Is Marco Rubio a Realist?

In the Foreign Affairs article “Restoring America’s Strength,” US Senator Marco Rubio puts forward his vision for U.S. foreign policy assuming that he is elected president in 2016. Rubio argues that as the world has become more connected over the past few decades, American leadership has grown critical to maintaining world order and protecting the interests of the American people. Rubio feels that President Obama refused to recognize that fact and instead his policies resulted in American interests becoming less secure and threatened throughout the world. In contrast, Rubio puts forward a foreign policy that involves restoring American strength, promoting the spread of economic prosperity and defending freedom and human rights.

Marco Rubio states that the most important part of his foreign policy is the restitution of American strength, based on the idea that the world is safest when America is strongest. In addition, another major component of Rubio’s foreign policy plan is the importance of protecting open international trade. Due to an increasingly globalized world, millions of people have jobs dependent on foreign trade. Thus, their prosperity is dependent on keeping international trade open and free from threats. Another component of Rubio’s foreign policy proposal is the need for the U.S. to speak out against human rights violations and defend the cause of freedom throughout the world. Overall, Rubio feels that the recent departure from those principles caused chaos and discord throughout the world and that it is necessary to reassert those principles through an active U.S. foreign policy.

In international politics, a major theory is Realism. Realists argue that the primary goal of states is survival and the need to act within their self-interest, that political decisions are more important that morality and that international politics is driven by an endless struggle for power and influence. Several important figures in Realist thought were Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. The assertions that Marco Rubio makes in “Restoring America’s Strength” both reject and support Realist principles. One example of Marco Rubio rejecting Realist theory occurs when he speaks about President Obama ignoring human rights abuses committed by China when negotiating economic issues. A proponent of Realist theory would argue that morality is subservient to political decisions and that it is in the best interest of the U.S. to not question China’s position on human rights issues.

Another example of Marco Rubio rejecting realist theory occurs when he discusses Russia’s policy in Ukraine and China’s aggression the Pacific. Rubio argues that a central reason for Russia and China’s actions in Ukraine and the Pacific is a decline in U.S. global stature during the Obama Administration. In contrast, a Realist would argue that the main reasons why Russia intervened in Ukraine and why China is asserting its influence in the Pacific is due to both countries self-interest. On the other hand, Rubio embraces a concept from Realism when he remarks that Russia, Iran, and China are challenging the U.S. on the world stage. A Realist would argue that they are doing so because they sense that the U.S. is in a weaker position on the world stage and that they have a chance to expand their power and influence.

In conclusion, Marco Rubio discusses out his potential foreign policy agenda in “Restoring America’s Strength.” The main foreign policy planks that Rubio brings up consist of three components that he argues will make America stronger and more respected on the world stage, improve human rights and spread the cause of freedom and protect international trade from any major threats. The main points that Rubio brings up both reject and embrace the main assumptions of Realist thought

the author

Matt is a graduate of Monmouth University. Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

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