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Burning bridges

Although freshman GOP Senator Marco Rubio rode a wave of young support to gain a seat in 2010, his lack of experience may be starting to become more evident.

On June 30, in a Senate subcommittee hearing on Democracy in the Americas, Rubio referred to Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as a "clown" and compared elderly leaders in Cuba to "Jurassic Park." Although his remarks may appeal to a more active, young electorate in the United States, these comments may have a different effect outside the nation's borders.

At a time when the United States is engaging in multiple military hostilities, facing a $14.6 trillion national debt and competing with rapidly growing nations such as China and India, we must be more careful than ever in maintaining our diplomacy when addressing other countries. Rubio's remarks could be construed not only as gauche but demeaning, particularly to foreign leaders. As a freshman senator, Rubio must not only pay attention to the interests of his voters, but he must prioritize diplomatic relations as a leader of an internationally oriented committee.

Rather than use offensive rhetoric that could have the effect of ostracizing the Venezuelan and Cuban leaders, Rubio must be more cognizant of and selective in his language. He can still offer strong opinions but should bring a more respectful critique of these nations' leaders. He must understand that these nations could offer important alliances, either militarily or commercially, down the road, and unwisely engaging in juvenile name-calling could prove debilitating.

If the United States government is labeled as one with overly critical and bombastic officials, future foreign leaders, regardless of whether they represent a democratic form of government, could refuse to forge cooperative ties with the United States and ultimately could leave the country cut off from emerging markets and growth.

Evan vahouny \nBATTEN IV