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ICYMI: Rubio Joins Face the Nation

Mar 10, 2024 | Press Releases

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Face the Nation, along with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), to discuss worldwide threats facing our nation, regulation of artificial intelligence (AI), TikTok, and more. 

See below for highlights and watch the full interview on YouTube.

On the greatest threats facing our country today:

“Countries around the world see a unipolar order, and they seek to challenge it. In China’s case, they want, if not to replace, at least to be an alternative to the American-led system…. 

“The Russians argue that they’re a great power who deserve to have buffer nations outside their borders, that they have control over. They want a bunch of Belaruses. That’s what they want Ukraine to become. 

“And then Iran wants to export the Islamic revolution throughout the Middle East. They already have proxies operating inside of Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. They want to threaten Jordan and Bahrain. Ultimately, they want to make Israel an unlivable place and establish regional dominance that way. 

“And then you’ve got North Korea, which is increasingly aggressive…. All these are interrelated. It’s a challenge to the world order. It’s a loose coalition of countries who sometimes work in concert to challenge, not just America, but our alliances.”

On threats to U.S. interests in the Middle East:

“I think the risk pre-existed [the Israel-Hamas war]. Obviously, now we have active shooting going on. That leads to risk of miscalculation and, in some cases, hostility. We’ve seen that already from the Houthis out of Yemen. 

“I think it’s a mistake to view October 7th simply through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian question. The reason why Hamas was armed and impelled to conflict is this broader objective [of Iran] to drive the U.S. out of the region. It’s why they’re conducting attacks in Iraq and Syria. They want the U.S. troop presence out of the region completely. 

“[I believe some troops should stay] because, not only are they there on account of ISIS, let’s not forget that the group still exists and is still a threat, but they are stationed along key routes tied to Damascus and Baghdad, all these supply routes that Iran wants to dominate. If we were gone, these proxy groups would now be at the border of Jordan. They’d be able to threaten Jordan and, ultimately, to threaten Israel. 

“But I am concerned. Whether it’s Hezbollah to the north of Israel, whether it’s what’s happening in Gaza, whether it’s what’s happening in Yemen, the risk of conflict is very real. It’s a dangerous and tenuous situation.”

On President Biden’s plan to build a port in Gaza:

“Everybody’s in favor of helping innocent civilians who are caught in conflict. I think it’s important to understand the reason why aid can’t get to them. 

“Hamas has built this extensive system of tunnels. I don’t care if they got a great deal on the concrete. It’s expensive to build this extensive system of tunnels. That’s millions of dollars that could have gone to create an economy, to feed people, to build hospitals and serve civilians. They didn’t do it. 

“There’s real concern and, I think, very legitimate reason to believe that any aid that goes in there will be grabbed by Hamas and used for their purposes at the expense of the civilian population. 

“Hamas has a track record of zero when it comes to caring about the lives of civilians or society in general. They’re entirely on the war footing. It’s all they do. I think there’s good reason to believe that any additional aid would go directly to Hamas and would be controlled by them.”

On a Biden official’s claim that Hamas is not appropriating aid to Gaza:

“I don’t know what he’s talking about. How does Hamas get food? Hamas does not have an economy. Everything Hamas gets comes from abroad, from Iranians and from what they take. The evidence is in place that they have existed as an organization without any means of generating revenue other than what they are able to capture. That’s just common sense.”

On what Israel needs to accomplish in Gaza:

“I think it’s possible to achieve a situation in which Hamas does not have the capability to do what it did on October 7th. That doesn’t mean Hezbollah can’t step in and take over now as a result. That doesn’t mean a new Hamas offshoot wouldn’t be created. This is an ongoing challenge. 

“Again, at the head of this entire thing is the Iranian regime. They’re the ones who provide the weaponry and the funds. There’s no Hamas fighters starving to death. There’s no Hamas leaders starving to death. They’re all fed, they all have medical care, and they all have the assistance they need to continue the things they’re doing. 

