Marco Rubio Vows To Challenge Vladimir Putin In Syria

Molly Riley/AP
Molly Riley/AP

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio is again arguing that the United States should act in Syria, disputing the notion that the world should cede leadership in the conflict to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In recent media interviews, Rubio has asserted that he would stand up to the Russians if elected president, and he’s making the case for getting involved in Syria as well.

In an interview with CNBC, Rubio indicated that he would create a “safe zone” in Syria which would includ a no-fly zone in the country to stop foreign interests from getting involved militarily to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

“If you’re going to have a no-fly zone, it would have to be against anyone who would dare intrude on it and I am confident that the United States Air Force can enforce that — including against the Russians,” he said.

Obama was wrong to suggest that Putin was acting out of “weakness” by going into Syria, Rubio explained in an interview with Fox News, arguing that Putin was trying to position himself as a regional power in the Middle East.

“He’s doing it because he senses a vacuum and he can position himself as a geopolitical equal to the United States. perhaps even a superior in the case of the Middle East,” he said.

Rubio also responded directly to the notion that there weren’t any American interests in Syria and that the American military shouldn’t get involved in another Middle East conflict.

“I think the alternative is worse,” Rubio said, pointing to a refugee crisis internationally and a growing terrorist threat in the region including ISIS.

“That group wants to attack us here at home and they use these operating spaces that they’ve gained in that area to plan for attacks against us and to recruit Americans on social media to attack us,” he said. “So just because we ignore them doesn’t mean they will ignore us.”

More important, however, is the notion that Putin would be left to influence the Middle East, especially with his political ties to rogue regimes like Iran.

“We cannot say, ‘Well if Putin is going to test us, we can’t do anything,’ … you’ve basically at that point ceded to him at becoming the most influential geo-political broker in the region,” Rubio said.