August 18th, 2013
10:58 AM ET
8 years ago

McCain: U.S. has ‘no credibility’ in Egypt

(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.

Filed under: Egypt • John McCain • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (684 Responses)
  1. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The GOP has no credibility with the American people and they will find out when they lose the house and senate in 2014 midterms. No more repeal and defund Obama care votes from these GOP losers, why don't you vote to repeal your five week vacation to reduce the deficit your always crying about morons!!!!!!

    August 18, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Donkey Party

    Typical Republicans. When McCain realized President Obama was for continuing aid, he turned against it. It doesn't matter what it is, they just automatically take the opposite side against Obama. So much for "hurting Israel", eh McCain? You spineless, mindless old goat.

    August 18, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. jpmichigan

    this administration, we have very little credibility any where in the world. We just keep handing out money, that hard working Americans work for to supply countries that use it to kill Americans, STUPITY IS AMUK IN D.C. Let others fend for themselves for awhile and then maybe they will see Americans as the good guys, not evil, for they evil they imagine lives with in themselves.

    August 18, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. OnTheRoad

    The US lost all credibility in this region years ago! McCain lost his credibility years ago!

    August 18, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. Adam

    Egypt is a disaster veering toward catastrophe. Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat.

    Shame on Egypt.

    August 18, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Dan Forbes

    Tend to congresses and Obama's lawlessness and shut up about Egypt. If we dump them they will have no choice but to go to Russia for their military needs. Let them sort their problems!

    August 18, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    This is a good news for USA, at least we no not need to go to war to destabilize middle-east, nor spend our VALUABLE DIME there. Enough of idiocies.

    August 18, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. GLL

    McCain talks about credibility - that's rich.

    John McCain is a blithering idiot who doesn't understand, or care, about the implications for our troops, our allies in Israel, or the stability for the region if we cut off military aid to Egypt. Even if Morsi and the MB was elected by the majority, you don't have a "Democracy" without minority rights, individual rights, and free exchange of ideas - all of which the MB trampled. Now they're burning Coptic churches and slaughtering Coptic Christians. When given the choice between an elected Islamic extremist group that birthed Hamas and seeks to impose religious rule, or a military autocracy that is aligned American interests and protects vulnerable populations, well the choice is pretty darn easy.

    August 18, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  9. Pete

    @jpmichigan,you relate this administration with losing our countrys credibility when in fact its this administration that's trying to get back what credibility we lost because of the ignorence,arrogence of the last administration ,the one you voted whole heartedly for the Bush one !!These handouts you talk about have been in place for decades nitwit called foriegn aid if you know what that is and where were you before this administration in condemning it,under a rock as usual...And yes I've always contended that we curtail foriegn aid and let them fend for themselves but again this policy has been going on for decades and I believe its time to break this trend and keep our tax payers money where it can help people best,at home here in America where its always should have been!!

    August 18, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Wondering

    What is the mechanism behind stopping military aid and then hurt Israel?

    August 18, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. Dakota

    We have no influence in the Middle East because we have no credibility due to the fact that we have allowed our representatives to bend rules such as allowing our aid to continue to be distributed in places where a military coup is in progression. We get no respect on the international stage because we have no respect for the guidelines that we build for ourselves. This evident in statements like Rep. Engel's saying that we can't end aid "willy-nilly"; it's obviously not something on a whim when we have to vote to suspend legislation.

    August 18, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. wendel

    he is a tired old man that has no credibility at all so why say that others don't. The whole repo party has lost its credibility. Egypt doing what mc canine wanted getting rid of the muslim brotherhood. Now he acts like this is a bad thing. Get real.

    August 18, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  13. don in albuquerque

    What makes you think we have any credibility any where in the world. We are the country that sticks our noses in every body else's business, sets up puppet rulers, betrays the same latter, betray our own people, invades and occupies other countries..... and on and on and ya know what? The next world war we may find it is us against the rest of the world. Boy we are a smart people-and we do all this to make the world safe for Citibank, Phillips, BP, GE and again, on and on and on....

    August 18, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. Random

    While true we really have lost a lot of credibility, in the end we don't need credibility for Egypt to resolve its issues itself. When war is waged on your country, you either wage war back and keep it or you don't. The phrase "State within a state" describes perfectly what was happening inside egypt. Barricading rebellions inside mosques and shooting police from within until they return fire then put on your protester outfit and put down the gun and take pictures and call foul. Egypt seems to be being effective. That is more than I can say for our government. Perhaps that is a low blow because staying out of it is the right thing to do. When you think you have protection from god to take over a country and do what they are doing there are not many effective ways to overcome it.

