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Hoekstra: ‘Iran Is Not Iraq’ And Military Action Would Be A ‘Huge Mistake’

By Amanda Terkel  

"Hoekstra: ‘Iran Is Not Iraq’ And Military Action Would Be A ‘Huge Mistake’"

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Today on CNN’s Late Edition, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) sounded a note of caution on belligerant action toward Iran. Both said that Iran is trying to extend its influence in Iraq, warned against military action, and advocated diplomatic engagement. Hoekstra said:

I believe that reaching out and engaging with Iran, but doing so with Russia, doing so with our European allies, recognizing that they do have contacts into Iran, and engaging in a full-court diplomatic press with Iran is a good thing to begin the process of doing that.

You know, we’re not going to go into Iran militarily. The senator is absolutely right. Iran is not Iraq. And going in there militarily would be, from my perspective, a huge mistake.

Watch it:

A “stark new assessment” by Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen reports that “the government of Iran continues to supply weapons and other support to extremists in Iraq, despite repeated promises to the contrary, and is increasingly complicit in the death of American soldiers.” Yet Mullen too responded last week by stating, “I have no expectations that we are going to get into a conflict with Iran in the immediate future.”

In recent days, Hoekstra has sharply criticized the Bush administration’s handling of foreign policy. Commenting on the recent news that North Korea had helped Syria build a nuclear reactor — which was destroyed by Israel — Hoekstra blasted the White House for keeping the information from Congress for almost a year.

Transcript:

FEINSTEIN: Well, my assessment is this, that you have a belligerent and isolated Iran extending its influence.

I think Mr. Hoekstra is correct about the equipment that’s gone in. I think there’s no question that some elements of the Iranian government are also buying businesses in Iraq. They are extending their sphere of influence.

We have had no meaningful dialogue with Iran for 30 years, and I have a very hard time understanding why this administration does not try to do so.

BLITZER: Well, what do you want…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Well, what do you want the U.S. — the Bush administration, Senator, to do?

FEINSTEIN: To make some outreach to the supreme leader, not to the president, Mr. Ahmadinejad, but to the supreme leader — he is the one, and the council, that will control this area — and to have some direct discussions without preconditions.

The minute you precondition the discussion, you create the loss of face for the Iranians to sit down and talk and try and see if we can’t evolve a meaningful relationship that can keep them out of Iraq, that can use this window of opportunity that’s produced by the halting of their nuclear weapons program.

That was, as you know, a national intelligence estimate. It has not been contradicted to this date. So there is every reason to believe there is a window of opportunity to develop a series of proposals, carrots and sticks, if you will.

The Iranian economy is not good. But nobody should believe that Iran is Iraq. And it is a big mistake for us to only look at military options when it comes to Iran.

BLITZER: Does she have a point, Congressman?

HOEKSTRA: Yes, I think it would be a huge mistake to consider that we would take a military action into Iran. I think she’s laid out a…

BLITZER: Well, what about opening a dialogue — trying to open dialogue with the supreme leader of Iran?

HOEKSTRA: Well, that was going to be my second point. I believe that reaching out and engaging with Iran, but doing so with Russia, doing so with our European allies, recognizing that they do have contacts into Iran, and engaging in a full-court diplomatic press with Iran is a good thing to begin the process of doing that.

You know, we’re not going to go into Iran militarily. The senator is absolutely right. Iran is not Iraq. And going in there militarily would be, from my perspective, a huge mistake.

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