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. john

    All the US should rejoice in the Obama way of trying to stay out of the world's business.Why is credibility such an important thing with some US politicians.Before the second world war America stayed out of the world's affairs and was much beter off and liked for it.

    August 18, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. Paul

    Bravo Senator McCain – lets cut ALL AID to Israel, after all that is the source of many of our problems and we can save billions at the same time and use those monies at home.

    August 18, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. WillB

    McCain needs to start listening to NPR and stay off Fox. NPR reported nearly 2 weeks ago, that by tracing the money ($1.5 billion) we provide in aide to Egypt investigators found that not one dime of the money has ever left the shores of the United States in the past 10 years. Every cent goes from the Treasury Dept. to a special fund at the Pentagon where it is then divided up among Defense contractors. They in turn ship arms purchased with that money (at 10-25% markup), to Egypt. It makes the those contractor's rich.
    The reason no one in Egypt cares is because they neither want or need the "free" stuff. Much of it goes into storage and a lot of it they sell on the black market to others.

    August 18, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. Robert Palmer

    Now is NOT the time to cut off aid to Egypt. 20 years ago maybe. but not today. Democracy must champion the rights of the minority more than majority rule. Egypt needs their version of the American Civil Liberties Union. Right now, we need to financially support the current government and give them time else we will be faced with another ghadist regime.

    August 18, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. oh please

    So McCain wants us to stop helping the Egyptian military, and just let another country fall to Islamist Extremists? Time to retire the old fool.

    August 18, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. abmri60

    Cut off all aid to Egypt, where they are killing Christians.
    We have enough problems in the US to deal with.
    Many people go to sleep hungry......

    August 18, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. BGee

    Seriously ! An Egypt run by the Muslim Brotherhood is not a democratic country. Why does McCain want to continually support radicals.

    August 18, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Aaron Arters

    I normal cant stand whenever McCain speaks but I actually agree with him and on a few... very few... points he makes in this regard... and really we have enough problems with in our own country.... the money being spent on Egypt will be better spent somewhere else...

    August 18, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. YeahRight

    I think John McCain needs to speak for himself.

    August 18, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. Name

    All aid to Egypt should be cut off along with any and all military cooperation. It's time to demolish the Egyptian thugs and the military .

    August 18, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. allen demary

    Good take that money and keep some schools that are closing open. Put it into after school sports programs we are losing so we have even more over weight kids, so in turn they burden our medical system. Id iots

    August 18, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. bman

    Whatever McCain say's I'm against it, I thought it was a good idea to suspend aid until he opened his mouth.

    August 18, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  13. sundownr

    Thanks John. Is this same, sound logic you use to manage America?

    August 18, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  14. James

    The US lost all credibility when Obama took office.

    August 18, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. Dionysus

    Regardless of political party, I think McCain is right. The US should drop all foreign aid to Egypt ... and to everyone else, for that matter.

    August 18, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. RSVP

    No, John, YOU have no credibility after choosing Sarah Palin as your running mate. Start your repairs at home!

    August 18, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. Mike

    Wait a few days and John will change his mind again, once he hears from all the US defense contractors who are the ultimate recipients of this aid money. McCann pointing it out in his own words – "With Apache helicopters flying overhead (in Egypt), nothing is more symbolic of the United States of America siding with the generals.” Last time I checked, the only company that sells AH-64s is Boeing, although the Brits do resell AH-64s they assemble from kits purchased from Boeing. The engines are from GE, avionics from Lockheed Martin. The first production was by Hughes Helicopter's facility at Mesa, Arizona. Remind me what state John represents!

    August 18, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. smithdp

    So sayeth the man who felt Sarah Palin was the most qualified person in the country to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, hence damaging HIS credibility forever more.

    August 18, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  19. VEW2012

    John McCain needs to retire he is past out-of-touch. I would suggest the President think of cutting aid when the Egyptians cannot be purchased by Iraq, Iran, Russia and the Saudi's. If McCain wanted to make a clear suggestion cut aid to all of them including Russia ...yes I said Russia. Cut aid to them all until Israel and the Palestinians can come to the negotiating table and provide the Palestinians a separate homeland, and the Israeli's promise to stop building settlements on contested lands.

    Plus, a Constitution means nothing if it doesn't protect the minority from the majorities' excesses. That was the flaw with the MB.

    August 18, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  20. Josh

    Shows you just how short sighted McCain can be. If the US cut off aid, Russia would step in and replace us within minutes. Do we really want Egypt to become an ally of Russia?

    August 18, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  21. that will do it

    News Flash McCain. The US government hasn't had any credibility for decades and not just in Egypt try the entire world.

    August 18, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. are122

    But if we suspend aid to Egypt they won't have our money to buy our military products that we give them our money for.

    August 18, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  23. Jim in KC

    Good. Save us 1.3 billion $ and save our country. Idiots. It's time to stand up against our government and bring pride and success back to America.

    August 18, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  24. WeAreAlmostCyprus

    Oh, come on McCain... you don't actually think Obama is going to make an actual DECISION on anything outside of entitlement continuations, do you?

    August 18, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  25. Shorty

    No muslims have credibility...period.

    August 18, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
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