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. r c

    Dear John,
    I've been patient, I really have. But you have got to just ... shut up!

    August 18, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. Smeagel4T

    Ummm... Johnny? You can't honestly think the US didn't know about the coup before it happened. The US and the Egyptian military most likely negotiated the coup.

    August 18, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. Poodlepuff

    Democracy does not work in the Middle East because it has never worked in the Middle East. The reality is that democracy creates a gateway for extremist groups to take control of countries. The reality is that Egypt must find it's own way regardless of misplaced political desires by American politicians to make the entire world act like American states.

    August 18, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. mindstorms

    If we support the Egyptians that voted for the Muslim Brotherhood in a democratic election we will be hated by those who are against them. If we are support the people who overthrew the democratically elected government we will be hated by those who supported that election. It seems to me no matter what we do we will be hated by a lot of Egyptians.

    August 18, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. vikingwoman

    It's especially telling when McCain says US has lost credibility & in the very next breath blames the Obama Administration. It's nothing but the same ol' hate-for-Obama wrapped in fake concern for our standing in Egypt! Another telling remark was his statement of concern for Israel. IOW we should pull our aid in Egypt to safeguard Israel. No real cocern over Egypts unrest, just the bottom line of "saving" Israel, the GOTP's fave Fundamental Christian cause! Also, this "coup" is barely 8 wks old, perhaps we should suspend our "instant/disposable" mentality long enough to see how Egypt rectifies their own problems, before we make "willy-nilly," ill adviced decisions, regarding another sovreign nation! It would behoove us to remember our hand in "Middle East unrest," by declaring wars on Iraq & Afghanistan w/bad or non-excistant intel, curtesy of the W Admin! Still cleaning up that mess & don't need to revisit those bad choices!!

    August 18, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. Joseph Zrnchik

    McCain wanted Egypt to go to war against Syria. The US government's goal is to destabilize the entire Middle East. The US wanted Morsi to involve Egypt in Syria, but the generals overthrew him because they did not want to involve Egypt. They also did not like Morsi's deals with the IMF and the rise in gas and food staples. McCain wants war and so will push to have Egyptain aid cut. He wants to punish the generals for not supporting war with Syria.

    August 18, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |

    McCain was really saying that Obama has no credibility on the world stage, and he is right.

    August 18, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. sammy750

    U.S. has lost its credibility in the region. I wonder why with McCain, Graham, Boehner, and McConnell and other Republicans trying to override Obama decisions. McCain and Graham going to Egypt and getting kicked out by the military. McCain is the big reason. He continue to go against any decision that Obama makes. The Republicans are the real TERRORIST of this nation. They are creating bad relations with all the statements they say against Obama. The Republicans have the agenda, since 2008, to make Obama fail. With their record so far. they are destroying the USA and the people. The USA needs one voice for foreign policy and that is the Presidents voice, NOT MCCAIN AND GRAHAM, two senile, old men who cannot shut up. And of course Republicans love wars.

    August 18, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, Grandpa Munster just loves the sound of his voice on the Sunday talk shows..

    August 18, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. Ralph

    For decades we talked about "The Ugly American" to describe what McCain is trying to do today. Pushing Egypt back into the fold with Russia seems what this Senate Leader who ran for President and the majority of voters decided he was not a leader. Only votes he seemed to get in his run for President were the Ant-Obama votes and few for him as a leader. Let Egypt solve Egypt.s problems. Too much talk of civil war as if that civil war was in the future but there is a slow motion civil war going on now and it has been going on before this last installment with the Brotherhood at war with everyone that had different beliefs and striking out for an Egypt in their own image. There has to be room for everyone in Egypt. If Egypt has to move toward Russia and accept that nation's influence to avoid the Ugly American demands from McCain that is where Egypt will likely go. America should not be making the decisions for this nation.

    August 18, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. California

    Obama is literally being schooled by the whole world and has been for his whole presidency.

    August 18, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. RB

    Guess where all that "aid" money gets spent??

    OK – are you ready for this – right back here in the ol' US of A.

    That $$ is spent to buy OUR weapons and OUR farmer's wheat.

    SO – tea-tards – guess who suffers if this "foreign aid $$" is cut off.

    It ain't Egypt – it is US. Got it??

    August 18, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  13. cliffintex

    I can't figure you people out. Most of you want to cut off the aid going to Egypt – because the military threw out a government that trampled on minority rights, against it's own constitution. As usual, CNN wants to make McCain a big part of the story – he isn't. He is irrelevant everywhere but his own mind – other than CNN using that old man to whip up the base. It's really simple...MB wants a very strict Muslin nation – military wants to outlaw MB and protects minority rights...give 'em the darned money and jets.

    August 18, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. JOSH P.

    How can we have any,we are arming Heart eating Thugs in Syria,while pretending to be fighting those same,in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    August 18, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Zedlok

    So Egyptians believe the USA is supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. So now you want to pull support from the military to remove all doubt. I'm sure that will go over splendid.

    You know nothing, John McCain.

    August 18, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. bear

    So just who does John McCain think we should support? The Muslim Brotherhood? Obama screwed up when he abandoned Mubarek. Now he has it right and is providing support to the military and McCain wants him to back away. The military is the only path to secularism in Egypt. The other paths lead to an Islamic dictatorship.

    I disagree with Obama on most stuff, but when he does get it right, there is always McCain to preach doing it wrong.

    August 18, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. w l jones

    Who paying for all these trip to nowhere...monnies that could be spent on an in our own country.

    August 18, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  18. Dave

    McCain was just over there negotiating with the generals... He's pretty quick to criticize given he had a different opinion last week. Cutting off aid will take years to have an impact and other Arab states are very likely to fill in the gap. A more thoughtful approach is called for.

    August 18, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. Eric

    "you don't have a 'Democracy' without minority rights" - This is why the USA is not a Democracy, but a Constitutional Republic. Without a Bill of Rights, you have mob rule.

    We give Egypt $1.3 billion in yearly aid because of Israel, and because they control the Suez canal, through which 8% of the world's commerce (including 7% of the world's oil and 13% of the world's LNG) flows.

    August 18, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  20. 1+2=6

    You know what this means...war.....


    August 18, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. Bob 'rehoboth-beach foodie" Yesbek

    The only credibility this country has is it's mighty dollar. Without it...this would be just another 3th world dump full of fat and greedy trash.

    August 18, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. tarheel1110

    I am so tired of McCain mouthing off. He lost all credibility several years ago. Obama might not be the greatest, but McCain ,makes him look absolutely wonderful!

    August 18, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. Jim970

    It does seem like in situations like this, Obama waits a long while before doing, well, next to nothing. Then again, guess we shouldn't be too harsh. He is on vacation, after all.

    August 18, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  24. Joseph

    If you think a bunch of $$$ will buy other countries, go and look for something else. Cut the aid and shut your mouth up.

    August 18, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  25. Steve

    Here is some news, we never had any street cred with this part of the globe. The only thing they want is more money, guns, and well more money.

    August 18, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
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