Rubio Praises U.N., World Bank, IMF for Not Asserting ‘Narrow American Interests’

By Michael W. Chapman | April 25, 2012 | 5:51pm EDT

Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, jokes with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., before Rubio spoke about foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, in Washington, Wednesday, April 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

( – Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who was elected to his first term with help from the Tea Party in 2010 and who is sometimes cited as a potential GOP vice presidential pick, lauded the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for following their respective visions instead of asserting “narrow American interests” in a speech today on U.S. foreign policy.

In remarks at the liberal Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Rubio sketched the advances made globally since the end of World War II as a result of America’s leadership.

That vision and will helped other nation's attain liberty, kept trade routes open, supported “the expansion of free market capitalism that accelerated the growth of the global economy,” he said, “and we did it without coveting other countries’ territories or seizing their assets or robbing them of their opportunities.”

“The purpose of the institutions we established, from the United Nations to the World Bank and the IMF was to spread peace and prosperity, not to assert narrow American interests,” said Sen. Rubio.

Other nations followed America’s lead after WWII because they saw it as the most efficient way to achieve the goals they wanted as well, in terms of individual liberty and economic growth, said the senator.

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Over the years, many leading conservatives have challenged the necessity or usefulness of the United Nations, including Sen. Robert Taft (R-Ohio), “Mr. Republican,” who served in the Senate from 1939 to 1953; Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), who died in 1998; Sen. Jesse Helms (1973-2003), who died in 2008; and even William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008), the founder of the conservative magazine National Review.

As for America’s role in global policy today, Sen. Rubio said the country must still lead--and perhaps intervene in places such as Syria, and Iran--because no other nation is yet prepared to take on that leadership role.

“Is now finally the time for us to mind our own business?” said Rubio.  “Is now the time for us to allow others to lead? Is now the time for us to play the role of equal partner?”

“Who will lead, if we do not?” he said.

Prior to Rubio’s remarks, Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott, the deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration, said of the Florida senator, “He has already established himself as a vigorous advocate of intense and widespread U.S. engagement in the world. He is an internationalist.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats, introduced Rubio as “a rising star in the next generation of America’s foreign policy leaders.” Rubio praised Lieberman’s statesmanship, comparing it to that of FDR, Truman and JFK.

In his initial remarks, Sen. Rubio sought to separate himself from some conservatives in the Senate on foreign policy, saying that until recently the general view was that American conservatism “believed in a robust and muscular foreign policy,” citing Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution and former deputy secretary of state (1994-2001) in the Clinton administration. (AP Photo)

“But when I arrived in the Senate last year, I found that some of the traditional sides in the foreign policy debate had shifted,” said Rubio.  “On the one hand I found liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans working together to advocate our withdrawal from Afghanistan or staying out of Libya. On the other hand, I found myself partnering with Democrats … on a more forceful foreign policy.”

“So I recently joked, the other day, that today in the U.S. Senate, on foreign policy, the further you move to the right, the likelier you are to move to the left,” said Rubio.

Rubio is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He did criticize the U.N. Security Council for sometimes failing to reach consensus and act swiftly. In those circumstances, said Rubio, the United States must take the lead and shape a global coalition to solve problems.

Sen. Rubio specifically cited a nuclear-equipped Iran, saying “we must be prepared to act, with or without” our global partners. “If all else fails, preventing a nuclear Iran, may tragically require a military solution,” he said.

Rubio also argued that  toppling Syria’s Assad regime “would be a blow to Iran’s ambitions” and apparently improve Israel’s security.

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