(CNN) – It’s high time for the United States to cut off its $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt as the military regime cracks down violently on protesters, Sen. John McCain argued Sunday.
The Arizona Republican added the U.S. has lost its credibility in the region after failing to follow its own law that requires suspending aid to states overtaken by a military coup–though the U.S. has not officially described the recent regime change in Egypt as a coup.
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"We have no credibility. We do have influence, but when you don't use that influence, then you do not have that influence,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
McCain, along with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, traveled to Egypt earlier this month at the request of President Barack Obama to implore military leaders to begin holding elections and transition into a democracy.
While McCain voted late last month to maintain aid to Egypt, the longtime senator has since had a change of heart and is now joining others, including Republican Sen. Rand Paul, in calling for the Obama administration to suspend aid.
Breaking from his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard last week, Obama made a statement about the renewed unrest in Egypt, saying the U.S. will cancel its upcoming joint military exercises with the country. But he stopped short of suspending the aid.
With much of that $1.3 billion going to the Egyptian military, McCain argued the continued assistance will further spur tension and anti-American sentiments in the region.
"With Apache helicopters flying overhead (in Egypt), nothing is more symbolic of the United States of America siding with the generals,” he told CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.
Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Bob Corker of Tennessee, who initially voted to maintain aid, also said Sunday that U.S. should withdraw assistance.
“They're obviously getting the impression that no matter what they do, our aid will continue. So we do need to exercise our influence by saying we're going to follow the law ... (and) suspend aid, until you restore democracy,” Ayotte said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
On the same program, Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island said recent acts by the Egyptian military are “completely unconscionable, and I do believe we have to change our aid.”
Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, however, said while the U.S. may not have as much influence over Egypt as it once did, he believes Egypt’s military leaders don’t want to obliterate its relationship with the U.S. and therefore the Obama administration still has “substantial influence.”
“It's a little bit bizarre to understand why they're doing what they're doing, but I don't think you throw the baby out with the bathwater. Egypt's an important country, and I think we have to be very careful before we willy-nilly just cut off aid,” Engel said on ABC’s “This Week.”
As for why McCain and others supported the aid in the Senate vote last month, McCain said he wanted to give the military regime in Egypt an opportunity to enact a democratic government. He and other senators also argued that a cutoff of aid to Egypt would ultimately hurt Israel.
Asked Sunday if he still believes a suspension would indirectly damage the Jewish state, McCain said there would be a “risk.”
“But I also would point out that the Mubarak regime and this regime is stoking anti-Americanism to a large degree, and anti-Israel rhetoric is very high,” he said. “I believe that Israel can defend itself, although it may be of some cost to them, but look at the cost of American credibility."
McCain said the Obama administration’s handling of Egypt is just one sign of what he described as the president’s lack of foreign policy in the Middle East.
"There is no policy, and there is no strategy. And therefore, we react and we react poorly,” he said.
Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.
John Mcain is senile.
His spews rubbish in support of the muslim kooks who want nothing more to kill Americans.
We should support the army of Egypt in its efforts to control this crazy people.
Send money & arms so that the muslim brotherhood can be crushed and forced back into the caves of Pakistan & Afghanistan.
amen finally one senator with a little common sense.
If American aid is cutoff, the nine million Egyptian Christians will be butchered by the Islamic extremists along with the military and Egyptian police forces. Iran will fill the vacuum and help the extremists as it does brotherhood Hamas. Even I can see this Mr. McCain.
And John McCain has no credibility here in the USA. Dear John: Go somewhere else.
We lost credibility back in 2006, McCain, where have you been?
come mccain-give obama a break-he is busy with the reset button!
McCain always wants to cut off something, or start something. Apparently few people care about what McCain wants.
This is absolutely the wrong time to cut off aid to Egypt. In fact, there hasn't been any time in recent history when we should stand by the Egyptian government more than the present time. Egypt is fighting the same dark forces that we are fighting. The same extremist who brought down our world trade center, the same mobs who killed our ambassador in Libya, the same terrorists who are targeting american interests everywhere they can. Shame on John McCain and our administration for failing to support the right side in this fight.
We lost our credibility when we threw our long time ally Mubarak to the wolves.
It's a little late to complain about it now.
John McCain has no credibility anywhere in the world.
Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group, and Egypt is fighting the war on terrorism, please wake up before it is too late, this is a very critical time, please don't give terrorist any chance to flourish in middle east, because their next step will be the attack on Europe and USA, please stop this Muslim Brothers and add them on terrorists list.
Either McCain is having a senior moment, or, it is the only thing out of his mouth ever! to make sense.
Let me correct this article....McCain has no credibility.
Shut up McCain
McCain and his buddy Lindsay Graham need to get on the same page. Graham says they should cut off aid out of one side of his mouth, but then out of the other side, he says that suspending aid would send the "entire Middle East into chaos." Is McCain, or Graham, the terrorist??
When I was a kid in Grammar school in a rough neighborhood the good kids used to give their lunch money to the bullies so they wouldn't beat them up. This is pretty much the same thing as we support the entire world with tax payer money while we are in real need for social programs here at home. Are we tough or are we buying our way to maintain power.
Respect to Senator McCain for his service. But service doesn't mean you are right all the time. No one questions Switzerland's "credibility". Our propping up of these regimes is the reason they have no credibility. Not our failure to intervene.
It's ok John, you lost credability with the US too, so it's all about fair and equal right?
John is this your opinion before they kicked you and Graham out of the country. Just shut up, we do not care what you think. President Obama knows much more than you. You and the GOP start after him before you know the facts.
I have generally supported Pres. Obama on foreign policies in the past; but on this case, I am completely with McCain and Graham. Pres. Obama needs to listen to his own speech he gave in Egypt in 2009. This is absolutely ridiculous that the President is sitting on sidelines on this issue of democracy.
On one level McCain is right. On several others he is wrong. Bring a military man, he is not gifted in political savvy and has no view of the bigger picture in this complex area of the world. He would be scary as a president.
The Obama administration has to remain engaged , not to take sides , and make it abundantly clear on Egyptian Armed forces and rulers that violence , massive arrests and killings of innocent protesters and by standers is not acceptable . The U. S. assistance is not significant , but helps in forcing their presence and concerns at a difficult time for Egyptian people , particularly minorities , democracy and regional security interests . Sens. McCain and Graham know the ground realities and should not make a political capital of the situation there .
The Egyptian military should be supported by America.
Mr. McCain, the money sent to Egypt yearly in the form of military aid is not for free, it's the price of Camp David treaty that helped keep Israel safe for years, at least from the Egyptian side! Why not try to close Guantanamo for a start so we can practice what we preach?! You really think the military or Egyptians care about American aid?! think again with Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait... etc. are willing to double what USA offers!
So, basically, McCain needs to talk this over with his buddy Lindsay Graham. Out of one side of his mouth, Graham says suspending aid to Egypt is good, but out of the other, he says it would create chaos throughout the entire Middle East. What's up with that?