(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.
Follow @politicalticker Follow @KilloughCNN
"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.
Wow, the aid goes to the Egyptian military that are fighting the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood. And McCain wants to cut off aid to fight terrorist. And we know why McCain lost the general election, bad judgement
Credibility? Hahahahahaha. Right up there with the "credibility" we have when DEA lies about NSA provided leads and violates the 6th in the process?
Is there something in Egypt that we need to take advantage of? If there isn't, I don't see why the U.S. is involved at all...
We should drop all foreign aid to Egypt, however, we're open to weapon market so we can at least pay our national debt.
senator term limits seems like a great idea
Thanks to all the taxpayers who suddenly think that they get to decide foreign policy thanks to their largess. Thanks too to John McCain who continues to battle his irrelevancy with a rapidly fading mind. Nation building is an organic process. One need only example America to see stops and starts, civil wars and mob rule before we became that shining mansion on the hill. McCain in his shuffle towards senility has zero place on the foreign stage and each and every time he speaks about things he has no clue about he reminds the public of how far this hero has fallen. Fade away and do it now.
In the meantime, we should cut off 1.6 billion dollar in aid to Israel. Seriously, we have our own problems to deal with. Simple.
Let me see if I have this right. Our government passed a law, that is now inconvenient, so they are going to ignore it and continue to fund Egypt. Wouldn't that make participating government officials criminals and non-credible here at home? Our government needs to become accountable to the American people once again. Senator McCain, I implore you to sponsor a bill that calls this military coup what it is. Then we can see who wants to follow their own laws and who the criminals are. I need to know so I can vote to protect this country from its biggest domestic threat in my lifetime, career criminal politicians. Remember '...from all enemies foreign and domestic'? Be an oath keeper.
This is exactly the reason why McCain lost in 2008 (except of course for picking Palin for a running mate) and should have. He's big on grand, thoughtless overstatements with no real substance. I'm fairly certain if McCain were president he'd be ramping up the aid to Egypt and probably committing US military forces to the tune of many $Billions more. If anyone has lost credibility it's John McCain. And for those out there screaming to cut off all aid, please educate yourselves about the way the world works. Any aid we cut off will quickly be distributed by China and/or Russia and the US will lose influence. Once we're energy-independent, which is doubtful, we might consider that but until then, we're stuck. It always boggles me how ignorant people think incredibly difficult problems are so easily solved.
Unfortunately, the only stable group in Egypt has been the military. The aid we send is part of the Camp David Agreement which ended the state of war between Egypt and Israel. What the unintended consequences of cutting off that aid might be are unknown. Like his suggestion that we arm the Syrian rebels (who are heavily infiltrated with terrorists elements and might eventually turn the weapons back on us), this McCain suggestion should make us all grateful he and Palin were not elected .
Give both sides small arms
Inaction? Given the mideast history, I'd say US actions have cost us creditability and some.
This is what happens when we champion causes and coups in countries where we know very little about the real issues, doctrines or beliefs!
It seems to me that Egyptian does not want to surrender the country to the muslim brotherhood. i'm not sure but I think the muslim brotherhood has played a big part in the Syrian situation also. Of course, Egypt is watching that closely. So, Russia, by backing the Syrian government , might actually be hoping for stability in the region. I don't think that Russia has a reputation, at least recently, of backing rebel groups bent on overthrowing a government.
As far as McCain is concerned, he is an old fool and should do the right thing on behalf of this country and retire.
Aid should be dropped and use it for American citizens. The only thing I don't understand is everyone blaming Obama. The military in Egypt pushed out a radical muslium sect allied with the most wanted terrorist on the planet. I don't see what was done that was wrong other than thinking free elections would work with that many Extreemists in the country. Even the people of Egypt are now blaming the USA. I say let them run their country and if they attack Israel we do the same as Afghanistan. Blow up all heavy military weapons and then they have another lawless country.
Sen. McCain once again misses the mark. This is what manipulative politicians say when they want to influence the decision making. I think the administration is in the best position to make its own decisions. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. The US cannot intervene in everyone's affairs.
Cut off aide and use that money for research into oil dependency and moving away from it. I feel for these people but jeepers...we cannot solve all conflicts in every country. On second thought...what would be the worst case scenario if we did cut off aide?
The U.S. probably would have less credibility with McCain in power.
You lost McCain and Obama does the best he can with the GOP making it as hard as possible for him.
I have a feeling that all the inaction is George Bush's fault. Not sure why. But I have that feeling for some reason.
No credibility? I'm okay with that! This is not our fight. Could this possibly be a turning point where the US doesn't stick it's big, fat war-mongering nose into everyone else's business? I'd like to think so.
I agree with McCain. This is beyond the Human right. Obama is giving a mix message and the results are more blood and blood
A friend who has to be bought, is no friend at all. Dump 'em!
Seriously! We (us) are in a bad shape. Why do we need to give billions, trillions in aid for countries that aid terrorism? Time to make USA more self-reliant and take a harder look at where our money goes.
McCain just wants to say the opposite of whatever Obama says or does. He's become the cliché mentioned by many comedians of the cranky old man- "Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!!" Lets go into Syria or supply the rebels with arms, let's cut off aid to Egypt, let's make the Saudi rulers learn show tunes. Isn't there any concerned relative who can put this guy in a home already?
We should not be giving our money to any other country, they should fend for themselves. We need to take care of Americans, not other countries.