Longtime Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra, who served as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, is urging President Barack Obama to declare his support for pro-democracy forces in Egypt.
In an exclusive interview Thursday with Newsmax.TV, the influential Republican complained that in contrast to former President George W. Bush, Obama has sent mixed messages about the level of U.S. support for activists in the oil-rich Middle East.
Hoekstra said the administration’s policy in Egypt echoes its much-criticized response during the June 2009 pro-democratic upheavals in Iran following a fraudulent election there.
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“I think the contrast here is the president, when he had the opportunity to clearly speak out in favor of people who embraced democratic values, the Green Movement in Iran, he was quiet,” Hoekstra said. “Now again he’s kind of going through this in a muddled and unclear measurement.
“But when he has the opportunity to speak for the forces that embrace our ideals, he should do that. And he hasn’t done that,” said Hoekstra.
The former representative from Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District warned that the Middle East remains “a very volatile part of the world.” He added that the governments of Tunisia and Egypt “are not everything we would want them to be, but they have been supportive.”
Other highlights from the Newsmax interview with Hoekstra:
- Guantanamo -- He says Congress “will not permit” the president to close down the detention facility for accused enemy combatants in Cuba. “He may for his left wing say that he wants to close Gitmo. But he’s now seen the profile of who these people are,” Hoekstra says. “You can’t try them in the courts … I think only his far left wing is still open to closing it.”
- The New START Treaty -- Hoekstra says the arms limitation deal with Russia was a mistake that was rushed through Congress. Subsequently, the Russians have continued to announce development of new missile technologies, he says, and have already announced they reserve the right to unilaterally withdrawal from the treaty at any time. Hoekstra predicts verification problems with the treaty, which he said contains “glaring loopholes.” But now that it has been ratified by the Senate, the administration must “hold the Russians accountable” and not allow them to violate its terms.
- Color-Coded Terror Alerts -- He likes the general idea proposed by Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano for regional alerts over color-coded threat levels. But he adds that Napolitano has made “some real missteps” in her first two years -- especially her refusal to use the term “terrorism.”
- Iranian Nuclear Development -- Hoekstra said that he “wouldn’t at all be surprised” if Iran tests a nuclear weapon this year, noting that other nations have been able to surprise the global community with their rapid attainment of nuclear status.
- Chinese Military Innovation – China clearly seeks to become an economic powerhouse and “a global player,” he said. He does not rule out the possibility that China might try to use its “tremendous leverage” against the United States. “Believing that they will not use their financial resources, their financial capabilities, to threaten the United States is, I believe, naïve,” the former congressman said.
Hoekstra, who did not win his bid to become Michigan’s governor this fall, told Newsmax he will consider running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. She is up for re-election in 2012.
“We’ll take a look at it,” he said, “and we’ll take two or three months and then we’ll make a decision.”
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