    August 18, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    Perhaps Mr. McCain can get back to us when HE finally makes up HIS mind (or heart) on what needs to be done? Dude's been shaking Mitt's Etch A Sketch for months now.

    August 18, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. Donnelley

    The cheapest commodity in the world has always been cynicism and given the value it brings to discussion, it's perfectly priced. After years of intransigience in support of the neo-con cause, John McCain is finally doing what we hope every politician will have the courage to do if this country is to have even an outlier's chance of regaining lost economic momentum and international standing, which is to question initial assumptions, review the evidence again, acknowledge the possibility of error in earlier assessments, look at alternatives. After dropping MOABs on the credibility of US foreign policy for years, a few of our worthier statesmen are waking up to the long-term danger this now presents for our country. But in this hallelujah moment, we the meathead chorus still sing our derision. When do we stop trying to explain the world in the simplistic vernacular of the primetime liberal vs conservative cage fight? When do we acknowledge that somebody like John McCain probably has to fend off some criticism from folks on the right who don't want to see him waver in his support of a governing system (regardless of its legitimacy) that might better guard the interests of Coptic Christians and Israel? I suspect that's more important to him than thwarting Barack Obama. And maybe he and like-minded Democrats can give Obama the cover he needs to do what's right and refuse to extend the taxpayers' generosity for the benefit of a Nasser wannabee who repudiates the principles of democracy for which we claim to stand. Should the meathead chorus take John McCain's lead, show some intellectual chops, and consider changing our tune a little?'s not our style.

    August 18, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. ymag2

    Egyptians have started a campaign to ask the government to reject any aid from the US. The $1.3 billion aid, which is actually in form of services carried out by American companies, has been the subject of debate here in Egypt for the past year.

    Has the US lost credibility in the Middle East region?. Indeed...!!!! But this is something that started years ago with the invasion and the visible and continual destruction of Iraq.

    What the US administration, senators and congressmen are not telling the American public is that it is in the US's interest and national security to maintain and preserve a strong and stable relationship with Egypt, not out of fear of the security of Israel but because Russia is willing, wanting and ready to support Egypt more than the US could ever imagine.

    August 18, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  18. Thomas

    We sure had a lot of credibility in Iraq , didn't we John ?

    How many refugees can we take . Now that Russia is taking guys like Snowden as asylum seekers , they will take Syrians , Egyptians .

    August 18, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Winston Smith

    John, has no credibility either. He'd set fire to his Grandmother, if the room got to chilly.

    August 18, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    It's funny ayott says one thing in support of cutting aid and then comes out , and then votes for aid to continue, kind of like her gun control vote, pander to the voters for it then cave to the NRA and vote against gun control. Tell the NRA to vote for you and the rest of us will vote against you, NRA stooge!!!!!

    August 18, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. vic , nashville ,tn

    “U.S. has lost its credibility” True
    War criminals Dick Cheney and Karl Rove created this mess

    August 18, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Marie MD

    Credibility? From the man who gave us the mutant from AK?
    Let them figure out what to do themselves because I don't see Egyptians helping Americans with our dysfunctional rethugs nor do we want them to do so.
    Was Iraq credible? Still waiting on the WMDs and still seeing Iraqis being blown up every day.

    August 18, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Tony in Maine

    He was only on ONE bobblehead show today? Amazing. Producers will be fired!

    August 18, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. Chagrined

    Bravo Senator McCain! Americans do not want to reward Egypt with our hard-earned tax dollars. Of course, this commitment to Egypt was so they would protect their boarder with Israel. Egypt's abuse of an elected leader is inimical to a Democracy. We do not want to support this Military coup in Egypt.
    Stated well Senator McCain, Egypt should be cut off and Israel can look after its own security! America's security is paramount and security for Israel places our security in peril!

    August 18, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. flambeauxfire

    McCain I didnt like you before but now I do!!!! Yes – finally. No snivelling excuses. It was a military coup so admit it and stop helping it!!! We cant be seen to be this hypocritical! It offends me as much as the torturers in Abu Graib did. Morsey was becoming a monster. But there were plenty of ways to deal with it before picking up a gun. And if that's what happenned, then the US has to stand behind it's democratic policies! Well done John McCain!

    August 18, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
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