“What you don’t want is a Hamas that can continue to launch missiles, particularly against civilian sites inside of Israel, which is the goal of Iran, and that is to make Israel an unlivable place, so they can drive every Jew out, from the river to the sea, and dominate the region. 

“Do I think it’s possible to degrade Hamas for some period of time and deny them that capability? Yes. But moving forward, there will be challenges, because some new group will pop up.”

On Iran’s agenda in the Middle East:

“One of the things that the Iranians believe is that the one impediment [preventing] them from regional domination is the presence of the United States: in Jordan, in Syria, in Iraq, anywhere. They don’t want us in that region. They certainly don’t want Israel to exist, either. They will continue to target us [until they have] a free hand to go after Gulf states and, ultimately, threaten more countries, starting with Bahrain and Jordan. I don’t think that would be limited to those two.”

On U.S.-China technology competition:

“We’re clearly ahead, simply because they steal our stuff. We’re not interested in stealing their stuff. There’s a reason why they want ours: it’s better. I think the bigger concern is how it will be utilized and the advantage that it gives them. 

“There’s no independent companies in China. They all must do the bidding of whatever the Chinese Communist Party tells them to do. And they’re supported by the government, so they can underprice everyone in the marketplace. They can reach a level of proficiency in AI and deploy it with the support of the government that allows them to basically corner the market on all kinds of things: autonomous vehicles, additive manufacturing, you name it. These are real advantages. 

“The other advantage they have, which drives AI, is data. They are able to steal or collect the data of billions of people, including their own populations, but also here in the United States. That data is what feeds AI and AI models and will allow them to do certain things good enough to, not just threaten our national security, but to threaten our economic vibrance and put American innovation at a tremendous disadvantage. 

“Huawei is a good example, though it’s not AI-driven. They’re not the best telecommunications company in the world, but because they are supported by the Chinese Communist Party, they are among the largest in the world. They have dominated market after market because they offer a product that’s good enough for a low enough price, [with the help of] a little bribe on the side for your friends in the government.”

On how Congress should regulate AI:

“There’s no doubt that it’s a new area. There’s two things to keep in mind. The first is, there’s a lot more to learn about how it’s going to be applied in a way that makes sense. 

“The other is, and we’ve learned this from other technologies: innovation in that space moves much faster than the ability of Congress to legislate or regulate. [It even moves faster than] our agencies. So I don’t think [Senator Cruz] is wrong when he says that there still isn’t a clear understanding of what the government can do to build safeguards. 

“Then there’s the fact that this is borderless. At the end of the day, how we may regulate the uses of AI domestically may not apply to some other place that may decide, ‘Here, we won’t have those limits.’ There’s a lot to unpack here. I still think Congress is learning. We have to do it right.”

On how AI will disrupt white-collar jobs:

“AI is going to disrupt white-collar jobs, jobs that people went and got degrees and even borrowed money to get. It’s going to disrupt white-collar jobs in a way that deindustrialization and technology advancements in productivity disrupted blue-collar jobs, and we’ve seen the tumult that’s created in societies around the world. 

“We need to start thinking about the economic displacement that will follow the ability of a machine to do the work that it used to take ten people with advanced degrees to do. I think that applies to the media. It’s already applying to Hollywood, and I think there are industries beyond that where we need to start thinking about some of the disruptions that are coming.”

On the so-called “bipartisan border deal”:

“The proposal that moved forward would not have [secured our border]…. The way you fix the problem is by reversing the executive order that President Biden put in place in his first month in office, which directly led to this crisis. 

“For the first time in American history, we have a president that has decided to make an exception into the rule. He’s no longer detaining people. Our law very clearly defines who’s allowed to be in our country and says who should be detained through removal, and we stopped doing that. We’ve had exceptions. If the Dalai Lama shows up at the border, we’re going to let him in: exception. They turned the exception into the rule, and it sent a message to the whole world. 

“The law is very clear. It says they need to be detained through removal. That’s the law of the United States. How you apply it is where the differences will come. And it’s what’s led to this crisis.”

