As he rolls out his candidacy for president, Marco Rubio has been positioning himself as somewhat of an expert on foreign policy.
“Governors can certainly read about foreign policy in briefings, and meet with experts, but there is no way they’ll be ready on Day One to manage U.S. foreign policy because the learning curve alone would take a number of years, and you see that reflected in the history of the presidency,” the Republican presidential candidate told reporters and editors of the Des Moines Register last month.
But now that his candidacy appears to be catching fire, undoubtedly his opinions on world issues will be scrutinized more closely than they have to date.
Since his 2010 election to the U.S. Senate, the Florida lawmaker has joined the hawkish wing of that body. He often aligns with John McCain and Lindsey Graham to advocate for American strength overseas, and is always finding fault with President Barack Obama‘s actions.
Just months into his tenure, he became one of the most vocal GOP advocates of getting involved in Libya. “If we believe that the rise of this new attitude among young people and others seeking a new life and a new way in the Middle East is a positive thing, and I believe that it is, then it serves our national interest to see that happen,” he said at the time. He said it was worth overthrowing Moammar Gaddafi because he “sowed instability among neighbors, plotted assassination attempts against heads of state, and supported terrorist enterprises.”
Of course, Libya has become a mess since our intervention — something Rand Paul frequently mentions on the stump.
Rubio has also been outspoken in denouncing the president’s decision to end the thaw in relations with Cuba. He recently blasted the administration’s decision to remove the communist island from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, saying, “I think it sends a chilling message to our enemies abroad that this White House is no longer serious about calling terrorism by its proper name.”
Rubio has also attacked Obama for his nuclear arms agreement with Iran, and last week attached an amendment to a bill on Iran pending in the Senate that would require Tehran to recognize Israel’s statehood.
Now that he’s a full-fledged presidential candidate, his words on foreign policy take on even greater meaning. There should be a lot of anticipation next week when he travels to New York City to address the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, his first visit there in three years.
Not everyone is a fan.
In a recent opinion piece in The Week, Michael Brendan Dougherty called his stances on foreign policy issues, “Criminally overrated.”
He wrote that, “Rubio has a reputation for foreign policy expertise because he chooses to talk about foreign policy often, promises large budgets to the Pentagon, and mostly pronounces the words correctly. Rubio’s foreign policy consists of babyish moralizing, a cultivated ignorance of history, and a deliberate blindness to consequences. This is the same ‘foreign policy expertise’ that led to a misbegotten war in Iraq and empowered Sunni insurgencies across the Middle East.”
Meanwhile, Rubio chairs his third Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee meeting this afternoon.