Ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra: US-Afghan Relations 'in Tatters'

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 05:30 PM

By Lisa Barron

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The relationship between the United States and Afghanistan is broken, says former Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra.

Speaking to Newsmax TV's John Bachman on "America's Forum," Hoekstra pointed out that within the last couple of weeks Afghan President Hamid Karzai has released 65 prisoners, many of them purportedly Taliban, despite the fact that the militant group is still holding U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

"To have Karzai releasing prisoners just tells you that the relationship between the Afghan government and the U.S. government is totally in tatters. And it also follows a disturbing pattern: We've left the doctor behind in Pakistan, we've got an FBI agent and a pastor in Iran that were not part of the negotiations.

"It's very, very frightening," he said Wednesday.

Story continues below video.

Hoekstra, who represented Michigan's Second Congressional District, served as  chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2007.

He said he does not think there is any hope for a status-of-forces agreement in Afghanistan, which would allow a contingency of U.S. troops to remain in the country to assist and train its forces after a scheduled withdrawal later this year.

"It's unlikely that it's going to happen. I think that the region — the Pakistanis, the Afghans — they've all decided that the U.S. is not committed to the region for the long term. Both governments are negotiating with the folks that we've been fighting.

"Those are the individuals that they have to deal with because they see the United States leaving," he said.

"Even if we got a status-of-forces agreement, I'm not sure what that status-of-forces agreement is worth. It's time to get our troops home. The lack of leadership and the lack of commitment by this president to be successful in Afghanistan — he's working towards a deadline, he's not working towards success. Get our troops home. It's unfair to have them in that kind of battlefield."

But pulling out all U.S. troops from Afghanistan is also a cause for concern, says former Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West, who joined the Newsmax TV discussion on U.S.-Afghan relations.

"All you have to do is look at what happened in Iraq and the fact that al-Qaida is back and even stronger. James Clapper testified to that in a Senate Intelligence hearing. The black al-Qaida flag is flying all over western Anbar province, so I guarantee right now that people know what President [Barack] Obama said to President Karzai," he said.

"Tribal leaders, tribal elders and others are already looking at how they can cut a deal with the Taliban because no one over there is going to want to wake up with their head in their lap. That's just a short-sighted strategic perspective to believe that you could make a threat like that, and then all of a sudden you believe that you're going to get some type of reaction — they're going to cut the deals."

West, who represented Florida's 22nd Congressional District, is a former lieutenant colonel in the Army.

"I think that, as Congressman Hoekstra talked about, Taliban being released by Karzai, that's a clear indicator that they don't have any trust and confidence in the United States of America," he said.

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