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Rubio Delivers Opening Remarks at Worldwide Threats Hearing

Mar 8, 2023 | Press Releases

Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence delivered opening remarks at the committee’s Worldwide Threats Hearing. See below for transcript. Watch on YouTube and Rumble.


Click here for video and read a transcript below. 

RUBIO: For two decades after the end of the Cold War, our country, the United States, was the world’s sole superpower. 

That gave us the luxury to hope for a world in which Russia and China were coming into convergence with the values of the free world. It also gave us the luxury of entertaining this fantasy that somehow free trade and globalizing the economy would produce peace and prosperity and prevent nation state rivalry. 

But that brief period of time between the end of the Cold War and very recently was a historic anomaly. The truth is that if you look at 500 years of geopolitics, it’s been defined by great power competition. And that’s where we find ourselves once again. 

It’s clear there’s not going to be any convergence of values. It’s clear that globalization led to the rise of China and de-industrialized America. It created long and vulnerable supply chains. It eroded our middle class, left our society deeply divided along socioeconomic lines. 

Now we find ourselves in a new world, one divided between the free nations led still by America, an authoritarian and tyrannical bloc led by Beijing, and then dozens and dozens of developing countries that are leveraging both sides against each other on issue after issue to cut the best deal for themselves.

Today we gather here, as we do once a year, to discuss the worldwide threats facing our country, and there is no shortage of them. China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, global terrorism, narco-terrorists operating right off and across our border and even in the homeland. All these are very serious threats. 

But it is my view that the greatest threat facing America is not another country. It is whether or not we have the ability and the willingness to accurately assess and appropriately adapt our foreign and domestic policies in this time of historic, revolutionary, and disruptive technological, social, economic and geopolitical changes. 

The answer to that question is not just going to determine the direction of our country. The answer to that question will define the 21st century.

On this matter, I believe that the intelligence community has a critical and vital role to play. First, because the changes we must make will have to overcome complacency, bureaucratic resistance, opposition from interest groups who benefit from the status quo, and public discomfort….

Complacency, because we’ve relied on our power advantages, and we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in a world where we have near-peer competitors. 

Bureaucratic resistance, because our government, the commentary class, think tanks, academia, and to some extent even Congress are still filled with officials who came of age in the post-Cold War fantasy about the “end of history.”

Opposition from powerful interests, because multinational corporations that dominate and have consolidated some of our most important industries are deeply invested in foreign supply chains and in the current state of the global economy. 

And public discomfort, because we’ve become a society addicted to cheap products from China and viral videos on TikTok. 

Overcoming all this will only be possible if we can motivate policymakers and convince our citizens of the need to act on at least five distinct areas of great power competition and potentially great power conflict. 

It’s a military competition, one in which we can no longer rely on overwhelming advantages to deliver relatively quick success. 

It’s a diplomatic and political competition for influence in multilateral institutions and over entering into and maintaining important international alliances. 

It’s an economic and industrial competition over critical industries, supply chains, access to resources, the flow of capital. 

It’s a scientific and technological competition in areas ranging from precision medicine, artificial intelligence, cyber, the digital economy, quantum computing, control over valuable personal data, and protecting innovation and intellectual property.

And it’s an informational competition involving closed and controlled societies dedicated to using our openness to divide us against each other here at home and drive disinformation to further their narrative and undermine our standing in the world. 

In the 21st century, providing policymakers information on these areas of competition and understanding how they intersect with one another is a vital and critical national priority. And only our intelligence agencies have the resources and the broad-based insight needed to provide this. 

Intelligence work today is not just about collecting state secrets and protecting our own. It is now also about the analysis of what all of these factors mean tied together, so that we as policymakers can decide what matters and what doesn’t, so that we can prioritize the urgent over the unimportant. 

Getting this wrong is the single greatest threat facing our country, and getting it right the single most important task we have at hand. I hope we can hear in this open setting how each of the agencies represented here today is adjusting to this historic challenge, because we simply have no time to waste.