Decision 2016 – Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

« And if you vote for me, I promise you I can be a bit scarier than Trump »

The currently second-placed candidate in the Republican primaries is appearing to many as the only viable alternative to Trump’s action movie-style destruction and to Ted Cruz’s religious-inspired conservative fury.

Within the Republican camp, Rubio seems to be the only of the remaining candidates who is not screaming furious rhetoric in all directions or calling for some kind of mystic virtue to lead the country and he seems to be the only possible GOP candidate who would be able to capture part of the less-conservative electorate. Does that mean we should not feel a chill if he makes it to the White House? Let’s take a look.

Rubio calls for a reassertion of the US role in the world, which in some cases means breaking apart what was done by Obama. This is very visible on the Iran agreement, as Rubio thinks it extracted very few concessions from Iran and instead, he proposes to expand the US presence in the Middle East and make a clear threat to Iran in case of non-compliance. Another George W. Bush? At least he’s being clear about it right from the beginning.

As far as the US role in the world goes, Rubio seems to put a lot of emphasis in a display of force, rather than leaving force as a last resort. He supports a military expansion of all branches of the armed forces and reversing all the defence cuts that Obama has done, including those in the US nuclear arsenal – he wants to invest more in nuclear weapons and even expand the current US nuclear weapons arsenal. He definitely knows the formulas to stoke fear.

He is starting to look like the POTUS that Europe loves to hate, but there’s more. Rubio said he will commit himself to strengthen the bilateral alliances of the US with its Asian allies and has used an aggressive rhetoric towards China, even though he also reckons that the US relationship with Beijing brings opportunities as well. It would seem that Rubio is uncomfortable with the idea of the US not being the major power in every continent on Earth and proposed joint exercises with the US allies in Asia to challenge potential attempts from China to close off international airspace or maritime routes…something which the US is already doing  but hey, one has to make the incumbent-of-the-rival-party look like a lame duck.

Rubio could become even more of a next George W. Bush for Europe if his climate plan is fully carried out. Rubio considers that ultimately, it should be up to each of the 50 states to decide on how to manage and explore their energy resources, whether this means investment on renewables or on fossil fuels, and he has also said that too much money is spent on the former while wasting the potential of the latter – his voting record seems to indicate all that. He also seems to be pandering to the voters who think there’s no scientific consensus to global warming and climate change, which makes Rubio additionally dangerous.

So where does Rubio redeems himself in the danger scale and on the fear we should feel if he makes it to the White House? Certainly not on intelligence collection, as he supports the NSA’s program of data gathering and even wants to make permanent some of the powers given temporarily to US intelligence agencies. He also thinks the US should not throw away the use of torture as an interrogation technique. However, he did want the use of armed drones and target killings in counter-terrorism operations to be subject to more oversight.

Finally, and to end in style, Marco Rubio is in favour of a more aggressive position towards Russia  which includes sending weapons to Ukraine, restricting Russia’s access to the SWIFT system and even sending American combat troops to Eastern Europe, not to mention his ol’favourites, the nuclear weapons. Other than being championed by the most hawkish in the Baltic states and Poland, this would hardly improve US – EU relations.  On ISIS, Rubio defends an exceptional role for the US and a greater engagement in the region, which includes a no-fly zone and the building up of an international political-military coalition to be present on the ground and fight ISIS head on.  He also blames Obama for its rise, which if we follow the thread correctly, means that Marco Rubio thinks the US should have probably stayed in Iraq ad aeternum, that air raids in Syria should also be directed at Assad and that Russia should only be part of those efforts if Moscow drops its support to the Syrian regime. All in all, Rubio is a great target for European fear and loathing.

Not going very far from the Republican stereotype, Rubio is fear-inducing enough to deserve a spot of honour in my list. Between his view that the US should essentially disengage from any policies to tackle climate change, the proposed deploying of troops in Eastern Europe, expanding the US nuclear weapons arsenal and reinforcing the powers of the NSA and other intelligence agencies, it’s safe to say that we should be very frightened of President Rubio. So there you go Marco, you get a 4.5 in my fear scale with the honorable mention of bringing that Cold War environment back – after all, everyone misses the 60s and the early 80s.

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