Rep. Hoekstra: Obama's Missile Decision 'Catastrophic'

Friday, 18 Sep 2009 07:00 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Rep. Peter Hoekstra tells Newsmax that the Barack Obama administration's decision to cancel plans to build a missile defense system in Europe amounts to "pulling the rug out" from under American allies and "coddling" the Russians.

The Michigan lawmaker, the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, also says he is "skeptical" that the Russians will now change their Iran policy, and agrees that Obama's decision is "catastrophic" for all free nations.

Under the plan formulated during the George W. Bush administration, the U.S. was to build a radar base in the Czech Republic and place interceptor missiles in Poland. Russia protested that the plan was a threat to its security.

See Video: Hoekstra Says Obama Coddling Russians - Click Here Now

Defense Secretary Robert Gates attributed the administration's decision to a change in the U.S. perception of the threat posed by Iran, saying that short- and medium-range missiles now pose a greater near-term threat than intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Newsmax.TV's Ashley Martella asked the congressman about the decision to pull the plug on the missile defense system.

"I think this is kind of disappointing and it may be premature," said Hoekstra, who is running for governor in Michigan in 2010 after nine terms in the House.

"One of the things that the governments in these countries did was they took great risks when they bought into this strategy with the previous administration, with the Bush administration. I think that this can be perceived now as pulling the rug out from some of our allies.

"We're kind of coddling the Russians, and the intelligence that supposedly backs up this change in strategy hasn't been presented to Congress yet. You would think that before the president would make this kind of announcement, he would share this intelligence with the Intelligence Committee, with the Armed Services Committee, with the Foreign Relations Committees, so that we would have a better understanding as to why he's implementing this new policy. We don’t have that yet.

"So I'm going to have to withhold final judgment until we have access to the intelligence that supposedly the president has had access to."

Martella asked if the administration's decision intensifies the missile threat from Iran.

"The bottom line is we don't have perfect insight into exactly what's going on in Iran or what their capabilities are," Hoekstra responded.

On Thursday a leaked report from the International Atomic Energy Agency discussed "what Iran's nuclear capabilities may or may not be," Hoekstra disclosed.

"It's kind of a disturbing indication in that it alludes to the possibility that perhaps they're closer to a nuclear weapon than what maybe was thought."

Referring to reports that Russia will now cooperate more with the U.S. regarding Iran's nuclear program, Hoekstra said: "I just met with a person who's an expert on Russia. Her indications were, if you're going to get something from the Russians, make sure you get it in writing before you close the deal.

"This looks one where President Obama may have stepped out believing he's acting in good faith and the Russians will reciprocate...

"I hope this makes the Russians more cooperative, but then again let's verify that this is actually going to happen. I'm somewhat skeptical that it will.

"The Russians have now gotten what they want to have and we've given it to them before we've asked them to do anything. I'm not sure I trust the Russians to change their attitude as regards to us working together on Iran."

Martella noted that Poland's ministry of defense has called the cancellation of the missile defense plans "catastrophic for Poland and all free nations."

"I think they've got a point," Hoekstra said.

"They were a very close ally. Their government took risks in accepting and moving forward with this strategy.

"Clearly they were doing it in their own self-interest, but they also believe that this was the appropriate thing to do with a very very good friend, the United States of America. Good friends don't necessarily treat each other the way the United States has just treated Poland...

"What this forces our allies to do is to go back and assess whether the United States is a reliable partner and a reliable ally."

See Video: Hoekstra Says Obama Coddling Russians - Click Here Now

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