In a wide-ranging speech that alternately took shots at the foreign policy – or lack thereof – of President Barack Obama and highlighted his own ideas, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio laid out a case for a strong foreign policy and said “our nation is never isolated from the world.”
“There have always been those who argue that America shouldn’t concern herself with the affairs of the world – that what happens an ocean away bears little relevance to our people,” Rubio said in his prepared remarks for the Wednesday afternoon address. “Thankfully, there have also always been those who disagree – who argue that foreign policy is domestic policy, that our people’s interests and safety require defense capabilities so robust that they deter aggression and violence before they take hold around the world.”
The event was seen as a significant address by the Florida Republican, a potential 2016 presidential candidate. It set him apart from some of his potential Republican rivals who have indicated less willingness to use U.S. power in conflicts not directly involving the United States.
He spoke at an event hosted by the John Hay Initiative, in association with Concerned Veterans for America and The Project for the Common Defense.
Like his previous speeches on reinventing the American Dream and domestic policy, Rubio embedded a history lesson into his address, talking about threats the U.S. faced from the times of George Washington to the Cold War and beyond.
He said Obama had failed in his leadership, saying that a “striking shift has occurred at the hands of our current president.”
“The president’s foreign policy was once a failure – now it is simply non-existent,” Rubio said. “From Libya to Syria to Egypt to Ukraine, this administration simply shrugs as threats fester. When the administration does act, it fails to communicate any consistent rationale for military use."
He criticized the proposed reductions in the nation’s military strength, including in the numbers of ground troops, ships and planes; he said they are set to be reduced to pre-World War II or earlier levels.
To combat this decline in the nation’s combat strength, Rubio said that Obama should request additional funds for the military above what he requested earlier this year. He said the Navy needs to boost its number of ships, the Air Force needs to beef up its capabilities, and the Marine Corps and Army should reverse plans to reduce their sizes.
The full text of the speech is here.