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. Josh

    McCain wants to stop the aid to the secular Egyptian military, who is fighting against the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists. McCain wants the US to give aid to the Syrian rebels who are supported by Am Qaeda.

    August 18, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  2. tmc

    Aren't Americans fed up with instability in the middle east dictating what price you pay at the pump when the vast majority of the commodity is produced, refined and marketed domestically! This is one of those there should be a LAW that makes OIL and national security commodities regulated against such wild speculation. Cutting off this money would go a long way to stabilizing OUR commodity markets. By the end of the decade we will NO LONGER need the middle east strategically as an energy partner. Just keep them out of trouble from blowing up the world and nonsense acts and the world will be a better place for it.

    August 18, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. Armagod

    I'm not very good at math, but I'm pretty sure that the $99 Trillion of debt the U.S. has does not equal "credibility". The rest of the world proves equal ignorance by taking money we are borrowing from ourselves. The more they take, the less credibility we have and the less likely we'll be able to give more. The snake devours its own tail.

    August 18, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. GotOut

    I guess McCain is one of the few Americans that doesn't know that America lost credibility, not only in Egypt, but throughout the Middle East, decades ago...

    August 18, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. r c

    I say we cut off John McCain's microphone.

    August 18, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  6. Prince Tadros

    What about Pakistan, McCain? What about all the other nations. How about Saudi and there track record of violating human rights? The US has lost it's creditability long ago, when it's leaders and politicians keep practicing double standards and hypocrisy. It is indeed sad how when I was not an American I used to defend America's actions, but the standard is failing consistently.

    The US government is supporting radicals around the world, so much for what we believe in, so much for practicing what we preach and leading from the front.

    McCain, "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck..."

    Freedom of speech.

    August 18, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  7. Cindy

    Ii work and I pay taxes and I vote to cut off money to egypt and NEVER resume it.

    August 18, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  8. Little Tin God

    So now McCain and his lover Graham are worried about terrorists being killed? Isn't that what they were calling the Muslim Brotherhood not that long ago?

    August 18, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  9. Armagod

    $99 Trillion in debt = credibility? Not according to any bank I've ever dealt with. Any fool who takes money from such a creditor is as foolish as those giving the money away. Does the world really believe that bankrupting the U.S. is a good thing? Probably not, but they still take the money and use it as they please. The world is run by idiots!

    August 18, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. John Deatherage

    It's time we start curtailing foreign aid. Let's start with Egypt since they've clearly had a coupe. But let's not stop with Egypt. let's stop bribing our allies and bullying our enemies.

    August 18, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. omar

    What a joke! The "Aid" doesn't go to Egypt, it goes to US companies. The money is put in a Trust fund and then spent on Military equipment they don't need from the US companies. Sadly when people read Aid they think it's actually aid money going there, it's not. It's understandable when average people don't know that but when experts are interviewed on CNN and don't know, that's a joke! The debate shouldn't be cutting off aid, it should be giving the aid to the right people. Should we give aid money to US contractors selling military equipment or should we give it to the moderates in Egypt to fight the extremists because it's in our interest to do so.

    August 18, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  12. sammy750

    We have lost credibility because McCain, Graham, Boehner and other Republicans have undermined our President. They continue to tell the world that Obama is not making the right decisions. Yet, did G. Bush make the right decisions to fight 2 wars, the Republicans support the wars. Republicans are a waring party. They love to get this nation in deep debt. We, the voters, need to defeat Republicans so this nation and the people can survive again.

    August 18, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  13. oldguy68

    McCain, the senator, is saying the same thing that Obama would be saying if he was still a senator

    August 18, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  14. dskolasinsky

    Our $1.3B in aid goes to sell our out-dated weapons to the Egyptian military. None of the "aid" ever reaches the people of Egypt. Great foreign policy, huh?

    August 18, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  15. Joe

    Why stop with Egypt? Cut it all. We should trade with countries but never form these "alliances".

    August 18, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. volks

    McCain is an idiot. Egypt needs our support more than ever. At least they have the balls to tackle the the threat of the Brotherhood properly. Morsy is nothing but a wolf in sheep clothing.

    August 18, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  17. U.S. Citizen

    U.S. Credibility was greatly lost with President Obama's Cairo speech.

    August 18, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  18. Send Margaritas

    lol, I read the comments in disbelief. It's like little kids that never have left NYC or Orange county.

    Not a single liberal expresses concern about supporting a nation that uses the military on their people? Sure it is the MB, and I'm no fan of theirs, but we're preaching democracy, and supporting the coup of the elected leader.

    Yet all I see is extreme liberal viewpoints, arrogant, with little insight. Obama golfs while these things happen in the world. He pretty much has no foreign policy.

    And the left pats itself on the back that the 'economy is getting better' (even though the government still is spending more than it takes in), with no care at losing a key ally in a key region, by succeeding in getting Both sides to hate us.

    August 18, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  19. underwaterops

    Unfortunately, US action has cost us more credibility around the world than inaction.
    We had good reason to be in Afghanistan, but blew Afghanistan and UBL off to go start a war in Iraq – which had nothing to do with 9/11. We then destabilized the entire region by removing a secular regime that was acting as a buffer between four other countries with different flavors of extremists.
    In doing so we pushed extremist refuges into the surrounding countries, and the mess we see now was the result of that.
    Then we realized we'd forgotten Afghanistan, and had to go back to take out the man we should have taken out eight years earlier.
    McCain had a part in all of that. And now he wants us to "do something" without saying what that something is. He's joined the ranks of those who are screaming, "We don't know what to do, but we will do it better than you, even if we did cause the mess in the first place."
    I respected McCain at one time, but that is waning. He's lost his sensible maverick nature, and his moderate mindset, and bought the "we have to keep the nut cases happy" nonsense.

    August 18, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  20. 21k

    repugs want to crush islamists around the world, but don't seem to mind keeping the brotherhood in charge of egypt, while we would continue to send aid. enough to make your brain twitch. i guess that's what happens when your party is run by someone like sarah palin.

    August 18, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. Ed

    It is because of people like McCain and Graham, that the US is losing credibility.

    August 18, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. Kevin B

    Let's get some educated opinions from Nancy and Harry on this important issue. I can't wait to hear their wisdom. It would probably sounds something like ..... "We think the rich should pay more and the people of Egypt should submit to the will of the UN...."

    August 18, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. joeazona

    cut off all foreign aid..lets just keep the money here for a while.

    August 18, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. Job Please

    Dear Politicians,
    Could you please give me as well as millions of young Americans stable jobs before sending more $ to non-Americans who aren't producing anything for our nation's GDP? Thanks,

    August 18, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  25. TheTraveler

    Personally, I think McCain would say just about anything to get the US involved in another military conflict. Look at his record. Has he EVER spoken AGAINST a US military option? I don't think so. The Egyptians, like the Syrians, can work this out for themselves. It's not just a secular issue in the Middle East, it's religious too. Our involvement in Iraq should have been a lesson for the US in that regard.

    August 18, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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