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Text of Rubio's Foreign Policy Speech

12:19 PM, Apr 25, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Here's the text of Senator Marco Rubio's foreign policy speech, which he's delivering right now at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.: 

Marco Rubio by Gage Skidmore

Thank you, Senator Lieberman. One of the best things about working in the Senate is the opportunity to know and learn from colleagues whose statesmanship sets an example for the rest of us. In my brief time in the Senate, I’ve had the chance to get to know Joe, and learn from him. He represents a view of America’s role in the world in the tradition of Democratic leaders from Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman through John F. Kennedy and Scoop Jackson.  In my every experience with him, it’s always been evident that Joe Lieberman is a statesman, who takes positions on every important national security issue because he believes they best serve our country’s interests and values. Thank you, Joe, for the introduction, and for your example.  It’s a privilege to serve with you.

Thank you, Brookings, for the opportunity to contribute a few thoughts to the current debate over America’s role in the world in the 21st Century. I wanted to give this speech today to share with you my observations as someone who is a longtime observer of foreign policy, who now finds himself in the role of policymaker.

I am always cautious about generalizations but until very recently, the general perception was that American Conservatism believed in a robust and muscular foreign policy. That was certainly the hallmark of the foreign policy of President Reagan, and both President Bush’s. But when I arrived in the Senate last year I found that some of the traditional sides in the foreign policy debate had shifted.

On the one hand, I found liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans working together to advocate our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and staying out of Libya. On the other hand I found myself partnering with Democrats like Bob Menendez and Bob Casey on a more forceful foreign policy. In fact,  resolutions that I co-authored with Senator Casey condemning Assad and with Senator Menendez condemning fraudulent elections in Nicaragua were held up by Republicans. I recently joked that today, in the U.S. Senate, on foreign policy, if you go far enough to the right, you wind up on the left.

And I found this sentiment not just in the Senate, but back at home as well.  For example, many loyal supporters back home were highly critical of my decision to call for a more active U.S. role in Libya.

The easiest thing for me to do here today is give a speech on my disagreement with this administration on foreign policy. I have many.

But I wanted to begin by addressing another trend in our body politic. One that increasingly says it is time to focus less on the world and more on ourselves.

I always begin by reminding people of how good a strong and engaged America has been for the world. In making that argument, I have recently begun to rely heavily on Brookings fellow, Bob Kagan’s timely book, The World America Made.

Bob begins his book with a useful exercise: asking readers to imagine what kind of world order might have existed from the end of World War II until the present absent American leadership. Could we say with certainty that it would look anything like America’s vision of an increasingly freer and more open international system, where catastrophic conflicts between great powers were avoided, democracy and free market capitalism flourished, where prosperity spread wider and wider and billions of people emerged from poverty?

Would it have occurred if, after the war, we had minded our own business, and left the world to sort out its affairs without our leadership? 


Almost surely not. As Bob persuasively argued, every world order in history has reflected the interests and beliefs of its strongest power, just as this world order still largely reflects ours. Of course many of these things weren’t achieved by us alone. They weren’t achieved because we succeeded in all our international endeavors. They weren’t achieved because everyone always agreed with everything we did. They weren’t achieved because we were the most popular nation on earth. They were achieved because the United States had the vision, the will and means to do the hard work of bringing it into existence and then maintaining it.

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