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.

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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. J Ray

    Just look in the mirror, Senator.

    August 18, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  2. Larry

    The protesters who are being killed need to be killed. They are very bad people who want Egypt to be aother islam extremists country. Like it or not we are at war with islam, at least the part that wants to kill all other people and take over the world one ccountry at a time (which seems to be most of them).

    August 18, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  3. Lou

    My question is what are suppose too do other then send troops? Our constant involvement in the area has exasperated tensions in the region. This is not our fight, it never was.....

    August 18, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  4. Larry L

    The sequester caused us to furlough our Civil Service workers and make their families suffer the hardship caused by the "hostage-taking" Tea Party in Congress. We clearly DO NOT have money to give Egypt if we can't pay the workers who run our government. Let John McCain go get his photo taken with terrorists on his own dime.

    August 18, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. ATG

    Peas in a pod.
    McCain has no credibility with the conservatives in America.
    He is a soul-cancer stricken Rino that should retire, resign or off himself for the public good.

    August 18, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  6. Lou

    Our constant involvement in the area has exasperated tensions in the region. This is not our fight, it never was.....

    August 18, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  7. kitty hogan

    just five years ago, Obama went to Egypt on his famous "apology tour." blamed USA for all the world's evils and bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia......yacked about the beauty of the call to prayer and quoted the Koran.....thanks mr prez for making even more likely to be attacked again and again...............Benghazi, boston and fort hood arent' just warning.s

    August 18, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  8. navaJohn

    Our credibility ended as soon as we invaded Iraq.

    August 18, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  9. Bourgeois

    And McCain has no credibility with Americans.

    August 18, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  10. Fred

    Bravo Senator McCain, help the very same people who knoked down our tours on 9/11 to gain power in Syria, Libya, and now Egypt. I am just woundering WHY?

    August 18, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  11. afnmvet

    I don't always agree with John McCain however I do about this. We are currently giving Egypt 1 billion dollars in aid every year. That is writing a check for more than 2.5 million dollars every day (all 365 of them) for a year. On top of that with our debt and deficit we are borrowing it to give to them. This makes no sense. We are getting absolutely nothing for our money.

    August 18, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  12. Bill

    Dwight Eisenhower warned us about the industrial military complex. Now we have two long serving senators, McCain and Graham, both serving on a powerful committee charged with overseeing the funding for our military weapons and all of our worldwide military conflicts in the name of Democracy.
    They give Israel weapons to defend themselves from their neighbors in the region, then turn around and give weapons,
    plus untold billions plus covert military advice and training to Israel's adversaries.
    Do you think this can go on forever ?

    August 18, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  13. rob0rah

    Obama and the libs wont let it happen.

    August 18, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  14. Name T-BIRD

    The only true cred that the Muslim knows is rapid fire from an AK-47. And McCain has no credit in normal world

    August 18, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  15. IpseCogita

    I think of that 1.3 billion as a yearly bribe to keep them from messing with the canal, and figure it's cheap at the price. Sure, America isn't all that dependent on the canal, getting from the India Ocean to North America it's pretty much just as easy to go around Africa. Europe, however, is heavily dependent on the canal and it's closure would decimate their already mostly crippled economies, to which much of our economy is connected. Closing that canal really could result in a full scale WW3, and even though the actual closure wouldn't effect us much the war would likely follow, even if it turned out to be short, and the economic damage to Europe, would wind up costing us trillions.

    August 18, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  16. Goody

    Considering that we invaded a country and slaughtered a quarter million innocent human beings based on blatant lies, tortured people left and right (and then defended it), fly drones over villages and murder civilians, ship all our jobs off to China – which oppresses and murders its own people on the regular, and STILL have hundreds of innocent (even according to our own government) people locked up in Guantanamo, I'm not sure what "credibility" McCain thinks we have. The fact that the world kisses your butt because you have enough money to buy their ruling elite and enough weapons to vaporize the planet does not equal CREDIBILITY. The world is watching, and it knows who you are.

    August 18, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  17. Dan Pendleton

    Oh, dear. McCain? siding with the Islamists? What would Faux News make of this???

    August 18, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  18. rochus

    I guess we have McCain and Graham to thank for this as they ran their fools errand for the empty suit in the WH! What a joke this guy is while the American public sits on their fat rear ends putting up with this clown!

    August 18, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  19. Kuro Inu

    General Sisi has made a calculation that he has a small window of opportunity to inflict damage on the Muslim Brotherhood that will set them back decades and that it is in Egypt’s vital interest to do so. Grasping that, the Brothers are pushing back hard.

    For the same reason, the Gulf monarchies, having weathered the immediate storms of the Arab spring and understanding the longer-term threat the Brotherhood represents, have supplanted Washington as Cairo’s principal paymasters: The $1.5 billion subvention to Egypt was always a drop in the great sucking maw of the US Treasury; compared to what the Saudis and the Emirs are ponying up, it’s looking less and less consequential from the Nile end, too.

    Out in the wider world, Putin figures there’s a regional power play to be made, and that Moscow can be back in Cairo in a big way for the first time in four decades.

    All these parties are pursuing their strategic interest. Does the United States have such a thing anymore? Not so’s you’d notice. As a result, the factions in Egypt are united only in their contempt for Washington. Obama is despised by Sisi and the generals for being fundamentally unserious; by the Brotherhood for stringing along with the coup; by the Copts for standing by as the Brothers take it out on them; and by the small number of genuine democrats in Egypt for his witless promotion of Morsi’s thugs as the dawning of democracy. Any “national-unity government” of the kind the usual deluded twits are urging on Egypt would be united only in its unanimous loathing of Obama, his secretaries of state, and his inept ambassador.

    August 18, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  20. Larry L


    We lost all credibility when we elected Obama !
    We indeed lost credibility – with the KKK. President Obama has performed masterfully as our CINC. He actually listens to his Joint Staff and makes matrue decisions. He leverages technology to save our Service-member's lives while killing terrorists like rats at the town dump. His greatest challenge comes from the obstructive Republicans in Congress who are supported by fearful, bigoted, and un-American right-wingers..

    August 18, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  21. Mike

    Time to cut off Egypt completely!

    August 18, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  22. lerianis

    With all due respect to Mr. McCain, the government is not cracking down on protesters, they are cracking down on militants who have attacked them.
    The Muslim Brotherhood has been ATTACKING the government in the past several days, having a hissy fit because they are not being allowed to turn Egypt into their personal Islamic theocracy.

    August 18, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    Ah, yet another pithy soundbite from a Repub! Hey, GOP base, when are you guys going to wake up to the FACT that your party doesn't have anything to offer our country except dump, uninformed criticism of the President?

    Do you really think McCain has all the intel that President Obama has? Do you really believe that the situation in Egypt is as black and white and McCain makes it out to be?

    While you're taking your brain for a spin, ask yourself this: If we cut off military aid to Egypt, who do you think will step in to fill the power void? (Possibilities: Iran, China, Russia)

    And on whose side do you think that entity will be?

    August 18, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  24. jschmidt

    Aid should have been cutoff when the Muslim Brotherhood was elected. They are a terrorist organization and are responsible for killing thousands after the elections especially of the coptic Christians. THe wave of persecution against Chrstians continues. Obama and the US mistake was accepting the MB as a legitamate organization.

    August 18, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  25. common sense

    5 yrs. of the Obama team and not one notable thing, bin laden was already being pursued when they stepped in, so really that doesn't mean crap.

    August 18, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
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