The freshman Republican Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, gave a big foreign policy speech yesterday at the Helms Center of Wingate University in North Carolina. A transcript is here and a YouTube video of the remarks is embedded below.
As dissidents and freedom fighters battle dictators around the world, they look for support to the greatest democracy in the world. And America must answer their call.
We do not seek to impose our vision of government. We do not insist that every nation must have a presidency, a supreme court or a bicameral legislature. Nor do we have any intention of using force to depose every despotic regime on the planet.
But we must do what we can to champion the cause of freedom—not only with the power of our example but also with our money and our resources, our ingenuity and our diplomacy, and on rare occasion, when there is no good alternative and when our national interest is clearly at stake, our armed might....
We may not always agree with our fellow democracies, but seldom, if ever, do we fight them. The more functioning democracies there are—"functioning" being the important quality—the easier we can breathe.
States that do not respect the rights of their citizens seldom respect the rights of their neighbors. They become breeding grounds for all sorts of ills—from the trafficking of humans and drugs to contagious diseases and famine, from nuclear proliferation to terrorism—that threaten our own security.
Now some suggest that America should heed the famous words of John Quincy Adams and go "not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy." The problem is if America turns inward and ignores the monsters abroad, they are likely to come here.
It happened in 1917 when German U-boats torpedoed American merchant ships.
It happened in 1941 when Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor.
And it happened ten years ago when Al Qaeda carried off the deadliest terrorist attack in history from a base in the Hindu Kush. If we do not have the luxury of ignoring developments in lands as remote as Afghanistan, then there is no corner of the world from which we can safely turn our backs.
Senator Rubio tweaked the Saudi royal family: "Even in countries such as Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, we simply do not have the luxury of endorsing the status quo. Instead of tying our fate to discredited dictators, we would be better advised to build constructive alternatives."
He concluded with a quote from Harry Truman in 1951:
"I have the feeling that God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose. It is not given to us to know fully what that purpose is. But I think we may be sure of one thing. And that is that our country is intended to do all it can in cooperating with other nations to help create peace and preserve peace in the world. It is given to us to defend the spiritual values—the moral code—against the vast forces of evil that seek to destroy them."
Foreign policy is a bit far afield from our usual topics here at FutureOfCapitalism, but I think Senator Rubio is newsworthy as a leading, up-and-coming voice of the kind of John F. Kennedy-Ronald Reagan-George W. Bush "neoconservative" school of America as a religiously inspired defender and supporter of freedom around the world, in contrast to the more isolationist or humble or "realist" vision articulated by Rep. Ron Paul or Governor Jon Huntsman. There's a debate over this within the Republican Party these days, and within America overall. Wherever you come down on it, it sure looks to me like this Senator Rubio is going to be an important voice in the years ahead.