President Barack Obama’s apology for U.S. troops’ burning Afghan prisoners’ copies of the Quran leaves service members wondering “who’s got their back,” because the prisoners used the books to endanger Americans, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra tells Newsmax.TV.
Hoekstra, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate from Michigan, was referring to Obama’s apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai in an attempt to quell violence that broke out in Afghanistan after the burnings last week. The apology “clearly makes the U.S. look weak,” Hoekstra said.
Prisoners held at the U.S.-run Bagram airbase actually were putting U.S. troops in peril by defacing the Qurans and sending each other messages. The Islamic holy books were burned during a cleanup detail.
“That message has been totally lost,” Hoekstra said in the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview. “This administration has been losing the messaging battle on this issue consistently and now to go back and apologize, it’s outrageous. We have to support our troops. We have to point out what happened here. American troops are dying as a result of what happened to the Qurans. It’s because America looks weak, it looks vulnerable, we have provided an opportunity.”
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The Quran burnings prompted demonstrations in Afghanistan and Pakistan that killed and injured several American troops and protesters.
“I don’t see President Karzai or anybody in the Taliban or al-Qaida apologizing to the United States because United States troops have been injured or that they have died because of what has happened as a result of this. America needs to be strong. We need to be resolute. This president makes us look weak and vulnerable. Our enemies are smiling. Our soldiers are wondering who’s got their back. This president’s made a mistake by moving forward and apologizing. This is war. This is war.”
In his bid to take on Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Hoekstra holds substantial leads over fellow Republicans seeking the nomination in an Aug. 7 primary. Although polls show Hoekstra that trails the incumbent by double digits, he maintains that the race is closer.
“Actually, the last polls that have come out don’t give a real clear indication,” he said. “There have been other polls . . . [and] internal polling that show the race much closer than that. It’s a single-digit race.”
The bruising presidential primary in Michigan between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum has taken a toll on the Republican brand, Hoekstra said.
“Because of the negative campaigning that’s been going on in the Republican side of the ballot, all of us as Republicans have suffered,” he said. “Once we start talking about President Obama’s record, the record of the Democratic-controlled Senate, the record of Debbie Stabenow on jobs, on energy prices, gas prices, deficit, debt, Obamacare, and all of those types of things, we’re going to see the polls come back and we’re going to see a real tightening of the presidential poll numbers in Michigan and the Senate race.”
A Hoekstra ad run during the Super Bowl featured a Chinese woman on a bicycle speaking in broken English and portraying Stabenow as strengthening the Chinese economy at the expense of the United States. The ad received widespread criticism but when asked whether he stands by the message, Hoekstra said: “Absolutely.”
“When the U.S. is $15 trillion in debt, when we have deficit spending of over $1.3 trillion per year, and when China holds some of that debt, it weakens us,” he said. “It weakens our economy, it empowers China and our other competitors on a global basis, and it gives us very little leverage to correct the inequities and the unfair trade practices.”
Hoekstra argued that Stabenow’s programs and “priorities, her agenda, and her lack of success on the budget committee weakens America.”
Hoekstra, who w as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee before launching an unsuccessful run for governor of Michigan in 2010, said Israeli comments about not giving the United States a heads up if it decides to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities were motivated partly to provide cover.
“Part of that is Israel just saying that so that the U.S. won’t be held accountable,” he said. “I hope that in private the Israelis have a very close cooperation with us. That’s how it always used to be. We used to have great relationship, militarily and from an intelligence standpoint, with the Israelis. Hopefully, that’s continuing and this is only a public posture.
“If, in reality, the Israelis believe that they can’t work with the United States on such a critical decision and give us a head up, and if America and Israeli relations have deteriorated to such a point that Israel would move forward with an attack on Iran without consulting, conferring, and collaborating with the United States, that would be a terrible place for U.S. and Israeli relationships to have deteriorated to.”
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