(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.
the u.s. gov't has no credibility in the u.s. either
I don't trust McCain or any Repub when it comes to foreign policy. Just look at the mess they created in Iraq and Afghanistan. Couple that with their stated desire to make President Obama fail, and it's easy to see McCain's intention is to make a terrible situation in Egypt worse and then blame the President – for domestic political gain.
McCain always wants us to police the world...this comment is predictable. We should stay out of the Egyptian turmoil...anything we do will get us more enemies.
Why limit the "no credibility" comment to Egypt? The US has no credibility anywhere, especially at home where the congress has no credibility.
Once again McCain shows he knows how to pick a loser, probably because he is one himself. The current group in charge in Egypt is our ally and is against the evil Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Organization. And McCain wants to support the Muslim Brotherhood. If you pick sides, pick the guy that's most like you or else he will be your worste enemy. The anti Morsi movement is "just". We need the same here in the US to depose the tyrants in Washington like McCain, Reid, Pelosi, McConnell and others who do not govern for the people.
Well, thanks to you and Cruz going to Egypt and telling their leaders that they got into power through a coup we have much less credibility in Egypt then we had before. Thanks, McCain, for pointing out your limited mindset.
Can't start a war as a democracy is forming? What is McCain on? It takes a lot of bloodshed to get to civil rights, our own country included. We shouldn't be playing the role of the British in 1812 and McCain should retire.
The TeaBillies will not be happy until we have Americans dead on egyptian soil. Back off McCain, it isn't our country and just cut the aid instead of grandstanding. Just remember the best armed and most organized people in Egypt will hate Republicans.
OMG the earth just cracked, I agree with McCain. Of course all he is doing is taking yet another opportunity to play politics and take a jab at Obama. It's all a game to these manipulators.
McCain and his fellow RINOs have no credibility in the U.S.
Didn't JM mean, He has no credibility.
I watched the Egyptians fighting each other k\like wild ally cats, suddenly everything stopped, it was time for prayers, that's when the military should have opened fire with rocket launchers and napalm. A country run by islamists cannot be a democracy, they believe that islam is the only thing, religion and the government, Murback and Ghadafi held these countries together because they did not allow islam to take over,We should give them more aid, when the Islamist have enough killing they will pray to their alla and give it up.
Obama......specifically, has no credibility in Egypt. The Egyptians hate him.
I love GOP NOW plz stop aid and TAKEOVER SUEZ CANEL.
ridiculous.. if you don't support it.. then you shouldn't have voted for it !!!!!
You have yourself to blame
These guys are so freaking dimwitted. its unreal.
McCain, we have no credibility in Egypt because for the past 33 years our govt has been propping up dictators like Mubarak.
He's right. The secular parties opposed to Morsy believes Obama and the US supports Islamists. The pro-Morsy protestors claim Obama and the US were behind the coup and the coup was directly authorized by the US government.
So if by credibility he means the US is not popular on both sides, he is absolutely correct.
I m Egyptian woman, I m one of those 22millions who signed Tamarrud paper against Morsi. As we had no parliament, there was no way to impeach him; he did not accept nor referendum or early elections. We had no way except to go to the streets of Egypt, we were +_30m person.
You must remember that Islamists threaten us from the first day: Morsi must win, if not we burn The country! Well Sir, that what we had those days, they burn the country!
You are threaten us today in the same way, or Islamist regime, or boycott! As an Egyptian woman I tell you Sir, I did sign a paper against totalitarian Islamist Government and I went to protest by my own decision and pacifically in all occasion. Finally Egyptian women have the assertive right to be free in a modern country like yours.
The U.S. has no business in other nations' foreign policy to begin with. McCain would still be there as president; and probably did the same thing Obama did, which was listen to his military advisors.
The root problem is being there at all. A republican president wouldn't make any difference in Egypt right now.
John McCain has NO credibility – WHAT the hell is he doing there anyway, we need to get out of the middle east, they are religious nut jobs – YES this includes Israel.
surprise, surprise.... Who would have thought, eh?
All that the GOP wants is more and more instability so they can try to put more blame on Obama for problems that existed in the middle east for 100 years before he was even born. Undermining the only stability in Egypt right now would justifiably enrage the majority of Egyptians who approve of the military's ouster of Morsy. You would think that after the GOP's long history of supporting unpopular tyrants and supporting coups against popular but unfriendly to American big business rulers that they would have the sense to just shut up. American credibility in the middle east? Never as long as we back every move by Israel, yet call ourselves honest peace brokers, station troops where the populace doesn't want us, and invade for trumped up reasons. Best case we will always have haters from the opponents of whomever we support so we should never make snap judgments or knee jerk responses based on bad legislation.
John McCain has no credibility and hasn't had for a number of years...if every. Did he tell George W. Bush and Dick Cheney they had no credibility when they walked us into a large portion of this mess? The only person John works for his John. Time to retire John.
Suggestion: When and if we do cut off aid to Egypt also cut off all aid to Israel until it comes to the table and allows the Palestinians to have their own state, and it quits building settlements on disputed lands. If we are to have peace in the Middle East, maybe making it contingent on these peoples working toward peace be a mandate before any aid is provided. That sounds like a wonderful start that would get their attention.
Why is it that we can never stand up for true democracy? Egypt voted for Morsy, plain and simple. We are further alienating the Egyptians, and the Middle East, by supporting their dictators.
I can think of better ways to blow 1.3 Billion