Senator Marco Rubio evinces no mastery of foreign policy. Yet the Florida Republican often remarks confidently on geopolitics. Like so many hawkish pols, he's winging it.
On Sean Hannity's Fox News show, for example, Rubio critiqued President Obama's forthrightness on Iraq. “I don’t think it’s wise for the commander in chief to step forward and immediately begin to rule options out. Even if he never intends to send a single American soldier, he shouldn’t be signaling that to terrorists,” Rubio said. “You should not be going around announcing what you won’t do.”
This is problematic for several reasons.
Most troubling is the implication that the president should keep his intentions about using military force a secret. Whether or not ground troops will go to Iraq is not a minor matter to be decided quietly. If American democracy is working as it should, a major deployment of that sort would be preceded by a public debate on its wisdom, followed by a congressional vote authorizing or denying it. To keep foreign fighters guessing about whether new troop deployments will occur, you'd need to sometimes order brand new interventions without debate or a vote in Congress. The strategy isn't viable unless you're willing to subvert basic democratic norms. Similarly, if the president has no intention of using force, the public and the Congress ought to be told that, so that they can plausibly deploy persuasion or democratic pressure to change an imprudently dovish defense posture.