If President Barack Obama writes anything to the Afghan people, "it better not be an apology letter," former House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax on Tuesday.
"We are attacked by a radical terrorist group out of Afghanistan," Hoekstra told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV, referring to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. "We send our troops in. We removed the threat of al-Qaida. We removed the brutal regime of the Taliban from controlling the government in Afghanistan.
"We pay with the price of our treasures, the lives of our young men and women in the military," he continued. "We've paid billions of dollars into a corrupt regime to try to get this government and its people on their feet — and this secretary of state, to get a deal says: 'Hey, you know what? How about if our president writes a letter of apology to the Afghan people for the mistakes that we have made?'
"You couldn't make this stuff up," Hoekstra said. "I just hope it was a trial balloon that got about 1 inch off the ground before the sane and rational people in that administration stamped on it and said, 'That's a really bad idea.'"
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Under a draft security agreement reported by NBC News,
Obama would write an apology to Afghanistan acknowledging mistakes made during the "war on terror" and the suffering of the Afghan people.
The United States also would indefinitely maintain multiple military outposts in Afghanistan and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces.
As many as 16,000 residual U.S. and NATO service personnel are expected to remain in Afghanistan after next year. At least 2,153 members of the U.S. military have died since the U.S.-led invasion began in late 2001.
The draft of the deal — dated July 25, 2013 — must be approved by Afghan tribal elders,
who are expected to begin meeting on Thursday.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice
denied news reports that an apology was forthcoming from the United States to Afghanistan.
"I've seen those reports. I have no idea where they come from," Rice told CNN. "That is a complete misunderstanding of what the situation is."
In his Newsmax interview, Hoekstra said: "If this president issues any kind of an apology that denigrates [troops'] work and sacrifice, it would be unbelievable. I can't imagine that the president of the United States would make that kind of a statement or an apology.
"It was war. Our men and women did everything we asked them to do and more. We did a lot for the Afghan people. This just can't happen. It can't."
In a telephone call on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged "mistakes" made by the United States and asked Afghan President Hamid Karzai to allow U.S. forces to enter Afghan homes in "exceptional circumstances," a sticking point that U.S. officials say may scuttle the deal.
Deep divisions in Afghanistan over legal immunity for U.S. soldiers and contractors as well as night raids have threatened to derail the negotiations. The issue has taken on added urgency amid a spike in violence that has raised fears that the Afghan forces aren't ready to take over the battle against Islamic militants without more training.
"The Afghan government and the United States government recognize that if all the troops and military support were pulled out, the Afghan government would collapse," said Hoekstra, who served eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before leaving office to run unsuccessfully for Michigan governor in 2010. "The only thing that prevents that collapse is the presence of American troops and the military."
But an apology from Obama is unimaginable, he said.
"I hope that's not true," he said. "It would be like us sending a letter to the German people after World War II and saying, 'We're sorry.'
"We didn't start this. This was a war — and ugly things happen in a war. I'm not aware of any letter from Karzai coming to the American people thanking the American people for the sacrifices that we paid, in lives and in dollars, to help them over the last 10 years."
Hoekstra added, however, that "there is precedent for this." He noted that Obama apologized last year after U.S. soldiers burned Korans in Afghanistan. He also has apologized for bombing Japan to end World War II and for U.S. actions in the Middle East and Africa.
Earlier this month, the president told Americans he was sorry for the botched rollout of Obamacare.
"But this one is really, really personal for a lot of Americans," Hoekstra said. "We were attacked by a group that was given a safe haven by the government that was in power at the time. Al-Qaida was a brutal terrorist group. The regime that was ruling Afghanistan was brutalizing the Afghan people."
Further, any apology from the White House would be perhaps more unsettling for U.S. allies, particularly Israel, Hoekstra said.
"All the signals — what this president did in Egypt, what this president is doing in Iran, what this president is doing in Syria — have our friends in Israel very concerned about what this administration is doing.
"I don't think in my lifetime, or at least in my political career, we've ever had a situation where Israel has ever felt as alone as it does today," Hoekstra said.
It does make sense, however, to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan — beyond ensuring government stability, Hoekstra told Newsmax. "I see it as a more forward-operating base to go after terrorists, to go after al-Qaida, than a military force to prop up Kabul."
It also could mean that Obama has learned from pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011.
"The president 'kept' his promise on Iraq. He pulled out all the troops — and what you see in Iraq is al-Qaida being as active as it has in years.
"Iraq, in some ways, is a proxy for Iran. The country is on the verge of disintegrating and becoming three or four different states.
"The president may have recognized that he made a mistake in Iraq that could jeopardize the security and the stability of the region and pose a threat to Israel," Hoekstra told Newsmax. "That might be one where it would've been good that the president admitted that he made a mistake."
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