Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during the American Conservative Union Conference March 6, 2014 in National Harbor, Md.
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

Rubio shares anti-ISIS plans, trips over substantive details

Updated
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was on the Iowa campaign trail yesterday, and shared some thoughts on his vision for combating ISIS. NBC News reported:
…Rubio said he wanted to show the world how ISIS leaders “cry like babies” when captured in hopes of dissuading recruits from joining on to the extremist group.
 
“I believe we should be carrying out attacks against Sunni leadership nodes, videotaping the whole thing and putting it up on YouTube so that the world can see these people are not invincible,” he said. “I want the world to see how these ISIS leaders cry like babies when they’re captured. I want the world to see how these ISIS leaders, once captured, begin to sing like canaries if they survive.”
 
He added that he wants young fighters around the world thinking of joining the Islamic State to have “second thoughts” when they see “how easily humiliated they are by Americans.”
At a certain level, such a campaign may seem emotionally satisfying, but there’s ample reason to believe showing video footage of captured prisoners is strictly prohibited under the Geneva Convention. In March 2013, when Iraqi officials released footage of American prisoners facing interrogation, U.S. officials condemned the tactic as “appalling.”
 
The Florida senator has not yet explained why he believes his preferred tactic would be legal.
 
As part of the same campaign swing, Rubio added that President Obama’s efforts against ISIS are “all symbolic,” because the senator believes the president “doesn’t want to embroil us in another conflict.”
 
As of last week, U.S. forces, acting on Obama’s orders, have launched 6,471 airstrikes against ISIS targets in the Middle East. I’m not sure how Rubio defines “symbolic,” but it’s not an adjective that comes to mind.
 
All of this comes against the backdrop of Rubio’s first national television ad, in which he talks directly into the camera about “a civilizational struggle between the values of freedom and liberty, and radical Islamic terror.” In the commercial, the senator adds that the Paris attacks “could happen here,” because of “radical terrorists who want to kill us,” in part because “we let women drive.”
 
Rubio concludes that there can be no “negotiation” with ISIS militants.
 
First, since no one anywhere is suggesting “negotiations” with ISIS, it’s not clear why Rubio feels the need to emphasize this point.
 
Second, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum noted, “[F]orbidding women to drive is actually one of the few odious things that ISIS doesn’t do. It’s our great and good friend Saudi Arabia that has a problem with women drivers. I’m pretty sure Rubio has never said a bad word about the Kingdom, so it seems a little odd to obsess about this when he’s got such a huge panoply of other horrific stuff to choose from.”
 
And finally, the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal explained, “[W]hat’s really wrong with Mr. Rubio’s commercial, and his candidacy, is that he offers not the slightest idea of what he would do as president to combat terrorism – other than to further undermine Americans’ civil liberties under the guise of counter-terrorism and to turn away legitimate refugees because they happen to be Middle Eastern Muslims.”
 
Well, sure, but other than all of this, Rubio’s on firm ground.
 
 

Foreign Policy, ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Marco Rubio

Rubio shares anti-ISIS plans, trips over substantive details

Updated