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Marco Op-Ed: America Leading The Way [National Review Online]

Posted 11/23/2013

National Review Online
By: Marco Rubio
November 22, 2013

As our nation debates the future of America’s role in the world, we should ask ourselves: Which principles do we want guiding this debate? After all, foreign policy cannot be simply about tactics. It must also be strategic, with a clear set of principles that guide us in applying our influence.

I believe we should look to those principles that our nation is uniquely capable of promoting — principles that have made our nation the greatest force for good the world has ever seen. These are the principles of liberty, human rights, and the enduring pursuit of peace for all mankind.

These ideals are reflected in our young nation’s legacy to date, including a crumbled wall in Berlin; millions of Afghan children — including many girls — who are now able to attend school for the first time; and vibrant democratic allies and trading partners such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

Unfortunately, our legacy is changing. The current administration has failed to show the leadership abroad that so many countries have come to depend on — and upon which our own security and prosperity depend. Instead of having a principled foreign policy, these days America often appears to lack a clear vision for our role in the world.

We must correct our course, guided by clear strategic principles that reflect the realities of the world we live in today.

As for the tools we use, we have many at our disposal. In most cases, the decisive use of diplomacy, foreign assistance, and economic power is the most effective way to further our interests and stop problems before they spiral into crises.

Our uses of these methods should vastly outnumber our uses of force. But force used with clear, achievable objectives must always remain a part of our foreign-policy toolbox. While we always prefer peace over conflict, sometimes our enemies choose differently.

And as we deal with the many challenges facing our nation and our world, we must never lose sight of our highest priority: the safety of the American people. To this end, there is no more important use of our influence and power than to prevent rogue regimes and terrorist groups from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

That is why, in the current nuclear negotiations with Iran, we must maintain an unwavering position of strength and always remember that Iran’s goal at the negotiating table has never been to maintain peace, but rather to win relief from sanctions without making irreversible concessions.

However, our foreign policy should not be limited solely to standing up to our enemies; it must also include standing side by side with our friends. Look no further than Latin America to see examples of the benefits of rewarding our friends. America’s support for our democratic allies in Colombia and Mexico has given us two examples of how patience and principles pay off.

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