Marco Rubio Wants US to Risk War with Russia Over Syria

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida gave an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood on Monday in which Rubio called for the United States to risk war with Russia to enforce a proposed no-fly zone over Syria.

Rubio said going to war with Russia would be better than the current state of affairs in Syria, citing the migration crisis, the growth of terrorist groups including ISIS and ‘Jabhat al Nusra’ and having Russian President Vladimir Putin as the “most influential geopolitical broker in the region.”

Transcript via CNBC:

HARWOOD: ONE FOREIGN POLICY QUESTION. AND I’M GOING TO TOSS IT BACK TO SCOTT WHO HAS A QUESTION FOR YOU AS WELL. YOU SUPPORT A NO-FLY ZONE IN SYRIA.

RUBIO: I SUPPORT A SAFE ZONE IN SYRIA THAT INCLUDES A NO-FLY ZONE, CORRECT.

HARWOOD: WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO ENGAGE IN MILITARY CONFLICT WITH THE RUSSIANS WHO ARE NOW FLYING BOMBING MISSIONS OVER SYRIA TO ENFORCE THAT ZONE? WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO HAVE WAR WITH RUSSIA OVER THAT?

RUBIO: NO. THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION IS THE FOLLOWING. NUMBER ONE, IF YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A NO-FLY ZONE, IT HAS 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. THAT I BELIEVE THE RUSSIANS WOULD NOT TEST THAT. I DON’T THINK IT’S IN THE RUSSIANS INTEREST TO ENGAGE IN AN ARMED CONFLICT OF THE UNITED STATES.

HARWOOD: YOU THINK PUTIN WOULD BACK OFF IF WE HAD A NO-FLY ZONE?

RUBIO: I DON’T THINK HE’S GOING TO GO INTO A SAFE ZONE, ABSOLUTELY. I DON’T BELIEVE HE WILL LOOK FOR A DIRECT MILITARY CONFLICT AGAINST THE UNITED STATES IN ORDER TO GO INTO A SAFE ZONE.

HARWOOD: WHAT IF HE WAS?

RUBIO: WELL, THEN YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A PROBLEM. BUT THAT WOULD BE NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER ADVERSARY.

HARWOOD: YOU’D BE WILLING TO ACCEPT THAT CONSEQUENCE?

RUBIO: BECAUSE THE ALTERNATIVE IS THIS MASSIVE MIGRATION CRISIS THAT WE’RE NOW FACING. THE ALTERNATIVE IS THAT ASSAD WILL REMAIN IN POWER, BUT NEVER CONTROL THE WHOLE WHOLE OF SYRIA AGAIN. THE ALTERNATIVE IS THE CONTINUED GROWTH OF NON-ISIS TERRORIST GROUPS IN ADDITION TO ISIS ITSELF. SO I THINK THE ALTERNATIVE IS WORSE.

HARWOOD: DON’T YOU THINK THE PROSPECT OF POTENTIAL MILITARY – HOT MILITARY CONFLICT WITH RUSSIA WOULD SCARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?

RUBIO: SURE. BUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT DOING ANYTHING WOULD SCARE THEM EVEN MORE AND THAT INCLUDES ITS ONGOING CRISIS OF THE MIGRATORY CRISIS THAT WE’RE NOW FACING. THE CONTINUED GROWTH, NOT JUST OF ISIS, BUT A JABHAT A- NUSRA AND OTHER GROUPS IN THE REGION AS WELL. AT THE END OF THE DAY, THIS IS NOT AN EASY SITUATION AND WE WISH WE DIDN’T FIND OURSELVES HERE. AND IN MANY REASONS WE ARE IN THIS POSITION, BECAUSE WHAT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DIDN’T DO TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS ADVOCATING FOR THEM TO DO THIS TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO OR A YEAR AND A HALF AGO. NOT NOW THAT BEING SAID, WE CANNOT SAY, WELL, IF PUTIN IS GOING TO TEST US, THEN WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING. YOU’VE BASICALLY AT THAT POINT CEDED TO HIM AS BECOMING THE MOST INFLUENTIAL GEOPOLITICAL BROKER IN THE REGION.

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