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Rubio Delivers Opening Remarks at Worldwide Threats Hearing

Mar 11, 2024 | Press Releases

Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence delivered opening remarks during the annual Worldwide Threats Assessment hearing.

  • “I still think America, by every measure you can imagine – economically, culturally, militarily – remains the world’s strongest nation and should remain that way for the foreseeable future if we make the right choices. But that order that I just described is being challenged. It’s being challenged by nation-states that don’t like the way the world looks now. At least, they think it benefits America and hurts them. And they want to [sideline] America and our democratic allies with an alternative, if not a replacement.” – Senator Rubio

Click here for the video and read the transcript below:

“Thank you all for coming here today. I also extend my thanks to the men and women who work underneath you that do the important work of keeping our country safe at what I think you could describe as one of those pivot moments in history, where what life will be like for a generation is being determined by what’s happening now and in the near future. 

“While events are changing perhaps faster than any other time in human history, I think we have to remind ourselves of the why – the bigger outlined picture of why things are happening the way they are happening. Because I do think that they are all interrelated. 

“From the end of the Cold War to the late 2000s, we lived in a unipolar world. The United States was basically the only country in the world that could project power everywhere at every time. And we were called upon to do many things in regard to that. But other nation states progressed during that stage. 

“I still think America, by every measure you can imagine – economically, culturally, militarily – remains the world’s strongest nation and should remain that way for the foreseeable future if we make the right choices. But that order that I just described is being challenged. It’s being challenged by nation states that don’t like the way the world looks now. At least, they think it benefits America and hurts them. And they want to [sideline] America and our democratic allies with an alternative, if not a replacement. 

“The Chinese believe we’re in inevitable decline and that their rise is inevitable. They don’t like the rules of the world as they believe were written by America and our allies, and so they increasingly are taking it upon themselves, at every opportunity, to challenge them in every domain. They steal our ideas on innovation and so forth, so that their companies can do the things that we do, but do it cheaper and flood markets with those products. 

“I don’t need to tell this panel or the members of this committee and the general public that they’re expanding their military capabilities in an extraordinary way to include, not simply projecting power in the Indo-Pacific, but around the world. By the way, they manipulate loopholes in our laws and in our systems in this country to buy up land, buy up companies, gain strategic advantage in industries, and undermine our industries in return. 

“They are a major part of flooding this country with deadly drugs that are destroying communities and ravaging entire families. And they’ve also gotten very good at hiring lobbyists and even deputizing corporate America to come up here and lobby us for things that are beneficial to Chinese goals at the expense of this country, long term.

“I think it’s important to mention here today, they also happen to control [ByteDance]. Anybody who says they don’t doesn’t know what they’re talking about, because every company in China is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. They happen to control a company that owns one of the world’s best artificial intelligence algorithms. It’s the one that’s used in this country by TikTok, and it uses the data of Americans to basically read your mind and predict what videos you want to see. 

“The reason why TikTok is so successful, the reason why it’s so attractive, is because it knows you better than you know yourself, and the more you use it, the more it learns. The problem is not TikTok or the videos. The problem is the algorithm that powers it is controlled by a company in China that must do whatever the Chinese Communist Party tells them to do. 

“And the only way that that algorithm works is if that company in China, under the control of the Chinese government, is given access to the data that TikTok collects. TikTok does not work without that algorithm. And that algorithm is controlled by a company that’s controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, under the law of China. 

“In the case of Putin, he also sees America as decadent and in decline. He views China and Russia as resilient. They view themselves as great powers. And he believes that great powers have a right to buffer states. He believes that great powers have a right, not just to have their own borders, but to control the countries around their borders as buffer states. They already have that in Belarus. It is one of the reasons why he invaded Ukraine. 

“In the case of Iran, they want to export their Shia Islamic revolution to the entire Middle East. The problem with this is, two things stand in their way – the state of Israel and the United States of America. That is why they have proxy groups in places like Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Gaza, whom they use for their purposes. 

“One of their purposes is to use these groups to attack Americans, so that we will say, ‘It’s not worth the trouble. We need to get out of there.’ And once we leave, then they’ll move on to Jordan and Bahrain. Then they’ll make Israel an unlivable place. Ultimately, their ambitions are the entire region and most of the Gulf kingdoms. 

“That’s why I think it’s a mistake to view the horrific events of October 7th as simply the latest iteration of a longstanding Israeli-Palestinian problem. It is deeply tied to the head of this snake, and the head of this snake is in Iran and in Tehran. 

“Add to these three countries North Korea. We haven’t heard a lot about it yet, but they have become increasingly aggressive. In fact, I would argue that we perhaps are closer to some armed hostilities than we’ve been in a decade or longer. 

“Why have they become so aggressive? They feel empowered. They feel empowered because Putin is buying things from them and helping them to break their international isolation. And also because – I don’t know what percentage of their economy is powered by ransomware attacks and cyber hacking, but it’s substantial. They generate a lot of money from that. 

“Then add to this parade of horribles the fact that terror is still a threat. Iran, as has been publicly reported, is still trying to kill former government officials that live in the United States of America. There are former government officials in this country, no longer in office, who require 24 hours a day security because Iran is trying to kill them inside the United States. 

“Hezbollah, an agent of Iran, is also looking for ways to conduct terrorist attacks against American interests and Israeli and Jewish interests all over the world and here in the homeland as well. By the way, ISIS and al Qaeda are not out of business. They are still involved with Al-Shabab. They also want to kill Americans. If they could do it in the homeland, they would love that. 

“And all of that is happening at a time in which perhaps the single largest, most eventful migration corridor in history is operating right off of our border.

“I think it’s a mistake sometimes to divide all of these problems geographically, because in some ways, they’re all interrelated. Yes, these individual states all have different ambitions, but they share a common goal. And the common goal is a world friendlier and better for them and their interests and a world in which America is weakened and less able to act. 

“All of these crises begin to interlock in a way that helps them. For example, the Chinese and the Russians see great benefit in what’s happening in the Middle East, because they figure every dollar and every second of our attention that’s paid there is not paid to what’s happening with Ukraine or the Indo-Pacific. The Chinese see great benefit in Ukraine as well, because they view it as the more time and money we spend there, the less time and money and focus we have on them. 

“In fact, I know the Chinese hope for one of two things – we deplete ourselves in Ukraine and/or the Middle East, particularly Ukraine, or we cut and run. Then they can go around the world and say, ‘See, I told you, America’s weak. I told you America is unreliable.’ They have a plan for either outcome, which makes it challenging for us as we decide what to do here. 

“These things all come together…. The goals that Russia has, the goals that Iran has, the goals that North Korea has, the goals that the Chinese have, may be different goals, but one of the real developments that threatens the security of our country is that they are increasingly partnering with one another. It’s not a NATO alliance, not the sort of formal alliance that’s written out. But they are increasingly partnering with each other. 

“It’s on selected topics, and it’s on selected opportunities, because they all share one goal, and that is, they want to weaken America, weaken our alliances, weaken our standing and our capability and our will. Because it helps them to achieve the world as they envision it, the world that they want. But it comes at our expense and at the expense of all that’s been built over the last 20 or 30 years. 

“I think that one of the greatest dangers we face is the inability to see how all these things are interconnected. And I think one of the greatest challenges we face is to deal with them as if they are interconnected. I think that what life will be like on this planet for the next generation will be determined very much by what we do or fail to do here, over the next two to three years, with the issues that are before us today.”