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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Hugh Hewitt Show
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss the war in Ukraine, the China-brokered deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and more. See below for highlights and listen here.
On America’s interest in helping Ukraine defeat Russia:
“We do have an interest [in helping Ukraine defeat Russia]. I don’t think it’s the number one interest in the world. I think our geopolitical competition with China is by far the single biggest foreign policy priority that we need to have, and it’s a comprehensive one. But there are elements of that that are linked to what’s happening with Ukraine and Russia. There is a national security interest as it comes to [Ukraine], but it is not an unlimited national security interest. And our contribution to [Ukraine] should be commensurate to that, at the same level as our interests are.
“Right now, the Chinese want Russia to be successful in Ukraine. They want it to be successful for two reasons. The first is because they believe that it’s keeping us distracted, and the other is because it helps to lay the groundwork and set the precedent for what they intend to do in Taiwan and then other areas. What they want to be able to tell the Indo-Pacific region is, ‘The Russians invaded Ukraine, people complained about it for a while, but in the end, they all backed down, and Russia got what they wanted. What makes you think they’re going to stand up to China when they couldn’t stand up to Russia?’
“Now, the F-16s and the planes, my biggest problem with those is I don’t believe Ukraine can use them, because the Russians have anti-air assets embedded deep inside of Russia that can reach those airplanes [inside] Ukrainian territory. The risk of getting shot down is very high. But by the same token, I don’t think if we just stop helping Ukraine that the result is going to be peace. If we stop helping Ukraine, the result is going to be a slaughter…. The message would be pretty clear, and that is that if you want to invade a smaller neighbor and take their land, you can do it, and there won’t be many consequences for it.
“What I’m not in favor of is funding a stalemate, an ongoing war that’s going to take forever. I think that’s where the Biden Administration has really fallen short, in their inability to lay out a strategy for what our aims, what our national security interests are, and what we’re doing to further those here. Instead, it’s all about how much money we’re sending and how much equipment we’re sending. None of it is tied to a broader outline of, ‘Here’s our strategy, here’s our interests, here’s why we’re doing it.’”
On whether the war in Ukraine is just a territorial dispute:
“It’s not a territorial dispute anymore than it would be a territorial dispute if the United States decided that it wanted to invade Canada or take over the Bahamas. Just because someone claims something doesn’t mean it belongs to them. This is an invasion.
“The Russians decided, ‘We want a government in Ukraine that we have control over.’ And their goal was, ‘We’re going to go in, we’re going to topple their government, or they’re going to abandon the country, and then we’ll install a puppet there through some fake election, and then they’ll be in our orbit of influence. And by the way, we’ll probably keep Crimea, and maybe some areas of eastern Ukraine as well, as Russian territory.’ Their goal was to set up a fake referendum where the people there voted in favor of that. That was their goal. It hasn’t worked out that way, obviously, but that was always their goal.
“This is not the same as two countries arguing over disputed boundaries that were settled in some treaty 50 years ago. This is, the Russians want Ukraine to be under their thumb. Go back to all of the things that happened in 2014. That’s really what triggered all of this. Ukraine said, ‘We want to join the European Union.’ That’s really what fired up the Russians to go in and do what they did in the first place back then. It really is more of a desire to dominate their neighbors and have them as part of their sphere of influence. It’s not so much about the land.”
On nuance in foreign policy:
“I think there’s nuance, because foreign policy is about nuance. It’s not one way or the other. There is a national security interest in Ukraine. It’s not the number one security interest the United States has, but it’s an important one. And there are things we can do and should do to further that interest by helping them. It’s not an unlimited interest. It’s not $60 billion every six months. But there are things we can do and should do, and that our partners in Europe should do more of as well, and are doing. I do think there’s some importance to it. And I think those of us who feel that way have an obligation to explain to people how this fits in the broader overall package.”
On Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO:
“[Finland and Sweden] have a defense manufacturing base. Those two countries have not been a part of NATO, so they’ve been providing for their own defense for a while. I think there will be a net positive [effect of their joining NATO]. You’re not bringing in two needy countries. You’re bringing in two countries that have military capabilities of their own, that could really help in a situation like this, and are helping without being part of the alliance yet.
“But the broader point here is that if you look at Beijing, they want Russia to be successful. Their fear is that if Russia is severely degraded, the U.S. can then turn its focus 100 percent on China. They don’t want that to happen. And they want to break the back of the Western alliances. They want to be able to go to Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, all of Asia, and say to them, ‘You saw what happened with Russia. You know, [the West] complained for a while, but in the end, they backed down. If they couldn’t stand up to Russia, what makes you think they’re ever going to stand up to us? You might as well surrender to this new world order that China is trying to create and stop with these fantasies about America and the West being your allies.’”
On the China-brokered deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran:
“We knew [China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia] were meeting, and we knew that was the aim. I’m not sure how strong that true agreement is. The differences between a Sunni Arab kingdom in Saudi Arabia and a Shia Persian one in Iran are enormous. I’m not sure China alone can bridge that. But it’s a big diplomatic win for them. I wouldn’t say it’s earth-shattering. Part of this is that the Saudi kingdom really dislikes Joe Biden, and they’re really upset at the way he’s treated them.”