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. jcvet33

    The Saudis are killing this military coup billions. let them feed them.

    August 18, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  2. jcvet33

    The Saudis are paying for this already. Let them feed them. We are broke.

    August 18, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Dave The Butcher

    Why stop with Egypt?

    August 18, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  4. Steve

    You're all free to throw around all the ad hominems you'd like, but in this case, McCain is right and you know it.

    August 18, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. budshot

    Not a bad idea but it really won't do that much. People and US politicians make a big deal of the money our government sends to Egypt but compared to what Egypt gets from a number of other countries, including Saudia Arabia and the United Emirates, it's nothing. Not a tenth of what they get from a number of other Arab countries.

    Didn't know that? That's your media and politicians for you.

    August 18, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. KG

    It would be rather novel if our government actually followed its own laws. Maybe they can stop spying on us, taxing without representation, frisking us without cause, etc., etc....

    August 18, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Dandy

    >>"With Apache helicopters flying overhead (in Egypt), nothing is more symbolic of the United States of America siding with the generals,”<<
    This is the same reason the Palestinians hate us .. when Israel uses Apache gunships to slaughter Palestinians.. but apparently that is ok.... Egyptians shooting other Egyptians with the same gunships is somehow worse..

    August 18, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Ahmed Eltahawy

    As an Egyptian supporting the people requested "Coup" against the "Democratically Elected" fascist president and his "Ridiculously Peaceful" group, I urge the US administration to stop aids to Egypt. This aid was NEVER of any value to the Egyptian people and it will not be missed. It will be a celebration day in Egypt when this happens. I can see fireworks in the sky of Cairo as joy will erupt all over Egypt. Go ahead and do it. just don't regret it later because it turns out the benefits of this aid to the US is multiple its value to Egypt. PLEASE STOP THE AID.

    August 18, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. history repeats

    I honestly don't care what that man wants

    August 18, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. rule-of-law is paramount

    The USA has been back-door promoting its own interests while ignoring its own rules. THIS practice is what has cost us our credibility all over the world. It needs to stop now. We must lead by example by being fair, just and demonstrating consistent rule of law at home and everywhere on this planet. Stop pandering to abusive regimes including the one in Isreal.

    August 18, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. fastball

    Standing in the middle of the road only ensures that you get hit by traffic coming from BOTH sides.
    Not only does today's modern American politician face hurdles in foreign policy...but even sharper are the knives of the Opposition, who will gladly carve the incumbent up like a Thanksgiving turkey – no matter what he does.

    August 18, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  12. shabera

    problem is that we do not give the aid to the poor people. we give aid to the aggressors.

    August 18, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. chad

    McCain is the joke, so is Graham. These two use what little power they have to infuse a division in our America so that they can try to keep some power. The GOP really needs to wake up, I am a voting Republican, I do not support the direction the Republicans are taking by being so overtly against anything the Democrats are doing and by shutting down Congress it is just making it worse. I may be alone, but it looks a lot like there is a one sided campaign from a lot of donors who are scared to death of a black president. He could say the sky is blue and the whole GOP would vote against him. Proud to be Republican, not proud of this group.

    August 18, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Sir

    That's a nice idea by McCain

    August 18, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. loverpoint

    Losing credibility over inaction is something the GOP are familiar with. They Republican majority Congress has been sitting on their hands for the last 2.5 years.

    August 18, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. Alina1

    First of all with the help of McCain the US lost credibility 10 years ago... From the moment first Muslim was killed by the US solder word "credibility" became a legend ..
    So Mr.McCain its too late too call the US a "looser"

    August 18, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. Kurt

    McCain is just a contrarian. He just takes the opposite position as Obama. It's just sour grapes from his loss to Obama in 2008. Up until now, he's been a neocon, sticking America's nose in all things middle eastern and spending billions on military intervention. We lost our credibility with the invasion if Iraq, which McCain supported.

    August 18, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. GonzoinHouston

    McCain and Rand are both in favor of cutting off aid to Egypt. Therefore, cutting off aid to Egypt is probably a bad idea. The best thing Egypt could do for itself right now is to announce new elections and even let Morsi run again.

    August 18, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. Ann Heaney

    I agree that we should withdraw supplies of weopons to Egypt. This is what it comes down to.

    August 18, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. AHS

    Why would McCain have any credibility? Few want the US to meddle in their affairs, McCain or anyone else in gov....the middle east needs military funding? Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen....many have seen the effects of our "aid".
    Aid is not 'free money', it has a high cost, reflected in news and headlines.

    August 18, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. brsln

    Wow, Johnny has once again forgotten he DIDN'T win the election...He has a long way to go to know what credibility is.

    August 18, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  22. MesaMax

    McCain has become an embarrassment to the people of Arizona. He has been a career politician who doesn't know when to retire.

    August 18, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  23. yogi

    McCain's only two solutions to foreign affairs are: Criticize whatever Obama does or says, and going to war, he is such a hypocrite.

    August 18, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. Suemac in WA

    Respect for US foreign policy has absolutely TANKED since 2009. Europe, the Muslim nations, Canada, Mexico, Japan, England have all displayed a huge drop in respect for our policies. anywhere from 20% to as high as 50%. For all of you that have been bashing the former administration for creating this mess, think again

    August 18, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. WhataWorld62

    Why do we have no credibility??? Because we have a commander in chief who let 4 American diplomats die in Benghazi with zero response....we have a commander in chief who bows down to Putin in Russia....we have a commander in chief who goes hat in hand to China and says "Please Sir! I want some more! We have a commander in chief who let's a rogue nation like North Korea dictate it's demands on the US and then says..."We need to dial back the rhetoric"" This has been a non-president...stay on the Vineyard! You certainly don't help in Washington.

    August 18, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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