Calls for stronger American leadership abroad
Florida’s freshman U.S. Sen., Marco Rubio delivered his first national foreign policy address to a capacity audience of students and guests Tuesday, Sept 13 in Wingate University’s Hannah Covington McGee Theater. Presented by the Jesse Helms Center Lecture series, Rubio’s spoke on various foreign policy issues.
Rubio’s speech, titled “America’s Role in the World” began with an acknowledgment of Union County’s Jesse Helms, who was the longest-serving, popularly-elected Senator in North Carolina history.
“Jesse Helms was, in particular, an unswerving champion of freedom fighters,” Rubio said. “When he was still a junior senator, he and a former governor of California – a fellow named Ronald Reagan, they worked together to introduce a ‘morality in foreign policy’ plank to the 1976 Republican platform.”
Rubio said the goal of Republican foreign policy is the achievement of liberty under law and a lasting peace in the world.
“The principles by which we act to achieve peace and to protect the interests of the United States must merit the restored confidence of our people.” Rubio said.
The event began with an introduction of the Jesse Helms Lecture Series by John Dodd, the president of the Jesse Helms Center, following after the Pledge of Allegiance.
Rubio’s appearance brought out many local elected municipal and county officials, Republican Party officers and a Congressional candidate or two.
“It was great to welcome Sen. Marco Rubio to Union County.“ said John Steward, Chairman of the Union County Republican Party. “Sen. Rubio gave a thoughtful and powerful lecture on the importance of America’s role in the world and the dangers presented by President Obama’s abdication of that leadership role.“
“Sen. Marco Rubio is a strategic thinker who is able to thoroughly understand an issue and its various outcomes.” said David Scholl, a Union County school board member, “He is a solid conservative leader and I can’t wait to hear more from him.”
Sen. Rubio’s speech reflected American foreign policy leadership over the last 30 years, highlighting the emblematic leadership that ended the Cold War. “President Reagan challenged the ‘evil empire,” Rubio said, “’Tear down this wall’,” he demanded – and it came down. He won the Cold War not by coddling dictators but by confronting them – and by standing up for the principles that have defined us since the formation of our great Republic.”
Sen. Rubio also spoke of resisting isolationism
“The problem is if America turns inward and ignores the monsters abroad, they are likely to come here,” Rubio said. “It happened in 1917 when German U-boats torpedoed American merchant ships. It happened in 1941 when Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor and it happened ten years ago when Al Qaeda carried off the deadliest terrorist attack in history from a base in the Hindu Kush. If we do not have the luxury of ignoring developments in lands as remote as Afghanistan, then there is no corner of the world from which we can safely turn our backs.”
Rubio also said he applauded some of the current President’s actions when it comes to combating terrorism and dictatorships across the world.
“I applaud President Obama for ordering the raid that finally brought Osama bin Laden to his just fate,” Rubio said. “I applaud the President, too, for his stirring words in support of reformers in the Middle East. I only wish that he had shown more commitment to the cause of freedom.”
The problem, Rubio said, was that the Obama administration waited too long to get involved with the fight in Libya.
“This year, the Administration did come to the aid of the people of Libya, but only after weeks of hesitation that allowed Moammar Qaddafi – an anti-American criminal – to get back on his feet and resume slaughtering his own people.,” Rubio said. “Then it took another four months before the President was willing to recognize the Transitional National Council as the rightful government of Libya. And even then, the Administration refused to commit the resources and make the tactical decisions that could have shortened this conflict.”
If this is to be another American century, Rubio said, then the world needs a strong America now.
“Our allies would be the first to tell you that nothing important or difficult happens without American leadership. Unfortunately, that leadership has been missing at a critical juncture during the last few years.”
After concluding his speech, Sen. Rubio answered questions posed from students in the audience. First of for questions came from the son of a Cuban émigré, who asked about the Obama administration’s recent easing of travel and trade restrictions with Cuba.
“First of all I’d like to say that I’m glad to see that a Cuban made it all way to North Carolina.” Rubio said. “I think there are people out there that still have some romantic idea that somehow the Castro government is working. You really have to try hard to believe that.”