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. Peter

    Sen McCain is dead wrong; he does not understand what is happening in Egypt. What you are seeing now is the real revolution that is a miracle. Muslims and Christians in Egypt are joining hands to avoid another-Taliban style government. Please support the new Government.

    August 18, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. Poodlepuff

    The Arizona Republican added the U.S. has lost its credibility in the region. No actually, John McCain has lost all credibility in the United States, it's possessions, territory's, and embassies worldwide.

    August 18, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. DJ Reality

    We have no credibility? Whats this we stuff there John?

    August 18, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  4. mickinmd

    So McCain voted to continue aid and now says the U.S. has no credibility because it's "continuing" aid. So what's that make him?

    Actually, most of the aid in this year's budget except for four F-16's was already delivered before the recent violence in Egypt.

    August 18, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  5. Homer

    Every country is better off with a secular government.

    August 18, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  6. tony

    America certainly has no credibility in the Arab world now after our president and SOSUS Hillary Clinton blamed an unknown video claiming it sparked a spontaneous riot that caused the death of our Ambassador and three other Americans. ALL of the Middle East knew it was a planned terrorist attack and many knew it was related to another USA "gun running" effort. We are a laughing stock after this. How can anyone believe a word our president or SOSUS Kerry have to say. In Egypt, our president and SOSUS Clinton backed the mother of all terrorist organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood and expected something good to come of it! Idiots.

    August 18, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. InvestMattA

    McCain is literally the only person in America dumber than Obama. While we shouldn't have been sending Egypt money to begin with - because they don't have the capability to threaten Israel or disrupt oil flows – which are our interests in the Middle East, now is not the time to cut off aid to Egypt because it sends the signal that we are on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood. The US must distinguish between degrees of evil: The Muslim Brotherhood is our enemy anywhere and everywhere and the Egyptian Army is far preferable to the MB. It is in our national interest for the Egyptian Army to crush the totalitarian Muslim Brotherhood. Yet politicians from both sides – most prominently Obama and McCain, no longer have any idea what our national interests are, much less how to achieve them through geopolitical strategy. America is in decline. Our only hope is someone like Ted Cruz.

    August 18, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. danny

    you want to see "no credibility" McCain.............take a quick look into the nearest mirror you old coot!

    we have influence that we should use, McCain? Where do you think this influence springs from? THE EGYPTIAN MILITARY that you want to cut off our aid to..............take a chair.

    August 18, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  9. longfisch

    Predictable comments has become the norm on this site, the left bashes McCain, but will praise the same speech when Pres. Obama makes it in a few days, the right blames this on Pres. Obama with no mention of the fact congress has as much power, if not more to step in and end the supply of weapons to the Egyptian military.

    The only bright spot is seeing more and more comments rightfully blaming this on both parties.

    August 18, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    As usual, McCain has it wrong AGAIN. This is the time we NEED to send aid. If we could send aid to that Islamist radical Morsi...surely we can send Egypt's military money to battle the radical elements that have descended upon Egypt.(I still firmly believe that Morsi was behind the Benghazi attack..that will eventually come out) Why are we always assbackwards? A coup, huh? Go back and rediscover what happened right before Egypt's military took over....the PEOPLE...millions of them...went into the streets to demand Morsi's ouster. Egypt has not been exposed to radical rule...their government has mostly been secular under Mubarak. The military stepped in FOR the people...this was not a coup. A coup is what Venezuela and Cuba did. The Egyptian military is not interested in ruling.

    August 18, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. McSpam

    We have a two party system so we can take both sides of an issue at the same time. It is designed to confused everyone. John "Dr. Stranglelove" McCain calls foul so many times nobody listens anymore, he is an old joke. Please retire John.

    August 18, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  12. Mike Kaiser

    I am sick and tired of McCain running off at the mouth about every foreign conflict he can find. This is
    one American that would like to see us mind our own business for a change and keep our troops and our
    treasure home where they belong.

    August 18, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  13. allenwoll

    How can we have credibility with McCain running about ? ? ?

    August 18, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  14. Danny Shurden

    McCain has no credibility.

    August 18, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  15. Jackson Hole

    If the US is really providing $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt, why don't they just spend those resources to help families in the U.S. who are homeless, losing their homes because of predatory lending from the banks that were bailed out, provide medical care to those who are in dire need, but could not afford, etc., etc..

    August 18, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  16. Roscoe Chait

    Obama was wrong from the beginning, forcing the Egyptian people to elect a terrorist organization like the Muslim Brotherhood. And now the US government wants to punish the Egyptian people for trying to get their country back. I used to be an Obama supporter, but he has proved to be a fool when it comes to the Middle East.

    August 18, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  17. GB

    What credibility did we have in Afghanistan, Iraq. Vietnam? Why not simply admit we can't afford it?. Time to retire McCain.

    August 18, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. Bkoh

    Any American that thinks we had credibility prior to this hasn't been paying attention.

    August 18, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  19. Mickey Mouse

    Off course when you can elect a presidential candidate that do not salute the Americian flag, there is no credibility in the US.

    August 18, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  20. Tyrone

    To cheat cherlock!! However, YOU are part of the problem, not the solution. As inept, corrupt and deceptive as Obama and his cronies are, you are not much better. Obama the "great uniter" is an utter failure at home and abroad....pity that the narcissistic piece of garbage can comprehend or admit it.

    August 18, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  21. ffnordle

    Did McCain actually run for president? What a disaster that would have been if he had been elected! John needs to stop wasting his time bashing the Democrats start showing his positive side. He's not an idiot, he just acts like one.

    August 18, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  22. Jake

    When did Sen. McCain become a radical islamist and joined Muslim Brotherhood ?

    August 18, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  23. SeattleReign

    For the first time, I agree with McCain, who usually wants to go in and bomb everyone that doesn't do it the way he wants it. However, I don't trust the rebels or the military in that country. We have no idea who is actually part of the resistance and who is part of the Muslim Brotherhood. My guess is there is a little of everything out there engaging in the violence. We should not be sending any money or supplies to either side, especially military supplies, to any country involved in a Civil War. We should stay the hell out of it. Humanitarian supplies would be all that I would support, and even then, I'd be dubious that they would reach the general population.

    August 18, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  24. Dave

    Rand Paul has been saying this and proposing bills for a couple years now. Amazing how it doesn't make the news until McCain says something.

    August 18, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  25. Dave

    Lets stop the donating to these 155 countries yearly and start helping our own people. We are broke folks. Many of those countries hate us with a passion anyway..

    August 18, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
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