(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.
McCain should be a shoe in for Nobel's, Master of the obvious award. This coming from the foreign policy wizard that advised the USA to arm the good terrorists in Syria to fight the evil Assad in July. Who cares, I just want my steak and wine back.
Which is the liberal position and which is the conservative. I would think that Conservatives would favor a government that kills Muslims. I would think the liberals would want a democratically elected government no matter what their politics are. It's a world turned upside down!
If Sen. McCain is correct to the effect that the US doesn't have influence over Egypt well then isn't Sen McCain, a long term office holder, as much to blame as the President who celebrated the Arab Spring? Just asking....
The Republicans cried out when Obama did not intervene in the Arab Spring and let a west-friendly government be replaced by Muslims. Now they cry out when the military which we have been supporting all along dumps that government while killing a few Muslims in the course of cleaning up house.
With all due respect Mr. McCain.............Please retire and enjoy your golden years as I am. You are a good man and a war hero however reality is not part of your life anymore. Please, relax and get out of the political arena.
I wonder what would have happened to our nation if the French had been influenced by their government to cut off aid to the Colonists when we needed it most?
This "coup" a day before the anniversary of our nation's signing of the our own Declaration of Independence couldn't have been a clearer signal from moderate Egyptians who don't want Sharia Law. Why do I feel like the Egyptian military is being left for dead like our ambassador was in Libya?
What's wrong with America? Obama and a brain dead opposition party!
john McCain has lost all credibility. the Egyptian military is having to deal with the muslim brotherhood who are not peaceful protesters but murderers and monsters. peaceful protesters don't attack police with guns and RPG's and use women and children to shield them. peaceful protesters don't burn down Christians homes and churches, looting, beating, raping, and killing innocent Coptic Christians. john McCain, barack Obama, and the US ambassador, as well as the state department have no credibility or moral authority as long as they remain quite about these atrocities against non muslims in Egypt.muslim brotherhood is a criminal organization and it needs to be stopped.
Who was it that said "Beware of Foreign Entanglements"?
McCain is losing it. Time to retire.
You are correct McCain thanks to you, Graham, and your puppet master Obama
From article: "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..."
You simply cannot make this stuff up.
I challenge anyone to find a person more clueless than this president!
True. This is because most of interventions that the US has lead there have failed. Interventionism is a failed policy. Pat Buchanan and "crazy" Ron Paul are vindicated with each failing effort. The biggest winners of our interventions have been Iran and China and they haven't even had to break a sweat!
McCain: We lost credibility in the region when W was elected president. That is the main reason. Any other claims are purely rhetoric.
Somebody ask MCCain and Graham if they had any knowledge of weapons being transferred to war zone the our consolates? My guess is they did and BHO, John, my boy lolly pop should all be up on war crimes.
A little honesty goes a long way, Senator. Our credibility was shattered decades ago, but in vintage Republican denial ,you are trying to make people believe is a recent event. Misleading and dishonest.
Most of you "liberals" fail to recognize that Obama and McCain are on the SAME SIDE. But that's the consequence of basing your opinions on the Republican/Democrat stereotype rather than the facts!
Any you guys read history? We need to be on the right side, do the right thing. I don't care how they got in power, Morsi & his gang show some disturbing parallels to some awful people. Play the victim card, while look what they've done to Muslim Christian relations in their own country. Had their own little Kristallnacht Friday, accuse the Christians of backing the military. Look in country, all the moderates in Egypt back the military. Morsi and Co. doing just what the Brownshirts did. Egypt is Judenrein, now they're coming for the Christians. You just gonna watch that? Read one Dietrich Bonhoefer quote before your final answer.
McCain has ' no credibility' in United States !
I am sorry, it was Martin Niemoeller qoute "first they came..." that I meant to recommend.
The funny thing is McCain has no credibility and I'm not a demon-crat. McCain is a traitor to his party. The U.S. Government isn't credible any longer in this country. The president isn't even legitimate. I hope the truth comes out and every piece of paper he has signed as get ls nullified.
USA never has had any credibility in the Middle East with muslims
We should stay out of it. They can fight their own battles and our involevement just had ir made woese.
Juan McCain has no credibility in the US.
uer invilvent just had it made worse so stay out of it. Why do we take side against a legitimately eleted government even if we don't like it?
I'll take Gen. Sissi over Obama any day.