(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.
Senator McShame has been so wrong so many times on the foreign playing field, its just another face-palm moment to read his recent comments on Egypt.
Well for once I agree with McCain. Cut off the aid to Egypt. And until we rebuild our infrastructure and give our people access to affordable health care and education cut aid off to all other countries.
The only rule Egypt respects is Strong Man rule. Started with the Pharaohs and now it's either Military or Sharia. Democracy to Egypt is about as useful as a Space Program.
McCain needs to re-gain a clue. What is occurring is the will of the Egyptian people. Most of the Americans posting here can't spell "Egypt" -
Wonder when WonderWoman Lindsey Grahmnesty releases a statement w/similar comments...
This Time the US should really stay out of people biz, Let them figure out there issues. the MB was founded in 1928 and has created all the terrorist bases in the world. do the US support Terrorist today or not? pick on?
McCain never stops thinking he is the president. He is dripping with goodness and jingoism.
It doesn't matter if we cut off aid. The money the US sends them is a fraction of what they get from countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Kuwait.
The USA is considered Armed & Dangerous or Have Weapons Will Travel. Egypt's problems won't hurt us.
Ya, cut off aid to Egypt, but keep giving it to Iran. This concerns me.
We Egyptians, do not need your money, you can keep it and leave us and our own business. Who are you to say whether it is a coup or not a coup? What gives you the right to interfere in our internal affairs? This is non of your business.
30 Million Egyptians have marched in the streets of Egypt requesting for the step down of your terrorist supporter friend M. Morsi. In case you are not aware, this is the greatest gathering in a political protest worldwide throughout the history of mankind. And still, CNN, Obama and you McCain, claim it is a coup against democracy. Even if it is , majority of Egyptians are happy with it, it is non of your business, take your money and go.
And by the way, you know very well that these demonstrators include armed terrorists, and you ask the Egyptian army not to use force against them, How about if these were in the states? would you have still said the same?
Outside of East Coast, nobody cares about Egypt. Libya rolled over, the world keep turning, Africa is lost, world keep turning. How will I pay for my root canal, that is what I am concerned, or the $8 bag of apples or $11/lb steak.
Why should we worry about this now? We already have no credibility anywhere...
I'm confused. I thought Republicans WANTED us to support the Egyptian military against the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi, and Islamists. Now McCain, a Republican, is criticizing the Obama administration for helping the military fight the MB? Am I in the Twilight Zone?
We send 3 billion/year, this dates back to the Egypt-Israeli peace accord with our good buddy Jimmah Carter, Google son.
If anyone would know about losing credibility, it would be McCain.
McCain should shut up his big mouth. He has no experience in international affairs. He is wasting tax payers' money wandering around the world for nothing.
He had his chance to cut off funding but didn't do it, McCain is a joke!
Before we worry about what to do about aid to Egypt, can we just cut off McCain?
On July 31st I was in the capital with my family and watching senate proceeding on the next year transportation bill amendment introduced by Sen. Rand Paul to halt $1.5 billion aid to Egypt.
Most of the senators from GOP and DNC voted against the amendment, including Sen. McCain supported the administration view and voted down the amendment.
How come he supported the aid on senate floor and issuing statement to cut the aid to Egypt. If I remember correctly, he did oppose the aid to Egypt during early July, in July end he did vote for the sending aid and now he is against sending aid Egypt. This kind of hypocrisy makes me sick and makes to loses faith on the politicians.
McCain is an idiot. We have no credibility in Egypt? Really? How come our allies are still in power and Muslims are instigating violence like they do in just about every corner of the globe.
Cut the money to all of them! Put back in the wallets
Of American people. ALSO cut the money from so called friends lol
McCain is making useless noise.
The Egyptians don't care if we cut off aid because they are getting more aid from the Saudi's and Gulf emirates.
Where was McCain when Obama was giving power to the Muslim Brotherhood?
It's McCain who has lost credibility.
Army thugs must be removed if Egypt has to survive.....its a start of civil war in Egypt! The civil war in Syria started the same way when government used army crackdown on peaceful protesters!
I wouldn't be too worried about having credibility with the citizens of Egypt, as much as I'd be worried about having credibility with the American citizens, McStupid.