(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.
Mr McCain Sit down and shut up, not everyone wants to back another Muslim war.
Its going to be tough to cut them off and help eliminate the MB at the same time.
If Obama quit sending the aid McCain would say send it. He should be sent home to Arizona the sooner the better.
Obama is the worst president in history and has made a total mess of everything he has touched. However though I respect McCains service he is WRONG on this one. We must back the military and crush these terrorist then very soon have REAL elections that do not include TERRORIST Muslim Brotherhood. The People of Egypt are backing the Military except of course the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood so the USA must help the PEOPLE of Egypt.
I really do not get it. Are we fighting terrorist everywhere or only on our land? We had a whole city police and other agencies helping to KILL and to arrest Tsarnieve brothers in Boston because they had weapons and we considered them terrorists. Is not that what the Egyptians are facing today, with the difference in numbers!!? Did not we kill many Afghans on their own lands because they are what so called Terrorists! Let Egyptians do what we actually do with out interfering. I hope we are not that Hypocrites.
McCain has no credibility. Egypt needs out help NOW, their fighting the brotherhood, and we an help them or wait until they get here.
As I understand it, the reason we give aid to foreign countries is so that we can have some influence over the events that take place in those countries in order to aid US interests.
So... How's that been working out in Egypt?
McCain should keep his nose out of this. This is not a U.S. problem. This is an Egypt problem. Why does this guy want to involve us in everyone's problems. Hey John! How about fixing things at home first!!! Before we go off telling other countries what they should do. Maybe if he and congress could stop going on vacations and sit down and do their job we would not be in this mess.
My brain I freezing even as I speak, but I actually agree with McCain.
At least the President is broad-minded about the laws he chooses disregard. From key elements of his own healthcare "reform" plan to supplying foreign aid to coups, Executive Whim is now being implemented on a global scale.
McCain has lost his mind. I supported McCain in 2008. I regret it now,
The military is cracking down on radical Islamist s who care little for democracy. When the radicals were in power they were after anyone that didn't agree with their agenda. I am embarrassed by McCain and Graham who seems to have lost their minds.
McCain has no credibility. Egypt needs our help NOW, they are fighting the brotherhood and we an help Egypt, or wait until the brotherhood gets stronger here and fight them in our streets.
US doesn't send cash to Egypt, we send guns, tanks, and other military stuff!
The evil general Sissi doesn't even respect the US. Obama called Sissi and guess what, the general Sissi refused to talk with Obama. We are loosing respect for what? We need to cut all aid to Egypt until military is completely out of power and the establishment of democracy. We need not only cut the aid but call all allies to stop dealing with Egypt.
700 innocent people, whether we like those people or not, our dignity and values are above everything ......... Sham and Sham
It's the corrupt politicians that have lost all credibility – and for good reason – but they are not America, only the seedy underbelly...but the good people of America still have credibility.
We lost our credibility long before this, John.....as a POW in Vietnam, you should know that was the beginning of the end for U.S. credibility in the world...and in our own country.
John McCain is just plain wrong. What would make sense is converting that aid to non-military aid only. They need food and medical supplies.
Cut off ALL foreign aid
So many disparaging comments in here aimed with vitriol at the "GOP", yet while those who play the usual role of left/ right in their accusations toward one another continue these broken record insults, the rest of us awake ones realize the problem is THE LOT OF THEM who run the show.
That seems like a GOOD starting point! It may even allow us to pay back China some, but also it may, to our detriment, be a starting point for drawing back funds for us in the u.s! #AlphaOmega
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.
mccain and the obama administration have zero credibility with their ridiculous policies to support radical islamists. Supplying al qaeda with aid and arms??? Time for you to retiire mr mccain, i do believe you are dangerous.
We lost all credibility when we elected Obama !
Yes, Sen McCain. The US hasn't engaged in a bunch of big-britches saber-rattling and making stupid threats, conservative-style, so therefore, it has "lost credibility" on the matter. Senator, the world has left you behind. 70% of Americans do not endorse your position, wary as they are now of plunging ahead on another thoughtless, ignorance-based, Republican-Style Iraq Blunder. America doesn't really need your advice on how to proceed in Egypt. Step back now, please.
At the very least our credibility with the world was lost when we kept innocent people locked up with accused terrorists and force feed them. The United States most likely lost it before we did that though.