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Lead from Out Front

House majority leader Eric Cantor challenges Obama’s foreign policy.

2:41 PM, Feb 18, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
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Yesterday, in front of a Presidents’ Day crowd at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, House majority leader Eric Cantor unloaded one of the most comprehensive critiques to date of the Obama White House’s foreign policy. “An America That Leads” hit all the salient points—from adversaries like Syria and Iran to Asian allies, like South Korea and Japan who “rightfully question whether they can trust the United States to stand up to nuclear-armed North Korea if we cannot follow through on our threats against a much weaker Syria.”

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Cantor correctly noted that the administration’s Syria policy “is a big reason our allies do not trust us, and our adversaries do not fear us.” Obama threatened military strikes after Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s “chemical weapons are but a sideshow.” The issue rather is that “Syria is not merely a humanitarian disaster, but a slow-motion strategic catastrophe that poses significant threats to America and some of its closest partners.”

On Iran, Cantor questions the gullibility of administration officials who see “Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new President, as a moderate and a reformer.” Rouhani, as Cantor notes, is “far less powerful than Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Qods Force. And he is insignificant next to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whom they call the Supreme Leader for a reason.”

And because the White House has sought to empower the so-called “moderate” Rouhani, “the limited sanctions relief provided by the interim deal has undermined the perception of international pressure so critical to convincing the Iranians to change course.” (Indeed, as Adam Kredo reports today at the Washington Free Beacon, the White House will not even “interfere” with Iran’s rising oil sales.)

It’s no surprise then that American allies have come to distrust America’s word. As Cantor said yesterday, “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.”

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