Rubio: U.S. Alliances With NATO, South Korea, Japan As Indispensable As Ever
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today reiterated his support for U.S. international leadership, particularly as it relates to our alliances with and commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Japan, and South Korea. Rubio made his comments during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on “The Strategic Implications of the U.S. Debt.”
A transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below. A video is available here and a broadcast quality video available for download is available here.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
April 6, 2016
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio: “Well, first, I’m glad you’re holding this hearing. It’s a very interesting issue that I think brings into focus the broader narrative that Mr. Haass spoke about. You know, one of the things that’s happening in this country, that’s led to some of this turmoil and vibrant debate in this political cycle, has been that the world has changed dramatically.
“We used to be a national economy, and to some extent still are, but we’re deeply impacted more than ever before by global currents. Global markets, what’s happening halfway around the world – foreign policy is economic policy more today than it has ever been.
“I think someone used the statistic, we’re five percent of the world population and 40 percent of its economy, but five percent of the world population. And the good news is that there’s millions of people around the world that were once starving, who now buy things, and they want to buy things from us, and trade with us, and travel.
“This is an extraordinary development, and it’s a positive, but it has implications. And one of the things that’s been so disruptive in the political debate is that we no longer fully control everything that happens in our economy because so much of it is tied to something that happened in some remote place halfway around the world, and the debt is a part of that.
“The second is this issue of debt. Look, if we were any other country, looking at these numbers, we’d be in a debt crisis. The reason why we’re not is because the world still has confidence in America because they believe Winston Churchill’s statement that Americans always get it right after they’ve tried everything else first, and they believe we’ll ultimately get this right and we’ll always pay our bills and we’ll get this straightened out.
“So the stability of our political process and its ability to solve problems has implications on this as well. And I agree with you Mr. Chairman, I don’t know how this could be a question that the debt is not an issue because if you think about what happened to Greece, if that were the United States, or if what’s happening in Puerto Rico as a territory happened to the broader country, the world would freak out. I don’t know if there’s a scientific term for that, but I can just tell you the world would flip out if this, the most important and indispensable nation, were to have a debt crisis that would call into question its ability to pay its bills. It would have dramatic global implications, and so this is a major issue.
“I would also say, you don’t run up an $18 trillion debt with one party. This is a bipartisan debt. People say there’s no bipartisanship in Washington, there most certainly is. There’s an $18 trillion debt to prove it. Both parties have had control at different times, and they have written checks that they couldn’t cash, and we’re facing the consequences of that.
“But part of this debate, has led us to this point, and I think Senator Flake alluded to it when he talked about foreign aid, this concept somehow that if only we did less around the world, we could take care of this issue. Foreign aid is the one I always hear about. When I explain to people, I think it’s one percent of our budget, maybe even less. People always use foreign aid saying, ‘If we just cut foreign aid, we can pay for it,’ and you can fill in the blank, it just doesn’t add up.
“But we never talk about the costs of not engaging in the world beyond foreign aid, so now you basically have someone, and I don’t want to get into all that stuff, so let me just say you have a major voice in American politics today saying, ‘We can save a bunch of money, let’s just get out of NATO. We can save a bunch of money, let’s just get out of our relationship with Japan and South Korea and put them in charge of their own security.’
“And I guess what I’d ask both of you to comment on is, what would the world look like for America – let me just back up one more point. I don’t mean to take up all this time because I want you to be able to answer this, but part of this economic growth that we’ve benefitted from would have never happened had the U.S. not helped Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War, would have never happened had there not been a NATO, would have never happened had there not been a U.S.-supporting South Korea for all those years where South Korea’s economy at one point, I believe it was as late as the seventies, was smaller than the North Korean economy. Today they are the ninth-largest economy in the world, I believe, and they are a contributor to foreign aid –a donor, not a recipient. Japan is another successful story, a nation we went to war with, and then helped rebuild is today one of our strongest alliances in the world.
“So my question is, what would the world look like now, what opportunities would we not have – because none of this growth that we’ve had up to now would have been possible without those relationships and without that stability – what would the world look like economically and ultimately for our ability to pay our debts long-term, if America were to walk away from its security agreements with Japan, with South Korea and with NATO?
“I know each of these is separate and I’ll add let me close with this just to be clear that I’m on the record Japan I think South Korea this year will contribute $800 million in defense, the Japanese have stepped up in what they are doing in the collective self-defense capabilities, and of course NATO needs to be repurposed and modernized to face new threats, but the truth is they are an indispensable part of U.S. role in the world. So what are the economic costs and ultimately the impact on our ability to pay off the debt if the United States’ alliance with NATO, South Korea, and Japan is called into question?”
Rubio: “See, my point in asking that question is, I want to be clear that doing all these things that I’ve just mentioned, will do nothing to deal with the debt, but would, in fact, trigger a worsening debt, in my opinion, because of the additional costs that would be imposed on our economy. So thank you.”
Senator Bob Corker: “Seems like you felt the need to express yourself, based on comments you’ve heard over the course of the last several months?”
Rubio: “Not only that, for sure, but also, just kind of seeing the world’s reaction to this stuff. I mean they’re asking us, ‘Is this really going to happen?’ It’s having an impact on people’s psyche, they’re wondering, ‘Where’s America headed?’ and I just wanted to make some reassurance that this isn’t going to happen.”