Rubio: On Foreign Policy, Obama ‘So Slow and Hesitant’

Back in April, Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) told NRO that the late Jesse Helms is his model:

Sen. Marco Rubio sailed into office on the tea-party wave, wagging his finger at the Obama administration’s fiscal mischief. But in the Senate, foreign policy has become his passion.

Rubio, in an interview with National Review Online, says that the late senator Jesse Helms, the firebrand conservative from North Carolina, is his model.

“Politicians are not heroes,” Rubio says. “But if you look at Jesse Helms, he had a tremendous amount of influence in this place.”

Rubio respects how Helms fought hard as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, punching back at the princes of liberalism. Over five terms, he notes, Helms became a leading hawk.

Later today, Rubio will speak at the Helms Center in North Carolina, outlining his foreign-policy views. Here is a key passage, about America’s role in the world:

Fundamentally, I believe the world is a better place when the United States is strong and prosperous. I do not believe that America has the power or means to solve every issue in the world.  But I do believe there are some critically important issues where America does have a meaningful role to play in resolving crises that are tied to our national interests.  

If we refuse to play our rightful role and shrink from the world, America and the entire world will pay a terrible price.  And it is our responsibility to clearly outline to the American people what our proper role in the world is and what American interests are at stake when we engage abroad.

He will also touch on terrorism:

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 disease and famine, from nuclear proliferation to terrorism—that threaten our own security.

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.

For President Obama, Rubio will have tough words:

I applaud President Obama for ordering the gutsy raid that finally brought Osama bin Laden to his just fate. I applaud the president, too, for his stirring words in support of reformers in the Middle East.  I only wish he had shown more commitment to the cause of freedom. He has been so slow and hesitant that we have missed some significant opportunities to alter the strategic landscape in America’s favor.  And the President’s failure to lead has served to magnify the damage done to U.S. interests.

That is why I am so concerned that President Obama may let this historic moment pass. I am glad that the President is trying to bring our allies along with us. But they would be the first to tell you that nothing important or difficult happens without American leadership. Unfortunately, that leadership has been missing at critical junctures during the last few years.

Most recently, for example, it has been suggested that the advice of our military commanders in Iraq be completely ignored in favor of a dramatic troop drawdown that even Iraqis say is too drastic.

It is a reminder that, in our republic, elections have consequences not just at home, but all over the world. Because while previous generations of leaders – and even some I serve with today – have stood up for unpopular but necessary measures, even at the risk of losing elections, others are simply too willing to do what is politically self-serving. America, and the entire world for that matter, needs resolute leadership in this era of historic, but volatile, transformation, particularly in the Middle East – and particularly in Iraq.

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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