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Rubio pushes broad global role for U.S. in foreign policy speech

WASHINGTON -- Florida Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a foreign policy speech at a D.C. think tank on Wednesday in which he called on the U.S. to continue its involvement throughout the world, especially in the Middle East hot spots of Iran and Syria.

Attempting to show off his foreign policy chops, Rubio argued for an American foreign policy that remains engaged in foreign lands, saying the U.S. should become involved in Syria, and arguing that military action may need to be taken to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

"I disagree with voices in my own party who argue we should not engage at all. Who warn we should heed the words of John Quincy Adams not to go 'abroad, in search of monsters to destroy,'" said Rubio at the Brookings Institution. "I disagree, because all around us we see the human face of America’s influence in the world."

Rubio, whose speech did little to dismiss the vice presidential speculation surrounding him, stressed the need for America to build coalitions when becoming involved in foreign affairs, saying there is no other country "to hand off the baton to, even if it were wise to do so."

But such coalition building should not hamper the U.S. from leading on the international stage, he said. The Florida senator criticized President Obama for "an overreliance on institutions, global institutions whether its the security council or its the United Nations to take the lead on some of these issues." He cited Libya as a case in which the president waited too long to lead, and results were stifled because of inaction.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, in independent who caucuses with Democrats but backed Republican Sen. John McCain for president in 2008, introduced Rubio, praising the junior senator from the Sunshine state for his pragmatic foreign policy views.

Rubio did not mention presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, though the views he espoused on Wednesday line up well with the former Massachusetts governor, who he campaigned with earlier in the week in Pennsylvania.

Rubio said he believes foreign policy should be "non-partisan as much as possible." But for a war-weary country, further American involvement anywhere in the country can be a contentious issue. The senator said part of the problem in Afghanistan is that the U.S. has not made a long-term commitment to the country, and some Afghans fear the prospects of cooperating with allie forces if Taliban were to rule again after the coalition leaves the country.

And Rubio made clear that military action should be on the table in Iran. "We should also be preparing our allies, and the world, for the reality that unfortunately, if all else fails, preventing a nuclear Iran may, tragically, require a military solution," he said.

But, the Tea Party favorite did express his desires to building coalitions before beginning any foreign entanglement. 
"America has acted unilaterally in the past -– and I believe it should continue to do so in the future -- when necessity requires," he said. "But our preferred option since the U.S. became a global leader has been to work with others to achieve our goals."