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The hawkish bits of VP hopeful Marco Rubio's foreign policy speech

Senator Marco Rubio's foreign policy speech yesterday, taken by many as part of a campaign to be Mitt Romney's running mate, points to a politician who favors foreign interventions.

By Staff writer / April 26, 2012

Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Fla. speaks about foreign policy, Wednesday, April 25, 2012, at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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Marco Rubio stepped into the spotlight yesterday, with a foreign policy speech at Brookings that almost screamed out to Mitt Romney "pick me, pick me!"

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Staff writer

Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Monitor's international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.

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The Florida Senator, whose parents immigrated to the US from Cuba in 1956, a few years before the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, focused on US foreign policy more broadly, not touching on Cuba. While pundits and watchers of US politics generally deemed Romney's potential running mate as not overly hawkish (here's a roundup of opinion), I see plenty of evidence he favors more military intervention abroad in his speech, at least when I focus on the areas I know best.  

His first point was to complain that the US didn't play a "more active role" in the NATO air campaign in Libya that helped bring down Muammar Qaddafi last year. It's true that the Obama Administration stressed that it was part of a broad group of actors in the effort, which involved seven months of sorties in aid of the Libyan uprising against government forces (in deed, if not in word, going far beyond their UN Security Council mandate only to protect civilians).

But if the unstated goal was regime change, it's hard to imagine more bang for the US buck than Libya. The total cost to the US was under $1 billion. There were no US (or any other foreign) casualties, and the mission wrapped up in less than a year. Could Qaddafi have been toppled a few months faster if the US was more active? Perhaps. Would that have also led to more civilian casualties at the hand of US airpower? Also perhaps. The Iraq war, a much more ambitious undertaking, will ultimately cost the US taxpayer about $4 trillion when replacement of equipment and total medical claims for veterans are factored in.

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