first part, she reported that Rubio had indicated he would introduce a resolution on Syria, including a demand to withdraw diplomatic recognition of Assad’s regime, as discussed here. In part 2, Rubio tells Rubin that the tone of Republicans on foreign policy has him worried:
I ask him about last week’s Republican debate in which more than half the candidates advocated slashing defense and adopting a more isolationist foreign policy. Is he concerned about the direction of the party? He says bluntly, “That’s the wrong direction for America. There has never been a time when we could waste money on defense or foreign aid. We need to make sure the money is wisely spent. . . . On the other hand, to withdraw or retreat from the world will create a vacuum that will be filled by actors” not nearly as desirable or capable as the United States. He says isolationism and defense-cutting are shortsighted. “Disengaging from the world will end up costing us more,” he says. He is concerned that “21st-century American conservatism does not become the politics of neo-isolationism, of retreat. In the last century the U.S. has been a force for good. If you talk to people around the world, they’ll tell you the same thing.”
Finally, Rubio sets the tone pretty clearly for Republicans in pushing back on Barack Obama’s call to take up immigration reform. Few in Congress know immigration issues on such a personal level as Rubio, so he understands the importance of immigration policy, especially as it relates to national security. In an almost offhand manner, though, Rubio tells CBS that the focus should be on jobs rather than legitimizing more illegal workers, calling into question Obama’s priorities.
So far, Rubio has been impressive, and this is yet another impressive performance. Small wonder Democrats feared him so in 2010.