Eric Cantor calls for U.S. leadership in world affairs

We wrote yesterday about a major foreign policy address that Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, delivered on Presidents Day to the Virginia Military Institute.

Our news item had the JTA focus: first, that Cantor cast his plea for a more robust foreign policy through his own Jewish experience and his reactions during a recent commemorative visit to Auschwitz; and second, that a good portion of the speech was a critique of President Obama’s Iran policy.

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The whole speech is worth looking at, however, because it clearly sets out one possible GOP foreign policy vision going into the midterms and into the 2016 presidential elections. And it is a vision that is robustly at odds with the Tea Party isolationism embodied by figures like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Most interestingly — and note that the speech is called “An America That Leads” — Cantor acknowledges the public’s weariness after two wars that were at best inconclusive. In the passage leading into his account of his impressions at Auschwitz, Cantor suggests that sometimes leaders need to learn how overcome public weariness:

Many Americans, and politicians from both parties, want to believe the tide of war has receded. As was the case in the wake of World War I, many want to believe the costly foreign interventions of recent years can simply be put behind us. That we can simply choose not to be involved.

However, we mustn’t let ourselves be lulled into complacency again or forget the lessons of history.

Here’s the speech, and read the transcript here:

Ron Kampeas is JTA’s Washington bureau chief, responsible for coordinating coverage in the U.S. capital and analyzing political developments that affect the Jewish world. He comes to JTA from The Associated Press, where he worked for more than a decade in its bureaus in Jerusalem, New York, London and, most recently, Washington. He has reported from Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Bosnia and West Africa. While living in Israel, he also worked for the Jerusalem Post and several Jewish organizations.