‘We Don’t Live in the Ideal World’: Rubio Talks Foreign Policy at UT


“We can ignore our enemies, we can ignore our adversaries, we can ignore those who wish us ill,” said Marco Rubio yesterday. “But I promise you they will not ignore us.”

Florida’s junior U.S. Senator spoke off-the-cuff and without a teleprompter Tuesday to a mostly packed auditorium at the Blanton Museum of Art. The event was presented by UT’s Clements Center, and the Republican shared his views on Russian nationalism, Edward Snowden, and Iranian nuclear programs. But none were more straightforward than his argument that the United States is a figurative—and perhaps literal—target in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Other topics included “draconian cuts” to the military, Putin’s East vs. West worldview as a “zero-sum game,” and totalitarianism masquerading as democracy across the globe.

He described an ideological and spiritual battle between the forces of tyranny and the forces of freedom, advanced his notion of the target placed squarely on our nation’s back, and made predictions, like a potential terrorist attack on U.S. soil from Syria.

“If things continue the way they are, soon we will see attacks staged against our interests—and God forbid perhaps even our homeland—from those ungoverned spaces in Syria,” Rubio said.

Rubio has long been a proponent of strategic engagement in international relations. Rubio used his speech and the ensuing sit-down to invoke a sense of historical reasoning for his beliefs, an important facet of the Clements Center, which aims to inform policymakers, scholars, and the general public on the history of international strategy and statecraft.

“From the lessons learned in World War II we tried to put up everywhere norms for international relations in the hopes of never again having a conflict like that war, or World War I before it,” Rubio said. “The results were unquestionably positive.”

He also acknowledged that while the best solution is potentially disengaging from international conflicts, it simply isn’t realistic in this world.

“Ideally, [disengagement] would be fantastic,” Rubio said. “But we don’t live in the ideal world.”

Further hammering home his point that America cannot simply disengage from international conflict, Rubio said: “The United States is many things; it is not a planet.”

To cap off the event, Rubio was presented with the most nonpartisan present available on the Forty Acres: a personalized Longhorn football jersey.

Photo, from the 2013 Value Voter Summit, by Jamelle Bouie, via Flickr.


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