Transcript: Sen. Marco Rubio’s explanation on vote against the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s resolution to authorize military force against the Syrian government on Sept. 4, 2013

Partial transcript of remarks by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on the joint resolution to authorize military force against the Syrian government in response to the use of chemical weapons. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote was held on Sept. 4, 2013. 

…So for the record, I want to state the following. You know, what’s happening in Syria is of vital national security concern for the United States. And I know Syria is far away and some may wonder why it matters. But it matters for several reasons.

First, Syria is of vital importance to Iran and to their ambitions to become the foremost power in the region. They use Syria to arm Hezbollah and then to attack Israel. They use it to traffic weapons and terrorists to destabilize Iraq.

Second, Assad is a dangerous anti-American dictator. For example, he helped terrorists get into Iraq so they can maim and kill American soldiers.

Third, this prolonged conflict is creating vast, ungoverned spaces in Syria which is turning into the premier operational area in the world for jihadists to operate.

And fourth, if Assad does not face consequences for what he has done and is doing, it sends a message to other rogue governments like North Korea and Iran that they too can cross red lines without fear.

That is why those who argue that what happens in Syria is none of our business are wrong.

And that is why I have, for over two years, urged the President to pursue a more robust engagement in the hopes of helping the Syrian people replace Assad with a stable, secular, and moderate government.

However, while I have long argued forcefully for an engagement in empowering the Syrian people, I have never supported the use of military force – of U.S. military force – in this conflict and I still don’t.

I remain unconvinced that the use of force proposed here will work.

The only thing that will prevent Assad from using chemical weapons in the future is for the Syrian people to remove him from power.

The strike the administration wants us to approve I do not believe furthers that goal and in fact I believe the U.S. military action of the type contemplated here may prove to be counter-productive.

After a few days of missile strikes, it will allow Assad, for example, to emerge and claim that he took on the United States and survived.

And by the way, I also think this action could unleash a series of events that could further destabilize the region.

But this idea that a military response is the only way to respond to what’s happening in Syria is just not true.

Instead, our response should have always been – and should be – a multifaceted plan to help the Syrian people get rid of Assad and replace him with a secular moderate government they deserve.

And I believe this committee by a vote of 15 to 3 has already put forth a plan that accomplishes that – the Syrian Transition Support Act.

First, it would openly provide lethal and non-lethal support. Or it would provide lethal support and increase non-lethal support, to carefully and properly vet elements of the opposition. By the way, we should only do this if we are able to identify rebel groups that will not transfer those weapons to Al Qaeda or other jihadist groups.

Second, we would pursue severe sanctions against individuals and financial institutions that have provided or facilitated the sales or transfer of weapons, petroleum, and or petroleum products to Assad.

Third, we should create a transition fund that will assist a transition to a moderate transitional government in Syria in the aftermath of Assad’s fall.

And fourth, we should increase humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and to the countries that are hosting Syrian refugees.

Let me close by recognizing that there is a movement afoot in both parties to disengage the United States from issues throughout the world. And it is true that we cannot solve every crisis on this planet.

But if we follow the advice of those who seek to disengage us from global issues in the long run, we will pay a terrible price.

Because America is not just another country; it’s an exceptional one. The most influential, the most powerful, and the most inspirational nation on Earth.

We must recognize that the world is a safer place when America is the strongest country in the world.

When America doesn’t lead, chaos follows, and eventually that chaos forces us to deal with these problems in the most expensive and in the most dangerous ways imaginable.

Just because we ignore global problems doesn’t mean it’ll ignore us. Instead, they become bigger and harder to solve.

And sadly, Syria is just the latest example of that fundamental truth. Had we forcefully engaged and empowered moderate rebels earlier in this conflict, today we would have more and better options before us.

But unfortunately, the President with the support of some voices in my party chose to let others lead instead, and now we are dealing with the consequences of that inaction.


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One Comment on “Transcript: Sen. Marco Rubio’s explanation on vote against the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s resolution to authorize military force against the Syrian government on Sept. 4, 2013

  1. Pingback: Syria: Chemical Weapons | What The Folly?!

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