Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) disagreed with Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) push to freeze foreign aid to countries that don’t protect U.S. embassies, saying now is not the time to “abandon being smart” in the region.
“Disengaging from the region is not the solution,” Rubio said in a floor speech today. “I don’t have a magic solution, but… we should expect more.”
Paul has tied Pakistan’s refusal to release a doctor who helped the U.S. track Osama bin Laden and the attack on and protests at U.S. installations together as reason to cut off aid to countries like Libya and Egypt until American interests are protected.
“They’re not just offended about a YouTube video,” Rubio said. “They’re offended that women serve in the U.S. Senate. They’re offended that women drive. They’re offended that little girls get to go to school. In some of these countries, converting to Christianity is punishable by death. Our whole culture is offensive to them, not just a YouTube video.”
“I believe, I don’t believe, I know, that there are millions of people in the Muslim world that do not want this future, but they are afraid to speak up. They are intimidated from speaking up because of these radical forces that need to be defeated.”
Rubio said it’s imperative to support those who want a better future, such as the Green Revolution in Iran.
“It’s a very clear choice: either they win, or we win. And the sooner we accept that, the better off we’re going to be. We have to accept that, on the one hand, there are millions of people who want a new, better future. We will side with them. We will support their aspirations. We will work with their hopes for civilian leadership, peace and economic prosperity. But for those who are radical Islamists, whose view is that they want to conquer and bring under their control everyone who is not who they are, we have to defeat them,” the senator said.
He said the fledgling Libyan government is trying to work with the U.S., and shouldn’t be let down.
“I hope Senator Paul and those who support his amendment will consider, at a minimum, restructuring that amendment to recognize that there is a difference between Libya and Egypt, and that we should take different approaches in that regard. We have a right to be outraged,” Rubio said. “We have a right to be angry. But we should never abandon being smart.”