Sen. Marco Rubio, in London early this week as part of his committee assignments, delivered a speech Tuesday on the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States and tipped his hand on what he would focus on if he makes a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
In his address, Rubio, R-Fla., who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence, presented the case for a muscular foreign policy, a balanced budget, expanded free trade and increased role for energy in the American economy. On foreign affairs, Rubio will find opposition in the Republican ranks, including from possible primary rival U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
In his speech, an event sponsored by Chatham House and the Legatum Institute, Rubio pointed to the shared values between the two nations.
I am always struck by how people everywhere want for their families what Americans want for theirs: things like peace, security, prosperity and, perhaps most importantly, liberty, Rubio said. Though strides have been made in spreading these values in recent decades, sadly they remain a dream in many nations around the world. But in others, I see a long tradition of support and adherence to these ideals. The United Kingdom is one such country. And though our two nations may differ in some important regards, the partnership we have enjoyed has not developed by accident. It has developed due to our shared set of values and goals.
Citing the strong relationship between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, Rubio pointed to the alliance between the two nations during World War II.
Americans and Britons have stood side by side for the last century because our shared convictions have united us around a common cause. That cause is the defense of liberty and the spread of freedom around the globe, Rubio insisted. The partnership weve shared has been one of extraordinary consequence. It has liberated nations. It has relieved the suffering of millions. It has sparked the spread of liberty to new regions. No partnership in history has seen such influence, certainly not such beneficent influence.
While praising the relationships past, including working together in the Cold War and the war on terror, Rubio also stressed the two nations faced important tasks in the future. Rubio also threw down the gauntlet at those who wish to weaken the two nations roles in the world.
Despite all of these vitally important achievements, many have begun to wonder whether things are changing, Rubio said. Many on both sides of the Atlantic have begun to question the future of our partnership in an increasingly complex world. In recent years, this skepticism has come in the form of growing doubt about whether America can still be counted on to contribute to our mutual security and to uphold an international order that reflects our interests and ideals. Many look to the dysfunction of Washington and wonder how America could ever expect to lead the world when it cant seem to get its own affairs in order.
Rubio cited the current political climate in Washington as an obstacle and admitted current events made Americans question the U.S. role in the world.
We send billions of dollars in aid to people around the world, and in turn we watch as they celebrate our tragedies and burn our flag, Rubio said. And we mourn the murder of four of our diplomats in Benghazi, the very city in which we intervened to prevent mass murder. While we face all these challenges, our federal government is in the grip of gridlock, seemingly unwilling and unable to move forward to solve the problems before us. In the face of these struggles, I understand why so many at home and around the world fear that Americas best days may lie in her past. And yet I am here to assure you that, while the road before us will be long and difficult, our finest hour as a nation and as an alliance is yet to come.
Rubio insisted America is more than just its government and that Americans remain committed to democracy, capitalism and freedom.
Despite the prophets of decline, our fundamentals as democracies remain strong, Rubio said. You see our strength in the way the rise of prosperity across the globe is creating demand for the innovations of our people. Our countries remain engines of the global economy and this entrepreneurial spirit will continue to make us competitive, even as Chinas economy grows.
Rubio pointed toward the American dollar as the worlds premier reserve currency and foreign investment. The senator also said he was optimistic about Americas energy future.
The United States is on track to become the worlds largest oil producer by 2016 and energy self-sufficient by 2035, Rubio said. And as Europe begins to explore its own shale gas revolution, there is potential for similar developments here.
Rubio also said America and the United Kingdom retained strong militaries despite budget cuts. But the senator also said there were threats looming on the horizon.
We are witnessing an attack on our shared values, Rubio said. Rivals question whether our economies and our systems of government remain viable in this competitive world. We still confront a serious challenge from radical Islam and its tool of global terror. We face continued instability in the Middle East and Africa, as well as increasing uncertainty in Asia.
To meet these challenges, we need to first build on the success of our transatlantic alliance, Rubio added. We should continue adapting NATO to meet new threats from rogue states and jihadists. And we must leverage our partnership to confront uncertainty in the Middle East and Asia, as well as promote the promise of our values in Africa and Latin America.
Rubio also insisted the Western powers have differences with Vladimir Putins government" in Russia and warned about threats from cyberspace. Calling for a close working relationship with the European Union, Rubio said the U.S. should continue efforts to bring Ukraine into the Western fold." Rubio also said the U.S. should support a strong European Union that continues to be a stabilizing force on the continent and praised NATOs contributions.
Turning to the economy, Rubio called for closer ties between the nations. In addition to our work through institutions such as NATO and the EU, we need to capitalize on the already deep economic ties between our two countries, Rubio said. An important first step is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Both of our countries should give this agreement the special attention that it deserves. If successful, TTIP will create one of the largest regional economies in the world. It will also help bring new prosperity to both the United States and Europe, providing tangible benefits of our partnership to our citizens.
Rubio also doubled down on his commitment to free trade, calling for the two nations to work together to reduce global trade barriers."
Wading into Middle Eastern affairs, Rubio called for a larger role for the U.S. and its allies in that part of the world.
Europe and the United States should work more closely together on tasks such as shepherding Egypts transition to democracy or helping Tunisia and Libya provide benefits of their newfound freedom to their citizens, Rubio said. We must find ways to alleviate the human suffering of the Syrian people and work to build up elements of the moderate opposition. It should be a priority to ensure that the ongoing civil war does not create further regional instability or provide a new safe haven for al-Qaida affiliates that would one day turn their attention toward us.
Rubio also insisted Iran remained a threat, despite the recent agreement between the major powers and that nation to freeze its nuclear program.
The growing threat from Iran threatens regional stability and global security, Rubio said. It is vitally important that we work together to alleviate the concerns of our partners in the region, many of whom remain unconvinced that we should trust the commitments of a regime that sponsors terrorism, represses its people, and aims its verbal and political firepower at Israel, America and Europe.
I am personally skeptical of the interim agreement that the P5+1 have concluded with Iran, Rubio added. I am convinced that Irans ultimate goal for these negotiations has been to achieve relief from the pressure of international sanctions, while retaining the option of developing a nuclear weapon. This model has been used by others in the past, such as North Korea, to successfully exploit talks to create the time and space to go nuclear.
Rubio also offered a warning on China, insisting the West needs to "tell Beijing that freedom of flight in the region should not be held hostage to political agendas.
The senator insisted the United State cant go it alone and needed its allies in Europe in general, and the United Kingdom in particular, to help its efforts.
In Asia and beyond, we must continue our cooperation in speaking out on behalf of those who cannot, Rubio said. Both of our nations have long histories as supporters and defenders of human rights.
Rubio insisted the people of both nations remained committed to freedom and he took shots at political opponents in Washington.
Many of our political leaders are still hoping that our budget balances itself, Rubio said. Many hope they can force their political opponents to adopt their agenda in its totality. They hope that America can simply look inward and ignore the global challenges of our time.
Together, we can continue to meet the worlds challenges. We cannot rest, because those who oppose liberty will not rest, Rubio said in conclusion. We will always have critics who predict that the end of this truly special relationship is near. That Britain and the United States have both had their days in the sun and that the worlds attention is shifting elsewhere. But they underestimate the power of our nations and our shared values. They underestimate what we can achieve together. And more importantly, they underestimate the will and moral courage of free men and women. In the end, freedom will triumph in this world. I am sure of that, just as I am sure that it will be the United States and the United Kingdom leading the way.
Besides the speech on Tuesday, during his time in London, Rubio met with British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond and members of Parliament.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.