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. jack G

    McIdiot please retire. You make no sense.

    August 18, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. jag

    Well I am glad MacCain has changed his mind and I agree we should NOT send anything to the Mullah's they are nothing but a bunch off crooks.

    August 18, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. L

    We have given aid to Egypt, and other countries, for far too long. It's time we direct all of our efforts into our own country because no one else helps us!

    August 18, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  4. Bud

    Mccain...We wonder why they have no confidence in you and the shadow gov't you work with....and, we're glad that it's just you simple minded politicians they don't trust and not the citizens.

    August 18, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  5. Rohit

    Credibility? What credibility?

    August 18, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Jerome

    Why is the USA supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which from all accounts is a terrorist organization intent on imposing Sharia Islamic law throughout the world?

    The Muslim Brotherhood boasts that it is responsible for Hamas governing in the Gaza strip.

    The army should be commended for trying to demolish this group.

    August 18, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  7. Didact

    So I take it a lot of people here believe the US should continue to fund the slaughter of innocents in Egypt? Sure makes me proud to be an American.

    August 18, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  8. bob jkjoih

    "We have no credibility", CNN

    August 18, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. Steve

    McCain's an 'air-head' – just like the rest of the politicos in DC – maybe no credibility but all they want is our money anyways – CUT IT!!!!

    August 18, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  10. Tom in Desoto, TX

    Why do any media talk to McCain? He's been a simpleton his entire life. His crowning achievement is he became a POW, like over 700 others. A Hero? No. If it wasn’t for that, no one outside of wherever he would end up living would know of him. He’d go to the VFW and chat with the boys telling stories. He’s certainly no military genius. He was a Navy pilot. Pilots do not make military plans. At his rank at the time he would be in charge of pencil sharpening and making coffee.

    August 18, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  11. Alan

    Rand Paul and 36 Other Republican Senators had it right. Obama, the Democratic Party Senators, a few exceptions, and 14 Republican "moderates" had it wrong!

    August 18, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. JBar595

    Please explain to me why we don't want the Army to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood, the people responsible for 9-11, Hamas and every other major terrorist organization coming from the middle east.

    August 18, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. Dancquill

    Democracy in Egypt is already bringing a type of Krystalnaght to Christians, their businesses, churches and homes in the country. If the Brotherhood runs things this type of movement will only increase and Egypt will pile on the Islamacist bandwagon out to destroy Israel utterly. What would you do if you had a second chance to fix 1930's Germany? That is the predicament I see developing.

    August 18, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. Nova Scotian

    McCain is a dope. Egypt still has the leverage by controlling the Suez Canal. Egypt has the power to restrict American war & commercial ships from transiting the canal

    August 18, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. divejoy

    Mcainis conservative. Let's go to WAR Tht's all those guys say. Let's go to war!

    August 18, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. mccains part of the problem

    Oh. So McCain changes his mind less than one month after voting to keep it going?

    Now there's failed leadership. McCain has no credibility either!!!

    August 18, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    One great president

    August 18, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. Jdot

    It's not as easy as it seems. Most of the $1.3 billion is grant money, that must be spent on U.S. weapons manufacturers. If this aid were to be cut, companies like Lockheed-Martin and General Dynamics, as well as their employees, would be the hardest hit. I'm pretty sure McCain knows this.

    August 18, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. John P. Tarver

    Mr. Putin has pledged his support to the Egyptian military.

    August 18, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  20. donna

    "Me have no credibility." McCain said.

    August 18, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  21. Jean Sartre

    We give Egypt a total of 1.3B per year, and most of that is all in military aid. The military is our ally in Egypt and they are the ones attacking, killing and keeping the Muslim Brotherhood in check. Additionally, Egypt is the only country in the middle East that has a treaty with Israel and a long standing agreement not to attack it. Furthermore, should we take away our 1.3B in aid, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait and a host of Middle East countries stand ready to pick up the slack in an instant. All we would have done is to injure a vital ally in the Middle East, and our interest there, as, how Egypt, the leader in the Middle East goes, so goes the Middle East... The Wacko Birds on this post have no idea what they are writing about... it is all political ideology, posturing, and super-nationalism...

    August 18, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  22. mohammad elsayed

    From Egyptian citizen who lives in the heart of events to the honorable American citizens do not believe the words of your government, which has lost its credibility in the free world. Egypt in a state of war with terrorist groups struck America on September 11. Do not give up on your principles you and the support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which kill people and burn churches. . were sympathetic with you after what he did to Osama bin Laden, do not forget that America is the support bin Laden when the Soviet Union occupation of Afghanistan and then attempt bin Laden did what he did on Sept. 11

    August 18, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. john smith

    Obama has basically been playing the conservative hand in the Middle East....The Dems wanted out yesterday/ the other guys want to start planting trees, build sidewalks, any 'fixed fixture' you can imagine is a great idea. McCain 's advise would have had us in serious battles in Libya, Syria, Iran, and is Mexican gov't corruption not a concern to him since he can see Mexico from his back yard?

    August 18, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  24. erwin erwin

    U.S. has ‘no credibility’ in Egypt....said McCain while foaming at the mouth....

    August 18, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  25. elvix

    If we cut aid to Egypt, China will take care of Egypt, lending billions or trillions maybe. Thus making China more advantage.

    August 18, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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