One of Marco Rubio’s signature lines during the Republican primaries was “our enemies no longer fear us, and our allies no longer trust us.” I’m not really sure what world Marco Rubio is living in, but it definitely isn’t this one. To be clear, ignoring the fact that he sold out to Donald Trump (SAD!), I don’t dislike Marco Rubio. In fact, I think he was one of the three best Republican candidates along with Kasich and Bush. His oft-cited quip about nobody respecting the U.S. anymore, though, was nothing more than political posturing, and it’s frankly a flat out lie.
I understand why it might be difficult for Republicans to accept that the majority of countries around the world support the direction in which Obama has taken the U.S. After all, the GOP (especially Lindsey Graham) seems to believe that Obama is leading the U.S. to destruction. Extensive polling, however, suggests that Obama has actually improved U.S. standing in the eyes of American allies.
That Obama was able to improve America’s image so significantly is no small feat. The last time the Republicans held the White House, they absolutely trashed America’s global image. Indeed, only Russia, Jordan, and Lebanon think worse of the U.S. right now than they did when Bush occupied the Oval Office. And, despite Trump’s seeming desire to leave Melania for Vlad, it isn’t like Russia is a close friend of the United States. In other words, Russians’ enmity toward the U.S. likely has more to do with the crisis in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions than Obama’s grand strategy.
Data comes from Pew Global Attitudes Survey
What’s even more absurd about Rubio’s comments is that every one of our major allies prefers Clinton to Trump. By contrast, the heads of state that have endorsed Trump – Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, etc. – are hardly the leaders of America’s closest allies. Rubio nonetheless endorsed Trump. That’s what’s so irritating. Rubio ignores clear data suggesting that Obama actually has boosted America’s image abroad. And then, when he is forced to endorse someone for president, he gets behind a man beloved by our adversaries and despised by our friends. If he really cared about how America is perceived abroad, he would support Clinton or simply not endorse anyone at all.
Obama absolutely has screwed up when it comes to foreign policy. For example, his intervention in Libya was a disaster, and his decision to oppose the AIIB was moronic. I’m sure reasonable people could come up with other foreign policy decisions made by Obama that were poorly thought out or executed. Overall, though, Obama has done a relatively good job in rebalancing America’s overseas commitments and acting in a more multilateral way. Unfortunately, I never hear these kinds of nuanced criticisms from Republican demagogues and politicians. Instead, I hear only vague superlatives about how everyone hates America or no longer trusts us. My favorite example of this kind of hyperbolic rhetoric was when Christie declared that “the Iran Deal made Israel measurably less safe,” and then failed to provide any metrics through which to measure Israel’s security position. This is simply absurd, and it’s utterly inexcusable. If people want to have a substantive debate, I’m all for it. Both parties have committed enormous foreign policy mistakes, and we as a country need to discuss how we want the U.S. to engage with the world. Petty name calling and fabrications, however, are not helpful. Until the Republicans get serious in their discussion of foreign policy, I simply won’t be able to take them seriously as a party.