Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been trying to portray himself as the GOP’s silver bullet to appeal to Hispanic voters whilst also hoping that his relative youth among the other candidates would give him the appearance of a ‘fresh-facedness’ that would inspire people to vote for him as a vessel for change. What the debate has shown is that he is more right-wing that I originally thought and that he is potentially one of the more dangerous candidates as unlike Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee, I fear that Rubio will be able to spin his message effectively enough to both win the GOP nomination and effectively challenge the Democratic nominee in the general election.
Rubio’s first chance to speak came on the issue of Russia. He asserted that Putin wanted to re-establish Russia as a geopolitical force, he brought up Putin’s quote about the Soviet Union falling being a disaster, and that the Russian President is trying to “destroy NATO”. He also claimed that Putin was trying to exploit “a vacuum in the Middle East which was left by this president” and that “in the next few weeks Russia will be flying combat missions to attack ISIS but also to prop up Assad”. There is so much I disagree with in this passage that it is hard to fathom but let’s get started. I would argue that even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent economic problems under Boris Yeltsin that, because of the country’s geographical size, Russia has always been a geopolitical force. I also don’t believe that Russia is trying to destroy NATO; NATO should have disbanded after the USSR collapsed but NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe has unsurprisingly made Russian leaders paranoid about a military containment, which is hardly irrational considering that for many years the US, the most powerful member of NATO, had its foreign policy based around the containment of communism by military means.
Rubio’s prediction that Russia will be flying combat missions to “attack ISIS but also prop up Assad” actually made me stop the debate so I could process the stupidity of this statement because, by definition, if you weaken the enemy of Assad by bombing them, you will prop up the aforementioned Syrian despot. What Rubio seems to be advocating is anybody that bombs ISIS should also bomb Assad therefore neither side is in a better position, which is stupid because then we’re back to square one as neither side’s military position would have been enhanced. Rubio also said that Russia would try and “get Egypt and Saudi Arabia to rely on Russia”, which is unlikely as Egypt relies on US military aid that Russia couldn’t match because of sanctions over the Ukraine Crisis, and Saudi Arabia exports lots of oil to the US and therefore couldn’t afford to focus more on Russia, a country with vast supplies of oil and gas.
On foreign policy more broadly Rubio said that he didn’t authorize the attack on Syria because he didn’t think the US would win. He then derided the concept of Obama’s attack by saying that “the US military wasn’t designed to do pin-prick attacks” and “people don’t trust [Obama] because of that”. Rather than appeal to the more libertarian wing of the GOP that wants an end to foreign wars, Rubio seems to be making a pitch for the Republican war-hawks that have been roundly rejected in the last two presidential elections. The Florida Senator was later asked about foreign policy again in which he said “North Korea [has] dozens of nukes that can hit where we are right now [California] and China is building islands in the South China Sea, the most important shipping lane in the world”. He also complained about jihadis, the Iran deal, which he derided as proof of Obama “respecting Iran more than Israel”, and that “we are eviscerating the military”.
Whilst the Pentagon has stated that it believes North Korea has nuclear weapons that can hit the West Coast of the US, the South Korean government questions whether North Korea can fit a missile with a warhead because these missiles have yet to be flight tested. It’s also worth pointing out that despite the rise of China it could very coherently be argued that either the Suez Canal or Panama Canal is the most important shipping lane in the world but that’s more of a subjective point. To say that the US respects Iran more than Israel is preposterous considering that the US openly acknowledges that Iran is a “state sponsor of terrorism” and gives Israel $3 billion annually in military aid. For some reason Rubio kept getting asked about foreign policy and later on in the debate said that “ISIS is in Libya conducting operations in the Sinai”; whilst its true that ISIS is in Libya the phrasing of this statement is poor as it seemed to imply that Rubio thinks the Sinai is in Libya when its actually a massive peninsula in Egypt.
Rubio was eventually asked about something that wan’t foreign policy in the form of immigration. He asserted that the US has three immigration problems: people still have the ability to come to the US illegally, the immigration system itself itself is “broken”, and the US has 11-12 million people in the country already who are here illegally. His solutions to these problems were: to have entry/exit trackers and mandatory e-verification in order to secure the border, to institute an immigration system based on merit and not just families, and to have a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants with this not extended to criminals. To be honest the solutions proposed seem moderately humane but Rubio’s track record on immigration is appalling; six days after the GOP debate in which he said there should be a pathway to citizenship he said on Fox News that “ultimately in 10 or 12 years you could have a broader debate abut how this has worked out and should we allow some of them to apply for green cards and eventually citizenship”, which means that he wouldn’t even suggest a pathway to citizenship whilst he was president. Saying that he supports a pathway to citizenship whilst also refusing to do it if elected president is a way of tricking independent voters who are more liberal on the issue of immigration that the GOP into voting for his presidential ticket.
When asked about the 2nd Amendment he made a stupid point that there shouldn’t be any restrictions on gun laws as “criminals will always break the law”, which is a stupid point because it seems to imply that people who carry out mass shootings are nihilists that will break the law irrespective of what it is. The reason that gun control should be implemented is that there are countless studies, as well as basic logic, that illustrates that when it is harder to obtain a gun, fewer gun-related crimes or accidents take place; even if all criminals fit Rubio’s definition of breaking laws for the ‘shits and giggles’, surely preventing such people from easily getting their hands on firearms is a good thing for society. He also kept repeating that America had a “left-wing government”; this made me actually laugh because if Obama is left-wing I’m a Nigerian woman (it was only after I said this that I remembered that is piece is written and there you can’t see me so for the sake of clarity I’m a white man).
Rubio’s final point was saying that policies to climate change would harm the economy and not improve the environment. Considering that historically economic opportunity has arisen as a result of new technologies and industries, to say that it wouldn’t improve the climate is obviously untrue. In the 1970s in Los Angeles there were Stage 1 smog alerts in the city over 100 times each year, which means that at these times there it becomes harder to breathe due to pollutants in the atmosphere; in the new millennium there have been almost zero, with this decline a result of legislation to improve the environment. To deny science because you are in the pocket of the oil industry or because you value economic growth over breathing is one thing, but to deny cause and effect exists, in my opinion, disqualifies you from being president because according that your own logic a president can’t cause or effect anything anyway.
To conclude Rubio has shown himself to be ignorant of foreign policy as well as terrified that the destruction of America is imminent unless many countries around the world are invaded and occupied indefinitely by the US. When CNN eventually got around to asking about his other policies he revealed himself to be a ‘moderate’ on immigration that doesn’t believe what he said, and that climate change shouldn’t be addressed because it would hurt economic growth, a message that will go down great in southern Florida where rising sea-levels would destroy vast swathes of land. Rubio must be stopped from becoming the president because he is put in charge climate change wouldn’t be addressed and the US would go gallivanting around the world fucking off everybody who isn’t their lapdog.