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. Dave

    ..Long live McCain!?

    August 18, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  2. Zircon

    U.S.: McCain has no credibility.

    August 18, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  3. jinx9to88

    1.3 billion can do alot of good here in the United States.

    August 18, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  4. John

    We lost credibility in Vietnam – not Egypt. We should stay out of Egypt and McCain should go away and shut up.

    August 18, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  5. SheilaKA

    We need to hold all the aid we promised to Egypt. No delivery until they get their house in order. They will be destitute soon enough though...the tourist dollars are drying up.

    August 18, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  6. Dave

    McCain is right!

    August 18, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  7. Eric

    Let's call things by their name: what happened in Egipt was a flagrant coup d'Etat. The military power has masacred hundreds of people since they took power and nobody else has firmly condemned those actions. Shame on you Obama

    August 18, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. nik green

    McCain has zero credibility. His pre-kindergarten, infantile outburst – "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" destroyed what little remaining. And his inactions and stone-walling (alongside most of the Senate and Congress) regarding the horrible fate of the first responders of 9/11 are truly disgusting. McCain, just go and retire. You're a waste of space.

    August 18, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  9. JB

    Well.. Duh!!! Why are we giving aid to ANYONE... We need aid.. We are 17 trillion $$$ in debt and rising...

    August 18, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  10. Edward

    Rep McCain is starting to worry me. He shows signs of mental decline. No insult intended. It will happen to me also.

    August 18, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. B

    How does McCain have any credibility left after going with Palin as a running mate?

    August 18, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. Nova Scotian

    US cuts off aid.....Egypt cuts off American access to the Suez Canal
    Let's see how the US likes those apples

    August 18, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  13. mohammad elsayed

    From the Egyptian people to the friendly American people
    We are at war with terror that struck America on Sept. 11
    When you hear the voices of bombings in your country do not blame anyone except your government because its support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which does not know the truth of Islam. Islamic religion does not know the murder and burning of churches as they do this terrorist group. That you do not want to help us to eliminate terrorism will not sympathize with you when we see pictures of the dead from your country on television

    August 18, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  14. The day after

    If it is true that EL-Sissy refused to talk to our President on the phone, doesn't that mean he does not give a hoot about our American aid, and our opinion ? Mr. McCain,.. please read some history books, it will tell you who the MB truly really are.

    August 18, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  15. penguin

    McCain calls for a cut in aid because our laws state we are not to give aid to governments that took over in a coup. Yet he initially voted to maintain aid even though it was obvious Morsi was overthrown by a coup. Then he has the gall to say the US has no credibility because we didn't cut aid. Does McCain not see the irony in his hypocrysy? He's an insult to America

    August 18, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  16. Frank Musa

    Bin Laden was supported by America and Later Killed by America when he became the Enemy. The Muslim brother hood will become the enemy if they managed to grab the power in Egypt and the Surrounding countries. This is a movement that believes that Muslims are superior people and Islam is a Super Religion. It is very sad to see so many Egyptians dead but many more will die, Muslims and Non Muslims, if Muslim Brotherhood Managed to Control the middle east.

    August 18, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  17. Andrew De Jong

    Whatever it takes for the Muslim Brotherhood to be reduced in power and influence would be the best thing for Egypt and beyond. The US just doesn't understand the realities on the ground in Egypt. But then again, it wouldn't be the first time the US has found itself on the wrong side of an issue or a political conflict. When do we get our cheerleaders on the playing field cheering for the right team? Here is an opportunity – seize it.

    August 18, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  18. Obungo

    Obama's America has no credibility, regardless of the setting.

    August 18, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  19. Lone wolf

    come on. McCain, just t ell the truth for once. What you really want is for us to add another war. This is not our fight.

    August 18, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  20. Jonus Grumby

    McCain is older than dirt, but he's right this time. Cut off aid to Egypt.

    August 18, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  21. DisgustedNY

    The guy has never said an intelligent thing in his life

    August 18, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  22. Dave

    Sanction Saudi, Qatar and Kuwait to chock off their source for funds. Petro dollar from these dictators is the source of all animosities toward us and state sponsored terrorism. Al Qaeda and 911 Terrorist were majority from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

    August 18, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  23. Hugi Dugi

    Sorry to say it. Senator McCain is senile. Goods thing he did not become President. This country has to support our friends and stop aid to our enemies. It is simple as that. We are in a mess in the Middle East because of supporting Islamics. People in their countries do not like them and for a good reason. They are brutal and will stop at nothing to impose their will. They are the ones that attacked our country and now we want to support them? What kind of foolishness is that ? A dangerous one for sure.

    August 18, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  24. Henry

    McCain's latest outburst is ironically the same kind of perverse, doctrinaire thinking that got us into Vietnam. This man is consumed with the infantile notion that foreign policy is about principle. It isn't. I know it's a downer folks, I know that. The fact is that foreign policy is about choosing between alternatives that frequently are not about something bad and something better. Realistically, they are usually about something bad and something worse.

    That's what is going on in Egypt. The Morsi government was well on it's way to rigging the system toward establishing an Islamic state. Not good for the US. The military in Egypt is a secular, albeit totalitarian force that is determined to neuter Islamic fundamentalism by whatever means necessary. This is a violation of the US love affair with democracy which posits that freedom solves everything. It doesn't.

    Obama has taken the right course in cancelling joint exercises to register our disapproval of heavy-handed tactics toward Morsi's supporters, but by continuing to provide military aid he's also saying the Islamic fundamentalists are going to be in a tough spot. That's good for the US.

    August 18, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    @Samson: "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.

    Cite some stats and sources.

    August 18, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
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