House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) today will outline a harsh critique of the Obama Administration’s foreign and defense policy in a speech to cadets at Virginia Military Institute.
In remarks provided to The Foundry, Cantor warns that America’s military strength and global leadership are in doubt.
“America’s friends worry we have lost our way, that we have lost the will to live up to our values or stand up to aggressors,” Cantor says.
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The speech covers hot spots in the Middle East, Russia, China, North Korea, and Latin America. It not only addresses problems with Obama’s approach to foreign policy, but also outlines prescriptions for American success aboard.
American foreign policy should not be guided by hollow rhetoric, unwise or moveable timelines, and unenforced red lines. Instead, it should be driven by clear principles: protect the homeland, defend our allies, and advance freedom, democracy and human rights abroad, while maintaining a military superiority that cannot be matched.
Cantor’s speech comes as the Winter Olympics play out in Russia. Cantor, however, doesn’t mince words about Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“Despite the idyllic pictures from the Olympic coverage at Sochi, Putin is still living in the Cold War,” Cantor says. “He has demonstrated that he’s neither interested in better relations with the United States nor is he fearful of poking America in the eye.”
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Cantor cites Putin’s decision to block U.N. Security Council resolutions, provide support to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, threaten the independence of Russia’s neighbors while suppressing dissent at home. He also chides Putin for giving cover to Edward Snowden.
In the speech, Cantor is particularly critical of Obama’s actions in the Middle East, blaming the administration for its failure to capitalize on the Arab Spring.
“As a result, moderate reformers have floundered and extremists have filled the vacuum,” he says. “In the wake of such promise, we now see the Talibanization of the Middle East.”
Cantor closes the speech with a warning about military readiness — a concern documented by Heritage Foundation scholars. “All of these efforts cannot be done on the cheap, and they cannot be accomplished without risks,” Cantor says.
Heritage’s James Carafano, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies and the E. W. Richardson Fellow, says Cantor’s speech embodies President Ronald Reagan’s mantra of peace through strength. Carafano cautions that words must be backed up with actions.
“This is about as rock-solid a description of the ills and wrong turns of Obama’s foreign and defense policy as I have heard from a congressional leader in a long time,” Carafano says. “It is always great to hear a congressional leader demand we have a military second to none, but Congress has done precious little to push back against Obama’s dismal stewardship of the armed forces.”