August 18th, 2013
10:58 AM ET
7 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.

"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. Anonymous

    ,'israehell can defend itself, although it be of some cost to them'....MEANING. The loss will be the number of US soldiers killed protecting the so called interests of Israehell. Someone needs to lob a big Bomb at tel aviv. The USA owes NOTHING to Israehell.

    August 18, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  2. Jay in Florida

    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, McSt-oo-p1d

    August 18, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. works4me

    McCain's stock in war products must be going down. He'd just love more conflict. More money spent and more lives lost for what.? Another ungrateful country?
    We had our Civil War... Let them have theirs.

    August 18, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Tim

    Wouldn't McCain and his bunch do a 180 degree switch and complain the U.S. is aiding the Muslim Brotherhood the minute he withdraws support for the regime now in power? Please leave politics out of foreign policy. Opponents will criticize no matter what decision is made.

    August 18, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. weix giekfrink

    pop goes the world
    living in a bubble or a vaccum the amercan people need to understand that THE USA always and have been the barometer for which our sad world dips its toes once in a while, without us the world stops
    nothing is more important than your word , they will turn elseswhere.. the east wind blowing.. stop leading by the innactions of the few. Amercains desewrve the truth even if mispelled

    August 18, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. tet1953

    Just when I think McCain cannot be any more idiotic, he goes and says something I agree with.

    August 18, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. observer1776

    McCain is a jerk.

    August 18, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  8. Name imperfect thinker

    Enough bloodshed and war for everyone – USA should take care of her own then if they stop the killings and ask for help perhaps after we care for our own then we will have more to give a stranger.- this situation is impossible as long as they embrace a culture of mayhem fueled but falsehood and violence- may god mend our follow human beings but the enemies of peace love death no matter who succumbs to it no one can agree on how to promote a lasting truce it's big business and its tragic and it sells papers- John McCain served and deserves respect Lets veto murder and applaud efforts to resolve our country burden

    August 18, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. Bill

    If there's anyone who is an expert in not having credibility, it's John McCain.

    August 18, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  10. Chris

    If McCain had won the election he could have cut off the funding.....

    August 18, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. Will

    Poor McCain, his dementia is setting in again.

    August 18, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. Susan

    Remember, this is a man who chose Palin as a running mate. If he had been elected and died, she could have been president. I cannot think of anything scarier!

    August 18, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  13. Sue Pearlative

    John, it's you who have no credibility! Stop helping the wrong ppl, both in Syria and in Egypt. McCain and the Clintons want to help the church-burners.

    August 18, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. amrazim9

    Do you really think that Egypt would care about what McCain says? I was just watching satellite TV from Egypt and they were laughing about how McCain views are insignificant. Like Clint Eastwood use to say "Go ahead make my day". Same thing what Egypt is saying to McCain and the USA – "Go ahead make our day". Elven if there is only 1 or 2% of the population are me they will never leave their own people without food. Finally, never ever the ordinary Egyptian benefited from any US. Aids.....So it does not matter for the Egyptians!!!

    August 18, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. DD

    For once, I fully agree with McCain.

    August 18, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. Homer

    Cutting off aid would be a good way to ensure that Egypt falls to the Islamists.

    August 18, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. Michael Muckraker

    Stop all of this aid. America is turning into a third world dump. You elected Obama not me!

    August 18, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  18. DAVE

    Nothing like putting something on credit and then giving it to another country. We are running in a deficit. We don't have money to hand out. Why is it that our government doesn't understand BASIC economic principles?

    August 18, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  19. NO PC here

    John McDaddy, I am glad to see that you finally woke up and smelled the coffee, roses etc.

    "We are much more hated and much less respected than we were in 2009,” in the Middle East region, McCain said. Here is the news flash, John. It's not just the Middle East, It's all over the World. China and Russia thumb their noses at the US every chance they get. Pakistan decided to build a new Naval station and they gave the contract to China to help with it. How many millions did you approve to give to Pakistan? They are laughing all the way to the Bank of Pakistan, you fool.

    Why don't you morons in the Senate and House get your heads out of your a$$es for just few seconds every day. Talk to few immigrants who stay in touch with their friends and relatives overseas and find out the real truth about how citizens of other countries feel about US.

    Stop meddling in the Affairs of other countries and solve the problems of your OWN county first.

    August 18, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  20. Joshua Wertheim

    We didn't intervene in Syria until it was way too little, way too late, and now we are going to fiddle while Cairo burns too. We are clueless what to do and what not to do. Watching the Arab Spring and the US handling of it is like watching the end of the British Empire.50 years ago, or the end of the Roman Empire, where we pass silently from a huge and influential global power into a weak child. Not that it's totally our fault; it's the way the global economy and the rise of power of other nations including China have reduced our ability to influence events whenever we wanted. My only fear is that the rest of the world will merge and give us our come-uppance for the arrogance we displayed from 1945 until 2001, and take it out on us in ways we can't deal with.

    August 18, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  21. ImVoting4Hillary

    We lost our credibility once Bush invaded Iraq based on lies.

    August 18, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  22. lfdavis

    ...and McCain has no credibility in the U.S... or the world, for that matter...

    August 18, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  23. alf564

    John needs to head into the sunset and get out of politics. He has mentally lost it and needs to keep his mouth shut
    and worry about the Mexican border with his state.

    August 18, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  24. jim22

    Yes, we definitely should cut off aid to the temporary Military leaders of Egypt who plan to have democratic elections while trying to maintain order for now. After we cut off aid, the military leadership will go out of business. That will result in new leadership – the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. Then the Muslim Brotherhood will cancel democratic elections. Then we will have gained credibility with Muslim Brotherhood, which is something that we really want and need. (sarcasm)

    August 18, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  25. sawtooth

    Send them several nukes, from our own missile silos. space them to get the whole country, make it unlivable for 900 years, should solve the problem

    August 18, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
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