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Rubio Demands Sanctions Vote on Iran

5:01 PM, Feb 26, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Marco Rubio delivered a speech on Iran on the Senate floor and called on Congress to take action:

"I think that this opposition to additional sanctions is part of a pattern of flawed foreign policy decisions on behalf of this administration. One that’s largely been built on the false assumption that our problems in the world were caused by an America that was too engaged, too involved, too opinionated, was providing too much leadership and direction, when the fact the opposite now is true," said Rubio.

“Many of the conflicts that are happening around the world today are the result of the chaos left behind by this administration’s unclear foreign policy. Many of our allies now openly question — and I can tell you from my travels, privately, strongly question — whether America’s assurances remain viable and whether we can continue to be relied upon in the agreements we’ve made in the past to provide collective security for ourselves and our allies. And when you leave a vacuum, it’s going to be filled. And what it’s being filled by right now are some of the most tyrannical governments on the planet. Look what’s happened with Moscow over the last five years. Moscow viewed the whole reset strategy of the United States under this President not as an opportunity to engage us, but as an opportunity to try to get an upper hand on us.

“Look what’s happened in the Asian Pacific region, where the Chinese regional ambitions to drive the U.S. out have grown exponentially, as have their capabilities. Meanwhile our partners in the region, while they welcome the rhetoric of a pivot, quite frankly, question whether we’ll have the capability to carry it out. And certainly in the Middle East, an incoherent foreign policy with regards to Syria, left open a space in Syria, ungoverned space, where foreign jihadists have poured into that country and have now basically converted entire parts of Syria as the premier operational space for global jihadists to train and operate.

“And now Iran. The situation in Iran, to use a colloquial term, is freaking out all the other countries in that region who have no illusions about who Iran truly is. They know exactly who these people are and they are baffled how the most powerful and informed government on the planet doesn’t realize what they realized a long time ago: That you’re not dealing with a responsible government here in Iran. You are dealing with a nation that openly supports terrorism as a tool of statecraft. That openly has shown their indications that they want to develop a nuclear weapons capability so they can become untouchable and the dominant power in that region. And if we don’t impose additional sanctions, if we don’t put in place a mechanism for additional sanctions to take place, I submit to you, by the time this negotiation that’s going on with the Iranians reaches an end point, it will become irrelevant because by that point in time, even if you wanted to impose more sanctions, it will be impossible to do because so many other countries will have now reengaged with commercial transactions with Iran.

“You’re not going to be able to put this genie back in the bottle, and the genie is already halfway out. So I hope we will take this more seriously. But at a minimum, I would ask this: Why can’t we vote on it? If we’re wrong, debate us on it. But why can’t we vote on it? Since when has the Senate become a place run by one person on a matter of this importance and magnitude? Since when has the Senate become controlled by one person’s opinion? Are you telling me that the people of Florida that I represent do not deserve the right to be represented and heard as much as the people of Nevada or any other state here? Are you saying that on an issue of this importance, one individual should have the power to basically say, ‘We will have no debate,’ when 59 members of this body, in a place where it’s tough to get 51 votes on anything, have expressed a strong opinion that they favor this? 

“Why can’t we have this debate? Isn’t that what the Senate was designed to be, a place where the great issues of our time could be debated and fleshed out before the eyes of the American public and the world? But we’re being told consistently, ‘We can’t have this debate, and we’re not going to do it.’ Why? Why can’t we debate this? This is important. Its implications will be felt by people long after any of us here are no longer here. I hope more attention is paid to this. And let me just say that I understand the frustration that you file a piece of legislation on veterans and the Iran issue comes up. But we are running out of time and this is the only mechanism that exists to have this debate. And I would argue to you that it actually is relevant because it is our men and women in uniform that we’re going to turn to, when this thing ends up the way I know it will, and ask them to take care of this problem.

“If in the end, these negotiations fail — as I tragically have to tell you they are destined to fail — and Iran retains the enrichment capability and eventually develops a nuclear weapon, it is the men and women in uniform of these United States, our sons and our daughters, our neighbors and our friends, our mothers, our brothers, our sisters, and our fathers, who we will ask as we always do, to go solve the problem for us. But if we put in place sanctions that clearly articulate and lay out the price they will have to pay to continue with these ambitions, we may be able to delay that and even to prevent it. 

“Otherwise, that day will come. This piper will be paid, and I hope the price will not be so high. But I fear that that’s where we’re headed — on the verge of making an extraordinary geopolitical blunder that will be very difficult to undo or reverse once it’s already made. And so all we’re asking for is, ’Let’s have a vote on this.’ This matters enough to the American people, this matters enough to the safety and the future of our children and future generations. This matters enough to the world. It deserves a full debate and it deserves a vote. And if you’re against it, you can vote against it. If you’re against it, you can debate against it. We want to hear these arguments and your thoughts, but why can’t we vote on it? It deserves a vote. It’s that important.”

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