Rubio doctrine offers reversal of Obama's dithering

The Rubio doctrine stands in stark contrast to the dithering and disengagment we've seen from Obama. He offers a muscular foreign policy based on moral clarity. He's set the bar pretty high for next year's presidential race

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Marco Rubio goes forth
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Taylor Dibbert
On 20 May 2015 07:53

United States Senator Marco Rubio’s recent appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) probably could not have gone any better. During his prepared remarks and the Q and A with Charlie Rose, he came across as confident, smooth and well-versed in foreign affairs.

Rubio has obviously benefitted from his time spent on the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees. And it’s not just the knowledge he displayed across a wide range of issues.

As others have mentioned, one gets the sense that he really cares about foreign policy; that he has a sincere interest in matters ranging from U.S. – Latin America relations to the Islamic State to Chinese aggression in the East and South China Seas.

The Rubio doctrine is comprised of three pillars:

“American strength” and ensuring that U.S. military and intelligence capabilities are robust in the years to come; protecting the U.S. economy in a world which is becoming increasingly interconnected; and “more clarity regarding America's core values.”

In short, Rubio is offering a muscular foreign policy, one where Washington takes a far more active role than we’ve seen during the Obama years. For better or worse, this is basically a neoconservative vision.

Moreover, after six years of relentless retrenchment under Obama’s watch, many may see Rubio’s vision as an approach that’s long overdue. In a Wall Street Journal piece that’s generally upbeat about Rubio’s foreign policy doctrine, Penny Noonan argues that the third pillar of his foreign policy worldview -- the one dealing with moral clarity – is misguided and constitutes a “pronounced neoconservative turn.”

Along the lines of Noonan’s criticism, others may emphasize that he focuses too much on the military dimension of foreign policy and that his interventionist tendencies could ultimately prove counterproductive.

Rubio is the first 2016 presidential candidate to speak at CFR. We can expect many others to follow, although he has set the bar pretty high. Many mainstream Republicans are sure to like his pro-trade views and the compelling case he makes about the importance of American global leadership.

With the exception of trade, Rubio has positioned himself as the anti-Obama on foreign policy and done so articulately. And, while it remains to be seen how prominently this discussion will feature during the Republican primary (and whether anyone running would espouse even more hawkish views on national security), a thoughtful debate on America’s role in the world is definitely one Rubio could win.

Taylor Dibbert is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. and the author of Fiesta of Sunset: The Peace Corps, Guatemala and a Search for Truth. Follow him on Twitter @taylordibbert

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