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. Johnny5

    Lets be honest here, the U.S. has no credibility anywhere. Heck, the U.S. barely has credibility with its own citizens these days. The U.S. has become the Charles Manson of the planet, or better yet, Obama has.

    August 18, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  2. Bigger Thomas

    McCain must be reminded again that eh lost the election in 2008 and he is therefore NOT President. Foreign policy is directed and executed by the President. Not the loser of the Presidential election. Elections matter and he/they lost. Shut up and sit down relative to public statements. Stop creating problems for the American people/government by spouting off on what policy should be when you must recognize that you lost, the people chose another vision.

    August 18, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  3. GuarionexSandoval

    Dear Senator McCain, what did you think would happen when the United States, in the person of Barry Obama and his advisors, gushed on and on about the "Arab Spring" and the "democracy movement" and helped radical Islamists overthrow the existing governments throughout the Arab/Muslim world?

    August 18, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  4. Gerry

    The US foreign policy in Egypt and Syria is not only foolish, but also corrupt. In the case of Egypt,with 33 Million demonstrators taking to the streets demanding Morsi to leave, how can we still call that a coup? How does the quite obvious escape seasoned politicians like McCain? How about Syria? how can we justify supporting and propose arming extremist Muslim groups, of the kind that inflicted 9/11 on us? and we claim to do so in the name of democracy?
    Well, the political analysts in the Middle East and other parts of the world know exactly what the US is doing:
    1. Supporting Suni Muslim presence to balance the Shiites presence in Iran and Lebanon, to keep them busy fighting one another and stay away from the US and Israel.
    2. The US is foolishly thinking they are going to win over the Muslim extremists so America would not be their enemy anymore and there would be fewer terrorist attacks or attempts. This is so naiive. NOTHING the US can do to change the fundamentalist Muslim antagonist to the West. It is a deeply rooted ideological conviction.
    3. The US is weakening the strong armies of Egypt and Syria to neutralize the region in its conflict with Israel.

    The corruption here, is they claim that all they do is in the name of democracy and civil rights, but that is not the case. And the coverage of the situation both in Syria and Egypt by the press, have also been biased and corrupt.

    If the US is truly in support of democracy, they would support the people of Egypt, whom the army is protecting, and thank the Egyptian people and their army for standing up to the likes of the 9/11 perpetuators.

    August 18, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  5. Tom Barrett

    We need to reign in all foreign aid until pukes like Mcain, Lindsey and the rest of our elected and corrupt politicians learn how to balance a budget. They are such Hippocrates and so corrupted!

    August 18, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  6. Howard

    I agree with Senator McCain(for once) we can't help a country buy weapons that It's going to use against it's own people.It's bad enough that they're using what look like M111 troop carriers in these photos.If the goverment deploys tanks there wiill be pictures of Abrams tanks with Egyptian flags on the news.We can't support this goverment anymore.The Egypt we agreed to send aid to was two goverments ago.

    August 18, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  7. J

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

    August 18, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. ratickle

    McCain is the one without credibility here. Does he really want to restore the Muslim Brotherhood to power? Thank God this man was never elected president. Lets all hope he retires soon.

    August 18, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  9. peewee

    The US has lost all credibility worldwide.

    August 18, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  10. Ashraf Elsayed

    Actually senator, you made a mess over there during your last visit, you angered a lot of people. If you have paid close attention to what the Egyptians have been saying for years, they want the aid cut. have you even looked on how this aid is spent? If you do that in the future, you will find that the people who own you, AKA special interest groups, such as the defense i dustries, are the ones pushing for it. As an Egyptian American, I agree we need to cut it off, spend it on building roads, bridges, schools and to educate people like you. As much as Egyptians look up to the American people, they cannot stand people like you.

    August 18, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  11. sisterchef

    We send them aid so they can buy military equipment from our industrial military producers. It is a way of ensuring those companies have clients. I don't think continuing that practice will harm our credibility...don't think we've had much of that for a long time.

    August 18, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. Kaitara

    The headline should read: McCain has ‘no credibility’ in Egypt, or the U.S. Can we all get a petition together for McCain and vote him out of the Republican Party or pressure him to change parties? Seriously? His name should read: John Mccain (D) Arizona.

    August 18, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  13. mike

    We need to realize that democracy is not well suited to certain countries. They are simply not ready to handle it. (Russia being a classic example.) As I see it, we should be applauding the military coup in Egypt as it was the might behind the people's will to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood. The MB was voted in democratically, but when Sharia law started impacting the citizens they realized this was not what they voted for. The more they protested, the more the MB shut them down. The military looks like the good guys here.

    August 18, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  14. David

    Did McShame not learn from 911? is this guy for real? these are Muslim terrorists that the Egyptian army is fighting

    August 18, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  15. john

    McCain, and I respect his service to our country, lost all credibility with me long ago.

    August 18, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  16. Theseus

    Losing credibility as what... the worlds savior? The U.S. is messed up, our political system has grown corrupt, we're close to riots ourselves, and "the richest nation on earth" is also somehow at the same time the largest debt collector of any nation. No, we can't fix Egypt, nor anywhere else, until we fix ourselves.

    August 18, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  17. John DeLucia

    "McCain: U.S. has ‘no credibility’ in Egypt": oh god why? As you are supporting thre thugs in Syria, is that credibility? RHINOS have to go.

    August 18, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  18. Jim

    McCain is short sighted and hot headed.

    August 18, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  19. djfrankford

    I always listen to people who pick Palin as their VP candidate and can't put away a freshman senator in a general election. Time to retire, McCain.

    August 18, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  20. dudley0416

    No US interference or intervention. Too much US blood, money, sweat and tears wasted in the Middle East. Bad investment. No return. Hundreds of other countries in the world. Let some of them lift the load for a change. Let's stay home and fix the leaks in our own boat for a while.

    August 18, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  21. 6797777

    McCain with his usual knee jerk response , wasn't it just last week he wanted to give aid to Al Qaeda in Syria. What do you mean we have no credibility, our Apache helicopters just took out the democratically elected Morsy .

    August 18, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  22. Giant Boner

    Whatever Democrats say, McCain says the opposite.
    What a Lemming.

    August 18, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  23. drc

    ALL of Congress and King Obama have lost all credibility with the American public who have zero confidence in either party and their corrupt careers running the 2 flocks of sheep in this country who are too stupid to question them.

    August 18, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  24. G Taylor

    mcane has no credibility any where, just a pathetic old man living off being a POW. Where had he died the USA would be btter off today.

    August 18, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. Jeff

    Imagine Muslims being anything but full of hate should put a big fence around the whole middle east and allow them to kill themselves
    They act like they are number one

    August 18, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
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