“At least 85 percent of American foreign policy does not change from president to president, and the presidents who do try to change more than that eventually discover the pitfalls of that approach,” writes Tufts University professor, and Washington Post contributor, Daniel Drezner. This foreign policy learning curve, Drezner explains, has become a part of the pageantry of American politics, even if candidates eventually fail to live up to the ideals enumerated on the campaign trail once in the White House.
Early indicators suggest a similar letdown in a hypothetical Rubio presidency. Though the senator spoke abstractly about freedom and human rights during his speech, Rubio also heaped praise on Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and even went so far as to suggest that a Rubio administration would provide U.S. ground forces to help Saudi Arabia wage a primarily sectarian war in neighboring Yemen.
The Saudis have beheaded scores of their own citizens just this year alone, and the regime continues to coddle the very same Wahhabi clerics who help incubate and enable terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda. Now, the Saudis are threatening to plunge the entire Mideast into a nuclear arms race if the terms of the deal agreed to between Tehran and world powers are not amended in Riyadh’s favor.
This presents Rubio with a real opportunity to make good on his foreign policy pledges, and speak out against Mideast sectarianism and extremism in all its forms, be it Sunni or Shia, Arab or Iranian. But will he?