Marco Rubio Discusses U.S. Foreign Policy in Middle East; U.S. Defense Secretary Carter On Russia

arubioRepublican presidential candidate Marco Rubio appeared on CBS’S Face The Nation on Sunday following a strong presidential debate performance on Wednesday night that led to a major endorsement from influential billionaire and Republican donor Paul Singer amid rising hopes for the Republican Florida senator who gained support from Tea Party conservatives in the past over his conservative values but has also drawn their condemnation for reaching out to Democrats concerning immigration reform, a no go issue for red blooded conservatives.

Rubio is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has past experience working to shape foreign policy issues.

Although he is a Washington D.C. insider and serves a U.S. senator, most political pundits and Floridians are keenly aware that Rubio has grown weary with his political career in the Senate and carries baggage with his chronic history of no- shows with votes on the Senate floor, a point that Jeb Bush made during the Republican debate last Wednesday, resulting in a strong rebuke from Rubio.

Last week, President Obama announced that 50 U.S. operation ground forces will be deployed to combat ISIS in Syria which is a departure from Washington’s largely ineffective military campaign of air attacks against ISIS targets across Syria besides giving earlier military training and arms support to moderate Syrian rebels on the ground seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashir al-Assad.

Rubio was asked on Face the Nation about whether 50 U.S. ground forces is adequate to combat ISIS forces on the ground that have displayed resiliency against U.S. led coalition air bombing raids on selective targets across Syria.

Rubio said that “ISIS will not be defeated unless they are confronted by an organized anti-ISIS Sunni movement. And that won’t happen without American assistance at some significant level, like what you’re seeing proposed now.”

Rubio was questioned about Donald Trumps’ controversial views towards Syria that includes a total U.S. withdrawal from the region and allowing Russia free reign to “fight ISIS” even as U.S. military intelligence on the ground has confirmed that Russia’s military campaign has  been mostly targeted against rebel held area in southwest Syria between Homs and Homa with fewer air assaults being launched against ISIS targets in central and northeast Syria.

Rubio acknowledged that Russia is mostly targeting anti-Assad rebels across Syria instead of ISIS targets.

“Well, the problem with it is, number one, the Russians aren’t necessarily targeting ISIS right now. They’re targeting non- ISIS rebels, and it’s part of an effort to wipe out any non-ISIS fighters on the ground, so they can turn to the world and say that the only choices are either Assad or ISIS,” Rubio said.

Rubio admitted that ISIS is gaining ground across territories in Asia, the Middle East, and northern Africa.

“The growth of ISIS will continue in Iraq. They are spread now into Libya, where they have become a very significant presence, increasingly in Afghanistan as well. And they are using all these operating bases not simply to conduct regional efforts, but also to grow, recruit people online to attack us here in the United States” Rubio said.

Rubio explained that Russia’s goals in Syria are threefold: 1) propping up Assad who has given them a foothold in the region 2) deflecting attention from Ukraine and 3) becoming a regional power that replaces the United States in terms of the power broker in the region and its direction.

When Rubio was asked about his own lack of executive experience as a presidential candidate, Rubio pointed out that the U.S. presidency is not some “glorified accounting job” and said that “the president is the leader of the United States, both of its people and of the nation and of the government.”

“The job of a president is to craft a vision for America’s future, to put the right people in the right position and hold them accountable for carrying out your agenda, but also to rally the country behind big causes” Rubio said.

Canadians will likely agree with Rubio’s sentiment about supporting leaders without career experience as politicians.

Last month, Canadians elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a former school teacher with political roots from his father Pierre Trudeau who governed Canada from 1968-1979 and again from 1980-1984.

Many conservative Americans are looking outside of the box when it comes to nominating a Republican candidate during this election season.

Thus far, Ben Carson and Donald Trump,  lead Republican polls, and lack experience as career politicians but have managed to connect with Republican voters.

Rubio said that he’s confident that he has the judgment needed to lead the United States as a future president and touted his past foreign policy experience.

“I do not believe there’s anyone else in this race that has shown better judgment on the issues before America today than I have and a better understanding of them, especially on the foreign policy realm, which is at the end of the day the most important obligation of a president” Rubio said.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Addresses Russia Military Expansion In Artic Region, Syria

On Saturday U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter held a press conference in Fort Wainwright, Alaska where he spoke about Russia’s more assertive military campaign across the globe that includes more Artic military flights near Alaska which comes as rising global temperatures has led to more artic ice melting and northern trade routes emerging.

Russia has announced plans to build new ports, airbases, and add brigades in the Artic region while it invests heavily in Artic militarization.

Secretary Carter responded to a reporter’s question about Russia’s recent  military buildup in the Artic and he acknowledged Russia’s recent buildup.

“Well, there’s no question that Russia has gotten more assertive militarily in recent years, and you see that reflected in activities in the Arctic, including flights near Alaska, which is one of the reasons why Alaska air capabilities are so important. You see it in Eastern Europe, where the Russians were involved in aggression in Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea, and in aggressive and intimidating behavior with respect Europe” Carter said.

“And then you last, you see it in Syria. So we have to respond to that, and we are responding” Carter added.

Secretary Carter explained that in Europe the U.S. and NATO allies are responding to Russian activity there and have increased their presence in the region.

Concerning Syria, Secretary Carter acknowledged that Russia is “propping up the Assad regime,” fueling the civil war in Syria that “leads to extremism, which ISIL represents, and which the Russians say they fear” but he admitted that U.S. State Department  Secretary John Kerry is talking to Russia and a host of other countries about a political transition in Syria.

-Johnathan Schweitzer

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