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Text of Rubio's Foreign Policy Speech

12:19 PM, Apr 25, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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We had the will and means to defend its norms and institutions and the security of our partners, face down its challengers, assist other peoples in attaining their liberty, keep its trade routes open, and support the expansion of free market capitalism that accelerated the growth of the global economy.

And we did it without coveting any other country’s territory or seizing their assets or robbing them of their opportunities. The purpose of the institutions we established, from the UN to the World Bank and the IMF, was to spread peace and prosperity, not to assert narrow American interests. Other nations consented to our leadership, because they saw what the economic and political values of the American worldview had achieved for us, and they wanted the same for themselves. They followed us because they believed our way, the American way, the principles of free people and free markets, was the best way to advance their societies.

As Bob also points out, we haven’t ever really sought this role, yet despite our worries, doubts and occasional resentment, we are proud of it. And we should be. Bob’s book highlights a number of facts that are worth repeating here today about the post-World War II world America made.

The global GDP has risen four percent annually since the end of World War II, four times faster than the average in past centuries. Four billion people, mostly outside Europe and North America, have been lifted out of poverty. The number of democracies in the world have proliferated nearly tenfold. And we have had the longest period of peace between the great powers.  Ever.

Now, lest anyone accuse me of claiming that American power has ushered in the biblical promise of a “new heaven and a new earth,” let’s stop and remember that the world America made is better, but it is not perfect. But it has been a vastly more peaceful and prosperous age than any other age in recorded history. 


So this is the world America made, but what is the role for America now? Is now finally the time for us to mind our own business? Is now the time for us to allow others to lead? Is now the time for us to play the role of equal partner?

I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of our lives is directly impacted by global events. The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Our cost of living, the safety of our food , and the value of the things we invent, make and sell are just a few examples of everyday aspects of our lives that are directly related to events abroad and make it impossible for us to focus only on our issues here are home. 


The next question I am asked is why doesn’t someone else lead for a change? Why do we always have to be taking care of all the problems in the world? Isn’t it time for someone else to step up?

I always begin my answer to that question with a question of my own.  If we start doing less, who will start doing more? For example, would a world order where China, at least as we know it right now, was the leading power be as benignly disposed to the political and economic aspirations of other nations as we are?

I still have hope that behind the curtain of secrecy that veils the Chinese state, there are voices who advocate for the peaceful and responsible rise of that nation. Voices that reject the idea that global power is a zero sum game. We hold out hope for a new China of tomorrow, but for now we must deal with the China of today. A China which enjoys its closest relationships with countries such as North Korea and Iran. So, at least for now, it would be foolish to be confident in the idea that China can be counted on to defend and support global economic and political freedom or take up the cause of human rights. And by the way, the rest of the world, especially their neighbors have already figured that out, and they prefer not to take that risk.

The short answer is that, at least not yet anyways, there is no one else to hand off the baton to, even if it were wise to do so. On the most difficult transnational challenges of our time, who will lead if we do not? The answer, at least today, is that no other nation or organization is willing or able to do so.

Finally, I am asked, if we still have to lead, can’t we at least be equal partners with someone else? In fact, shouldn’t we rely on other nations to carry more of the burden? After all, we all know that they resent us telling them what to do, right?

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