(Washington, D.C.) — Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia is the House Majority Leader. He is also the highest ranking Jewish leader in the GOP. As I previously reported, Cantor visited the Auschwitz death camp last month with a group of Israeli lawmakers.
Now Cantor is wisely warning the American people against a growing isolationist trend in both the Democrat and Republican parties. What’s more, he is warning against downsizing our military too far and too hastily, and the danger of the U.S. not taking decisive action against a rising evil before it’s too late, specifically mentioning Iran.
The Obama administration is in the process of retreating from the Middle East and has just proposed military cuts so enormous that U.S. force levels would be at the lowest point since World War II.
“Standing there as the frigid wind swept through the eerily quiet ruins of the camp, I could not help but regret that American action in World War II came too late to save countless millions of innocent lives,” Cantor said in an important speech last week to the Virginia Military Institute. “Hitler’s rise and conquest of Europe did not come as a surprise. We must not repeat the same mistake by reducing our preparedness, accepting the notion that we are one of many or ceding global leadership to others.”
“When US House Representative Eric Cantor took the stage last week at the Virginia Military Institute to deliver a wide-ranging foreign policy address, Auschwitz was on the House majority leader’s mind — and so, observers suggest, was the state of his party,” reports Haaretz. “In his speech, the Virginia Republican cited his recent visit — his first — to the Nazi death camp, connecting past horrors to the present-day danger of retreating into isolationism.”
“While the bulk of his February 17 speech was a critique of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, Cantor also seemed to take aim at anti-interventionists within the GOP,” Haaretz noted.
“Many Americans, and politicians from both parties, want to believe the tide of war has receded,” Cantor said. “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….This isolationist sentiment lasted years, until the bombing of Pearl Harbor woke the American people from their slumber. We must not repeat the same mistake by reducing our preparedness, accepting the notion that we are one of many or ceding global leadership to others.”
- Frank Luntz, a top Republican political consultant, said Cantor was “making a statement that the isolationists in the GOP are acting in a destructive way, that there’s one thing that unites both those on the right and those in the center — a strong America and a peaceful America.”
- The GOP is heading into this midterm election year in a state of turmoil, deeply divided between Tea Party-aligned right-wingers and establishment Republicans. Those on the right who advocate shifting toward an anti-interventionist foreign policy — a small minority among congressional Republicans — have grown louder, with Senator Rand Paul featuring prominently among the party’s presumed 2016 presidential contenders….
- Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, had visited Auschwitz with other members of Congress to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the camp’s liberation. He was there at the same time as a historic delegation that included nearly half the members of the Israeli Knesset.
- “I saw him after he returned from his visit to Auschwitz, and he came over to me and he was still stunned 36 hours after he had been there,” Luntz said. “I could feel his emotional reaction five feet from him.”
- William Daroff, a former Republican operative who now directs the Washington office of Jewish Federations of North America, said he had a similar conversation with Cantor a day after his return.