Eric Cantor said he could think of no better place than Virginia Military Institute to discuss an America that leads and strives for peace, but is prepared for conflict.
Monday morning, the House Majority Leader and Richmond Congressman delivered a speech on national security at VMI's Cameron Hall.
"One day soon our nation will rely on you as we've relied on graduates of VMI since the first class was admitted in 1839," Cantor told the audience.
Speaking to the Corps of Cadets, VMI faculty and members of the community, the Republican leader laid out a long list of international flashpoints where he says the Obama administration has fallen short, starting with Iran
"Like all Americans I hope to see Iran abandon its nuclear aspirations through peaceful negotiations," Cantor said, "but hope is not a strategy."
And with Syria, North Korea, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Russia and China, Cantor said the United States must re-evaluate the direction of its foreign policy.
"We have allies around the world, who are beginning to question America's commitment to the principles upon which this nation was founded," Cantor said during a brief news conference following his speech.
Colonel James Hentz is the Chairman of VMI's Political Science Department. "I think the important point that he made that I would agree with and I think both aisles would agree with is after long wars we have a tendency to shrink back into an isolationist shell," Hentz told WDBJ7, "and it's a very dangerous thing to do."
Cantor said America must wage the battle "for moderation over extremism," renew partnerships "with long-time allies who feel abandoned" and "take aggressive action against terrorist leaders."
He also warned it won't come cheap and cannot be accomplished without risk.
"I think when the American people recall the lessons of history," Cantor told reporters, "whether it be Afghanistan and leading up to 2001 9/11, whether it be World War II and the Holocaust and what that meant for the slaying of innocent lives, the American people are behind an America that leads."