Over the last few years, the same war-weariness that afflicted the Left almost from the start of the post-9/11 wars has seeped into the conservative movement as well. Calls for less interventionist policies and concerns over issues like domestic surveillance and corrosive deficits has some demanding a lower profile abroad, and perhaps a recasting of American foreign policy toward withdrawal and a demand for more effort from allies. Enter Marco Rubio, who spent his speech reminding CPAC 2014 of why Ronald Reagan called America the “indispensable nation,” helped in no small part by current events:
Noah Rothman at Mediaite reported that Rubio’s speech “fired up the CPAC crowd”:
He pivoted to foreign policy, defining the threats faced by the United States. He said that China is threatening to take parts of the South China Sea which would limit trade and threaten America’s allies, a nuclear North Korea is testing missiles, Venezuela is slaughtering protesters, and Cuba remains an oppressive dictatorship. He added that Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons and regional hegemony and Russia is attempting to “reconstitute” the former Soviet Union.
“And by the way, what do all these countries have in common?” he asked. “These are totalitarian governments.”
“There is only one nation on earth capable of rallying and bringing together the free people on this planet to stand up to the spread of totalitarianism,” Rubio said. “The United Nations cannot do this. In fact, they cannot do anything.”
“We cannot ignore that the flawed foreign policy of the last few years has brought us to this stage, because we have a president who believed but by the sheer force of his personality he would be able to shape global events,” Rubio asserted. “We do not have the luxury of seeing the world the way we hope it would be. We have to see the world the way it is. And we have to address these issues before they grow unmanageable, and they threaten, not just our freedoms, but our economy.”
“[Ronald] Reagan dealt with the Soviet Union because they had nuclear weapons and he wanted peace, but he never accepted the Soviet Union,” he declared. He said went on to outline how the behavior of the Iranian government should be unacceptable to the American public and regarded as illegitimate.
“If you think high taxes and regulations are bad for our economy, so is global instability and the spread of totalitarianism,” Rubio added. “What we have in America is the exception, not the rule, in human history. Almost everyone who has ever lived on this planet didn’t’ get to choose their leaders, and they didn’t get to choose their life either.”
“Every time I talk about how special America is, some commentator or whoever it may be will roll their eyes and say, ‘Well, that’s just something Americans tell each other to make themselves feel good,’” Rubio said. “You have the right to believe that. I don’t have that option, because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
Rubio nails it on foreign policy, and in a way explains why the Obama administration fell into the trap of their own arrogance. Barack Obama campaigned on “hope and change,” and later implied (if not quite stated outright) that he was the change and the hope. The administration seemed to have bought its own hype. The mere fact of his election was supposed to argue that America had already fundamentally changed, and that all that was needed to get imperial-oriented nations like China and Russia to see the light was a reset button or two.
That’s the “fantasy” world inhabited by the Obama administration, as the Washington Post described it last weekend. Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry all seem to believe that just talking about change and hope will mean that nations run by power-seeking leaders will suddenly embrace Utopianism, because — as Kerry explicitly said — that’s the right side of history, and the geopolitical manipulations of Russia and China are on “the wrong side of history.” There is absolutely no evidence for that claim, except for their own declarations that it’s so.
Rubio’s speech reminds us that Ronald Reagan didn’t create a fantasy world in his pursuit of individual liberty, nor did he buy into the fantasy of Soviet self-sustainability. He saw the world as it was, and then put in hard work to make the world into what it should be. Obama and Kerry just think they can do so by declaring they’ve done it, and then act shocked, shocked when America’s opponents take advantage of that naivete and prove it wrong.
This is an excellent takedown of the Obama administration, and a clear-eyed vision of the world as it is. We can debate whether we want to be the rallying point for global freedom, but we can’t pretend that the world doesn’t need one, and that there is only one nation who can do it.