On the balance between pursuing international objectives and securing the border:

“We have had 7.2 million people in this country enter over the last three years. Some of them, we don’t really know who they are. New York just deployed National Guard troops to the street because of a migrant crime wave. We have a serious problem here at home. 

“I think that we have to go to Americans and say, ‘Our priority is going to be to deal with our issues here.’ All I’m asking is that we make the border a priority equal to what we do around the world….

“[I would support some aid to Ukraine tied with real action on the border.] That’s what I said [I wanted] from the very beginning. I didn’t want him to pass a law. Are there things we can do to improve our asylum process? Sure. But we don’t need that to get back to where we were in December 2020, when the numbers were nothing close to this. 

“We have a migrant wave that began in mid-January of 2021 because people calculated that if they got here, they were going to be able to stay. 85, 90 percent of them were right. That’s drawn more people to come here. 

“I’m no different than the people that are linking Israel’s aid to Ukraine, because they won’t vote for a standalone Israel deal unless we do Ukraine. And I’m saying, ‘I won’t do Ukraine unless we secure America’s border.’”

On the Rubio-Kaine bill preventing NATO withdrawal without Congress’s consent: 

“NATO is an important alliance. If it didn’t exist, we would have to create it. It’s one of our strategic strengths, because China doesn’t have these alliances, for example, and neither do the Russians or the Iranians, for that matter. I believe Congress needs to play a role in deciding whether we’re going to remove ourselves from that. 

“I will acknowledge that Donald Trump does not talk like a member of the Council on Foreign Relations on these issues. But he actually increased troop levels in Poland. I saw them. I was there when it happened. I don’t believe Donald Trump will remove us from NATO. I do think he is going to do, admittedly in an unorthodox way, what virtually every American president has done since the onset of NATO, and that is to demand that some NATO countries do more. It’s interesting: the closer they are to Russia, the more they do.”

On the intelligence issue raised by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last month:

“It’s not a new issue. It’s one people have been tracking. I don’t know what’s been declassified. I’m not going to speak to it in detail. All I’m going to say is that when you talk about things – it’s not about keeping secrets – you make it harder to learn more things about it. Because those who you are trying to learn from quickly learn you’re onto something. 

“I think this is a significant and serious threat. It’s not the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it’s a big deal…. I think there’s work being done, so it’s not something that came out of left field, but I agree, I don’t like the way it was handled. I think it’s set us back a little bit.”

On the need to ban TikTok:

“Here’s the challenge: the reason why TikTok is so attractive is it has an algorithm, a recommender, which is one of the best in the world. That is owned by ByteDance, and under Chinese law, ByteDance must [do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party]. 

“The only way that the recommender engine works is if they have access to the data. It doesn’t matter who we sell TikTok to, or where they’re headquartered. It doesn’t even matter where they store the data. As long as ByteDance engineers in China control the algorithm, they have to have access to American data…. That’s the reality here.”

On efforts to interfere in American politics through social media:

“It’s the area of malign influence. It’s not very expensive to figure out: ‘What are the issues that already divide Americans? Let’s amplify messages that put them at each other’s throats’…. We already do a pretty good job of it on our own. It helps us do that.

“And that doesn’t just deal with elections. We’re beyond just election interference. It’s now an effort to influence our policy, to divide us year round, on a regular basis. And it’s not that expensive to do so. 

“Russia does it, and they’ve done it for a long time. The Chinese want to get into this business. The Iranians and others will join them. And it’s not just [a problem] here. We’ve already seen examples of it in other democratic nations. It’s a growing risk. 

“One of the first things we have to do is talk about it. It’s not hacking ballot boxes. It’s hacking the minds in our political debate in this country by exacerbating pre-existing tensions.”

On how Americans can protect themselves from foreign influence:

“It begins with awareness and the understanding that, sometimes, these messages that are being driven, or some of these things that people are putting up online, are not real, or they are videos of something that happened halfway around the world ten years ago, not down the street one month ago. 

“But there are things that are designed to get people angry. And the algorithms feed this, because people love content that shows something outrageous, and more people will view it. So it’s easy to push this. And before you know it, people are out there at each other’s throats over something that may not even be real.”